The Pseudo-Socialist Utopia of Witney


(This article was originally published in the New Worker – the newspaper of the New Communist Party of Britain – Issue No. 1791, Page 5 – dated the 19.9.14)

Bourgeois conservatism is built upon a flimsy bedrock of hypocrisy, contradiction, systemic denial, and spite.   Its essence functions through the physical world as pure greed for profit at any cost, and manifests as the grasping, maintaining, and squandering of all material resources. With everything exploitable in the material world firmly in its grasp, the bourgeoisie also try to possess the world of ideas (as in academia), and the realm of imagined spirits, as in the theology of religion. The UK city of Oxford is world renowned for the quality of education produced within the famous (and ancient) colleges that comprise its university. This university constitutes the dynamic city centre of Oxford, and is a stark contrast to Oxfordshire – which can be described as a collection of sleepy villages that are monochrome, dormant, and highly conservative in its attitude and nature. Students are not really welcome outside the city centre and its immediate environs, just as the inward looking and vigour lacking populace of Oxfordshire, are not particularly welcomed by the university. Although Oxford university is also known for its bourgeois conservatism, elitism, and snobbishness, nevertheless, occasionally its staff and students can be shockingly and unpredictably radical in their decisions and deliberations. In 1985, for instance, when Margaret Thatcher was at the height of her insane crusade against British Socialism, the dons of Oxford voted 738 to 319 in favour of not granting the then serving British Prime Minister an honorary degree. This was the first time in its history that the university refused to grant such an award to a British Prime Minister. It is interesting to see which way the contemporary dons proceed with regard to the current far-rightwing Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron – whose anti-Leftist policies are finishing the counter-revolution started by his idol – Margaret Thatcher.

For all its outlandish behaviour and quaint traditions, Oxford University is a hub of bourgeois academic excellence simply because it has historically controlled all related resources, and has thus created an unassailable fortress for itself within the capitalist system it represents. With the exception of Ruskin College (an affiliate of the university that recruits primarily from the brightest of the working class – founded in 1899) – Oxford University generally recruits only those from the right social class and background – that is the middle and upper classes of British society – into its numerous colleges. Where Oxford University once dominated through the theology of the Catholic Church (prior to the Dissolutions of the Monasteries in the 1530’s), it now dominates through the secular text-book. However, it does attract an international student body from all over the world, and within this multitude, there is a healthy leftwing ideological presence that the dons perceive as no real threat to their privilege and authority, and which they allow to continue unharassed. This gives a certain unexpected and radical streak to the Oxford Union Debating Society which in 1933 (during the ‘King and Country’ debate) voted 275 to 153 in support of the motion stating ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’.

This gives something of the historical, and socio-economic history associated with the sleepy town of Witney, which is situated on the River Windrush, in Western Oxfordshire. Oxfordshire itself is comprised of a number picturesque villages and towns that surround the city of Oxford. With the exception of one or two working class areas, generally speaking, these affluent centres cater exclusively to the professional middle classes, whilst much of the available housing has been turned into holiday apartments for the rich, or much sought after second homes for well-off people from the major cities, etc. It may come as no surprise that the Member of Parliament for Witney is none other than the serving Conservative Prime Minister – David Cameron – and that the place itself functions very much like a ‘Socialist’ state would (if the people were given all the economic and material aid they needed), but of course, not because of Socialist ideology, but rather because of bourgeois hypocrisy, deception, and delusion. As a consequence, the streets of Witney are clean and tidy, and there is no obvious signs of poverty. The Witney NHS Services continue to function with maximum supplies and no waiting lists – as if the ConDem Coalition had never came to power – and there are no Job-centres to speak of. This is similar to when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979, and her constituency of Finchley benefitted immensely from her term in office. Thatcher ensured that as a reward for voting for her, Finchley would have all the resources it needed – regardless of the destructive social and economic policies being applied elsewhere in the country. For a time, Finchley had a certain sense of ‘immunity’ from the vicious nation-wide cuts initiated by its MP, and a certain ‘confidence’ and ‘buoyancy’ in its collective attitude. Anyone travelling through Cameron’s Witney today, will notice exactly the same socio-economic conditions. People meet and greet one another in a civil manner because they are not paying the cost of their MP’s vicious ‘austerity’ programme that is depriving the vulnerable of their benefits, the disabled and elderly of their care, and the nation of the National Health Service and Welfare State. In Witney, none of these things matter because the area exists within a political bubble benefitting from what might be referred to as ‘political nepotism’. The people have no sense of oppression from above, and do not need to fight with one another for diminishing resources – this is how this political nepotism (from the Conservatives) mimics Socialist state planning.

The irony is that Socialist thinking – which a priori places people (and their needs) before profit – is viewed as the incarnation of the devil by the rightwing, and a manifestation of everything evil in the universe!  When in power, the bourgeois throw resources at their own kind, as those very resources are taken away from those who need them most in other parts of society.  Witney, for instance, can instigate completely free parking in its Marriots Walk multi-story car-park, because Tory local Councils up and down the UK charge extortionate parking fees and routinely break the law by making those with disabilities ‘pay’ for special parking space provided for them despite the fact many have gone through detailed, (and often demeaning), medical examinations and assessments to be granted a ‘Blue’ parking badge which is designed to exempt the poorest and most vulnerable from having to pay parking fees.  In this way, the bourgeois set-up economic enclaves for themselves that mimic the peace of mind of Socialism, but which are the product of an antithesis of thinking – as it is not the poor that are receiving the help – but rather those who already possess ample finances and access to resources.  In reality, if Socialist thinking was given a chance to develop free of the usual bourgeois attacks, all people could be living in a progressive society free from oppression from above, and the need to fight one another for dwindling resources.  The people of Witney are the real scroungers, as their current opulence is bought at the expense of the millions who have had their benefits and medical supplies cut, as well as those workers whose pay and conditions have worsened under this government, and who have to feed their families through food parcels.  The Conservatives mimic the social planning of Socialism when they wish to reward their own kind, and ensure the purchase of further votes in the future.  One thing is certain, with the granting of ample resources, much suffering can be relieved from the shoulders of humanity, and this is needed ‘society-wide’ so that the Tory ‘Enclavism’ represented by Witney and other Conservative areas can be swept away for the disease it undoubtedly represents.

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