Wednesday 25 June 2014

Uncle Laurie explains why Karl Marx didn't surf

After leaving work at 4 o'clock today, I switched on the radio and heard a cheery fellow confiding with us, telling us a happy childhood story about surfing. 

For about five seconds I relaxed into it. Then I recognised the voice.

It was Laurie Taylor, which meant that I was listening to Thinking Allowed, Radio 4's sociology programme.

My mood changed. 

I really, truly, honestly did think at that point, "How the hell is he going to make something Marxist out of surfing?"

Well, believe it or not, he did.

Uncle Laurie usually starts of editions of Thinking Allowed in this beguiling way but then introduces a sudden political note and, on that pivot, suddenly swerves into full blown Marxist sociology.

Today provided a classic example of that: One minute we were enjoying a nice story about a young Uncle Laurie loving the feel of the surf around his toes, the next minute we were hearing about how surfing has historically been a tool of American imperialism and colonialism. 

Some academic was on, giving - as ever - some interesting vignettes on the subject at hand but then spoiling it all by fitting them all into the rigid straightjacket of far-left sociological thinking.

Twas ever so on Thinking Allowed. 

I don't surf myself. (Morecambe Bay is tidal, but it's not that tidal). Now I'll console myself by thinking that all those fit, active men who surf our the shores of this sceptred isle are nothing but bourgeois reactionary running-dogs of Yankee imperialism. 

This is not a joke: The book that was the subject of this section is called Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing.

Who needs satire.

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