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Celebrating the everyday


be Dave Riley

We have a birthday party coming up and to save on the outgoings our's is going to be combination -- you know, like a Chinese meal option: why have only one birthday party when you can combine it with two others?

At these affairs it is standard today to make a up a slide show to showcase the individual being birthdayed and maybe play it on the TV on a laptop. But when we went to get a few pics of me doing the political thing we found ourselves a bit short in the image archive department.It's as though I had hardly a political bone in my body to showcase!

[So if you have an outline of my mug amongst a crowd of protesters or something else suitably 'political' send it in!]


This failing I'm sure is across the board, as far left politicking can be such an anonymous activity.A photograph of you protesting the pope is hardly something you'd send to your aunty in a Xmas card.

It has to be about the mass rather than the individual except when the individual is cause celebre. I'm never been a cause celebre as I'm sure neither have you, but it seems to me that we lefty activists sell ourselves and our activities rather short.

That's why I've been trying to expand the Socialist Alliance archive which is as much a record of individual people in the SA story as it is a record of the organisation. It now numbers 205 images and I've been very keen to profile individuals as much as I have been events and campaigns.

There's this red thread that meanders through our collective history which is enriched and sustained by the effort and input of so many individuals, some who, like the late John McCarthy , are no longer with us.

I guess, as I get older and negotiate (yet) another birthday, I value more and more that singular resource. That's one of the most precious of things a person could offer the world: their conscious activity committed to changing it.

In my experience the act of being engaged in change enthralls and excites even those who later came to an accommodation with that which they tried so much to change and overcome. I know corporate honchos, smug academics, lauded literati, premiers and cabinet ministers who once upon a time were mixing it with us street protesting rabble before they went up market. There's plenty of those.

But the most valuable, the most cherished, are always the most unsung because it is these who do the work year in year out.

The irony was that it was through the example of Malaysia's PSM comrades that this oversight in not celebrating the day to day everyday (year in year out) comrades became evident to me. Campaigns and parties are collectives in the same way we often reference communities and while it's not about -- at least not always -- sleeping with one another, that aggregation as part of a major political quest can be exhilarating.

Especially if that aggregation is party political.

So as a lifestyle I recommend it. Just make sure you take some photographs!

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