Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Today, I talked to a Communist.

He was on the University concourse, right out in broad daylight. He was a proper Communist, too, with a grizzled beard, bad posture and even a red, hammer-and-sickly adorned flag waving behind him, in case we couldn't guess from the rest. He called a friend 'Comrade'. Everything. They were setting up a table with photocopied papers on Marx and Mao folded into leaflets on sale for a pound. I sniggered at the 'Capitalism is Crap!' banner hung across the table -- partly because, as you know, I find anal and faecal imagery amusing, but also because I thought that this new Communist Manifesto, such as it is, barely begins to cover it. Still, probably looks good on Twitter.

He saw the red star, hammer and sickle pin on my man-bag and took me for a kindred spirit -- sort of. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I bought it off an impoverished ex-soldier in a park in Belgrade. (There's no greater statement, is there, of capitalism's victory over the Soviet Bloc than a Canadian lecturer buying a trinket that once stood at the front line of the Iron Curtain and wearing it, ironically, on a metro-sexual fashion accessory.)

But, you know what? He didn't sound at all crazy. Certainly not as blindly doctrinal as the Christians that too often parade up and down the concourse on most days, or as vacuous as the bankers' cheerleaders that used to set-up shop here, offering free MP3s downloads to students in exchange for a lifetime of debt and just a small piece of their souls.

It reminded me of what I found so exciting about reading The Communist Manifesto when I was 15 and Thatcher and Regan and Mulroney looked set to rule the world forever. Maybe time to tape the cover back on the copy of The Essential Marx and trim the facial hair into a less apologetic Che.

Global capitalism is collapsing, and I'm getting all nostalgic. It seems wrong, somehow.


  1. Mao? MAO? Sheffield Communists seem quaintly vague on the ethics of mass slaughter. Don't tell anyone but I've never read the manifesto. Meet you at the frontlines of Marxist kitsch when I've finished it!

  2. I know. It would be cute if, well, it weren't for the millions of dead.

    Don't worry. I won't tell anyone you've never read TCM (and it's not like anyone reads this, so your secret is safe).

    See you on the barricades then. You'll see me. I'll be the one with the false moustache, glasses and comedy cigar in a clever paean to both the Freudian-Marxists of the Frankfurt School AND the Spirit of '69 and All That. (I'm so clever, me.)