Thursday, 6 January 2011

Meet the new New Left - same as the old New Left

A couple of times I have started writing to wade in at length  on the whole Laurie Penny / Alex Calinicos online spat.

I was going to write something against Laurie Penny's political dilettantism (New Labour apparachik- to LibDem voter -to angry  anracho-'new' Left). Another time  I was actually going to write something supporting her criticism of the traditional Left's fetishisation of producing and selling newspapers. 

On each occasion however I aborted the mission  because wonderful and democratising though this whole online thing is, it actually provides the masturbatory oxygen that makes possible the whole Laurie Penny phenomenon. A phenomenon that the whole Orwell Prize thing seems to celebrate - and it troubles me. 

It's a phenomenon that  represents a  new take on the very oldest  form of 'vanguardism' - that of the intellectual in the movement. Relatively privileged people who think that have just invented being poor, or being young and angry - and along the way  manage to pick up quite a nice career niche as the tame media-friendly wadicals of a new generation.  In other words I look at her and see Tariq Ali. 

Actually I do Tariq Ali an injustice; he might just be a media-twat these days but there was a time when he actually was an influence in the real world (albeit the student world) , and so for better or worse he  came to represent something.  A genuine moment in the history of the movement - and a bit more substantial than trading on the  experience of being kettled for a few hours.

And meanwhile as -  Though Cowards Flinch  so well describes -  life and struggle  goes on.

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