Last week I watched the apparent demise of the left wing magazine Current Affairs. The editor and founder of the magazine Nathan Robinson, in an apparent attempt to stop the magazine from becoming a co-op, tried to sack most of the staff. Robinson has understandably been the subject of ridicule and jokes, mainly because sacking workers isn’t very socialist, but also because of the added element that Robinson dresses like a man who owns a plantation. Despite this I generally really enjoy Nathan Robinsons writing-(this on child terrorist Blippy is worth reading)
This drama all unfolded on twitter, with allegations and defences. As with all fallouts the best place for them isn’t on an online social media site where things can get liked or retweeted. Whilst reading between tweets, trying to work out what had happened I began to be aware that all these people involved were nothing like me. Briefly looking up the people involved I found that they all went to top American universities and/or were lawyers who worked on the magazine in their spare time. Generally speaking, lawyers and people who went to Harvard are not the people I’d expect, or necessarily want, as the voices of socialism.
The next day I was watching the podcast (with slides) Well There's Your Problem. To those unfamiliar it is a podcast about engineering disasters but with a strong left wing perspective and thus a strong left following. In one of the episodes one of the presenters stated that they went to the same School as Nigel Farage (Durham College), a private school that costs over £14,000 a term. I researched (internet searched) the other major left/socialist media outlets and podcasts and found Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard to be the norm and all seemingly completely void of any working class voices. Why is this? And why has this taken me so long to realise?
Part undoubtedly comes from the advantage supplied by money. What confuses me particularly here is the collective lack of shame or embarrassment at this inequality . Do people of privilege think they are more deserving? Is it that they have an unblinking confidence that what they are saying is important? Is it to do with how rich people are brought up, or that they see their opinions rubber stamped as legitimate because they went to a private school or top university? I'm not sure. In comparison - I am by default well aware my opinion is probably limited and certainly of no significance (I say whilst uncomfortably trying to have an opinion).
If I was being super critical it all feels a bit like a socialism cosplay. Happy to support leftist ideas in theory and as a career, but I’d imagine less so in practice or when it mattered. With Robinson it was perhaps expected and in his defence, you can't really suggest he was hiding his class allegiances (again he literally dressed as a plantation owner). With others I feel slightly duped and annoyed I hadn't noticed the apparent private school hegemony earlier. It was probably that some of them wore trainers and laughed mockingly at the right people, who knows.
On one hand I’m really happy that all these left media exists, but on the other I fear for their ability to survive and prosper if the people running them went to the exact same schools and universities as the elites they are supposedly at odds with. If you run a left wing newspaper, magazine, youtube channel, podcast, please widen the net of voices. It’s currently off putting.