Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Gramscian Gove?

Jade Goody, I can believe. But Michael Gove has been influenced by Antonio Gramsci?

The thing about Gramsci is that we have never really needed him Britain. The insistence on the unity of theory and practice, the rejection of economic determinism and of metaphysical materialism, the celebration of the "national-popular", an organic working-class culture and self-organisation including worker-intellectuals: we already had them all.

At least, we did have them. Until Gove's political heroine, whom no one has ever accused of being either a worker or an intellectual, came along and destroyed their economic base. As Education Secretary, she closed so many grammar schools that there were not enough left for her record ever to be equalled. As Prime Minister, she replaced O-levels with GCSEs.

But there remained heirs to the organic worker-intellectual tradition, often very left-wing people indeed, who tried as best they could to maintain in their own classrooms, until they themselves retired, whatever they could of the best that had been known and thought, in the midst of her enforcement upon everyone else of her own utter philistinism and of her own total lack of even the slightest intellectual curiosity. Truly, her natural successor was Tony Blair. And truly, contrary to what has often been asserted in the absence of the slightest evidence, his natural successors are David Cameron and George Osborne.

There had been some grounds for hoping that Michael Gove was different. But he is clearly oblivious to these facts. He knows nothing of the trade union, co-operative and mutual, Radical Liberal, Tory populist, Guild Socialist, Christian Socialist, Social Catholic and Distributist, and many other roots of the British, Irish and Commonwealth Labour Movements, predating Marx and long predating Gramsci.

He knows nothing of their roots, which are in the anti-Whig subcultures disaffected by the events of 1688, subcultures predating any Counterrevolutionary movement on the Continent because predating any Revolution there or in North America, and emphasising the indispensable role of the State in protecting against the market everything that conservatives seek to conserve, while offering perennial critiques of individualism, capitalism, imperialism, militarism, bourgeois triumphalism, and the fallacy of inevitable historical progress. As an ardent neoconservative, Gove is fully signed up to all of those.

Does he even, as we had been led to imagine, know anything of their roots, which are in Early Modernity and in the Middle Ages, in the Classics that he purports to promote and in the Bible that he ostentatiously sends out to schools with a preface by himself, together with a reference to himself on the very cover? Or is the entirety of this Government exactly as it would appear to be: intellectually unequipped to be the Government of the United Kingdom, or, at root, to be the Government of any other country on earth?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, just brilliant. Lost leader of our area, lost leader of our generation. Tragic.