The student left is confused and hypocritical

13 November 2008

During the summer, a small part of Kent was submerged by protesters who strongly disagreed with the opening of a coal-fired power station, the first in Britain for 24 years. The proposed plans for Kingsnorth have faced heavy opposition from climate change groups and this culminated in what was supposedly intended to be a peaceful protest. It wasn’t. Police got involved and that cost the taxpayer £7 million.

These students cited the large police presence as an indication of their political validity. In reality, the authorities saw the camp for what it was: an event consisting of ‘political’ adolescents fuelled by testosterone.

I’m not saying that police always use proportionate force. Far from it, but the fact remains that, for those local residents who were not involved in the climate change camp, it was just a massive group of people who didn’t usually occupy that area of Kent.

Anyone would expect police to oversee such an invasion.

“It’s not an invasion”, they would object, “but a peaceful protest”. The very nature of a protest is that it is formed by people who do not, in one way or another, consider that they are a part of the mainstream – an outsider.

This raises another issue. People like this feel the need to portray themselves as being external to the establishment that they supposedly want to help.

However, take the trendiness of being an outsider away and they become disillusioned to the cause, as proven by the writers of many ‘socialist’ publications available in Cambridge who don’t like how politicians are latching onto Green issues. A fight, it seems, is only worth having when there’s someone big to punch.

Such inconsistency is indicative of immaturity: they are so desperate to cling to ideals as a way of self-definition that they fail to notice the inevitable hypocrisy.

A prime example is the May Week Balls. The committees for these extravagant events are substantial and, in my experience, include people who have actively participated in raising awareness for Fair Trade and global warming.

And yet, they see no problem with spending millions on one party, for one night when, not once, have I ever heard them suggest that all the money be given to the worthy causes which they care so passionately about.

The worst thing, though, is when this flawed means of self-definition is applied to a class system.

A certain Cambridge student talks about the ‘working class’ like an external part of society, describing them in a recently launched ‘socialist’ publication as “our greatest allies” in the battle against global warming.

Neither a definition for the term ‘working class’ nor a clarification of who ‘us’ is seems necessary to the writer, even though they evidently position themselves to the left of the political spectrum.

On top of this, the same person has the audacity to criticise capitalism. They argue that it has caused environmental damage but, at the same time, they uphold the social distinctions capitalism has created between rich and poor. Work with the ‘working class’? The concept of ‘working class’ should not even exist.

And this is the real underlying problem. Utopia for anyone with left wing tendencies would be the complete eradication of the class system but, for many in Cambridge, this is difficult to swallow.

No class system means no public school, no public school means no elite university and potentially the end of the lifestyle to which they and their families have become accustomed.

Stop masquerading behind socialist values as a way of seeming ‘cool’: it only turns left wing politics into a muddy field in Kent, dominated by confused individuals and their biodegradeable banners.

Jack Nugent is a second year classicist at King’s.