Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I am gutted, today, to learn of the death of a great socialist, Mike Marqusee. I met Mike many years ago when he was editor of Labour Briefing and though his decision to leave the Labour Party took him along different political paths, the inspiring example which he offered, alongside his impressive body of work as a journalist and political thinker has long influenced me and many others.
Since Mike's partner (Liz Davies) and his family ask that donations in his memory be sent to Medical Aid for Palestinians, I am confident that he would approve of the fact that the tragedy of his passing causes me to think a little about the politics of how we respond to death.
I'll be honest.
Mike's death makes me sadder than the brutal killings at Charlie Hebdo, because I knew Mike and he touched my life.
And I think that's ok.
He was closer to me and means more to me.
That makes sense.
And that doesn't mean that I don't hate and deplore the killings in Paris. I do.
But I do notice - as I imagine that Mike would were he here to comment - that the world seems to have paid a lot more attention to 17 murders in Paris than it did to 2,000 murders in Baga, Nigeria by Boko Haram.
I think death is a bit shit really.
It comes to all of us in time, and that's just mortality, but when it comes too soon - particularly to those we love - we are - quite rightly - distressed.
The world lost Mike Marqusee at the early age of 61 and that's wrong. There's more he should yet have written about that we shall never be able to read.
Every one of the seventeen victims in Paris also had more that they could have contributed to our shared experience. The premature ending of their participation in our shared humanity is a grievous loss.
As is the greater loss of 2,000 lives in Baga. We don't know if any of those 2,000 might - in time - have grown to write with the passion, clarity and determination of a Mike Marqusee. We don't know how many of them might have wielded a pen with the same skill as the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo.
What we do know is that all human life is of equal value.
There are not many people who helped to shape my socialism and I think that Mike Marqusee was one of them.
When we lose a truly great comrade we must redouble our efforts to build the world in which they believed (and we continue to believe).
I think that, in this moment, that means we stand firmly for equality and for socialism - a unity of the working class and never of "the nation".
I prefer life to death and I regret that Mike is no longer here with us.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.