Power polatics and the race/gender card
Deal with issues, allowing them to be pushed under the carpet has a cost.
The are real issues round gender/race politics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics Then the is a the sad and bad playing of the race/gender "card" that is sometimes used when real issues become stressful.
This happen to me a year ago at the Good Social Centre in Dalston. The was a "monster" dominating process by talking over everyone with a steady flow of power politics. I was confronting him about this at a project meeting.
Activists strangely tend to have issues with direct action when it happens in there community's, they sat around looking from one "monster" to the other "monster (me)" making no judgement between the two. In the end he played the Asian "race card" and that was the end of that.
He terrorized and wrecked the space for a year before he was final excluded from space meetings. Sad and bad...
Yes playing the race/gender card can highlight a real issue but sometimes its just more power politics. And if the issue is down to power politics in the first place then this is likely the second not the first reason the "race/gender" card is used to block.
In the case above it turned out that he was a mentally ill, druggie, control freek, with a MBA in bullshit. Sadly he did have real talents, that were key to the project if he could have been helped/supported out of the nasty power politics. This was only fully understood a year latter after he was excluded from the meetings.
Ps. Truth is good, he could have played the "mental illness" card, every one would have agreed and helped him.
10 days at Balcombe Protection Camp
Photo: Katherine Stanley
My experience at the camp was over all positive, and came away feeling that fracking is a completely winnable campaign.
I went to the camp to spend a week making media about the people, issues and organising of the #fracking protest camp. In stead of this media/video making, which am very good at I spent 10 days living on the camp trying to sought out many core issues.
* the dysfunctional camp meetings
* the draining camp fractions/dynamics/power struggles
* the tech tent
I will start with the tech tent, when i arrived the camp had no working solar power and all battery were charged (by grid electricity - fossil fuel) offside and driven in by car each day. No care was taken for the effective life of the battery’s so they were disintegrating rapidly by being excessively discharged each day. With 12v battery’s it is much more efficient (and safer) to run the camp on native 12v then use fragile/inefficient and potently dangerous 240v inverters as was happening.
The tech space was being ripped apart and trashed (by persons unknown) every night, leading to the problem that nothing permanent could be built or sustained, this lead to all the competent people leaving this core space. Each day new equipment would arrive and by the next day it would be broken, the solution was to then order more new equipment, the tech spending was spiralling out of control.
When equipment was ordered it was always the wrong type because of the politics/opacity of shopping - this was very damaging as it lead to more equipment failer and the strong possibility of electrical fire. This repeating power politics and unspoken agenda’s was the root of many issues.
I spent much of my 10 days on this problem, and by the end of the time we were charging all legal/camp/media/visiter phones on 12v solar power and had finally ordered the equipment to run the wider camp on solar power.
This was on order when I left:
Core permanent power for the tech tent
100w 12v x2 semi-flexible solar panels permanently affixt to the roof of the south facing tent
water/shock profer controller x2
strong water prof connectors
heavy duty cabling
Then we had politics - Experimental event charging (this was a political choice rather than technical)
1x250w 24v glass facing solar panel
Voltage regulating Controllers to bring this huge 24v panel (20KG metal and glass) down to the 12v needed
This experiment system saves around 50 in cost but is a HUGE problem as its heavey and frigile if it is mixed up with our 12v set-up as this will lead to equipment failer and possibly fires.
The camp is in a permanent state of chaos with out some one in the space to mediate this chaos, and at time the will not be, then this experimental system has to be (at a minimum) installed/looked after in a physically separate space to the core stable power set-up.
Is saveing a small amount of money worth adding to this chaos?
Because of camp politics this essential equipment was not ordered.
GOOD CAR “cigarette lighter” connector banks x2 (branded)
6x double 5v USB car adapters (branded)
3x laptop 12v power supply’s with tips (branded)
Power politics - In activist organizing prioritizes self-interest over outcomes
The is a lot of self destructive behavior in left/progressive organising, an old example the Monty Python sketch
Am looking at concepts that describe this. Power politics is a state of international relations in which sovereigns protect their own interests by threatening one another with military, economic, or political aggression.
Power politics is essentially a way of understanding the world of international relations: nations compete for the world's resources and it is to a nation's advantage to be manifestly able to harm others. It prioritizes national self-interest over the interest of other nations or the international community.
Techniques of power politics include, but are not limited to, conspicuous nuclear development, pre-emptive strike, blackmail, the massing of military units on a border, the imposition of tariffs or economic sanctions, bait and bleed and bloodletting, hard and soft balancing, buck passing, covert operations, shock and awe and asymmetric warfare.
Can people think of examples of how this manifests in smaller world of activist organising?