Friday, August 29, 2003

Still pondering Harry's challenge, and apropos of the contribution from Blairista:

If you want to know what it means to be 'left' now then just think back to why you became 'left' in the first place (whenever that was!) and providing you're not seeking nomination as a Labour MP or a job as a G2 columnist you should have the answer.

I give you:

Why I Became Left

It's not so easy as you might think, looking back to the time when you assumed certain attitudes. It sometimes feels like you were born with them, and other times you make false connections. For instance, I read Harry's description of how Thatcher inspired him to become an active socialist with a warm glow of recognition. Yeah, that's how it was for me, was my first thought, until I did the maths. When Thatcher won her first election I was 22 and my most active and intense political period was already behind me.

So where did the fervour come from? Where did the youthful certainties and arrogance come from that made me berate my old man for reading the Daily Express and led me to flirt with the SWP (or International Socialists as they were then)? How come, as an 18 year old did I choose to spend my time in smoky rooms discussing amendment 327a, sub section 3, and really, really caring who became secretary of my local branch of ASTMS?

And you know what? I really can't tell you. I can tell you about how my old man's admiration for Nye Bevan (despite the Express, my old man was a Labour voter) and Orwell and Sillitoe rubbed off on me, I can tell you how reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists reduced me to tears of rage, I can tell you about the English teacher (there's always a teacher) who taught me to use critical faculties on everything I read, especially newspapers. "Always bear in mind the motive" he'd say.

But these things only complemented what was always in my head anyway. For it was self evident that the world was wrong. It was wrong that millions starved in a world of plenty, it was wrong that most working people had jobs of mind numbing tedium at best, for which they had to be grateful, while the more fortunate, the more educated, had the luxury of job satisfaction and better wages to boot. It was wrong that 7% of the people owned 84% of the wealth.

And with these blindingly obvious facts always in my head, was the knowledge, gained from books and old Socialists, that it was the Labour Movement and the Unions that had actually effected any sort of change for the better, that any improvements in the lot of working people had been fought for tooth and nail and that the Conservatives represented a world of which I wanted to have no part. A world where working people knew their place, a world of selfishness and greed.

It might seem strange now, looking back. For this was, after all, the early to mid seventies. Social attitudes had changed immeasurably since the early days of Labour politics and the lot of "workers" was better than it had ever been. The Labour and Tory Governments seemed pretty interchangeable and the "Unions were running the bloody country." The country was shortly to embark on a course that would shift the centre ground of British Politics to the right, probably forever.

But throughout those years that followed, as the Thatcher Revolution trundled on, scattering the unemployed, the feeble, the weak, the poor onto the stony ground, as whole industries and communites died, I knew that I had chosen the right side of the fence to stand.

Well that was then. I'll look at now another time.

I've gone big. And also re-invented a little. Out goes the random ranter, in comes the sober reflections of a re-awakened leftie.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The other Iraqi blog.

What is it with these Iraqis? They write like angels.

Sure makes you wonder. So far for women in Iraq the liberation has proved to be a mixed blessing to say the least.
Harry's Place is probably the most civilised political blog I know, and is currently asking those on the left what it means to be a leftie.

Having read nothing but political blogs for a while, it has come as something of a surprise to me to realise that I still am to a certain extent a political animal and also a bit of a leftie, which, according to the more rabid right, is synonymous with liberalism these days, and, of course, is the root (or route) of all evil.

As noted in Harry's Place, it is easier to explain what you are against - especially when you are arguing with opponents - than what you are for and I may return to this subject when I have spent some more time out in the fields pondering while the dog checks his pee mail.

I said it surprises me that I am still politicised and it is true. When I started this blog I had a view of myself as a vaguely misanthropic old git, tainted by cynicism and holding to the common view that politics was a load of old bollocks. A very post modern view and one that I haven't completely abandoned, for the simple reason that the field has narrowed considerably since the Eighties. When New Labour follows the policies of previous Tory Governments and only manages modest deviations from Thatcherite orthodoxy, yet still describes itself as a reforming party, you do look back to the Iron Lady's time with a touch of regret. In those days it mattered how you voted.

Well, it didn't actually, since her majority was as unassailable as Blair's, and, of course, it is a measure of the Left's defeat that there was no way to beat her or her heirs without becoming her clone. I don't know how many other old Lefties have retreated into cynicism since the realignment of British politics, but for someone like me, who was pretty cynical to start with, it was a logical step to take. Some, I know, went the hippy, green, anti globalisation route, others went even further into anarchy, some refused to acknowledge the change and stayed exactly where they were, sad idiots spouting Marxist-Leninism, even more deluded now than they were when the Berlin Wall was up.

But I wonder how many joined the "they are all as bad as each other" mainstream? Because on the face of it, it's true. There is still a very large part of me that takes the view that those seeking power over others, whether it is by the ballot box or any other means, should be automatically denied that power. The world should, like the H2G2 universe, be run by a naive, kindly soul who doesn't know he's doing it.

But the world is the world, and we get a chance to have a small say in how our bit of it is run. And thank's to t'internet, we political pub bores can talk to each other, maybe understand each other's point of view a little. Maybe the politicians themselves will take notice, too.

Now that would be something.

Monday, August 25, 2003

How depressing.

The same shit at Ayodha that was going on when I was in India in '90-91 is still claiming lives now. I remember one of the Missionaries of Charity in Banaras describing how she had seen a young moslem torn to pieces by a mob on the banks of the Ganges. Horrible.

I also remember remember standing on the steps of the Taj Hotel, wandering around, admiring the Gateway of India. Ker fucking boom.
Must mention kickAAS, the campaign to end Agricultural subsidies. Here's wishing it well.

Been pondering a bit on the Right Wing denial of global warming and the virulence thereof, sparked off by Bush's latest foray.

I know you can't get a spell of hot weather without some environmentalist killjoy uttering doom and gloom, but the free market right's seemingly absolute insistence that there is not now, nor will there ever be, any problem at all, whatsoever, with climate change, despite all the evidence to the contrary, is a mystery.

I'm lying, it's not a mystery at all. Energy lobbying comes into it bigtime, of course, but so does the curious absolutism of many a rightwinger's psyche.

Because, here, you see, we have a problem with no free market solution, ipso facto the problem does not exist.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Time to blog a bit again. Been away for a fortnight, attended to some business that might - or might not, lol - put some food on the family table, haunted some other peoples blogs, so all's well with the world.

The kid Cuthbertson has been getting carried away again. He and his ilk do make me chuckle, since half their time is spent castigating liberals and the left for demonising the right, complaining how they and their views are misrepresented in the overwhelmingly left wing media, and the rest of the time doing that exact same things themselves.

They are just a mirror image of the far left, who I knocked around a bit in my yoof, and who, judging by the Socialist Worker, haven't changed much in the interim. Particularly amusing is the mutual persecution complex and the curious symmetry of their pet hates: You say Murdoch, I say the Beeb, you say the Guardian, I say the Mail. You say globalisation, I say regulation...

If only they could see themselves as other's see them.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Nothing much of interest happening in the world at the moment, apart from the usual misery of poverty, war, death, disease and right wing blogs.

Actually, it's all pretty quiet there, too. The kid Cuthbertson's place is like a morgue, The Edge of Englands Sword (can't be arsed to do a link) is about as sharp as something very blunt that I can't think of right now and the boys at Samizdata are talking about car parks and getting into a lather about compulsory vaccinations that aren't compulsory at all.

So God is in his heaven and all is well with the world. Night.