This blog doesn't usually do poetry - see Cactus Mouth Informer for a poetry overdose - but I got a message via MySpace from an Irish poet, Kevin Higgins, advertising his latest collection, 'Time Gentlemen, Please', and I like what I've read of his poetry so far.
I'm guessing that Kevin contacted the unofficial Socialist Standard MySpace page because he spotted the 'S' word.
As he writes:
"Several of the poems deal with my own past experience as a member of Militant from 1982-94 and throw some critical and satirical light of the Left as it was and has become – the title of one of the poems being My Militant Tendency - while others attempt to deal with the political situation now."
If this interview from the Galway Advertiser is anything to go by, it appears that he has travelled quite a distance from his political past:
“From the age of 15 to 27 I was an active Trotskyist,” he says. “I was the leader of the anti-poll tax campaign in the London Borough of Enfield when I lived there. From the age of 27 until, say, 38, a couple of years ago I thought it was a pity socialism was clearly now not going to happen. I was in a kind of mourning, I suppose. But now I think that, for all its faults, the society we have is far preferable to anything the ‘comrades’ would bring, were they, Lord protect us, ever to stumble into power.”
I'm not using this an opportunity to have a dig at the Millies. It's his take on his former comrades, and obviously plays some (small) part in the poetry he now writes and, to be honest, it's not the first time that I've read (or heard) a former Millie voice their concerns in such terms. I don't think it's a peculiarity of that version of the Fourth International. I'd venture that it's part and parcel of the whole Leninist tradition and, anyway, any politics which mistakenly roots itself in substitutionism should always carry a health warning.
And I'm also self-aware enough to see I wee bit of my youthful self in this poem:
My Militant Tendency
It's nineteen eighty two and I know everything.
Hippies are people who always end up asking
Charles Manson to sing them another song.
I'd rather be off putting some fascist through
a glass door arseways, but being fifteen,
have to mow the lawn first. Last year,
Liverpool meant football; now
it's the Petrograd of the British Revolution.
Instead of masturbation, I find socialism.
While others dream of businessmen bleeding
in basements; I promise to abolish double-chemistry class
the minute I become Commissar. In all of this
there is usually a leather jacket involved. I tell
cousin Walter and his lovely new wife, Elizabeth,
to put their aspirations in their underpants
and smoke them; watch
my dad's life become a play:
Sit Down In Anger.