Sunday, April 24, 2005

Another glass of Chardonnay, Mr Guevara?

Apathy Jack writes:

... or Why I’m Not Much Of An Activist Anymore

I’m tired these days. Every so often, I get in a mood to change the world, but before too long, the crushing weight of realism forces me back in front of the television.

When you think about it, it's no wonder that we failed so miserably in the world-changing stakes. I found a chant sheet from my activism days recently. One of our chants actually started with "One two three and a bit..." for fucks sake. And then they got really bad.

I remember the old student activist group I belonged to: Trust fund babies who had their fees paid for them, protesting that the common student couldn't afford uni. That's true, but I was one of three people in the whole organisation that actually had one of the student loans we were railing so vehemently against. Another one was my brother.

Another group I used to belong to had, as an official position in it's national structure, a Maori representative. In the entire national body, we did not have a single Maori member - nor, from my little research on the matter, had we ever. A pack of honky hippies paying lip service and then going out armed with little more than "One two three and a bit."

One of my favorite out-of-context lines is the relevance one of Anthrax's lyrics has always had for me in terms of the political activists I hung with:

Difficult for me to get a grip on what you mean
When you stick your fingers in your ears and create another scene
You always step into the traps set perfect in your path
Busy going crazy over whose knife's in your back.

We were trying to change the world, but the main argument seemed to be that our parents had given us everything we had ever wanted, so the po' folk should be given the same treatment. Any questioning of the party line was met with reactions that were either the metaphorical equivalent, or – and I’m not kidding here - the actual occurrence of, activists sticking their fingers in their ears and walking out of the room to avoid the argument. The Marxists were so busy fighting the Trotskyists who were so busy fighting the Maoists that the Capitalists just wandered past the scuffle and sat in the throne.

But hell, since my days as an activist, I've always maintained that the best way to turn someone into a right winger is to expose them to left wingers for long enough. I would rather have lunatic left wingers in charge than lunatic right wingers, but I'd rather have sensible right wingers in charge than the lunatic left. I am a left winger, and I will always be a socialist at heart, but the left wing is just too myopic and delusional to properly run the world.

Defeatest, I know, but that's what comes from being defeated.

I wonder what's on television...


STC said...


Apathy Jack said...

Well, in the face of such a well thought out argument, I bow down and accept defeat.

There's no way that I can argue against such a reasoned, insightful, and perspicacious point as the one you make.

You're a genius.

Or would you like to go into a shade more detail, huh Socrates?

Josh said...

Funny you should say this now - just yesterday we were sitting around on Morthos' mother's new sofas, and decided that this is what kills activism: as soon as you get a job and earn enough to own a decent comfy sofa, none of the rest of it really matters anyomre...

Rik said...

This is a great blog you have here.
Very interesting to read, so I bookmarked it.
[My blog]
[avatars and funny stuff]

Krimsonlake said...

Sensible right-wingers? That's an oxymoron isn't it?:-)

They're all lunatics I think. Left, right, center, anyone who is marginally interested = totally certifiable.

Josh is right, comfy sofas have a stabalizing effect.

Xavier said...

Jack, I really liked your post. Having witnessed the fringes of student activism, I would say that you are right on. Stephen, I don't think your comments are very valid. Swearwords do not an argument make

span said...

jeez do you always right something like this after dinner with the ol' posse Jack?

yes there were trust fund babies - i was one of them and i can think of four others off the top of my head - there may be others i don't know about of course. i was always upfront about it and my stance was why should i get a free education just because of an accident of birth, it should be a right not a privilege.

most of the others did in fact have loans (many still do) - i can think of one person who avoided it via working her arse off during the holidays and living a very frugal life.

to be honest i feel a bit like this post is a slap in the face - not the bit about the activist stuff, because i haven't exactly been Miss Activist Aotearoa in recent years myself - but the implication that those without a loan shouldn't have been involved, and that we were crap at what we did. in fact we held off differentiated fees for quite some time and i believe we kept fees as a whole at UOA lower than they would have been otherwise. not to mention saving those library jobs and keeping the bus subsidies.

i know that we have often disagreed on this stuff and sometimes i have found that hurtful. i have always seen you as something of a political conscience - reminding me of things i might otherwise have forgotten. but i didn't think you thought me a total hypocrite, but obviously you do. perhaps the hypocrite is the person who stays "friends" with someone they think sucks for years and years.

Anonymous said...

maybe Stephen meant there was 'bullshit' on television...