Saturday, February 18, 2017


These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

--T. S. Eliot, "The Waste Land," 430-432

The collapse of the Socialist Workers Party of Britain, by way of a sexual assault cover-up scandal, emitted several incandescent fragments, as leftist party implosions have and will. One is tempted to compare it to the supernova that overtook Gerry Healy's Workers Revolutionary Party thirty years ago, and to invoke the 18th Brumaire's overused quote about "the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." But if the first time was already farce, then what is the second instantiation? Commedia dell'Arte?

One commonality between the WRP of the 1980s and SWP of the early 2010s, however, is a great quantity of talented individuals, who were not only underutilized but actively sidelined, biding their time in wasted anticipation of the coming insurrection. Within the nebula that once was the mothership of Cliffism, a gravitational agglomeration of such persons has emerged, in a project known as Salvage Quarterly, one of the more promising outcomes of that reckoning.

The "Quarterly" in that title has, to date, been more aspirational than descriptive. As a former contributor to Proletarian Revolution magazine, however, I consider that an expected part of the terrain of leftist publishing. In contrast to most leftist publications, however, they print poetry, visual art, and fiction, and they pay contributors. So when Nick Mamatas mentioned to me that Salvage's fiction editor was looking for "stories under 3000 words" that were not "bad agitprop"--and by the way, this fiction editor was none other than China MiƩville--I sent a story that had unsuccessfully made the rounds of more conventional science fiction and fantasy publications, but that I thought would be to China's taste, entitled "Ruins of a Future Empire." Despite a few lingering blemishes, he saw some merit in it, and after a round or two of gentle editing, the final product is now available in Salvage's fourth issue.

Here you can see the story listed, way down at the bottom of the Table of Contents.

Thus I am now on a first-name basis with one of the best novelists of our generation, and even share space with him on the list of contributors printed on the back cover:

Aside from their willingness to print my fictions, however, there are more substantive reasons to value Salvage. They are among the few projects on the international far left today willing to attempt to come to grips with the central antinomy of our present moment--the ineluctable urgency of crisis, and the presently dire state of proletarian class consciousness. It is a relief to be involved, if only tangentially, with an effort to address this through collective effort rather than individual ratiocination. (Note for the perplexed: Such general endorsement of the project does not amount to a specific endorsement of each essay or thesis comprised therein.)

To read my story, or to get a sense of what Salvage is about, buy the issue. Perhaps consider subscribing.