Some feeling about my personal experience of old school democratic trade unionism.
Had an interesting, disquieting conversation tonight at a social event after the work of the NUJ delegate meeting. I had been visiting the delegate meeting room every so often to dip in to try and engage with the process, and each time I had failed, due to bad sound, complex and obscure timing, and the opaque and ritualistic language used. Being me I looked around for a space were I could help out and found the students making media about the event – joined in there and worked with different students to make and distribute 6 video reports that day.
Back to the conversation in the bar, the overly serious youthfull man I was talking to, seemed surprised and a bit disapproving of my action. His convincing argument was that I had been mandated and “paid” to participate in the DM process, travel, accommodation and food being covered by the union. Its a strange feeling for a horizontal like me am I obliged to do work through this process?
Am more interested if the traditional union is flexible enough to work with a diversity of strategy as the current one is simply inappropriate for many people’s view of a contemporary union. As I see it my “work” at the DM is to see if I can work in this space and perhaps more importantly can this space work with me and people like me. The old problematic divide between the horizontal and the virticalist, think, the NUJ might be one of the few union's that has wiggle space, we will see.
I'try again to engage with what am now appreciating is "power politics" the ritualistic fight for notice, resources and power. After a nights sleep, understanding, of my own aversion, and the democratic nature of this anti-consensuses process. Today it is the funding debate, get up early to be there on time, lets try and make it work as good to respect the attempt.
Going better, helps to talk to my fellow delegate sitting next to me. Much of the noise has the flavourer of sectarian infighting. By asking members you CAN find your way around the process. But its a Q. of motivation to engage and stay engaged. Is this the best we can do as the left?