They're my claim to posterity, these opinionated gems. But when I was searching I also fed in "jim percy" as I had an inkling that Jim died around about this time of year. I was close. He died, as it turned out, on October 12th, 1992 at the age of 43. I was Jim's secretary for a year back in 1983 so I got to know the guy very well as I was his partner in this everyday business we call political struggle.
I mention this because it's all part of my 'bio' too you see. Except I'm not dead. I may be this and that but I wasn't as special as Jim was. Here's what Peter Camejo had to say about Jim(Camejo was major collaborator with Jim up until his death):
He was a person of total commitment, honesty and fairness. He was an internationalist who felt the suffering of working people, the poor and oppressed regardless of where they lived. Jim was always deeply personally disgusted by the racism which surrounds all predominantly Anglo-Saxon countries.
Jim's life was not in vain. One day his dream of a just society in Australia and the world will be taken for granted. Out task is to find our way to the people of our countries, to change our course to a genuinely democratic society based on ecologically sound production for human needs. Helping build the organisational instruments to achieve those goals was Jim Percy's life work. Let us all continue in his footsteps.
But I reckon that I'm still living that legacy and continuing in those footsteps because Jim most of all pulled so many of us out of the narrow circle spirit that so handicaps the left. There's this default that is so easy to embrace where the massive ideological pressure forces socialists to play at performing almost caricatures of themselves as they try to hold on to their programatic substance in the face of marginalisation. And let's face it: it's mostly a marginal existence despite the many rages.
So why bother?
My long time friend, the playwright, Louis Nowra once wrote a poem about me before I began to figure as a character in one of his plays (such as Cosi) and in his memoirs -- such as The Twelth of Never . But festering always between us was so often my political activities, a divide that surfaced in this polemic over Che Guevera. But the poem --wirtten in 1970, I recall -- went something like this( he has destroyed all copies of his early work so you'll have to rely on my recall):
Let him who has embraced the lion
arise on a beast of fire
not for him some godly kingdom
but for some other land aspire
Well...hello! That's par for the course on this "line of march" as the Communist Manifesto called it. But I've always found that despite my times "doing something else", signing up with the active red ragers is the only show in town. This is how I, at least, manage to be sparky after 37 years of on and off again political activism. And of course, there's Jim...
you must be strong
knowing that you will be futile
I'll come back later to review Jim's legacy some more. In the meantime, I makes me mark where I can...
Dave Riley is a long time socialist from Brisbane, Australia who is involved in a major left regroupment project there, the Socialist Alliance. As well as serving currently on the SA's national executive he runs the Ratbag Radio Network (a podcasting initiative with several channels), he writes regularly for Green Left Weekly and runs a personal everyday blog at the Life of Riley. He also blogs at GreenLeft Bloggers.