"But in the Seventies, policies moved to the forefront. 'Single issue' parties and movements emerged, their constituencies shaped by a variable geometry of common concerns: often narrowly focused, occasionally whimsical. Britain's remarkably successful Campaign for Real Ale is a representative instance: founded in 1971 to reverse the trend to gaseous, homogenized 'lager' beer (and the similarly homogenized, 'modernized' pubs in which it was sold), this middle-class pressure group rested its case upon a neo-Marxist account of the take-over of artisanal beer manufacture by mass-producing monopolists who manipulated beer-drinkers for corporate profit - alienating consumers from their own taste buds by meretricious substitution.
In its rather effective mix of economic analysis, environmental concern, aesthetic discrimination and plain nostalgia, CAMRA foreshadowed many of the single-issue activist networks of years to come, as well as the coming fashion among well-heeled bourgeois-bohemians for the expensively 'authentic'. But its slightly archaic charm, not to mention the disproportion between the intensity of its activists' engagement and the tepid object of their passion, made this single-issue movement necessarily somewhat quaint.
But there was nothing whimsical or quaint about other single-issue political networks, most of them - like CAMRA - organized by and for the middle class. [...goes on to various Scandanavian single issue, tax-reduction protest parties.]"
Tony Judt is evidently a non-beer specialist - he would have known not to be so specific as to describe "the trend to gaseous, homogenized 'lager' beer" when in fact gaseous, homogonised ale was the main object of ire, with lager as a side-show of little, but growing, consequence. Nonetheless, this Pulitzer Prize runner-up does seem to supporting my recent theme about CAMRA's non-explicit Marxist perspective.
The author's suggestion that CAMRA has been "remarkably successful" needs some attention. After all, cask ale's market share hasn't changed much in 35 years. CAMRA's frequent pre-emptive defence is to claim that cask ale would have died out (the Marxist big-business-always-swallows-small tenet) without them. This is difficult to prove or disprove, but its worth remembering the American beer market: from 10 to 1600 craft breweries since 1980, all without the benefit of a self-appointed campaigning organisation but with the benefit of not being encumbered by the tie system.
The author needs some serious educating on "the tepid object of their passion". Hmm.
[If you haven't read them already, I strongly urge you to get hold of
"Beer: The Story of the Pint" by Martyn Cornell (alias "Zythphile") and "Beer and Britannia" by Peter Haydon. ]