Self-isolation became collective isolation. We assembled in a hotel to search for the meaning of SOCIALISM. I was supposed to be in charge but very much aware that behind me were a number of nice and charming referees with the powers of philosophical traffic wardens.
I set up some seminars. In one we simulated a scene from Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Death is discussing money with the Actor. The Actor says that he loves possessing money and feels as though he is the prison warden holding money captive. Death shows him that it is the other way round, that money holds him captive.
A definition of socialism upon which we can all agree evades us. There is nothing nasty about our discussion, all is very pleasant but, somehow, lacking urgency. It is as though we would rather discuss than decide.
I decide to hold a plenary. I point to one man and tell him that because he is wearing a suit he must have something to say worth listening to. Yes, even in the dream Starmer came to mind. Actually this man really does have something to say about socialism. He has written a big book on the subject. He starts to read it to us. He has our complete attention. Next will be the last chapter headed CONCLUSION.
I look over my shoulder. A referee is tapping her watch. It is 5 o’clock. I apologise to everyone that we have to finish now. No-one seems disappointed and after fond farewells between us all we go back to self-isolation.
Well, that is a sort of summary of a dream that was a bit less coherent than I have made it seem. I seem to remember that at one point the Brave New World speech from The Tempest came in. Perhaps I was thinking of Prospero drowning his books of magic: books that could have conjured up the real meaning of socialism. But if it was from magic could it be real?
Now I am thinking of the end of Jarman’s film in which Elisabeth Welch sings Stormy Weather. Appropriate, I think, for struggling socialists responding to the direction that Labour has decided to take.
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