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The Peculiarities of the English, Mr Podsnap, Brexit & Jeremy Corbyn

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2018 by kmflett

The Peculiarities of the English, Mr Podsnap, Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn

The Marxist historian EP Thompson who died 25 years ago this August continues to crop up in the strangest places.

The Bagehot column in the Economist has referenced EP Thompson’s Peculiarities of the English. In it (it can be found in his collection the Poverty of Theory) he mentions the Dickens character Mr Podsnap (Our Mutual Friend). Podsnap in summary thought that England was great and everywhere else dreadful.

https://www.economist.com/britain/2018/06/21/podsnappery-and-its-reverse

Thompson was criticising what Bagehot refers to as reverse Podsnaps, who think elsewhere is better than England. He had in mind in particular Perry Anderson then Editor of the New Left Review. He was associated with the view that the working classes and Marxism elsewhere in Europe were much more advanced compared to backward England. Thompson did not agree.

Anyway Bagehot sees Boris Johnson as a modern Podsnap and Jeremy Corbyn with his supposed pro-Brexit stance as a reverse Podsnap. That doesn’t really quite work because being in sympathy with Brexit doesn’t really align with thinking Europe is better in fact it might be supposed that the two positions are opposed even if Farage has a German passport (EP Thompson had a more nuanced view of Europe which I’ll post on elsewhere).

However to suggest that Corbyn is anti-Podsnap (that is anti-English) is quite absurd. A man who has an allotment, makes his own jam and rides a bicycle anti-English? I think not. Perhaps its time for a successor to EP Thompson to write on the Peculiarities of Jeremy Corbyn. (Corbyn was a big fan of Thompson btw)

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One Response to “The Peculiarities of the English, Mr Podsnap, Brexit & Jeremy Corbyn”

  1. “…the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone
    All centuries but this, and every country but his own”
    WS Gilbert “The Mikado”

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