Här kommer en läsvärd artikel från Notes from the swedish workers’ movement (som jag tidigare intervjuat) som tar upp berättande och klasskamp. Jag publicerar den då jag misstänker att de flesta mina läsare inte läser den bloggen också. Kommentera gärna på engelska:

I read last night an interview with Alan Moore, an anarchist who has written some of the best comics of the recent past, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell. He discussed a little bit about the importance of story telling for radical movements, a theme which has come up here before, in my discussion of Kämpa Tillsammans’ use of the ‘workplace story’ as an organising tool.

I wrote:

“While traditional workers’ inquiries tend to be quite formal, often involving questionnaires and formal interviews, the members of Kämpa Tillsammans  chose instead to document their own (often humorous) work experiences, draw lessons from them and publish them on the internet. They deliberately chose the medium of story-telling because they wanted workers to engage with the stories in a way that is not possible with formal surveys. Kim Muller of Kämpa Tillsammans explains that they wanted to change the popular idea of what it was to be a worker; workers do not communicate with each other via “written pamphlets or leaflets but by talking and storytelling”, thus stories provide a far better way to develop a new workers discourse than dry analysis and documentation.”

Alan Moore had a similar point to make, although unsurprisingly, he made it far better:

“I think that if you actually examine the relationship between real life and fiction, you’ll find that we most often predicate our real lives upon fictions that we have applied from somewhere… Inevitably, we are to some extent creating a fiction every second of our lives, the fiction of who we are, the fiction of what our lives are about, the meanings that we give to things. So to some degree, stories are at the absolute center of human existence”

(in Mythmakers and Lawbreakers – anarchist writers on fiction, published by AK Press)

In my piece, I was counterposing the practice of workplace storytelling with that of the more formal workers’ inquiries, promoted by the Italian autonomia tendency. Many of the Italian autonomia writers were academics, and thus a rigorously formal inquiry into the ‘objective facts’ of workplace organisation and working class struggle in the big industrial plants  was a natural enough path to take, (This approach was mirrored more recently in Kolinko’s ‘Hotlines‘ inquiry into class composition in call centres). Kämpa Tillsammans’ approach was more subjective, they wanted something which was fun for workers to read and talk about. Workers swap stories and jokes all the time in the break room and on the shop floor, who would pass on an academic text or a piece of sociology?

Thus stories could be a much more useful organising tool – as well as passing on experiences and ideas, they carry implicit moral overtones, heroes and villains, which in turn justify militant practices and rebellion. Looking at stories in this way, as intrinsically related to our experience of daily life, has much in common with the trend in sociology towards ‘social constructionism‘, which places focus on the ways that social reality is created by groups and individuals. It’s no secret that bosses and companies do all they can to create a narrative of work that promotes responsibility and hard work. This typically takes the form of lectures and videos about ‘company values’, underscored by pathetic staff perks and bonus schemes. The success or failure of this attempt will have a big effect on the workplace collective, will workers identify their interests with the company and follow their narrative, or will they develop their own of subversion and rebellion?

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