The Left

In the Days Before Blogs

Former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques has an item in the Guardian today entitled The End of The West.

It’s like a blast from the past, from the days when Jacques’ magazine used to land through the letter box and provide us student communists with an evening’s entertainment as we engaged in the pre-blogging version of the line-by-line critique now known as Fisking.

Much as I enjoy weblogging, the eighties version was definitely more sociable – sitting around a flat with a bottle of Bulgarian Cabinet Sauvignon, a few spliffs and Dick Gaughan on the stereo while dissecting the ‘revisionism’ in the pages of Marxism Today.

What allowed Marxism Today to reach a broader audience than the average Communist Party publication was the ability to do exactly what Jacques does today in the Guardian: take a few fairly obvious generalisations (today it is the rise of East Asian economies, the status of the US as the last superpower and the declining influence on international affairs of Europe) and turn it into something hugely dramatic that can carry a headline such as The End of The West – a classic Marxism Today cover title.

Jacques was something of a ‘rightist’ bogey-man for those of us in the Communist Party who thought socialism was more about struggles than selling post-fordist, deconstructed hammer and sickle socks. But of course the Iraq war has sent all old attitudes spinning out of kilt.

Today’s article (well worth a read by the way) includes the following line: President Chirac demonstrated how much Europe can matter when he stood up to the Americans over Iraq with a courage and foresight that helped to set clear limits to the exercise of US power.

If only Marxism Today was still around: France – The New Soviet Union?