In an economic system designed to divide and rule, it is all too easy to feel alone. But we are not. It’s easy for movements to fracture after defeats. But we must not. And it’s all too easy to be convinced that we will certainly lose. But we will not.
The power of the powerful is sometimes asserted in the gloved fist of a police officer. But more often, it permeates in a sense of hopelessness. They make change seem impossible, and it becomes so. But all across Scotland, and all across the world, people are doing amazing things. We are learning ways to resist from our friends overseas and we are relearning those from our history.
The way to defeat atomisation is with solidarity. The way to defeat hopelesness is with inspiration. These are not abstract concepts shouted down a loud-hailer. We get them from each other: from conversations, warmth, jokes; learning together, planning together, laughing together.
And this solidarity can’t just be in our geographical communities – though it must be there too. It has to be global. Again, this isn’t for abstract reasons. It’s because people all over the planet are struggling against the same system as we are. And they are coming up with new, creative, and often successful tools to organise against it – solutions from which we can learn and be inspired.
With all this in mind, we’ve* organised a couple of things. First is a skype chat with Greek activists from the front line of this week’s general strike. At the fulcrum of European austerity, the Greek movement has become one of the most inspiring and inventive in Europe – perhaps the world. And we have much to learn from them. Do join us on Tuesday – details here.
The second is an event – Rich Man’s World – the global crisis and Scotland’s role in fixing it. It’s in Edinburgh on the second and third of March. The event will kick off with comedian and feminist/anti-cuts activist Liz Ely.
Liz will be followed by a session run by Nick Dearden, director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign. As I write this, Nick is on the picket lines in the Greek general strike. He’s there with activists from across Europe, discussing plans, and finding out about the scale of crisis there. A couple of months ago, he was doing the same in Egypt. He’ll be talking to us about the global roots of the crisis, the movements around the world who are fighting back and what we can learn from them.
Next, we’ll move onto discursive workshops on workers’ rights, feminist economics, local solutions, extreme fosil fuels, and Scotland’s role in the world. Then, the full Saturday afternoon will be a facilitated open space: conversations on whatever you want to talk about, with whoever you want to talk about them with. Because the best thing about every event is the people you meet.
After an evening in the pub, we will spend Sunday reflecting on lessons from movements past.
It’ll kick off, like every good Sunday, with brunch and chat. From there, we will have a radical history tour of the city with local councillor and radical geographer Maggie Chapman, and Edinburgh University rector Peter McColl, followed by the pre-release viewing of an exciting new series of interviews with activists who were involved in struggles for economic justice from across the UK over the last 40 years.
Since the financial crisis, it has been a turbulent time for those who yearn for serious, systemic change in the way our world is ordered. There have been the highs of magnificent protest, newly empowered activists, emerging social movements. And there have been the lows: I’m not sure I will ever forget the grief on the tired teenage faces of the thousands who were kettled on a freezing Westminster bridge in the hours after the 9k fees vote passed.
But it is through this back and forth that friendships and movements are forged. And we win when we are willing to learn – to learn from our wins and losses, to learn from friends in other countries, to learn from the past, and most of all, to learn from each other. Please do join us at the skype chat, and at then at the event.
*we, in this case, are a collection of small, radical NGOs including People & Planet, Jubilee Scotland, Jubilee Debt Campaign, War on Want and the World Development Movement.