Friday, 25 June 2021

SLLU... Second Life's Conscience

By Plot Tracer

Back in 2006, as a member of a left unity party that had until that time had worked well since 1999, after a conversation with another member of the party (Scottish Socialist Party), I took a dive into Second Life and took a look around. After a group search using various political terms, I saw that quite a few small left groups existed inworld. One small Socialist Group had a small, unused, meeting room, and from there, I sent messages out to hundreds of individual avatars, and group messages asking if anyone would like to meet and talk about creating a left unity group. I can't remember how many replies I had…  but they ranged from supportive, but not interested, to outright opposition as 'this sort of left unity would water down' whatever 'one true analysis' the person was affiliated to. 

{SLLU hit real world headlines, when it organised and facilitated the mass protests against the Front National

But, two people agreed to meet and discuss a way forward. Higgledipiggle Snoats (Higs) and Dick Marellan…  and so SLLU was born. 

I can't stress enough how incredible Higs contribution was, both politically and creatively. Higs and I worked almost tirelessly through the night on projects and on building SLLU for nearly three years. And others then became involved, taking the group in many, many directions. 

{Unity Station... Our HQ

I've always thought of SLLU partly as a training platform. I mean, some people whose first act of activism is sticking a pixel sign to an avie, have gone on to protest and stand up for rights in rl. All of what we tried to do in sl had rl application /effect. One of the first things we did in 2006 was open up a piece of land for people to create a "peace camp" tent where they could create links to rl issues. Even our Front National protests were about ensuring the media knew about what was happening. We spent long hours during those few months writing press releases, being interviewed, contacting new press and digital media press and magazines, about the protest, and our concerns, demands (at one stage i was just getting four hours sleep a night, working on that and working in my rl profession during the day!)

Subsequent stuff, like the Italian IBM strike (an invasion of an IBM Italy organised Global CEO meeting by hundreds of protesting Union avies that led to IBM's italian CEO resigning) and the fund raising for RAWA were all rl based, but mobilising inworld activists and people who until those points, had no idea they were activists!

We did other  inworld stuff that had no outside implications... Eg,. Protesting LL TOS, in order to teach activists about real world implications , history (history of enclosures, capitalism, privacy issues, etc)

I also thought of SLLU as being a bridge to activism for people who might not be able to be active in rl for whatever reason (disability, isolation, mobility, mental health amongst other reasons) . A group from which people could be active from their desktop, laptop. SLLU came along before a lot of the online petition sites etc, and we offered people a place where they could, in solidarity with others, shout truth to power. That's also true of another project I founded,, some of those podcasting and/or writing do so from their bedrooms, wheelchairs etc and some are autistic, anxious, time poor... Helping to draft letters of protest for folk, and asking for the power of many voices to sign those letters, can make a real difference to people's lives. The power of numbers... Real Solidarity.

And moreso, we allowed activists to take the lead using skills they had or wanted to cultivate, after group discussions, rather than taking a top down approach (many of the inworld political groups mirrored rl political group structures... Which in my opinion  are at times questionable, and in the anarchic world of sl, just hamper creativity)...

Is SLLU worth revitalising? I think so. Activist groups exist in SL, but they are reliant on one or two people funding them…  or at least being involved in order for others to feel confident enough to give money to keep them in expensive sims and parcels. SLLU is a place for all brands of left activists to come together in common cause. 

The fact that a number of people have come together to re-envisage and reboot SLLU after a message from a Linden saying our parcels were about to be seized speak volumes about SLLU's power and durability after all of these years when so many of the groups started in SL in the naughties have dissipated. A group were people with left political principles across the left spectrum can never truly disappear. A group with a conscience. 

We may not at present have the numbers we once had,  but like the time when Higs, Dick Marellan and I came together in 2006, it just takes a small, determined group of people to work together to morph a Second Life into RL revolution! 

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Wednesday, 23 June 2021

The future of SLLU

Im not sure how many people read this any longer. Probably none. SLLU was a huge hug of a thing. Something that, in a cold, sometimes angry digital world, brought people together who wanted the world to be different. A world no longer based on Romano /Wall Street /Imperialist injustices.

And we made a difference on many occasions, from giving fascists a pasting, through to organising a real life strike and superb feminist actions.

And now we are at a real crossroads. Do we let the organisation die, or do we look at building SLLU 2.0...

Please contact me via email if you are interested in taking part in the discussion.
SL: Plot Tracer

RL: Neil Scott 

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