The (sometimes) idiotic left….
Occasionally things crop-up on the left which just boggle the mind in their sheer stupidity. Donnacha DeLong, the new President of the NUJ, condemning the ‘Riot Womble’s’ effectively as ‘running dogs of capitalism’ [sic] was one of those things (Donnacha disputes he did as such and you can see his version of events here). I let it slide and said nothing, it was so obviously stupid it didn’t really deserve a comment. Surely no sensible person could think the same thing? Well, when your wrong, you tend to be wrong. John Pilger, who I have an immense amount of time for as a normally sensible and articulate left-wing commentator had this to say in his most recent New Statesman piece:
Still, the brooms have arrived. In an age of public relations as news, the clean-up campaign, however well-meant by many people, can also serve the media goal of sweeping inequality and hopelessness under gentrified carpets, with cheery volunteers armed with brand new brooms and described as “Londoners” as if the rest were aliens. The otherwise absent Boris Johnson waved his new broom. Another Old Etonian, the PR to an asset stripper and currently the Prime Minister up to his neck in Hackgate, would surely approve.
Pilger, like it or not, is basically saying the same thing Donnacha DeLong in admittedly a slightly less idiotic and obviously moronic way. However, both are horribly wrong; there is absolutely nothing wrong with communities wanting to take control of their own backyards and repair the damage done. I’m really struggling with how this alibis capitalism to be brutally honest. If they had done nothing would people have suddenly had a collective epiphany and realised what a terrible and unjust system capitalism is? I somehow doubt it. Is the problem the fact they were not at home reading Das Kapital while they were ‘wombling’ along; as if they would have been in the first place?
The left really needs to engage the soft spongy thing that is supposed to rest between it’s collective ears sometimes. All of which brings us to the comments of Ken Livingstone last night who compared the contest for the Mayoralty of London between him in the red corner and the Bruiser from Bullingdon, Borrrrrrrrisssss Jooooooohnson, in the blue corner to the slightly more epic and world defining contest between Winston Churchill and Hitler. Livingstone insists these comments were meant in jest which they obviously were (youd have to be pretty off-the-wall to mean them seriously) and it has to be said there is nothing in his comments which suggests he was saying Johnson *is* Hitler (he was saying he is evil, with Ken, of course, being good) despite what mischief makers in both Labour and Conservative Parties will tell you.
However, you can also see how its a pretty clumsy and stupid metaphor. You would think somebody with Ken’s obviously intellect might have thought twice about making such an obviously politically dangerous metaphorical judgement. Furthermore, you’d think that once he realised what a hole he had dug himself, Livingstone would stop not only digging further but instituting a round-the-clock three shift system. Surely, it would have been easier to simply say, ‘fair cop, stupid thing to say, i’m sorry’ rather than pump out mind-bending press releases attempting to ascribe it all to your quirky sense of humour?
Mis-communication on such an horrible scale tends to suggest to me a wider problem of social disconnect. It’s idiocy shows disconnected from wider society the left is from the rest of society (and therefore a sense of an impact of what it says). Until that problem is solved I would expect the toe-curling moments like the ones above to keep coming thick and fast.