"Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."
When Marx wrote this in 1852, he was describing from a historical materialist perspective how class struggle in france lead to Louis Bonaparte's coup d'état of 2 December 1851. Today, the Tory government almost offered a literal example of this statement, announcing that the recent Petrol crisis was their 'Thatcher moment'.
In a private message to constituency associations, Tory MPs compared the panic over fuel supplies to the 1980s miners' strike and urged party members to "humiliate" the unions by stockpiling petrol. Members were told: "This is our Thatcher moment."
The message reportedly continues: "In order to defeat the coming miners' strike, [Thatcher] stockpiled coal. When the strike came, she weathered it, and the Labour party, tarred by the strike, was humiliated. In order to defeat the coming fuel drivers' strike, we want supplies of petrol stockpiled. Then, if the strike comes, we will weather it, and Labour, in hock to the Unite union, will be blamed.
Just like the miner's strike, the working class have taken the burden of this tactical move by government. For the sake of a political battle, petrol prices have seen to have been forced to increase, and government advice has led to a woman suffering a serious injury that has resulted in her hospitalisation.
Despite Tory tactics, it appears that history will not be repeating itself this time as Marx predicted. The frenzy whipped up by bad judgement has greatly inconvenienced the public en masse, and may assist the Unions in generating support if the need for a strike exists in the future. These events will hopefully provide the public an example of the farcical tactics that have been resorted to by the current coalition government.
What seems 'strange' to me is all this (and the pasty fiasco) occurred in the same month as the privatisation of the NHS and housing reforms that will throw the homeless into our prisons. The former continue to dominate the media.
"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language" - The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Karl Marx, 1852.
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