Oh no! It's Politics!

Cults 'r' us

What's it like to be in a political group?

By a process of (un)natural selection only people who can handle going to lots of meetings will last the distance. People are bullied or guilt-tripped in to doing activities. Anyone with a life outside of politics is seen as not serious about their politics.

People who start to question the unspoken assumptions of the group can expect the cold shoulder from people who were previously friendly. Maintaining the shared illusions of the group is more important than any relationships.

Question Time

Political groups claim to be about liberation for ordinary people. So why are they so elitist?

Political groups claim to oppose a society which is based on conformity. So why are they so hostile to independent and critical thinking?

The way people taking part in a political meeting relate to each other just reproduces the same crap we have to put up with in the rest of our lives. How is this going to lead to a new sense of community?

How much is being achieved after all those hours of meetings and marches?

Political people feel the need to be doing something, but the political scene only offers the feeling of doing something.

You might expect a genuinely liberating movement to unleash some suppressed energy. But you will mostly find hours of deadly boring meetings, and the old ways of working (public meetings. leaflet, march, etc) trotted out time after time. The only energy is shown by the hardcore activist who runs harder and harder around the cage of leftist misery. Where is the creativity, the fresh ideas, the sense of festival and fun?

Surely the point of politics is to improve the quality of life for ordinary people - and that includes us. If we're working for a world which gives a better life for the mass of people how can this be served by making our own lives as miserable as possible?

Getting your fix

People who become politically conscious tend to look for another package of ideas to replace the conventional ideas they have rejected. But getting your ideas in package rather than picking and choosing for yourself is part of the problem not part of the solution.

Being in a political group can be an attempt to overcome loneliness and to boost self-esteem by being involved in something 'worthwhile'. People can be persuaded to go through the misery of political activity 'for the cause' and will give up huge amounts of their time to political activity in the belief that there's a higher purpose to it all.

Leftist politicos like the feeling that they have a superior understanding of life and the world to that of an 'ordinary' person. (But surely clinging to a system which claims to explain everything is a sign of great insecurity?)

Political groups don't encourage people to think about how it feels to be involved in the group. They don't encourage people to think about what else is going on in the group, how the way people act is influenced by what else is going on in their lives, and by what their emotional needs are at the time.

Dictators and sheep

The hyper-activist is generally the one who has the initiative to set something up, or has taken over the initiative of others. He (it usually is a 'he') does a large amount of work. He doesn't really trust anyone else to do things right so he takes on most of the tasks himself. (This basic lack of belief in the ability in the people around him contrasts with his supposed faith in the ability of the masses to take control of society). Since the hyper-activist is the one setting the agenda and taking on most of the tasks, others feel increasingly alienated from the process and want to participate less. This confirms the leader's paranoid belief that he is the only one doing anything and that the others can't be trusted. This creates a siege mentality in the leader's head and increases his autocratic behaviour toewards others. And so the situation spirals downwards.

Hyper-activists cling to the cause to the point of breakdown.

There are never leaders without sheep. People can only get away with being dominant because others let them get away with it. We let them get away with it because a lot of the time we'd rather have someone else take charge so we can stay in the passive role which society has already conditioned.

This article originally appeared on 'Between the Lines' magazine, who can be contacted at:
Box 32, 136 Kingsland High Street, London E8, UK

Back to politics.

Back to main index.