Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Friday, November 30, 2007

Histomat Exclusive: Blair's Memoirs leaked

[Histomat has been first with many exclusives in the past, including recently being leaked an early draft of Gordon Brown's speech to this years Labour Party conference, but this time we have perhaps our most incredible exclusive yet - an extract from the memoirs that the whole world is apparently waiting for - Tony Blair's My Struggle [German edition: Mein Kampf]. Naturally, I disagree with the contents, but public interest has to always come first on matters such as this...]

From My Struggle by Tony Blair

Chapter Two: The Rebel Without a Cause


My leadership skills were evident early on - I was made captain of the school football team

Whenever I think back to growing up in the 1960s, and my schooldays in particular, what always amazes me is two things. Firstly, how relatively uninterested by politics I was compared to some of my contemporaries. I mean, the Vietnam War was going on and lots of my friends were discussing and debating things like 'American Power' and 'Imperialism'*, and idolising Che Guevara, but to me that stuff seemed just way too heavy - way too serious. For me, the 1960s meant standing out from the crowd and kind of going away from what everyone else was doing - breaking convention and going against 'the norm'. I kind of identified with the 'counter-culture' side of things to some extent - learning to play the guitar - growing my hair - that kind of thing. I was a rebel, but a rebel without a cause.

But also what strikes me, looking back, is something else. You see, I was always a bit suspicious of just following the crowd. If everyone else my age was wandering around with peace symbols and putting up Che Guevara posters - I thought, hang on, - isn't to be a real rebel to, you know, think for oneself? Being popular for the sake of popularity isn't everything, you know. And, to be honest, I couldn't really see much of a problem with the Vietnam War at the time. I mean, looking back after the event, I suppose one can see it as a bit of a disaster, but then it seemed like quite a good idea. Why shouldn't the US fight to at least try to defend democracy from those who want to spread totalitarianism and dictatorship around the world? And hang on, weren't the Americans our allies during the Second World War? If we had built an alliance with the Americans to deal with the evil of fascism, then what was so wrong in continuing to ally with them to deal with the evil of Communism? Surely there was a struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, going on here somewhere, and well, I mean, come on, shouldn't we be taking a stand? Indeed, when I come to think of it, maybe if Britain had stood shoulder to shoulder with our Atlantic allies on this one, and sent British troops into Vietnam, maybe there would have been a different outcome to the war...

I suppose this is why I wasn't attracted to politics or to a 'cause' as such then - all the political parties in Britain at the time - the Conservatives, the Liberals, the Labour Party - they all seemed rather similar, old dull men in grey suits sitting around, often corrupt and without any real principles or passion (How things have changed since then!) But the fashionable 'causes' of my generation also left me a bit cold. Whatever had happened to all the heroes, as the Stranglers** later put it?

When I was young, I had read of the British imperial heroes of old - Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Horatio Nelson, right up to Sir Winston Churchill. But when Churchill died in 1965, there was a sense that something else had died as well. I was only twelve at the time, but it hit me hard. Churchill had given his life fighting for Britain and for her great Empire, had built up the special relationship with America, and in doing so had saved the country and the world almost singlehandly from fascism. Yet my contemporaries at school showed little respect for any of this. One of them even said Churchill was a 'war criminal'. I was horrified and didn't know how to respond at the time.***

I remember wondering of Churchill - would we ever see his like again? Would we ever see such a great man as him on the scene of British politics again? And if we ever did, would we recognise such a great man amid our midst? Or would they too, like Churchill after he finally left parliamentary politics, be left out isolated in the political wilderness instead of being celebrated as a popular hero? Would they be ungratefully reviled by the people of Britain instead of being knighted for their services to the Empire and decorated with honours? Would they really go down in history as 'war criminals' instead of envoys of peace? Would the popular press and popular historians only describe them as a 'Man of the Century' after they had died instead of bestowing such titles on them while they were still alive and had memoirs to sell and expensive lectures to give? These are the kind of questions I had growing up - but it was only later, much later, that I would be able to come up with some answers.

*Whatever the hell 'Imperialism' is when it is at home! I was never one for political theory - unlike Gordon of course. Gordon liked all of that stuff. I remember once looking at a copy of a book by Lenin that was in the school library. 'Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism' it said. Inside it was all dry boring economics - I couldn't get past the first page. Never did me any harm though, eh?

** I think it was this Stranglers song 'No More Heroes' that first led to me to read about Leon Trotsky (see Chapter 3: The Making of a Political Hero)

*** Even after studying law and becoming a barrister, I have to admit that I still can't quite get my head around the notion of anyone who believes in fighting for democracy and civilisation being described as a 'war criminal'. What the hell is a 'war crime', in that context?


This is me playing 'air guitar' later on

Copyright, 2007. T. Blair.

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1 Comments:

At 3:45 pm, Blogger blackstone said...

Whatever the hell 'Imperialism' is when it is at home! I was never one for political theory - unlike Gordon of course. Gordon liked all of that stuff. I remember once looking at a copy of a book by Lenin that was in the school library. 'Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism' it said. Inside it was all dry boring economics - I couldn't get past the first page. Never did me any harm though, eh?

But it probably did alot of harm to Brits, eh?

 

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