…and I’d like to take a minute just sit right there I’ll tell you how I came to advocate a liquidationist position in the Communist Party of Great Britain.
After I’d stopped laughing at Rowenna Davis’s description of Martin Jacques as a “credible leftist advocate,” I realized the story of the erstwhile Marxism Today section of the CPGB is not really very funny. When Tony Blair and people decided that an electable social democratic party would have to make some rapprochement with neoliberalism, they, eventually, ended up in government. Martin Jacques made the same ideological move, and ended up writing newspaper columns tailing whatever New Labour had just done. So little reward for such ideological upheaval.
The other interesting thing in that article is the way it depends on constructing two fantasy figures of “the left.” On the one hand, the left are those people who have failed to live up to their responsibility to put forward a coherent agenda, to make a suitably serious case, who fail to understand economics. On the other hand, the left are people who would flock to this coherent agenda if only it was articulated. Now, I don’t think either of these lefts really exist; Davis herself links to a coherent, if rather modest, left wing agenda assembled by Jon Cruddas, while providing no evidence of a left-wing public merely waiting to be summoned. What’s interesting, though, is the space that these two fantasies leave for the columnist; positioned between the reticent experts and the expectant public the columnist’s mere speech appears both radical and necessary.