What Is To Be Done

History is littered with stories of imaginary futures


Bread, land and peace were Lenin’s promises

and the Bolsheviks believed them

and, like others before and since,

believed in themselves,

believed they could achieve them


But, they weren’t uncontested. 

Power intervened

power and conflict

external and internal

and internal contradictions

all in the mix

and look where it took them.

What was there to be done


Education, re-education, terror,

year zero nostalgia for primitive simplicity,

they’ve all been tried.

Such promises,

such imagined futures,

have a long history

and even longer future

similarly re-imagined every time.

So, what is to be done


Once my generation thought we’d done it,

achieved the imagined hopes of Lennon’s song

and created the basis for a future

based on peace and love and civil rights.

Even a pandemic couldn’t stop us at Woodstock.

We were unstoppable!



In diverse countries

we saw the rebels become statesmen.

We thought the struggle was over.

We’d done it!

We’d buried the monster 

with a stake through it’s heart

so it could never rise again,

created something better

with our demonstrations,

with our blood and sweat and tears.

We’d seen the rain wash away all the traces.

We’d seen the sun come out.

We’d seen the colours of laughter in the streets.

We’d thought it would stay there for ever

but now it’s raining again

washing it all away.

The Corbyns and Sanders of the pasts and futures,

are standing there in the rain over and over again.

But as the polar bears know well,

nothing lasts for ever.



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