31 January 2019
Three events in January have kicked off the Chav Solidarity: A Book Tour. Each one a success in it’s own right. First came Bristol, at BASE, about 40 people turned up to listen to me squwk out the title essay of the book, which I followed with another chapter but 2 weeks have gone by and I haven’t got a fuck what that chapter was now. Then I talked for a little bit about the book and my reasons fro writing it, but my mind kinda went blank and that section went on for a far shorter time than usual. Then the real meat and potatoes, although BASE is a vegan space so I guess some sort of disappointing meat substitute is more appropriate. The questions were interesting, ranging from gentle devil’s advocate stuff from one old comrade, to more information gathering for middle class leanings from others. Some good chat around mental health, patriarchy and some of the differences between those who come from poor and working class communities and our middle class comrades in the radical left. It was grand seeing folks I haven’t seen for five or six years, and I sold a fair few books so all in all a good start to the tour.
Next up was Machnynllth, where they hold a weekly Wednesday evening called Mach Speaks, in which someone comes along and gives a talk on whatever they feel like previous talks had included Genetically Modified crops: failure or future?, The History of Life and Climate on Earth and Transforming Capitalism: Sustainable Futures so I was wondering how me talking about sex work, violence, crack addiction, demonsisation of poor folks and the failure of the left was going to fit into this environment. I hadn’t need to worry though. Solely judging by the questions, the number of books sold and the participation of a small dog both the readings and the following discussions went well. I read the books introduction, followed by two chapters: Feral Love and Who’s got our backs?
Final stop on the first part of the tour was at in Shrewsbury, turned out the venue wasn’t really suitable for doing a reading in, but the half a dozen who came along had a good chat over beer about the issues relating to the book, both in the local area and beyond. It was definitely a good way to wrap up the week, and hopefully I’ll go back another time for continued chats.
Since returning home several folk who attended the events have been in contact, and we’ve had some interesting conversations over the internet about class, trauma and social movements, both in their interconnections and as discrete entities. These conversations are a the best part of having written the book. They help me clarify my own thinking, and hearing other people engage with these issues a ways which are humble and not dogmatic gives me a little more confidence in the idea that revolutionary or radical social shifts can occur. During a time in which the UK appears to be a shit storm entering into a larger shit storm, and so often the conversations between those who could be forming relationships of solidarity and mutual aid, are more likely to be adversarial, with decent dollops of condescension and dismissiveness thrown in. Those conversations have been a respite, however they’re not close to being enough. I can’t pretend I know what is enough, I suspect it will involve developing revolutionary movements out of community self-defence, creation processes of dual power, with working class and poor folk who are able to move forward and act together whilst being able to self-reflect and readjust the ways in which we have been caught up in this system of imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.