The tories are staying. The NHS is going. So are benefits and the human rights act and welfare. And I am scared for myself, for my friends of all stripes, I am worried for disabled folk, queer folk, the working class, trans folk, people without documents, people of colour, chronically ill people, young people, people who are burnt out from struggling, trying, fighting, and everyone at any of these intersections. I wrote something else here about being sad and being present. But this post is a post borne of wanting this worry, this grief, to mean something. To do something. So I am compiling a resource list. Things I can do. Things you can do. Things we can do.
I will update it as and when, feel free to contribute a resource, to make comments or criticisms.
1. Where do we go from here?
In the face of more austerity and misery, the baseline is to establish as much community resilience as possible. That means everything from militant resistance to evictions, foodbanks run by and for the people who us them and working out our own arrangements for social care through to community food gardens, collective self education and skill sharing and training to name just a few ideas. It’s about building flexible, responsive networks of people who will look out for and support each other when things get tough and encourage each other to fight for a better world.
This is another one from the demo today, but its points still stand.
When politics is this broken then all that is left is the streets. For the last five years the real opposition has not been the Labour Party, but disabled people, benefits clamaints, students, tenants and the low or no paid. As bleak as things may seem today we are in a better position than we were last week. The Tory majority is paper thin. Scotland is rising. The Libs Dems are dead. Welfare reforms are still in chaos and Iain Duncan Smith is still a fucking idiot. And Minister for Employment Esther McVey is now unemployed.
When I realised this morning that even the exit polls had underestimated just how crap it all was, I was passing St Pancras Church. There was a man there, sat with all his possessions next to him in wet boxes, eating sandwiches out of a bin bag.
Now I don’t know about you, but I think as long as that man and millions like him are eating leftovers out of the rubbish, talking about fleeing the country and leaving him to it is almost as bad as voting Tory. It might seem hopeless at the moment, but there are some basic things we can all do to work through this. Wallowing in political pity or booking the next flight out of here is not going to feed the hungry.
We are going to have to come up with another way of looking after each other. Because the state isn’t going to do it and the market isn’t going to do it and the Big Society isn’t going to do it.
Democracy doesn’t end at the ballot box. The aftermath of the Scottish referendum proved this, wrong-footing the entire UK establishment. Below the surface, barely capable of being translated into election results (except in Scotland), there is an extraordinary welling of anger, disillusionment, disgust with the lot of them. I wouldn’t like to predict the circumstances in which this will take louder, more visible shape, but it was one of the running themes that emerged from the #dontjustvote tour. The Scottish precedent needs to be the inspiration for an ongoing grassroots process of democratic renewal.
The opposite of depression is not happiness. It’s not even hope. The opposite of depression is action. It’s dragging your bone-weary carcass into the shower and doing what needs to be done so you can deal with the day. It’s reaching out to friends even when you have no idea what to say. It’s making a to-do list, even if nine out of ten numbered points are “drink, because fuck this”.
The opposition of depression is action. Action is the only thing that gets us to a better world, and big actions start with very little ones. We don’t have to overthrow the government today. We can take a few days to drink cold tea and listen to Billy Bragg’s saddest albums. Depression wins when getting better seems so overwhelming as to be impossible. Recovery begins one tiny, tiny step at a time.