Saturday 17 January 2015

Saturday Interview: Mark Wright

Mark Wright is 26 year-old activist from East Hertfordshire. He's also been registered blind for 10 years. Nevertheless, Mark is an avid commentator on social media where you can find him discussing politics, anarchism/libertarian socialism, and the thin gruel that is Everton's footballing success. He blogs at the way i see things and tweets here.

Why did you decide to give blogging a go?

At the time it seemed just to be taking off. A good way of sharing my ideas and thoughts and feelings on various current affairs and my own personal opinions. A way of connecting with likeminded others too.

Have you got a best blogging experience?

My blog is a small, independent one now not affiliated to any party so receiving several retweets on twitter or a few nice comments on facebook is always nice especially when I go into more personal thoughts.

... and any blogging advice for new starters?

Patience and to find something you know and can talk about. Find an area where you can really develop your thoughts and ideas and not look to take it too seriously.

Do you also find social media useful for activist-y things?

Very much so. Being blind, transport to and from meetings, demos and the like is not easy so being able to spread a message and campaign at the touch of your finger tips has opened the world of activism up to disabled people. The speed and delivery of breaking news is also something which social media is excellent on.

Are you reading anything at the moment?

Not a big reader, Sadly a lot of political material is still not all that accessible to the blind who use a screen reader or Braille. Its getting better with more and more content coming online in a electronic format thankfully. Currently I’m reading Solidarity Federations Fighting for Ourselves pamphlet available online.

Do you have a favourite novel?

I’m a big sci-fi fan read a few audio books a month with Doctor Who and Star Wars being particular favourites.

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

Karl Marx's Capital. His best writing full of political content on working class exploitation and he brilliantly describes how capitalism works or doesn’t work for us as working people.

Who are your biggest intellectual influences?

Karl Marx, Murray Bookchin, Peter Kropotkin

What was the last film you saw?

12 Years a Slave

How many political organisations have you been a member of?

A few, I started off in the Labour Party and have moved ever leftwards since:

Labour party
Socialist party of England and Wales
Unite Union

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

Oh too many for this blog I think we should always be open to reassessing our ideas. Nothing is constant and as our world changes our ideas will change as a result. I think we should always try and keep our thoughts independent and not to blindly accept a party line, for example. To question everything should be our starting point I feel.

What set of ideas do you think it most important to disseminate?

Genuine equality for all. Fighting for a world which meets peoples needs free of exploitation

What set of ideas do you think it most important to combat?

Discrimination of any sort. Being disabled I’ve faced direct and indirect discrimination in and outside of the workplace but there is so much division and hate in the world today from sexism, racism, to nationalism. There more ways the ruling class use to divide us.

Who are your political heroes?

I don’t really have any current political heroes. There are little in the way of big famous socialist names any longer so I’ll have to go with the fantastic women down at the Focus E15. Standing up against the Labour-run council in Newham, they bravely occupied The Carpenters Estate and showed that real politics comes from the ground up organised by real people facing a real struggle to get by in the face of a huge housing crisis. Ultimately, because our leaders don’t believe in the principle of social housing, the selling of council estates, the imposition of the bedroom tax and introduction of right to buy serve to put our housing needs in the hands of private landlords. As a result housing has become unaffordable, precarious and downright terrifying.

How about political villains?

Oh where do I start? Having being born in 1988 I never saw Thatcherism but seeing this current Tory government I can well understand how it must have been like. Those at the Murdoch press who try and pass themselves off as journalists and drip poison into our communities with vile characterisations of benefit cheats and demonising the poor are beyond contempt.

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

Ending austerity, exposing its real causes and its consequences on those who are most vulnerable. Let's not forget we are still only less than half way into the cuts proposed by parties of all sorts who are all signed up to constant austerity regardless of who wins power this May.

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

Scrapping the attacks on disabled people. These are some of the most vicious cuts that have been made and there has been a few to be honest. The capping of benefits is cruel while the work capability assessment which until recently was delivered by the private vultures over at ATOS cause great heartache and misery for many.

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

Global capitalism. Its constant drive for greater and greater profit to the detriment of our environment and the survival of the human race knows no boundaries. A sytem which cares not for its people or its planet is a system that needs replacing for good.

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

Don’t take yourself too seriously. Always be honest and its ordinary people from the bottom up that can and will change society - not a self-appointed leader representing us.

What is your favourite song?

Changes. Often I don’t have one favourite song.

Do you have a favourite video game?

Used to be a big gamer before I lost my sight. I used to love the Championship Manager football management series. I loved the tactical side of the game and watching my decisions on the team come off ... or fail more often than not!

What do you consider the most important personal quality in others?

Honesty and trust, Two should go hand in hand. A big one always thrown at various politicos but I think staying true to what you believe in is an admirable quality even if we wont ever agree.

What personal fault in others do you most dislike?

Dishonesty and betrayal

What, if anything, do you worry about?

A lot I’m a big worrier. The future worries me a lot - will I have a pension when I’m older? What will life be like for our next generation? And so on.

And any pet peeves?

Lateness and swearing for the sake of it.

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

Make the most of life, don’t worry what others think, and try new things whenever you can.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I listen to a lot of radio, talk-based radio in particular. I follow sports too. My football team is Everton who are also my Dad's team, and Stevenage more locally. I go to their matches occasionally.

What is your most treasured possession?

My personalised signed Kylie Minogue photograph.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I’m a huge Kylie Minogue fan. I've seen her in concert five times now.

What talent would you most like to have?

I’ve always wanted to try and learn a musical instrument really admire those who can play one.

If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true - apart from getting loads of money - what would you wish for?

Sounds clich├ęd but for the people around me to find happiness and fulfillment

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

I’d make sure none of my family and friends had to worry about money ever again after that I’d donate the rest to whichever non workfare using charity I felt needed it the most.

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

Kylie Minogue obvs - she's a big inspiration for me as she was fighting cancer at the same time I was losing my sight.

Tim Vickery, BBC South American football correspondent - his footballing knowledge of South America and the social side of the game fascinates me no end. Plus I think he’sa secret socialist .

And Karl Marx, what would he make of the world today and the state of the left ?

And finally ... what do you think will be the outcome of the election in May?

I really cant tell I’ve seen cases’s stating all things are possible. For me it will be either Labour or the Tories in coalition with one or two other smaller parties, or a minority government all carrying on with austerity.

How smaller parties do may be the most interesting part with the likes of the ever-detestable UKIP looking to strike while their iron is hot and the rise of the SNP north of the border eating into Labour's base.