Today I walked the ten miles from Leamington Spa to Coventry because I had eleven pence in my pocket and the barrier guard was up and at ‘em. Eleven pence. This is my sole capital. A first class honours graduate in 2015. Though I have a roof over my head every night, I have no fixed abode and move between friends’ houses (an act of solidarity that means everything.) In the look ahead to 2015, Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani paints a grim picture for Britain as a whole over the next twelve months. I want to portray a more personal understanding of that reality, alienation and anxiety that five years of austerity have created.
In previous articles I’ve focused on my mental illnesses, and I am still trying to understand how they are connected intrinsically to contradictions within capitalism. There is a very raw dialectical nature to the way that mental illness is not only treated in our society but consumed and experienced too. I suffer from severe depression, bouts of dissociation and what for now remains to be a self-diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. This helps to explain an addictive personality and my inability to maintain relationships. But how much of this comes from a historical background of unstable family and acute poverty? How much of this comes from the impossible expectations upon myself under the age of austerity?
Although I don’t believe that mental illnesses are solely a sociological issue, I can see how the contradictions created by capitalism can impact the ability to move forward through them and, to a greater extent, be able to live with them. I’m poor (partly) because I’m mentally ill. I’m mentally ill (almost definitely) because I’m poor. Neither of which can lift me out of the other and yet the marketisation of medicines, the unavailability of specific therapies, the abundance of alcohol and other substances and the claustrophobic nature of reality (and irreality) that I often face are designed to relegate me to a unnecessary piece in a mechanism fueled by dead labour. I live within a system that requires me to work for my own and its own survival and yet provides nothing to overcome these obstacles. These inherent contradictions of capitalism create a dichotomy of dialectical contradictions of the self. The question is, how do we overcome these obstacles? One option is suicide for many of us, but that is neither an option that I wish to pursue not is it a productive one.
The other option of course is a radical upheaval of capitalism, its complete eradication and replacement with fully automated communism. For lack of word count in this article I will only say that there is a plethora of sources online and in libraries that can help you to understand what I mean by that.
However, radical organisation has its own oppositions. For one, it is an almost impossible task if not because of the institutions that are placed to protect private property and markets then because of the lack of federational organisation in Britain. We need to be a united front within the left. By which I don’t mean organising with the SWP or so-called ‘radical’ manarchists and brocialists but by networking throughout the UK to create mobilisation that is in tune with the rest. Demonstrations and marches are often filled with many alignments of leftists who have no contact with each other aside from these events, and yet the issuing of solidarity when individuals come under state repression comes from across the UK. We hear each other’s stories, each other’s grievances but we still do not have a broad horizontal form of organising or contact.
This year may well be the hardest we’ve faced in a very long time, but there is a power in our movement. Each group has its own focus but that doesn’t mean that together those groups can’t support one another when we have the resources or the time available. I want to see riots across this country led by groups like London Black Revs or Radical Angry Queers and I want to see behind them animal rights activists, antifascists and straight white men who know what to do when they’re needed and when to be quiet. Hell, I’ll even take a Trot or two if they leave their papers at home. I want to see police stations entrances filled when it comes to arrestee support. I want to see the possibility of revolution that isn’t just a slogan, a poster or a Che Guevara t-shirt. And I want that possibility to be focused and planned.
When Parliament Square was occupied on the Free Education demo, it was a predictable disaster. The black bloc was disorganised, the book bloc was a mass of liberal refauxlutionaries and the communication overall was an embarrassment. When an assembly was called, too many people were joined around the samba band. We need to know how to organise even in spontaneous situations and we need a movement that is led by the people who struggle the greatest here.
The year ended with 76 arrestees at an Eric Garner solidarity action, the death of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old trans girl whose parents refused to legitimise her gender identity, the shooting dead of Jeraime Reid, another black man at the hands of the police, and the eviction of Love Activists from an empty RBS building designed to house and feed the homeless. These struggles are international and 2014 has seen a rise in oppressed voices reacting against their oppressors. 2015 needs to be the year that those people feel more solidarity from us than updated facebook statuses. 2015 needs to be the year that we come out together, organised and ready to revolt effectively and with power.