Thursday, January 19, 2006

Primal screaming and the dialectic

Dialectics and the housing crisis are the subject of Nick's latest Staggers piece, and, suitably enough it is full of contradictions and the transformation of things into their opposites. The story seems to go something like this:

Once upon a time, there was revolution in the air and a housing shortage in the cities. So hippies, in between having lots of sex and engaging in primal scream therapy, had the great idea of taking over vacant property. We should draw on their legacy today by building homes with gardens in the countryside so that the unemployed can afford to live in the cities where the job vacancies are but where no human being would want to bring up a family. High property prices -- brought about by OPEC -- have caused a disastrous decline in both literary criticism and the birth rate and some people have had to abandon their ambitions and settle for their second-choice career (as newspaper columnists?). The only people opposed to keeping bulldozing the countryside (and thereby keeping faith with the hippie legacy!) are toffs, although some toffs, notably Old Etonian squatters and Old Etonian Ferdinand Mount are OK. Much has changed since the 1970s, but some things remain the same: whilst the hippies were climbing into bed with one another, the far left was getting under the duvet with .... wait for it ... Saddam Hussein!

It isn't clear whether there's a coherent theme running through this column at all, but insofar as there is it appears to be the thesis that Britain's declining birthrate has to do with the fact that our house prices have risen faster than the European average. Since the birthrate has also fallen -- often further and faster -- in those other countries over the same period, there's something missing in Nick's explanation. Or perhaps I'd understand if I only had Nick's firm grasp of the dialectic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a very rambling piece , but I think the subtext is

The 60's/70's left were a bunch of toffs from eton slumming it , but heir idealism had some good ideas: lots of sex , psychology and marxism were bad, but houses working people were good. Only a non toff (grammar school, oxbridge) like me can sort out the sensible decent left ideas from the loony.

1/19/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THEIR idealism ...houses FOR working - you know what I mean

1/19/2006 03:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. That's some fantastic precis, Cap. I wouldn't know where to start summarising that ... thing. It almost looks like someone has taken a bunch of NC Standard columns (where he has also favoured us with his opinions on architecture from time to time and is always banging on about hippies) and done a sort of William Burroughs cut-up with them.

1/20/2006 12:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best-looking women were in the primal screamers’ commune and they had artful ways of diverting comrades from the task of overthrowing capitalism. Anne Janowitz, now professor of Romantic poetry at Queen Mary, University of London, alleges that “the primal screamers sent vixens out on to the street to seduce the handsome boys on the left and got them to scream rather than agitate”.

Jebus on a skateboard! Good-looking women = stupid (?) = counter-revolutionary. "handsome boys" (???) = revolutionaries (and presumably the effective ones). Has Nick ever seen Lenin, Trotsky and Co's mugs? Or even Che apart from that one iconic shot? I've got to say, I were in MI6, it wouldn't be the good-looking ones I send the girls after! Does this mean that both Nick and Prof Janowitz had to make do (or out) with mingers? We should be told.

1/20/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger levi9909 said...

Nick Cohen seems to have reopened his comments. Did anyone notice already? Apologies if I'm duplicating.

He's getting more bonkers though.

1/21/2006 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I think he's accepting trackbacks rather than reopening comments?

1/25/2006 12:11:00 AM  

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