Friday, September 2, 2011

Why I have not been blogging lately...

I have not been writing much at all lately in any capacity. I have gone through a phase where I have felt too jaded to write... too pissed off with leftist allies and a little bit in shock over realizing that those divisions that I have read about are true - the divisions between leftist activists whose approaches are so different that they are unable to find a way to work together.

I am going through a huge transition right now, as far as my own politics are concerned. I still have the same political beliefs as I have been writing about for the past two years, but whereas I used to take on every way that I could think of to try and put those beliefs to action and work towards some kind of meaningful change, I have become withdrawn. I don't want to be a stereotypical academic leftist that does nothing to contribute to change, but I need to negotiate how much of myself I can give before losing myself entirely... here's why.

I have been engaged in union work for a few years now in various capacities. Our local just had a CA ratification vote, and I was entirely against the proposed agreement. I feel as though tactics that were used to pass the agreement were very questionable, such as requests for a general membership meeting before the vote being denied and the vote itself being held only a few weeks before the membership returned from various activities making it impossible to reach many of them. The vote itself did not contravene the law or union constitution in any way, but in my opinion, the process was unethical. And the more I spoke out about it, the more I felt as though I were being pushed away, quieted, left out of further decision making processes... which only made things worse. So now I have to decide whether I want to continue to be involved in this type of work.

I have been putting off the decision this month. I have been on sick leave for medical issues that are not necessarily related to the past month's events but were likely exasperated by them. I have spent the month watching television, reading novels, napping... trying to take care of myself and get my health back together. I am still not allowed to drive or ride a bike, which makes it difficult to get anything done.

But now I am getting to a point where I am ready to start facing the question of how I wish to proceed with my activism in the immediate future. Sometimes I have felt as though I am one of the only people in a room being critical of certain things (such as by not fully endorsing the NDP at union conventions) and that feeling of fighting alone is exhausting. I do have allies, there are other activists in my area with similar beliefs, but mostly, any activities seem to fall back to NDP cheerleading or liberal rhetoric, such as notions of 'choice' or 'trust'. I don't have the energy to call these publicly every time they occur anymore, but I feel that these ideas do need to be challenged and built upon to create something bigger.

I was hoping to find this community when I move for my PhD, but it looks like I might be putting that off for a year. I could be here for as much as 2 more years, so I need to work some of these things out. I need to find ways to use my energy to do things that will be meaningful and won't feel like I am trying to fight a losing battle or compromising my own beliefs.


  1. Dear Ms. Marx,
    It seems that you are moving into a period of self-care. Integral to growth, this phase will provide you with an increased perspective and allow you to gather information and insight towards how you will channel your energy when you are ready. Take the time you need. You will serve your purpose better once you have taken care of yourself and recharged. In your own good time. We await you. Tess

  2. Speaking as someone who has gone through periods of activist burn-out (though never having serious medical issues), I sympathize. I also sympathize, as you know, with your line struggle against business unionism.

    I don't think that the choice is a clear-cut either/or between being a "stereotypical academic leftist" or working with a bunch of bureaucrats and social dem opportunists. If that's the choice facing us leftists (and sometimes it seems like that) then it's not much of a choice. In truth, the people flag-waving for the NDP or pork-chopping with the labour aristocracy are generally overrepresented by "stereotypical academic leftists" - so withdrawing from those circles, and taking time out to figure how to engage and participate in radical politics, is not necessarily a retreat into academia.

    Glad to see you blogging again.

  3. Hey! Sorry to hear about your health troubles and about the political challenges in the union. Let me just add my voice in support of self-care, and in support of taking time to figure out how you want to be active. It's a constant dilemma, and the city we're both in offers different and in some ways more limited options than might be found in other, bigger cities -- I, too, constantly wrestle with what can be done here that is useful, that has the potential to engage people outside of narrow circles, but that is true to radical visions of social transformation, and I'm constantly dissatisfied with any answers I'm able to come up with.

    Anyway, hope you feel better soon, and I"m glad to see you're feeling up to blogging again!

  4. Hi, I've been a lurker here for a while and I have a blog I haven't written on in months because, yeah, shock, transition, no words. I spent months last year in essentially a state of hibernation, it's frustrating that things don't move in a linear way, that the forces acting upon us change us and other people in multiple contradictory ways all at once. Tho I don't have a union work background, I consider myself a partisan of the class war, but yeah, steep learning curves, few maps. Decency transcends. Love transcends.