Andrew Calcutt flicks through the past 99 issues and selects a few of the many times that Living Marxism got it right
We told you so (and we don't mind telling you again)
From Thatcher to the left, the whole world was mad for Mikhail Gorbachev. But the first issue of Living Marxism (front cover: 'New suit, same old system') saw through 'Gorbymania': 'We were right in the thirties when the European left was convinced that Stalin had all the answers. We were right in the sixties when Mao was the left's man of the moment. We are right in the eighties when Gorbachev is installed as the left's new icon.' (November)
While the West celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, Living Marxism exposed the nervousness beneath the triumphalism: 'the British authorities feel so insecure about what is to come and so desperate to preserve what they can of the past that even the decline of their old enemies in Eastern Europe scares them.' (December)
Living Marxism began the 'nervous nineties' with 'A reply to the scaremongers' (January). Dr Michael Fitzpatrick updated the insights in his 1987 pamphlet The Truth about the Aids Panic, and concluded that 'the charge of irresponsibility about Aids can be legitimately levelled against all those who have twisted and distorted the epidemiological evidence to justify their attempt to terrify Britain's heterosexual population into major changes in sexual behaviour'. The 'safe sex' doctrine prefigured the repressive climate of the nineties. Fitzpatrick noted that 'the Aids panic has created a consensus that excludes all questioning and tries to curtail any rational debate'.
The left continued to view the post-Cold War world through the prism of yesterday and waited for a seventies-style class struggle to return; in a path-breaking Living Marxism feature, 'Midnight in the Century', Frank Richards recognised that 'there are no historical precedents for the situation facing Marxists in the 1990s', and noted that 'the left, as a force that represents something in society, no longer exists'. (December)
Was the Gulf War fought for oil, or the liberation of Kuwait? Living Marxism saw that both explanations were spurious: 'The Iraqi presence in Kuwait became the pretext for the USA to launch an international crusade, designed to reassert America's leadership of the world. Washington's primary motive in turning the Gulf crisis into the hottest issue on Earth has been to hold its Western alliance together, at a time when the start of an economic recession and the end of the Cold War have threatened to pull it apart.' (February)
Days before the general election, the political editor of the Guardian proclaimed that 'John Major last night caught the unmistakable whiff of election defeat and the looming prospect of a Kinnock government'. Five months earlier, the editor of Living Marxism already knew that 'Labour cannot win outright', while this reporter noted that, among key working class voters in the South East, 'many still see the Conservatives as a safer bet on the economy than the lightweight Labour Party'. (November 1991)
In May, when most commentators thought that the re-elected Tories were invincible, The Sunday Times mocked Living Marxism journalists for suggesting that John Major's government was facing 'a major crisis of confidence', and would soon be hit by 'fragmentation' as recession turned to slump. But by October, The Sunday Times was following Living Marxism's lead: 'Oh, what a shambles!...[The government's] authority was shaken and its lack of political astuteness laid bare....Not a single minister challenged the Sunday Times survey that said recession was turning into depression.' Err, right.
While others called for more laws and controls to protect our rights, Living Marxism warned of a 'new authoritarianism' which used the cover of paper rights to curtail real freedoms. James Heartfield noted how 'the rights of the child are a convenient fiction for the authorities....The rights of the child are the rights of the state, as the presumed custodian of a child's interests, over all of us.' (October)
The happy news headlines claimed that peace was breaking out in South Africa, Palestine, and Ireland. Looking behind the handshakes Living Marxism advised ' processed peace--don't buy', and observed that 'the apparent advance of peace talks is really a new method of regulating the third world and the East. No such process can bring a just and lasting peace, since it does not address the problems of Western domination which gave rise to wars and militarism in the first place'. (February)
In the first article in Living Marxism's monthly science slot, John Gillott took issue with the resurgent sociobiological view of man's proxIt emphasises the burden that our biological make-up places upon us. All of this makes it a conservative ideology for our time....Enough of this monkey business.' (February)
When everybody else was talking about 'Bambi' Blair, Living Marxism explained 'why Labour would be even worse than the Tories' (February): 'Tony Blair's team are the people who will dismantle the welfare state and empower the custodial state.'
Living Marxism observed that the BSE panic was a historic achievement: 'a health scare, not about a disease, but about the possibility of a disease'; although scares about beefburgers, knives and scratchcards are trivial in themselves, 'overall the plague of panics acts and interacts to reinforce a general sense on insecurity in society...countering the paralysing impact of these "non-political" scares and panics is a priority'. (February)
Frank Füredi, who had noted two years earlier that 'society is suffering from mourning sickness' (July 1994), saw these morbid tendencies come to ghastly fruition in the aftermath of Dunblane: 'The tragedy that affects us all, not just today but for some time to come, is that momentarily, moral and virtuous. Bring on the next moral spectacle.' (May)
Re-designed LM challenges the media mindset which ignores the facts in favour of 'the Greater Truth'. Watch this space....
Reproduced from LM issue 100, May 1997