Wednesday, November 09, 2011

As soon as this pub closes

As I've said before, when a pub closes a whole lot of possibilities close with it. The combination of people, drink and conviviality has sparked all kinds of cultural, musical, social and political movements. Even the most unpromising and unfriendliest of boozers can be the launchpad for some fantastic adventure when a group of people get together and say 'hey let's put on a club here/ start a football team / hold a meeting about some cause or other'.

So I was intrigued to find a mention of one of my local pubs, The Brockley Barge, in an account of a radcial political gathering over the summer. Seemingly, the Platypus Affiliation Society, a Marxist-humanist current, were meeting in the bar with the guests including their Chicago-based leading theoritician Chris Cutrone. An associate of Principia Dialectica, a magazine/website influenced by the Situationists, turned up and seemingly didn't greatly enjoy the conversation:

'Brockley, South London, mid August. It’s a balmy evening and the sun is just setting a beautiful shade of red. We have arranged to meet the Platypus London collective. In the Brockley Barge, a more bucolic setting is hard to imagine, but upon arrival our spirits drop when we realize our destination is in fact a typical Wetherspoons boozer, replete with the familiar royal blue ash-tray franchise coating. It looms up to dominate the high street with its tarty but severe wedding cake outside decor. It doesn’t look much fun. We descend into its jaws. We are soon relieved, however, to find that it is an affable local. The general blitz spirit fug of ‘we are all in this together’ has yet to lift in this particular post-riot London settling of spit and sawdust.

The Platypus group leader is in town, over from Chicago, having been engaged in tentative kisses and cuddles with one of the British Communist parties. I have opted to come down to south London and shake the Chairman’s hand and buy him a drink. The Chairman has been a student of Moishe Postone at Chicago university, the author of the seminal (and much banged on about at Principia Dialectica) Time, Labor and Social Domination. I want to see where it all went wrong. How could the Chairman be so well read, well taught, but still, as they say in south London, well stupid? The plot would be unraveled. We descended lower and lower, into the eerie depths of the Barge. Our eyes gradually accustomed to the dank light . It didn’t take long to find them – they had a poster of the Platypus group logo on the wall to help people like us find our way in the gloom...'

(see full account and Cutrone's reply here)

Not completely sure how this all ended up in the Barge, but probably had something to do with the fact that Cutrone had been giving a talk at the Communist University held at Goldsmiths.

Can't think why but this somehow put me in mind of Alex Glasgow's old socialist song 'As soon as this pub closes' ('the revolution starts').

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