Saturday 26 July 2014

Saturday Interview: Louise Whittle

Louise Whittle, blogs under HarpyMarx, has been involved in leftie politics for nearly 30 years. Socialist feminist, currently working for the rat race, trade unionist and overall activist. Likes art, film, photography and drinking cocktails. You can follow Louise on Twitter here

- Why do you blog?

Remember couple of years ago someone said to me that blogging was purely about narcissism. Possibly there’s an element to that but for me it’s kinda about highlighting and exposing issues that have an impact on people, which don’t always get the attention they deserve. People who are experiencing the sharp end of austerity. Also, blogging about things that take my fancy plus personal/political experiences from feminism to mental health to film reviews. I like to write about a whole raft of stuff ...

I think this sums up blogging for me.

- What has been your best blogging experience?

I suppose it was at the G20 protests in London in 2009 when I happened to take a photo of a woman activist at the front of the kettle at Bank of England, her arms were outstretched and facing a line of tooled-up cops. I was standing behind her and I thought, in that split second, that this would make a powerful image. Minute or so after I took that pic cops decided to attack. It gave me that first hand experience of citizen blogging. Plus the photo being short-listed for the 2010 European Women’s Lobby photo competition regards to World Visions of Feminism in the 21st Century.

- What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger?

Don’t take it too seriously, have fun and make sure your comments moderation is on.

- Is blogging different now from when you started?

Seems to be fewer blogs now. Maybe wrong but looks like it.

- Why do you tweet?

Used to tweet more but all this social media stuff is losing its appeal a tad. If I do it’s concerning my blog posts or retweeting, ‘The Fucking Cat’ ...

- Who are your intellectual heroes?

Past or present? Present ... Lynne Segal, Sheila Rowbotham, Angela Davis, Barbara Ehrenreich, Southall Black Sisters, Steven Rose.... Past? Too many to include.

- What are you reading at the moment?

The Failed Experiment by Andrew Fisher. Excellent book btw.

- What was the last film you saw?

American Hustle, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Somos lo que hay (We Are What We Are) ... It was a movie night!

- What is the best novel you've ever read?

I dunno. Don’t think I have. Have read lots of great novels I don’t have a best one.

- Can you name an idea or an issue on which you've changed your mind?

No, not really ... I mean, things develop and evolve over time. I’ve not had a ‘road to Damascus’ experience.

- How many political organisations have you been a member of?

Probably four ... Mists of time has an impact on the memory. International Socialist Group (ISG), Socialist Alliance, Labour Party and Labour Representation Committee.

- What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate?

Always be on the side of the oppressed.

- What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat?

No one philosophical thesis needs to be combatted. Various ideologies need to be combatted.

- Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world?

Not just one but three... Not in Our Genes by Steven Rose et al, Is the Future Female by Lynne Segal and Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels

- Who are your political heroes?

John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Katy Clark ... Ordinary people who take on the state whether it is a death in custody, workplace, mental health setting and so on. Activists organising and challenging the attacks on the benefits system, workfare, tax evasion/avoidance. Disability rights activists and mental health user movement activists too. Really admire the work Kate Belgrave has done highlighting the injustice towards people on benefits. Also trade union activists who organise in the workplace. They are the unsung ordinary political heroes who do it to make a difference, expose injustice and oppression.

- How about political villains?

Usual bourgeois suspects...New Labour, Tories, UKIP, Britain First ... LibDems.

- What do you think is the most pressing political task of the day?

Where to be begin? Nationally? Globally? Confront the ideology that is bound up with austerity such as racism. If we don’t, then we are a heading towards reactionary times, scapegoating specific groups of people and we know from history where that leads us ...

- If you could affect one major policy change, what would it be?

One? I can’t prioritise ...

- What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?

Western imperialism ... as usual with their interventions, occupations and proxy wars.

- What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

Say what you mean, mean what you say ...

- What is your favourite song?

I don’t have one. Have a collection of favourite songs.

- What do you consider the most important personal quality?

Humour ...

- What personal fault do you most dislike?

No sense of humour ...

- What, if anything, do you worry about?

Where to begin ... List is endless. Job security (personal level), austerity (personal and on a global level), mental distress, oppression and discrimination. What’s happening in Gaza is just so tremendously anger inducing. Free Gaza!

- What piece of advice would you give to your much younger self?

Don’t worry! Always have a sense of humour and build that self-confidence/esteem. Go to art college

- What do you like doing in your spare time?

Photography, drawing, reading and watching endless television and DVDs. Cinema visits.

- What is your most treasured possession?

A photo (which is the only one I have) of me when I was 5.

- Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Too many to tell. Sad that How I Met Your Mother has ended.

- What talent would you most like to have?

Play the piano.

- If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for?

Permanent contract (though that is wishful thinking ...)

- How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money?

Bigger house, indoor swimming pool, gym room, then give the rest to grassroots campaigning organisations and cat charities.

- If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be?

Groucho Marx, Marilyn Monroe and Lotte Lenya.

- Socialism: will you live to see it?

I suspect not ...