Food for thought (DRAFT)
A view and strategy for sustaining the boater lifestyle and community.
NVDA (direct action) with a good PR team works – Sorted office occupations in conjunction with a competent media team, could knock CRT onto the defensive in a week and refocus their agenda within a month. However this is a dangerous strategy because if they are defeated to effectively and to hard then there will be pressure to replace them with something “better”. And better won’t be better for the boaters.
What is needed before this strategy is attempted is the building of grassroots self-management among the boater community so that the space opened up by the knocking back of CRT can be filled with what we want. This would considerably increase the likelihood of “better” being better for boaters.
At the moment there is strong resistance to the building of self-management, the libertarian nature of many boaters, feeds fear and divisions amongst the community. This disempowering is pushed by many people for many different agendas on our own side and their side. Some thought needs to be put into any strategy to mediate this.
What would a medium-term sustainable boater lifestyle look like?
The tragedy of the Commons would have to be addressed, and market solution clearly rejected. How would this be manifested would be a working progress.
A number of roles that CRT are currently pushing as their responsibility would have to be clearly/largely taken over by cooperatively run boater responsibility groups. Primary amongst these will be the enforcement of the 14 day rule, moving towards this would be one of the key ways of building boater self-management. Areas like recycling, community cleanups, carer and repair of the basic infrastructure could be taken over by a mixture of small-scale boater businesses, cooperatives and voluntary groups. To facilitate this becoming a national coordinated response we would have to creatively use open digital structures to federate these solutions.
Above is just the start of a proposed list, the process of public brainstorming could expand and filling the gaps as needed.
In conclusion, life on the cut has a strong community that is weakly bound by bureaucratic structures, there is a good opportunity to build a movement towards a more utopian/practical alternative to mainstream ratrace society. Currently boating is small and marginal, it is outside of the view of traditional power politics with the transition from British Waterways to CRT we are part of a small Conservative experiment in self-management, this experiment like many coming out of traditional politics is a fantasy and will fail, left as it is boating will fall back into the old bureaucracy and thus be devoured by market relationships, our community though strong is fragile and is unlikely survive this transition.
The challenge for us is can we use the opening of this failing experiment to build something more interesting, to sustain our lifestyles and traditions to strengthen our communities and freedoms. And to raise our eyes a little bit can we be a small change in the larger world.
UPDATE: the has been a long comment thread on #failbook which will add as another post