A QUESTION OF HUMANITY
By Harvey Duke, December 4, 2012 in Days of Hope
It’s getting colder. Frost sparkles in the park and on the pavements as we walk to work in the half-darkness.
Sometimes, the cold only makes us shiver a little, me and Isobel, and we link closely together as we walk, for warmth, and because we want to. The cold cannot really get to us: we are heading to work, we have things to do, the cold is outside and we are safe from it.
But sometimes, the cold sneaks into our lives like a wolf slipping in a wolfish way into an open front door. And we shudder more than shiver, and worry – a little. The cold bites and threatens to keep on biting. Like the other week when I had a flood, and the kitchen roof caved in and the heating was broken for a few days. There was a huge hole in the roof, and it smelled damp like a building site, and the wind blew around the house where it had no right to be. And just for a while, I thought: what if the cold could get to us, and we stay cold? It was just a thought moving through, just a cold breeze blowing through.
Or, the other day on a sleeper train coming back from London, trying to sleep in the strange fish-tank light, and the guard suddenly looms out of nowhere. “The heating is down but we’re fixing it! Shouldn’t be long!” I’m not sure at first why he picks on me to growl out the good news, and then I notice everyone else on the big sleeper-seats is asleep. Most of the faces on the slumped bodies are half-hidden with the blue eye-masks the train company so kindly provides. It makes me feel, for a second, that I’m the only person who can see that it’s so cold. Little clouds of breath rise up above the sleepers who, I think, do not notice how cold it is getting.
Or, back in Dundee. I’m very, very tired because I did not sleep much on the train. Crowds are everywhere: people are Christmas shopping, or dragging small children past the Disney store because it’s too expensive, or oblivious to the red and green and silver lights – oblivious, because the electricity meter has run out and todays mission is to go to the advice centre in the Hilltown and ask the man with the sad face: “How do I get some money to live? I don’t have anything.”
And, for a while – on and off, fighting the tiredeness and the cold as I walk through the streets, I feel ludicrously positive. I pat myself on the back, which is always a twisted thing to do, because I have survived. For a year now, I’ve been one of the too few who try to hold up my brothers and sisters when their legs fail and their breath gets weak and then demons called Atos take a big, heavy stick and batter them until they bleed, and you’re so close you feel it whistling past and you hear the screams.
Yes, you hear the screams. And ‘injustice’ is not just a word. It’s the voice of the woman sobbing on the phone. And the next woman. And the next. So many. It’s the official from hell who could not understand that when a 3 year old child has food taken away – someone must be responsible.
So, I’d survived all of that and it is good to fight. I’ve always known that. I felt warmer when I knew that Alice Sheridan was home from hospital, still fighting, and Tommy said she had vowed to outlive Thatcher. And I felt warmer when I read that John McArdle was still telling whoever would listen – that our day will come, and we must stop the thugs in suits and ties, with their tissue-thin excuses, who prey on the poor and say it’s for their own good. And every time when the thousands marched against such crimes, there was no cold.
For a year also I have fought a lonely battle: one I did not choose. To tell a story and have it told so thousands, perhaps millions can hear: that there are – amongst our angels of struggle, demons of absolute deception. Spies – but the word does not describe them well: better to say they are the wreckers of trade union hopes, the wreckers of green and socialist aspirations. They bring cold winds wherever they go.
It’s getting colder.
The young man begging with the beautiful black dog, huddled for warmth under a dirty blanket, grins for a second as some money goes in his cup, and then his eyes go blank: a past scrubbed out by some ancient injustice.
And it’s getting colder.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
It’s getting much colder.
From the mouths of a handful of men in glittering towers, blizzards are spewing forth – out of the towers and down into all of the poorest streets. They want to freeze our future to unmoving icy now. They want to take our homes away, then hit us for being homeless, and hit us again when we get sick. And when we’re old? Work until you drop!
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
It is getting colder than ever, so huddle close for warmth.
And when the call comes to march: then march; and hold on to those who are growing weak, hold on to our brothers, hold on to our sisters. For some things the rich who lie and hurt and kill do not know – their victims are much, much more than that – each a precious person, and no cold can get to us when we hold and fight together!
Socialism is more, much more than a word.
It is a question of humanity.
Also by Harvey:
Appeal from Harvey for information for his book:
If you have ever come across spies acting against the democratic rights of trade unionists, socialists, environmentalists or other protesters, please get in touch.
You can e-mail or phone me. Whilst the book is mainly about current events, I am also interested in the history of anti-democratic activities – so, experiences which are from decades ago are also useful.
It may be that this appeal for information, which has also been included in various websites, somehow reaches out through the expanses of the internet and into the minds of some former spooks. Perhaps, individuals who now have doubts about being used to undermine fundamental human rights. If so, I want to hear from you.
In the gigantic battles which lie ahead against austerity and cuts, it is vital that trade unionists, socialists and anti-cuts protesters expose the links between governments, big business, and the shadow-world of real spooks.