A Lefty Progressive Goes To The Seaside

Walking past a packed beach on a sweltering summer’s day, the lefty progressive is like a fish out of water.

And by the way, he’s not staying: he’s taking a constitutional after a morning spent reading about genocidal sanctions on Iraq and before an afternoon spent writing about genocidal killings in East Timor.

Among the knotted handkerchiefs, Hawaiian shirts and burrowing thongs, he appears surreally overdressed in his black Doc Martin shoes, black jeans (full-length in the heat) and regulation no-logo T-shirt.

His dark, subdued clothing carries subtle meaning: ‘It’s not about me.’ After all, he describes himself to himself as ‘a mere intellectual worker’. There’s nothing particularly exalted about intellectual work; it’s just one aspect of the project to build a better world. Other people are excellent at organising, campaigning, protesting – he just happens to write.

He’s not in the business of drawing attention to himself because he is not the point. The point is that millions of people and animals are suffering, need help, and he is trying to help them. It’s about them. On the other hand, the first time he had an article published, he read it about a hundred times.

One of his primary complaints about corporate society is precisely that it exaggerates the importance of the individual at the expense of the collective. We are all trained for self-promotion – ‘me, me, me’ – regardless of the cost to others. As Noam Chomsky has…

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