John Dunn of the Justice for Mineworkers campaign makes a New Year’s resolution: don’t forget the crimes of capitalism and the ruling class; learn from history and begin organising the fightback for a socialist society.
Last month I found myself being a little reflective, what had 2013 really been like? Watching the whole charade around the death of Nelson Mandela, where the reality of his struggle was conveniently forgotten, got me thinking, was there anything memorable that I, myself, had done? Would 2013 exit the stage having been made a little bit better for my actions?
Well I’d successfully debated Thatcher’s legacy with a pompous Tory twit, after I’d celebrated her death with much of the country. I’d done the usual stuff of speaking at meetings, supporting strikers etc.
Of course there had been the fantastic demonstration at Tory party conference in September which was inspiring and invigorating, but what had the year really meant for me? It hadn’t ended too great – I’m a Celebrity… was crap and the wrong person won X Factor, Bruce Forsythe kept annoying me on Saturday nights. Life really was starting to seem a bit meaningless.
Now I know it wasn’t any sort of mid-life crisis as I’m much too old for that, having presumably sailed through midlife some time ago. So why was I feeling so reflective? After all one year is pretty much like another isn’t it?
So to sort this out in my mind I decided to consult t’internet for advice and I came upon this quote from someone called Buddha and thought he must have a lot in common with me because me mam always used to say I was a little Buddha, “Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again.”
Now he might be one of those weird American preachers that use snakes to get their message across but I thought those words might have a deeper meaning than just reptilian growth methods so I gave it some deeper thought – David Cameron had just shed his past as a young Tory when praising Nelson Mandela, and he (Cameron) is definitely reptilian, but it must mean more than that.
Further research showed me that the shedding of the past is quite common, especially amongst the privileged elite. Even our beloved royal scroungers had done it! It seems that the name Windsor is one they acquired quite recently, in 1917 in fact.
Up to then they were actually the Saxe-Coburg Gotha lot but as the country was at war with a close relative of theirs, the Kaiser Wilhelm, emperor of Germany and grandson of Queen Victoria, and he was ordering the killing of lots of British servicemen.
So I suppose it must have seemed good PR to change it to Windsor, perhaps to make it a bit clearer who our troops were actually fighting for and against.
Even that loveable eccentric, Prince Philip is actually from the royal house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg, known to have had links to the Nazi SS.
If the royals could successfully shed a Nazi loving, British troop killing past and reinvent themselves, perhaps I could. By a little refocusing I could become a new person, then I could erase the memories of the destruction of my union, the NUM and the deliberate industrial genocide committed against mining communities in particular. I could progress and also eradicate the anger I felt at how decent working class people were being made to pay for the crisis of capitalism? Perhaps I could, in the words of the song, ‘forgive and forget’?
I was astounded, it is so easy to forgive – “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” Or so said some Pope called Alexander. That little Buddha popped up again – “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”
I had got it so wrong, I needed to ‘shed some skin’. I thought that wouldn’t do me any harm, either as I was getting a little bit sedentary in my dotage and shedding a few pounds of skin would definitely help, after all I had read that Susan Boyle was going to lose two stones, presumably before reinventing herself and forgetting that twit Simon Cowell.
So that was it, I was going to lose some weight and reinvent myself.
Unfortunately my eyes then lit upon this quote that someone called Luke had written in that best selling work of fiction, the Bible: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”
That did it for me, all my illusions in ‘shedding some skin’ were shattered. If the ‘ungrateful and the evil’ cashed in on my new found endeavours what use was forgetting my past and forgiving ‘those who trespassed against me’. Wasn’t that how it had always worked, the workers having to get on with it while ‘the ungrateful and evil’ reap the benefits? Plus, if you ‘lend expecting nothing in return’ aren’t you just getting ripped off? Isn’t that what Marx pointed out in his labour theory of value that we give more to the bosses than we get back?
This was like a ‘road to Domestos’ moment for me, I finally saw the light. 2014 is going to be a great year for our class.
The fightback against austerity is slowly developing. March brings the 30th anniversary of the Great Strike when our communities proudly celebrate that magnificent struggle.
It brings with it the disclosure of cabinet papers that should, if they are released fully, show the extent to which the state was used by the Thatcher government to attack my union and destroy our industry.
This and so much more is what 2014 will bring, it will give us opportunities galore to right the wrongs and suffering of our past.
The successes of 2013 in exposing blacklisting as a most vile attack upon trade union activists will continue to further show the state collusion with employers. It will be a year in which we shine our boots to give the capitalists a good kicking.
Far from being sad about the past we should be proud of our heritage, that past was forged by the shoulders of the giants upon which we stand, it is not something to be shed, leave that to the Saxe-Coburg Gothas and their ilk.
So my reflections have eventually left me feeling enthusiastic, which I am sure can be life threatening at my age.
So stuff that little Buddha and his forgiveness crap, stuff all the quotes about forgetting the past, let’s get stuck in and join the fight.
I’m going back to t’internet for some more advice though, I’m still going to ‘shed some skin’, just like I resolved last year and the one before that!
In the meantime I’ll finish on my favourite quote of all time, perhaps all the more relevant given my new – found optimism.
Despite his persecution, the murders of his family and comrades Leon Trotsky still said – “Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.”
I’m up to giving it a go!