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.

The crack pipe of peace

Dear Auntie _ War, famine, economic depression and global warming - the idea that 'another world is possible' seems remoter than ever. Will we ever have a just and peaceful world? _ Desperate for peace, Preston

Learning by number

Dear Auntie _ At one of the Gaza protests in London, Stop the War put the number of protesters at around 100,000 but the police insisted it was only 20,000. Can Auntie reassure me that the Met has a scientific methodology for estimating crowd numbers? _ Numberless in London

No hope

Dear Auntie, All my left-wing friends seem to be overjoyed about Obama winning the US election, holding real hope that he will bring change, that he'll stop the wars, and that he'll somehow make America all cuddly and nice. But haven't we been here before? I'm getting flashbacks to the expectations people had of politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, and how quickly they betrayed us. Is it terrible that I think Obama will be just more of the same? Hopeless, London

Both feet not in the grave

Dear Auntie, Having reached 50, I've become invisible. It's the only explanation of why people look right through me. I'm ignored in shops and at bus stops; and getting served at the bar is an endurance test, as men and younger women always take priority. I have a lifetime of experience as an activist, but these days there's always a 'Darren' or 'Ryan' whose opinion matters more. I'd go as far as saying they don't even hear me speak! It seems white hair and wrinkles are taken as an early indication of Alzheimer's. But I'm not ready to go gently into the night and as Auntie looks of a similar age, does she have any advice? The invisible woman, London

Do what I say, not what I inhale

Dear Auntie, _ My daughter is starting to ask awkward questions such as 'Mum, did you take drugs when you were young?' I don't want to lie but I don't want her to venture down the same route. What do I tell her? _ Amy in London

Nice smelling poo

Dear Auntie, _ I'm a vegetarian who is fed up having to justify why I don't eat anything with a face on it. And it's the environmentalists who are also meat eaters who seem the most personally affronted by my choices. Do you have any suggestions how I can deal with this? _ Chickpea not chicken lover, Totnes