Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yesterday in Brixton

As it was sunny we went ahead with the stall outside Brixton station yesterday. This is the place to be on a Saturday for leafletting. Amongst our rivals were Roman Catholics giving away free rosary beads, people giving out leaflets for "The End of the World Spectacular", Mr Kajali and Mr Moussa both claiming to be "from birth a gifted African spiritual healer and advisor" promising 100% guaranteed results for "problems concerning black magic, love voodoo, sexual impotency, business transactions, exams & court cases" (for a fee of course). Also competing were people paid to hand leaflets for some business, in this case a local gym but it could have been Specsavers.

Among the more rational were protestors against selling the main Lambeth College building on Brixton Hill to property speculators (one of them said he thought he had once voted for us), two young women campaigning against female genital mutilation (they said they didn't want to attack the culture of those who did this; we told them they should; they gave us a cup cake), and "Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism" who seem to be propagandists for leftwing governments in Latin America especially Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. Absent were the Spanish-language pentecostals and Militant who are usually there. We imagine Militant were all out distributing their election leaflets which seem to have arrived late. We sold a couple of our pamplet on Marxian economics and gave away our leaflets for an-hour-and-a-half. Also met a comrade out shopping. It's a small world.

On the way to the CLR James meeting at the Oval cricket pavillion in the afternoon, we managed to gain access to some closed buildings by following a Labour canvasser. At first he thought we were TUSC but then realised who we were, saying "You're the people who want to get rid of money and let people take what they need". Well, yes, more or less. The Labour Party seem to be pulling out the stops. We've seen at least 5 different leaflets they've put out. One of their promises is that, if they win the next election, they'll overturn the Bedroom Tax. We'll see. As the Labour candidate said in one of his leaflets:
In past campaigns I've met people who told me that there wasn't much difference between the main parties.
So have we, and they're right.

At the CLR James meeting much of it was about English literature and what books should be studied at school and university. The organisers did not present James as a black role model but the opposite: as somebody who believed in universal values. Not black or any other identity but human identity. Some in the audience didn't approve of this approach and didn't clap all the speakers. His widow, Selma James, said he held that "Every Cook Can Govern". This comes from Lenin (though he relegated this to the distant future; in the meantime the Single Vanguard Should Govern). James, it appears, took it more literally. His widow in fact presented it in the way our candidate likes to. She said it didn't mean that "ordinary" people could govern since every individual was "extraordinary"; what he was advocating was collective action by these extraordinary individuals to change society and then run it. But she then spoilt it by saying that he was a leader. His writings on state capitalism in Russia, as well as those on cricket and his book on the slave uprising in Haiti during the French Revolution, The Black Jacobins. One of the speakers (Kenon Malik) described this as the first recorded successful slave uprising in history. I suppose it was. Must read the book. It's in our library.

The Oval is a few streets away to the north-west of the ward. Meanwhile a couple of streets to the south of the ward police were asking locals about the alleged case of slavery. They say it resulted from once commonly-held political ideas. It will be interesting to see what these were.

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