The dialectic of Tony Blair
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Mark: Tony Blair was different to all the Prime Ministers that went before; he managed to alienate both the old right and the old left. His tenure saw two gigantic protests: the Liberty and Livelihood march and the anti-war march against the attack on Iraq.
The right never marches—right-wing people don’t want to petition the government for support, they want to resolve their problems themselves; hence the Liberty and Livelihood march was a rare event—it was a protest against the kulturkampf directed against fox hunting; exoteric reason, be kind to animals—esoteric reason, destroy the aristocracy and the nation’s link with the land. Hence the countryside marched.
The left marched against Blair—marched on a scale never seen before, with perhaps a million people in London. The Iraq War was impudent—everyone knew it was based on lies from the start, yet it was implemented just the same (result: disaster). The lesson I failed to learn from it was that it’s not just foreign policy that is like that—it’s all like that (every government action, everything experts say). The march was broad, but the nucleus for it was the left—from hardcore Marxists to the most milky social democrats.
So Blair was different; he marked the point where there was a full decoupling from the people who ruled the country and the ruled, paradoxically he was both widely popular and yet loathed by both left and right (a situation that let Blairites conceive themselves as “moderate centrists”; “the third way,” as they put it)—in retrospect, Blairism was always going to lead to Brexit (a protest against the disconnect); and also to Corbynism, a retro attempt to “get real” (leadership by the decidedly non-media-savvy socialist with an allotment and a big marrow).
Blair was both very in touch (with the digital media) and completely out of touch (with real people). His impressive electoral results merely showed that the people most plugged into the mass-media complex would vote for the candidate best placed to manipulate said complex—“the centre” turned out to be those who were most deluded, most glued to the goggle-box.
What most characterised Blair? He was parodied in Private Eye as a liberal Church of England vicar—a great man for homilies. This was correct: Blair, notorious for his image-consciousness, was narcissistic and vain. His particular narcissism was that he was “a good person”; he came from Live Aid, from “Feed the World” albums, from Médicins sans Frontières.
He was not actuated by “class war” and if he attacked the old class system, as with fox hunting, it was to do with culture not the economic system. Men like Blair knew all that was finished; he lived in the world of Habitat and Ikea—key demographics segmented and sold. His egalitarianism came from the TV; from the ’60s, from the narcissistic sensation that when you phoned in a donation to Live Aid you really had “saved a starving child in Ethiopia”. I am a good person (donation made by credit card, since it was the ’80s—even your charity was virtual).
Blair lived in TV land—his chief spin doctor was Alistair Campbell, a chronic alcoholic (i.e. a chronic liar—the two always go together). However, I cannot say Blairism was not a reaction to reality; in many ways, it was “woke”—as I noted in my essay on the “New Times”, what is called “wokeness” today originates in part in a Eurocommunist response to post-industrial Thatcherism.
The vision is a mixed-race lesbian couple who cycle down a restored heritage canal (heritage is important) to their job in a solar-powered call centre that provides back-up support in the UK for a product designed in California and made in China (the bicycles were paid for by a micro-loan from the Labour-run council). That’s Blairism in a nutshell—it could be called “democratic consumerism”; it retains Thatcherism’s market ethos but makes sure the adverts all feature black women and lesbians.
The complaint against Blairism, against the whole Western system, can legitimately be said to be that it is fake—it just imposes a narrative on reality (Iraq War, Covid-19) under the guise of “protection” and expertise. It’s from the left—it’s based in science and technology, atomisation and secularism—and yet it poses as centre; it has transcended trade unions and aristocrats alike.
It acknowledges Thatcher’s dictum “There Is No Alternative” (TINA) and so there will be no debate. Dialectic: thesis—we live in a multinational corporatised post-industrial consumer world where the old class divisions are dead and free-market individualism is supreme; antithesis—certain people are excluded from the “new individualism” (neo-liberalism), for example corporations who make beauty products take white women, a tiny part of the global population, as an ideal; synthesis—we live in a consumerist corporate world overseen by competent state and private technocrats (with MSc degrees and PhDs—classless, meritocrats) who will open the consumer experience to all through mandates that adverts should feature 75% black and LGBT+ models.
This is what we live in today; it is peculiar because it extols technocratic excellence and scientific omnipotence while at the same time being radically incompetent and irresponsible (Iraq War, Covid-19). This is because it is led by people—Justin Trudeau is a good example—who are in a narcissistic media-induced fantasy.