Rise up against… What?

16 June 2008

Dave Hill has pointed out that the anti-racism message of the Rise festival (which has been central to it since 1996) has been dropped by the Mayor of London… Which begs the question, what is it actually for?

In a city with such a wide range of people from different backgrounds something akin to community cohesion is vital. Ken Livingston was criticised for compartmentalising London’s communities. Boris Johnson seems to be focussing on everybody being Londoners. The trouble here is the contradictory arguments between equality and ignoring difference. Similarly it’s the contradiction in the idea of Compassionate Conservatism about allowing self-expression and self-organisation without making distinctions about different communities. (As a gay man my self-organised community is one which arose from a history of political oppression). Indeed if we follow the Compassionate Conservatism argument to it’s logical conclusion what is the role of the public sector in the un-purposeful Rise festival anyway?

Andrew Gilligan’s flippant argument in the Million Vote Mandate seems to deny that any problems exist: it’s colour blindness. This is a step back in equality from celebrating diversity to negating difference. It’s the kind of ’sweeping under the carpet argument’ that has the potential to surpress tension and contribute to greater problems in the future and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

Rise is another example of the potential for a hands-off approach to ignore a fundamental role for governments, non-intervtionist but promotional, in a world where politicians no longer have control over a globalised economy and even essential services…

That, at least, is my opinion…

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