Some thoughts on solidarity, democratic deliberation, and class struggle
by David Betteridge
Cartoon by Bob Starrett
Whoever is without fault among us, let them be the first to take a wedge, and hammer it into our body politic, which is also our heart and soul and mind politic. Let them look for a fine crack and turn it into one that is gaping wide. Let them go on with their hammering until they have opened up as many fault-lines as they can find. Let them do that, whoever is without fault, claiming freedom of expression, and crying See me, I am the naked truth, or something like that; otherwise, let us hold back and think twice, and when divisive talk runs amuck, let us think more than twice.
How many times must we go down to self-defeat, making enemies of our friends, monstering them, wearing badges of difference so angry and so foregrounded that they kill off chance after chance of maintaining a needful solidarity?
United, we keep from falling. Not falling, we keep from failing yet again in our long march towards our long dream of transforming our world, and finding good ways of living in it.
There can only be one “Us”, which is our class-in-the-making, working to become the active agent “We” in History’s next turning of the page.
Stop hurting, comrade! Stop hurting allies and allies-that-might-be, and, in so stopping, give yourself some respite from self-harm, for with every breaking of a bond, with every comrade lost, you wound yourself, and are the less. We are all the less.
Opposition is true friendship, said William Blake. That adage needs some interpreting: true friendship in pursuance of our politics has its own true form of opposition, which is a dialectic of ideas, and not of divided folk.
Following the protocols of a quiet determining, we might take inspiration from the practice of certain deer who live in the semi-deserts of sub-Saharan Africa. When the wind whips up a storm, the deer crouch down and gently blow the sand from each other’s eyes.
There is one fault-line, and only one, requiring to be opened up, being integral to our politics, because written into reality. That is the fault-line that separates Capital in all of its manifestations
from Labour in all of ours; and there is only one wedge, also integral, that we need take to hammer home.
Image derived from El Lissitzky (1919)
David Betteridge is the author of a collection of poems celebrating Glasgow and its radical traditions, 'Granny Albyn's Complaint', published by Smokestack Books in 2008. He is also the editor of a compilation of poems, songs, prose memoirs, photographs and cartoons celebrating the 1971-2 UCS work-in on Clydeside. This book, called 'A Rose Loupt Oot', was published by Smokestack Books in 2011.