I like that title; Laurie Penny’s Desire For A Socialist Hegemony. It’s got a nice ring to it and it reminds me of the titles of some of young Laurie‘s very own blog posts. Let’s see, in no particular order, here are five of my favourites:

Aren’t they great? Where does she get her ideas! The last one is fantastic, very much an alternative-reality-children’s-book kind of title. They all kind of point towards her no-nonsense political stance, her view that jokes are to be taken as slights, and the fact that she knows we’re all going to die and she’s the only person that can save us, save us with the power of politics! And maybe feminism.

Now me, I’m not a political beast but I do have a view, I’m neither a ranting socialist outraged by the slightest change to working conditions nor am I a massive right wing nut job certain of Britain’s demise at the hands of Polish electricians nor am I a middle-of-the-road liberal more concerned by the plight of the planet/animals/lentils over that of actual living, breathing human beings.

I’m a man that ultimately just wants everyone to get along and realise that the world wasn’t created for their edification and that I don’t really care about what they want. So it comes as a great shock to me to see people foaming at the mouth in celebration of Laurie Penny and her – what any right minded adult would think was – simplistic view of the world.

Watch this video and then we’ll have a chat about what I think.

Wow. Cool huh? After watching it I had the temerity to write in the comments section. I wrote this:

What a child. A complete lack of understanding of the world economy and of the way in which businesses – at a high level – operate. Grow up, experience life, then comment.

Wow. Cool huh? After watching it, I had the temerity to write in the comments section. I wrote this:

What a child. A complete lack of understanding of the world economy and of the way in which businesses – at a high level – operate. Grow up, experience life, then comment.

A little patronising maybe even condescending but nonetheless my honest opinion. Naught moments later @andyroog posted this comment:

Don’t be a dick. Either argue with her, or give up. Don’t resort to ‘I’ve seen the world, you’re too young’, claptrap. Just because you’re old(er) doesn’t make you any more experienced – you have to prove that.


Well @andyroog you’re correct being older doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more experienced. However when you come out with statements like “…seven billion as a loan to ireland and there’s plenty of money…” or “Phillip Green is a tax avoider…” as young Laurie did you’re betraying your lack of understanding or at the very least the bigger picture.

First off the loan to Ireland? It’s just that; a loan. We get it back. We’re borrowing the money and passing it on to Ireland. Believe it or not the United Kingdom has a healthy credit rating, which Ireland does not. So, as Ireland’s in the shit, we’re taking a loan and giving them the money.

Don’t forget that they’re paying us interest on that money too, more interest than we’re paying on the loan.

The sum total of which is that we’re providing the Irish government a way to stop themselves from going under, which, lest you forget or aren’t aware, slows the domino effect that would take place throughout Europe, which in turn helps stabilise, somewhat, the world economy. All the while earning us money.

In essence what I’m saying is that the money Ireland are getting never existed in the first place, so wasn’t there to spend on anything else!

Tax Avoidance Isn’t Illegal

Secondly Phillip Green is a tax avoider. And? So what? There’s nothing wrong with tax avoidance. It’s perfectly legal. It’s not like tax evasion.

Sure, it may be morally objectionable but that doesn’t mean it would be any more legal to take the money off him. If a loophole exists you can legislate and close the loophole. What you can’t do is jump up and down shouting no fair, no fair and demand he hands over the bunce.

A brave student protesting peacefully
A brave student protesting peacefully

Additionally if I were to be extremely cynical – which by lucky happenstance I am – I’d say that keeping Phillip Green happy makes him more amenable to operating businesses in the UK, which in turn generates jobs for the poor and the young. The same poor and young by the way, that I keep hearing people bleat on about in the argument about taxation.

These are jobs which – I’m sure you’d agree – your average graduate would probably scoff at. I can’t imagine someone leaving university and choosing to work on the shop floor in Top Shop?

Unfortunately the world and the people upon it, find it hard to operate in a socialist utopia, I agree it would be a wonderful place if they did but they don’t.

The issue I have is that Laurie Penny’s logic – in most cases – seems twisted and contra to the way of working in the aforementioned socialist utopia. For example she appears to think that smashing up a building is a step in the right direction. She points this out in her post for the New Statesman about the student protests:

The young people who I saw punching their way into Tory HQ last week didn’t come armed with tiny hammers hidden in their handbags like the suffragettes — they had only their fists and feet and a powerful sense of betrayal. They could not, however, have chosen a better target if they’d tried. The building is owned by the Reuben Brothers, prominent Conservative party donors whose fortune totals some £5 billion. Insurance will easily cover what, to the Reubens, must seem a relatively puny loss. Unfortunately, the young people who have just seen their security, their society and their dreams of a better future torn away from them by politicians who were elected on a promise to do the precise opposite do not have any sort of insurance to fall back on.

Are we supposed to be impressed that the children involved didn’t use tiny hammers? Is it a mark of commitment or a badge of honour that they only used their fists and feet?

It would appear that perceived betrayal is an excuse to act in any manner you want. Come on!

Not withstanding the relish she takes from seeing property smashed up in the name of a better future, her criticism of the Reuben Brothers seems rather strange. Are these the same Reuben brothers that are rather famous for their philanthropy?

The Reuben brothers. Wealth and success are problematic to Ms Penny.
The Reuben brothers. Wealth and success are problematic to Ms. Penny

The same Reuben brothers of The Reuben Foundation?

The same Reuben brothers that built the Nancy Reuben primary school in North London?

The same Reuben brothers that opened a cancer unit in the Meir hospital, Israel to provide healthcare to both the Jewish and Arab communities?

The same Reuben brothers that opened another cancer clinic in Haifa, Israel?

The same Reuben brothers that – in cooperation with Virgin Unite – created The Haiti Project to raise funds for the disaster relief effort?

If it is it would appear that – because of their success – they are the enemy?

So, What Do You Want These Degrees For?

What exactly do these protesting kids want to do with their degrees? Work in McDonalds? Maybe they’re really after those jobs in Top Shop? Have they no ambition of their own?

It’d be interesting to see what would happen the day any of these kids – with the help of their free degrees – made it and became millionaires. Would they smash up their own houses? Could this just be short-sighted jealousy?

Forget all that though, those Reuben brothers, eh? What a pair of bastards.

She goes on:

Some kinds of vandalism are easy to condemn. Certainly the antisocial furniture-and-window breakage of today’s student protesters had an excellent model in the loutishly methodical property destruction of the Bullingdon club, the exclusive Oxford drinking club to which the current Prime Minister and many of his cronies belonged in their own, entirely state-funded university days. After trashing various private dining rooms and student suites, the Bullingdon boys would write cheques to compensate the owners with the lazy confidence with which they would later authorise the destruction of social security.

What is Ms Penny actually trying to say here? That students should get away with it because they didn’t pay for the damage but that it’s morally wrong that some posh boys did pay and did get away with it in the past? Wrong is wrong, surely?

It’s easy to condemn that kind of pugnacity as “despicable”. On the other hand, there are some sorts of vandalism that are so huge and so unspeakable that they’re not even considered crimes anymore. The students who shattered the windows of 30 Millbank are being pursued by the police, but nobody has yet called for a witch-hunt of those responsible for the sacking of the welfare state, of public education and of social democracy in this or any other country. This is because it is illegal to smash up someone’s lobby, but perfectly legal to smash up someone’s future.

Hyperbole at its finest! Smash up someone’s future? Really? Good grief, it’s illegal to smash up someone’s lobby for obvious reasons. Surely this should come as no surprise? But given that someone’s future is predicated mainly by who they know and their ability to do well in job interviews, I’m not entirely certain anyone’s future can be smashed up by someone other than themselves. Anyway, not much longer now:

From the moment we had language, most of us learned that life was a list of things that we weren’t allowed to break: rules, windows, political settlements. The rich, of course, can break all of these things with impunity. The young Oxford students who walked blithely away from the infamous Bullingdon club flowerpot-through-the-window incident twenty years ago are now the most powerful men in the country, and they have few qualms about shattering welfare and education into tiny pieces and selling them off to their friends.

Sources on the ground have suggested that the Millbank protests are just the beginning. If one values social justice above private property, this can only be a good thing, so perhaps it’s time that the country began a concerted effort to hold the centre-right to account for its vandalism of civil society. In the words of a million disgruntled shopkeepers. you broke it — you pay for it.

Sources on the ground? What? This isn’t the Vietnam war. Calm down. It is nice to see the veiled threat of further action slipped in, it gives the impression the piece was written by a low ranking mob member trying to extort a night club owner. Nice system you’ve got here, would be a shame if it got smashed up. It made me chuckle at least.

So Why Is She Doing This?

Ultimately it would appear that Laurie is being lead and manipulated by older – and far more cynical – people than her. She may adore the attention and feel she’s being taken seriously but really, beneath all of the righteous indignation and sabre rattling, there’s just a young woman that winds people up, being used to sell ads in a magazine.

Sadly, it would appear that her loyal cabal of wide eyed followers are also really, really insecure in their opinion or more likely hold opinions that aren’t actually theirs. To criticise any of their points in favour of revolt and/or extreme civil disobedience, is to become the enemy. Just because.

When I have opposed these opinions, the result of which is that I’ve been called a dick and told to fuck off, which, I suppose, is the price you pay today. It’s upsetting that people don’t want to try to talk me around or convince me that they’re right.

As I say though, it’s likely that they hold the opinion without actually understanding why. I would have certainly thought that it would have been a better tactic than name calling and running off though?

Still, being called a dick and occasionally being told to fuck off is a price I’m willing to pay to hold a point of view. For me the hurly burly of antagonising police officers and destroying property just isn’t the way.