08 April 2008
David Selbourne, Ruskin College & Two Great Brain Farts
What follows was originally posted at the Guardian, but has now been removed by the moderator. The post speaks for itself, but I will add a short paragraph by way of explanation.
David Selbourne was a politics tutor at Ruskin College, Oxford, for many years until 1985. The Murdoch printers' strike was then under way, and Selbourne attacked the strikers by publishing a piece in the Sunday Times. The fact that many of his former and actual students were printers who were on the picket lines didn't trouble him in the least. This is my censored reply to his latest load of old wank:
Hello, Dave, how's it been for you these past 23 years? Rather better than it has been for the Wapping print workers that you helped put on the dole, I'll bet. I was never one of your students at Ruskin College, Oxford, but I was sitting finals when your Sunday Times article came out. Dave, let me tell you that it was a miracle that anyone passed, given the uproar that your brain fart caused at the college.
Enough of this merry banter. In your Guardian piece you argue that if "the sense of duty to community, environment, polity and nation" is taken away, then "collapse awaits". That's fine, Dave, but a little bit of consistency is needed here.
The working class had just such a sense of duty and community that came via their autonomously created structures, such as the unions. Structures which you did your level best to destroy when you had your brain fart moment, Dave.
All those years ago, you argued that the Wapping printers' strike was essentially reactionary, and you went on to speculate what the likes of Engels would have thought about it all. Guess what, Dave? You were dead right.
The unions, especially the craft unions such as the printers, were incredibly conservative. Do you remember all those disputes about differentials? They came about because the craft unions really just wanted to keep the unskilled in their place, Dave.
The point is that you cannot now argue for everyone to know their place when you did so much to smash that sense of place a generation ago.
When you were having your brain fart, I took the trouble to wander around the Senior Common Room to gauge the members' opinions of you. Dr. Jack Eames had always been dubious about your attitudes and he dismissed you as an "intellectual grasshopper". The late Raph Samuel said that he never expected much else "from a man like that," and Dr. Victor Treadwell just rolled his eyes in exasperation.
They had your ticket well marked, didn't they?
Well, that was good fun, wasn't it? Getting it censored was even better because the only person that I can think of who would take offence at my words was Dave Selbourne himself. Welcome to The Exile, Dave, and if you want to know what I have been doing to help shag capitalism I suggest you have a look at the Working Class archive, especially the internal colonialism posting.