George Walford: Nationalism and the Socialist Party

An old joke is usually a good one, and there is a Scottish joke we have long relished: A traveller asks directions to Auchterlochty and is told he has passed it. “Passed it? But I didn’t see anything – no houses, no shops, no pub, no church, no people.” “Aye, mon, yon’s the place.”

The Socialist Party claims to have a clear, simple, irrefutable Case. We ask to hear it, and what we get is a mixture of platform jokes, facts applied by the capitalist press, attacks on the Labour Party, tear-jerking accounts of the Third World, simplistic accounts of some theories of Karl Marx, a mass of truisms and self-contradictions, and fervent declarations of unshakable – and irrational – faith in socialism.

After listening to this for some time we say: “Well, yes, that’s all very interesting, but what about your clear, simple, irrefutable Case?” And they reply: “But that’s it, you’ve heard it.” “Aye, mon, yon’s the Case.”

PRIVATE JOKE (for those familiar with the Socialist Party): Last time the Martians invaded Earth two of the little green people landed in Clapham High Street. They went into No. 52 and said: “Take us to your leader.”

from Ideological Commentary 13, September 1984.