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When personal relationships and politics clash

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wojtek
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Aug 15 2011 00:49
When personal relationships and politics clash

A person whom I care about a lot is apathetic/ fascist in his political leanings and with his partner he owns two pawnbrokers. They both work ridiculously hard and stupid hours just to keep up with the local competition. During the riots, I was begging for it not to kick off where they live, which it didn't. Now obviously there's a conflict, but I don't know where I should stand. I'm tempted to say 'fuck politics' and go all pseudo-humanist, but I don't know...

Any thoughts? Has anybody had experiences where politics have clashed with personal feelings?

duskflesh
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Aug 15 2011 06:53

I don't think this belongs in the theory section

I learned a long time ago to keep my politics and my personal relationships/social interactions separate. I might give my opinion on an “issue” and maybe even hit at at higher solution by explaining where I think the problem comes from. But I will never mention my radical politics to anyone in a casual conversation. Honestly, even if I ever did get some people around me to accept my politics, I don't think it will serve the cause at all. I think we all want to force our beliefs on the people around us as a natural instinct. Reasoning becomes a tool to control others. What is more is that even if you do absolutely crush them in argument/reasoning/demonstrating evidence(and show their own contradictions), they will very rarely change their mind.

So yeah, you should not be worried about what you friend thinks. It will not help your cause even if one person around you dose convert to anarchism(what you should be doing is meeting up with other anarchists to spread propaganda on a mass scale). It might even hurt you personal relationship. I have been able to save a couple of friendships with some ultra right-wingers by simply having a mutual agreement with them about stopping the conversation if it gets mildly political.

Why people believe what they do is a lot deeper. No politician/ major businessman wants to believe that he is the cause of suffering and exploitation of humanity, nor can he. If he truly did believe in such a thing he might commit suicide,he could never live with himself. He needs to justify the actions that he has done and the actions that he will do. He needs to believe that what he is doing is an inevitable trait of/ is necessary for humanity(no one wants to or can view themsemves as the bad guy). Have you seen the documentary “fog of war”, I raised an eyebrow about some of his comments about the necessity of dropping the a-bomb in ww2. The American military did not need drop a nuke or siege the shores, they could have just sat back and watched japan's crumbeling economy/existance force japan into submission. That dude was clearly very very neurotic(as are all men at the top of the hierarchy in such institutions).

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 15 2011 10:36

Just to say, there is a big difference between being (1) apathetic, (2) a business owner, and (3) a fascist. If they are bonefide fascist, that changes things.

wojtek
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Aug 15 2011 13:59

Thanks for your considered reply duskflesh, yeah it probably belongs in 'general'.

Quote:
duskflesh wrote:
What is more is that even if you do absolutely crush them in argument/reasoning/demonstrating evidence(and show their own contradictions), they will very rarely change their mind.

I've learnt the difficult way that you shouldn't judge your friends and family by their politics. If you 'win' you feel like a self-righteous dick and if you lose then you become bitter and disillusioned. Thus, I rarely seriously discuss poltics in realtime.

I was more asking though had the riots took place and his shops smashed up and looted, where do you think my allegiances ultimately ought to lie? Should family and friends always come first?

Chilli Sauce, how does being fash change things? It's a lot more honest than if he were a liberal pawnbroker.

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 15 2011 14:53

How does it change things? Liberals are misguided and business owners are buying into the dominant ideology. The fash are ideological racists who need to be fucked up.

Samotnaf
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Aug 15 2011 16:17

You have friends who are pawnbrokers, friends who prey on the poorest, who live off them. No wonder you want to keep "politics" separate from "the personal". For those who want to struggle against separations, your attitude is utterly conservative, an avoidance of an anxious choice. Your affections are misplaced. If you had the desire to make progress for yourself (and not preaching to others), you wouldn't consider politics as winning or losing an argument but as a matter of your own integrity, the link between what you want and don't want, your ideas, and your attitudes towards individuals you know. If daily life is the terrain of struggle, then you should be seriously questioning what "friendship" means. Is it the traditional friendship of "anything goes because if I challenge the person it'll leave me lonely" (which you rightly call" pseudo-humanist") or is it "the contradiction is too much to bare; I'll never feel at ease with myself if I accept it". If you can't subvert your own daily life, all talk about convincing others in "political" activity is evasive . And the conservatism of this world, its increasingly fascistic tendencies, is maintained by keeping silent about such sick attitudes and life choces as being a fascist pawnbroker.

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D
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Aug 15 2011 17:30

something like this is always going to be really complicated. As for being friends with people who are 'political enemies' I wouldn't rule out friendship with someone unless, like Chili said, they were and out an out and out fascist or some other dangerous extremist of some sort.

Although even that could get a bit messy if it was say someone who you were really close to and they became fascist later. I'm not sure I could 'disown' my parents or closest friends for instance.

As for personal examples. I was friends with someone who ended up becoming a cop. After that I was never going to invite him anywhere, but that was mainly cos it meant me and my mates would have had to make sure we do nothing illegal (like smoking weed) while he was there which would be shit. So not really 'political' I suppose. I'm still friends with this guy on FB but thats about it.

Besides him I have a few friends who are managers of some sort. I don't agree with what they do but I'm not genna not be friends with them because of it, that would be crazy IMO. I mean, shit, most people are anti communist politics in one way or another (ideologically) and most people also hold varying degrees of prejudice.

I try to avoid being friends with people who have bigoted views, but even that is not purely political as being a bigot isn't just politically shit it also means you are to a certain degree a cunt and I don't like hanging around with cunts. Although I do, like everyone, have friends who hold some prejudices. When they say bigoted stuff I normally try to challenge it but sometimes I'm too drained or feel to awkward to get into one, especially with people who react badly to any challenge to their views. I do think that you should always try to challenge reactionary views as much as you can though. It was in part friends challenging some of my homophobic and sexist ideas as a teenager that made me evaluate and eventually turn against them(the ideas).

As for the looting of your mates' shop, I think the best thing to do would just be to stay out of it. As long as they are not beating your mate shitless what's the worst that can happen? He loses his pawn shop and does something less oppressive for a living.

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jef costello
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Aug 15 2011 17:48

There are limits to the personal effect you can have. I don't preach to people, but I am fairly solid on my principles. Such as refusing to be management. I find it's tough a lot of the time to argue the point so I often let things lie, I've called people on racist and unthinking shit written about the riots but in every day life I tend not to argue too much. I don't really bother with work coleagues because they're largely reactionary as fuck and I've only just started.
I think you can have relationships with people who don't have the same political views and who buy into the crappy system we're faced with, but I think someone who has crossed the line into actual fascist beliefs (such as my best friend growing up) is someone that isn't worth keeping as a friend. It is draining to constantly call them on such shit and no matter how often you expose the ridiculousness of the whole thing it doesn't seem to have any effect.

wojtek
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Aug 15 2011 20:44
Quote:
Chilli Sauce:

Liberals are misguided and business owners are buying into the dominant ideology. The fash are ideological racists who need to be fucked up.

Why aren't fash able to be 'misguided' and liberals 'ideological racists'?

Quote:
D wrote:

Although even that could get a bit messy if it was say someone who you were really close to and they became fascist later. I'm not sure I could 'disown' my parents or closest friends for instance.

He's my uncle so it was a bit of a shock when he told me, as it kind of shattered my rosey image of him. When I found out, we were discussing the whole Cuba thing and I was bigging up Fidel Castro (I was a Communist but didn't know anything about Leninism/ Trotskyism). He said he'd driven around the country on a motorcycle and as a fascist, he was a big admirer of Castro. So you can see why I came to reject authoritarianism.

I rarely see him anyway, the last time I was with him for a sustained period was last summer when I was working for him (in my defense, I didn't know how pawnbrokers worked and I needed the money). Also, I wasn't really in a position to carefully take him up on any bigoted shit, since I was under his roof for five days of the week.

Quote:
D wrote:

As for the looting of your mates' shop, I think the best thing to do would just be to stay out of it. As long as they are not beating your mate shitless what's the worst that can happen? He loses his pawn shop and does something less oppressive for a living.

This seems correct, thanks y'all for the input!

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 15 2011 23:36

Well part of fascist ideology includes outright (as opposed to the institutional violence inherent even in liberalism) violence against racial/religious/ethnic minority, not to mention the left and certainly anarchists. Big fucking difference and I find odd I even have to spell this out.

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 15 2011 23:42

Wait, your uncle was a fascist who admired castro?!?

Here's my uncle: http://libcom.org/forums/theory/debate-03012011#comment-409612

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cantdocartwheels
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Aug 16 2011 06:44

fucking weird post, i mean i only have one mate who has a reactionary job to the level of the one you describe, he runs a small estate rental agent, i can go for a drink with him because i'm not mental, but i wouldn't give a fuck if people organised against him or his office got damaged or whatever, what he does for a living is shit, i don;t really see any clash there.

Other than that imean i have friends who are working or lower middle class and have some pretty reactionary views on stuff, and i know a few people whose jobs have a supervisory element to them, but thats kinda different and just means i live and work in the real world and not solely inside the anarchist ghetto.

piter
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Aug 16 2011 08:47
Quote:
Duskflesh wrote :

I don't think this belongs in the theory section

I learned a long time ago to keep my politics and my personal relationships/social interactions separate

I think this do belongs to theory. a politics that is not about personal relationship is fucked.

communism is about establishing relations on an interpersonnal basis, free relations between individuals (not mediated by class relations, by commodity, states etc...).
separating politics to personnal relationship is reproducing the existent separations/alienations linked with capitalists/class relations.

I want to replace capitalists relations by communism because I think capitalism is fucking up the relations I can have with people.
if not what would be the point with communism?

if you have to take your politics seriously, then you can't separate it from personnal relationship bacause politics is all about relationship and revolutionnary "politics" is being anti-politics, because politics belongs to the realm of separations, of capitalist/class relations).

at the same time if you have to take your personnal relations seriously you can't put aside the politics. that don't means you have to cease seeing your conservative friends but that your friendship with them (if it is serious friendship and if you are serious with your politics) can only be based on what in their views is not one sidedly conservative, on what is good in your friend, which is also political in the way political is about relationship between people.

piter
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Aug 16 2011 09:32
Quote:
Other than that imean i have friends who are working or lower middle class and have some pretty reactionary views on stuff, and i know a few people whose jobs have a supervisory element to them, but thats kinda different and just means i live and work in the real world and not solely inside the anarchist ghetto.

having good views or feelings on the relationship between people is happily not restricted to the revolutionnary milieu and even mix sometimes with "pretty reactionary views on stuf". people are not one sided.

(but also alas "true" frienship is rare in capitalist society, it goes against the tide of capital which is absolutely not about dialogue and free relationship between people...).

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Malva
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Aug 16 2011 09:23

Perhaps this is over simplistic but I think that people who identify massively with the system and support it are dickheads anyway so why would I want to be friends with them? I have told people I would stop being friends with them if they joined the army or the police. Same if they did something like design nuclear weapons or run a super exploitative business (I don't think I'd care if they owned a small bookshop but maybe that's because I love books). Equally I don't make friends with people who love to play the hierarchy in social groups. School was full of kids who wanted to be cool by putting others down or pretending to be something they are not or having the cool clothes etc. so why would I want to be friends with them now? Capitalism is a social phenomenon and I am going to be naturally attracted to relationships that transcend it. Most of my friends and family are just misguided in their politics. The thing I love most about them is that they treat people like people and don't play the social hierarchy crap. In a world where money and work seem to organise every human relationship, love and friendship offer a genuinely human space of resistance. I don't expect my friends to have read Marx but I do expect them not to be constantly trying to get a rung up the social ladder and fucking over their fellows.

piter
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Aug 16 2011 09:33
Quote:
Capitalism is a social phenomenon and I am going to be naturally attracted to relationships that transcend it. Most of my friends and family are just misguided in their politics. The thing I love most about them is that they treat people like people and don't play the social hierarchy crap. In a world where money and work seem to organise every human relationship, love and friendship offer a genuinely human space of resistance. I don't expect my friends to have read Marx but I do expect them not to be constantly trying to get a rung up the social ladder and fucking over their fellows.

that's it...

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Aug 16 2011 09:57
piter wrote:
at the same time if you have to take your personnal relations seriously you can't put aside the politics. that don't means you have to cease seeing your conservative friends but that your friendship with them (if it is serious friendship and if you are serious with your politics) can only be based on what in their views is not one sidedly conservative, on what is good in your friend, which is also political in the way political is about relationship between people.

I don't really agree with this. Friendship is not only about how 'good' a person is (politically or socially). It's also a lot about sharing sense of humour/having similar interests etc

I have a few friends who I would not say are particularly 'good' people but I can have a lot of laughs with them and share similar interests.

I have also known people who I considered to be really nice, kind, with good politics etc but I just don't have much fun with them so have not formed a significant friendship with them

piter
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Aug 16 2011 10:29
Quote:
D wrote :
Friendship is not only about how 'good' a person is (politically or socially). It's also a lot about sharing sense of humour/having similar interests etc

I have a few friends who I would not say are particularly 'good' people but I can have a lot of laughs with them and share similar interests.

I have also known people who I considered to be really nice, kind, with good politics etc but I just don't have much fun with them so have not formed a significant friendship with them

being friends (in the way I meant it) is more than laughing together and sharing interests...and also more than having similar views or behaviour. in a way I would say it is all that put together.

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Tojiah
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Aug 16 2011 16:33
piter wrote:
Quote:
D wrote :
Friendship is not only about how 'good' a person is (politically or socially). It's also a lot about sharing sense of humour/having similar interests etc

I have a few friends who I would not say are particularly 'good' people but I can have a lot of laughs with them and share similar interests.

I have also known people who I considered to be really nice, kind, with good politics etc but I just don't have much fun with them so have not formed a significant friendship with them

being friends (in the way I meant it) is more than laughing together and sharing interests...and also more than having similar views or behaviour. in a way I would say it is all that put together.

I think you're confusing "friends" with "co-members of a cult."

gypsy
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Aug 16 2011 16:45

I draw the line at being pals with fash and fundies wink

piter
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Aug 16 2011 17:12
Quote:
I think you're confusing "friends" with "co-members of a cult."

...or maybe you're confused about how being "friendly" on a forum?

seriously what is the point of being so aggresive?

of what cult are you talking about? I don't get it...

radicalgraffiti
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Aug 16 2011 17:35

to me to be friends with some one requires that i can be honest with them, and i don't need avoid talking about things i care about.

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plasmatelly
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Aug 16 2011 19:16

Piter wrote

Quote:
I think this do belongs to theory. a politics that is not about personal relationship is fucked.
communism is about establishing relations on an interpersonnal basis, free relations between individuals (not mediated by class relations, by commodity, states etc...).
separating politics to personnal relationship is reproducing the existent separations/alienations linked with capitalists/class relations.

Ah shaddap man! The blokes mate's a tosser.

wink

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Aug 17 2011 10:36
radicalgraffiti wrote:
to me to be friends with some one requires that i can be honest with them, and i don't need avoid talking about things i care about.

Boom, that's the sound of radicalgraffiti hitting the nail on the head.. one of my best mates, although def a bit lefty inclined/sympathetic, isn't really explicitly political (wouldn't call himself any -ism that's for sure) and holds some opinions which I think are bloody reactionary but ultimately we can talk/row about it, listen to each other, not feel like anyone has hidden anything and then go on talking about the other things that are important to us (which has basically remained the same since we were kids - girls and music.. smile - and where again we don't hide anything)..

Now I've got a lot of lefty/anarcho mates as well but I don't think I could handle being in a social group where EVERYONE was an anarcho or whatever.. it would drive me nuts! I also think its not good for lefties to only hang out with other lefties as I think it warps your view of the world and makes it difficult for you to explain your ideas to people who don't share certain assumptions..

Of course, I draw the line at fash (and I did shit myself when a mate from school invited me to his baptism when we were 20, but he's still cool really..)..

D wrote:
I do think that you should always try to challenge reactionary views as much as you can though. It was in part friends challenging some of my homophobic and sexist ideas as a teenager that made me evaluate and eventually turn against them(the ideas).

It's all good man, no need to thank me, just get me a birthday present or some shit.. wink

Spikymike
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Aug 17 2011 11:19

Well politics is 'personal' and pro-revolutionaries presumably do want and need to 'struggle against separations' but to Samotnaf and some others I would stress that no one can do that on their own, so the old Situ' slogan 'take your desires for reality' can be frankly dangerous and the road to lunacy if anyone thinks they can.

We all have to relate to people who do not share our pro-revoluionary views in our day to day experience at work and play and that means adopting varying degrees of confrontation or compromise, depending very much on the circumstances of time and place. So, for instance, a friend at one level at work might not be a friend in a situation of strike or occupation but might become a friend again further down the line if the situation changes - not every scab stays a scab but the intensity of the strike experience as in the great British Miners strike may affect that. I have certainly tried to use the degree of friendship with workmates that I have to influence their approach to strikes I was involved with but not always with success. That generally lead to some temporary, but not permanent, disruption to our friendship but only because those strikes were not sufficiently important or clear cut in most cases. On the other hand there were those at work whom I hated in or out of any strike situation and would never have become friends because I suppose they 'identified massively with the system'. There are matters of degree in all this.

Samotnaf's response may seem justified in relation to the first two posts but I think I'm more in agreement with the other more nuanced posts.

Of course it does depend on how we understand 'friend'. Real lasting friends tend to be those who at least share our sence of humanity and 'feeling' towards life but not necessarily our specific political world view.

piter
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Aug 17 2011 11:38
Quote:
Of course it does depend on how we understand 'friend'. Real lasting friends tend to be those who at least share our sence of humanity and 'feeling' towards life but not necessarily our specific political world view.

that's close to what I wanted to say.

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door stop
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Aug 17 2011 12:03
Samotnaf & door stop wrote:
The limitation we want to live in determines the goal and the alternative successive synthesis from which the context of a lasting world receives the absolute condition of our liberation, however, bearing in mind that these are also the exploitation of situation presages the irreconcilable individual.

CF: http://libcom.org/forums/announcements/are-we-endangered-14082011

piter
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Aug 17 2011 12:23

? how is it linked to the subject Door stop? I don't get it...

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door stop
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Aug 17 2011 12:40

Some friendships depend on business solely:

Spikymike wrote:
a friend at one level at work might not be a friend in a situation of strike or occupation but might become a friend again further down the line if the situation changes

All realtionships are variable:

Spikymike wrote:
depending very much on the circumstances of time and place

In conclusion, mere business is not variable, and this is the princple tactical unity.

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Tojiah
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Aug 17 2011 15:25
piter wrote:
Quote:
I think you're confusing "friends" with "co-members of a cult."

...or maybe you're confused about how being "friendly" on a forum?

seriously what is the point of being so aggresive?

of what cult are you talking about? I don't get it...

I'm sorry, I misattributed other people's views to you. I apologize.

piter
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Aug 17 2011 15:37

ok, Tojiah, that's allright, it can happen...