I was unable to join the violent protests held by Class War at the Cereal Killer Café in London last week because I had to stay at home to supervise our gardener. Yes — I know what you’re about to say. It is indeed ridiculous that one should have to stand over workmen to ensure that they are doing a decent job. But there is a patch of lawn towards the rear of our grounds which the blighters always skimp on, believing that it is too far from the house for us to notice. So I stand down there, with a cheerfully expectant expression, as the surly little man goes about his labours.
The Class War march was not terribly well attended, despite the publicity it received. Perhaps many others who would have turned up were having similar problems with their own servants — here a recalcitrant and infanticidally inclined nanny, there an indolent and kleptomaniac char-woman. None of those interviewed themselves seemed to be horny-handed sons of toil. There was Adam Clifford, a performance artist, yoga teacher and poet whose most recent work is entitled ‘Android Death Queer’: please — hurry, hurry, while stocks last. And Simon Elmer (not present at the march, but a supporter: probably at home nanny-watching, I would guess), who is a former professor of that most resolutely blue-collar of disciplines, art history. And Class War’s current star, the henna-haired perpetual student Lisa McKenzie, who is currently a ‘research fellow’ at the London School of Economics, having been in one or another useless branch of academia for the past 15 years, paid for by the impoverished taxpayer.
You could tell these furious monkeys were not working-class because of their Stalinist adherence to any and every manifestation of fatuous identity politics, especially fatuous gender-based identity politics. Their next protest, for example, is against the Jack the Ripper museum in London, on the grounds that it glorifies violence against women — which is a bit like saying that Auschwitz glorifies anti-Semitism. Most working-class people find identity politics an anathema, perhaps because they have imbibed insufficient quantities of Marcuse and Gramsci and Habermas and are therefore not, in a Marxist sense, fully conscious. They are still asleep, these legions of the lumpenproletariat, unenlightened and averse. That, I suspect, would be Class War’s analysis. It is perhaps one reason why Lisa McKenzie received a grand total of 53 votes at the last general election, and Adam Clifford 59. The real working class think these people are very stupid and irrelevant — merely another manifestation of the asinine politically correct liberal elite that predates upon them.
All of which is a bit of a shame, because some of Class War’s messages have no little force and relevance. It is true that, as they argue, gentrification — via high rents and property prices — is forcing ordinary Londoners out of their homes and that previously blue-collar areas of the city are being turned into mimsy ghettoes stocked with smug and affluent ‘hipsters’, as they put it. And serviced by shops which make you gag as soon as you see them. There is something vaguely repellent about a café selling cornflakes at four quid a bowl, as Cereal Killer does. Repellent particularly because people are dense enough and rich enough to go there and fork out their money, but also because those banished to the margins of London often genuinely are broke and would look upon such an institution with both awe and disgust. Niche marketing for tossers, I would suggest. I also rather like Class War’s cry to arms of ‘Fuck London!’, as I cannot abide the place for many of the reasons the organisation itself identifies, and besides which I enjoy swearing. Class War loathes — with a commendable vigour — the capital’s middle-class liberal elite. I mean, it really, really hates them, perhaps even more than the Tories (who it also hates, of course). Good, good — me too.
But Class War doesn’t get that the happy-clappy multicultural ethos of middle-class London is another factor which has driven the working class away. It is undoubtedly wonderful to have world food festivals on your doorstep and pop-up restaurants serving Ethiopian tapas or Bengali sushi — but the middle classes don’t have to live with the day-to-day reality of this multiculturalism: in the schools, in the streets, living right next door. The working classes don’t get the cheap nannies and plumbers and taxis and cleaners; they can’t afford that stuff, anyway. They just lose their jobs as a consequence or see their incomes halved by a secondary labour force which is there for the sole benefit of the affluent. And they get the muzzein’s wail and the street harassment and the crime and the annihilation of their culture as a sort of bonus.
Class War has no answer to this. Bring it up with them and you’ll get called a racist with just as much absolutist venom as you would by a well-heeled Corbynista in Muswell Hell, demanding the country take ever larger amounts of immigration to perpetuate the problem, all in the name of magnanimity and internationalism, when it is really just economic self-interest. In a sense, then, Class War is simply the provisional wing of the liberal elite; self-hating and deluded. Sort of Emily Thornberry MP, with added spray paint.
Nor am I certain that a small café selling cornflakes is the place where the revolution should begin, if it is to begin at all. How about Redcar instead, where the closure of the local steelworks has cost the area — a very poor area — 1,700 jobs? Heard anything from Class War about Redcar? Corbyn, meanwhile, made a genuflection in the direction of Teesside, a week late, as if he had just heard of the place. Pretend lefties, all of them.