Kassie Hartendorp (Ngāti Raukawa) was born in Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) and grew up in the Hutt and Whanganui. Her day job is as a youth worker, and works most with sexuality and gender diverse young people. She has been involved in a variety of political projects, and is passionate about decolonisation and anti-capitalism in the context of Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa.
Did you grow up in a politicised family? If so, or if not – how did the politics of your childhood home affect you?
My dad actually identifies as pro-capitalist, ha! I never otherwise heard a capitalist say they’re pro-capitalism, so I think that’s hilarious. My family home is quite a working class, New Zealand Pākehā space. But there’s a contradiction. It’s like “we’re traditional, and we don’t rock the boat,” – but at the same time, my mum works in a rest home as a caregiver, for minimum wage and has no qualifications. She’s in a workforce that’s dominated by women, and undervalued.
Both my parents left home at 14, and they are both very smart people – but it’s very much world-smart and life-smart, rather than academic. I don’t remember ever having political conversations. Sometimes I am quite envious of people who have been raised in quite radical, or political homes – how amazing! But of course, they’ll probably be like, “Oh, my parents are really embarrassing and annoying” the same as anyone else.
Yeah! Sometimes I look at my twenties, and think – how much more could I have done if I wasn’t in this slow, painstaking process of filling in political silences and figuring out some actually quite basic truths!
Something I come back to is, I don’t know if I would have become a feminist had I not seen the situation that my mum was in and deciding I don’t want to be working a minimum wage job at age fifty, and society not recognising any of my key, important skills. I don’t want to be in that position. That’s an oversimplication, but I think it’s the stuff you see around you, and that you don’t want to continue to see, that politicise you.
Did you ever talk with your mum about the gendered nature of her experience at work?
We can’t really talk about that stuff, but once, she told me she had this dream where she got really angry about her work situation – which was basically asking staff to cost-cut in every way possible.
So she called up the prime minister, and asked him to come and try doing a day’s work! Mum’s like, “but the prime minister couldn’t end up coming, but one of his senior advisers came and did one of our night shifts. It was the worst shift, everyone was playing up, and then they went back and agreed to give us pay rises.” I was so excited for dream-radical mum!
I guess those sensitivities also challenge you to have conversations about politics but in ways that aren’t alienating. I was the first person in my family to go to university, and my parents really wanted me to do it, it was going to be a golden ticket into a good job, shiny happy rainbows. But I came back, and I felt like I didn’t have the right kinds of conversations with my parents. Suddenly I was this know-it-all university graduate and my parents were like, “Who do you think you are,” basically. It made me think about how I need to meaningfully come together with people.
I’m still learning that as well. I think too some of the challenge is that there’s quite a staunch discourse in feminism to do with not swallowing silencing, and not being polite to please. Not just for our own sake, but because if women are more assertive, men may sooner look inward and at their own behaviour too, rather than women always modifying theirs – and that benefits all women and feminist movement as a whole.
Sometimes it’s finding a balance – while at the same time knowing that, hey, while I am deeply intellectualising my own behaviour and actions, there are a billion guys who would not be doing the same thing. Like, absolutely not. And how I’m treated in the family is different, because I’m seen as an ‘outspoken woman’.
And also acknowledging that, my parents have their own languages and ways of understanding – say, inequality. Thinking about the intellectual arrogance I’ve seen at the university, and not wanting to perpetuate that with people who very well could be accomplices in movements toward change.
Sometimes I think some people are more comfortable with the idea of confrontation than others. I feel like I am a confrontational person, and I am comfortable with that. I am okay with rocking the boat when it needs to be rocked.
So then coming from the background you did – what politicised you?
I have a gut feeling toward injustice, but I was such a bratty teenager and pre-teen. A lot of my early politicisation was through punk music, and through finding like-mindedness with people who were willing to talk about things that were more systemic, and weren’t particularly popular, but that was okay.
And realising – this world isn’t the only possible world. We are capable of imagining and creating a different way of existing. Being quite dissatisfied with what is going on around you – and thinking, we can do better than this.
So just listening to a lot of like, terrible crust music that was talking about feminism, or George Bush, consumerism and imperialism – listening to that through art.
As a teenager, I was quite an internalised misogynist – I found myself hating on other women really easily, I’d say things like, “I’d never listen to female musicians, because women can’t play music.” My friend took me to her house one day and got out Pussy Whipped by Bikini Kill, this Riot Grrrl album, and played it on record and just encouraged me to sit and listen. And that was hugely life-changing in terms of like – “Yeah, I have been taught to hate women, and by extension myself, and I’m going to refuse to do that anymore, I’m going to actively stop that”.
Luckily, I had some amazing friends who were feminist and queer. I remember reading excerpts of feminist books to my boyfriend, when I was sixteen, and him really not wanting to hear about it. I was having these great revelations, “Ohmygosh, so much is being explained! This is so amazing!” and being like, “Listen to this chapter!” and him going, “Mmmm, I don’t really wanna hear about this.”
You just keep learning. I wasn’t some nek-level humanitarian activist – I was just a bit of a teenage rebel who wanted more from life, and for people who were suffering; hanging out with people who were interested in pushing the boundaries, having tough conversations, and not being complacent. You find those people, seek those people, become those people.
What are some of the actions you took, at first?
I came down to Wellington, and I was hanging out with this Gender and Women’s Studies lecturer who was campaigning to be in student politics. She asked me to help her campaign, and of course, I was like, there’s this really awesome, smart, feminist woman who I really wanna support.
I ended up with her at this socialist meeting, on a Friday night and found people wanting to talk about capitalism, the revolution, and how we need to transform our entire system into something based on human need, rather than private profit. After that I was like – I’m still learning what this all means, but I felt I needed to do something. There are people I know who this is really affecting – it’s not some intellectual exercise, something needs to happen. And I have a body and a brain and the privilege to do something, so why the hell not?
So I joined this group, the Workers’ Party (now Fightback), and stayed with them quite a while. Whether it was raising the minimum wage, addressing climate change or supporting justice in Palestine. They had an interconnected idea of how oppression and exploitation worked, and were wanting to fight it – at every single front, every single facet, they wanted to be there – and wanted to build something better, more sustainable.
One thing I liked about being part of a socialist group like that is the feeling of having a political home. Sue Bradford’s talked a lot about that in her thinking around a left-wing think-tank. It resonates with me, maybe because I’m interested in building and creating homes and always having a place you can go back to where you have comrades, other like-minded people where you can relax and sound off.
At that time, I also spent some time in student politics. I spent nine months on the executive at Victoria University, but resigned in protest and didn’t see out my whole term. I just could not exist there any more: it was really bizarre being elected into a position where the wider student body is not engaged with what is happening – and that organisation is no longer being used to meaningfully fight for students. It seems more like an organisation that is content to bargain and go on-side with the university, which is doing messed up things to students in the name of creating ‘universities as businesses’. I could no longer be complicit and okay with that, and it just crawled under my skin.
I ended up resigning in protest. I never looked back at student politics. My impressions were that it was a full of people who wanted a so-called career in politics, to join the Labour Party and put something on their C.V but it burned out all the people who really cared about student welfare.
Later on in 2011, I worked with others to co-found an activist group called Queer Avengers, which I helped facilitate for a couple of years. That was about creating a space where you could have a political analysis of what it means to be queer or trans, and fight homophobia and transphobia on the ground, rather than just leaving it up to something that happens in parliament, that we can’t touch, see or feel. But make it real, and community led.
What actions did you take with them?
The action that started Queer Avengers was called Queer the Night in 2011, and it was when there was a small spate of gay bashings, physical assaults against members of the LGBTQI community in Wellington. A friend of mine wanted to organise an event – “We’re in Wellington, it’s supposed to be really friendly, but people we know are getting beaten up, what the hell is going on here?”
It was a really politicising moment for a lot of people. It brought in people young and old. I remember a fifteen-year-old trans person getting up on the mic and speaking in front of hundreds. In a world of Caitlin Jenners or whatever now, it seems a bit blasé, but at that point it felt confronting and political. After that we had meetings that packed out Trades Hall.
We did actions like a glitter-bombing of Germaine Greer regarding transphobia, and solidarity demos. We did protests outside the Ministry of Education around safety in schools for LGBTQI young people, and we managed to get a meeting with senior advisors that organisations hadn’t been able to – so we took young people along to talk with them. We ran conferences talking about issues beyond the fight for marriage equality, and tried to make space for voices that weren’t heard in the gay mainstream.
And I guess we provided a bit of a political home for people where it was understood that our struggles around sexuality and gender diversity are linked into a bigger system, and linked to wider struggles. Not to say that the group was perfect – but it reflected and captured a particular political mood in Wellington at that time.
When you say those struggles are linked – what is your conception of that, of how our struggles today are interconnected?
My conception of it is that we’re battling systems that reinforce structural inequality, structural oppression and structural exploitation. There are lots of different facets, but I don’t think it’s possible to do anything about them unless you are confronting capitalism, confronting colonisation and confronting patriarchy.
There are a lot of feminists who think of class in terms of identity politics – but it’s the way we organise society, and overall, there is a global trend of neoliberal capitalism. That is a system that needs to be demolished, because at the essence of capitalism, you are always exploiting the majority of people. And the wealth that is being created is always going to a top layer of the elite, rather than the people creating the wealth. Therefore, there is always going to be a gap between the rich and poor. And, you can’t divorce that from the impacts of colonisation.
I believe there needs to be a social change to create a more just world. And we have the means to be able to actually create a world where everyone can happily live, be fed, access shelter, access clean water. We don’t have a lack of resources – it’s all here in our world, but there needs to be a paradigm shift.
You don’t think we’re in a Mayan shift toward next level enlightenment?
I don’t knock those ideas, but there are some quite material problems that are going on right now and some material things we can do to change that.
I love the latest Mad Max story. Like Mad Max is basically a small-bit player in a woman’s story of redemption, of how she was taken away from her matriarchal society and abused, and how she’s trying to get back there. What I really liked is that there’s this awful place, they’re running away, and they’re trying to find this mystical, holy, green land where everything is pure and there’s plants and everything’s safe and beautiful.
Spoiler – they get to the desert and find it doesn’t exist, and they’re like, Well either we can keep going and try and find this utopia, or, we can take everything we got, we can turn around, we can demolish s*** on the way, and take over the one place we know exists so that people aren’t starving and there is no more inequality. So they turn around and they storm the city, take it over, and give water to everyone.
I love it, because that’s how I see the world. I’m not a big believer in, we need to go create these communes in the forest. We need to battle the system that currently exists. You can build nice, helpful alternatives, but at the end of the day there needs to be a confrontation and for us to take back what belongs to the majority of people.
Do you think activism is doing that, at the moment?
It’s hard to tell! And it’s different everywhere. There have been so many attacks on any kind of mobilisation or organisation against right-wing ideas in Aotearoa, that of course we’re fragmented. Wherever there is struggle, there is always resistance, but how do you collectively organise around that, with what we have now? With weakened unions, marae that are said to be dying because of urban migration. Where are the spaces where we’re able to organise – in the same ways that the right is able to create think tanks, create their own stories, myths, narratives that have managed to gain power and be compelling – there’s absolutely no equivalent right now in terms of anything opposed.
Yes – definitely activism is undermined from the top down. Do you think though that there are also ways in which we might be shooting ourselves in the foot?
I think there are two things that make it difficult to have leftists or activists working together. One is that we’re all total critical thinkers and we struggle to turn that off. That can sometimes venture into perfectionism. I’ve seen people going, “Nothing’s ever quite perfect, so, should we even bother getting involved with it.”
The other thing is that because we are so emotionally invested, morally invested, the work that we do can become really precious. I want to see a stop to suffering, for a whole bunch of people. That makes me act in ways I might not normally act because it cuts to my very core, which has its pros and its cons. We should be emotionally invested. But how do we navigate that in a way we can actually work together?
This reminds me of the interview I did with Linnéa Lindstrom. She talked really eloquently about that, in terms of how we all bring unacknowledged or undisclosed feelings of grief and perhaps defeat to activism, so that we’re trying to build a strong resistance on shaky ground.
I totally agree with that, and often when I’m talking about politics I am talking about grief, too. And, coming back to that emotional connection – I have often found that people I have worked with want to tackle things like inequality or injustice from this ultra-clinical, theoretical perspective. I think possibly that’s something men are encouraged or more able to do more easily.
I’ve found in some socialist groups, I didn’t have the same amount of time to be sitting around reading lots of books, I couldn’t have the same conversations as some people at events whose life is studying Marxist theory. Because actually, there’s more people I have to look after. I’m doing more emotional labour all the time. There was this question, “Why aren’t women participating more in theoretical discussions?” Well, we don’t always have time for that s***.Yeah, we feel our politics, we feel our politics f***en strong – you don’t have to tell us what inequality means. But it can’t always manifest itself in the same way. That’s not specific to any organisation, just what I’ve observed and experienced generally.
But yes, you need to acknowledge that deep hurt – racism hurts, sexism hurts; it hurts having to work four jobs to make sure your kids survive; intergenerational trauma hurts. Until you can have that conversation and build from that, I don’t know how you’re meant to create something. But I find so many activists are not comfortable having that conversation. That’s made me feel pissed off. It’s meant I’ve turned away from more ‘traditional’ forms of activism that are run by the male Pākehā left, and have sought spaces that are run by, particularly women – and not just “white feminist” spaces – because I feel there’s more of a learned ability to grapple with that stuff. We deal with it, and then move on.
That reminds me of what we were talking about before – about the languages we use in activism and community groups. Being resistant to academic language as class-based, yet still drawing on that critical education, that succinct identification of patterns and modes of oppression. Perhaps some more intellectual activist organisations embrace this very academic tone, but in a way it inherently does silence that deep-felt core. I wonder to what extent we embrace that silencing because we are super uncomfortable too, with grief, and it suits us to use a language that silences or precludes it. I feel like may be patriarchal – not in some clean, clinical sense – but if you are socialised to suppress your own emotions, and therefore don’t recognise them so readily in others – that’s what empathy is about, right – then how are you supposed to have a language, or want a language, where that is inherent?
Yeah – when I was working with some political groups, some of the people who were most mocked were those who were involved in any kind of spirituality. I think the fight for a better world is a deeply spiritual thing – our sense of wairua is massive. Realising that’s not even meant to be a part of the conversation is just stupid and short-sighted, and ineffective – and can be really violent at the same time. It’s bizarre. There have been some useful insights for people who talk about world change that have come on the spiritual pathway.
And actually, while we sit on colonised land, and while all this violence is going on around us, of course that’s having an effect on our wairua.
I’m intrigued about that! I used to be and feel really nourished by spirituality and spiritual literature when I was younger, and looking back I’m not sure when that stopped being okay – but I’m still finding my way back. Something that’s got me, is: a lot of the most profound spiritual traditions have been co-opted – and I’ve come to associate them with their co-opted forms, and it makes me allergic. So I’ve found it a struggle to connect with something that doesn’t feel distracting or coercive. Have you experienced anything like that?
I completely agree with what you’re saying. My mum is Christian and I was raised in a Christian home. And when I was about eleven I said, “Mum, I don’t want to go to church anymore, I don’t believe in this, it doesn’t feel right”, so we just all stopped going to church, ha! I guess the way Christianity was being taught didn’t really make sense to me – then growing up being a cynical-as teenager, then going to university, and yeah, finding that discomfort with spirituality there.
In some socialist spaces, people really get into the “science” of Marxism. It’s about our material world, and material change. I totally can understand where that’s coming from, but I think it gets fetishised a bit. Quotes from Marx like, “religion is the opiate of the masses” suddenly take on this form that a lot of Pākehā who come from very academic or intellectual backgrounds really resonate with and keep reinforcing.
To me, my spirituality is in essence about connections to people in some way, connections to land, to our past and our ancestors, and a purpose forward that is nourishing and acknowledges us all as whole beings that deserve to be healthy and healed and restored in every possible sense.
My ideas around spirituality started to really fall in place when I was journeying into my Māoritanga, and it was never associated with a New Age, hippy, pseudo-aesthetic, it was absolutely about reconnecting with indigenous ideas of spirituality and connection and wairua. That made so much sense to me in a way no Sunday Bible School session ever has.
But I feel like I’m in a way, way healthier place now. And for me more than anything it’s about being more in connected with elements beyond what you see in front of you. It’s different for everyone, some people would be like “Well, what on earth does that mean,” but for instance when I go and enter a space that feels spiritually healthy and nourishing, you can tell the difference from one that is spirituality violent – i.e. a WINZ office.
Being in tune with that, I think, enriches my politics much more, being able to sit comfortably with it, and not fighting it. I’m still totally excited about my journey in this area.
And it’s had a lot to do with Māoritanga.
I think my most important connection over the past couple of years has been my connection with my tipuna. I just feel like there are ways they have been trying to teach me some life lessons I probably should have listened to. That is a narrative that makes sense to me. To me, the idea of being really strongly connected backwards, forwards, sideways, multi-dimensionally is really comforting and gives me a sense of meaning in continuing on.
I’m really aware that in some ways, because of colonisation, I’ll never necessarily be able to put a face to these ancestors, that doesn’t even matter – that’s not how it works. I know they are there in some form, they are guiding me on some path, and what that usually means is if something doesn’t feel right in my gut, then I need to sort that s*** out. That’s actually really important in politics – you need to have a good gut feeling, because otherwise people can get in a lot of trouble. So being able to be in touch with that is really key.
How does that relate to the stuff you’ve been thinking about around leadership? I know you think about leadership a great deal. Or maybe your ideas on that are quite distinct?
I think following on another thread we’ve been talking about – around leaders, whether we should have them, what leadership looks like. To me, there are some people who will always be leaders in some way. I was the eldest child – that’s made me probably more inclined to be a leader. It’s not a magical superpower – I’m used to having responsibility and I don’t easily shake that off.
You always need to be able to have leadership. Now where that leadership comes from – it won’t always be the same, but there needs to be a way of paddling the waka forward. I’m a strong believer in leaders being picked, they’re not self-appointed – it’s decided, or elected, or endorsed, in some way. And if you mess that up, you’re accountable to someone, and you’re either no longer the leader, or you are given a chance to make amends. I think a lot of places don’t have real, true democracy, and true accountability. When you have someone with unchecked power, you’re always going to run into problems.
My leadership style involves making sure that I have multiple ways of being able to check that power when that’s needed. I don’t agree with consensus – ideally, everyone’s on the same page, but you can put it to a vote, you have a discussion if you need to, you make a decision and you move on. Some people have to accept, “my ideas aren’t going to be the right way,” but if you’re there for a common cause, then you have to decide what you’re going to sacrifice. And some ideas you can’t. I left student politicas because they didn’t stick up for political students, and that was something I couldn’t go along with, even though we took a vote on it and the vote failed.
You’ve got to manage a way forward, otherwise things will stagnate. At the same time it’s about building, and encouraging and growing new leaders to be able to step up. So it’s not about the same person doing it all the time. I believe that if you are a legitimate leader, people recognise your mana. Someone much wiser than me has said, when you’re in a position where you have a lot of mana, what you do is start sharing that mana. People who haven’t found theirs, you share with them, to lift them up as well. Ideally you’ve got the whole collective doing it and it grows people together.
I think what’s typical is for people to be in a position of having mana, and storing that up for themselves – using it purely to lift and build their own ideas and position. I think that’s messed up, but really easy to do, and the system always encourages and incentivises that behaviour, it can be hard to go against it. But if you can do that – you’ve done the right thing.
What would you like to see more of in activism or activist circles – would it be related to this?
The work I’ve loved the most has always been intergenerational, and actually most of the activism I’ve been part of has been intergenerational. It’s allowing that really fresh-faced optimism and creativity that comes with being young and energetic and detached from activist traditions, and coming together with people who have done tonnes of stuff, and who can say, “You know if you do that you’re going to get in a whole lot of trouble with the cops!”
And speaking of accountability, I think working intergenerationally is important for that, too. Some of the people I know who are most committed in activism are those who have had some kind of kaumatua or teacher who gave them something they found so valuable, they feel they owe it to that person to put perhaps a new-found critical consciousness into action, and develop it throughout their lives.
It’s amazing too isn’t it, that you can go through this whole education system full of propaganda, and it only has to take one teacher to turn things around for you! I sometimes feel that older generation – that’s their role, in a way. To hold us accountable by sharing that wisdom where they can.
Is there anything else you’d like to see?
Yeah, I want to see more places for critical education. Creating spaces that don’t rely on gatekeepers or leaders who always have the answers, but where a lot more people are able to have a say and step up to make change.
I’m always thinking of the microdynamics as well as the macro- stuff. Like, how a meeting works, how you treat other people in the movement, how you hold each other accountable, how you manage to show kindness despite vehemently disagreeing with someone’s political position, how you manage to weave different ideas together to challenge something on a mass basis. I think I’m always driven toward the mass, but thinking about the little picture of how to get there.
You can’t manufacture all of that, Sometimes there are just moments that resonate with a lot of people, but without leadership, it’s hard to channel that momentum.
Yes! Tell me about what you’re up to with Kava Club, at the moment.
We recognised there was a need for a space where Māori and Pacific creatives could support each other more. It’s not an activist organisation – but one member has said, “it’s a safe place to have unsafe conversations.” And it’s a place Māori and Pasifika people call the shots. How often does that happen in Central Wellington?
Last year, a couple of members organised Disrupting the Narrative, talking about the myths around war – with korero from different Māori communities talking about the impacts of war on them, the state terror raids, stuff like that. There’s potential to have political conversations from a Māori and Pacific perspective, and I’m really excited about what that can look like.
I think it’s important for me politically and personally is to think about things from a wider, Pacific perspective. Acknowledging how much of the left-wing activism I’ve been involved in is really Pākehā dominated – how many events, demos, protests I’ve been to have been mainly white faces. And I’ll go – this isn’t an issue that affects only white people. What is it about that activism that is only providing space for white people to contribute? To me, it’s also about being in environments that are really engaging indigeneity.
I’ve been thinking about this too, especially after going to protests recently that lead to arrests. In something like a blockade, just being brown can make the risk of arrest greater. Also, many Māori and Pacific communities are prevented from having the privilege to absorb those risks as easily. Māori and Pacific leaders can be so key and integral to those communities, they can’t necessarily just go getting cuffed or getting tied up in the so-called justice system. And it’s twice as bad for them when the media gets involved.
And also, when you take an example like the weapons conference – my own view is that as a white person, it’s more appropriate for me to be taking bigger risks around opposing that, than it would be if I was indigenous. I don’t think it is as much an indigenous responsibility. Come, sure, that’s not my business! But hell. If we do have actions and demos and organising that ends up being primarily white, then we need to seek accountability around that. But at the same time, I’m beginning to feel that the responsibility for fighting something like white supremacy lies more with white people, and white people putting white privilege on the line; while Māori and Pasifika are supported to build up their communities, rather than necessarily say, going to jail for our sins.
I agree. In some ways I have sympathy for the idea that actually, if our current government and current way of existing is created by white colonisers, there is a responsibility among white people to be fighting that battle. If you’re white, it’s your people who have done this, so go sort your people out.
Man, and indigenous people have been putting themselves on the line about this, obviously, for centuries.
Yes. So I am definitely not saying that I want to see more brown people on the front lines. I think one key learning moment for me was a couple of years ago, running a socialist feminist day school, and asking Teresia Teaiwa to come and speak. It was predominantly white people who were there, and when I spoke I mentioned how more and more people are talking about feminism and these ideas. I remember Teresia saying: “It’s really funny that you say that Kassie, because in the Pacific world, I do not see Pacific women speaking about it in the same way you have. And that makes me really sad, and I’d like to see more of that.”
So that was a big moment for me, because it wasn’t about who’s on the front lines, but where is this stuff getting talked about? And who defines the priorities and interests of social change?
And hey, real, truthful conversations among people of colour do not happen in the presence of white people, most of the time, unless they are partners or close loved ones. So, knowing and holding all of that, but also – where is the responsibility of Pākehā to be fighting and struggling, and where does that begin to be white supremacy?
Yeah, like in many ways perhaps we are fighting on different fronts – but there needs to be relationships between those. I’m thinking of other examples too, like say, Women’s Refuge and White Ribbon. There needs to be stronger accountability relationships there too, for sure.
Yeah. It’s thinking – who are the people speaking, what is the issue, who has a stake in this situation, who is in a position to be able to do something, and how are people talking about it? These are all key questions. I know activists who are people of colour and finding it really hard, because their families are going, “What the hell are you doing,” for a whole bunch of valid reasons. Whereas a lot of white people who are activists whose parents couldn’t give less of a hoot and they can spend their lives being a rent-a-mob protester and there’s going to be literally no consequence from that.
I still love your idea of a political home, too.
I’m involved in a group called Box Oceania that’s been an awesome home in terms of grappling with sexuality, gender, race, white supremacy, leadership, accountability.
I think I’ll always seek out those homes with people you can reflect with, that stuff is so key. A lot of comrades from Fightback, they’ll be my political home, no matter where we are.
I think without those groups you can fall into traps where you may not be learning from your practice, or even worse, acting violently towards people – absolutely there have been activists who have abused other activists, and people just put up with it, because they’re like “Well, we’re not going to call the cops, because we hate the cops,” and we don’t have our own forms of justice. So people can, unchecked, do what they want.
I focus on that a lot, and probably because I’ve been burnt by it, but I wanna get to this place and how do you get to this place well, and in tact with other people who are smart, and always reflecting and learning from where you’ve been – without having any formal or recognised institutions that create that? Yeah, there’s some shreds of some former pillars that used to exist like unions, or the WEA or certain places that once were stronger – but where do people who have these ideas go now, to work together, and develop their practice, so they’re working for good and not causing harm?
Like we’ll go to a protest, and then we’ll go our separate ways, and randomly come together for another protest, but how are we actually collectivising that knowledge, those lessons and that experience, so that we move forward together?