Political activism and maintaining a career

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.

RedLogix comments:

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.

Ad responds:

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.

Next Post

17 Comments

  1. John Schmidt

     /  4th October 2015

    Those at extremely ends of the political spectrum hold views that are beyond comprehension for the bulk of the people in the middle. This pigeon holes political activists into either uncaring (right) or weird (left). Reading through The Standard and it comments often leave me gobsmacked with the views or interpretations that I know to be completely untrue and I find it astonding that they clearly believe that their wrong views are true and I am left to wonder if these people are really that dumb or have they become zealots which prevents these people from seeing the truth replacing that instead with strange views or interpretations with a good dose of conspiracy.

  2. Mike C

     /  4th October 2015

    @George

    WTF !!!

    A Political Activist ???

    I assume that you are talking about your blog … as opposed to joining a rally and waving a placard. LOL.

  3. traveller

     /  4th October 2015

    It’s all very Church of State and Crown of Thorns isn’t it. Their devotion to their secret politics and sublime, clandestine good works reeks of brainwashed fundamentalism. Just like fundamentalists, metaphorically speaking, they would burn heretics at the stake.

    The righteousness and the martyrdom makes me flinch.

  4. kiwi_guy

     /  4th October 2015

    Yep, as a guy who can demolish right and left wing arguments I am keenly aware of being VERY careful in work places when it comes to taking part in political conversations.

    Work places are right wing on the whole, not surprising seeing they are hierarchical, top down power structures.

    Its fairly easy to work out roughly where a person stands even without talking politics with them though.

    • Mike C

       /  4th October 2015

      @KiwiGuy

      Have you ever been friends with someone who is Right Wing ???

      I have had heaps of friendships with Left Wing folks throughout my lifetime, because my politics is not the method with which I choose my friends 🙂

  5. Kevin

     /  4th October 2015

    What a bunch of whining hypocritical crybabies. I would have some sympathy for them if showed even the smallest of toleration for different points of view instead of team-attacking anyone who even is slightly right of extreme left.

    • They have been going through an exercise of considering how their blog behaviour may have been driving people away. Time will tell whether much changes.

      • Kevin

         /  4th October 2015

        Personally I think the biggest reason is Prentice himself. Here’s a good example. A left-wing poster made a post. He had been reading The Standard for a long time but it was it his first time commenting. For some reason Prentice took exception, verbally abused him, banned him for a couple of weeks and finished off with his usual obscene comments involving male genitals. They really do need to rein him in and just have him working in the background keeping the site running. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was the main reason the comments section there was called vile.

      • DaveG

         /  5th October 2015

        I am sure the worlds greatest Sysop can sort it all out with the ease of a Lepard changes its spots. The only way possible, is to change the Sysop, it’s a personality driven commie Union bog!

  6. This funny – I have talked politics at work in large corporates. And their are plenty of lefties and they demonstrate their politics all the time, never seen them targeted. That whole post by Ad reeked of rationalising why he/she is not doing more politically ….

  7. SteveRemmington

     /  5th October 2015

    The problem is not having or being known to hold different views within the workplace,
    It’s how you present those views.

    The far right, and more so the far left activist base are so ideologically blinkered to anyone else’s view that having a loud mouthed activist, who cannot control their political emotions are a hindrance to a good employment environment.

    Very much like Prentice’s cesspool, it could be used as a good forum to get the lefts message out, sadly the lunatics have taken over the asylum over there.

    • SteveRemmington

       /  5th October 2015

      I was going to add that the extreme left treat friends of other polical persuasion, workmates, employers, celebrities, fellow blog commentators etc as they treat the voting public.

      They can’t fathom why they vote the way they do, they are wrong and they should be punished for not seeing the light.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  5th October 2015

        You can talk politics without talking politics just by telling a real story about real people. I’ve always found that very effective in dealing with folk who don’t share my understanding!