Tuesday, 29 September 2009
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?