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Will the hard Left ever leave campus? Marxism 2023 was a festival of frustration

"This is America’s leading trade unionist" (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

"This is America’s leading trade unionist" (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)


July 5, 2023   6 mins

“I’m Jeff Bezos’s arch-nemesis.” A man dressed as a West Coast rapper is speaking before a 1,000-strong crew of Britain’s hardest Leftists. Since this is London, my first thought was: Ali G impersonator. “I cost Amazon $4 billion,” he swaggers. “Let’s talk about the revolution.” Of course, behind the bling and sunglasses, this is America’s leading trade unionist, Chris Smalls, President of the Amazon Labor Union.

It’s the opening rally of Marxism 2023, the “festival of socialist ideas” organised by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). We are tightly gathered into the Quakers’ central hall at Friends House. But, unlike your traditional Quaker meeting (austere, silent, confessional), the mood is one of daring, colour, braggadocio. Speeches are interrupted by whooping applause, if not by collective chanting. Not a great deal of laughter though — in this place enthusiasm goes hand-in-hand with militancy. Side-lined from the Labour Party since the catastrophe of the 2019 election, the hard Left is no longer satisfied with the lucid registration of historical defeat. I’m told this is the biggest Marxism festival for a decade, since the crest of the post-Occupy and anti-austerity movements. But now the final disintegration of capitalism is nigh. They believe this is their time.

Never mind the old joke about socialism taking up too many evenings with dingy “meetings”. Marxism 2023 isn’t shy. Settling in for a long weekend of proselytising, it has booked out the blocks and quads of the entire SOAS campus. And aside from a brief scuffle with some far-Right counter-protesters, all goes smoothly. The Art Deco halls of Senate House are bedecked in posters. On the grass and patios a fleet of trestle tables has docked, groaning under the weight of revolutionary literature. An intergenerational crowd moves between them. The grizzled remnants of the old labour movement are here, “the warriors for the working-day” with their buckets for donated change. But I also meet students attending for the first time. There’s one thing they all agree on. There’s a fresh energy here. “It’s younger.” “More enthusiastic.” “More open.”

But, like Milton’s rebel angels, the radical Left has been exiled from frontline influence to that bottomless hell of irrelevant perdition: the university campus. Do they have answers for our historical moment? Here to narrate the theoretical underlay over video link is Adam Tooze, who has probably done the most to repopularise a Marxian worldview in recent years. In conversation with SWP vanguardist Alex Callinicos, he trades names and abstractions. Lukács and Horkheimer; “complex totalities” and “conjunctural analysis”. But they capture the mood best when they returned to plain Anglo-Saxon. We are living through an “oh shit” moment, says Tooze. A polycrisis of pandemic, climate change, war and neoliberal collapse not seen since the Seventies. The rough end of capitalism (or, as they say around here, its copious “internal contradictions”) has never felt more real. There’s talk of Hobsbawm’s “age of catastrophe” — the years 1914-1945.

So far, so inarguable. It’s a language that’s trickled into the mainstream commentariat, words such as “structural” and “systematic” polished off and redeployed. And labour (not the party) has organised itself in response. The recent record of Britain’s trade unions is a point of pride at Marxism 2023. Fighting for wage increases ahead of inflation, they’ve had their busiest year for a generation. The number of days lost to strikes in 2022 (2.47 million) was the highest since 1989, and the 2023 figure will exceed even that. Picket lines are a daily constant, whether at railway stations or primary schools. And Marxism 2023 was themed around collective action. Tucked away in the smaller rooms, of course, there were still events such as “Family affair: does capitalism want you to have kids?” But the headliners were far more grimly dialectical. “System crash.” “The New Age of Catastrophe.” Not for them the woolly identity politics of the 2010s: here is a harder, sharper project.

The challenge for the radical Left has always been how to convince workers to connect their experiences with the politics of revolution. But Darren Westwood, an Amazon warehouse worker from Coventry who addressed the opening rally alongside Smalls, has already done this. He mobilised the first British strike action against Amazon in January after he was offered a 50p per hour pay rise (to £10.50, a fraction over minimum wage) — when he questioned it, he was told he “should’ve bought shares”. It started as a wildcat strike with a few mates, but now, with hundreds of colleagues signed up and the support of the GMB union, he says it’s “all-out war”.

But until that Damascene moment, he had little politics beyond alienation. He didn’t really bother voting; he doesn’t see the parties as red or blue, but “a dirty purple”. The only choice was “which one is less shit”. But: “I consider myself now as a Marxist. My eyes have been opened and I see it as an alternative. And people point to Venezuela — ‘inflation’s through the roof’. That’s Great Britain now under capitalism … Everyone in this country is angry with what’s going on. Everyone. And all the voices are saying the same thing: there’s got to be a change.” That final clause is a clarion that any voter on Right or Left could have sounded in the past decade.

One of the stories of that decade has been the Left’s failure to successfully interpret this rage. A brief flowering of populist-socialists around Europe has wilted. In Britain, the populist Right has been the principle beneficiary of our turbulence and alienation, turning apathetics into activists and offering the promise of social transformation through projects such as Brexit. As the economic situation worsens, particularly at the crummy extremes of the gig economy, some of that energy is being diverted Left — to its most traditional institution, the trade union — and it can be detected throughout the Festival. Ben, a student from Bradford, is here because he’s “bored as fuck”. Back home, he says, “all you end up doing is going out, getting pissed — the so-called student lifestyle. And it’s just boring. I want to see something change, so I’ll come down here and see it.”

There’s a tentative path forward for the Left if they can capture this, translate that visceral grumble into a politics of inspiration. But the path backwards is here too. Just after lunch on Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the culture tent. He’s been asked to discuss his three books that changed the world. There are cheers as he arrives and he looks happy. A reverential hush comes over the crowd. It doesn’t matter what he’s going to say. It’s him that’s saying it. But there’s an immediate air of disappointment as he starts boring away about An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. By the time he’s onto his visit to the Texas agricultural museum, and certainly by the time he starts actually reading from the book, even this captive audience begins to trickle away. He’s a grandfather reading stories, not a leader.

But Keir Starmer’s not their leader either. Whenever I mention his name people look revolted. Some look as though they’re going to spit. I ask Ben to describe him in a word and he laughs: “You wouldn’t be able to say it.” (“Tosser”, he later clarifies.) “I don’t have enough swear words,” an otherwise kindly 77-year-old woman tells me, shaking her head. The hard Left had an accord with the Labour Party so long as Corbyn was in charge, perhaps even as long as Starmer pledged to imitate his policy platform. But the purges, the obsessive ideological discipline, have forced them elsewhere. Lewis Nielsen (joint national secretary of the SWP and an organiser of Marxism 2023) tells me their strength and their success lie outside Parliament, “in protests, with strikes… Real change comes from below”.

They say they’ve sold 4,000 tickets; Lenin seized the Winter Palace with fewer. But are these people plotting a revolution or waiting for one? And what follows — a centrally-planned economy run by the SWP? Marxism 2023 has been tastefully marketed in Barbie pink (“Did Marx ever wear pink?”), with the party name excised from the posters. But through the gates, you hit a blizzard of joining-forms and evangelical cadres — who look at you very strangely when you stand them up. Socialist ideas aside, it’s clear this Festival is substantially a membership drive. And there are historic questions about the SWP’s own toxicity. Some 700 members disowned the party after it allegedly covered up a rape case in 2013, including prominent Marxist writers like Richard Seymour and China Miéville (the SWP later admitted it “failed the two women who made the complaints”). It may be a harder, sharper world than the soft Left, but it can also be a nastier one.

After 2008, the Occupy movement also believed they were bearing witness to the final irresolvable crisis of capitalism. And they were wrong. Different people have come to Marxism 2023 seeking alternatives, seeking answers to their sense of political rage. But how much do university lecturers and Amazon warehouse workers really have in common, other than the fact that they’re both on strike? When, at the closing rally, Amy Leather from the SWP leadership declares, “we’re against all immigration controls and we say, ‘open the borders, all refugees welcome’”, how many people does she expect to win over?

If we read Marxism 2023 as a symptom rather than a cause though, it clearly reflects political energy searching for an outlet. Anton Jager has described our age as one of “hyperpolitics”: politics is everywhere again, on the streets and in our lives. But it is not being practised through the parties or associative structures which traditionally generate change. Instead we see the scattered, the lost and the angry — everywhere from the gilets-jaunes to the BLM protesters and the Brexit vote. The question of state failure and democratic deficit is repeatedly posed and never resolved. However fervent its leadership, this isn’t a vehicle for revolutionary socialism. Its reach is too narrow. Its heraldry — the clenched fist, the Internationale — looks back, not forwards.


is a Junior Commissioning Editor at UnHerd.

nickpaulharris

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Andrew Raiment
AR
Andrew Raiment
9 months ago

“Amy Leather from the SWP leadership declares, “we’re against all immigration controls and we say, ‘open the borders, all refugees welcome’”, how many people does she expect to win over?”.

And there you have it.

Simon Neale
SN
Simon Neale
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

She’ll win over millions. Bring them over, win them over, then take over.
It really is a case of the electorate being dissolved and replaced with a new one. The only issue that divides most political parties (including our globalist “Conservatives”, unfortunately) is how quickly and conspicuously they will do it.

Douglas McNeish
DM
Douglas McNeish
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Remember, the left accuse polling places demanding ID of being discriminatory and “racist.” Open borders lead to open electorate if the left have their way.

Douglas McNeish
DM
Douglas McNeish
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Remember, the left accuse polling places demanding ID of being discriminatory and “racist.” Open borders lead to open electorate if the left have their way.

Walter Marvell
WM
Walter Marvell
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Only when all voters wake up and see the direct link between the State and Left’s open border mass immigration addiction and the unfolding crisis will the UK ever have hope of stabilisation and recovery. The UK State, BBC and MSM all refuse to tell this basic truth. They lie about it 24/7 as they are slaves to identitarianism and propagandists for the new equalitarian multicultural state. No audit is ever done because that would be raycist and threaten the New Order post 97. But 1m plus annual gross migration – the key figure – is a root cause of the multiple breakdowns in society, making life for the low paid majority near impossible; the 6 week wait for GPs; year long queues for operations in their broken dangerous ‘overwhelmed NHS and its the overflowing A+E wards; the no school place for Jimmy and 30+ no english spoken classes for Jane..on and on. It has caused the surge in the cost of rent or mortgage and house prices, enriching the London propetocrat elite but impoverishing millions more. Even the brain dead Greens who yelp about the dangers of growth for newts and bats bow the knee to open borders and so make a mockery of their entire programme.

Stephen Quilley
SG
Stephen Quilley
9 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Last point very true. They want to rejoin the most desperate growth coalition in the world

Stephen Quilley
SG
Stephen Quilley
9 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Last point very true. They want to rejoin the most desperate growth coalition in the world

Julian Moruzzi
JM
Julian Moruzzi
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Ridiculous, it’s nothing but virtue signalling, plain and very simple. And even if it was an actual hare brained conspiracy it would soon backfire because there are few as anti-immigrant
never mind anti-Marxist, as those who have recently settled, particularly if the new arrivals belong to a group other than theirs.

Andrew Vanbarner
AV
Andrew Vanbarner
9 months ago
Reply to  Julian Moruzzi

Indeed. The revolution is just a tee-shirt away.
The chief problem with leftism in general, and neo-Marxism in particular, is that it’s at best an utterly incoherent critique.
It offers no solutions, no model for governance beyond an enormous and brutal police state, and no real reason for hope, apres les deluge.
This is because Marx and practically every leftist thinker has no grounding in reality, no understanding of human nature, and no comprehension of normal, commercial life. Marx’s initial assumptions, even, are deeply flawed, as he believed labor was the only source of value, and all else was only rapacity.
For an allegedly materialist philosophy, they believe in things that aren’t truly real, such as a looming climate apocalypse, or a world defined not by competence but only power, or the ability of university professors and puffed up technocrats to run entire economies.
This is why any Marxist regime, and generally any left wing government, completely fails to generate high standards of living.
In general, history doesn’t gainsay what logic, reason, and data predict. No thinking person could observe the 20th Century and believe otherwise.

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
AV
Andrew Vanbarner
9 months ago
Reply to  Julian Moruzzi

Indeed. The revolution is just a tee-shirt away.
The chief problem with leftism in general, and neo-Marxism in particular, is that it’s at best an utterly incoherent critique.
It offers no solutions, no model for governance beyond an enormous and brutal police state, and no real reason for hope, apres les deluge.
This is because Marx and practically every leftist thinker has no grounding in reality, no understanding of human nature, and no comprehension of normal, commercial life. Marx’s initial assumptions, even, are deeply flawed, as he believed labor was the only source of value, and all else was only rapacity.
For an allegedly materialist philosophy, they believe in things that aren’t truly real, such as a looming climate apocalypse, or a world defined not by competence but only power, or the ability of university professors and puffed up technocrats to run entire economies.
This is why any Marxist regime, and generally any left wing government, completely fails to generate high standards of living.
In general, history doesn’t gainsay what logic, reason, and data predict. No thinking person could observe the 20th Century and believe otherwise.

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Vanbarner
Simon Neale
SN
Simon Neale
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

She’ll win over millions. Bring them over, win them over, then take over.
It really is a case of the electorate being dissolved and replaced with a new one. The only issue that divides most political parties (including our globalist “Conservatives”, unfortunately) is how quickly and conspicuously they will do it.

Walter Marvell
WM
Walter Marvell
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Only when all voters wake up and see the direct link between the State and Left’s open border mass immigration addiction and the unfolding crisis will the UK ever have hope of stabilisation and recovery. The UK State, BBC and MSM all refuse to tell this basic truth. They lie about it 24/7 as they are slaves to identitarianism and propagandists for the new equalitarian multicultural state. No audit is ever done because that would be raycist and threaten the New Order post 97. But 1m plus annual gross migration – the key figure – is a root cause of the multiple breakdowns in society, making life for the low paid majority near impossible; the 6 week wait for GPs; year long queues for operations in their broken dangerous ‘overwhelmed NHS and its the overflowing A+E wards; the no school place for Jimmy and 30+ no english spoken classes for Jane..on and on. It has caused the surge in the cost of rent or mortgage and house prices, enriching the London propetocrat elite but impoverishing millions more. Even the brain dead Greens who yelp about the dangers of growth for newts and bats bow the knee to open borders and so make a mockery of their entire programme.

Julian Moruzzi
JM
Julian Moruzzi
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Ridiculous, it’s nothing but virtue signalling, plain and very simple. And even if it was an actual hare brained conspiracy it would soon backfire because there are few as anti-immigrant
never mind anti-Marxist, as those who have recently settled, particularly if the new arrivals belong to a group other than theirs.

Andrew Raiment
AR
Andrew Raiment
9 months ago

“Amy Leather from the SWP leadership declares, “we’re against all immigration controls and we say, ‘open the borders, all refugees welcome’”, how many people does she expect to win over?”.

And there you have it.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago

Commies are funny. It’s a religion, really, with it’s own false gods and fake prophets. Commies are also, overwhelmingly, wimps. The idea of them taking to the streets is hilarious, which is why they try to manipulate useful idiots to do it for them. In the meantime, they can meet up for their performative, angry, circle-jerking sessions and give the rest of us a laugh.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Commies are not funny. They’re fascists who inflict terror, torture, famine, and mass murder whenever they get hold of the levers of power.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I demur. They are hilarious. Mel Brookes made nazis funny. Armando Ianucci made Soviets funny. Lampooning authoritarians is essential.

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Stark bilge, Ben Jones. Reminds me of that idiot lead singer of the (inexplicably) popular rock band U2 telling his adoring fans that the best way to deal with ISIS was to laugh at them. Good advice would you say for those about to be beheaded or burned alive?

Ray Andrews
RA
Ray Andrews
9 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

False dichotomy. That one must kill ISIS barbarians at every opportunity is not in contradiction to the fact that nothing undermines fundamentalists more effectively than laughing at them.

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

‘False dichotomy’?

Sounds like debating society BS to me.

...nothing undermines fundamentalists more effectively than laughing at them(?!)

Do you seriously believe that?
The fundamentalists who slaughtered the Charlie Hebdo staff (to take but one example) may have feared the possibility of being undermined by humour but humour certainly didn’t stop them – it merely provoked them.
Anyway, it seems to me that the reverse is the true. Our humour has been thoroughly undermined by mirthless fundamenalists – or are you unaware of the growth of cancel culture? Where is the mockery of Antifa, Transactivism, Pride month, Black history month?

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

‘False dichotomy’?

Sounds like debating society BS to me.

...nothing undermines fundamentalists more effectively than laughing at them(?!)

Do you seriously believe that?
The fundamentalists who slaughtered the Charlie Hebdo staff (to take but one example) may have feared the possibility of being undermined by humour but humour certainly didn’t stop them – it merely provoked them.
Anyway, it seems to me that the reverse is the true. Our humour has been thoroughly undermined by mirthless fundamenalists – or are you unaware of the growth of cancel culture? Where is the mockery of Antifa, Transactivism, Pride month, Black history month?

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Complete Strawman argument. I never suggested it was how you ‘deal’ with authoritarianism. I suggested it was good to lampoon it. Indeed, desirable. The bilge, I’m afraid, is yours.

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

You actually said:

Lampooning authoritarians is essential.

…a bit stronger than merely a good thing.
So, why do you think it is essential?

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
9 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

It is essential because it asserts our humanity – have you seen the film Four Lions by Chris Morris? It’s very funny.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Precisely. Charlie Chaplin drove Hitler to distraction in ‘The Great Dictator’, his performance demonstrated the lunacy of totalitarianism to the masses.

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Check your history. That movie, far from driving Hitler to distraction, was actually enjoyed by him.
Not by me though! If anything it demonstrated bad comedy to ‘the masses’. Apart from the hopelessly inept humour it is blighted by Chaplin’s trademark sentimentality. That final speech (by The Phooey!) calling for niceness is utterly cringeworthy. The idea that this effort demonstrates the lunacy of totalitarianism is laughable (perhaps that’s wherein the true humour lies!). Satire for dummies.

Last edited 9 months ago by N Satori
N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Check your history. That movie, far from driving Hitler to distraction, was actually enjoyed by him.
Not by me though! If anything it demonstrated bad comedy to ‘the masses’. Apart from the hopelessly inept humour it is blighted by Chaplin’s trademark sentimentality. That final speech (by The Phooey!) calling for niceness is utterly cringeworthy. The idea that this effort demonstrates the lunacy of totalitarianism is laughable (perhaps that’s wherein the true humour lies!). Satire for dummies.

Last edited 9 months ago by N Satori
N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

No, I haven’t seen that movie. I remember a bit of media fuss when it was released but I couldn’t muster any interest. Funny it may be but did it undermine any fundamentalists – beyond blowing raspberries at them?

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Precisely. Charlie Chaplin drove Hitler to distraction in ‘The Great Dictator’, his performance demonstrated the lunacy of totalitarianism to the masses.

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

No, I haven’t seen that movie. I remember a bit of media fuss when it was released but I couldn’t muster any interest. Funny it may be but did it undermine any fundamentalists – beyond blowing raspberries at them?

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
9 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

It is essential because it asserts our humanity – have you seen the film Four Lions by Chris Morris? It’s very funny.

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

You actually said:

Lampooning authoritarians is essential.

…a bit stronger than merely a good thing.
So, why do you think it is essential?

Ray Andrews
RA
Ray Andrews
9 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

False dichotomy. That one must kill ISIS barbarians at every opportunity is not in contradiction to the fact that nothing undermines fundamentalists more effectively than laughing at them.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Complete Strawman argument. I never suggested it was how you ‘deal’ with authoritarianism. I suggested it was good to lampoon it. Indeed, desirable. The bilge, I’m afraid, is yours.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

On further reflection I concede your point. Kudos for your rapid rebuttal.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Thank you Sir

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Thank you Sir

N Satori
NS
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Stark bilge, Ben Jones. Reminds me of that idiot lead singer of the (inexplicably) popular rock band U2 telling his adoring fans that the best way to deal with ISIS was to laugh at them. Good advice would you say for those about to be beheaded or burned alive?

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

On further reflection I concede your point. Kudos for your rapid rebuttal.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I demur. They are hilarious. Mel Brookes made nazis funny. Armando Ianucci made Soviets funny. Lampooning authoritarians is essential.

Jon Noring
JN
Jon Noring
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

I was just going to make a similar comment, but maybe in a more objective way, that the “Marxism-in-the-field” described in this article IS a religion, at least as many social anthropologists define “religion.” The parallels to “fundamentalist” [spiritual] religions are many.
Marx said that religion is the opium of the people, and he is right! He just self-described the movement taken after his name. Oh, the irony.

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

It’s very much a religion. One of the blokes in my cycle club is one of them. He takes the collected works of V I Lenin on holiday with him. Everything is a struggle between the ‘workers’ and the ‘bosses’.

He is a retired science teacher. When he retired he bought a very expensive carbon fibre racing bike – a beautiful, svelte, sleek embodiment of market competition at it most dynamic.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Commies are not funny. They’re fascists who inflict terror, torture, famine, and mass murder whenever they get hold of the levers of power.

Jon Noring
JN
Jon Noring
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

I was just going to make a similar comment, but maybe in a more objective way, that the “Marxism-in-the-field” described in this article IS a religion, at least as many social anthropologists define “religion.” The parallels to “fundamentalist” [spiritual] religions are many.
Marx said that religion is the opium of the people, and he is right! He just self-described the movement taken after his name. Oh, the irony.

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

It’s very much a religion. One of the blokes in my cycle club is one of them. He takes the collected works of V I Lenin on holiday with him. Everything is a struggle between the ‘workers’ and the ‘bosses’.

He is a retired science teacher. When he retired he bought a very expensive carbon fibre racing bike – a beautiful, svelte, sleek embodiment of market competition at it most dynamic.

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
9 months ago

Commies are funny. It’s a religion, really, with it’s own false gods and fake prophets. Commies are also, overwhelmingly, wimps. The idea of them taking to the streets is hilarious, which is why they try to manipulate useful idiots to do it for them. In the meantime, they can meet up for their performative, angry, circle-jerking sessions and give the rest of us a laugh.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
9 months ago

A “festival” celebrating the most deadly philosophy ever created, one that killed 100 million people and counting? It’s beyond perverse, but these profoundly stupid people have no idea what would happen to them should they mange to succeed in their “revolution” (not gonna happen: the rich guys always win). As idiots they’re not even useful.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
9 months ago

I suspect that religion has killed far more.

Julian Moruzzi
JM
Julian Moruzzi
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Except religion has actually helped people.

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Possibly but only I think because religion has been the only game
in town for the past 1500 years.
Before then the Roman Empire wasn’t particularly ‘religious’ in any modern sense and yet it was extraordinarily violent and bloodthirsty.
Britain I think ditched religion and replaced it with Empire. When the Empire fell, well, you ended up with the sort of democratic crusade that resulted in the bloodbath that was Iraq.
Given time I can quite easily see secular societies ratcheting up the body count.

Julian Moruzzi
JM
Julian Moruzzi
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Except religion has actually helped people.

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Possibly but only I think because religion has been the only game
in town for the past 1500 years.
Before then the Roman Empire wasn’t particularly ‘religious’ in any modern sense and yet it was extraordinarily violent and bloodthirsty.
Britain I think ditched religion and replaced it with Empire. When the Empire fell, well, you ended up with the sort of democratic crusade that resulted in the bloodbath that was Iraq.
Given time I can quite easily see secular societies ratcheting up the body count.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
9 months ago

I suspect that religion has killed far more.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
9 months ago

A “festival” celebrating the most deadly philosophy ever created, one that killed 100 million people and counting? It’s beyond perverse, but these profoundly stupid people have no idea what would happen to them should they mange to succeed in their “revolution” (not gonna happen: the rich guys always win). As idiots they’re not even useful.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
9 months ago

At 10 quid fifty per hour it must have taken that socialist chap ages to save up for the jacket and jewellery. Maybe they pay Amazon workers more in the States. Perhaps an early investor in BLM.
Vive la revolution! We’re all in this together comrade! Follow me..

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
9 months ago

At 10 quid fifty per hour it must have taken that socialist chap ages to save up for the jacket and jewellery. Maybe they pay Amazon workers more in the States. Perhaps an early investor in BLM.
Vive la revolution! We’re all in this together comrade! Follow me..

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago

“And aside from a brief scuffle with some far-Right counter-protesters, all goes smoothly.”
*And aside from a brief scuffle with some anti-fascists, all goes smoothly. 

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago

“And aside from a brief scuffle with some far-Right counter-protesters, all goes smoothly.”
*And aside from a brief scuffle with some anti-fascists, all goes smoothly. 

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago

It would be almost worth having the SWP in power, just to see the look on their faces when they realise that all those Somali economic migrants and Albanian drug dealers rushing through their open borders don’t actually want to work on the collective quinoa farm in exchange for food and lodging.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago

It would be almost worth having the SWP in power, just to see the look on their faces when they realise that all those Somali economic migrants and Albanian drug dealers rushing through their open borders don’t actually want to work on the collective quinoa farm in exchange for food and lodging.

Jonathan Nash
JN
Jonathan Nash
9 months ago

I didn’t know Adam Tooze was a marxist, or that his grandfather was a Soviet spy (as I’ve just found out). The Deluge is one of my favourite recent reads.

Jonathan Nash
JN
Jonathan Nash
9 months ago

I didn’t know Adam Tooze was a marxist, or that his grandfather was a Soviet spy (as I’ve just found out). The Deluge is one of my favourite recent reads.

Derek Smith
DS
Derek Smith
9 months ago

Alex Callinicos! He’s still going? I used to pass his office on campus years ago…

Josh Allan
JA
Josh Allan
9 months ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

I’m best mates with his nephew, and went to visit his flat recently. Floor to ceiling full to the brim with every book ever written on Marxism. I imagine his office wasn’t much different.

Ray Andrews
RA
Ray Andrews
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

Interesting that Marxists READ, isn’t it? Contrast Trumpists who, like their leader, do not read.

Josh Allan
JA
Josh Allan
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Trump has literally written books, on subjects as diverse as business and golf. I’m sure they’re dreadful, but probably far more lucid than the obscurantist claptrap that’s saturated the academy since Marx and Engels sat down in Chetham’s library nearly 200 years ago…

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

Well said. A while ago I re-read The Commie Manifesto for the first time in about thirty years. It’s basically just a glorified Gish Gallop.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

I think that you will find that Trump didn’t write any book with his name on. Chatted briefly to a ghost writer who then got on with it is most likely.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

Well said. A while ago I re-read The Commie Manifesto for the first time in about thirty years. It’s basically just a glorified Gish Gallop.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

I think that you will find that Trump didn’t write any book with his name on. Chatted briefly to a ghost writer who then got on with it is most likely.

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

I would have voted for Trump if I was American. At the moment I’m reading The Princess Casamassima by Henry James, and L’Education Sentimentale by Gustave Flaubert in the original French.

Josh Allan
JA
Josh Allan
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

How is the Flaubert, in terms of difficulty? I want to tackle it next month but I’m worried my French isn’t up to it

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

I’m a sub-fluent French speaker and don’t find it overwhelmingly difficult, although there’s quite a lot of vocab pertaining to 19th century stuff – lots of different types of carriage etc. I read Madame Bovary a few months ago, and the only place where I became a bit unstuck was where Madame Bovary gets into debt; I found the technicalities of bills of exchange, discounted bills etc rather difficult to follow. Apart from that and occasional vocabular deficiencies it was relatively plain sailing, and in parts very amusing. You could try reading l’ES with Google Translate on hand.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

I’m a sub-fluent French speaker and don’t find it overwhelmingly difficult, although there’s quite a lot of vocab pertaining to 19th century stuff – lots of different types of carriage etc. I read Madame Bovary a few months ago, and the only place where I became a bit unstuck was where Madame Bovary gets into debt; I found the technicalities of bills of exchange, discounted bills etc rather difficult to follow. Apart from that and occasional vocabular deficiencies it was relatively plain sailing, and in parts very amusing. You could try reading l’ES with Google Translate on hand.

Jonathan Nash
JN
Jonathan Nash
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Last edited 9 months ago by Jonathan Nash
Josh Allan
Josh Allan
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

How is the Flaubert, in terms of difficulty? I want to tackle it next month but I’m worried my French isn’t up to it

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Last edited 9 months ago by Jonathan Nash
Andy O'Gorman
AO
Andy O'Gorman
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Oh please – when will you get over that TDS of yours?

Last edited 9 months ago by Andy O'Gorman
Josh Allan
Josh Allan
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Trump has literally written books, on subjects as diverse as business and golf. I’m sure they’re dreadful, but probably far more lucid than the obscurantist claptrap that’s saturated the academy since Marx and Engels sat down in Chetham’s library nearly 200 years ago…

Richard Craven
RC
Richard Craven
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

I would have voted for Trump if I was American. At the moment I’m reading The Princess Casamassima by Henry James, and L’Education Sentimentale by Gustave Flaubert in the original French.

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

Oh please – when will you get over that TDS of yours?

Last edited 9 months ago by Andy O'Gorman
Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
9 months ago
Reply to  Josh Allan

Interesting that Marxists READ, isn’t it? Contrast Trumpists who, like their leader, do not read.

Josh Allan
Josh Allan
9 months ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

I’m best mates with his nephew, and went to visit his flat recently. Floor to ceiling full to the brim with every book ever written on Marxism. I imagine his office wasn’t much different.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
9 months ago

Alex Callinicos! He’s still going? I used to pass his office on campus years ago…

Tony Price
Tony Price
9 months ago

Hold on – trade unions are “Fighting for wage increases ahead of inflation”; surely that is not so. The distinct impression I get is that trade unions are desperately fighting to partially catch up with inflation. Can anyone reference a serious pay claim higher than inflation for their wages over the past decade or so?

The only lucky ones I see referenced are those better paid (FTSE100 board directors to the fore) without trade unions.

I finish with my usual – if you disagree that’s fine but please don’t downvote, reference evidence to the contrary please!

Last edited 9 months ago by Tony Price
Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
9 months ago

Hold on – trade unions are “Fighting for wage increases ahead of inflation”; surely that is not so. The distinct impression I get is that trade unions are desperately fighting to partially catch up with inflation. Can anyone reference a serious pay claim higher than inflation for their wages over the past decade or so?

The only lucky ones I see referenced are those better paid (FTSE100 board directors to the fore) without trade unions.

I finish with my usual – if you disagree that’s fine but please don’t downvote, reference evidence to the contrary please!

Last edited 9 months ago by Tony Price
Drew Gibson
Drew Gibson
9 months ago

Who was it who said that if you’re not a socialist at twenty, there’s something wrong but, if you’re not a capitalist by forty, there’s something wrong? Young people ought to give left wing socialism a go as part of the righteous anger they ought to feel in the face of an ill-divided world, if for no other reason than to see that left wing socialism doesn’t actually live in the real world.

Drew Gibson
Drew Gibson
9 months ago

Who was it who said that if you’re not a socialist at twenty, there’s something wrong but, if you’re not a capitalist by forty, there’s something wrong? Young people ought to give left wing socialism a go as part of the righteous anger they ought to feel in the face of an ill-divided world, if for no other reason than to see that left wing socialism doesn’t actually live in the real world.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
9 months ago

Richard Seymour, who wrote an article in the New Stateman two years ago on how postmodernism became the universal scapegoat of the era, an irrational fear of the pomo or pomophobia.

A cult

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
9 months ago

Richard Seymour, who wrote an article in the New Stateman two years ago on how postmodernism became the universal scapegoat of the era, an irrational fear of the pomo or pomophobia.

A cult

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Raiment
David Lindsay
David Lindsay
9 months ago

Hours from now, the cruelly misnamed Rail Delivery Group will make the case for the already massively popular renationalisation of the railways as surely as that case is made daily in relation to water and in relation to the Bank of England. The venerable YouGov has found Jeremy Corbyn to be Britain’s most popular politician. His rating is only 30 per cent, but that is still higher than anyone else’s. No wonder.

Tolpuddle Village Hall has cancelled Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie, so it really is over to Ben Sellers to show it at the People’s Bookshop during this coming Durham Miners’ Gala weekend. It should also be shown on Freeview, along with Killing KellyThe Great NHS HeistSolidarityAdult Human Female, and SS in Britain. That this has not already happened, since there is not already an obvious channel for it, says everything about who is deplatformed.

There could be only one excuse to vote Green, and that would be to vote for Dr Cornel West, who has needed to go that way for the ballot access. A roaring critic of cancel culture, not that some of us have ever not been cancelled, and of identity politics by reference to class politics, West is already polling around six per cent. He is a viable Presidential candidate who sits on the Board of Academic Advisors of the Classic Learning Test, and whose answer to why he is not a Marxist, since his views and alliances invite the question, is that dialectical materialism is incompatible with incarnational theology.

This candidacy opens the way for a successor who recognised that incarnational theology could not be separated from fidelity to the Petrine Office, with implications that were far more radical than anything that Marxism could ever formulate, much less deliver. Or than could ever be grounded in the obsolescent, Baby Boomer liberal Catholicism of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. There is already a liberal Catholic President. How is that working out?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
9 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Biden clearly has dementia and is being managed. The DNC used Biden as a Trojan Horse to dissuade Democrats from voting for Warren, Sanders and other Progressive Radicals and to vote for him, assuring them that he would be ‘more moderate’ but in the end, he has turned out to be anything but. Biden doesn’t know what he believes because his entire career has been one of opportunism, in which his son Hunter has been his wingman.

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
9 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

What I find tragic (and insulting to women) about that statement is that she was ever really considered presidential material.

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
9 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

What I find tragic (and insulting to women) about that statement is that she was ever really considered presidential material.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
9 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

Biden clearly has dementia and is being managed. The DNC used Biden as a Trojan Horse to dissuade Democrats from voting for Warren, Sanders and other Progressive Radicals and to vote for him, assuring them that he would be ‘more moderate’ but in the end, he has turned out to be anything but. Biden doesn’t know what he believes because his entire career has been one of opportunism, in which his son Hunter has been his wingman.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
9 months ago

Hours from now, the cruelly misnamed Rail Delivery Group will make the case for the already massively popular renationalisation of the railways as surely as that case is made daily in relation to water and in relation to the Bank of England. The venerable YouGov has found Jeremy Corbyn to be Britain’s most popular politician. His rating is only 30 per cent, but that is still higher than anyone else’s. No wonder.

Tolpuddle Village Hall has cancelled Oh, Jeremy Corbyn: The Big Lie, so it really is over to Ben Sellers to show it at the People’s Bookshop during this coming Durham Miners’ Gala weekend. It should also be shown on Freeview, along with Killing KellyThe Great NHS HeistSolidarityAdult Human Female, and SS in Britain. That this has not already happened, since there is not already an obvious channel for it, says everything about who is deplatformed.

There could be only one excuse to vote Green, and that would be to vote for Dr Cornel West, who has needed to go that way for the ballot access. A roaring critic of cancel culture, not that some of us have ever not been cancelled, and of identity politics by reference to class politics, West is already polling around six per cent. He is a viable Presidential candidate who sits on the Board of Academic Advisors of the Classic Learning Test, and whose answer to why he is not a Marxist, since his views and alliances invite the question, is that dialectical materialism is incompatible with incarnational theology.

This candidacy opens the way for a successor who recognised that incarnational theology could not be separated from fidelity to the Petrine Office, with implications that were far more radical than anything that Marxism could ever formulate, much less deliver. Or than could ever be grounded in the obsolescent, Baby Boomer liberal Catholicism of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. There is already a liberal Catholic President. How is that working out?