02/01/2012 § 1 Comment

My sister on the March 26th trade union demo

Good things

1. There is a crack, a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in. I was born the day before Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister. I grew up left-wing in a period which possibly saw the worst defeat and demoralisation of the left in the twentieth century. I don’t want to seem too optimistic about what will happen in the next few years, but for the first time in my life it feels like anything might happen, which is in a lot of ways better than the feeling that nothing will change.

2. The Arab spring. None of the things I’m listing here are unambiguously good and the some of the political and military repression following the Arab spring has been (and continues to be) truly horrific. But the civil resistance across the Middle East and North Africa has been an astonishing, almost unbelievable development, and the courage of the protestors is unimaginable.

3. UK popular opposition. My twitter bio reads: ‘Forthe broad democratic alliance!’ which is a joke about something my dad always says. But one thing that seems heartening to me this year is the way that opposition to the coalition’s austerity measures has forged links between different groups and generations. Trade unionists visiting the Occupy movement; UKUncut activists developing links with unions; broad-based, coordinated strike action; even poor beleaguered Ed Miliband seems to be starting to understand how mainstream opposition to austerity is, despite the best attempts of the Blairite dinosaurs of his party. (They’re relics of the pre-2008 age, Ed, don’t listen to them!)

4. The Murdoch crisis. Horrific details, yes. Appalling corruption of our media and politics, yes. But you can’t tell me you didn’t enjoy it! (Fingers crossed that 2012 sees the crisis spread to the Mail.)

Bad things

1. The Eurocrisis. It’s astonishing to have confirmed for you what you’ve always secretly suspected: that no one who has any power, knowledge or influence combines ‘knowing what to do’ with ‘being able to do it’. Here’s Paul Krugman’s Eurovenn, a visual guide to the ongoing situation: 

2. Climate change. As though the Eurocrisis hadn’t proved the total lack of any vision or courage among the politicians of the world.

3.  The coalition government. I don’t need to expand on this.

4. Technocrats and the threat to democracy. The technocratic governments in Europe are a pretty chilling development. The installation of leaders whose task is to push through changes that the population wouldn’t agree to democratically seems one of the most sinister effects of the Eurocrisis and one which has forced me to reassess my attitude to quite a lot of things – not least, to the far right and the threat they pose, not necessarily because they could directly take political power, but because the kind of disorder they can create could be used as a reason to impose an undemocratic régime.

5. The end of the Iraq war. Not, of course, that I’m sorry that it’s ended. But it hasn’t really ended, has it? The pointlessness of eight years (and counting) of slaughter and destruction is unutterably sad and terrible.


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