…and that’s before I’ve started balancing the plates.
There are a number of different worlds that I bounce to and from – &/or have had an insight into. I’ve never really been much of a party-political creature – the only times I went to the gatherings of any political party were a couple of Green Party meetings in 2001 to see what was going on during one of the high points of the anti-globalisation movement. I eventually found a nice little home as a volunteer at the Brighton Peace and Environment Centre as an information centre volunteer during their Gardner Street days as I embarked on my final year at university.
Having spent my second year at university living in a place that was ultimately condemned by the local council as being unfit for human habitation, being a mere pawn in the battle to find somewhere suitable to live in Brighton shaped my interested in all things housing – as it did with higher education. Schnews and other news leaflets in the Information Centre made up for the reading material that wasn’t coming out of what felt like an emotionally distant university and student union. At the time, I said to some wise owls that I was still trying to find “my place” in the grand scheme of trying to make the world a better place, & several of them said that my disposition was far better suited to getting inside the system and trying to change things from the inside rather than being at the barricades.
Two years after graduating I managed to get my feet inside the system, getting a feel for the issue of transparency – as well as of the civil service mindset of “If they don’t know what you are doing, they don’t know what you are doing wrong!” (Sir Humphrey Appleby). Seven years inside the civil service allowed me to get out and about, meeting people in communities that were in receipt of government funding to deal with problems of multiple deprivation to the representatives of NGOs, charities and lobbyists all seeking to influence government policy.
As far as ‘politics’ is concerned I find myself looking at the different worlds of:
- The political ‘anti party politics’ world of the #Occupy movement and those in and around it (which has many a link to the anti-globalisation movements of some ten years previous)
- The ‘front line’ of those who work in those communities suffering from multiple deprivation – as well as those who live in those communities
- The Westminster Bubble that I described in a previous post
“You weren’t born with great politics. You didn’t emerge from the womb brandishing three volumes of Capital with a burning firebrand in the other. You, and I, came to a coherent politics after a lot of work, after a lot of thinking, a lot of conversation, and probably a lot of charity on others’ parts.
Have the awareness and the optimism that such a transition should bring you: other people’s politics grow and change too. But if you aren’t there, if you choose to write them off, if you choose to remain in the comfort of purity without getting your hands dirty – well, then you’re working the first part of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and what’s worse, you know it.