Socialism 2013   5 comments

socialism 2013 tickets

Why, Comrades* may well ask, is such a markedly bourgeois* group as the Hash House Harriers (and in particular an event as hedonistic as their Red Dress Run) represented in a post about the annual meeting of UK socialists? Well, I didn’t shoot many photos at Socialism 2013 and I wanted to fill the space here.


More to the point, one of the fellows in the crowd mentioned his web site, Socialist Meme Caucus, dedicated to co-opting capitalist imagery for radical left-wing sloganeering. It’s actually pretty cool, but it also reminded me of getting tempted to do the promotional materials for the Tucson RDR in 2007; without any real ideas I honed in on Red and dragged (no pun intended) out some of my books on Cold War and Revolutionary iconography to produce the posters seen here.


It was a good set of meetings this year (after the disappointing Socialism 2012) and I went to sessions on developing a viable Socialist movement in America (“the belly of the beast”), Art and Revolution, and on the “No2EU” Party running for European Parliament.

No2EU was new to me and is trying to block UKIP and steal their followers by showing them that their concerns about sovereignity needn’t be xenophobic or downright racist and that financial concerns at home can be best dealt with without the pro-business troika that the EuroParl has become. Very interesting bit of chat and debate followed.


At the start of Art and Revolution there was an image of Picasso’s Guernica projected on screen. Due to a confusing agenda, some members looking for a session about fracking had wandered in and stayed until the opening remarks. On leaving, one fellow in the crowd remarked that the Guernica picture might have thrown them off because “that looks like our future if fracking goes ahead.”


The talk was earth shattering although I saw some images that prompted me to read more about the artists and architects responsible. Again, the post talk chat was much more imformative and really quite amusing. One guy, who goes by the stage name of Antidorean Battalion, talked about doing guerilla stand-up: getting booked into non-comedy and non-leftist venues then coming out and doing his shtick.

Really looking forward to next year.



*Almost everyone referred to the folks in the venue as “Comrade” or in the third person as “the Comrade.” It is probably being brought up in America in the 60’s (and on heavily US Department of Defense funded building sites my dad managed overseas) that makes this so awkward sounding to me; however, Jackie has the same issue and can only say it in a condescending or ironic manner.

However, here there has always been a strong Red presence. Alexei Sayle, one of my favourite comic performers, writes of his childhood holidays spent across the Iron Curtain on working farms and Workeers Collectives and in Eastern Bloc holiday camps. It is certainly not so foreign or odd to people here so I hold my tongue and refer to everyone respectfully but without a sex-neutral title.

socialism 2013 notebook credentials

Bourgeoisie is a little more trying. The working class is heavily represented, and in the big picture the two of us are that as well (Jackie growing up genuinely poor and me starting my working life on a dairy toiling for adult wages to pay board to my family from the age of 12). However, we are a bourgeois version of the working class and like pretty things of which we have more than can really be justified. One fellow said, on another topic, that if the system can’t suppress it then it will appropriate it and we are as guilty of being bought (if not selling out) as anyone.

The point here is that a lot of the Socialists I saw in the place, while passionate, informed, and sincere were also obviously solidly middle class. I’m glad they are there and I’m glad they are welcome because I feel less an outsider for my own mobility into the middle classes. But, there is something absurd listening to railings against the bourgeoisie coming out of a head coiffed with an 80 quid haircut.

birkbeck college shield

The meeting was at the U of London Union, adjacent to Birkbeck College London who have “dope,” appropriately enough, right in their coat of arms

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