DAY 154: The Political Report

December 6th, 2015 § 0 comments

I can’t imagine that many, if any, of my readers were militants in the British Communist Party in the 1970s. Many of them may have succumbed to Alzheimers, and indeed I may do so any day. And, now I reflect, having (as I think I’ve intimated) become a militant in an organization whose aims are very different…

Yes, the aims of the CPGB, as it was called, were basically to win power for the working class; or, in its later more reformist period, for the working class and its allies. It naturally campaigned tirelessly, joined in marches, sold the paper, leafletted and so on. But, as the core of Quaker practice is the Meeting for Worship, so the core of practice in the CPGB was naturally the branch meeting; which centred on a much-missed institution, the Political Report.

In parts of the world where the CP is still alive and well (Kerala?), they may still have the Political Report; but I’d better explain how it works anyway. A comrade is nominated in advance to give the report. Its contents are:

1. The current (Labour or Tory) government is increasing its attacks groszon the working class. Evidence from the last fortnight.This, of course, is always easy to bring as it happens all the time.

2. Brief analysis of the balance of class forces, which are to be supported and which avoided as the basis of a strategic alliance.

3. Suggestions for drawing new forces (cleanersScreen shot 2015-12-06 at 21.02.15 ex-servicemen…) into the broad movement – by contacts if possible, if not by leafletting.

4.Ways in which the movement as strengthened, with its allies, can be enabled to (a) defeat the government’s present wave of attacks, (b) eventually boot out the government (if Tory) or force it to abandon its reformism (if Labour).

Fairly predictable, you’ll say, no room for rousing oratory. Its strength was in the logical build-up from the current dire situation to the certainty of victory. This would then lead to minor squabbles on how the recommendations could best be implemented, who were reliable contacts in communities, churches, trade unions and what not. Tasks were assigned, and all went off to the pub. it’s fair to say that the strategy hasn’t yet brought about the revolution.

Sixty years later, how the landscape has changed! While as I remember sex was always fairly much an undercurrent to the agenda, along with drugs, of course,
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and indeed rock’n'roll (we had only just left the sixties), the concept of friendship had not really been crystallized, let alone grown into a large supercorporation earning zillions of profits and paying no taxes. However the rather bleak portrait of the ‘old politics’ as I’ve sketched it above may make you see why, as a moth to a flame, I’ve been drawn to a ‘new poilitics’ in which, while of course you spend hours and hours wrangling at meetings and going to pubs (how else are you ever going to get anywhere?); and further hours – a new feature this – buying loads of blankets and dried fish, chickpeas and cumin; plus hiring and loading up a van for the goods and a coach (for the volunteers) and then transporting them (the goods and the volunteers) (I hope I’m remembering to close a bracket every time I open one, they seem to be proliferating alarmingly) across the treacherous waters of the Channel (see earlier posting); you can spend much happier hours ‘conversing’ in Facebook Messenger about your friendship – how it may be endangered by the behaviour of X, how upset you were by Y, how you will never in your life speak to Z – all things which would have been unthinkable in the old framework. We used to say that the personal was political, but not quite in the same sense.

[Quakers, since I've mentioned them, have I believe yet another approach to politics which involves neither pubs nor Facebook - oddly, since they're called 'Friends'. To decide what the group's position is on fracking, say, or the refugee crisis, you all sit silently in a circle for an hour or two and think about it under the guidance of the Spirit. Every now and then one of the group stands up and says briefly faithfulness-300x199what he or she thinks. And at the end, someone (the Elder?) stands up and says 'Friends, it seems to me that this meeting is of the opinion that...' or some such formula; which makes it policy. I don't have Quaker Faith and Practice handy to advise on what happens if someone then rises and says 'Oh no it fucking isn't', an obvious possibility to my mind. It would be an interesting challenge to develop a silent version of Facebook in which these exchanges could be pursued.]

Meanwhile in Palestine

there was no change: Friday was another deadly bloody day. Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, two in Hebron and two outside illegal Israeli settlements near Ramallah. Palestinian protesters burn tires during clashes with Israeli security forces following the funeral of Abdul Rahman BarghouthiThe third to die was Abed Rahman Barghouthi, 26, killed at the entrance of the Palestinian village of Aboud, adjacent to the settlement of Halamish. Witnesses told Ma’an News Barghouthi was an American citizen who “recently arrived back from the US to get married, after getting engaged five months previously.”

Barghouthi was given a military funeral which set off from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. Thousands of Palestinian mourners attended his funeral procession in Aboud on Saturday afternoon.


I needed (the usual opportunistic reasons) a Syrian woman poet, preferably modern. As usual, I haven’t come up with an Arabic version , but I like it. By Lina al-Tibi.

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Music/more politics

At St Thomas’ Church N4 (which has close relations with Finsbury Park Mosque) for a concert of 16th century music – such gems as Victoria’s ‘Ave Maris Stella‘; and picked up a copy of the Catholic Worker. What a read! Those dudes were over to Calais and agitating about refugees back in July, and have been banging on about it ever since; and the spare space in the paper is taken up by the ‘Stop the Arms Fair’ protests. Main headline: ‘Catholic Worker solidarity with migrants in Calais.’ Why haven’t I heard of them, or seen their banner, before?




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