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Tony Blair on Lenin, Marx & Trotsky

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2017 by kmflett

Tony Blair has been in the news in respect of a Radio 4 programme he did with Peter Hennessy (who is one of the best historians of modern Britain) about his influences and career.

Blair mentioned that he had been influenced when young by reading the first volume of Isaac Deutscher’s biography of Trotsky (Verso).

Its not the first time he’s said that. He also said it as part of a World Book Day event at the Commonwealth Institute in 2006.

Deutscher who was an orthodox Trotskyist had somewhat gloomy view of Trotsky and the Trotskyist project and while Ive a fair idea of what exactly Blair did take from the book I’ll save that thought for my memoirs.

Blair, in an article for Marxism Today in October 1991, also managed to note that the Labour had never been Marxist (correctly) and that Lenin had had a few ideas about the State.

In a sense though if we are looking to Blair for some useful thoughts on the left we are missing the point.

Blair was no theoretical leftist, deliberately so. He had no ideological ‘baggage’ of note to betray. His New Labour project, as he notes in that Marxism Today piece, was really about not knowing much about the history of the left or its ideas because, in his view, it was not relevant to the world as it was 20 years ago.

Whether Blair and New Labour have added anything of note to left-wing ideas and theory it is probably too early to say, but if so it would be firmly in the arena of Edward Bernstein and the right-wing of early C20th German social democracy

 

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