The negative capability of James O’Brien

Whether he knows it or not, LBC radio presenter James O’Brien demonstrates “negative capability”. On a radio station where there is a clear right-wing bias, he ploughs his own furrow, often thinking aloud and inviting people to phone in and enlighten him. The best example of this was his support for the tube workers strike, and this week’s discussion about the dangers to health of having to work night shifts. It is genuinely exciting to hear such words from an unlikely place, and, perhaps thanks to him, 52% of LBC listeners, yesterday, registered their support for the strike.

Paradoxically, it is the lack of a clear ‘ideological’ position that gives his argument power: a contract is a contract, and an employer has no right to change your terms and conditions without your say so. O’Brien also notes that, over recent decades, there has been a subtle, yet definite shift towards families requiring two wage-earners, to replicate a similar material standard that previously only required one.

Powerful insights, and all without the aid of ‘autonomous’ Marxism or concepts such as the ‘boundless imposition of work’–Dave