Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Geeking the left: Ken Macleod on radical politics and the internet

Like any science fiction writer, lots of Ken MacLeod's prophetic visions have failed to come true. However, one thing he did foresee, as a socialist computer programmer in the 1980s, was that left-wing movements would be slowest to embrace new communications technologies, in part because the internet “challenges a set of Leninist assumptions that a lot of far-left groups had about how discussions must and should be conducted."

"The organised left has taken a very long time to be aware of the internet and start using it properly," commented MacLeod when I met him at EasterCon 2010. "A lot of the formal rules of the left are still based on 19th century communications technology, which meant newspapers. As with Pravda and the Bolshevik revolution, who decides what goes in the newspaper was absolutely crucial, as was everyone pretending to agree was what was in the newspaper.

"The top level instruction was, and for some organisations remains, that you follow the party line set down by the paper -although I should stress that the organisation that produces the Morning Star is not necessarily one of those. It has the great advantage that it allows in other voices from across the left spectrum!

"The idea that revolutionary politics are built around a top-level party line set down by a newspaper, which everyone has to comply with, is antithetical to the digital age."

-This is my favourite bit of the Big Squeeful Ken MacLeod Interview. You can read the whole thing tomorrow in the Morning Star and online.


  1. Really looking forward to it!

    I am glad to read this, partially because I have spent a while recently fixating on KM's attitudes towards conservationist people and policies.

    Good to be reminded that there are more things to agree with than to disagree with.

  2. Laurie, I'm very, very happy with what you've done with it. You really have done a great job of distilling some sense out of my rambling replies. Thank you!

  3. *blushes* I'm so glad! It was completely brilliant to meet you. Thanks for making the time.

  4. The Morning Star goes from strength to strength. It has become the leading forum and exchange for exciting, progressive and creative thought/ideas in printed form(also available free online)on a daily basis. I started reading it regularly a couple of years back. Returning occasionally to browse The Guardian or Observer I'm shocked at the amount of celebrity-driven fluff and vacuous piffle that fills the endless 'opinion' columns.If you want to know what the Left, the Greens, anti-fascists and progressives across the board are saying, go no further. And, we can now add Laurie to the names of Chris T-T and others who are giving it some much-needed 'edge'. Great stuff.


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