This is my response, or rather the response so far to the cataclysmic election result.
It is my manifesto for my way forward and I hope it may resonate or provoke or support other individual thinking.
One definition of manifesto is 'a public declaration of policy and aims'. So this is mine. It could also be called 'how to live in opposition' or 'how do I wear my privilege?' or 'how can I continue to live an engaged and consciousness life when my government stands for everything I despise and disagree with?'
There is this word 'macro' meaning large in scale, scope and capability, and there is this word 'micro' meaning small, localised, restricted in scope or area. The micro is me and the macro is the world.
I choose to foster a relationship between the two.
There is this word 'political' meaning power relationships and hierarchies and there is this word 'personal' meaning one's own immediate life and life-history.
I choose to foster a relationship between the two.
The phrase 'the personal is political' came into usage within the Feminist movement of the 1970's when 'consciousness-raising' was seen as a political act. Consciousness-raising was an attempt to understand ones own situation, own life history, own oppression and find commonality with others through discussion. It was viewed as a form of protest as valid as a political march or rally.
For change to occur within the macro and the micro a relationship between the personal and the political must be fostered. This is what I believe in and this belief underpins my manifesto.
So, going forward I am going to continue to foster the relationship between the personal and the political. I can do this because I am not in immediate jeopardy from government policies and practices. I may feel as if I am but I am not. I am not at risk of losing my home. I am not at risk of losing my capacity to earn money. I am not at risk of going hungry. I am not at risk of being cold. I am not at risk of imprisonment. I am not at risk by requiring immediate or ongoing medical treatment from the NHS. I am not at risk of having no passport. I am not at risk of dying at sea.
I am not at risk because I have economic, social and cultural capital.
The notion of 'capital' was introduced in 1986 by Pierre Bourdieu in his book 'Forms of Capital'. There will be people reading this who know more about this subject than I do and people who know less.
This is my understanding of it.
There are three forms of capital which can determine a persons social position:
Cultural capital is something one acquires by equipping oneself through education and expanding a knowledge and skills base.
Social capital is “a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition”. What we understand as having reliable networks of like-minded people.
Economic capital is just as it would seem, having money, having the ability to acquire money, having the capacity and knowledge to make that money work to your benefit; buying property, making investments.
There is a relationship between all three forms: economic capital can be transferred into cultural capital, for example parents financially support a young person to acquire more skills or knowledge which helps to boost their cultural capital. In return, the young person is able to get a well-paid job that brings power, status and a higher salary, so increasing their economic capital. The displaying of cultural capital makes it more likely for the person to gain acceptance and status in society, therefore acquiring social capital. This social capital comes in the form of social networks that provide more opportunities which allow for the development of more economic capital and so the interaction goes on.
So the existence of these 'capitals' and their being at play in the world influencing and gate-keeping people's access to equality and inclusion underpins another key belief in my manifesto and it is this: that through my behaviour and actions, I can progress access and entry of excluded peoples to any and all these 'capitals' and my willingness to take that action will be absolute even if, within that action, there is a reduction in my own capital.
A fourth 'capital' for me is myself: what do I know, what do I have, what do I think, what assumptions do I make, of what am I ignorant? What capacities do I have to find things out? Keep myself informed? What legislation is there that can be used to assist in either the overturn of this government or a stemming of their policies and practices?
A commitment in my manifesto is to keep myself informed, to challenge my own belief that I can't understand or won't understand.
Another commitment is to explore the question: how willing am I to use what I have to be a warrior on behalf of others?
I am particularly interested here in personal economics. We can all choose to 'shop local' but how about when that doesn't suit or is not easy? I believe we are at a point in time when the stepping out from our own comfort zone is necessary. How do you want to spend your money?
Are there disabled tradespeople? Female plumbers and carpenters and electricians? Who is excluded from gaining economic capital and what can I do about that?
A political action can stem from a personal interaction; it may be as simple as a conversation or the sharing of an opportunity or the declining of an opportunity or the suggesting of someone else for that opportunity. It could be as much about not doing something as it might be to do something.
A recent example was a conversation I engaged with on social media about non-Deaf actors playing the roles of Deaf people. A male, non-deaf actor was aghast that an opportunity should be denied to him and protested that if he was the best person for the job he should be cast regardless. I disagree with him. This is an opportunity to share capital; to not take the part even if offered and to suggest the names of Deaf actors. To not do this is to gate-keep ones own privilege and it may feel necessary to do that. There may be a feeling 'but I don't have enough privilege to share' but you do. We all do. It is just takes some getting used to.
I grew to political consciousness under the the Thatcher government and my activism then was one of 'action'; I marched, I camped, I talked, I debated. I endlessly debated. Who was I and what did I stand for. I understood or came to believe that I can align myself politically by thinking about who I was personally. I learnt about myself and this is an ongoing education and goes into the manifesto as a key principle expressed beautifully by Mr Shakespeare....”to thine own self be true and it must follow as day the night, thou cans't not be false to any man”.
A part of 'being true' is a commitment to developing the practice of self-care or self-love or keeping oneself well physically and mentally. I live in a party town here in Brighton and I work in a world that is fuelled by alcohol and drugs. Most of the time I find balance with that but I have to work hard to swerve away from addiction. It is a siren call. There is concern about the dismantling of the NHS. Bringing together the political and the personal, I see a necessity to actively protest the privatisation of the service and to actively manage my own health so as not to over burden this already over burdened resource. If the privatisation agenda continues and the tide cannot be turned (I sincerely desire this not to happen), then how best can I use my economic capital to maintain my health and well-being? If I have to pay for care then to whom? My preference is for independent providers; acupuncturists, homoeopaths, masseurs rather than private health and licensed drug companies. Not looking after myself, zoning out via the use of drugs and alcohol is a political act. Inactivity is as much a political statement as being politically active.
There is more to say however another manifesto intent is to allow space, not to shoulder the whole burden, to listen and, hopefully, read other manifestos