In recent blogs, I have paid specific attention to the importance of outside and inside political movements – outside movements are typified by the student movement (and theoretically discussed by the likes of Murray Bookchin), whereas inside movements are specifically required to radically influence the Labour Party; especially regarding the need for Labour as the mainstream opposition to take a more progressive anti-cut stance. However, there is a complacent attitude developing regarding the power outside movements currently have. Whilst I believe it is extremely vital, as I have said before (and as some people interpreted wrongly as though I was privileging one over the other) both outside and inside politics work together creating a complementary ethic of radical politics.
The problems with assuming the outside movement will do all the work, whilst neglecting traditional channels, is that we can ignore the need for more immediate radical reform/protests within the existing system; especially when we see the abuses being committed against disabled people, for example. With warnings that the 20% cuts to disability spending may breach human rights, there has never been more need for an outside and inside political movement.
However, the outside protests to disability cuts/policies are yet to really start. There are movements growing (see DPAC, for example). But it isn’t really gaining the momentum it requires, as of yet. As mentioned in a previous blog, the one protest re anti-welfare cuts I remember being organised at a national level (focussing on the housing benefit cuts) failed to even initiative a local protest in Leeds. Given the sheer callous nature of the government’s cuts to disabled people’s lives, this is simply shocking.
The mainstream opposition, Labour, were undertaking many of the disgusting erosions of disabled people’s rights when they were in power; including ESA and more stringent medical tests. The Coalition government have just continued this with more bite. Note the disastrous silence by all the main parties and the quiet news coverage as benefits and services that disabled people need to have their right to life respected are getting slashed with no care. This is where the apathy and violence ripens, with no mainstream channel to defend the rights of those so often silenced you can expect nothing else but such responses.
But then there is also no real outside movement to such cuts; creating isolation. It is building, but so far the only thing to initiate such large-scale protests have been the higher education policies and EMA cut. However, as I have said before these protests for me represent something much more than just anti-education cuts – they are a symbol of the growing disgust with the government’s actions. But this disgust needs to be manifested in wider protests. Granted we have the 26th of March demonstration coming up. Disability is becoming more of a focus for campaigners. We have to translate this to wider public acknowledgement of the true devastation of the government’s actions and make sure we have the truth, contra to the Daily Mail rubbish.
We need a coordination of movements (such as the existing disability movement) to create the space so groups such as disabled people and others (such as sex workers) can have public space for their voices to be heard and to counteract the inaccurate lies that are spouted around equating disabled people to some kind of drain on public services to ‘justify’ these ideological unforgivable cuts.
Outside movements need to place more focus on aspects such as this to frame the growing counter-power structures within a wider civic context. Whilst inside political battles need to specifically focus on reforming Labour (outside through the Greens and the larger outside movement and inside through Labour members/activists), as under the current system they are the biggest inside opposition.
However, inside and outside politics are a complementary ethic – both are needed if we are going to make society fairer. They are both needed to stop the erosion of disabled people’s rights. They are both needed to stop this government enacting the devastating cuts that will destroy the lives of the present and future human and non-human generations.