Thursday, February 18, 2010

It’s not called a ‘struggle’ for nothing

Revisiting China and listening to some of the stories of my grandparents generation, of poverty, famines, revolution and hard labour, I feel like things seriously need to be up turned up a notch in activist/revolutionary/anarchist networks in western(ised) contexts. My experience working with predominantly Pakeha activists on social justice, animal rights and environmental issues has been sometimes really disappointing.

Sometimes actions wouldn’t happen ‘cause people get drunk the night before, people would say they would do things then pull out in the last minute, I often get confronted with silence or blasé attitudes when it comes to self-examinations of privilege, whether is white privilege, male privilege, class privilege etc. There’s always of a division of labour between menial tasks aka “grunt work” and “action hero” stuff or things considered fun, exciting, confrontational e.g. attending protests. In mixed gender groups, this division is usually gendered, where men do all the action hero stuff and women get left with the menial, everyday tasks that need doing but nobody is particularly fond of doing.

This is a call to constantly challenge ourselves to step it up a notch. Don’t be afraid of hard work and sacrifice ‘cause that what struggling is about. Nothing’s ever gonna change if some of us sit comfortably in a high chair and come out to play when it’s fun and others do all the grunt work and get no appreciation or recognition. It kind of shows how much people actually care about bringing about revolutionary social change if they’re aren’t willing to take up work just ‘cause it ain’t fun or exciting. Doing stalls has become like grunt work ‘cause not many people like interacting with the public or maybe it's related to constructed fears of strangers.

We know from history that nothing gets achieved without struggle and it is fucking hard work.

There’s a rhyme that only works in Chinese that goes, “別怕苦,别怕累, 想想革命的老前辈” which roughly translates to “don’t be afraid of suffering, don’t be afraid of hard labour, think about the past generation of revolutionaries” who had it much harder than us. Even though this rhyme was used when students were taken to the villages to work in the fields to get a taste of peasant lives in order to understand their struggles when Mao was in power in communist China, I find it quite motivational when I’m feeling shit about the state of things to keep going, keep struggling.

[Partially inspired by this article: Remembering the Stakes]


  1. i absolutely love this post! this is a similar sentiment when i study Islam, the key vein of life journey as one of 'struggle' expands poetically and politically - this inspires me to write a few paras for the zine too.

  2. Chairman Mao was the fucken man!