Note: Verso appears to have removed the apology from its website and then reposted it. In case they delete it again, I have posted screenshots below.
In the last four years, I have bought well over 100 books published by Verso, and its blog is one of my favourite reads, so I am disappointed by the company's strange “apology” to a former employee, Emily Janakiram.
There has not been a time in living memory when the language of news was not violent. If the report is of a person or group disagreeing with another, the word “slammed” has been in standard use for at least 50 years. Violence is implied when there may be no personal hostility at all.
While that word is still common, it seems to have taken second place to another, less adult, term. Instead of disagreeing, disputing, condemning, objecting to, or challenging a statement or action, it will now be “hit out at” — a term that conjures the image of an angry toddler.
This language is as common in serious newspapers as in tabloids, as likely to be found in The Guardian as in The Daily Mail. Perhaps this will someday be replaced by an even more infantile standard, and it will become common to report that a person, organisation, or nation “took their ball and went home,” or “threw their toys out of the pram.”
The anarchist ideal and the libertarian ideal have something in common: they cannot work, because they are based on the assumption that people are sensible and well-intentioned, a thesis that can be disproved these days just by going outside, where you will view:
People wearing masks around their necks, not their faces
People wearing masks over their mouths, not their noses
People not wearing masks at all
People taking their masks off to cough or sneeze
People in any of the above categories standing close to strangers, and becoming angry when asked to distance
There is, as Marx wrote, a lumpen proletariat, but there is also a lumpen bourgeoisie, and the most sensible rules of lockdown will not contain the plague unless they are enforced.
Despite the denial, it's hard to be unaware of death if you pay attention when you walk around Glasgow. On fences and bridges, there are so many memorials to people who have died. They usually include football scarves or jerseys. Some shrines are new, and may only be there for a short while, others have been there for years.
And you can hear the reminders too. On a stretch of the Kelvin Walkway, dense with unmasked people, someone says: “She was feeling better. She was starting to eat again...”
Outdoor life in Glasgow today was like an enactment of China Mieville's novel The City and the City. But, instead of two different nations in the same place, there is a Glasgow where there is a lockdown because of a pandemic, and a Glasgow where there is no plague, and no such law has passed.
Richard Leonard has resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Incompetent, conservative and sexist as he is, I am sorry to see him go, because his incompetence, conservatism and sexism were an asset to Scottish Independence supporters, helping make his party a travesty. He is loved by some of us in the SNP for the same reason we love Boris Johnson (whom some of us think is doing more for Scottish Independence than Robert the Bruce and William Wallace combined).
I would have liked Mr Leonard to remain leader until the election in May, so he could help ensure that the SNP wins by the predicted landslide. While it is hard to imagine the Scottish Labour Party finding someone equally hapless to replace him, whoever gets the job (Jackie Baillie? Anas Sarwar?) is unlikely to be able to repair the damage he has caused his party in the next few months.
There can be no denying the notability of Maria Fyfe, who died last month. Born in the Gorbals in 1938, the child of a tram driver and a shop assistant, she became, as Nicola Sturgeon said, “a feminist icon.” Rising to prominence in the days when the Scottish Labour Party was still left wing, she became the first female MP for Maryhill, Glasgow. And now there is a petition to rename Maryhill Library after her.
I spent most of January 6 reading news updates about the attempted coup in the US. I lived there for 22 years, and was among the minority on the left who predicted that Trump would become President, but, even though I left immediately after he was sworn in, I never imagined it becoming so dystopian so quickly. I am grateful to be in Scotland.