Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap year

Today is the extra day. So, just in case, the answer is, "no".

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Mick Hartley has a nice post about how a particular piece of Chinese art in the British Museum has, inexplicably, always inspired him. It is a peculiar process; whilst walking round a gallery one work can reach out and hold you, say something intimate, and make you unwilling to avert your eyes or walk away.

The last time it happened to me was in Amsterdam when I saw Rembrandt's, The Jewish Bride.

This reproduction does not do it justice. Though the pose is stylised, the faces are complex and full of life. Their touch is light. It is the tenderness that overwhelms; it has the air of a love that is not a dark romantic passion, desperate and adolescent, but a mature companionship with deep roots. It is a gentle and warm picture; I cannot see it without smiling.

The attribution of the subject is debated, though Eliezer Segal thinks that the couple were not only drawn from Amsterdam's Jewish community, but also that he can identify them. It remains speculation.

The next day I visited the Anne Frank House. The poignancy was unbearable. It is not just witness to the destruction of the Jewish community from which Rembrandt had drawn his subjects, but of each individual life, each unique universe, each memory, brutally ripped from existence. And so the painting meant more. It was a way of displaying the common humanity that spits the word, 'liar', in the face of racism.

In 1970, Solzhenitsyn built his Nobel lecture around the following sentence, "One day Dostoevsky threw out the enigmatic remark: "Beauty will save the world". After my trip to Amsterdam, I began to understand why.

One hundred years

Today is the centenary of the birth of my mother. She died six years ago but the 27th of February will be a date that will always carry significance for me. What a century too. Think of life in 1908 and the changes since then. Think of two world wars in one lifetime. We, the post-war generation, have been the lucky ones.

Today is also the anniversary of the formation of the Labour Party, founded originally as the Labour Representation Committee in 1900. That was the year of my father's birth. That generation bequeathed us a legacy, let us hope we do not squander it.

Did the earth move for you too?

Just woken from an early night by an earthquake. It was the biggest I have felt in the UK. It was 5.3 on the Richter Scale with the epicentre in Lincolnshire close to Market Rasen. Not major but scary.

BBC report here. I am still waiting for the first email joke though.

Hakmao has a take on it at the DSTPFW (good comment by Eric) and as for Francis Sedgemore at both the Trots and his place ... Whilst Pootergeek expresses his full sympathy for the victims.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No merit in meritocracy

Shuggy takes on David Kynaston's article about private education, arguing that it is inequality itself, rather the public school system, that is the problem. I am currently enjoying Kynaston's magnificent history of post-war Britain, Austerity Britain, 1945-1951, and this made the article even more disappointing. I am less concerned about the educational arguments, which Shuggy deals with admirably, but with Kynaston's line on equality. He writes:

New Labour learned, perhaps over-zealously, the Thatcherite lesson and rejected the goal of equality of outcome ... Instead, the equality that New Labour privileged was equality of opportunity. "New Labour is committed to meritocracy," Blair pledged a year before coming to power. "We believe that people should be able to rise by their talents, not by their birth or the advantages of privilege."

It was and is a marvellous, inspiring aspiration. ...with New Labour's acceptance of the market having as yet met with no plausible challenge from the left, it is hard to think of a better way of allocating life's prizes.

Now, even ignoring the arguments against meritocracy and the left alternatives to New Labour that he glibly dismisses, this passage is still worrying. He starts by, "perhaps", regretting the Blairite approach, before enthusiastically embracing it. In doing so he joins in a standard New Labour refrain about the incompatibility of equality of opportunity with a broader social equality, a theme that Anthony Giddens elaborated on in his execrable book, The Third Way, and something that Shuggy takes issue with.

What I would argue is that these are not mutually incompatible concepts, but that equality of opportunity is contingent on broader social equality. On top of which, the phrase "equality of outcome" is, in itself, a crude and simplistic generalisation of more sophisticated notions of justice and equality. So, instead of being an "inspiring aspiration", the concentration on equality of opportunity marks the abandonment of any egalitarian concept of social justice. It is an historic departure for the Labour Party, but a convenient one. After all, if equality no longer matters, one is relieved of the burden of confronting the interests of the rich. Rather a curious position for a social democratic party to take.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fun without ferrets

Back after a weekend of over indulgence in rural Worcestershire. Available local entertainment consisted of a choice between a Motown disco and ferret racing. Sitting in with much wine won the day.

Obsessions are strange things; we raced back to get to Rochdale in time for Rochdale Hornets v Swinton and after a dire first half it seemed as if the ferret racing would have been a better choice. Then the teams decided to serve up a second-half thriller. A four-try blitz gave Swinton a seemingly comfortable lead. Rochdale came back and, with only a few minutes remaining, went in at the corner to go ahead by two points. It looked like yet another disappointment for the Lions. Then, with the last play of the game, Hawkyard lifted a high kick to the corner, Saywell got there just before the opposing winger, agonisingly juggled with the ball twice, before finally gathering it in and plunging over the line for the winning try.

This is the magic of sport. Utterly irrational I know, but what else could get a middle aged fat man leaping about like a lunatic in a sparsely populated stand on a cold Sunday afternoon in Rochdale? And I am still smiling on a Monday morning.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I have always thought that history is, at heart, a literary subject. Here George Szirtes, author of some of the most sumptuous prose in the blogosphere, reflects on the poetry of exile.

But the past has made you. All exiles carry ghosts within them, those ghosts of first things, first real things, the ghosts of primary worlds. The smell of walls, the half-recognised noise outside the window, the taste of a madeleine. It is not nostalgia (if only it were so simple!) it is life crowding up from the back as well as from the front. People don't like it because the past carries obligation and responsibility with it. It can shrink you and bend you. If you don't want obligations and responsibilities and fear being shrunk and crippled you won't want much to do with the past.

And for me, this is history. The past has made us and the historian, like the poet, seeks it out and shudders at the responsibility that knowledge brings. This too is the theme of Christopher Hitchens' brilliant review that deals with the malign spirit of anti-Semitism, now rising from the stinking sewers of the past. It is the obligation that Deborah Lipstadt carried with honour.

Szirtes continues,

There is, most crucially, the ghost in language, the feeling that life haunts language in a ghostlike fashion, glimpsed now here, now there, offering a shudder here, a shudder there, but that when you put out your hand through the words to grasp it, it escapes you. Your hand passes straight through it.

The poetic enterprise - I have said this so often before - is not to do with prettiness or fancy talk. It aims to be the clearest, plainest speech available given the specific apprehension of specific events. Take a few words jammed together in a pattern that is close to heartbeat and song, and see whether those words can start becoming a house the ghost may enter and inhabit (but it's only a ghost in there, even so!)

And this is what the historian does. From papers and letters; from newspapers, pamphlets and journals; from long forgotten books; we conjure up the ghosts of the past, trying to breathe life into the dead. We fail. The dead are dead after all, but still they haunt us. The myth maker and the 'revisionist' try to exorcise the past through convenient lies; the historian builds an ornate residence for the phantom, so that it can inform the present with its tales. And, rather like Hamlet, we hope and pray that our ghost is telling us the truth.

(Hat tip to Will for the Hitchens and instructions to everyone else - read George's blog daily, it will enrich your lives)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The invisible hand

Last night's Dispatches, How the Banks Bet Your Money and Lost, on Channel 4 was a masterfully edited (OK, by my film making nephew) documentary that clearly explained the credit crunch, Northern Rock and other dodgy aspects of finance for a lay audience. For once, it concentrated on the main losers. No, not listeners to Radio 4's Money Box, but poor, working class Americans who have lost their homes and neighbourhoods.

Watching it, it struck me that, in this case, Adam Smith's famous aphorism should read,

... he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which dumps millions of other people in the shit whilst he keeps the million pound bonuses he is paid for creating the whole mess.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday night

Back in Hull to a temperature of -4. A long drive with the main road closed, meandering round icy lanes across the Wolds to Beverley and then down into the City. The blurred, indecipherable road signs another reminder of passing years and the need for new glasses. I am chilled and need to thaw life from the frosty Yorkshire air with a reminder of the possibility of warmth so ...

Vale Krasi!

Derby day

I am not the sort of person to criticise referees (this is technically known as a lie), but today's Northern Rail cup game between Swinton and Salford is not the time to hold back.

National League 2 Swinton were always facing a thrashing from our local rivals, just relegated from Super League and favourites for the National League 1 title. What I was looking forward to was a spirited performance in front of a big, for us, crowd and a nice day out. We certainly got that when we had the ball, with two good tries, but being on the wrong end of such a one-sided penalty count meant that was a rare occasion and we never had the chance to test our skills. Nothing is more killing in rugby league than prolonged defence; even more so for a part-time side playing full professionals. Possession is vital and we were starved of it. A shame; instead of leaving with a glow of pride, I ended up feeling frustrated.

Ah well, there is always next week. Revenge against Rochdale Hornets is in the offing. You bet I will be there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shock news!

The Guardian reports:

Teenagers from poorer families are turning their backs on a university education because of fears they will be saddled with thousands of pounds of debt, new research shows.

Who'd have guessed it?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We've been here before

The role of the public library, however, is to provide a forum for an open and public exchange of contradictory views and to make materials available that represent a wide range of views, including those that may be considered unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable.

This is how the librarian of Vancouver City Library defended himself against Terry Glavin. Terry's response is magisterial.

I have a more unfashionable view of public libraries. I think they are there to lend books. If there is a subtext, their role would also be to promote the enjoyment of reading, learning and critical thought. I cannot see their mission to be the propagation of lies.

What is staggering about all this is the failure to discriminate. If a public institution thinks that its role is to promote complete bollocks as part of a "range of views" then we are lost. If it cannot discriminate between lies and truth then we sink into a relativist hell.

I do not want to live in a society that bans books, imprisons journalists, persecutes writers and closes down newspapers. In that sense I am a free speech militant. However, we should notice something here. The writers trying to weasel their way to acceptability tell lies and seek to suppress truth. They are the book burners and the censors in the making, using 'intellectual freedom' as a cover. To support free speech is not a neutral act, it is to be a partisan for truth. Above all, it is to be a partisan for humanist values.

Partisans do not meekly surrender to lies. Partisans do not wallow in the fake neutrality of 'balance'. That is cowardice. Partisans contest, challenge and ridicule. They may not ban it, but they treat nonsense with contempt. They refuse to legitimate the vile filth of murderous prejudice, rooted in lies and dripping with irrational hatred. And they most certainly do not allow public institutions to host rabid nonsense in the name of 'free speech'.

Shame on him.


OK. Where are all my cards?


Zionism used to be one of the great left causes. It seems strange to write this now when it is the Palestinian cause that is so fashionable. Today, questioning the assumptions and motives of some anti-Zionists can be uncomfortable and Terry Glavin has become the latest target of their ire. He took on one of the most egregious examples this week in his excellent Vancouver Sun column. It has caused quite a stir amongst the usual unsavoury types. These days, as I look out at left anti-Zionism I see a landscape shrouded by the shadows of crematoria, and I shudder.

There is an urgent case for justice for the Palestinians. It is the case articulated in various ways by peace movements both inside and outside Israel. The dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees has never been addressed, neither has the Palestinian State, as envisaged in the 1947 UN partition plan, been created. The occupation continues. The argument for a two state solution is overwhelming. Yet somehow all this is obscured by a determined, dangerous and futile attempt to question the legitimacy of the State of Israel, rather than support the search for a settlement.

How did some of the left fall for this, especially as they seemed so oblivious to the Palestinian case before the 1970's? Part of the answer lies in the successful re-branding of the PLO as an oh so fashionable anti-colonial national liberation movement. This enabled the romanticisation of Palestinians as the vanguard of a new revolutionary class in the developing world, promoting the seductive call for a "secular, democratic state of Palestine", a piece of sophistry in reality meaning the abolition of Israel.

There was, however, a logical flaw in their position. If Palestinian nationalism constituted a progressive national liberation movement, what of Zionism? Is it not the national liberation movement of the oppressed Jewish people, as an earlier left had viewed it? Is it not progressive too? The process of the denial of legitimacy was an answer to this dilemma.

I have waded through a lot of this unimpressive guff - Zionism as racism, colonialism, apartheid etc.; Zionism being illegitimate as it was a diaspora nationalism - the justifications for denying Israel's legitimacy were varied and, above all, political. There was a subtext, but it remained buried.

Then something else that Terry mentions was added to the brew. In 1976 Arthur Koestler published a contentious book, The Thirteenth Tribe. The Khazar myth was reborn. Koestler's reputation as a great writer had been established by Darkness at Noon and so the book received considerable publicity. However, by now he was dabbling in the paranormal and was attracted to outlandish theories. This one, that European Jews were not descended from the original Hebrews but from the Turkic Khazars, provided a bridge from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism. Now it was possible to oppose Israel not just on political grounds but on ethnic ones too. The subtext could come to the surface.

Ethnic de-legitimation began to merge with European conspiracy theory. If Jews had no ethnic claim to their state how could they be anything other than the dark creatures of anti-Semitic myth? After all had they not usurped the legitimate Semitic inhabitants? Why had they come to steal the land? Surely it was a part of a plan for world domination as the shadowy Jewish lobby began to control American foreign policy. This insane and sinister 'logic' infected the left and the growing Islamist movement. Their alliance was just one sign of a left distaste for Israel and for Jews. Anti-Zionism was a device for articulating, whether consciously or unconsciously, an anti-Semitic discourse.

The justified demands of the Palestinian people for their national rights require engagement with the politics of mutual recognition, with compromise as well as restitution, and acting in partnership with Israel whose permanence and legitimacy is fully accepted. Instead, the left anti-Zionists offer the politics of annihilation. It is a politics that could drown the Middle East in blood. It offers the Palestinians the chimera of victory and the certainty of a catastrophic defeat. Such a disaster would, of course, reinforce the smug self-righteousness of those convinced of Israel's intrinsic wickedness.

When will this left wake up and abandon these dangerous fantasies? When will they engage with the wishes of the Palestinian people and support the peace movements and peace process? When will they jettison their alliance with Jihadi organisations? The moment they do we can start to recover a left that can speak for the rights of all, as well as a left that wishes to defeat fascism rather than cuddle up to it.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Freens in Springburn reports a murder. Adult Education in Edinburgh lies bleeding, its life seeping away. The perpetrators are widely expected to get away with it.


If anyone doubts the continuing media legitimacy of prejudice against us fatties, try reading this tosh by India Knight in the Sunday Times about an authoritative study showing a genetic predisposition to obesity.

The arrogance is stunning:

"I hate to blithely dismiss a whole swathe of scientific findings but I don’t believe a word of this"

In other words, 'hard empirical fact isn't as important as my precious prejudices because I am a Times columnist and therefore I must be far more knowledgeable than teams of researchers who have spent thousands of hours doing detailed peer-reviewed research'.

Apart from that, it is all here - "you can choose to be fat or choose to be normal"; the hideous crap about not seeing "fat Ethiopians", which not only stereotypes Africa, but displays her amazing insight that malnutrition makes you thin (and die of course, though she seems to think that being fat is worse); "being fat is as much a mental state as a physical one" - see my earlier post on Gina Kolata's book; and so on...

Then comes the crunch. She has written a diet book and runs a "support" web site. Yep. She is making money out of encouraging fat people to feel miserable about themselves, telling them that they are lazy, making them feel abnormal. She is part of the gross exploitation that is the diet industry, made ever more sanctimonious by her own weight loss (and I bet it all goes back on again).

There is an important debate to be had on the scientific research into obesity, but this article is the opposite. Anti-scientific prejudice, moral superiority and commercial self-interest are no substitute for real research.

Thanks Will for pointing out this garbage and giving me the opportunity to feel good about my "reubenesque" (T Glavin) self.

Olly weighs in whilst Francis Sedgemore risks wrath.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Think about it

The late Miles Kington once claimed that the French Navy had come up with a new slogan "To the water! The hour has come!" or in French,
"A l'eau. C'est l'heure!"

It took me a minute or so ...

(Thanks Steve)

Manchester - so much to answer for

My standard line when talking about music was that the best band I ever saw live was the Who, the worst was the Rolling Stones, and the funniest was the Brownsville Banned. The last was always greeted by, "the Brownsville who"?

The story behind this was that when I moved from London to Manchester in 1976 I was looking for entertainment and someone recommended the comedy folk act Bob Williamson, who was on at the Palace. He was blown away by the support, the Brownsvilles - the one and only time I saw them. They were hugely visual so their comedy sadly doesn't survive, but I still remember rocking uncontrollably with laughter. They were loud, inventive and utterly surreal. Williamson's cosy Northern humour bombed after that. It is an evening I have never forgotten.

In the early 80's I moved to Eccles and told my stock story at a party to a drinking pal. And, instead of the usual response, I was greeted with incredulous smiles. It turns out he had been the lead singer. I never knew, though should have guessed. He is pictured here in typical stage costume.

Those surprise brushes with fame are only supposed to happen once. Not this time. I bought the house I still own in Eccles and became friends with the couple over the road. Over a few beers I told the same story. "Oh yes," Barrie replied, "I was their bass guitarist". I had only known him as a dodgy washing machine repair man and a brilliant neighbour.

Eccles is strange town, full of oddballs. The American author Lewis Mumford visited it in the 1950's and, though smitten by the Eccles Cake, left unimpressed.

Wandering about one of Eccle's Victorian suburban estates, I was struck by the fact that the ruling classes, even when they commanded plenty of land and money, had not known how to use these resources to produce a pleasant environment for themselves any more than they had for their workers; at best, they made an art of their ugliness and a virtue of the grime they shared with their poorer neighbours.

This judgement ignores something that can be found in any town or city. Amongst people living in an environment that a Mumford can only see as ugly, run veins of inventiveness, creativity and talent.

Barrie was part of the reformed Brownsvilles, put together after the gig I saw. However, he had also been part of a 60's band that still have a cult following today, Wimple Winch. They were well ahead of their time with a hard edge to their psychedelic sound.

This post was prompted by two things. The first is a growing revulsion at an education system fixated with preparing people for soul-destroying work rather than fostering the talent that can be seen all around us if only we choose to look. The other is more important. Barrie is poorly and in hospital. So this is the way in which I can say get well to him and publicly announce what a good friend and neighbour he has been all these years.

So I will leave you with the only Wimple Winch track on YouTube, "Save my Soul".

More tracks here at this fan site (including "Rumble in Mersey Square South", another one well before its time)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Demonising again

From the Times:

There is no way of verifying the authenticity of either film and the US and Iraqi military both have a vested interest in portraying al-Qaeda in the worst possible light.

Eh? Is there a positive angle to arbitrary mass murder then?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Working class history

I was sad to hear of the death of Ruth Frow. She and her husband Eddie were celebrated Manchester figures. Their obsession with labour history and collecting books led them to found the Working Class Movement Library, an astonishing achievement and a wonderful resource. The library was originally kept in every room of their house in King's Road and was extraordinary to visit. Even their bedroom was filled with bookshelves, with their bed sitting in the middle of the floor. The only spare wall space was taken up with a frame, veiled against sunlight, containing a rare silk scarf depicting the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, originally sold for the relief of the victims. Spanish Civil War banners hung over the bannisters. When age caught up with them, Salford City Council offered to maintain the collection just as the Frows wanted; open to the public rather than buried in a university library.

I used to take adult education students there on annual visits and once did some work myself amongst their papers. Ruth and Eddie were unceasingly kind, patient and helpful, and were even willing to share a frugal lunch. And, as the Guardian obituary makes clear, they were members of the Communist Party. They were members through the Stalin years, through the invasion of Hungary, through the crushing of the Prague Spring; loyal members. At this point Oliver Kamm would be reaching for his worst epithets and calling them the moral equivalent of fascists. Yes, they were "fellow travellers" with Stalinism, yet these bookish people were a million miles away from the horror of the gulags and their hatred of oppression was palpable.

What this says to me is that, though totalitarian theory is an immensely useful tool for analysing types of regimes, ideologies and movements, it does not tell you much about the people who become involved unless you look at the aims and ideals that the movement purports to advance.

I can assure you that I would not have been comfortable in the company of fascists. Fascism celebrates violence, hatred and racism. Fascists also like to practice all three. Communists like Ruth and Eddie thought they were a part of a movement that would bring peace, justice and harmony; one that would end violence, hatred and racism. It is a big difference. They mistook the declaratory purpose for the reality and either blinded themselves to that reality or saw it as an aberration that could be reformed and the ideal restored. This didn't make them bad people. Others set out not only to apologise for Stalinism but to also falsify reality in full knowledge of their deceit and dishonesty. They are the villains of the piece. They are the ones that Orwell coruscates in Homage to Catalonia.

Orwell is back in fashion these days, and rightly so. However, when I read Animal Farm I do not read a book that is anti-revolution or anti-socialist. It is a bitter book about socialism betrayed. The one moment of happiness allowed to the animals is the moment of success when the humans are overthrown and they take over the farm. The tragedy is in the way they lose their freedom once more. Central to the book is the fortitude and dedication of Boxer. The exploitation of his loyalty and his continuing faith do not make him any the less admirable. He is a noble figure and that very nobility makes the cynical brutality of his betrayal even more tear-jerkingly poignant. Before we pass judgement we need to know the difference between horses and pigs.

Whatever their political commitment, the Frows have left a wonderful legacy; a place where people can go and read a collection of more than two centuries of books, pamphlets and journalism. You can read of the victories and defeats, but also of the errors, follies and tragedies, of the movement for working class emancipation. Visit if you can and support it.

Friday, February 01, 2008

McA level English

Section 1. Comprehension.

Read the following extract from the Prime Minister's Office's response to the petition against the ending of institutional funding for people studying for equivalent or lower qualifications:

At the moment there is less of an incentive for institutions to reach out and recruit new talent within the workforce.

Explain clearly a) what on earth this means and b) try and find any way it could possibly justify "the most widely-condemned government education policy of the last 10 years" (S.Hunt).

While you do that I will slink off into middle aged depression.

Francis Sedgemore joins the fray here


Open Democracy has commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of the assassination of Gandhi by publishing two articles, one by Satish Kumar the other by Ramin Jahanbegloo. Both disappoint, though the latter is the better of the two. What they have in common is a breathless reverence rather than a critical examination of someone who remains a substantial historical figure and an interesting theorist. The general "his message for today" line and the "more relevant than ever" argument always tend to verge on the hagiographic and gloss over serious weaknesses, including his catastrophic absolute pacifism in the Second World War.

Reverential articles also tend to obscure the fact that Gandhi was not a one-off but a product of Empire, grafting onto Indian culture not only his British legal training but also a particular 19th Century Western radical political tradition, which was close to variants of Anarchism. (And not the most impressive part of that tradition in my view). One of the most important early influences was Henry Salt who introduced Gandhi to the works of Thoreau. Gandhi's economics were drawn almost exclusively from Ruskin's Unto this Last, whilst the influence of Tolstoy was profound. Tolstoy reinforced Gandhi's asceticism and his unrealistic romanticisation of the peasantry, as well as helping to inspire his non-violence. Gandhi became this intellectual movement's most most spectacular activist, attempting to implement these ideas as part of a national liberation struggle.

The modern relevance of Gandhi is also very much the relevance of this movement to contemporary society, and the legacy is mixed. Take Gandhi's non-violence for example. He always intended it to be more than passive resistance; he saw it as a struggle to discover an immament truth. And it certainly is an important tool of political action, can be effective in some situations, though is rarely as purist as Gandhi intended. Its principled use can break the bloody and savage cycle of action and reprisal that can turn political conflict into mass murder. It can challenge the moral authority of a regime, but without either the disarming or the co-option of the coercive powers of the state it cannot succeed in overturning it. I cannot see it as anything other than ineffective against the sadistic pathology of fascism. Only a properly critical approach can illustrate both the advantages and limits of non-violence (a nice example is this review article by Terry Glavin).

Gandhi's theories of rural development - building prosperity from the bottom up through small-scale appropriate technology and self reliant village communities - may be rooted in an exaggerated claim for the virtues of village life and craft technology but have been shown to be effective in many ways and are near orthodoxy amongst some development agencies. They stand as a corrective and critique of unthinking industrial development, carried out at the expense of the people and the environment. However, the exploitation and degradation of rural areas and communities continues apace; the question of power has not been resolved.

I have read little recent scholarship on Gandhi, so my knowledge of the modern literature is out of date. He still interests, but his ideas, and those of the people he drew from, are ill served by canonisation by uncritical admirers with a Mahatma complex. The radical tradition he transmitted and developed deserves serious critical study rather than hero worship by wishful thinkers.