Mark Steel: Manages to be both left wing and funny.
Mark Steel is a stand up comedian and was a member of the Socialist Workers Party in the UK. His book, “Reasons to be Cheerful” is a very funny insight into what it means to be on the hard left without losing your sense of humour. To be honest, I agreed with very little of his political analysis, primarily because it assumes, quite nobly, that the vast majority of people are honourable and selfless, something which has not been my experience of my fellow man. But then, maybe I’m just a magnet for pricks. Or one myself, maybe. After all, does one know if one is a prick?
For anyone who has had any experience of dealing with the hard left, he’s hit the nail on the head, especially in dealing with the massive proclivity towards self delusion and expectations of betrayal. Let’s be honest, socialists tend to spend far more time fighting each other than they ever do fighting the right. And no, before people get upset, I know the right has its own idiosyncracies. I was in the Progressive Democrats, for f**k’s sake. There is one very funny story in particular about a furious battle within a tiny Trotskyite group to prevent a hand cranked printer being used for counter-revolutionary purposes, and the group’s surreal response. Or another about his opposition to fascist lucky dip stalls.
One of those books you’ll find yourself rereading for the sheer pleasure of it.