The other day you made a funny. It made me snort tea on my keyboard, and I told you it was funny. You said something along the lines of ‘this aprobation will not last’. I didn’t know what aprobation meant and I do now, so thank you.
I wanted to explain something to you about my open hostility to the Guardian and the media focused, labour orbiting(even if they don’t know it) left. I thought it might help you understand some of the events of the last year and some that are unfolding to fill the next couple.
Foucalt said “The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.”
What I think you have to understand is the violence of what has happened in the last three years. It was only the cherry on a post war settlement that is over. It was allowed because of a failure of the political forces that defined that settlement, and was justified using a crisis that signalled we were nearing the end of that settlement.
The violence of unnecessary and unchallengeable austerity, delivered to silence along the inequality faultlines of political priorities, consolidating the knowledge of those who have grown up in this political system, was always going to have a profound effect on your world. Even without the falling newspaper sales and the interweb.(Arus Bridger is NOT helping by the way- my god-what is he on?).
What you fail to understand is that while you are a person(and a seemingly nice person btw) you are a part of the power structures in this country, and your part of that power structure needs validation in a way that is entirely different to the right. You are the part of the power structure that speaks ‘for’. In fact the ONLY part of the power structures in this country that need validation from people to function.
This is a country where inequality faultlines have been blown open. We are in a political vacuum, and austerity could not be challenged because a very small number of people were having a conversation no-one was interested in because it had no relevance to them. Those people did not know their ignorance was creating such dangerous limitations.
The Guardian cannot decide if it is a force for good or a newspaper, and cannot triangulate it’s way into being either. The Guardian needed to subject themselves to the scrutiny they subjected Murdoch to, if they objected to media political power. The Guardian is part of One Nation against and indifferent to the same groups as the Tories. It has sold the political priorities of austerity while preventing challenge to them and claiming to be part of that challenge.
It provides home to the left half of a very homogenous political media class, the labour guppy pool and training ground, and the Guardian’s output is shaped by the values of the culture who create it. It is the heart of UK media focused feminism and so called ‘activism’.
We live in a country where democracy has been reduced to market requirements and press needs. The political priorities that exploited inequality faultlines were entirely dictated by the blindness or malice of a few institutions and the Guardian is one of them. That La Grauniad orbits the Daily Mail and validates is as big a problem as how the Daily Mail use the power conferred on them. The inability to move outside narrow and ridiculous parameters of debate, is what ensured discussion of what happened was avoided. It is what ensured there was no opposition, because noone can even talk about the problem. The Guardian sold equality being rolled back as surely as did the Daily Mail. Many of you are sincere in your blindness. It was the blindness of your culture, and those within that meant austerity was technical fascism and not just the Tories on a rampage.
That journalism has been replaced by political comment, and power is held in a commentariat fishbowl by people who may be nice and mean well, is not our fault. We were brought up to expect ballot boxes and truth being spoken to power as a pay off for being excluded from the world of those doing the speaking.
That it is blindness and not malice that allows this violence to be delivered while our ability to challenge it is removed, is not our fault. The effect of that violence is real and grows more profound by the day, democracy itself is in question while the structures that maintained it have been dismantled and sold.
It was not us who wound power structures around professional social networks, and unfortunately challenging those power structures now means challenging people. The power is always in the social network so that means your friends will be challenged.
You are coming across a generation whose writing is political because it has to make change, and who are largely uninterested in saving people’s feelings or climbing a greasy pole and don’t need to find a newspaper who will publish them. You are talking to people who have had to entirely figure out austerity and the politics of it by themselves just from watching and living the consequences.
Politics is personal again and history is now being written by the participants on the same platform as those who are supposed to be shaping it.
The last conversation we had before the one that triggered this post, (and I use the term conversation loosely-twitter is not a place where substantial conversation happens and we are worlds apart and you have no reason to know who I am) you said you felt that working class women should be willing to compromise on matters of sexual autonomy because of a banking crisis. I am not sure you entirely understood what you had said, or the consequences that lay under that statement. I am quite sure you are not aware of the problem’s caused because media feminists mostly agree with you. The amplified and circular hoohaas of the hurt feelings when you and your class were introduced to discussion of intersectionality, showed you did not understand. Again, I don’t believe for a second that was malice, you just have no reason to know. The only reason we do is that we had no choice but to learn.
The conversation we need to have cannot happen within the parameters allowed by our current media left with their bleached white fantasy working class emblems. It cannot happen within a white upper class bit of the media that is the universalisation of the experience of Oxford and Cambridge women as feminism. It certainly cannot happen within the parameters allowed by the Guardian and whether you know it or not your paper’s role is to keep discussion where it is so we can all be hammered.
Your role in a healthy society is to be the safety valve to prevent change. We may be a healthy society but the crisis being experienced within media/finance/politics cultures is being projected on to us in an appalling way. You are part of a power structure doing the projecting, a structure which needs critiquing urgently. Even if you feel good intentions within make your institution benign.
The people you are coming across have had to learn what they fight for, and what they need, and part of that learning has been recognising that we have systemic problems, learning where power lies and how it perpetuates. Understanding that even the parts of the system that believe themselves to be benign are the problem and the first place to start. The arguments you have had and felt hurt by, have been part of that learning for those people. The repeated demonstrations of a class behaving as a class, a part of an inevitable process of education so change can happen.
A social network governing political discourse, who cannot hear of the effect of the power they or their institution wield, never mind reflect and accept they have that power or be accountable, is an extremely dangerous thing. A dangerous thing that has already had obscene consequences. A narrow left wing framework held by a few is no longer adequate, and the flaws within it are at the heart of what is happening now. Feminism needs to move past being Guardian articles. That you all moved on to twitter was fortunate. If the Guardian doesn’t adapt it will die, but that is no great shame if you all don’t adapt.
In order to challenge the system we need to challenge those within it. And that means you. Quite a lot of your colleagues are going to find they just do not have capacity or knowledge to deal with their new environment. They will be unable to deal with the challenges of that discussion.
You seem nice, your written thoughts have occasionally changed mine, and that is a power you have you need to recognise. I don’t feel any malice to you or your colleagues, and I don’t suppose any of the others you have come across do either, even if it felt that way to you. It’s just that asking politely doesn’t work and we need to deconstruct what you do for there to be change.
I am sending this because the process you have seen in the last year or so has only just begun. In the months and years ahead, I want you to know that when people are shouting at you, they are shouting at power. That you don’t know you have it, won’t have crossed their minds. That you are nice is not their concern. That their ability to do so means they are fighting power that is already disappearing won’t cross their mind. Their only concern will be the conversation they need to have. Is not you, it’s them.
PS Sorry about your mum.