A master of everything

The title of Bukowski’s second novel is actually stolen property, pilfered by the English, like so much else, from Latin. The implications are worth noting for a factotum is a “master of everything” and in the case of Henry Chinaski this means not just repairing bicycles and factory work, it means gambling, drinking and womanising. Just as Karl Marx viewed production as a sensuous human activity, as much a part of our species-being as it is our alienation, Bukowski seems to take a more literal line – he is production. Henry Chinaski makes his way across the States often penniless … Continue reading

The injustices of merit


“The class war is over. But the struggle for true equality has only just begun” – Tony Blair What would a fair society look like? ‘New Labour’ thought it had the answer: ‘meritocracy’. This is the vision of a society in which the highest rewards go to those who deserve them, unhindered by the barriers of inherited wealth, class and privilege. It will be achieved by ‘equality of opportunity’, an equal start for all, regardless of class, race or creed. In this way the energetic, ambitious and talented reach the top, whatever their origins. This view of a just society … Continue reading