The Spectator sent Lloyd Evans along to the Socialist Workers Party’s Marxism 2003 event and he provides quite an amusing little account of his time slumming it with the Trots.
They are an easy target for right-wingers of course and Evans can’t resist giving an account of their appalling fashion-sense and his comments on the general unattractiveness of the attendees would earn the rest of us a life ban from the left.
But what is most striking in his largely light-hearted take on the Trots is when he recounts his attempts at debate. One thing that always puzzled me about the ultra-left is while they are superbly rehearsed in faction-fighting and arguing the toss with other devotees of Lenin, they are utterly useless at dealing with the arguments of the right.
They seem to think their revolution will come about without the need to actual defeat the views of the capitalists.
I asked a young woman from Nottingham if there would be money after the revolution. ‘Gradually, eventually it’ll die out, hopefully,’ she said. She’d just qualified, she told me, as a human-rights lawyer. So did she favour a maximum wage? The idea had never occurred to her. She frowned a bit. ‘Yeah. About £40,000.’ ‘OK,’ I said, ‘but then everyone earning more than that will emigrate.’ ‘Good,’ her boyfriend chipped in, ‘get the fuckers out.’ Which concluded our seminar on wage control.
And then we have a taste of the SWP’s vision of the future:
I bought a copy of Socialist Worker from a wrinkled blonde with a put-upon hairdo. She looked as if she’d spent her entire life crying over spilt milk. With very little prompting she began to rehearse for me the principle of manufacturing for need, not profit. ‘I’m talking about basic needs,’ she said. ‘If you don’t eat, you die; if you don’t drink, you die; if you don’t have healthcare….’ ‘Yes,’ I said, cutting her short. ‘But in some sections of society if you don’t have trainers you die — of shame.’ She nodded. ‘Oh there’s room for luxury. I don’t see socialist society as just sackcloth and turnip soup.’ This was encouraging. ‘What’s your idea of luxury?’ I asked. She sighed and gazed into the trees. ‘My garden chair.’ Hmm. No wonder these people yearn for a better world.
Just as an aside, anyone know what the SWP line on football is these days? Last time I asked (over ten years ago) I was told that after the revolution it would probably be banned because it is ‘tribalistic’ and ‘divides the working class’.
These days, now that they are in favour of those who divide the working class (along religious lines), have they changed their view on the game?