An interesting post at The Standard – Left wing activism and the humdrum need to maintain jobs and careers, about the difficulties of being a left wing activist while maintaining a middle class mortgage supporting career.
This is by a new author, ‘Advantage’, who as ‘Ad’ has been one of the commenters worth keeping an eye on in Standard threads.
See if this rings any bells. You’ll have your own stories on this.
You’re highly qualified. You can’t trust those around you with your politics. Random restructures hit teams around you. If you’re outed, you’ll likely never work in your chosen field again. Your few close friends are allies, others have flamed out like a final Mad Max ride. Your nom-de-plume protects your mortgage.
A few peel off to work in Parliament, others to minor NGOs, some reduced to commenting alone, still more get post-campaign burnout and become melancholic muggles.
The choices narrow for the remainder. Build or find a project in your “spare time” and believe in its ability to inspire; this site is one. Choose union activism to rail valiantly against the rising exploitative tide, and forgo your career arc. Some retreat to the grey economy, rebuke the world, retire from the field early, sending occasional missives on purity.
Others keep their suits on. They find social reform, or governance positions, or built infrastructure projects, on a monumental scale, and push their shoulder in. They make deals. They compromise everything especially themselves. They are strategic brokers, and they are paid for it. One’s function in politics changes as one’s ideals are replaced by instruments.
The comments thread is interesting too (if you can get past the few “right bad, left perfect and hard done by” bits) with discussion and expansion on the themes raised.
I’m sure there are jobs in which people interested in any sort of political activism feel restrained and see a need to keep their activism anonymous to their workplace. From the left, right or no aligned.
Absolutely. I’ve never worked in a situation where I felt it wise to even talk about politics, much less ‘out’ myself.
It is absolutely one of the covert control mechanisms embedded in most workplaces, an effective prohibition on ever talking about salaries, politics, workplace bullying and so on. Increasingly the only things that are talked about are sport, the weather and workplace gossip. The intent is to keep worker powerless.
This is as I suspected.
Sorry to sound like Morpheus out of The Matrix, but it means those kinds of people really are out there.
What I am pointing to is their latent power.
Such insiders have massive institutional knowledge, are paid like professional people, have immense industry networks, and are often in charge of projects or programmes that have real effects in the world.
– Industry specific knowledge is vital for policy formation
– Paid professionals have the capacity to be donors (a growing left problem)
– Networks have specific political power into specific Ministries
– And programmes and projects can become part of policy direction as well
Political movements of the left need to nurture this kind of person.
In the modern world many people choose to put families, careers and private lives before political activism and other interests, even if they are inclined towards it (most have little or no interest in politics).
Could I have been an MP? Could I have been an All Black? Either is possible (although it’s unknown if either were attainable) , but for twenty plus years in the prime of my life I toiled away raising a family and going from job to job in order to survive financially.
My marriage didn’t come out the other side of that intact but I have children and step children and another marriage plus step children and grand children that I am very thankful for. The lack of high profile achievement and failing to solve the worlds problems has instead had it’s own big rewards. And now I can dabble (at politics, I gave up rugby at the end of last century).
Ironically (in respect of Advantage’s post) the longest I have had a single career job for has coincided with when I have been able to try out a bit of political activism. I’m aware some jobs wouldn’t allow that – perhaps those who want to pursue activism have to choose a job that’s compatible.