Monday 27 February 2006

Red Clydeside

When I was on my way from Central to Queen Street station on Saturday, I spotted a stall with a couple of red flags flying from it. The Scottish Socialists, I thought. But no. These guys were the originals: the Communist Party. I noted that they had grasped some of the principles of capitalism. After all, if you’re trying to sell political material, it’s better to be outside Borders instead of Next.

I courteously waited for their customer to leave and then barged in with my spiel:

“So are you proud of the fact that your lot murdered 80 million of our fellow human beings?”


”Surely you know about that?” is my response.

"Well, maybe it didn't all go quite right all of the time, but what about capitalism then? How many have been killed by capitalism? Got you there!"

"Please explain the exact process by which capitalistic acts between consenting adults can lead to murder?" I reply.

Stunned silence, but then one of them manages to come out with this masterpiece of Marxist repartee:

"The Private Finance Initiative!"

My turn to be silenced. How does one respond to that without laughing? Then I am informed that no one has been murdered by the commies since the demise of Comrade Trotsky.

"But that was over 60 years ago," I point out. "What about the 1940s, the 50s, the 60s and so on?"

"Where?" they reply.

"Russia, China, Korea, Cambodia, Cuba..." I go on.

"Ah, but it wasn't real communism in China, was it?"

It never is with these people.

At this point I become aware of a strange trembling sensation in my left leg. Perhaps I am getting the Trotsky ice-axe treatment? But no, fortunately it's my new mobile phone, vibrating, glowing and chiming in the pocket of my distinctly bourgeois Barbour jacket. Mrs F & W is calling to tell me that a fight has broken out in the car park near our flat over in Edinburgh. Well, Hearts had just beaten Partick Thistle and Scotland were getting ready to send England homewards to think again, so I'm not too surprised by this news. Maybe some of the fans had become confused through drink and she was witnessing a historically unique Partick v England event.

Meanwhile, back in Glasgow, the Comrades had become downhearted. One of them claimed to have read the Black Book of Communism, but when I challenged him on this he turned quite sheepish for he was unable to tell me whether the book had "around 200 pages" or "around 1,000 pages". That damned capitalist logic. So unfair, isn't it? The demoralised duo started to pack up their wares and didn't seem too happy when I suggested continuing the discussion on my next visit to Red Clydeside.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Howard R Gray
I have found, over the years, that arguing with communists, or whatever they might remarket themselves as, is about as satisfying as dealing with Jehova'a witlessnesses. 
Much like squeaking chalk on a black board. There is more in the noise, than the message with these people and that aint saying much!

21 March 2006, 00:21:38 GMT
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David Farrer
They looked like students to me. "Care in the community" sounds about right!

2 March 2006, 21:10:21 GMT
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Andrew Ian Dodge
Care in the community has some benefits it seems. Was either one drooling before you spoke to them?

28 February 2006, 11:38:34 GMT
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David Farrer
I started with the "So are you proud of the fact..." 
There was a bit more than I can remember in detail but at one point one of the Comrades asked: "Are you some kind of economist?" Perhaps I had mentioned Hayek or Mises.

27 February 2006, 11:56:52 GMT
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Kenny McCormack
Great David! Nice to see intellectual debate concerning political ideology is still going on in Glasgow, even if it has to be sparked by someone from Edinburgh.  
But I am curious, did you open with the "So are you proud of the fact...", or did you lull them into a false sense of security with a bit of small talk first, then go for the jugular? 
Personally I would have let them say a few fey words about communism before responding with something like: "well this communism all sounds very good in theory, but, well it has killed rather a lot of people in practice, something like 100 million according to some researchers, doesn't this demonstrate that it might not be a such a good thing after all?" 
I would then have followed this up with Hayek's Road To Serfdom arguments before contrasting it with the success of free market liberalism. 
Or am I just too much of a pansy?

27 February 2006, 11:20:57 GMT