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Friday, 31 May 2013

Christopher Hitchens Through The Looking Glass: Review of Richard Seymour's 'Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens'

My wife Susan says that I am increasingly given to quoting myself. So, this morning I start with a long quote from me. It's from an essay review of Richard Seymour's vituperative book length assault on the corpse of Christopher Hitchens. The review appears in the just published issue no. 52 of Red Banner magazine. 

Hitchens was upfront about his previous political associations. In the aforementioned memoir he goes into some detail about his recruitment to and membership of “a small, but growing post-Trotskyist, Luxemburgist sect [the International Socialists which became the Socialist Workers Party]”. Hitchens was an active member of said small, but growing sect while a student at Oxford University and for some years after. Until earlier this year Richard Seymour was also a long-standing member of the aforementioned sect. It is true, certainly, that anyone who has followed Seymour’s blog Lenin’s Tomb could not but be aware of his political affiliation. But it would be possible for a newcomer to read his indictment of Hitchens from beginning to end and not be exactly clear about that. 
         A number of the leaders of this political tendency—including one who was apparently recruited to the group by Hitchens—are presented as witnesses for the prosecution in the chapter ‘Christopher Hitchens in Theory And Practice’. Ironically, Seymour has since fallen out with said Hitchens recruit because of a serious scandal which saw a leading member of the group accused of raping a female comrade. The leadership have been accused of covering the issue up, and Seymour has bravely taken to an oppositional barricade. One result of this has been that he, and many of his co-oppositionists, have found themselves outside the fold.
         But when Seymour wrote this book, he was still a true believing member, and happy to quote as reliable witnesses people whose word he clearly, in the light of recent catastrophes, no longer accepts as gospel. The testimony of a serving member of a far left group against someone who has departed the fold is, quite simply, never to be believed. Particularly when it is based in any part on warmed-over anecdotes by old-timers who, dammit, always suspected that deep down he/she was an incurable bourgeois hound from the get-go. It is not enough to say that the ex-member is no good now: it must be proved that he/she was always dodgy. In such a campaign of reputational revision, no smear is inadmissible. The converse is also the case, as Seymour would now no doubt have to agree: if you are a serving leadership loyalist in such a group—and the one in which Hitchens and Seymour served their time is not at all unique in this regard—then even if you happen to have dead children buried beneath a conservatory which you are forever extending when you’re not out selling papers or attending branch meetings, this will not be spoken of. Until you resign your membership. I exaggerate… perhaps. 
          Once the reader knows that the Richard Seymour who wrote this book is several rungs below the jilted ex-husband on the reliability as a witness league table, you can give his case against Hitchens its proper weight.”

You can find out more about Red Banner magazine here http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/left-archive-red-banner-a-magazine-of-socialist-ideas-issue-1-november-1997/

To obtain a copy of the magazine (and read the review in full) see here http://www.redbannermagazine.com/gettingyourcopy.htm

Back in 2008 a seriously aggrieved member of Galway Alliance Against War described me as: "a poor man's Hitchens", which presumably made the (then) very much still alive Christopher Hitchens a rich man's Kevin Higgins. I consider this description entirely unfair, to Christopher Hitchens; I cannot at all hold my alcohol to the degree that he could. This description, however, did subsequently gain currency with some of the more excitable members of The Socialist Party, god rest their souls, who last Autumn - on a variety of online forums - took occasional breaks from talking about Independent  T.D. for Wexford Mick Wallace, to instead fart on about my favourite subject: me.

Hitchens famously debated the Iraq War with George Galloway M.P., pictured below.

Don't be fooled by the bulge, ladies (and those gentlemen so inclined); almost anything would look substantial in that outfit.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

If Only Hell Existed: Colm Keaveney, Frank Prendergast & Stevie Coughlan

Colm Keaveney and friend

The Limerick Pogrom, sometimes called the Limerick Boycott, was an economic boycott waged against the small Jewish community in Limerick City during 1904. It was started by the rantings of Redemptorist priest Father John Creagh.  During the course of the boycott it is estimated that eighty Jewish people were forced to leave their homes. 

You can read more about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerick_Pogrom

The disgusting creep that was Father John Creagh is long dead. It is, to paraphrase what Christopher Hitchens said of Jerry Falwell, unfortunate indeed that there isn’t a Hell for him to burn in eternally.

Fast forward to 1970. Stevie Coughlan was Mayor of Limerick and also a Labour T.D. He was a man famed for his verbal incontinence. Some people liked to describe him as ‘outspoken’; others  preferred to call him that thick shit-head from Limerick.

In a speech, Stevie opened his famed orifice and the following came out: “Father Creagh acted as a Catholic, and I say here and now that he took a very wise step and a very wise move when he created the bank [the Credit Union] with 170 members, and as a result of his action we now have the beautiful credit movement today. The fire must be started - early or late – and it was Father Creagh who started it, to expose these extortionists [i.e. the Jews].

Coughlan went on to describe the Jews of early twentieth century Limerick as: “warble fly bloodsuckers”.  

For more, read this archived article from The Limerick Leader http://www.limerickcity.ie/media/jews%20of%20limerick%2024.pdf

Jim Kemmy demanded that the Labour Party expel Coughlan; the national leadership refused to do so.

Coughlan lost his Dáil seat in the 1977 General Election and is now also, unfortunately, not in Hell.

A few years later, another Limerick Labour candidate, Frank Prendergast, continued this reactionary tradition when he campaigned and was elected on an anti-abortion platform, unseating the pro-choice Jim Kemmy who was by then a T.D. representing Limerick on behalf of his Democratic Socialist Party.

Prendergast supported the 1983 anti-abortion amendment to the constitution; he also voted against the introduction of divorce in 1986.

He was swept away in the 1987 general election but is, unfortunately, still alive. Somewhere in darkest Limerick, Frank Prendergast lurks.

He will no doubt be delighted at the remarks by Labour T.D. for Galway East, Colm Keaveney who today has done his bit to breathe a little life into the rancid corpse that is Labour Catholicism. 

Keaveney has announced that he will be voting against the Government’s X-Case Abortion Legislation. He has never previously said much about the issue. But, now, in the great tradition of Stevie Coughlan and Frank Prendergast, Colm Keaveney has opened his gob and talk has flowed out:

“The main points of concern that I have with the Bill are mainly contained in Head 4 – those relating to the risk of loss of life from self-destruction, i.e. suicide. There are a number of grounds upon which my concerns rest.

The idea that a baby, as anticipated in the Heads of Bill, would be intentionally delivered prematurely, which would leave it at risk of disability, and placed in an incubator under the care of the State is seems somewhat dystopian to me. Minister of State, Alex White, confirmed this understanding during his closing remarks to the Health Committee on Tuesday evening. However, neither he nor the Minister for Health have been able to provide any detail about how the welfare of such infants would be secured, including their welfare into adulthood with any disability that may arise from such an early delivery as is envisaged by this legislation.”

You can read the full article http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/column-i-have-always-considered-myself-pro-choice-but-i-cant-support-the-proposed-abortion-bill-924815-May2013/
 
Perhaps poor Colm has found Jesus on the road to Belclare or in a cheap B&B near Tuam?  Or perhaps he thinks there could be a few votes in this from poor auld eejits who sell rosary beads door to door in Mountbellew?

According to Associated Press when he heard what came out of Colm Keaveney today, Beelzebub fetched Stevie Coughlan, who received the news with ecstasy and celebrated by masturbating over a colour photograph of Father Michael Cleary.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Blowing A Whistle Of My Own

 
Whistleblowers are all the rage. Of course everyone loves the sound of a whistle being blown, except when it's on themselves. This poem is inspired by a corrupt and abusive Community Employment scheme I once worked on. My wife Susan also worked there. The scheme was partly run by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. No joke. Our then 'manager' has for the past nine years, since the collapse of that scheme, been employed on one of FAS's back to work schemes. Yes, nine years. 

To this day, he very actively campaigns against us, though he has little enough effect. There's loads of lefties and literati in Galway who love jabbering on about Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and the like (and I'm with them on that) but when the whistle I'm blowing here gets blown, they cover their ears. For these people I have two words, which I borrow from the late Christopher Hitchens: fuck you.



Alan! Alan! Alan! Ode To The Minister For State Security

My poetic tribute to the great Alan Shatter is just published on Irish Left Review.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

For Once I Have The Last Word: Friday's Edition Of The Herald

I learned today that I was quoted fairly extensively in, of all places, last Friday's edition of The Herald.

The article can be accessed at the link below; I'm quoted near the end. In fact, for once, I have the last word. http://www.herald.ie/lifestyle/theres-something-about-clare-a-conviction-politician-with-a-touch-of-restrained-anger-29275405.html 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

"Full-sized Life is a fictional story inspired by the Savita Halappanavar tragedy"

My wife and long term literary collaborator, Susan Millar DuMars (she's the good looking one in the photo in the post immediately below this) has a very timely short story just published on The Irish Left Review.

Susan says: "Full-sized Life is a fictional story inspired by the Savita Halappanavar tragedy. Please read and share!"

Savita Halappanavar died in October at University Hospital Galway, which is visible from our kitchen window, having been refused an abortion.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Switzerland Interview: Poesie, Prosa und Politik

 Frau Susan Millar DuMars and Kevin Higgins
I am interviewed by Esther Murbach
for the Swiss online arts publication Buchmagazin.
The interview is titled

Friday, 10 May 2013

"in a Wallace-controlled Ireland women could be free to have an abortion in all circumstances"

Ger Walsh of the Wexford People is one of the intellectual giants of this (or any other) century. This week Ger proves that there is more to him than his immense and always very active brain. He is also perhaps Wexford's greatest comedian since Brendan Corish's skeleton graced the set of Hall's Pictorial Weekly. In his column in this week's Skibbereen Eagle Wexford People he uses his razor wit to expose the threat to the morals of the women of Ireland posed by Deputy Mick Wallace, who since February 2011 has been a T.D. for the Wexford Constituency.

So, in a Wallace- controlled Ireland, women could be free to have an abortion in all circumstances if they unexpectedly became pregnant. For example, a woman might be due to go on an exclusive foreign holiday but an unexpected pregnancy could interfere with her plan and how she might look on the beach. Or there could be an unexpected pregnancy in the run up to a family wedding, ruining the chances of fitting into a very expensive dress. Under Mick Wallace’s proposals it could be open to both women in these hypothetical situations to abort their babies."

Ger Walsh is, as you can see, a very funny man. In some quarters he is now being spoken of as Wexford's answer to Ant and Dec. In other quarters he is not being spoken of at all.

A couple of week's ago Mick Wallace published my poem 'Alternative Proposals' on his website: http://mickwallace.net/?p=2527 . In it I make helpful suggestions as to how one of the issues concerning the government's abortion legislation might be resolved.

The Catholic hierarchy are calling on the faithful to assemble this weekend in Wexford for a marathon rosary saying session to ward off the deadly threat of "a Wallace- controlled Ireland". It is understood that both Joe Higgins T.D. and Seamus O'Brien of New Ross People Before Profit Alliance have offered the hierarchy's stand against "a Wallace- controlled Ireland" their critical support. It is not known, however, what prayers, if any, they will be saying.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Poetry Anthology To Raise Funds for Freedom Books: London's Oldest Anarchist Bookshop

On 1 February this year, Freedom Bookshop, London’s oldest anarchist bookshop, was seriously damaged in a suspected firebomb attack. Freedom Press was founded in 1886 by a group including Charlotte Wilson and Peter Kropotkin.  Many books were burned or charred in the attack, and due to a lack of funds, the shop had been unable to renew its insurance so could not make a claim to restore the shop and its contents.

“Donate a Poem for Freedom” was one of many fund-raising campaigns set up after the attack to help raise money to clean up and repair the shop, and replace stock. Over 700 submissions were received by the editor, Alex Clarke, who took on the enormous task of reading through them all, and narrowed the list down to the 45 poems now published in the Poems for Freedom anthology, which can be purchased here. http://www.lulu.com/shop/the-freedom-poets/poems-for-freedom/paperback/product-20987334.html#ratingsReview

I am happy to be one of the contributors.

Other contributors are Iain Sinclair, William Rowe, Steph Pike, Steve Evets, Shirani Rajapakse, J. Montgomery, Gabriel Moreno, Sigi Dlabal, Andrea Phillips, Pam Brown, Helen Moore Nick Burbridge, Jill Sandra-Phillips, Charlie Mann, Gavin Hudson, Juan Sinag, Louis Brehony, Katherine H, James Scott, Ushiku Crisafulli, Tim Wells, Jean Taun, Jonathan Humble, Cathy Bryant, Niall McDevitt, Heathcote Williams, Gerardo Insua Teijeiro, Christian Watson, Katherine McMahon, Lesley Hale, Maxime Berclaz, Shanise Redmon, Mark Postgate, Antoine Cassar, Rob Gee, Alan Morrison, Pat Jourdan, Zita Holbourne, Christopher Barnes, Laura Taylor, Simon Howard, Lynn Myint-Maung, Abbie Stroud & Peter Sragher.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Funeral Arrangements for Kevin Higgins

This book is launched in Charlie Byrne's Bookshop next Thursday (May 9th, 6.30pm). It includes my poem 'Necessary Arrangements' in which I outline my wishes for my own funeral. One of these is that this song should be played at an appropriate moment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWXo6fFQHZA

CONTRIBUTORS: Guinn Batten, Eoin Bourke, Eva Bourke, Edward Boyne, Ken Bruen, Megan Buckley, Sandra Bunting, Patricia Byrne, Laura Ann Caffrey, Moya Cannon, Louis de Paor, Theo Dorgan, Noel Duffy, Susan Millar DuMars, Trish Finnan, Ndrek Gjini, Michael Gorman, Eamon Grennan, Gerard Hanberry, James Harpur, Aideen Henry, Kevin Higgins, Rita Ann Higgins, Dillon Johnston, Hugo Kelly, Thomas Kilroy, Susan Lanigan, Irina Ruppo Malone, Molly McCloskey, Mike McCormack, Conor Montague, John Montague, Pete Mullineaux, Val Nolan, Mary O’Malley, Christian O’Reilly, Ruth Quinlan, Thomas Dillon Redshaw, Moya Roddy, Ailbhe Slevin, Jordan Smith, Deirdre Sullivan, Áine Tierney, Eamonn Wall, Christian Wallace, David Wheatley, and Vincent Woods.

The book can be purchased here 
http://www.salmonpoetry.com/details.php?ID=299&a=245  
 slightly gratuitous picture of Pol Pot
(this will make more sense after you've listened to the song at the link above)

 A coffin: personally I'd go for a cheaper one than this

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

My review of 'Psychotic Episodes' by Alan McMonagle in today's Galway Advertiser

“It is hard to imagine most of McMonagle’s characters ever actually having the initiative to kill anyone. Some short story writers feign profundity by writing about dead Mexican artists or the obvious connection between compulsive masturbation and the Iraq War. McMonagle is a far more honest writer than that.” READ THE REVIEW HERE http://www.advertiser.ie/galway/article/60692/men-of-absolutely-no-importance