Living The Dream antipolitically

15m

In this episode of Living the Dream Jon (@jonpiccini) and Dave (@withsobersenses) talk with Tad Tietze (@Dr_Tad) about the idea of antipolitics he developed with Elizabeth Humphrys(@liz_beths). We talk about what politics is and how it relates to capitalism and the state. Tad argues that politics is increasingly detached from society and what this means and how communism as ‘the real movement’ can and should related to politics. Tad argues that this analysis has serious and devastating implications for what we call The Left and Activism. We debate if there is any role, before the emergence of social movements, for the agency of anticapitalists.

 

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Tad provided the following reading list

On anti-politics in general (with Liz Humphrys): https://left-flank.org/2013/10/31/anti-politics-elephant-room/

On anti-politics and neoliberalism (with Liz Humphrys): https://oxfordleftreview.com/olr-issue-14/tad-tietze-and-elizabeth-hymphreys-anti-politics-and-the-illusions-of-neoliberalism/

On Greece: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/08/syriza-referendum-podemos-austerity/

On Australia: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/labor-tony-abbott-rudd-gillard-shorten/

On Trump: https://left-flank.org/2016/01/25/the-trump-paradox-a-rough-guide-for-the-left/

On recuperating politics: https://left-flank.org/2017/02/03/why-better-politics-cant-make-anti-politics-go-away/

The Piping Shrike on Corbyn: http://www.pipingshrike.com/2017/06/the-confusions-of-anti-politics-uk-edition-an-update.html

 

We also mention a debate between Plan C and Angry Workers of the World over Directional Demands

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8 thoughts on “Living The Dream antipolitically

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  1. Great conversation. And great restatement of Tad’s thesis (can’t wait to see the book and Liz’s as well). I think like Piping Shrike its not so much whether I agree or disagree as you get a sense that some actual thinking is going on rather than reading off the hymn sheet (which we are all prone to do at times).

    I mentioned about the role of the collapse of the USSR on the FB discussion but given that there is that “what is to be done?” question I wonder about the debates about what went wrong are germane (or maybe how transitions happen – god help us). Thinking out loud but I don’t know much about the council communists but surely the Soviets are the form the struggle took and their failure to deliver in the longer term is a key one.

    Maybe I just don’t know the history well enough but its always cast as what the Bolsheviks did right/wrong rather than looking at what happened and how we can learn from it rather than taking our positions from events that occurred in Moscow 1921..

  2. I finally got around to listening to this, eating my tea right now so won’t be able to give a proper response till later, but I just wanted to say that the discussion of UK 2011 made me so mad that I put my foot through the phone and will be sending you the bill (does that reference/joke work in an Australian context?)

      1. OK, I’ve finished my housework for the evening, am very flattered by the invitation but probably not. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that what Tad’s discussion of 2011 in the UK was reaaaally missing is any consideration of what happened in August – if mass riots spreading across England don’t count as a spontaneously self-organised social movement, I don’t know what does. The point isn’t that there was nothing going on at the social level, there very much was, it’s that there was a total disconnect between the “political” union strikes and the social explosion. I also think it’s too easy to tidy away the winter 2010 student protests as just students doing politics, a big part of what gave that particular moment its force was that it combined the actual student stuff with 16-18 year old sixth formers protesting against the cuts to the financial support allowing them to stay in education – I’m sure you must have seen the clip of those kids going “we come from the slums of London” and so on, so that wave of protests was really interesting as a combination of two social forces that would go on to be totally separated.
        I’ll add that us supposedly clued-up anarchist/communist anti-political politicos also did a really bad job of relating to both the riots themselves and the wave of repression that followed – if you look at stuff coming out of Missouri anarchists, like the Anti-State St Louis blog, the work they obviously put in to forming real connections with the people targeted by the state for involvement in the Ferguson uprising completely puts the UK scene to shame.
        On Corbynism and anti-politics: I know you pay attention to Plan C, AWW and Novara, so you probably know a lot of this stuff already – I do think the last long theory piece the AWW did is excellent, and pretty much sums up the current state of things in my opinion: https://angryworkersworld.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/migration-and-national-social-democracy-in-britain/ (also I still think it’s really funny that according to that article some of Endnotes have joined the Labour Party, the idea of going from “all representation is over, it’s just riots from here on out” to “actually vote Labour” that fast just tickles me). Anyway, there is still some anti-politics or social struggle or whatever you want to call it going on – not enough, not as much as I’d like, but it’s there. My impression is that in some places some Labour people are doing stuff that contributes to it (struggles in private-sector businesses and against private-sector landlords) and in some places it has to be against the Labour Party (workers employed by the local state like Birmingham bin workers and Durham teaching assistants, struggles to defend social housing) and in some places the two are pretty much irrelevant to each other (for instance, what the AngryWorkers are doing in warehouses is definitely proper social anti-politics in my book), and in Haringey the struggle against what the Labour Party is doing seems to have taken the form of going through Labour, and I don’t know what to make of that at all (see: https://www.newstatesman.com/2018/01/local-people-stopped-haringey-development-vehicle-now-its-time-unity or http://novaramedia.com/2018/02/09/this-is-the-next-big-battle-haringey-labour-and-the-future-of-local-government/ for instance).
        Anyway, I’m not in Labour, and don’t recommend people join Labour, so I’m not the best person to make this argument, but if I wanted to make the argument that you can do anti-politics and Corbynism simultaneously, I’d point at Acorn: https://acorntheunion.org.uk/ and things like Lewisham Momentum’s support of the Picturehouse Cinema dispute: https://theclarionmag.org/2017/11/17/labourandmomentumactivistsbeatpicturehouseinlewisham/ or blocking depots in support of the Manchester bus strike – I find this report fascinating, because they blockaded a depot that hadn’t actually gone out on strike, which almost feels like the Labour Party doing what Leninists would call ultra-left adventurism: http://salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=4327 All of which, I would broadly say, seems like some level of engagement with social struggle or anti-politics or whatever you want to call it. Obviously it is also true that not everyone who’s joining Labour is doing those things, but whatever, I could equivocate all night so I’ll leave it there.

      2. Thanks for your really interesting input. I must admit I remain open minded/confused about so much of this stuff. I’ll read that AWW article you have linked to

  3. Cheers – I think we live in confusing times (I’ve had my hands full just trying to keep track of what’s going on with the UCU strikes over the last 24 hours!), so some level of open-minded/confusedness is pretty much unavoidable, and probably healthier than the “actually, this situation is exactly like [insert favoured 20th-century analogy here]” response.

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