Everywhere you look there is more and more evidence of a war of position being fought by socialists in this country (the UK – where Thee Faction are currently operating). Not just frontline class politics stuff – strikes, demos etc. But a genuine attempt to establish a counter-hegemonic culture, to which we can all belong, in opposition to the prevailing culture as laid out by the ruling class. How do we do this? By offering a genuine alternative that is better than what the ruling class offers. In a piece we wrote on this blog a couple of months ago we explained how changes in access to the means of production have moved self-released records from the biro drawn sleeves and photocopied inlay sheets of the early 80s, to the sumptuously packaged, design classic that is Thee Faction’s At Ebbw Vale (which had its official release yesterday – go and buy it here). But it’s not just in music.
Cheap access to video equipment, and free access to internet broadcasting, means that capitalism has, foolishly, handed us the tools to fight back. Establishing a counter-hegemonic culture – fighting a war of position – has never been so easy.
So today we’d like to introduce you to our favourite broadcaster of the moment: RMTV. Yes, so fed up is the RMT (for our comrades overseas, the RMT is Britain’s largest specialist transport union, and our fastest growing union too) with the way the established, mainstream media reports it and its members, that it has established RMTV on YouTube. So ‘the media’ doesn’t get to mediate the story any more, putting its own spin on it. You want to know what the RMT’s grievance with tube bosses is? Go and watch the reports on RMTV. You want to know what the bosses’ position is? Go pretty much anywhere else. But it isn’t just a chance to equalise coverage, or set the record straight. Because the RMT are broadcasting news of other struggles too. Here’s a great example: RMTV’s coverage of the current FBU (the UK’s firefighters’ union) strike:
Now, firefighters are everyone’s friend. We know this. Why do we need alternative media to set the record straight on brothers and sisters who are willing to walk into burning buildings to rescure the likes of you and me? If the bosses plan to sack every single one of them, and then invite them to apply for their old jobs under completely different conditions, surely that’s the moment that society as a whole stands up and screams ‘enough’.
Well, it isn’t. The reason RMTV needs to broadcast reports like this is because organs of the ruling class, such as our old friend the Daily Mail, print reports like this. If you can’t bring yourself to go and read it, here’s a highlight or two:
The headline: Brave Men and Women Hobbled By Self-Interest. Need we say any more?
“The sorry truth is that, over the past decade, our public services have been increasingly run for the people who work for them, rather than those they serve.
And, bit by bit, firefighters, ambulance workers and police officers have been hobbled by those claiming to defend them while nurturing vested interests.
Witness the horrific evidence given by one survivor at the recent 7/7 inquest who told how firefighters and ambulance crews stood on the platform at Aldgate station apparently ’embarrassed’ by orders not to enter the tunnel for fear of a second bomb.
Victims died in agony during the delay. There was no second explosion. It was not lack of courage that stopped those officers but health and safety legislation, lobbied for by union bosses, foisted on frontline workers by senior officers fearful of being sued.
This culture of ‘risk assessment’, which measures risk against future legal costs, serves no one.
The men and women who work for our emergency services should be well equipped, properly trained and well paid.
But the first purpose of a public service must be to serve the public. At a time when all are feeling the squeeze we cannot be expected to sympathise with those ‘full-time’ firefighters who draw a salary from the public purse while also privately running accountancy firms and undertakers.
In defending the indefensible the FBU is placing the reputation of its members who keep the strike – and the lives of those they serve – under threat.”