Tag: Marxist

Epitaph for an enemy

Saturday, 27 April, 2019

The Anglo-Irish poet Cecil Day-Lewis (or Day Lewis) was born on this day in 1904. Along with being the father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis, celebrity chef Tamasin Day-Lewis and critic Sean Day-Lewis, he was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death in 1972. “The poet’s inverted snobbery in dropping the hyphen in his name on his publications (beginning in 1927) has been a source of trouble for librarians and bibliographers ever since,” is how his biographer at the Poetry Foundation puts it.

Cecil Day-Lewis became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1935 and he practiced the Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist faith until the early 1950s. He renounced it in 1960 and his detective story, The Sad Variety (1964), written using the pseudonym Nicholas Blake, is a derisive portrayal of doctrinaire communists and their role in the brutal suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising. While the works of his poetic friends Auden and Spender have endured the test of time, his own verse has faded. The visceral sentiment at the heart of Epitaph for an Enemy continues to pulsate, however.

Epitaph for an Enemy

You ask, “What sort of man
Was this?”
— No worthier than
A pendulum which makes
Between its left and right
Involuntary arcs
Proving from morn to night
No contact anywhere
With human or sublime —
A punctual tick
A mere accessory of Time

His leaden act was done
He stopped, and Time went on.

Cecil Day-Lewis (1904 – 1972)

The enemy

Mourning the silencing of normblog

Tuesday, 22 October, 2013 0 Comments

On 21 August this year, Norman Geras posted a blog entry titled “Jack Geras 1912—2013,” and wrote: “My father died this afternoon. Out of respect for his memory I will be observing a brief silence here over the coming days.” He completed the entry by reposting a tribute he had written in 2012 on the occasion of his father’s hundredth birthday. Last Friday, 18 October, Jenny Geras (Norman’s daughter) posted an entry titled “Norman Geras: 1943—2013,” and wrote: “I am very sad to announce that Norm died in Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning. Writing this blog, and communicating with all his readers, has brought him an enormous amount of pleasure in the last ten years. I know that since writing here about his illness earlier in the year he received a lot of support from many of you, and that has meant a great deal to him, and to us, his family. The blog and all its archives will remain online.”

The news stunned an international community of people who had come to admire his integrity and activity over the years. “Norman Geras — professor emeritus of government at Manchester University, philosopher, cricket fan, country music lover, Marxist, liberal socialist, democrat, political blogger behind the influential Normblog — has died of cancer aged 70,” began the obituary in the Guardian. To her credit, Eva Garrard added this:

“From his perspective, the response to the events of 11 September 2001 was appalling. He found the readiness of many to blame the US for bringing the terrorist attack down on its own head to be intellectually feeble and morally contemptible. He argued that this section of the left was betraying its own values by offering warm understanding to terrorists and cold neglect to their victims. He detested the drawing of an unsupported and insupportable moral equivalence between western democracies and real or proposed theocratic tyrannies in which liberty of thought and speech, and the protection of human rights, would play no part. Norm wanted to engage in this debate and not just with academics. So he went online, to provide himself with a space in which he could express these and other views, and Normblog was born.”

Rainy Day did not share Norm’s Marxist views, but we did agree wholeheartedly with his courageous defence of the West, his staunch support for Israel and his energetic condemnation of the cowardice of the liberal media in the face of Islamist barbarism. “Much of the so-called antiwar movement seems only to protest against wars waged by the US, Britain and Israel; wars waged by dictatorial regimes, whether externally, or internally against sections of their own population, don’t spur it to the same oppositional passion or mobilization,” wrote Norm, calling out the hypocrites with the inimitable clarity that we’ll sorely miss in the troubling times to come.

Over the years, Norm wrote hundreds of profiles of people he found to be of interest. We were greatly honoured when, on 18 March 2005, normblog profile 78 was devoted to Eamonn Fitzgerald. Norm’s generosity was a measure of the man. His loss is our loss.

Norman Geras

Gay rich and Rich gay

Monday, 21 May, 2012

What became England’s most popular musical of the 18th century, “The Beggar’s Opera“, was written by John Gay and produced by John Rich. The success of their long-running co-operation was said at the time to have made “Gay rich and Rich gay“. With its nursery-rhyme structure, the “How D’You Do” song from “The Beggar’s Opera” […]

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