Sunday, September 25, 2005

Class Struggle

I was minding my own business in Abingdon Street, waiting for the anti-war march to start, leaning on my "Bush: World's #1 Terrorist" placard, smoking a cigarette in the autumn sunshine and trying not to look too much like a fully paid-up member of the bourgeoisie, when I was accosted by a very handsome and earnest Trotskyist.

I switched immediately into slightly flirtatious mode, as is my prerogative now that I am unattached and Mistress of my Own Destiny. But Handsome Trotskyist was having none of it. "How much do you know about Marxism?" he asked me sternly, having established that I had come here from Shepherd's Bush and that I had participated in previous anti-war demonstrations.

Resisting the urge to tell him that I think Karl Marx was a feckless waster who allowed his wife and kids to starve around him in their garret rather than lower himself into the structure* and get a job, with the result that he was so crazed with hunger and cold and the plaintive whines of his wife and kids that not a word of his writings is intelligible to anyone, thus rendering them completely open to interpretation by a multitude of left-wing factions who can't agree on anything between them, let alone actually get it together to start a revolution, I replied "errr, a bit."

Seemingly encouraged by this, he went on to ask if I didn't think the world would be a better place if capitalism were completely abolished and replaced with some kind of Utopian society where everyone had a job and no one wanted for anything at all. "Not really, I'm afraid," say I. "I don't mind capitalism. (Note to self: Things Not To Say When Wielding A Socialist Worker Banner.) I think you can have responsible capitalism and still make the world a better place. But then I'm a company director, so I would say that."

"Oh, what company?" says he. "Oh, a very small PR agency in Chiswick," say I. He gives me a sort of pitying look. "Well, that's OK," he says. "It's hardly Halliburton, is it? Would you like to buy a copy of Class Struggle?"

So I did. And I read it all, this morning, in the bath. And bugger me if I hadn't completely forgotten what a revolting, profit-driven, patriarchal, violent, self-interested world we live in. I resolved to do something about this immediately. Sadly I got sidetracked and somehow ended up in Habitat buying pictures of orchids. But tomorrow...

* It's actually the base, isn't it? That's been bugging me for some while.


surly girl said...

i was accosted in trafalgar square after the legalise cannabis march in about 1998 by a man with a satchel filled with pictures proving that man landed on the moon in 1962. how i miss the good old days....

i've trivialised this, haven't i?

patroclus said...

Not at all, surly. On the contrary, we must know more! In particular, how did these pictures prove it was 1962?

I was just reading about how, amazingly, it seems that we *are* about to withdraw from Iraq after all, and realising that short of opposing the invasion and thinking that our troops aren't doing very much good out there, I really don't know anything about the current Iraq situation at all. Shame on me.

Urban Chick said...

the problem with the class struggle is it's such a lot of bother, isn't it? my own personal theory about why we've never had a revolution* in this country is because someone will always say: oh, c'mon, let's stop all this nonsense and have a Nice Cup Of Tea!

and who can blame them - who can beat a good brew?

* the english civil war does not count

patroclus said...

Indeed, UC. But which type of tea? My personal preference for Earl Grey (milk, no sugar, please) marks me out as being hopelessly middle class and therefore an unwitting instrument of bourgeois oppression.

If we can't even unite behind tea, how can we possibly hope to forge a Utopian green and pleasant land?

Is what I should have said.

Smat said...

doesn't the Poll Tax thing count as a minor revolution (and it's continuing saga of council tax whereby a granny somewhere on the south coast wil be jailed tommorrow becasue she's not going to pay up)?
apologies for lack of specific detail - I do "broad spread" and leave pernickity details to Mr Smat, the tax accountant

cello said...

Yes, I count myself as left-wing, but what the hell does that mean these days? I don't believe in free markets, but I do believe in markets, albeit ones regulated for consumer protection.

I think profit is no bad thing; it's how you divide it all up. These days that makes me a wild socialist type, but, in truth, I'd probably find Disraeli quite acceptable.

I am tormented over Iraq. Having intervened and messed everything up, is it irresponsible to walk away now? But I still think it's the right thing, and maybe a civil war was always inevitable post-Hussein.

patroclus said...

>>I think profit is no bad thing; it's how you divide it all up.<<

This is exactly what I was telling the Trotskyist chappie. Money isn't bad in itself, it's what you do with it that counts.

>>Having intervened and messed everything up, is it irresponsible to walk away now?<<

Maybe replace the army, who aren't trained in fixing things up and sorting people out so much as bombing and raiding and whatnot, with aid workers who can get things running properly again. Or am I just being way too naive and simplistic?

cello said...

You can never be too naive and simplistic. It floors politicians every time. Excellent idea p.

Urban Chick said...

for the record, my own brew of choice is twinings lapsang souchong with just the merest dash of milk (NO sugar)

what does that make me then?

Jack Spanners said...

Hmm, the political debate or the brew of choice debate? A tough choice. I actually prefer instant coffee with milk and one sugar. I suppose that's because I'm as common as muck.

patroclus said...

UC, that officially makes you a Classy Bird. Jack, let's not get into a debate about coffee. I have *very* strong views about that beverage.

surly girl said...

it's hard to say exactly how the pictures conclusively proved the moon landings were seven years earlier than we've been led to believe, possibly for the following reasons:

1. i was drunk.
2. i was stoned (durr - it was the cannabis rally).
3. he'd cut the pictures out of magazines and stuck other bits on with sellotape.
4. he was mental.

black decaf, no sugar thanks.

cello said...

Co-op 99 tea-bag (staying in touch with my Northern roots)with a dash of skimmed milk (laughable attempt at weight loss). Thank you.

Pashmina said...

Small skinny latte with an extra shot and fairtrade coffee, please. And here's my mug, give me 10p off and ignore my smug, environmentally-friendly expression.

Ah, the joys of western capitalist guilt.

patroclus said...

This isn't a bleedin' caff, you know. And trust everyone to want something different.

I'm off out the back to fix myself a nice grande skinny Whipped Chocolate Kitten (line-caught kittens only - it's more environmentally friendly, innit?).

Stef the engineer said...

Guilt about earning too much is a good thing. I'm hoping for lots of guilt in my next job!

And I'd never have figured surly girl for a decaff person.

Urban Chick said...

me either, stef

i had her down as a seven double espressos before elevenses sort of a gal

just goes to show how wrong i can be...

[apols, SG - i think you're cool, caf or decaf]

and apols, P, at having taken your semi-serious post down a truly daft, beverage-based route

promise to be more sensible next time

Wyndham said...

I once spent two hours or so trying to impress a very pretty member of the Workers Revolutionary Party with lively chat and coin tricks, only to discover that she vowed never to get jiggy with a man until the revolution. I was highly cheesed off about this, it certainly put me off revolutionary politics.

Camp David said...

I enjoyed reading this.

Wyndham said...

However, thinking about it all these years later, I realise she could have been letting me down gently.

My god I'm naive.

Going for a cigarette.

patroclus said...

Don't do it Wyndham!

I was about to say "More fool her - I bet she's gagging for it now."

Stef the engineer said...

"And bugger me if I hadn't completely forgotten what a revolting, profit-driven, patriarchal, violent, self-interested world we live in."
Doesn't quite fit with:
"Director ... a very small PR agency in Chiswick."

Doesn't PR depend upon us being at least revolting, profit driven and self-interested? If not actually patriarchal & violent. (And in the days when I lived in London one PR employee swore blind it also depended upon immunity to red wine. But this was shortly before she turned pink & collapsed under the Hammersmith flyover. I don't know whether she's still in the industry.)

We were at the big anti-war march before George & Tony went in. We didn't attend the march; we were just stuck there, by mistake, wifey on one side of the procession, me on the other, waving to each other when smaller folk went by. We called it passive activism. I feel humbled in the presence of active activists.

cello said...

It is possible to do PR, and advertising and other marketing, for reasonably ethically sound and not-for-profit organisations you know. They need it more than most eg Guardian, BBC, Public health campaigns, (anti-speeding,-drugs,-smoking etc) Fairtrade coffee, Co-op Bank, Oxfam, RSC, etc, etc. I'm not saying that those are p's clients, just that you shouldn't assume 'persuasive communications' only work for the bad guys.

Fizzy good said...

Of course, George Orwell was very fussy about his tea (I like English Breakfast, looseleaf, but with two sugars which is rather vulgar), and he betrayed the cause in the end, with his list and whatnot, didn't he? So what I'm saying is, too much emphasis on tea comes before a fall.

If I'm out, I'll have a small fairtrade latte with two brown sugars. Yeeees. I'm a sugar person I'm afraid.

On a slightly different note, my word verification word is "ampon", which I find a bit worrying.

patroclus said...

Well I'm glad that my highly facetious post has given rise to a healthy debate on the Real Issues Of The Day, namely the pivotal role played by hot drinks in the political struggle against oppression. You just don't get this kind of quality sophistry in the Guardian, now, do you?

Urban Chick said...

you certainly do not, P

which is why i've just fired off a quick missive to mr rusbridger pointing him in the direction of your (humble) blog

hi alan (if you're reading this)!

surly girl said...

i don't do caffeine as it makes me even more irritable and unpredictably violent than just sort of everyday life does.

and i gave up smoking (again) four weeks ago tomorrow. if i can just quit the absinthe and serial killing i might be on the right side of things, finally.

LC said...

>>>Maybe replace the army, who aren't trained in fixing things up and sorting people out so much as bombing and raiding and whatnot, with aid workers who can get things running properly again.<<<<

The majority of squaddies are actually support troops who do stuff like logistics, engineering, communications, catering and medicine on an absolutely massive scale. So they're pretty well set up to rebuild the infrastructure, and to deal with getting shot at by, understandably, enraged Iraqis. Sadly I think at this stage even civilian aid workers would be an unwelcome foriegn presence, and they're most definitely not set up to deal with getting shot at.

If this had to be done at all, the best way would have been replace coalition troops with UN peacekeepers from Islamic countries immediately after the initial fighting was over.

Can I have a cup of English breakfast tea, with a splash of Scotch? Ta.

patroclus said...

I had a feeling someone was going to say something like that, sooner or later. I'm just glad it was one of my
much-cleverer-than-me employees. Marvellous.

We've started on the absinthe, by the way, LC. Well, *some of us* have.

belladona said...

Am I too late for a pot of looseleaf orange pekoe darjeeling, with a dash of cynicism and oh I can't be bothered to construct the weak joke / social comment as once again I am too late for the discussion. If anyone's still reading, war = bad, tea = good (unless its that strange orange beverage you get sometimes in small cafes who laughingly refer to themselves as 'tea' shops).

LC said...

>>>one of my
much-cleverer-than-me employees.

Nice of you to say so, but we both know you're lying - probably for the sake of my fragile male ego, bless you :P

hen said...

Heh - reminds me of one those Bird and Fortune Islington dinner party conversations. I might as well throw my tuppence in as I too soon will be a Islingtonite. I thought Marx was saying capital and profit *are* the intrinsic problem - it is money that causes the dialectic struggle and resulting oppression. Money will invariably to lead to asset differentials and unjust and nonsensical distribution of means of production which will ultimately be unmanageable and will lead to conflict - which it has, in Iraq for example. It is all good and well to say - hey we live in a capitalist society and there is no real suffering but all that has happened over the last 100 years is the real proletariat are now in different countries - out of mind and all that. Coming out with Brownite sentiments that all we need is fairer redistribution of taxation is a kin too bailing more water out of a sinking ship. It is all well and good going an "Pull troops out off Iraq" march and getting chatted by handsome Trotskyites but without thinking what you would prefer - the tyranny of global capitalism or the tyranny of islamic theocracy then maybe you should be really asking yourself is what habitats were destroyed and how many teenage factory workers fingers bleed making your pretty lampshades. The root cause of it all is the same - selfish people and how they are c*nts to each other. Mine's an espresso with a shot of ouzo.

patroclus said...

>>The root cause of it all is the same - selfish people and how they are c*nts to each other.<<

Yes, you see, another very good point, and one that I also made to the handsome Trotskyist.

However, none of this guilt-ridden sub-Naomi Klein chit-chat alters the fact that I completely failed to get his name, let alone his number.

Stef the engineer said...

Cello, you're so right. I was far to grumpy and judgmental (*). It's just the PR industry has such bad, well, PR. Does the PR industry have a PR agency?

(*) I blame, well, me, chiefly.

hen said...

>> However, none of this guilt-ridden sub-Naomi Klein chit-chat alters the fact that I completely failed to get his name, let alone his number. <<

Heh, maybe you should have just asked him - under the pretence of wanting to go to the next underground meeting obviously.
"So hi, when is the next meeting?"
"Well we are having a presentation on the exploitation of the miners of western Africa by the international diamond trade on Wednesday in the back room of The Grot and Forget-Me-Not pub in Kilburn."
"Ah.. I have appointment at Tony and Guy's that night. .. Any chance you could change it to Thursday?"
"Sure, it is only me and Bill going."

Fizzy good said...

I love Bremner Bird and Fortune.

I feel like a cup of tea.

There is an explanation for these inanities.

Juggling Mother said...

I did have a very clever comment all written out about Trotkyists & living in the real world, with a sideline of venom to my mother. But then I tried to find a link, lost it all & I really can't be F****d to write it all again, but I thought I'd say Hi, it's a good post:-)

PS I don't drink tea at all, does that disbarr me from commenting?