Founder of the Wages for Housework campaign and coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike, Selma James brought a lifetime of movement experience to bear in this electrifying talk. Asked to speak to organisers’ needs in the current crisis, she spoke to a roomful of 30 activists and researchers passionately, clearly and incisively for an hour without notes.
To understand austerity, we have to understand the struggles which gave birth to the welfare state, the poverty which went before it and the attacks it has been under since the 1970s, and the first part of her talk tackled these themes. In the second part she discussed the weaknesses of movements since that time in responding to the attacks: how NGOisation has demobilised movements and left them dependent on funders, far-left parties try to substitute themselves for popular action while social-democratic parties simply represent a slower attack on people’s basic needs. In the third and final part she discussed the urgency of building a broader movement which does not see class and gender, anti-racism or environmental survival, as separate and opposed issues. A lively and engaged discussion followed.
The event was co-organised by the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism (CEESA) with the Depts of Sociology and Anthropology and the Global Women’s Strike.
The MA CEESA is designed by activists, for activists as a practitioner MA which aims to support the needs of movement organisers and community educators reflecting on their own practice, thinking strategically and “learning from each other’s struggles”. Full details at http://ceesa-ma.blogspot.com.