Exactly 40 years have passed since Rupert Murdoch acquired the latter paper. Today's Pick of the Pops - even if Dale doesn't play "Oh Well", perhaps the greatest single ever made that could reasonably be defined as rock music, right to the bitter end, as Peter Green returns to the forest, retreats from the world that made him and that he already knows is turning sufficiently that it would destroy him - will undoubtedly be a lacerating experience, so much so that I'm actually scared to listen to it. Because everything, in terms of equality and public stake in society, was steadily getting better until then. At that precise moment, the seed was planted for the passive-aggressive, narcissistic mess of reheated prejudice and market brutalism we live in today. A passing of ownership that went almost unnoticed was the beginning of the end for Butskellism and the start of the breakup of British public life and the descent of the working class into pathetic safe tribal wars: at that moment, those who had learnt over decades to work together began to be taught to hate each other, because Murdoch knew that a collective spirit, if not broken, would make it forever impossible for people such as him to restructure society as they intended. Within the middle class, the seed was sown for the world of unashamed knowledge and education for its own sake to also slowly die, though that would take another twelve years to really take effect - it was still hanging on when the working class had already been smashed, and I just about managed to catch its end, those Saturday mornings at the Royal Festival Hall, but the point is that had Murdoch not destroyed working-class solidarity first, he'd never have had the economic or cultural base to effectively do the same to the middle class in February 1981, in an act which some misguided Marxists thought even as late as that would be the last step before they took over.
This is, within the British cultural context and to some extent beyond it, at least as important an anniversary than the one recently marked in Berlin. Everything that is depressing and self-perpetuating about our present society, everything that alienates us from our neighbours and true allies, has its roots in that moment. I am not a reactionary. Sometimes the truest form of radicalism, and belief in some kind of positive future, is to condemn the false consensus of the present.