Skip to content

On Unity And Power

When we are unified, when we stand together, the vast horde that is The People, there would be no way of stopping us. The state knows this, and thus the only way to stop it is to distract us with infighting, brainwashing, and financial manipulation, to not let it happen in the first place.

From Emma Kathryn

 

In my last essay, I spoke of recognising the tools that divide us, which you can find here.

Since then, and as is often the case, some of the comments got me thinking about unity and affinity and how these concepts can be applied to the good fight.

Affinity with anything is great. When you find someone or a group of someones with whom you just click, who are like soul brothers and sisters, then that is awesome. It’s natural to stick by, stand with and fight with and for those people.

It is more difficult to stand with others with whom you may not know, or whose suffering and oppression does not affect you, when their rights and lives are under attack.

When another’s suffering doesn’t affect us, when it is seen as a snippet on the evening news, when people are so tired from the hours of graft, when family time is squeezed in between those short few precious hours between getting home, doing chores and bed before the cycle begins again, it is no wonder it is easier to turn over. To watch some mindless reality TV. To enjoy the short-lived thrill of spending money we don’t have on shit we don’t need. To switch off.

Sometimes we feel helpless. What can we do as individuals against the tidal wave of shit that this world faces, nearly all of it man-made?

When I talk about unity, I do so with the meaning that it is standing with others, even when they are not in our family, friendship, or any other group. It’s about standing with strangers when they’re under oppression, even though their oppression has no effect at all upon our lives. It’s about standing up against the corruption of state and of capitalism, even when survival is not a struggle for you.

It’s about not being divided by petty shit.

How many times do we get involved in online debates and arguments that really do not mean anything? What I mean by this is that there are so many of these discussions, where people are listening, not with an ear to really understand the other perspective (which would be a good thing), but instead to come back with a witty or clever sounding comment that refutes what the other has said, and with various links to back it up.

To and fro these discussions go, and people get so hot-headed, because they are sure in their very soul that they are correct, and therefore, the other must be wrong. It’s an argument that goes round and round with nothing ever coming from it only more dislike, sometimes even hatred. Division.

They are pointless because they achieve nothing. Absolutely nothing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that all online debates go this way, but many do. And often times, the viewpoints or opinions and beliefs of those arguing aren’t really all that far removed from one another.

What is often lacking is genuine, intelligent discourse. The free and open exchange of ideas and opinions between people and  groups can only be a good thing, can only lead to genuine understanding, but what often happens is that people argue over side issues, or try to gloss over them.

An example of this can be seen when I, or others often speak out or write against the capitalist state, or the oppression of Peoples, or the devastation we cause the planet.

Some think, that because I call for an end to unfair systems that crush the many for the benefit of the few, that I must mean that I want to put another system in charge of us. That we must all be equally poor, or that the state becomes a workers state where we are all equally oppressed.

I would no more have those systems than the one we are currently under.

It’s not about handing power over us to one group or another, but seizing it for ourselves. It’s not about voting left or right, here in Britain, Conservatives or Labour. They are both different sides of the same coin. Those politicians are not like us, indeed, I often think what it is that makes someone want power over others. It takes a special kind of arsehole. Most of them have never had real jobs, outside of the bubble of government. They ‘streamline’ the education system, cutting the budgets, but you can guarantee their kids don’t attend the local comprehensive high school. They are forever cutting the NHS, again always spinning the lie they are delivering better value for money, but you can bet they have private healthcare. Their lies and duplicity are evident.

Oh yes, I am sure there are those that enter politics because they want to help others, but those individuals are few and far between. The big guns, the cabinet members. Those who make decisions about how others should live are not like us. They think they are untouchable, that they are above the laws that apply to the rest of us. And yet they abuse their power. In the last few weeks, Parliament has been rocked by sex scandals, stories of sexual abuse and harassment covered up or totally ignored.

No, it’s not about handing power to others who would use it against us, who would abuse it. It’s not about replacing the ones at the bottom now with others. It’s about taking power back for ourselves.

I believe this starts with unity.

When we can stand together, and look out for those who are different, in whatever way, to ourselves, then we can begin to take back power.

If we’re not busy arguing amongst ourselves about which political party has done the most damage, and instead recognise the ploy for what it is, we can focus our attentions on the things that do matter, that do make a difference.

So what system should be in place then?

One where people are put first. One where people can go to work and not have to struggle to live, to survive. One where the laws are for protection of the people, and not for big business and corporations. One where people are put before profit and property. One where people are not discriminated against, where equality means equality for all people. One where nature is given the respect she deserves. That’ll do for starters.

I don’t know how we get there today, but I believe it starts with unity.

When we are unified, when we stand together, the vast horde that is The People, there would be no way of stopping us. The state knows this, and thus the only way to stop it is to distract us with infighting, brainwashing, and financial manipulation, to not let it happen in the first place.

How many of us work full-time hours, or as many as we can get, how many parents both work and still can’t afford to cover the basics of living, too tired to do anything else other than scroll through social media or watch mindless TV once the kids are in bed? How many of us worry about work, how many of us are on zero hours contracts or cannot get enough hours at work because the business wants to cut costs, doesn’t want to pay the extra tax? All of these things are distractions, all keep us separate, and harden us against the suffering of others because it is difficult to see past our own suffering, the unfairness faced by others because we too are treated unfairly.

Unity is the key to any true revolutions, to any meaningful change. Surely it has to be. If we are not unified, then how will change come, if the vast majority are silent. It only takes silence for evil and wrong doing to flourish. How many choose to ignore the abuse of others, even though they find it abhorrent, because it doesn’t affect them. It’s ‘none of their business’.

We must find unity if we are to effect any real change in this world.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magick, of course!

You can follow Emma on Facebook


You can help us pay Emma and other anti-capitalist Pagans and witches at Gods&Radicals here. And thanks!

5 Comments »

  1. “It is more difficult to stand with others with whom you may not know, or whose suffering and oppression does not affect you, when their rights and lives are under attack.”

    If your desire is for people to seek out common ground with other individuals in whose oppression they may not share (at least in an obvious and direct way), then I would suggest that the idea of ‘unity’ is actually an impediment to this goal and should be abandoned in favour of ’empathy.’ To suggest that there are some people in this world who do not share in the oppression of others is itself an argument against the very unity that you are espousing. While I’m not in the habit of making apologetic statements about my own socioeconomic background, I’m not going to go around pretending that I, as a white, middle class, North American male experience oppression in exactly the same way as, say, a black woman born in inner city Los Angeles or the Soweto township in Johannesburg. For me to proclaim ‘unity’ with someone of such a background would be, if you’ll pardon the bad pun, an act of ‘whitewashing’ on my part. It would be a disservice to the uniqueness of her life’s experiences for me to presume that there could – or even should – be any ‘unity’ between us.

    This isn’t to say that I think the “Oppression Olympics” is a game worth playing. Arguing over who is more oppressed than whom is a no-win situation for everyone involved. To me, it makes more sense to say that every individual experiences oppression differently in their daily lives and that trying to erase these differences under the umbrella of some all-encompassing ‘unity’ just perpetuates the very thing it’s trying to solve. I want to have the power to assert my uniqueness as an individual in this world; and precisely because this is what I want for myself, it is what I want for others as well. I don’t want to see anyone have their individuality subsumed into some “mass movement” and I certainly don’t want to pretend that I speak for others who are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. I firmly believe that ‘unity’ and ’empathy’ cannot coexist because the latter begins from the affirmation of individual difference whereas the former begins from its erasure. How can I desire for others what I want for myself if I see my own desires as subordinate to the Group Identity as an abstract ideal?

    Like

  2. Thanks for reading.

    I don’t actually think that in order to stand with others who are oppressed you need to find common ground. In fact, that is the point of the article. You don’t have to find similarities between yourself and those facing oppression, is it not enough that we are human? That we know, can feel when something is intrinsically wrong?

    With the logic you use here in arguments against unity, does that mean that when I face racism, a mixed race woman of English and Jamaican heritage, that my white English mother and my white English sisters cannot stand with me against it? Where by your own circumstances may mean you don’t face the same oppression as another, doesn’t mean that you cannot join the fight against whatever that oppression may be.

    I totally agree, that ‘opression olympics’ is not worth getting into, and in fact, I see that as another tool that is used to divide us, to get us squabbling amongst ourselves. Equality isn’t equality if it isn’t applied to all peoples, no matter sex, gender, race, creed, colour and so on.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to read!

    Like

  3. “[D]oes that mean that when I face racism, a mixed race woman of English and Jamaican heritage, that my white English mother and my white English sisters cannot stand with me against it?”

    I guess that, from my perspective, “standing with” someone and being ‘unified’ with them are two completely different things. When I “stand with” someone, we support each other in our in our mutual desire to assert ourselves as fully unique and autonomous individuals. Even if racism hinders someone’s ability to do this in a way that I can’t relate to, the “common ground” that we share is this desire in itself. When I am ‘unified’ with someone, on the other hand, the differences between us are erased and we see ourselves as indistinguishable from one another, effectively becoming one and the same person. To me, the idea of “common ground” has nothing to do with belonging to the same identity category (be it a racial identity or something else entirely), coming from the same socioeconomic background, or having the same life experiences. Rather, it involves the shared desire to life a life that is free of domination and exploitation. While this desire may vary in its tenor and focus from person to person, it’s the closest thing to a ‘universal’ desire that we’re ever going to find.

    Like

  4. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree here. If you want to get into the semantics of the wording, then uniting and unifying are two different things, at least to me and how the word ‘unity’ is used within the context of the article and are not used interchangeably. Unity is used in the article to suggest a coming together of people against oppression. Even if we use your definitions, then the only commonality you would need to unite against oppression is the common desire to get rid of it. Oppression is oppression no matter who is doing it, or who the victim of it is, and so whenever we see oppression, then yes, we can unite against it, and we can do so because we know, we can feel when something is wrong, even when we witness it happening to someone who is different from ourselves, it’s part of our humanity.

    And also just to point out (and part of what the article deals with), here we are, discussing the semantics of words and what they may and may not mean to us whilst instead we could simply say, you know what, we might use words to mean different things, but what we mean is not miles apart, you are here, reading this, on this site.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

    Like

  5. “I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree here.”

    I’m cool with that. Even if I disagree with you to a large extent, your willingness to have a productive discussion is refreshing. I do think that semantics are sometimes more important than people give them credit for, but I also get the fact that it can come off like nit-picking sometimes. It’s just that I’ve heard words like ‘unity’ and ‘unify’ being used to justify some some really insidious “hive mind” behaviour within the activist scene. That being the case, I tend to be quite skeptical of the possibility that this language can be put to positive use.
    At any rate, this can be touchy subject matter depending on who you’re talking to, so I consider it a small success that this discussion didn’t completely disintegrate into a barrage of ad hominems from both sides.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: