30 May, 2018

Countering "Give up now you'll never do it!"


London 2003 saw the largest protest in its history. Over a million people took to the streets to show their opposition to the invasion of Iraq. The war went ahead anyway...


Outflanking the Wealth-Dominated Authority and Opinion


In my professional life I have often had to succeed in spite of seemingly unconquerable odds ranged against what I knew to be necessary. What I wanted to do was dismissed by all the authoritive voices, and even by literally all those who actually agreed with me! The informed consensus was:-

"Give up now, you'll never do it!"

Indeed, all alternative actions, suggested from bothsides, but for obviously very different reasons, was to, "Do what you can, and where you can!", and be satisfied that: you had, at least, made a justified, if token, effort.

Not good enough!

For, while you are making minor changes for a handful of recipients, the powers that be are changing things for thousands and then millions. I'm afraid that such tokens amount to letting the wealth-organised authorities do it their way, and in doing so, turn your well-intensioned tokens into betrayals.

For, those tokens promise great possibilities, which are not only never delivered, but just persuade those who had temporarily benefited from them that, more generally, "Absolutely nothing could be done!"

But, on two crucial occasions, a way was found to implement changes beyond a temporary token contribution.

An appeal, via the man whose name was attached to the institution in which I was working, managed to acquire two obsolescent Mainframe Computers from a local major firm, who were upgrading, and these were identical to the one on which I had been doing extended research at a local University. And, all this also came at a time when the Government were suggesting Link Courses between Further Education Colleges and Local Schools - to give pupils experience of what they would need in their future workplaces. Clearly, I was in a position to connect these "token, costless" ventures into something very different!

Within a short period we had built a Computing Section doing several quality courses both in-house and via Links with local Schools. It was on a shoestring, but we knew what we were doing, and backed it up with an independent organisation for doing the same for other Colleges across the Country, as well as getting more equipment for our own institution and maintaining a sufficient standard.




Now, I did mention two cases!

Years later I was working with a Researcher in Dance Performance and Choreography, who had major problems using exemplar materials on video, for use in teaching the principles involved in both of these disciplines. We got together and solved her problems using computer controlled Laser Discs, and within a year had won a British Interactive Video Award for Excellence, with our first product "The Dance Disc".

But, our revolutionary methods were still rejected by the Dance Education Authorities, and for a whole decade we were unable to proceed further. But, this was the 1990s and the internet was looming!

We decided to sell over the internet, via, initially, giving away free Demo Discs (usable upon the then numerous desktop computers), which we had taken from our first product, or were cut-down versions of potential new products. We managed to totally by-pass the Dance Establishment, and, via the Internet, and, in the end, produced a dozen titles, including one translated into Dutch, and with both known-contacts and supplied-users in over 100 countries, worldwide.

Clearly, the Authorities are dominated by people with very different priorities to the majority of people working in that given area.

So, the policy must be to outflank them, when they hinder necessary progress!

Now, admittedly, this isn't as easy as it sounds, because things-move-on, and a possible outflanking, at one time, can be impossible later-on!

For example, the increasing interventions by Governments and their agencies into the Internet, which, let's be crystal clear, is no longer run by enthusiastic, principled and committed amateurs, but by multi-billion dollar Corporations, whose interests are allying, ever-more-closely, with pro-wealth Governments. The bypassing solutions of the future will have to be different from those of the past!




And, of course, for those of the Left with a political agenda, these arguments are even more crucial. Are the methods of the past up to the problems emerging daily as World Capitalism repeatedly fails to counter the devastating effects of the 2008 slump? Of course not! For, with the newspaper and communications media in their pockets, Capitalist Governments are finding scapegoats, everywhere, to hide the real causes of the continuing crisis.

As happened with the 1929-1941 slump, the same methods led to Fascist Governments in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Japan and even Finland: and similar Right-Wing movements are now growing literally everywhere. And, to up the ante still further, War is now endemic for the USA, as they intervene all over the Globe in attempts to maintain their prior dominance, but now, more and more, by Force!

But, the biggest demonstration ever, in the UK, as was marshalled against the War of Intervention in Iraq, still achieved nothing!

The resources were there, but not the necessary Organisation!

The past strength of the Unions has been drastically diminished by Capitalist Governments; and the nature of the new jobs to "replace" those lost in the 2008 Slump are "zero-hours", self-employed, or part-time, with neither security, protection or the organisations to fight for such things, for the workers involved. But, the only real weapon of the Working Class is, and always has been, Organisation: it is all they can have!

So, what new forms must this take in the current period to provide that crucial and deciding power to WIN?

We are, after all, the Many, and with joint steadfast action we can (and must) defeat the Few!

To answer these questions constructively, we must define exactly what is lacking, and change our current activism into a questing, seeking, informing and empowering agitation, primarily supplying what the Working Class "both need, and need-to-know!", and, "to effectively organise!". And, such information should no longer be a ready-made series of policies - arrived at only by distant leaders and handed down to be used by activists, everywhere, and in the same way. Instead, they must be finding out what is, locally, both required and demanded.

And formulating demands and arguments to be used with other, as yet, unconvinced workers - and in so doing constantly empowering the theorists too!

And, as always, the necessary forces will be found within the Youth! Primarily, because it is they who are the hardest hit, yet unencumbered by the old, now useless, methods of the past. It was the youth who literally "did everything" after the Grenfell Disaster, to help and organise for those affected - Did you notice how young, committed. intelligent and energetic they were?

Those must be the forces to be won!

And, in addition, all those, who are qualified, should be communicating their expertise to such workers: Not as it is done on the Radio, Television and Films as "Entertainment", but as enabling-possibilities for our Class! Teachers and experts in particular areas should be explaining what they do to workers as exciting, valuable and worthwhile occupations.

For, Education as it is usually inflicted upon the children of workers - "to fit them for work when they leave", must be given a vastly wider remit, and introduce them to the excitement of all aspects of human activities. The polar opposite of what is currently happening in education under the Tories.

Now, one more personal experience of the writer, must be related to negate the Nay-Sayers for such an approach. Years ago, I was working in Glasgow, where we started a "Youth Training" initiative in Bridgeton (a poor-Working Class area). At that time, there seemed to be only myself, who could offer anything both useful and exciting - I was an established Computer Programmer, so I taught unemployed Working Class Youth to program computers. They loved it, and wanted more, but the next level-up required more expensive equipment, and we didn't have the resources to supply one-each! I contacted my old comrades from one of my previous posts, which was carrying on with what I had started over a decade previously, and asked them to get me a redundant Mainframe Computer, which they did, and we installed it in a warehouse in Bridgeton.

Sadly, soon after, I terminally fell-out with my employers, and had to get another job in England, so I personally was unable to carry that project to completion. But, it again showed what could be done! Who could gainsay such outflanking! It had bypassed both all the usual provision of such facilities, and their usual intentions

Notice though, I was the only academic I knew who was doing such things!

Clearly, there are many such provisions that committed and competent professionals could make, as well as other services that are vanishing from situations such as we are suffering at present.

Communal services like Libraries are closing down everywhere!

What can you do?


Abandoned library in Blackpool


Postscript:

Years ago, the city I was then working in were due to demolish a row of ancient shops, but there was a delay! They agreed to allow a temporary use, rent-free, if those taking one on looked after it. Myself and my partner, applied and got one of these shops, and turned it into an Art Gallery. It lasted for a whole year! People who care can rally communities to run such things themselves if needs be...

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