Is there a future for work?
For anyone who wants to work over the next decade there’s an important moment coming up next Saturday. A Future that Works demo is taking place in London, coordinated by the TUC. The title is not an exaggeration. Facts is facts and if the proposed cuts go ahead our economy flatlines and we can stop being so smug about Greece. Really, it will happen here if we don’t change track.
Don’t for one second think that this is an ideological statement, it’s an economic one. For the first time in living memory the International Monetary Fund, not the BFF of working people, is on our side stating last week that the current UK government plan of cuts would put us in a catastrophic pickle. They simply told the UK government not to do it. This puts anyone of a trade union persuasion in an embarrassing position, because saying you’re on the same side as the IMF is a bit like saying you heart imperialism through structural debt. The best and worst of times, eh.
Before I get all high-school about having to hang out with the kids from the Christian Union, I have to tell you things are not what they used to be at demonstrations in the UK. Anyone goes. OMG. There’s no, like, bouncers or fashion-Nazis checking for t-shirts without slogans or absence of, like, badges from worthy causes. You don’t even have to buy the Morning Star to avoid being stalked by a 22 year old Socialist Worker Party activist in fear of their ideological life if they don’t get you to read the very important piece on page 8. You can even, like, smoke and meet boys and nobody thumps you if you get a cappuccino on the way (saying that, top tip: try to hide your guilty secret about Starbucks).
In another important way demonstrations are not what they used to be, because the cool kids are no longer cool. There have always been the hard core activists taking the lead at demonstrations and thank the lord for that because they have chosen to devote their time to wet Tuesday night activist meetings so that you don’t. They also know how to do slogans, shout and make it a bit of a laugh. But something rather toxic has happened over the last few years and we’ve seen the emergence the Tribe Called Anarchy. You don’t have to actually know anything about anarchism to spot them because they very helpfully wear a uniform resembling something between a mime artist and an 8 year old’s attempt to look like a ninja turtle. At the risk of being a bit of a thickie why would an anarchist decide to wear a uniform? Answer: because they are public school boys and their mum still buys their clothes.
I know, bit rude but as someone who used to be one of the two people I knew who called themselves an anarchosyndicalist and did the dog work to find out what it actually means, I find this tribe terribly annoying. They feature on telly, a wet dream for journalists, alleging to be the emergence of what has become to be known as the “precariat”, the dangerous underclass of young disenfranchised people.
Thing is, in my experience they are just not.
Last last time I went to a demo (you might remember the ill-advised wet Republican Demo during the Jubilee) I decided to befriend one of them and this is what I learned. He, and they were all he, was a teenage posh boy from St Pauls boys school and he was very angry. He said he was angry about faschism/imperialism/racism/capitalism but he wasn’t, he was actually angry at his dad who, I think it’s reasonable to suggest, was something in finance. Turns out that this kids rejection of society was based on his hatred of his own dad and his, understandable, frustrating inability to resolve his own Oedipal complex. I know, you’re thinking “she’s gone mentalist again with all this psychoanalytic-babble” but I think it’s a fair explanation for why posh boys are going to demonstrations dressed up as ninja turtles. They are experiencing a narcissistic withdrawal into superhero identities because they can’t overthrow daddy. They are anarchonarcissists.
This is good news for those of us who don’t want to be a member of any group that would have us.
On Saturday you don’t have to be anything other than yourself. Just come with the people that you love, and return some hope for the future of work.
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