Don’t despair: we will fight back, and, eventually, return stronger than before.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 13th
Yes, it’s dark. Darker, arguably, than at any point since
the Second World War. We have a government not of conservatives, but of the
radical right, who will now seek to smash the remaining restraints on capital
and those who accumulate it. They will take their sledgehammers to our public
services and our public protections. They cheated and lied to assist their
victory; they will cheat and lie even more to implement their programme.
They are led by a man who has expressed overtly racist
views, who won’t hesitate to stir up bigotry and xenophobia whenever he runs
into trouble, scapegoating immigrants, Muslims, Romani Gypsies and Travellers,
the poor and the weak. They will revel in outrage and affront, using every
attack on common decency to normalise the unacceptable. This government has no
vision for the country, only a vision for the oligarchs to whom it is bound,
onshore and offshore.
So I don’t want to minimise the scale and horror of what we
face. But documenting it is one task; the other is resisting it. Here, roughly
and briefly, is an outline of how we might begin. I am as tired and shocked and
frazzled as you are, so please forgive me if I have missed some essential
First, we must park the recriminations and blame. We need to
be fully occupied fighting the government and its backers, not fighting each
other. Solidarity is going to be crucial over the coming months. We should
seek, wherever possible, to put loyalty to party and faction aside, and work on
common resolutions to a crisis afflicting everyone who wants a kinder, fairer,
All the progressive manifestos I’ve read – Labour, Green,
SNP, LibDem, Plaid – contain some excellent proposals. Let’s extract the best
of them, and ideas from many other sources, and build an alliance around them.
There will be differences, of course. But there will also be positions that
almost everyone who believes in justice can accept.
I believe we need to knit these proposals into the crucial
missing element in modern progressive politics – a
restoration story. A powerful new narrative is the vehicle for all
political transformations. While all the progressive parties in the UK have
proposed good policies, none of them have told a story that exactly fits the
successful narrative template. Let’s work together to craft the story of
We should use the new story, and the proposals this
narrative vehicle carries, to build mass resistance movements, taking
inspiration from – and building on – highly effective mobilisations such as the
youth climate strikes. We will draw strength from the movements in other
nations, and support them in turn.
A major part of this resistance, I believe, must be the
reclamation of a culture of public learning. Acquiring useful knowledge
requires determined study. Yet we have lost the habit of rigorous learning in
adulthood, once seen as crucial to social justice. This makes us vulnerable to every
charlatan who stands for election, and every lie they amplify through the
billionaire press and on social media.
Those who govern us would love to keep us in ignorance. When
they deride “elites”, they don’t mean people like themselves – the
rich and powerful. They mean teachers and intellectuals. They are creating an
anti-intellectual culture, to make people easier to manipulate. Let’s
reinvigorate the workers’ education movements. Let’s restore a rich public
culture of intellectual self-improvement, open to everyone. Knowledge is the
most powerful tool in politics.
We must expose every lie, every trick this government will
play, using social media as effectively as possible. We must use every
available tool to investigate its financial relationships, interests and
strategies. We should use the courts to sue and prosecute malfeasance whenever
But while all this is happening, more and more people will fall
through the cracks. I recognise that charity is no substitute for justice, and
we can never fully compensate for the failures of the state. Even so, we must
enhance the support and giving networks for the people this government will
neglect or attack. No one should have to face the coming onslaught alone.
We will create, to the greatest extent possible, a
Resistance Economy. This means local cooperative networks of mutual support,
that circulate social and material wealth within the community. The astonishing
work of Participatory City, with the Barking and Dagenham Council, shows us
one way of doing this.
We will find each other and ourselves through
volunteering, which provides the most powerful known defence against
loneliness and alienation, helps support the people this government will
abandon, and can defend and rebuild the living world.
We will throw everything we have into defending our public
services – especially the NHS – from the government’s attempts to degrade or
destroy them. There will be many public service failures over the coming years,
as a result of cuts and “restructuring”. Let’s remember where blame for these
failures will lie: not with the massively stressed and overloaded
practitioners, but with those who made their jobs impossible. The long-standing
strategy of governments like this is to degrade these services until we become
exasperated with them, whereupon, lacking public support, they can be broken up
and privatised. Don’t fall for it. Defend the overworked heroes who keep them
No one person should attempt all these things. We will divide up the tasks, but always in the knowledge that we’re working together, with mutual support through the darkest of times. Love and courage to you all.