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Belief and apostasy

My dad was a communist, but I’m not —  So go the memoirs of Marxist childhoods, spent under the aegis of the British Communist Party and its member parents.

Martin Kettle reflects on Aaronovitch’s Party Animals: My Family and other Communists making the not entirely original point that membership of the Communist Party is like membership of a religion. He then makes a similarly not entirely unexpected leap by divining the same religiosity in the Corbyn-led (I assume that’s what he means; for some reason, Corbyn isn’t mentioned by name) Labour Party. Ho hum.

I don’t disagree, but Kettle’s wrong in his conclusion. Michael Rosen (also a party child) makes a more interesting point about Kettle’s eventual political home:

… anyone anywhere near the Blairites witnessed an extraordinary cult-like behaviour of newly be-suited ideologues, spouting managerial cock, inserting believers into constituencies and places of power (as they saw it) flicking open their samsonites and talking targets.

All politics is based on the belief that the world should work in a certain way, and, as such, all politics is in a sense religious. Politics isn’t science, or maths, although we use science and maths in the service of our beliefs.

And like all religions, there are the simplistic, doctrinaire versions useful to gangsters (Stalin’s Soviet union), more nuanced interpretations (Gramsci, Frankfurt school, Zizek and a million and one post-Marx writers) and a more ‘practical’ version that can look a lot like apostasy.