Monday, 30 April 2012

Getting Back into the Game

Glasgow has always had a reputation for political agitation - I don't think that it is coincidental that Arika decided to stage their more political incarnation of the Experimental Festival on the West Coast, and although Joseph Beuys originally came to Edinburgh, it is Glasgow that has the history of its visual art scene named after his most political idea. After a fortnight in Edinburgh, I immediately noticed that the lamp-posts around the Subcity Offices were hung, not with fascists, but adverts for Marxism, the annual London-based jamboree of ... well, have a guess.

I've just read Nick Cohen's What's Left? Two years after most people, but I had to wait until it turned up in Oxfam. Apart from convincing me that I do, in fact, support the invasion of Afghanistan - my complaints about the Taliban's treatment of women and the big Buddha statues they exploded would make any moans on my part mealy-mouthed - Cohen has challenged me to consider whether the role of a theatre and arts critic retains any purpose in the face of mounting political disorder.

Since I am fairly shallow, I retain a holding position: I'll point to my various rants about how Marxism makes for dull theatre, how some work is just too middle class, and hope that no-one notices the internal contradictions. The overuse of the flashy phrase and unfashionable jargon ought to disguise the fundamental emptiness of my rhetoric.

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