At this time of year we have become accustomed to reflect on what Critical Mass is and how it has become what it is. In my experience most organisations are nothing more than the people who make them up. Sure, people can leave and new people arrive. But, whilst the organisation can outlive an individual, it remains the sum of its parts.
We have come together to develop a different type of politics. We certainly don’t always agree. Anybody looking for a socialist organisation in which everybody agrees has never been in a room with more than two socialists.
It’s one of the reasons we have not adopted a ‘line’. Nobody has the right to tell you what to think.
But, if I’m looking back, my own personal reflection on the past year would be that we have evolved a way of working, certainly at the core, in which disagreements are allowed, even encouraged, but where a common purpose pervades our actions.
Not everybody has stayed with CM. Some have left because what we are doing is not for them, some have left in a whirl of indignant rage at some perceived slight or other. But, overall, we continue because the collective vision keeps us coming back.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I have ‘quit’ CM, only to change my mind when, whatever was irritating me, seems less irritating. What we are doing is not changing the world but neither is it unimportant. A group of people, most of whom have never met, have embarked on a strange journey together and become comrades who very often offer a mutual support group when the vagaries of life overwhelm us.
Perhaps that is why we keep going. It is not a power game, but simply the sense that collectively we stand for more than we would on our own. Plenty of people publish blogs. Some of them are very good, too. But they do not put their ideas to other people before publishing them, they do not have a forum where they can discuss their ideas, they do not have the sense of being part of a collective. That is the edifice we have constructed.
It is more than a set of abstract political principles. Or, worse, a set of policies that nobody will ever implement. It is genuine care for each other, a desire that those connected to us should be cared for and, in response, care for others. It is a view of the world that is not chasing clicks, advertisers, donations or members. We do what we do because we enjoy it, and because it is pleasurable. Even if we have moments of anger with one another, they are short-lived. Nobody made this happen. It just did. And it the reason why next year we’ll likely be reflecting once again. All I can do is thank you all for being my friends and allowing me to be part of this incredible endeavour.
Socialist of many years. Former Labour member. Currently presenter of The Socialist Hour.