Friday, November 28, 2008

Comrade Rees is Purged- A nation mourns

there is really nothing much to be said.

But, as this is my blog then I will.
Many years ago when I was working as a train driver in Leeds I was an active member of the Swappies; an announcement in the Party notes asked for speakers at that years Marxism summer school. I was at that time doing talks for West Riding SWP branches on The Luddites and was quite pleased with how it went down. I decided that it would be nice to do the talk in front of them fancy londoners and so called the number attached. I was put through to John Rees. I explained who I was and gave him my pitch; after a moment of silence he said; "It all sounds very interesting. Is this a part of you're thesis?"
"Pardon?" , I was a train driver who left school at 15; but I was not ignorant, I knew what faeces is, and I was not impressed with with the implied criticism.
"Are you studying the subject as a part of your degree?"
I explained that I was a manual worker and not, in fact, a student.
Silence. "Oh."
Rees then 'patiently explained' how the speaker at Marxism had to speak for 45 mins and take questions from a large number of people who may know a great deal about the subject, and it would be very different from a branch meeting, and how daunting that might be.
I was beginning to feel a little patronised* and said that I had been to marxim many times, knew what was involved and that if I did not feel up to it then I would not have applied.
Rees said that he would be in touch if they needed me.
Two months later I arrived at that years Marxism and walked into the meeting entitled "the Luddites" at which I spent an hour correcting the howling mistakes that the teenage student swappie stumbled and stuttered his way through.
Me? Bitter?
damned right!

* If you have ever been a blue collar worker in the SWP you will know that being patronised is the default position, to such an extent that you become immune to it and only notice when it stops.


ModernityBlog said...


good point

I don't think that's just limited to the SWP, it is a middle-class characteristic

When I worked in the Print you'd run across these very articulate upper-class, lead jacketed individuals occasionally, then they would spiel on for five or 10 minutes and first time out you'd think, "what a clever chappie he is" however when you have seen it three or four times you realize it's just middle-class bullshit.

And so it is with politics and history, when we get a firm grasp of it then it's easy to see how shallow all that middle-class BS is

And how the only way they can control it is by using jargon and terminology (the whole arena of argumentation, strawmen, latin tags, etc) all meant to keep the world's secret from the rest of us, to keep a level of superiority

But it doesn't work nowadays, with the advent of the Internet it is possible for across fairly uneducated blokes to run across political activists, historians and even college professors and in doing so you can see how shallow sometimes their arguments are, and how unoriginal their thinking is

the Internet is a great leveler, which is why the Middle class dominated British Left has been slow to take it up.

I like asking questions (an innate curiosity I have, which helped me in pub quizzes) and if someone knows their stuff they'll normally answer it, but you find that the middle classes, the student radicals, the SWPers, etc don't like answering.

That is particularly true in discussing the Middle East, you will find that so many of them are pig ignorant of the basics, but they know the talking points and the slogans so try to wing it without success.

Dutch Language Paramedic said...

It's curious how this works. Even though I'm from a lancashire mining family, I do have a degree, but I've never managed to hold down a job for long enough in the world of middle-class bullshit. Consequently,I've mostly had manual jobs.

Three years ago I applied to speak at the Dutch Marxist conference and the bastards looked at me like I said I wanted to shag a chihuahua. All middle-class professionals and students desperate to be the next Lenin and give four hour speeches consisting of rhetoric.

It's bloody hopeless. ModernityBlog is right in that it's a middle-class trait: taking it for granted that they have more worthwhile things to say and the automatic right to say it. They don't give a monkey's about workers, only armchair philosophy.

Chris S said...

There is a comrade of mine who has been around 40 odd years, has led strikes at Rover and other plants in Birmingham. After all these years, when his own comrades in the SWP introduce him, it is still as a "worker-militant" (by middle class, weekend warriors) and not as a socialist. It is something to do with the comrade having dirt under his nails and not gone off to university i suspect.

Imposs1904 said...

Thing is, Rees never struck me as particularly posh.

Admittedly, I've never seen him at close quarters but when I've seen him speak from the platform a couple of times he had that west country accent about him.

I thought the rule from yesteryear was 1) Posh SWPers adopt a mockney accent; 2)Posh Millies adopt a scouse accent.

Am I missing something with JR's Pam Ayres impersonation?

PS - Aah, Modernity and his ever present whinging about the so called middle class and the leninist left.

In real life, Modernity's real name is Sebastian. Who'd have thunk it?

ModernityBlog said...

it is NOT the idea of posh that's the issue, it is the MENTALITY

that pushy, get a head, fuck everyone else Middle Class attitude that's the issue, he could talk like Geoff Boycott if he liked, it is his internal thinking ....not merely an accent.

Imposs1904 said...

Point taken, but I'm afraid I've seen many types like that on the warehouse floor.

And I think the left's issue is less a middle class mentality and more its substitutionist mentality.