The reason that ‘Lefties’ appealed to me (apart from the obvious nostalgia) was that it made me think about the question of how we do politics in the absence of events like Gleneagles or Evian. What is ‘politics’? What is ‘do’? I re-read our piece for Derive Approdi and it suggested loads of avenues for us to wander down. I also remember reading on the back of some book about “how can we take those worlds we glimpse in such moments and generalise them so that they make sense in the rest of our lives?”
Of course, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing Big Events as separate from the rest of our lives. But in a way they are separate: part of the dream-like unreality of GE was that I was cut loose from my normal day-to-day life (home, kids, work). I (we) could really act fast and be open to all possibilities because we were stripped bare (insert Carry On joke here). That’s why summits have the potential they have: we can be catapulted into a different way of being far quicker than would be possible if we had to take all our ‘baggage’ with us. But it’s also why the high wears off: because (all other things being equal) it’s unsustainable in the face of ‘normality’. So how do we make it sustainable? Do we even want to? ‘Lefties’ made me think about things the other way round: not how to prepare for summits (as we did in Event Horizon) but how to normalise summit politics, so that GE comes home with us. Does this make sense? For all the talk of not being absolute or ‘having a line’, it’s actually possible to go to places like GE with a ‘line’ and stick to it. But it’s obviously much harder to have a strict line when we’ve crashed back down to earth: no-one’s been able to really sustain the argument against rented social centres, for example. That’s why the 1970s squat scene or punk (score!) were in a different league to the alter-globalisation movement/social centre scene: they appeared to be sustainable if only for a few months/years (or until whichever moment of punk betrayal is your favourite). Dole culture obviously had a lot to do with it, and that’s a space that’s diminished enormously: but the fact that most of us have got ‘jobs’ must also reduce the space for purism.
The whole question of ‘negotiation’/’compromise’ (or whatever term you like) is worth digging into. The best (only?) political discussions at the CommonPlace often seem to circle around these themes. Maybe this is what politics is, that constant experimentation, a (random) chipping away at all that surrounds us. Not in a coherent way (like sinister Trots and transitional demands – “now we must expose the weakness of local government”), but more the way kids will absent-mindedly finger a hole in their clothes. How does this fit in with ‘biopolitics’? Or living a life? And if we ever wrote something on it, could we get an ‘I walk the line’ reference into it?