Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Whoever's Left

Usually when I recommend a link, it is because it is full of valuable information (such as this recent piece on Russian demographics).

However, a recent Telegraph article has a ‘car crash fascination’. The 100 most influential leftists in Britain (I decided against linking to it, don't want any of them to get more hits than they deserve). It really means the most famous 100 leftists who are patronised for being steeped in the received wisdom of East-Anglia’s media establishment.

It is interesting though, for demonstrating how hypocritical a lot of our talk on Iran is. Yes, yes. Britain is not Iran. Yet when we say that it is run by Ayatollahs who are totally out of touch with the people,we ignore that our own East-Anglian ‘intelligentsia’ are way out of touch with the rest of Britain.

Over 70% of Brits support renationalising the railways, yet I doubt if 10% on the list would agree; in fact very many of them think that our extortionately priced yet underfunded railways are a privatisation success story. Whilst an overwhelming mjaority of Brits want to leave Afghanistan and think Britain should not have gone to war in Iraq, the majority on the list would probably disagree. But this is not the list of 100 most influential Tories.

Interestingly, I also read that Thatcher did not actually reduce public spending, yet it seems that this myth still persists on both left and right. Many people on both sides of the 'intelligentsia' in Britain believe and circulate the view that she saved Britain.

Still, back to the list. The overwhelming majority come under three categories 1) New Labour loyalists 2) Grief athletes 3) Neo-liberals who keep the insipid stew of received wisdom bubbling.

The first includes people such as John Rentoul, who supports neo-con foreign policy and writes gossip about how wonderful Tony Blair is. Interestingly enough, I once read an article querying if Rentoul was Peter Mandelson. Whilst it was probably a joke, it does demonstrate that even if it was a list of the 99 most influential leftists, the collective IQ and ideas would be in no way diminished (in fact if it was the top 5 leftists, it would not diminish the spectrum of ideas).

The second category includes ignorant whingers like Johann Hari who attack the ‘disastrous nationalised industries of the 1970s' but screech about the Pope’s being responsible for AIDS in Africa. This is just patently dumb (see here for more 'leftist' idiocy). I am not a Roman Catholic: there is much that I oppose in Catholic theology and Church structure. But, really, how dumb do you have to be to think that following the church’s teaching increases your chances of getting AIDS.? Furthermore, why should this be ‘left wing’? It’s just stupid.

Both would roughly fit into the third category, which includes most of the people on the list. There were a few I respected, such as Shami Chakrabarti and George Monbiot. But the overwhelming majority were right-wing dullards.

As for what left wing means, I do not really know. There are ways that I would differ from the left-wing status quo in opposition to abortion and my admiration for Eurocentric authoritarian rulers like Vladimir Putin and Charles De Gaulle (though neither Russia nor France have our oppressive CCTV surveillance or gun-laws). Given my involvement in the Greek community, I cannot believe that largescale Islamic immigration will be a good thing (even though I have personally found Muslims charming people). Yet given the overwhelming victory of neo-liberalism in terms of influence (if not prescience) my social democratic views would definitely make me left wing.

So where are all the leftists? There are many left wingers who are amusing, astute, interesting and many more who are not boring right wing maniacs. Yet none of them are on the list.

Yet do we have a common cause? Would it be better if we gave up on all the cultural debates (where neo-liberals are almost identical) and focus on intellectual arguments for social democracy? Any thoughts?


  1. Gregor,

    Thanks for your comment addressed to me at Neil Clark's blog. I think you are generally correct when you say that "the left is focussed very narrowly." That's a big part of why the(genuine)left has unfortunately been repeatedly rejected by so much of the electorate world-wide.

    But I really dislike this constant(mainly British) activity of dividing issues and individuals into what is left and what is right. It's dull and uninspiring and completely unproductive.

    You say that you do not see what abortion rights "has to do with socialism, as the ownership of the means of production."

    Surely, one of the most personal and important aspects of human life (including in a socialist system) has to do with the 'ownership of the means of RE-production.' If half the population do not truly "own" their own sexual organs then I call that a failure of government because it takes away the decision to bear children, or not, from individuals.

    My blog on this can be read at:


  2. I must admit that I'm not familiar with the representatives of this 'intelligentsia', but I liked the idea that some of those who think of themselves of being some of the 'wises British thinkers' are more out of touch with ordinary people than the ayatollahs in Iran.

    The imaginary world in which these 'wise people' live has little to do with the real Britan one can get to know on every street...

  3. @Brett

    Thank you for your comment, but I have seen no reason why an embryo cannot be regarded as a human being. As such I see abortion as murder. It seems to me that humanists take it for granted that people are an exceptional species (I'd have thought that if they are true materialists, it is rather strange to class chimpanzees and shrimps as 'animals' when chimpanzees are closer to us than to arthropods).

    Still, humanists do not really try to define when someone can be regarded as a human or why a human should be regarded as special.

    Christianity does this and I find the answers very persuasive both to mind and heart.

    As for the freedom you mention,this was a freedom people did without for centuries. And it is a freedom I think people can do without in general. I am bicultural in the sense of belonging to the Orthodox Church and having friends among secular Brits. Yet I find it is the secular 'hedonist' culture where people are more likely to be on anti-depressants. Furthermore, whilst sexual freedom was associated with 'feminism', this seems to be based on objectifying and characterising female beauty (oddly something which women are as guilty of as men are) and so our 'music' and 'TV' are essentially soft-porn with abysmally low standards sold for having girls in revealing clothes. So whilst our culture has its 'goddesses', in beautiful young actresses and singers, I'd rather be an elderly woman in the Orthodox community than an elderly woman in secular Britain.

    And let's not forget he first person to legally institute abortion: Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

    @ Bogdan
    Good to hear from you.

    'I liked the idea that some of those who think of themselves of being some of the 'wises British thinkers' are more out of touch with ordinary people than the ayatollahs in Iran.'

    It is very bizarre given that the majority of Iranians are devout Shia Muslims, that the Western media portrays them as mad weirdoes who enslave a people and keep them from westernisation. Related to my point to Brett, I notice that even political activism seems to be 'soft porn' these days in the sense that they always show photogenic youths in T-shirts when they want to show a freedom movement. But statistics have shown that 1) Ahmedinjad won the election and 2) Those who didn't vote for Ahmedinjad voted for barely less reactionary candidates.

    That is not to defend Iran's theocracy, but I think they are more in touch than our East Anglian 'intelligentsia' which is essentially a hermetically sealed cult who live off each others 'wisdom' and soundbytes. We'll hear them criticising anti-Western governments whilst often these nations place a higher value on human life and a lesser value on material possessions than our 'paradise'.

    We'll hear that British values are the best, but I don't know if these people would rather walk around the Gorbals or Oslo after dark.

  4. Thanks for your comments at my blog page[www.bretthetherington.net], Gregor. I completely agree with you when you say that the economic 'right' has managed to have it's way.

    Yes, privatisation has caused a huge mess in those industries where it has happened and is still happening (most notably in English education recently, with the rise in the number of mainly religious 'academy' schools.)

    I think you are also making good sense when you say that the left can best hope for returning to power if they focus on economic issues, but they must do that while emphasising fairness and equality too. The failure of the political system to bring home responsibility for the world's financial mess (including mass unemployment) must lie with leftist parties to a significant degree.

    I respect your view on embryos as human life but I do wonder at what point you mean? (At conception? At three/four months...?)

  5. Hello Brett

    I agree with you about economic matters, but when you speak about equality, this is something I support in spirit, but which is difficult in practice. It seems to me that multiculturalism and political correctness have become a creepy cult in Britain. Furthermore, they are paving the way for the far right. I hope to blog on this if I have time, but look at this recent event in France. A minister has claimed he paid 'boys' for sex and only LePen seems to think this is completely unacceptable?

    As for the fetus, I think it should be considered a human at moment of conception because that is when the DNA fuses. I know the arguments against this, but I find it difficult to define a human as anything but an entity with human DNA.