Updated: Dec 18, 2020
How did it begin? How did a boy feel the draw, in the late 1990s, to Marxism-Leninism? Surely, this was the most of dead of ideologies, and yet there I was, squatted in a wicker chair, watching images of martyrs, martyrs in the cause of Afghan Maoism, slide like treacle down my screen. “Long live the revolutionary martyrs of Afghanistan! Long live the struggle for Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!” I was a man behind the times, but, of course, at fifteen, a decade seems an age. The Berlin Wall? The collapse of the Soviet Union? That was ages ago. Now, twenty years later, it is just the difference between a night and a day. I don’t get out of bed for less than 10,000 years of history, that is real business. Come back and tell me what you think of these revolutions and massacres, having slept on them for three millennia.
“You want to fuck that man? You like the beard?” The Spanish boy points to my crude print of Karl Marx. In those days, I had yet to appreciate the value of tits; everywhere about me the walls sagged under overstuffed bikinis. “The boys, as you see, like to, ahem, decorate their bedrooms,” said the master, showing my parents round. I flinch between them. True pain for a thirteen-year-old, three adults, two their parents, referencing sex. No blushes spared here.
This was a primitive environment; it was a throwback environment, reactionary you could say. I left the soft progressive school where the children of Oxford geneticists spoke of San Francisco and hereditary traits and geeks and nerds. You know, they lived in the present and could not imagine God. I went from there to the world of Rhodesian veterans, limping with shrapnel in their legs and ready to choke a black boy when he disrupted the class. “What we did with the landmines was tie the prisoner to the front of the jeep and drive towards where the field was meant to be. They soon started talking.” Afterwards, we tied them down next to a snake…
So it seemed almost plausible, this Communist Manifesto, after reading a few badly printed pages. “You’re a right scrubber, aren’t you, Sandra? A right chav.” The boys taunted the obese cleaner down the hall. So, the working class are oppressed? Here the sons of judges and military officers kick and abuse the porky scrubber down the hall. “She loves it, the slag!”. So, as the history teacher says, we should just let the Africans starve. “They sent them some condoms, but they put a staple through them!” (typical black incompetence, what can we do?). Later, screaming at the girls from the school down the road who argue for abortion. “Murderers! Sluts! You want to murder babies!” We are pious Catholics, but, please boys—I have to skip this page in the textbook—use a condom if you do have sex…
So, Marxism, it seems plausible; well, it seems to describe what I live in: class-based, race-based, greedy, and sustained by religious hypocrisy nobody believes in. A pretty sour affair, this island in a liberal England. What about science? This Marxism respects science and, better than Christ—that none of you believe in—this Marxism tells you that life makes sense: the struggle for a new scientific order, and the end of the wasteful status quo.
If anyone misses Marxism in the East, they miss it for this reason: it gave life purpose, the struggle and the collective organisations of struggle. Economically, miserable. Yet, here, in the West, a veneer of religious hypocrisy—not really believed by any except one sad boy—and a different kind of brutality. Why be a Marxist? For the meaning. I know, I admit, privately, all the economic ideas are stupid and liberty is almost nil in these regimes, but the meaning…You laugh at young Western Maoists now? We have so much, it is so easy. Yes, we have so much, but what is it worth without meaning?