Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.


Classy class warrior

Dear Auntie I've dedicated my last 15 years to 'the movement', even hitching to Genoa for the 2001 G8 protests and biking to Stirling for last year's counter-summit. But I share this passion for activism with a love of fine living. I wouldn't be seen dead without my Gucci sunglasses, my most treasured possession is my Aga stove, and I even rounded off the Genoa trip with a spot of wine tasting in Tuscany. Can I continue to be classy without being a class traitor?

November 1, 2006
2 min read

Rosie Divine, Hebden Bridge

Dear Rosie

You don’t need an activist haircut to be an activist, but a little bit of prefigurative politics never goes amiss. ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ doesn’t sound so convincing if you’re sitting in the back seat of a Mercedes sipping on Dom Perignon and picking out your dream coffee table from the latest issue of Wallpaper.

But are our actual experiences of anticipating ‘another world’ really much better? As a counter-summit veteran, I’ve done my fair share of collective living in anarcho-bliss. My conclusion is that the change I want to see in the world definitely does not involve waking up in a soggy homemade tent with a stray dog sniffing around my boots, or eating from a pan of mouldy couscous.

You need to go on the offensive and argue that you’re actually living the dream of alternative consumption. Defend that Aga as the energy-efficient hub of an organic, slow food revolution – an antidote to mass-produced microwave meals. Tell your friends that alternative globalisation means levelling up: brie rather than Dairylea, D&G rather than H&M, Pinot Noir rather than Jacob’s Creek.

Of course, there’ll still be some things that you can’t explain away as lifestyle choices that anticipate a better world. For those, you need to put forward a solid analysis of capitalism’s contradictions. Sure, you buy Gucci sunglasses, but not in conditions of your own choosing. And come the revolution, you should say, there’s bound to be some bright and stylish synthesis to overcome the false dialectic between Ralph Lauren jeans and Che Guevara t-shirts. Bring it on.

Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.

Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu

Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism

Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists

Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson

As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win

The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution

Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.

‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition

#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny