Who Are “The Left”?

I went to a very interesting discussion the other night. It was held at Ruskin College, where I start a history degree in September and there were some very interesting people there as well as ordinary members of the public like me. The topic was, “What Happened To The Working Class?” Apparently they didn’t disappear upon purchase of their council houses under The Great Handbag.

What really struck me was the strongly held belief amongst some of the, admittedly self selecting, audience about some sort of non-specific and ill-defined conspiracy against the Working Class/Left. Apparently PR firms are all and only engaged in the suppression of the Working Class. All PR firms. This doesn’t really tie with my first hand experiences of PR firms, but the individual that held this belief was adamant. There is a Right Wing conspiracy and PR firms exists to help make the evil more palatable. Then again; his solution for most of the ills of society, which are visited upon society by the evil capitalist Right Wing establishment, can be fixed if we were to all man-up (should that be person-up in a modern enlightened institution?) and revolt. Revolution is the cure, end of discussion.

As there wasn’t even agreement in the room as to what constituted the working class it was a rather pointless circular discussion IMHO. When the Marxist philosopher explained a Marxist definition as “those that don’t control the means of production”  as the definition there was further debate as that didn’t really do when you try and equate a surgeon with a dustman. There was a quiet discomfort at the suggestion, which made me wonder if this wasn’t a social and wealth based distinction as much as a technical one about who controls the means of production.

The Right don’t need to conspire and hide behind PR firms, they just need to sit back and keep their powder dry. The Left seem perfectly able at suppressing themselves by engaging in endless internal bickering and that makes a revolution very hard to organise.

Perhaps the right are just as bad? In fact, I am sure there are constituents of the Right that bicker endlessly over the minutiae.

Chuck the promise of influencing personal wealth, the ability to choose how to spend ones own resources, responsibility for your own decisions, low taxes, a light touch state into the mix and that sure focuses people’s minds enough to organise themselves into action. I think it’s called Capitalism. After all, the Soviet Union worked out well for the working classes, didn’t it?

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