Tuesday, 18 January 2011

No war but the class waaaaaaa

Class is a topic that seems to have dropped off the agenda, well at least in certain places where I would have expected it to be visible it has.

Two scenes that I move through but feel equally ambivalent about are the queer DIY scene (I rarely go there) and the ‘anarchist/activist scene – again I have been intimately aquainted but somehow let my membership lapse.

In both cases when I last visited I noticed a very odd approach to issues of class:

1. I go to a queer DIY gathering, well it’s a bit complicated...the reason I go (because really I would rather poke my eyes out with pins than spend too much time at this sort of event) is because it is in the closest mutual country I can get to that a non-E.U friend has a visa to get into. while we are there we do spend a bit of time at the event, my friend keeps saying to me ‘jeez, how many times can people use the word ‘privilege’ and why do they keep on going on about it?’ … I explain this is a mostly western fixation. But then in an already fucking annoying workshop where some asshole keeps on going on about ‘well I’m studying this in my PHD’ I raise the issue of class and get told ‘well, im half working class myself and I don’t think we need to talk about this’ …in other words shut.up.

2. in some weird hysteria I go to a meeting on ‘the future of the anarchist movement’ these strange moods grip me at times where despite spending much of my day to day working on political projects/living a political fucking project I feel the need to reconnect with ‘the movement’ and to show my face in ‘political’ circles. After we split into smaller working groups so discussion can be more equally shared and people will have a better chance to be heard – one of the women in our group is explaining how she has 3 kids and had to get childcare to come to the meeting, and that she thinks this is a class issue. Several people in the group start to look panicked, a halting discussion of class breaks out in which the strongest and most vociferously argued strand is that ‘we are all working class these days/so the working class doesn’t exist anymore/and or we are all middle class these days/so the working class doesn’t exist anymore’ in other words…shut.up.

Funny old world huh.

As part of Queer Beograd I have for a while been wanting to to present 'class' as one of the topics in our forums for discussion – the transcripts of which form the basis for our publications. And I begin to ask myself and others ‘but how?’ how will we do this? With what framework will we approach? How will we begin to open this discussion? and what is our own position at this point?

Because I see some very interesting contradictions taking place; still the romanticised/mythical vision of ‘the worker’ is promoted as the only authentic subject, who must also be ‘saved'. Then so many of us facing some sort of burn out, illness, childcare issues, mobility issues which can often drop us to a point of becoming invisible within activist circles. And also this strange situation that even as we fight capitalism, so often the current question of how we get from day to day with food/housing/sanity does not seem to be relevant. At the same time as we fight that system the reality of being crushed by it is ignored.

i want to raise the complexity of this subject, to bring into this the concepts of 'class complex' as others have described it to me... but damn it im exhausted at this point...after the strangest day of trying to figure out how to earn a living im having trouble sustaining the energy to write.... so im gonna have to come back to it.


  1. Class class class class class class class!!!!!!!!

    Outside of anarchist circles I seem to cop a fair bit of "STFU commie" for bringing up subject of class, opposing or shared class interests, etc.

    Look forward to reading what you've got to write about "class complex".

  2. I think I have the opposite problem, I think that too much emphasis is placed upon the class into which you were born rather then the class in which you live. Further it often seems that cultural and intellectual workers are not considered WC enough to have real cred. I also often have heard the old chestnut, "but their just students" as if their indeterminate class status is relevant. What happened to Marx's theory of the declasse'?