Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Alan Johnson: He's not a Marxist any more, you know

It's been obvious for some time that Alan Johnson - he of the Euston Manifesto, rather than he of the high-up Government post, and spelt differently from he who was kidnapped in Gaza - is no longer a Marxist. Now, he has finally admitted it and spelt out why.

I know he's an academic an' all, so maybe there's something in his rigorous intellectual analysis that is going over my head, but it seems to me that he is basically saying, "Life under capitalism's pretty good, you know". To which the obvious answer would begin "It might be pretty good for you, mate, but ..."

Anyway, Alan goes to the trouble of itemising his reasons, so I'll go to the trouble of summarising them in an irritable, slightly satirical and undoubtedly unfair fashion.

1. I no longer think that people are nice. Except my and my mates, of course. We're lovely. Horrid people are horrid. No amount of social change can make nasty people nicer, despite the evidence otherwise. Humans will never be capable of running a nice society, so we should settle for a nasty one and try to smooth some of sharp corners. Maybe.

2. Abundance is a crap idea. It kills the planet. I have quite enough abundance thank you very much, and if other people don't, then tough. Learn to live with your scarcity: it's good for the soul.

3. Markets are great. I know this, because New Labour's new Clause 4 told me so.

4. I don't want a better life. My life is fine, thanks. Other people's lives? Not bothered.

5. The working class no longer has nothing to lose but its chains. It now has satellite dishes and mortgages. At least in this country, it does. Well, parts of this country, anyway. Proletarians, arise! You have nothing to lose but your MP3 players?! That's so not the word on the street. As far as I know. Capitalism is dynamic, and workers can reap the rewards (joining a union can help here).

6. History doesn't prepare us for socialism after all.

7. The middle class is here to stay. Capitalism is stable. And that's fine by me.

8. Those dictators who called themselves Marxists - they were not slimy, deceitful, lying bastards after all, they were telling the truth! And just because plenty of Marxists are against dictatorship - well, what do I care?!

9. I just don't believe in it any more, really.

10. I now think social democracy is a good idea. Capitalism is just fine, so long as it's run by nice people. Mind you, the rate I'm going, I may soon think that social democracy is a dangerous ultra-left philosophy too.