I Dumb Down: ‘The Segregation of Dissent’ by E.P. Thompson

ep_thompson
EP Thompson

Spooky prescience from the author of ‘The Making of the English Working Class’

Historians are classically shit at prophesising anything, but, back in early ‘60s, a Marxist one predicted the future.

The BBC had just aired a three-part lecture series attacking the New Left – the then-emerging movement of radical students and academics calling for a socialist politics beyond Stalinism and watery Western social democracy. And E.P. Thompson, one of the highest-profile New Leftists, set about writing his own talk in response.

Originally, the intention was to get it broadcast on the BBC. If Auntie was happy to transmit three hours of reactionary propaganda, the reasoning ran, it would surely have to give the New Left some sort of right to reply.

But when the Corporation rejected Thompson’s lecture, he turned it into an essay instead. Continue reading “I Dumb Down: ‘The Segregation of Dissent’ by E.P. Thompson”

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I dumb down

Dumbo

I am dumb. A plodder. Terminally middlebrow. Incurably unintellectual. I know this, and I made peace with it a long time ago.

But a lot of new generation leftists are anything but. Their cleverness is astounding. Whenever I watch or listen to something from groups like Novara, I’m bowled over by their ability to hold so much information in their heads.

It’s not just facts and figures – it’s complex theoretical understandings. They don’t just know and grasp Derrida and Lefebvre and Bordieu and so many others, but they can effortlessly apply them to everyday situations in a way that makes sense.

I can’t do that. But what I can do is dumb down. Continue reading “I dumb down”