Paul Mason who jumped ship from the BBC and C4 in the search for authenticity in order to find himself and the freedom to express his wildest imaginings has really come of age. Will the real Paul Mason please stand up…and he has….doing stand-up comedy it seems….well he’s certainly funnier than Stewart Lee. Mason manages to articulate a version of reality that is beyond parody, a stream of consciousness that defies logic, reason and common sense and is all the funnier for it. And what’s more he does it so effortlessly and with such sincerity that Stewart Lee should hand over the reins and the keys to the sudio and admit defeat.
You must think the Guardian has just said go for it, what the hell, just invent the most batshit crazy bollocks of your dreams and we’ll publish it…our readers will lap it up as the bona fide left-wing critique of the modern condition, the natural result of the end game of capitalism and imperialist pretensions. Others may just think it’s batshit crazy bollocks.
So let’s get dirty and dive into the Mason narrative.
Let’s start with the white boys, the white boys who don’t do well at school. Mason knows why they’re lagging the ethnic minorities…it’s not because they’re stupid, it’s not because they’re lazy, it’s not because their parents don’t give a damn, it’s not because the immigrants got all the resources. No it’s because….well…let’s just hang fire on that.
First let’s just get a taste of the homely narrative that Mason colours his story with…the salt of the earth working class, the romance of the honest manual worker, the solidarity and grit of the working class society, the baths in front of the fires, the doors never locked, the raggamuffin kids who would get fed by the neighbours. Mason paints a picture of a working class society that makes out it was a sort of utopia, a place we should all aspire to where everyone was equal and willing to help their fellow man when they’re on their uppers.
Which is odd really…as his sole intent was to scarper out of the working class as fast as his little legs could carry him……..he just wanted a way out….stay in the working class and you are just scum….
This was a profound message: education is the way out.
We had been headed for university since we picked up Ladybird books. Without solidarity and knowledge, we are just scum, is the lesson trade unionism and social democracy taught the working-class kids of the 1960s; and Methodism and Catholicism taught the same.
Mason references the film Kes and relates it to the 1980’s … By the late-1980s people from a white, working-class background already knew we had a problem. We had seen the film Kes, and chuckled at the poverty of aspiration we were all in the process of leaving behind…..But Kes was filmed in 1969 adapted from a 1968 book….when Labour were in power…and yet who is to blame for ‘lack of aspiration’? Thatcher in the 1980’s.
It is simply that a specific part of their [working class] culture has been destroyed. A culture based on work, rising wages, strict unspoken rules against disorder, obligatory collaboration and mutual aid. It all had to go, and the means of destroying it was the long-term unemployment millions of people had to suffer in the 1980s.
It wasn’t accidental…..
The great discovery of the modern right was that you only have to do this once. Suppress paternalism and solidarity for one generation and you create multigenerational ignorance and poverty. Convert Labour to the idea that wealth will trickle down, and to attacks on the undeserving poor, and you remove the means even to acknowledge the problem, let alone solve it.
Thatcherism didn’t just crush unions: alone that would not have been enough to produce this spectacular mismatch between aspiration and delivery in the education system. It crushed a story.
So yeah, so far so Stewart Lee. It’s all Thatcher’s fault and a right-wing conspiracy to crush the white working class…except in reality Labour were at the forefront of suppressing the bolshy white boys.
It was Labour who closed more mines than the Tories, it was Labour who imported massive amounts of cheap labour then and now…and did so knowing that the working class would lose out in jobs and pay as the incomers undercut them and broke up their society. It was Labour that took resources away from the white pupils and spent it on the immigrants, any wonder their results improved. It was Labour that made the working class homeless and made them queue for their own health service. It was Labour that set out to destroy the white working class because they no longer voted Labour as Labour was not the party of aspiration. Labour wanted a client state, where the working class would be forever coming cap in hand to a benevolent government, but the working class wanted to better themselves and make something of themselves, a better life for their kids…..and Labour didn’t want that.
The Tories didn’t crush a story they rebuilt it, the story of the independent, self-reliant, aspirational working class man and woman who wanted a better life…..everything Labour hates and sneers at.
Mason finishes with this…
We have to find a form of economics that – without nostalgia or racism – allows the working population to define, once again, its own values, its own aspirations, its own story.
That’ll be the state controlled economy then, the five year plans, the bread queues, the tractor factories, the heroic coal-miners, the road of bones, the gulags, the walls and the Lubiankas to ensure the working class got their story right. Yeah, freedom, god bless communism, Marx and Paul Mason.
Mason the Marxist promulgating a communist dictatorship of the proletariat? How odd as he was the fellow who celebrated the fall of the dictators in the Arab Spring, the Arab Spring that Mason declared was the magnificent and benevolent offspring of the social media revolution….via the internet. How times change. Apparently the internet is now the portal to hell….
It took just two tweets for an internet troll going by the name of Ryan Poole to get Tay to become antisemitic. Tay was a “chatbot” set up by Microsoft on 23 March, a computer-generated personality to simulate the online ramblings of a teenage girl. Poole suggested to Tay: “The Jews prolly did 9/11. I don’t really know but it seems likely.” Shortly thereafter Tay tweeted “Jews did 9/11” and called for a race war. In the 24 hours it took Microsoft to shut her down, Tay had abused President Obama, suggested Hitler was right, called feminism a disease and delivered a stream of online hate.
Mason proposes that the final destination of all that hateful japery is genocide, the Holocaust. A few people wind up a robot on the internet and it is the second coming of Hitler. Blimey o’reilly.
Wherever the internet is not censored it is awash with anger, stereotypes and prejudice. Beneath that is a thick seam of the kind of material all genocides feed off: conspiracy theories and illogic.
Ironic really considering Maosn’s own predilection for conspiracy theory and illogic…see above.
Mason of course blames the malevolence on the right-wing….which is remarkable really as he was writing the article at the same time Labour was being crucified for it’s anti-Semitism, and on the same page as his article was a trail for an Owen Jones’ piece on that very subject…
Let’s think who persecuted and killed the most Jews….hmmm…the Communists and the Socialists…the Nazis being socialists, the clue’s in the name….oh and the Church….a bigger bunch of lefties as you’ll find anywhere, Jesus was a hairshirt socialist…let’s put the Muslims to one side as they’re not in this fight.
Oh look, what’s Paul Mason’s solution?
The left’s most effective weapon against antisemitism in the mid-20th century was the ability to trace the evils of the world to their true root cause: injustice, privilege and national oppression generated by an economic model designed to make the rich richer, whatever their DNA.
So once again Mason has picked a subject and shaped his narrative to make his favoured ‘economic model’ the solution. Is there nothing that Communism can’t fix? Can it fix stupid? Obviously not.