Sunday, 17 January 2010

Susan Sontag said

that the harshest recognition the Left ever had to face was the very real possibility that someone who had only read Reader's Digest between 1950 and 1970 might have known more about Communist states, and how they mostly actually worked in practice if not in theory, than someone who'd read The Nation and the New Statesman.

I think the harshest recognition those of us who had our lives changed by pop will ever have to face might be the remarkably similar possibility that someone who only read either The Daily Telegraph (and therefore was told, however many lies against the post-war settlement doing the same thing - summed up in one of my old sparring partners' sly comment about the old municipal establishment, as represented in 1960s football club chairmen, thinking Communism and the Rolling Stones were somehow on the same side - this was interspersed with, that popular culture would eat away at the very ideas of learning and knowledge), or especially the Daily Worker and after 1966 the Morning Star (and therefore was told that rock music could only ever be bourgeois and counter-revolutionary, and would eat away at the very ideas of collective socialist endeavour), between about 1960 and about 1990, might have known more about pop, and how it mostly actually works in practice if not (at least back then) in theory, than someone who read NME or Melody Maker.

I think if the coming years teach us anything it will be this profound truth. But by then it will be too late.

1 comment:

  1. With that observation, Sontag unwittingly provides further evidence of just how out of touch the western Left was in the Cold War. Surely the hardest recognition they ever had to face was that Stalin was a mass murderer.