At the time of putting the finishing touches to the first version of this web site I find myself working in and with a number of problems in the project that I have helped develop that I fear I will not have the time and resources to solve. As is inevitable in life things move on whether one likes it or not. People and circumstances change and you have to replace and renew if things are to go on. The building where you have your offices are to be redeveloped so you have to spend time you can't really spare moving. The local government official who has promised to do things on which depends the stability of one of the network of groups announce that she has finally got round to your project - but that she is leaving for a new job soon, so that it will be up to her successors, who has not yet been appointed, to complete the already overdue tasks in hand.....one day(although officials in the public authorities set all sorts of monitoring and quality control demands on you in return for the receipt of grant aid, there are no performance standards that they have to meet in their side of the administration of it).Meanwhile the one university academic who is a practical help is losing his job and must look for another, setting back again the timeschedule of a project that has already fallen behind. Most serious of all - these things taken together have prevented myself and colleagues finding the time to plan, discuss, and collectively think though in the required detail, our strategic new directions, and how they are to be financed. Who is to blame for this? No one - and yet it is necessary to live with the fear that consequences will be in disappointed and angry people and this will come back either as stress, or anxiety or the acceptance of bitter reproaches for having failed one or more people in your three days a week paid, 6 days a week responsibility job.
This is what the Strategy for Losers boils down to - it means, because those at the peak of the world exercise power without responsibility, that you, at the bottom, try to take responsibility without adequate power, without resources, falling below the priority thresholds of officials and agencies that would allow you to do your job without worries - and that therefore, of course, you are liable to be blown off coarse in your tiny, under-resourced ramshackle self help organisation. But nevertheless you do it, you do it because it is the only dignified direction left - because the idea that you can solve the problems of losers without sharing their life experience - the idea that you can get the answers from a "visiting relationship" to poverty - merely by writing clever articles based on other articles you have read; by superficial consultancy recommendations based on short term visits (for huge fees); or by managerial and policy wizardry at the higher echelons of the welfare hierarchy; these ideas are the self congratulatory illusions of parasitical winners.
Pursue an illusion long enough, said mystic Blake, and you become wise. Winners use generously available energy and resources to organise the world for their convenience, to block out those dissolving processes of universal change and movement that would crumble their own controlled steerage of the organisations and arrangements that they run. They do this in a way which imposes change tendencies in their social and biological environments too fast for these environments to cope with and which are therefore destructive to other humans and other species. You either live in this world of winners, insulating yourself from the experience of poverty and distress and coming not to care about it or arrogantly despising the victims of your world - or you live in the chaotic turmoil, in the churned up wake - in the world that losers experience. In this web site I have tried to show that the world of losers is not a place inhabited by inferior people - only people who have been driven to sometimes destructive and self destructive acts in the disorientation and turmoil that they find themselves. It is also a world inhabited by those who are struggling to create defensive livable ethical lifestyles in what sometimes seem like a repeated experience of small gains followed by further retreats because of having to struggle against huge odds. Unless the world of winners crumbles out of its own inherent problems (which might just happen with the Millennium Bug for example) the tiny fragmentary attempts to organise alternatives is inevitably subjected to dissolving tendencies from the mainstream. But what is the alternative? I leave you with this question which, after many opinionated pages, I admit that I myself have no definite and clear conceptual answer - only that each person must seek and live their own.
Sometimes the answers are not intellectual anyway. As yesterday I had, as I thought, finished writing I went to meet my colleagues in the garden we had cultivated together. It is late July and the sun was hot overhead but we sat in the shade of the hut we had built, on the patio where a grape vine grows and where there are tubs of heather. There was no sign or sight of the city in which we live, except for one or two buildings just visible between the trees, and we discussed our arrangements to move office, to reappoint workers and to cope with the problems we had. In the gaps between our discussions we weeded the raised beds, cut back an overgrown lawn and harvested onions, beans, potatoes, swiss chard and herbs to cook on the stove in the hut. As the sun moved slowly across, and down, to push its light flickering through the foliage of trees and hedges it was time to go home and our problems did not seem so serious anymore.
© BRIAN DAVEY