Grotesquely massive granite Joe Stalin plus Soviet conga-line, dominating the Prague skyline from 1955-1962
Toddling out of CSSD HQ after a trying couple of hours, the Bemolution pondered the nature of neoliberal hegemony, the New Labourisation of social democracy worldwide, and why both these factors are felt especially keenly in the Czech Republic.
The answer is of course Communism. Both the atrocious excesses and eventual collapse of Soviet-style Communism were taken by a lot of the Western world as proof that socialism was inherently awful, and that any alternative to Uncle Sam-brand free-market capitalism was doomed to failure. It’s partly this thinking, along with subtle sociological changes in affluent Western countries, that brought about New Labour and the so-called Third Way, intended as a new kind of social democracy fit for purpose in a neoliberalised world. Continue reading
As a badly informed, generically angry young man with a state school inferiority complex and pretentions to being a shoddy sort of socialist, I came to the University of Cambridge with a cartload of preconceptions. These were very unoriginal, and fell neatly into two categories: the negative, and the positive. And, unsurprisingly, most of them turned out to be false.
Cambridge wasn’t exclusively populated by Jeeves and Wooster characters, but neither was it the enlightened academic Valhalla I’d been sold by a combination of over-zealous college tutors and Oxbridge’s awed presentation in popular culture. Its students weren’t all champagne-quaffing reactionaries, but neither were they mini-sages reading Nietzsche and debating the nature of being, or hippy-radicals thumbing Jack Kerouac, twitching along to avant-jazz and talking about Darfur. The Cambridge demographic was quite staid and boring, unquestionably clever in a bookish, benign sort of way, but rarely incisive and enquiring. Continue reading