NS November 11th, 2010
I took a quiz the other day on Facebook, a bit of cheeky fun called ‘What type of Leftist are you?’ I answered a few questions and then my result popped up on the screen. ‘You are a Marxist!‘ it declared. No great surprise to me, I suppose — I knew that my political beliefs were left of what passes for liberal these days — but Marxist? Really?! Hmm.
I know a bit about Marxism, studied it as part of my poly sci degree and have a book about it on my shelf, but I devoted a good hour or two to brushing up on its principles and figuring out whether, actually, I do have a bit of Marxist blood running through these veins.
Turns out, I do. At least partially. Regardless of whether or not I think Marxism could ever become a (successful) reality in this day and age, I do admire and agree with many of its tenets. Not those that were hijacked by dictators and despots looking for a cause to cling to and give rise to the power they so desperately crave, but the core belief that capitalism is inherently anti-proletariat and oppressive to the people, despite attempts of throwing ‘democracy’ at its wretched, greed-encased feet.
In typing these words, I keep expecting a trapdoor to open up below me, sending me into a political black hole that transports me directly back to the United States to face hanging, drawing and quartering for treason. At the very least, my nerves will be heightened when I go through US Immigration in three weeks’ time. What would they care about a simple little mommy blogger like me? Probably diddly squat. But people have been snooped on and detained for less.
So if you don’t hear from me for 24 hours after my flight was due to land, know that I’m paying the price for this post somewhere in a little room with a large woman and a pair of rubber gloves. Maybe George Bush will be there, reading passages from his new memoirs while he chucks bucket after bucket of water down my gullet to try to force me into a confession. By writing it all down here, out in the open for all to see, I save them (and me) a lot of time and water.
As a friend of mine on Facebook said when he commented on my quiz result, “Is it legal for an American to be a Marxist?”
I very much doubt it, Stuart, but we’ll soon find out.
Anyway. The real reason I’m writing about Marxism and my frustration with capitalism is because of these student protests that took place in London yesterday, which everyone in the UK is talking about today. Essentially, up to 50,000 people turned up to protest the coalition government’s plans to increase tuition fees by up to three times the current limit, something the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg specifically said he would not do in his campaigning during the election period. In fact, he went further than that and said he would reduce tuition for university students. He then got into office and, after ‘realising the enormity of the nation’s debt’, promptly forgot that promise and agreed to screw all the students (and millions of others) who voted for him and his party.
I don’t like that a fringe group became violent and started breaking shit, I don’t think it was the smartest idea, but I can certainly fucking understand why they were so angry. Hell, I’m not even a citizen of this country (and therefore couldn’t vote) and I’m STILL angry that the Lib Dems completely screwed their supporters by bowing down to the great Tory machine. Nick Clegg is but a puppet and David Cameron has got his hand shoved so far up his felt-lined backside that I do believe he’s moving his mouth now as well.
Listening to a call-in show about the topic this morning on BBC London, I heard over and over again people talking about violence never being the answer, how we have to be peaceful and use democracy to get what we want. This, coming from the same people and the same government that is quite happy to go to war and tear apart entire countries over boundary squabbles, ownership of natural resources and to force democracy and capitalism onto those not fortunate enough to live in a country where we worship the dollar and the pound and the lifestyle that goes with it.
War in Iraq and Afghanistan = fine but breaking windows because you’re pissed off at your government = deplorable? Where’s the common sense in that? If you’re going to condemn violence amongst your own people but then use it as a tool to control, threaten or coerce other nations, you’re really just talking a load of bollocks.
We live in a hierarchal, patriarchal, class-driven society. As much as we like to pretend that we’re all open-minded and liberal and independent, we’re ruled and oppressed just as much as those living in the so-called ‘third world’. We’re just too blind to bloody realise it.
History shows us, time and time again, that those in power will not relinquish it easily. The upper crust of society — the wealthy, the male, the white, the educated, the able-bodied, the privileged — will always have the upper hand, even in our ‘democracy’ where every vote is counted but rarely matters or changes anything. After this election, I found myself thinking for the first time: “Fuck it, why vote? IT DOESN’T MATTER ANY MORE.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pacifist. I think war and violence and breaking shit is awful and pointless. But if you think you can condemn these students out one side of your mouth and wage war out the other in the name of something YOU believe in, the hypocrisy is almost more than I can bear.
So yes, I understand why these students and activists did what they did. I understand their anger, frustration and helplessness. I too want to kick at the gilded tower from where the fucking bastards are laughing at us, knowing they’ve got the keys to our cages.
But I’m afraid that while we’ve still got a Pot Kettle Capitalism instead of remaking society into something that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few, this shit is going to keep flaring up and then fizzling out. People will whinge and nothing will change, unless we get not 50,000 but 500,000 protesting, then 5 million, then 50 million.
Realistic? No. Idealistic? Sure. Delusional?
Go ask Marx.