Tag Archives: Outside The Beltway

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: Norman Geras, 1943-2013

James Joyner

[first published on Outside The Beltway]


Norman Geras, has passed. His daughter Jenny posted this on Normblog earlier today:

I am very sad to announce that Norm died in Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge in the early hours of this morning. Writing this blog, and communicating with all his readers, has brought him an enormous amount of pleasure in the last ten years. I know that since writing here about his illness earlier in the year he received a lot of support from many of you, and that has meant a great deal to him, and to us, his family. The blog and all its archives will remain online.

Norm had a remarkable career as a political theorist at the University of Manchester, establishing himself as a leading authority on Marxist thought. He’s best known to me, however, for his eponymous blog, which he started around the time of his retirement from teaching in 2003. I’ve enjoyed and linked to many of his posts over the years.

He blogrolled me on his first day blogging and I gave him grief for getting an Instalanche a mere three days later. The early exchanges were peppered with “everybody knows your name” jokes, which I finally had to explain to him.

On a more somber note, Norm live-blogged the terrorist attack on the London Underground.

A few years later, we were commiserating on the difficulties of coming up with new material on a daily basis. He was not, however, a fan of Twitter.

By far the most recurring theme the we cross-blogged was country music. It amused me to no end that a British Marx scholar was a fan of hillbilly music. Sometimes the discussion was profound, as in the sociological meanings of the songs of Little Jimmy Dickens and Charlie Pride singing for President Obama at the White House. There were also brilliant insights such as Geras’ recognition of a Jerry Jeff Walker classic barroom anthem as a Mother’s Day classic. And then there were the polls of the top 15 country music stars, which was top heavy with female artists. My own ballot is here.

I was the subject of normblog profile 23 and my colleague Steven Taylor was normblog profile 76.

The vagaries of life have lately decreased both my blogging and my reading of blogs, and so I missed Norm’s announcement this past May that the prostate cancer that he’d first been diagnosed with in 2003 was spreading and taking a toll. He was characteristically stoic about the matter, which he posted about only by way of apology for an anticipated decline in posting.

Norm was born in 1943, the same year as my parents and mother-in-law.   My mother and mother-in-law are still with us but my father died almost four years ago now.  It seemed much too soon then and too soon for Norm now. All the moreso because he remained forever 24.

He shall be missed.