Saturday, 8 August 2009


So this (understandably) 'minor' academic's account of Britain's supposed ills (the 'scourges...of modern Tory demonology', according to a disappointingly passive John Harris) are based around three points. These are:

1 - The 'postwar expansion of the state'.

During the 1930s, two camps existed within the UK. One - incorporating a sizable proportion on the left, prior to some of the British Communist Party mucking up severely in the wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and quite a few Conservatives as well - wanted to intervene in the incipient European crisis before it, and I'm sorry if this sounds an understatement, got too late. The other - incorporating quite a lot of Conservatives, aristos, and the editorship of the Daily Mail - wanted to chum up to Hitler. We won't go into the question of intervention in Spain here, although it might have saved a few headaches somewhere down the line (rubbish song, but the Manic Street Preachers knew the deal here.) The non-interventionists won the day. Britain consequently fought a paralysing pan-global war which decimated half of its major cities and lefy it in crippling debt. Angered by the arrogance of a Conservative Party who acted as if election was their divine right, and still mindful of the facetious 'return to normal' enacted by the governing classes in the aftermath of World War I, the British public voted in Clement Attlee's government of democratic socialists, who instituted a programme of reforms designed to make sure the people of the nation could, you know, eat every day and go to a hospital when they needed to and stuff like that. Millions benefit: in spite of the fact that Britain was absolutely bereft of cash, its people were - in general - better looked after than ever before. Within twenty years, people who would, ten years previously, have associated the word 'university' with the man they saw to pick up a prescription are enjoying their graduation ceremonies. Notwithstanding the fact that the 'expansion of state' began as a bloody neccessary measure during WWII, under a non-more-Conservative PM, this is disingenuous Thatcherism at its worst.

2 - 'Next came the left's embrace of what was supposedly all the rage in the 1960s - hedonism, moral relativism, 'the politics of desire' - which Blond thinks trickled down to the most vulnerable layers of society and spread chaos.'

There's a lot of unpicking to be done there, isn't there? This is the old 'John Lennon wrote "Revolution" while voting Conservative as a protest against excessive taxation' argument, in a strange kind of way. If the left embraced the hedonism of the Sixties - and this is a rather worn cliché, I think - then the right were no less guilty. Where some of 'the left' might have dumbly taken Laingian and Reichian 'theory' as an invitation to screw everything that moved whilst imbibing anything chemical they could lay their hands on, the right were embracing radical individualism no less wholeheartedly. The fundamental difference is that the left's 'politics of desire' were tempered by an ethics which demanded a critique of this individualism, which found its popular manifestation in punk (I don't believe its key slogans need repeating here) at more or less the same time as the mainstream right was abandoning the last vestiges of paternalism to participate in a Damascene conversion to Thatcherism. There are three kinds of Conservative: 'disappointed of Tunbridge Wells', who believes in all forms of legality until he's caught speeding, the typically more sociable libertarian Tory with whom you can have a pint and an argument until he's carted off for attempting to punch a police officer, and the one who wants to have it both ways. Lest we forget, the last Conservative government was brought down in part by a preponderance of the latter, who seemed unable to keep their own cocks in their pants while telling the rest of us to behave as if we were extras from The Vicar of Dibley. A Cameron government will mix all three, resulting in unmitigated disaster for everyone who isn't George Osborne.

3 - 'Finally, Thatcherism unleashed the free market...'

Well, if you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

1 comment:

Ernesto said...

Thank you for this post, mate.