Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Saturday, February 07, 2009

When two messiahs met



I want to thank my good friend Tony Blair for coming today, somebody who did it first and perhaps did it better than I will do. He has been an example for so many people around the world of what dedicated leadership can accomplish. And we are very grateful to him.
- Obama on Blair

'As you begin your leadership of this great country, Mr President, you are fortunate, as is your nation, that you have already shown in your life, courage in abundance.'
- Blair on Obama

Even before Blair and Obama met, John Pilger in a prophetic piece, warned us that 'there is a lot of bollocks about at the moment.' But the meeting between these two has seen the 'bollocks meter' hit an entirely new (and hitherto unsuspected) level. According to Guardian columnist Martin Kettle, 'Obama grasps that Blair's experience can have lessons for other centre-left leaders like himself who are trying to sustain coalitions of support and carry out effective political leadership...Obama met Blair because these are two very serious political leaders who never stop thinking about how progressive politicians can build support and solve political problems...if Obama treats Blair seriously, then, rather than the usual sneering, maybe the rest of us could make an effort to do so too.'

Still, in glorifying Blair as a 'progressive' and 'centre-left' politician instead of sneering at this power-tripping banker on account of his past lies and war crimes, at least Martin Kettle is fittingly upholding a longstanding family tradition of fervent support for mass murderers. His father, Dr. Arnold Kettle, was a Stalinist literary critic who defended the bloody suppression of the Hungarian Revolution by Russian tanks in 1956. Just as Kettle senior thought that the mandarins of Soviet imperial power could be a force for good, so Kettle junior champions the powerful new mandarins of the American Empire.

As Pilger notes, 'it is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth. "In the time of universal deceit," wrote George Orwell, "telling the truth is a revolutionary act."'

Marxists have to go one step further, and point to another important truth in our age of propaganda - that the real power to change the world still ultimately lies where Marx first noticed it lay - with the international working class. What a pity neither Kettle senior nor junior ever grasped even something of this.

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