Anyway, Sean, who was a mere slip of a lad, was a very nice chap and seemed more interested in going down to the pub than in sabotaging the car industry, which would have required (I suppose) regular hours at the very least”€”as, come to think of it, did going down to the pub. Nevertheless, he brought to the house an atmosphere of conspiracy and plotting, of the Conradian Secret Agent variety. I cannot remember the doctrinal niceties of the British and Irish Communist Organisation, but if I remember rightly they were opposed to Irish nationalism because they regarded it as a petit bourgeois deviation. No word in their lexicon was as bad as petit bourgeois; it was far worse than merely bourgeois or even aristocrat. Petit bourgeois was to bourgeois as rat is to tiger. George, incidentally, considered Schubert’s Lieder to be very poor stuff because they were suffused with petit bourgeois pessimism. If I remember, pessimism itself was considered the petit bourgeois vice par excellence. Proletarians were by nature optimistic, convinced as they were that history (or History) was on their side. That is, unless they fell under the malign influence of petit bourgeois deviationists and splittists.

It was a very peculiar atmosphere in which to live. There would be earnest discussions between George and Sean about the danger of high wages (theoretically impossible, of course, but in practice paid every week to thousands) corrupting the revolutionary purity of the proletariat and allowing them to think that it was more important to enjoy themselves in the here and now than liberate themselves once and for all. These discussions would go on for hours, and one had the impression that those who took part in them believed that the world’s fate depended on their outcome. And if the British and Irish Communist Organisation believed that the embourgeoisement of the proletariat was a grave danger to world revolution, then that is what it was. 

I, incidentally, was never a member of the British and Irish Communist Organisation and took it as an elaborate joke or a pretext for not getting on with life.  

The communist part of the household was The Secret Agent, 1970-style (if style is quite the word I seek): humorless, self-important, morally blind, and physically lazy. Utterly complacent and unintentionally comic. But it sounds as if the Balakrishnans were no joke.



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