The crack pipe of peace
7 May 2009
_ 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
1 February 2009
_ 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
5 December 2008
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?
Both feet not in the grave
18 September 2008
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
3 June 2008
_ 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
2 April 2008
_ 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
30 January 2008
I just learnt that my father, whom I haven't seen in years, plans to leave me a very large pile of dosh in his will. As this is the ill-gotten gains of his work as a Ministry of Defence fat-cat contractor, I know it was made at the expense of others' suffering. Does Auntie think I should keep or give
Almost filthy rich, London
8 December 2007
I live in a house with several friends and while I enjoy the ritual weekly clean they are lazy, so have suggested we hire a cleaner. I am uncomfortable about the idea of hiring someone to be our servant when we have plenty of time and are perfectly capable of doing our own cleaning. Does Auntie have a cleaner? And what does she think of the idea of hiring one?
Ms Spick and Span
Facing up to Facebook
2 October 2007
_ I'm addicted to Facebook, spending days online desperate to add more 'friends' to my profile and consumed with the need to spill the most intimate details about my life. What should I do?
_ Lost in Cyberspace
Sex and the single socialist
1 August 2007
I'm a sociable, but single, socialist. A friend of mine recommended I sign up to an online dating website, but I'm uncomfortable with the idea - it strikes me as the death of sociability.
What should I do?
1 July 2007
I notice that in your picture you always have a tab to go with your pie and pint, so I'm sure you understand my problem. After 30 years on the Golden Virginia I can't so much as walk past a pub without lighting up. My local pub landlord and his customers are all smokers. Where's the harm in us all committing slow suicide together? Is there any way we can get round the new smoking ban?
'Old Holborn', Sunderland
Google for it?
1 June 2007
As a seasoned internet activist I regularly give my friends a hard time for using Google. Its 'don't be evil' motto doesn't seem to have helped Chinese web users, who now face censored searches, while its CIA links are well-known. Only one problem: I have a secret addiction to Skype. Does this make me a hypocrite?
Activista, Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire
1 May 2007
As a lifelong feminist, I've always insisted on sharing the costs on dates. But I only work parttime and have money troubles, while the man I'm now seeing earns a lot more than me. So he always pays when we go out on dates.We've never talked about it but I feel awkward. Does that make me a bad feminist?
Anne Elliot, Bath
1 April 2007
I have just got back into work after a lengthy period of unemployment. I tried really hard and after about 50 interviews succeeded. Ironically, I now work for a private training company trying to get the long term unemployed back into jobs.
1 March 2007
I keep having dreams about impending nuclear holocaust. I know Hull would be an unlikely first strike target, but who knows which way the fallout might drift? Now I've just read on a US religious website that nuclear war in the Middle East is foretold in the bible. Should I be worried?
Shaky Steve, Hull
1 February 2007
I recently met the man of my dreams at a local climate change awareness meeting. Tall, dark, handsome and with a more than passing resemblance to a young George Monbiot, I fell for him immediately. After several environmentally-friendly, ethical dates, we both feel we are ready to take things a step further.
The problem is that we aren't sure if there are any potential environmental considerations that we should take into account before doing so. We are both worried that there might be problems we haven't considered. Can you help?
Julie Kennedy, Manchester
Take that, groupies!
1 December 2006
As a music-obsessed greenie, the recent spate of bands reforming after years of obscurity has got me in a fix. The desire to get back in the saddle and start trailing my favourite band on tour across the globe is becoming stronger with every second that Take That! spend creating their new album.
How do I reconcile my desire to be a transnational groupie to early-1990s has-beens with my environmental obligations? Is there any way of obsessively trailing my idols without resorting to multiple short-haul flights?
Martha Owen, Chester
Classy class warrior
1 November 2006
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?
Heat on gossip
1 October 2006
I'm a lifelong leftie with a secret addiction to celebrity gossip magazines. So when I've had my fill of reading about Hezbollah and the FBU, I like nothing better than to slip a copy of Heat between the pages of my Socialist Worker and ponder the sex lives and misdemeanours of former Big Brother contestants. Does this make me a counter-revolutionary?
1 June 2005
Although always a radical at heart, it was the Iraq war that finally prised me from my armchair and into a rapid upward spiral of political activism. Alas, my overwhelming experience throughout has been one of repression - mental and physical - from state, police, capital and those authoritarians within our own movement. Demoralised and depressed, the last thing I can face right now is the prospect of robocops running riot against me and fellow demonstrators in Scotland this July. But this cowardice racks me with guilt and I desperately don't want to feel this way. Can you help?
Burned Out of Birmingham
Vote early and often
1 May 2005
I'm campaigning for a principled anti-war candidate in a marginal seat against a prominent pro-war Blairite. The contest is going to be very, very close, with just a handful of votes likely to decide the winner. However, the enemy is definitely cheating the postal vote system and fighting a very dirty campaign, and we are probably going to lose. Depressed at the thought of these "dogs of war" getting back in, I now have to engage in a little postal vote fraud myself to even up the score, but, predictably, I'm having a last-minute moral dilemma. Auntie, what should I do?
Not George Galloway
Doing it for the kiddies
1 April 2005
I've just been sent £256 from Gordon Brown's Child Trust Fund (CTF) to invest for my nine-month-old daughter's future, but I don't have a clue what to do with it. I understand I can either invest it in stocks and shares or a bank or building society account. Is there an ethical option?
Yours, Sleepless in E9
Excited by Condy
1 March 2005
I have a confession to make. I'm fascinated by the possibility of Condoleezza Rice becoming the next US president. Surely in 2008, the Republicans will select a candidate from within the current administration. Given his age and health history, it won't be Cheney. And if the Democrats can't beat Bush, what chance would they have against someone with a brain? But I'm also thinking: how likely is ultra conservative America to elect a black woman as president? So surely, with the election four years away, you'd get some generous odds on Rice. But Auntie, would it be wrong to profit from the neo-cons' continued success? Would it make it any better if I gave a proportion of my winnings (say £1) to the Red Pepper supporters' fund? And do you know anywhere where I can get some decent odds? I've only seen 12/1 so far.
A sportsman writes
Light up my life
1 February 2005
Having campaigned against the war for Iraq's oil, I am increasingly concerned about oil's effect on climate change. I really want to put my own house in order by cutting back my use of oil, starting with changing my electricity supplier to a 'green' one. But I don't really see the point as all suppliers are legally obliged to have a quota of renewable energy, anyway. Will switching merely take the heat off my conscience?
… like a fish needs a bicycle
1 December 2004
I'm a 61-year-old single woman socialist, still fighting the system after all these years. My weeknights are filled with meetings; my weekends spent running a stall for my party. But even old Trots have their needs. I need a man, but not any man: I want someone who shares my hatred of capitalism, but who can have a laugh as well. The men I meet are far too macho and serious - and terribly crusty. I know I'm asking the impossible, but, please Auntie, help me find some lovin' for the holidays.
Desperate in Derbyshire
Is there hope at last?
1 November 2004
A new internet campaign has begun to remove Tony Blair ([www.iwontvoteblair.com->http://www.iwontvoteblair.com/]) as an alternative to impeachment. The basic philosophy is that you can't personally vote Tony Blair out unless you live in Sedgefield, but his MPs can make him resign. The only reason they'll get rid of him is if he'll lose the election. They will lose their seats if you don't vote for them - that's motivation! All you are asked to do is write to your MP and clearly state, 'I promise I won't vote for a party with Tony Blair leading it' and tell all your friends to do the same.
Should I put my name to this, or just hope that Tony Blair and his capitalist clique are just a bad dream?
Which Blair Project?
Time to buy up and sell out?
1 October 2004
All my mates talk about these days is property, property, property. They're buying up places in areas that are up and coming with plans to sell them on when the price is right. They keep harassing me to do the same, saying it's a necessary 'investment' because by the time I retire there will be no state pensions left. While the idea of no longer paying fat-cat landlords is tempting, homeowning goes against all my political principles: driving up house prices hits the poor the hardest. So should I continue to prop up the landowning class or buy up and sell out?
Property is Theft
Can Christianity and communism mix?
1 September 2004
I've been reading into communism and socialism and have found that they reflect most of my beliefs. But I have one small problem: I'm a Christian, though I am pro-choice, an evolutionist and have problems with the church. But some communist websites I've been reading say that communism and Christianity don't mix - even though they have common beliefs about helping the poor and share and share alike. I'm trying to find my place on the political spectrum and it seems nowhere will have me. Can you suggest any societies or groups where I might fit in?
The self-indulgence of bourgeois consumer boycotts
1 August 2004
In between my bizarre double-life as a financial adviser and Marxist guerrilla, I regularly go jogging and clubbing. Such a lifestyle makes a decent pair of trainers essential. How can I protect my little pinkies in trendy, reliable footwear without wearing expensive branded shoes stitched together by mainly Third-World women or child workers for a few pence a day?
Dancing Queen, Leeds
“Emotionally blackmailed” by Roma babies
1 July 2004
Dear Agony Subcomandauntie,
I live just outside London and commute for 90 minutes every day by train and tube. At least once a journey I"m asked if I can spare some change. I can't afford to give money to everyone who asks, but as a rule will regularly slip the odd pound or buy The Big Issue.
However, Roma women have recently been coming through the carriages, pushing their babies in people's faces and annoying other commuters. While I"m sympathetic, I"m not sure whether to reward such emotional blackmail, and I feel intimidated by the general hostility from fellow passengers. What should I do?
So broke it beggars belief
Accidental votes of an anarchist
1 June 2004
I have a dilemma. As an anarchist, I have no time for voting in elections, but I really don't want the BNP to get in where I live in London. Should I vote even though it would only legitimise the corrupt parliamentary tyranny? And if so, who should I vote for?
An agitated agitator