We’ve not long come back from the Radical Routes winter gathering, which took place from 14 to 16 February in Liverpool at the Black-E community centre.
We’ve spoken a bit about Radical Routes in past blog posts (see here, for example), so we won’t re-introduce the network here. Its next gathering takes place at Highbury Farm in Monmouthshire from 15 to 17 May (Covid 19 willing).
As well as welcoming new or potential new members of the co-op movement, and offering guidance in the ways of establishing co-operation, these gatherings are an important venue for reviewing ongoing work and political direction.
The most recent gathering revisited our ‘work commitments’ in the network, posing such questions as: how should the vital labour of maintaining and advancing our movements be divided between members new and old?
Of course, being a direct democracy network with hundreds of individuals in its membership, Radical Routes makes its decisions in an unhurried manner that would leave the ents of Tolkien’s Middle Earth itching with impatience, so there will no doubt be more on this topic for months to come.
Another topic which resonated for us, was the question of how the network responds to transphobia. For some time now, particularly in the UK, radical anti-authoritarians have been mired in an ugly conflict around transphobia, which is often disguised behind a semi-respectable and intellectual current describing itself as ‘gender-critical’.
Despite protests to the contrary, trans-exclusionary ‘feminists’ (sometimes called TERFs) seek to demonise trans women as men who are trying to trick their way into female-only spaces in order to carry out sexual assaults, whilst at the same time the TERFs’ activism and narratives all but ignore the existence of trans men and non-binary people.
It’s a painful situation all round, particularly when formerly solid comrades espouse transphobic bigotry. This time round, News From Nowhere bookshop in Liverpool (an outlet which has been previously linked with spreading transphobic ideas and literature) has begun leaning on Radical Routes to isolate some of its members who stand in solidarity with trans folk. But rather than cowing beneath this bullying, more and more members of the network are now pushing back. We hope to get a resolution over the coming months for RR to take a united stand against transphobia… but we’ll have to see!
In other news, we are creeping somewhat closer towards amassing our target of £98,500 loanstock, with having garnered agreements in the region of £5,100 in the first months of this new decade.
We still have a few other options to explore, but our dream home is still held firmly in the hands of unknown future investors. Perhaps that might be you?