Sunday, 17 September 2017

Labour In Vain

The balance in UK politics appears to mean that there are changes occurring for many reasons. How we see the world, how it sees us, what a government is for and how it goes about its business are some. Who we relate to why and how and what we think the future is going to be we are not certain about and prediction is difficult.

For many in politics what they bring to all or any of this is the theoretical ideas of political and other philosophies and their view of history. As the demographics of the electorate have changed, necessarily with time, this adds to the confusion.

The trouble with the history is so much that is lost and forgotten and more so those bits of history that our leaders and would be leaders cling onto. In the Labour party we are being told that its future lies in the hands of the believers in the cults of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.

Marx lived 1818-1883, a Richard Gatling was born in 1818 and one of the inventors of machine guns. It is arguable that the European empires were won by the use of these in their conquests and then the European powers turned them on themselves in the two world wars that cost them their empires.

Lenin lived 1870-1923, Helena Rubinstein was born in 1870 and it is argued that how the peoples of the world might look and smell today owes more to her than philosophical theories. She was a pioneer entrepreneur in the world of cosmetics and fragrances. Lenin gave rise to Stalin.

Trotsky lived 1879-1940, Albert Einstein was born in 1879, my view is that Einstein has a lot more to do with the present and the future than Trotsky ever did, a political opportunist who lost his battle but still has followers of his theories on the Left.

Looking back at the history of the Labour Party, I have already pointed to the role of the Temperance Movement at an early stage. In the 19th and earlier 20th Centuries there were many groups and others with ideas on social reform, betterment, education and provision etc. which ranged across religions and society.

One document which might explain the role of many Roman Catholics in the Labour Party over the 20th Century is the Encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 "Rerum Novarum" and added to by Pope John XXIII in the Encyclical "Mater et Magistra" of 1961. There is an interesting conflict of purpose here.

It states that Socialism is not enough because it relies on production and distribution and has neither faith nor moral content. But looking at the ideas of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky and their antique view from a long gone past, their adherents seem to rely more on their particular faith than any reality of the present.

Recently, I have been looking at the life of George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, who became one of the major guru's, pundits, media operators and experts of his time and whose Irish voice was heard loud in discussions on the politics of his day. His judgement was not entirely sound, for example he thought that on a brief acquaintance Stalin was a fine sort of chap to be relied to do good.

Also he had a hankering for dictators and authoritarian government if they were doing what was assumed to be some social improving impact. But as he was a workaholic who lived by his writing and was expected to come up with ideas and arguments that caused debate he needed to grab attention. Often he was wrong, but he was also right in some matters.

He was an important influence on the left. He was a founder of the LSE and continued to have a close interest in it until his death. One young lecturer he thought highly of was Clement Attlee. How much he might have owed to Shaw is one of those questions to which we will never have an answer.

When he wrote "Pygmalion" in 1912 there is an authoritarian character, Henry Higgins with strong views on speech and education and shaping to poor and lowly. At the time Shaw's gardener was a Harry Higgs and the Higgins views were very much those of his wife Charlotte born Payne-Townshend. And if Shaw wanted to know about the poor and deprived he had only to talk to his servants about their family histories.

Now we have a Labour Party of second hand academics and media people who have done little and know less, have lost sight of their history but have wedded themselves to fixed ideas taken from long gone German and Russian writers.

There is still one question. Were Lenin and Shaw ever in the library of the British Museum at the same time? If they were which one did Henry Hook VC, of Rorkes Drift, the attendant, help most?

1 comment:

  1. "Now we have a Labour Party of second hand academics and media people who have done little and know less, have lost sight of their history but have wedded themselves to fixed ideas taken from long gone German and Russian writers."

    Well said. A political life does not seem to attract capable people.