In Times of Political Ruin

By H. Gracchus, 12 July 2016
Image: Gustave Doré: Dante’s Inferno, Plate 22, Canto VII - Hoarders and Wasters

Some reflections on post-referendum politics from H. Gracchus

In these great times, which I have known since they were small; which shall become so again, if they are given time enough for it. – Karl Kraus

These are tremendous times. Yet the nervous urgency that shakes every decision cascades into bureaucracy. Restorationists stand on every side decrying the true spirit of the time – one of glorious political ruin. Each party busies itself with finding new leaders in the model of the old ones, only more resilient, more distant, and less willing to conceal their authority. The same fear that guides the hatred of immigrants has caused a country, in a moment of political crisis, to cry out for leadership. Fear clothes itself in resigned hope, urging us toward a more stable future, while blinding us to the present. The demand for authority, in reaction to the exceptional openness of oppression today, threatens to permanently silence the already stifled experiences of oppression everyday. Only in doing politics amid the ruins can this obedient mass-psychology be punctured. Only in action can the conditions of fear be defeated.

The commentators speak now of a ‘political vacuum’. They hope that through designating the ruling chaos as nothing at all it will simply disappear. We see it not as a vacuum but as a battlefield, open to both our enemies and us. This chaos is not ours already; it must be won. Now is no time to surround ourselves with friends, but instead enter the moment of danger, and to recognise the work that must and can be done: of change, struggle, and at where necessary annihilation. The glory of political ruin does not shine resplendent: its edges are tinged with the darkness of racism, nationalism and hatred, but its centre burns with the brightness of resistance and the glimmers of a world transformed. We have no choice but to take hold of the ruins, to use them to our advantage. Our task is not to erect new fortresses to protect us from terror; they are bound to collapse on us again, as fractures of hatred spread silently through their walls. Instead the space that has opened up must be used. The ruin of government presents the opportunity to take things into our own hands.

Two hundred thousand people have joined the Labour Party to save its leader, so that he might – all too slowly – save us. Momentum reveals itself as inertia. Now is no time for organisation; it is time for collective political violence alone, for righting wrongs in action. If two hundred thousand people instead were to tear down the gates of every immigration removal centre in the country, if every raid were disrupted, if the borders of this island were rendered ungovernable in these ungoverned times, a new politics would be forced into view. We need this new politics, not just new politicians.

We must fight not for anti-racist leaders, who promise softly spoken anti-racist sentiments in the pages of the Guardian or Telegraph, while ever more people are attacked. Instead we must fight as anti-racists for a world free from oppression. We must fight not as a feeble mass that begs protection, vainly hoping that the next government will be benign enough to serve our interests just a little more. Instead we must fight instead as the strong mass that annihilates the causes of our fear.