How Irvine Welsh's Youth Shaped His Politics

Irvine Welsh: Well, you realize what a rough deal kids have today. They have such a crap time, basically kind of totally have to achieve, you have to go on, you have to sort of be a certain kind of level by the time, at a certain age and all that sort of thing. I think we just had that kind of freedom we could… we did all [issues] in the best way, but we had that kind of freedom that we could express ourselves we had the opportunity to do that. And it was just… I think that, I kind of think it does kind of… it doesn’t [police] your politics because I think, in the ‘80s, when you saw that whole thing being built up, kind of being taken away by Thatcher who kind of basically stopped all the grants for students, sold all the council… the high [amenity] council houses.

We had the fist ghettos start to be formed in Britain in the old council schemes. Basically kind of introduced [massive] employment and, at the same time, kind of heroin was imported into Britain in a massive scale and other drugs. So, you saw everything just falling apart around the seams of it and I think that things like the miner’s strike, and particular sort of the [framework of the miner’s strike], these were kind of pivotal things. And basically what happened was that the ruling classes actually just won the class war in Britain. That’s what really happened.

And you actually saw it you can see it happen before [IB] and during the miner’s strike, you saw this was basically a kind of, a way of life that the working classes in Britain have fought for over the years and it just wasn’t seen as sustainable by the powers that be and a kind of… an economy and society, it was gearing up for globalization. So it was basically smashed by fairly violent means with a state that was kind of tooled up to a degree that have never been before and that’s continued now. The State in Britain is such a powerful kind of mechanism. And the Unions was smashed and Britain became, basically, the Labor Party, which was kind of had a radical socialist element was completely circumvented and has become very much the same as it’s… because ever a party just a mark to sort of part of your business. And so, you saw all that happen, and so I think, I think that does influence your politics and that’s kind of very influenced my politics as well. But the weird thing was that so many people from my social [IB] and class and all, they actually thought we’re one of the people that would kind of go to the wall when all this happened, all this kind of Thatcher like stuff that I could… ‘Cause I was virulently opposed to it, and still am, but I was… The embarrassing paradox for me, that I was this sort of person who thrived in that kind of thing.

And it was strange because I found that I got on all right and I kind of made a lot of money, I made a fair bit of money in property development and I kind of I got a few promotions at work and I kind of got into kind of well paid managerial jobs. So it was strange that I actually kind of swam rather than sunk, and I didn’t think I would. I didn’t think I had that kind of view of it, but I thought my kind of world view would hold me back, but it actually enhanced… I think, coming from that socialist background I think gave you a kind of, having that kind of world view, I think, was a bit of strong thing to have going into the ‘80s.

It kind of equipped you for success rather than failure from it because most of the people that were kind of the hardcore punks tended to be the ones that did quite well, I think, in the ‘80s.

 

Recorded on: September 8, 2008

 

Irvine Welsh saw Thatcher and the ruling class win the class war.

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less