What does 21st March 2012 hold?
On the plus side - a Milton seminar with a bubbly, bright set of students, followed by a visiting speaker (Ben Harker, who works on exactly my period and interests) on Interwar Communists on the BBC. If you didn't know that a) the 1930s was a period in which the literary cutting-edge was pro-Communist and that the sainted Lord Reith turned the BBC into a propaganda arm of the State, then you should come along. MC315, 1245. Reith put the BBC into the government's hands for the 1926 General Strike, and instituted a blacklist which endured well into the 1980s, at least. One BBC office was in fact occupied by an MI5 agent tasked with weeding out leftwing employees - fairly successfully from what I see on our screens. Perhaps if there had been more Communists at the Beeb, we wouldn't have been cursed with a Homes Under The Hammer, Flog It, Cash In The Attic, Escape to the Country and a thousand other 'sell your granny' shows.
Unless, of course, these programmes were a Communist plot to discredit capitalism by showing its proponents up for the garish, greedy, selfish scum that they are. An alternative interpretation might suggest that they were Communist programmes designed to bring about the collapse of capitalism by pushing consumerism to the point of collapse, as Marx predicted would happen. If so, I'd have to acknowledge that the plan was a total success.
Anyway, the rest of the day is going to be deeply grim: it's Budget Day. George Osborne is going to toss the quite poor a few bones, utterly screw the very poor (who won't be affected by tax changes because they're too poor to pay any as it is), squeeze the middle earners, utterly screw people foolish enough to work in the public sector, help out the banks again (because that's really worked well so far), and massively reduce tax for the richest in society.
Let's not forget that George is the heir to a Baronetcy, and received a 21st birthday present of £3m from a tax-avoiding family trust. Need I say more?
What infuriates me about this government is that it's behaving as though it was elected by a landslide in the midst of a social flight towards pure capitalism. Everything they do is straight out of the Chicago Boys 1980s playbook: the destruction of public services, privatisation, monetarism, small state, low taxes for the rich. Did people vote for the privatisation of the NHS, education and roads? The Tories promised 'no top-down reorganisation of the NHS'. The Lib Dems campaigned against student tuition fees. Nobody mentioned privatising the school system. And yet this is what we've got.
Right, now I'm angry, it's time to do some marking.