Monday, December 06, 2004


Norm blogs on Martin Jacques's article in the Grauniad. Interesting it is too. Martin Jacques goes on, and on, about how the media is obsessed with the personal over the political. Wasn't there a magazine, Marxism Today, in the 1980's that promoted the "personal is political" line? Wasn't that magazine edited by someone called Martin Jacques? Is the editor of Marxism Today related to the sometime Grauniad columnist?

Delving deeper I have found an interesting piece by Decca Aitkenhead on MT in 1998.
The ones I read contained some brilliant analysis by Stuart Hall, which I poached for my essays, so I was well-disposed towards the magazine. Being a lazy student, I read no further, and carelessly assumed that Marxism Today was actually written by Marxists.
It was only afterwards that I paid proper attention, and looked into what Marxism Today had actually had to say for itself in the 80s. Marxism Today, I discovered, spent much of the Thatcher decade arguing that the left should take lessons from Thatcherism, embrace modernity, and 'have history on its side'. This much was uncontroversial. From there, however, the magazine moved towards a more surprising position, one which fetishised and feted the core essentials of Thatcherism - individualism, the market, private ownership, consumer culture.

As the issues progressed, the magazine moved on from flirtation with Thatcherism to a preparation of the ground for Blairism. Almost every fundamental of new Labour can be found in the pages of Marxism Today's back issues. Rights and responsibilities, community and citizenship, love of modernisation, they were all there, dressed up rather unconvincingly as a 'progressive' take on Marxism. So it is odd that on the cover of the issue published this week should be a big picture of Blair and the one-word headline, 'Wrong'. How does Marxism Today account for this contradiction?

'We have no qualms about Blair's embrace of modernity,' writes Martin Jacques in the editorial. 'On the contrary, it was what we ourselves advocated over many years.'
There it is. Marxism Today as pre-thinkers of the Blairite project.

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