29 September 1943, Cairo

I dined in General Jumbo’s Mess where he was giving a dinner party for the Maiskys [Soviet Ambassador to London]. Madame Maisky was smartly dressed in American clothes; her expensive handbag was filled with luxury compactums and cosmetics. She wore her hair in the style of Madam Butterfly with a red zinnia in it. Monsieur Maisky wore a white shirt, red tie and shorts. They both speak English. At dinner they laid down the law a good deal and asked, among other things, when we are going to get rid of our ‘useless’ House of Lords. After dinner Madame Maisky expressed surprise that an English Countess should be working as a secretary. I told her that, like a great many other people in England, I had earned my own living since the age of seventeen. I refrained with difficulty from adding that I thought it a good deal more surprising that she should live like a capitalist and talk communism.

(To War with Whitaker: The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly, 1939-1945)

Ivan Maisky seems to have been a shrewd bird but was, inevitably, left with his dirty trousers around his ankles, a bewildered look on his face, betrayed by his own Bolshevik:

In 1953, shortly before Stalin’s death, he was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison for alleged espionage. In 1955, however, he was released, cleared of all charges and fully rehabilitated. In 1966 Maisky signed the so-called Letter of 25 Soviet writers, scientists and cultural figures, addressed to Leonid Brezhnev and expressing opposition to a possible rehabilitation of Stalin.

i know a few far-left Commies and a few people who would call themselves fascists. With the latter, i’m unsure how far it goes – with Bonehead, for example, “fascist” seems to mean he likes boxing and war films and escaped from his ghetto in Bradford with no interest in returning; and he doesn’t approve of the junkies who wander about Leeds begging for money, then go home to their council flats & Jobseeker’s Allowance (he used to sit next to them on the bus and related their boasting tales of having conned working people out of money; he said that judging from their own tallies, they made more money per day than i did). i can’t really imagine him being comfortable in Nazi Germany, as he’s too individual to be easily assimilated into huge bureaucracies and not utterly psychopathic. For example, he told me with wonder that he had given a muffin to a homeless guy (they are genuinely homeless, as one can see when it rains and they stay where they are) and, in his words: “it felt strange…to do good for once, instead of evil. It was almost enjoyable.” He also saved my life when i wanted to die from asthma, by taking me to a hospital (despite his psycho girlfriend’s regular, insistent, enraged calls demanding his immediate presence). Given he talks about the survival of the fittest, this smacks rather of a meritorious hypocrisy.

The Commies fall into different types. Some are classic disgruntled young people who don’t want to work but want to have ipads and BMWs and a lot of beer and cocaine; they get angry when they see rich people with ipads and BMWs; they resent all authority and just want to take drugs, drink, fuck, fight, and live like Wayne Rooney – but without Rooney’s hard training and skill. i know one girl like this who, however, moderately reformed her life and now has a minimum wage job helping disabled people, and also works for free for an impoverished theatre company. She “occupied” her local university in some kind of protest and also “marched” in London and had her photo on the front page of the Guardian (she is photogenic). This kind of “I hate my parents and want to do what I WANT without working! Revolution! I’m SPECIAL!” attitude is normal to the young, so Communism naturally appeals.

i know other Commies who are champagne socialists, earning vastly more than normal folk in left-wing organisations – funded by tax-payers, i.e. by people who have real jobs and are not Communists – and talk about the need to destroy the rich, by which they mean the rich apart from themselves and their left-wing colleagues. They all hate America and capitalism. They spend vast quantities of money, all of it of course coming directly from capitalism. To be fair, one of these champagne socialists gave me an expensive Harris tweed coat and several books and paid my travel costs to his palace, so one should not imagine a Polly Toynbee type, living in her Tuscan villa and counting her gold. Since some of his money comes from the taxes i paid during my 5 years of office hell, and my 3 years of teaching, this is welcome. He lives in a small village for rich people in France, rarely returns to England (for short trips) and claims the 2011 rioters were uprising against capitalism and injustice, which seems unlikely given their pre-existing criminal records.

My friend the lecturer is also a classic left-winger, a lifelong academic & homosexual who hates America (he has never met an American), the police, judges, all institutions of society, and would like everyone to live in a giant hippy commune where he can have sex with boys. Mercifully, he’s also very intelligent and so very wary of organisations, institutions, of any kind. He talks a lot of rot, e.g. on the subject of prisons he once told me America has “the greatest torture/death apparatus in the world, for its own citizens.” i pointed out that America executes under 100 people a year but Amnesty International estimates China does away with thousands, probably tens of thousands per year. He looked grumpy and unhappy and said: “That’s only because all Americans are brainwashed so it’s not necessary to execute them.” i got the clear impression he would have preferred it if America executed millions of people a year – in any case, they would all be Americans, so no harm done. He reads Chomsky and believes every word. He doesn’t, in fact, read anything that could contradict Chomsky. As regards politics, his intelligence has been utterly destroyed by a diet of Chomsky and John Pilger. He talks about Nazis a lot. He compares anyone he doesn’t like to Hitler. A typical conversation, regarding a nice student who wanted to work for Interpol:

him: I don’t see how someone you allege to be nice could voluntarily choose to work for the Gestapo.

me: It’s Interpol not the Gestapo. The Gestapo ceased to exist several decades ago.

him: But their agenda and method is IDENTICAL to the Gestapo.

me: i don’t think Interpol deliberately rounds up Jews, actually. They do things like, i don’t know, rescuing girls who are sold into prostitution by the Russians.

him: I was a prostitute, Elberry, and I liked it.

me: Uh yes, but you chose to do it. These girls are told they will work as au pairs in the west, then they’re gang raped and beaten and forced to have sex with people for money.

him: All I can say is, I was never raped. I just DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.

me: Okay. Nice day, isn’t it?

My Tai Chi tutor was another odd left-winger. He hated dolescum and even after i’d been working for 4 years told me i was a sponge & a parasite because i’d lived with my father after leaving university while looking for a job. He was one of the nastiest people i’ve ever met. He once left a classic left-wing comment on a Bryan Appleyard post. The Yard said that he’d cried after reading a Shirley Hazzard novel. i think this is a fair observation, attesting to the emotional force of a piece of art. My Tai Chi tutor left a sneering left-wing comment, now lost as the Yard shifted his blog to a new server – but from memory it went something like this:

Crying? How pitiful. You cry over a book? Childish. There are so many other things to cry about: the environment, the defiling of the oceans, African poverty, the whales, the sweatshops that manufacture luxury goods for people like you. Cry about these.

He isn’t the nastiest person i’ve ever met, but close. As far as i’m aware he never did anything for anyone else, though he was also more or less indifferent to money. He never drank, never smoked, never went out, and spent all his money on watches and Tai Chi videos & books (he had a 1000 pound watch). He would send me emails at work with maxims like “the sage does not hoard” then, when i asked to borrow a Tai Chi book he refused saying he never lent anything to anyone. He also lied reflexively to preserve his self-image, and seemed to believe these falsehoods (which directly contradicted other statements of his).

i haven’t met a single left-winger who lived in the world of which they speak. i wouldn’t say that academia or the UN are in some way unreal – everything that is is real – but if you spend all your life with other champagne-drinking left-wing UN officials or academics, none of whom has ever done a real job in his or her life or gone without food because of low funds, this rather damages the credibility of your declarations about “the working class” or”poverty”. i have scant regard for Ludwig Wittgenstein’s left-wing politics but at least he gave away his fortune and became a school teacher, deliberately asking for the poorest, most isolated postings in lower Austria. That i can respect. i think he was politically highly naive, but at least he walked the walk, instead – as is so common with left-wingers – of merely talking the talk, over another round of champers & caviar.

At university, a rah i know said i talked about my friends a lot in the seminar. This is because i don’t understand abstractly, through mathematics, logic, pure theory; i understand through human beings & concrete examples. My imagination is roughly allegorical, though i try to fine-tune it to reality; and to know enough allegorical types to generate subtlety. i am not a communist, because all the left-wingers i’ve met are self-righteous liars or fantasists, out and out insane, know absolutely nothing about real jobs and real poverty, and this does not commend their cause. They envisage themselves as white knights defeating all the evils in the world but in truth they are fools who would be torn to pieces if they strayed beyond their highly-paid left-wing enclaves. Their avatar would be Joseph Stalin or Jimmy Saville – a left-wing mass murderer or a left-wing child rapist, take your pick. Saville was a leftie classic – the chav of the people, deliberately crass, always doing charity works and being cried up for his good deeds; protected by the left-wing BBC while he raped children. You want a face for Communism? Here it is: