Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Left Portal

I'm posting this tonight from Southpaw of Southpaw Punch fame. His blog is acting as the hub for the debate, discussion and organisation, so all interested parties should head in that direction. Needless to say, I endorse this project and urge every left blogger and reader to get involved.

Many blogging leftists need to think about they are trying to do with their blogs. I intend doing a critique, soonish, of mine - and others - but I also think that the left needs to develop an infrastructure that is beyond individual blogs.

I think the revolutionary left (and more) needs a portal.

(The ‘more’ is anyone looking to overthrow capitalism and replace it with something better - all forms of revolutionary socialists, anarchists, anarcho-syndicalists, etc.)

Some of the things I would love to have two clicks away include -

- a list of all strikes happening by postcode, location;

- listings of all left meetings happening this week or month in London or Lossiemouth.

- where I can read an USDAW branch publicity officer getting advice on better branch newsletters from an Amicus steward.

- a place where a dental nurse could ask, ‘How do I organise a trade union?’ and get an appropriate reply from an active nurse trade unionist.’

- a site where a school student could ask, ‘What is anarchism?’ and get good (and varied) answers.

Who would provide?

It’d be best if we had a communist party to do all this. It’d be more coherent.

The British National Party, as a party, are a lot more on the ball. For example, they will do a daily news release tearing apart some new government policy and are sussed enough to have the premium rate phone numbers, party shop etc to support all this (but don’t do all the other things I have listed).

Failing a party (some hope) it would be great if the SWP, SP, indies and more supported a portal site, maybe calling it something like www.socialist-tradeunion.org.uk But they’re too sectarian to do that, probably.

Failing that it’d be great if there were a red personality who could use their weight to run a portal, in the way that Richard Littlejohn could (and Rush Limbaugh does?).

My personal view is that I think a lot of credibility would be lost by having Labour supporters taking part in any such initiative. Many hate Blair - and Labour - for the right reasons. Likewise Greens and other forms of ‘alternative’ capitalist politicians would, I think, be beyond the pale. But I also think I would be in a minority about this.

What could it look like?

I’d imagine this sort of portal looking a little like the site that consumer journalist Martin Lewis does rather well on personal finance - full of facts, advice, news, bulletin boards.

www.libcom.org is good. It’s an organising (and more tool) produced by libertarian communists (a bit like anarcho-syndicalists).

It could be better. It needs to be more hierarchical (how apt) so that you could, for example, easily find details of meetings.

(On a sad point - libcom.com includes postings by many anarchists complaining about ‘Lennies’ [Leninists] and discussing how best to physically attack us. Who’s the enemy?)

www.urban75.com does the job a little but there’s a lot of lifestyle/cultural stuff on there (which is fine) but not so much agitational/organisational/propaganda content.


Any such left portal shouldn’t just be agitational/informative.

It’d be great to have the current blogs written by revolutionaries in such a portal - or at least linked and promoted through there e.g. Lenin (Lenins Tomb) writing his foreign news stuff; Socialist Unity with their art stuff and more; reports on public meetings, etc.

A left portal would also need a lot more - reporting, policy, debate, etc. - but could also do other innovative things to attract new people (and make money?) e.g. left lonely hearts?

There could be chat rooms.

If you book a coach for a demo, you could use online booking to fill the seats.

Photos - if you attend a demo you could upload photos so that they could be used by other activists (although maybe not, Special Branch would be monitoring).

A bigger portal

A portal could possibly even be an educational or even a cultural and social tool.

Any such further services would have some resonance to the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) of a hundred years ago with their social and educational facilities or the CPGB influenced cycling clubs in the 30s (out from Manchester, into the Peak District).

There’d be dangers in providing services, especially on a commercial basis, for any lefts. All sorts of ‘short term’ exceptions can get made to keep up a revenue stream.

That route can just lead to becoming like the Co-op. There’s a danger in building parallel worlds and opting out.

Furthermore our primary task isn’t to provide to the needs of comrades but to rise up and destroy capitalism.

But all that’s running before even crawling. It could all be too big a task.

I know revolutionary socialists have established a presence at www.myspace.com.

We could exploit the usual capitalist channels but never in the way that we could if we ran the show.

But if libcom.com can do it, we could do it even better. And how useful it would be.


Anonymous said...

Great idea! Have you seen this one? http://www.protest.net/
Of course theres always indymedia

Jack Ray said...

I've been a regular on libcom.org for a while, and I'm pretty certain that anyone seriously advocating physical attacks on Trots would get pretty short shrift there.

The forum is, unfortunately, still well worth avoiding, but mainly on grounds of inter-anarchist sectarian rivalry, as well as the astonishingly tedious interventions of a group of Council Communists.

(lots of fascinating stuff for a sociologist of the left mind ;))

AN said...

this won't happne, it is what we used to call in the SWP "an organisational solution to a politicall problem"

ejh said...

I absolutely assure you that any "open to all" site will be utterly destroyed by sectarian warfare. And by 9/11 lunatics.