I am inclined to make a gross generalisation about the left and its relationship to war. A lost urgency; a distaste, a traumatic aversion, a learned avoidance. Whatever it is, I hear current words of appeasement or denial and I feel spiritually sick. The necessity of re-fighting battles already consigned to history is galling. I feel the fatigue of it. The incredulity. But there are times for war. To be pacific in the face of the end of security, rights, equality, justice, hope. That is not peace. This is not a time for refuge in established routines, or pat wisdoms that no longer relate to the reality of the world. And by the way, those established routines, at the least, were ugly compromises that pushed back the parameters of acceptability. We’ve been shrinking violets over years of violations, pretending that compliance will stave something off. But it didn’t. Appeasement is a weakness, a stance of fear, and at times, it is a stance of complacency, or privilege, or the denial that comes with those. It is in this latter instance that a charge of elitism is valid. Some appeasements are not craven in this way. But some are. And this is one of those instances.
If I had been asked in some of my earlier incarnations, I would have said and assumed that I was a pacifist. But I realised a few years ago that I am not. I am inclined to insurgency in circumstances like this. An ugly ‘fuck you bitch’ shouted at me by a man who almost ran me down with his bike, called over his shoulder as he road away, eyes locking on mine. Something like a gorge rose up in me, a magnificent repudiation, and I stepped forward toward him and shouted ‘come back here and say that to my face’. He was shocked and pedalled furiously away. I was shocked too. And it was a welcome thing, a better me. The one I want to get behind now. I absolutely meant it. G was upset with me at the time, asking me if I was trying to get him in a fight. No, I said, surprised. I was trying to get me into one. I tried to explain how magnificent it was to feel willing to do that, rather than shrink away, terrified, cowed, because I could get hurt or worse. I did also have an instinct that he would run away. He thought he was looking at an ugly bitch, without having the first idea about what one really looks like. Maybe I seemed crazy to him, unpredictable, dangerous because what did I know that he didn’t? It is right to be an ugly bitch in many circumstances; Hilary’s ‘nasty women’ resonated because this is the truth.
So I am now an insurgent grounded in my house, stuck much of the time with my own company, talking to memories or projections. I don’t know what form insurgency should take. Is a chair one of the places where you can credibly cultivate that? But then there is a need for words too. I can only hope it does something. Trying to help remake (take back?) the world with only my two cents to offer.