Showing posts from August, 2008


It was a typically British August
Days filled with boredom and rain.
Nothing much was happening
On the day the censors came.

Under a no smoking poster I wanted a cigarette
Thinking of thoughtcrime and shame
I didn’t have a light on me
On the day the censors came.

The struggle against forgetting
Like a gnawing rat in the brain
I wanted to drown out the sound of the doorbell
On the day the censors came

It was a day for laughter and pretending
Things always stay the same
A day for drunken theatrics
The day that the censors came.



The precipitate and reckless rush to recognise Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence by the US and the majority of EU states was always going to have implications far outside that province. In a world dotted, like a bad case of acne with would be breakaway provinces and embryonic nation states, the precedent did not go unnoticed. The world became a little more unstable.

Now the expulsion of Milosevic’s army from Kosovo represented a real progress in the struggle against the bloody processes of ethnic nationalism. Moreover those, usually characterising themselves as being on the left, who opposed the NATO intervention would have left Kosovo to the mercy of Milosevic entailing further ethnic cleansing and a brutal and bloody long term guerrilla war.
However the status of Kosovo represented a complex problem with a variety of possible solutions and timetables for those solutions, outright independence at this time probably the least desirable. The Russians with a long history of …


The news this morning is filled with the death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. We are told that it was he who blew the gaff on the horrors of the Soviet System, the camps, the terror, the insanity of an ideology gone mad.
Now I am an admirer of Solzhenitsyn’s courage, if not his reactionary politics, he was at the end of his life after all a very narrow Russian nationalist. Though given his life experience and what he suffered I am in truth no position to make a judgement.
However the idea that he was the ‘first’ to expose the hideous lie that was Stalinism is itself untrue. There were others.
Out of the writing that emerged from the moral abyss of Stalin’s Soviet Union several books stand out, Vasily Grossman’s ‘Life and Fate,’Anotoli Rybakov’s ‘Children of the Arbat,’ and an extraordinary insightful book ‘The Case of Comrade Tulayev,’ by Victor Serge.
Serge’s life story almost exactly parallels that of the European Left from 1900 to 1945. (Only perhaps Arthur Koestler shares a remotely simil…