Posts Tagged ‘China Miéville’
Is this the Shortest Lived Left group ever?
“I shall eat grass and die in a ditch in the brown water where dead leaves have rotted”.
Not from Richard Seymour, China Miéville, and Magpie Corven and other comrades’ resignation letter from the International Socialist Network (ISN).
Which is here (with helpful comments “intercalated” as Seymour would put it),
To the SC and our comrades in the ISN
With great regrets, we are resigning from the ISNetwork. Many of us were involved in the setting up of the network, and we are very sad that it has come to this. We remain in full solidarity with ISN comrades, and look forward to working with them on campaigns.
Despite the repeated characterisation of us as a ‘right bloc’ (Note: heavens what is the world coming to?) , we do not represent any unified political position beyond our concerns about both the political direction and internal culture of the ISNetwork. It has been clear for some time that our critiques put us in a minority: contrary to a common smear, we have always been willing to argue from this position, and welcomed this political debate. However, there has been an increasing breakdown of trust between us and various leading members of the organisation. It is now clear that we are not welcome in the ISN (Note: But very welcome Chez Tendance Coatesy which we hope you will soon join in our “rotten iqudationist bloc”)
One of us is a woman sex-worker and bdsm practitioner. After many years of self imposed isolation from politics, she believed she had finally found a space where even those comrades who disagreed with her positions would discuss controversial topics of sexuality and desire in respect and comradeship. Instead she has been browbeaten, patronised, marginalised and moralised against, and the topics she wishes to discuss with her comrades dismissed as, in the words of one SC member, self-evidently ‘sordid.’ She has been made to feel so unwelcome that she feels forced to leave the SC and ISN.
The SC has put out a statement strongly implying racism and claiming ‘inappropriate’ argumentative techniques against three of our members. We entirely reject these insinuations and urge anyone interested to examine the threads in question here & “comment currently unavailable” (Note: we wonder why…) and judge for themselves.
That they are over a controversial and charged topic -and one on which the signatories to this letter do not necessarily agree- is not in doubt: however, if there is a single statement made by any comrade that can reasonably be judged ‘inappropriate’, let alone racist, we urge their accusers to state it (Note: be warned, as a reader who enjoys Lacan and Judith Butler and can be seen flipping through a copy of Spinoza on a sunny day – this is hard, hard going).
It is claimed, on the basis of a leaked email thread (Note: Tush!) of a private conversation, that we have been politically dishonest, and set out to split or even destroy the network.
This is wholly untrue (Note: well said!) . As has been made clear in this week’s bulletin, we had intended to launch a platform within the IS Network in order to argue for our position. However, recent events had given us an increasing sense that we might not be able to remain members, due both to legitimate political differences and to the personalised politics of vituperation at the brunt of which we have felt.
Accordingly – as is explicitly allowed in the ISN constitution – we have been discussing among ourselves to work out how best to argue our position within the network, our chances, and our contingency strategies if we felt unable to continue.
At issue here is not just the conduct or content of recent discussions or even the political direction of the ISN, but the question of making a habitable culture of discussion on the Left. When some of us recently wrote an article criticising a politics of anathema within the ISN, we were derided by opponents who denied any such thing exists (Note: how very true, how very very true).
Unfortunately, it does. One SC member has recently publicly insisted that ‘no one is being targeted personally’. The very same SC member recently seconded a denouncement on Facebook, by another SC member, of several of us as ‘arrogant fucks’ and ‘bad rubbish’ to whom ‘good riddance’ (Note: a disgrace the overweening toe-rag twats!).
One leading member expressed a desire on Facebook to strangle one of us – referring to her as a ‘nauseating tosser’ – and not one of the SC members to whom she said this suggested it was an inappropriate comment to make (Note: and they use such discourse well I mean, what can you discursively intersectionalise?).
Several SC members openly expressed their agreement with a status referring to us as ‘parasites’ (Note: there is no room for such language in the workers’ movement!).
Another SC member wrote ‘they should count themselves lucky they haven’t been expelled’ – particularly galling to two of the ‘Facebook Four’ involved in our thread. There are further examples, but this culture is one in which we can no longer work: we also would like comrades to consider whether left organisations can hope to attract a new generation of members if they treat each other in this way.
We look forward to working in a left culture that has ended certain practices inherited from the SWP. These include moralistic browbeating; the implicit claim that various controversial topics are inappropriate for discussion; that certain comrades can not be argued with on them; and that dissenters from these nostrums deserve to be attacked in personalised terms.
We know many ISN members look forward to this with similar enthusiasm (Note: indeed we do!).
“There is some check in the flow of my being; a deep stream presses and some obstacles; it jokes; it toys; he in the centre resists.”
“My attitude is one of defiance. I am fearless. I conquer.”
Not the words of Richard Seymour.
More comment here .
Defend the Seymourites!
For an International Workers’ Inquiry!
St Matthew’s Street Station. A Basse-Lag Christmas Tale.
The latest Tower Rampart Worker was rubbish, thought Merk. On the front-page was the news that sales of the paper had been “brilliant” at a Unite the Unite Meeting, and that three Cactae/Cacti had joined. He turned to Travailleur Hebdo. In thick print they denounced the ‘Ramp’ Central Committee’s “bureaucratic centralism” and the formation of the 214th ‘Democratic Opposition’ to the CC. Comrade Dream-Weaver Alex’s predictions of permanent revolution in New Ipswich came in for some stick.
Merk had no more time to look through the left press. It was the Yule Eve. He had three days off from his job tending the Sphagnum Moss Garden on top of the Waterfront University. There was an illegal bottle of cold Vodka, but no truffles, in the fridge….
Outcast Oliphant-people grew the tubers just outside the City. They brought them to the market to sell, by stalls offering pungent curry-wurst, kaki fruit, and piles of ruby-olives. He would have to go there as soon as possible.
The route from Merk’s flat passed by the HQ of Mayor Benedict the 2nd.Twenty stories high the lower floors were decked in video-posters of the Municipal Chief and his Deputy, Andrew ‘Coco’. They read, The Community Program Makes Free! In the narrow road a gang of the unemployed was cleaning the pavement with tooth brushes. A small child was watching them, clearly terrified.
On the Corn Hill there were no traders. A rally was taking place. On the steps of the old City Hall the leader of the Progressive English Patriots, a Remade with a twisted mouth cut out of a large pumpkin head, was holding forth. He caught only a few lines. “The Malignant Cult of the Absent Without Leave – AWL …” he ranted, lips covered with spittle. “I scorn their pathetic minions…” “We need a Wall, an anti-Fascist Wall, to stave off …” So this was the New Man!
Merk would have laughed. But on the edges of the tiny audience hovered, menacingly, the Patriots’ Allies, the Green Shorts militia of Lord George ‘Gallows’ Spode.
At 15 o’clock there was still time to get the fungi. It was too expensive to take a sky-taxi and the Montgolfière was too slow. Yet St Matthew’s Street Station was not far away. It would take him to directly to the Oliphants. The Subway at the Roundabout led to the intersection of the Meridional Line to London, and the Septentrional Line to their Tuddenham settlement. The Moss Gardner bought a cheap return Metro ticket and was soon on the way.
The Underground came to the surface at Westerfield. The train paused at the crossing with the Lowestoft railway to let pass a long succession of Goods Wagons, carrying prisoners to the Kessingland Holiday Camp. The Mayor had ordered a pre-Yule vagrant-sweep of the streets. The Official City Paper, the Ipswich Stella, had said that they were to undergo mentoring and training. Rumours in the last two local pubs where drinks stronger than 3% were permitted were already circulating that another batch of undesirables were to be ‘remade’. The groans from the rail carriages did not indicate much enthusiasm at this prospect.
Merk alighted at the village. The Oliphant Greenhouses were stacked along the side of the Finn Valley, gleaming in the winter sun. There was no sign of anybody selling their produce. He would have walked into the market gardens. But warning against this were notices saying, “Private Property. Trespassers will be Eradicated.”
How could he get the truffles? Obviously, one could ask a villager. In front was the Holy Lamb Inn, where caffeine free espresso, soda drinks and warm real ale (not more than 1%!)” were for sale. From the whooping sounds and ‘Praise the Lords’ there must be a prayer meeting going in inside. Merk was registered under the new ‘religious registration law’ as a non-believer. He would not approach the Tavern.
While pondering this somebody came out of the Lamb. He was grey, tallish and wore unusually heavy spectacles, but all that Merk registered was that he had a large snake coiled around him, and he was uttering “I am Healed” It was hard not to recognise Vek, the Holy Roller, who had stood on the Benedict Slate for the last election and had finally won Gippeswick Ward after 20 years of standing. Vek cried out, “The Lord’s a-comin’, it’s the Rapture!”
It was at this moment that the heavens split asunder and the Interplanetary Revolutionary Communist-Marxist Federation sent down its ships to liberate the City of Ipswich….
Document original received in Rendlesham Forest Sunday 19th of December 2012.
China Miéville is undoubtably a genius.
I was going to write the usual Coatesy 200 page Blog with 50 pages of footnotes and references.
Instead I will simply say this:
To cite Wikipedia on the later:
Judah’s story begins some twenty years before the novel’s opening. Judah was hired as a railroad scout for New Crobuzon, charged with mapping terrain, and informing the land’s inhabitants of the railroad’s coming. While doing so, Judah spends time with the Stiltspear, a race of indescribable creatures who can disguise themselves as trees and conjure golems, living creatures made from unliving matter. Judah attempts to warn the Stiltspear away, but they won’t listen and he must settle for making a few recordings and beginning to learn their golemetric arts. Eventually, he returns to the railroad, which does indeed wipe out the Stiltspear. Shortly afterward, Judah, a prostitute named Ann-Hari, and a Remade named Uzman lead a revolution in which the rail workers drive the overseers away, free the Remade, and hijack the train, transforming it into a moving socialist dwelling.
The division between Besźel and Ul Qoma in The City and the City could be said to be an extended reflection on ethnic divisions.
.His latest book, Embassytown Embassytown takes place in the title city, on the planet Arieka. Immerser Avice Benner Cho can speak the language of the Hosts; those who can are genetically-engineered linguists known as Ambassador.
It could be said to be an extended reflection on this:
“..the diversity of idioms on earth prevents everybody form uttering the words which otherwise, at one single stroke, would materialise as truth.”
Stéphane Mallarmé, as cited by Walter Benjamin.
This may be a guess but since I think China knows Esther Leslie I think not.
The Runagate Rampant (which figures in the triology which began with Perdito Street and ends with Iron Council) quotes Rosa Luxemberg (without citing her name):
Luxemburg’s last known words, written on the evening of her murder, were about her belief in the masses, and in what she saw as the inevitability of revolution:
“The leadership has failed. Even so, the leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were on the heights; they have developed this ‘defeat’ into one of the historical defeats which are the pride and strength of international socialism. And that is why the future victory will bloom from this ‘defeat’.
‘Order reigns in Berlin!’ You stupid henchmen! Your ‘order’ is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will already ‘raise itself with a rattle’ and announce with fanfare, to your terror:
I was, I am, I shall be!”