Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Neal Lawson comments on the role of class in modern Britain. The concensus goes that international competitiveness needs bankers and consultants who will go where "they are paid most and taxed least". The desire to appease this new elite means discussions about inequality, conspicuous wealth and spiralling execitive pay are off the agenda.

Lawson concludes
Ultimately the challenge is political. Class is socially constructed. People have to want class to matter. Recognising the role of class opens up new possibilities for the left. The cash-rich but time-poor can only find "the good life" through a redistribution of resources with their cash-poor but time-rich alter egos. But forging this alliance requires brave political leadership.

New Labour was conceived just at the moment the new right was proclaiming "the end of history". The judgment of both looks premature. As Marx and Engels wrote at the start of the 1848 Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle." In its own way that struggle must continue today.
He makes many valid points. But is Lawson really using Marx to argue for a cross-class united front against "the rich"? Using Marx as a shield to allow the middle-classes to benefit from employing the working-classes? Using Marx to prop up a master servant relationship where the middle-classes are the master?
He opens well but spoils it by talk of the "cash-rich time-poor" and the "time-rich cash-poor" which is a lazy use of lifestyle journalism bollix.

His conclusion is good in its call for a renewal of class struggle.

Next time, Neal, drop the lifestyle journalism. We expect better from the chair of Compass, a "democratic left pressure group".

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