…lives in London, but is a contributing editor at Mint, India’s second-biggest business newspaper and on the board of English PEN. He asked that this article of his about the Euston Manifesto be reproduced at normfest.
On a windy Saturday in February, thousands of people congregated at London’s Trafalgar Square, saying no to the deployment of the Trident missile and demanding that Britain withdraw its troops from Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair had already rained on the parade (this being England) by announcing that some 1,600 troops will leave Iraq later this year.
Peace marches have been a common feature in democracies, but what’s unusual about the recent peace marches, in particular the epochal march on 15 February 2003, which writer Ian McEwan immortalized in his novel, Saturday, is the strange alliance between Britain’s extreme left and radical Islam. Forged by their intense dislike of American dominance in global affairs, those who ostensibly consider religion to be the opium of people, oppose the death penalty and torture, and believe in the equality of sexes, sexual preferences and ethnicities, seem to find nothing odd in making common cause with those who are fervent about their faith, who want apostates to be put to death, and who justify discrimination against women, homosexuals and minorities.
It shouldn’t have come as any surprise: after all, he’d warned us in so many words, that he was headin’ for the last round-up. But it was still a shock today, when the news came through – it felt like losing a a best friend or even a family member with an illness that you’d known all along could only have one ending. This despite the fact that we’d never properly met and only ever corresponded by email or via his occasional BTL comments here.
I will be writing more in days to come about this complex, inspiring human being. His pioneering blog, brim-full of gentle humour and searing honesty, remains as a permanent memorial. But for now, I’ll simply recommend Nick Cohen’s heartfelt tribute at the Spectator‘s website…
… and play some jazz (a shared enthusiasm, though Norm loved all sorts of music, including – to my horror – country ‘n’ western):
This version of ‘Ghost of A Chance’ recorded by tenorist Illinois Jacqet in 1968 was Norm’s gift to me, when I had the honour of being the subject of one of his many ‘profiles’ of fellow-bloggers. I’m playing it now, and thinking of him.
The blogging world is a lesser place tonight. Prolific political blogger, Norman Geras, Manchester University Politics Professor has died.
I once heard him speak at a Euston Manifesto conference during which he described the SWP (Socialist Workers Party) as not socialists because they don’t believe in democracy, not workers since they are middle class and not a party but a cult. I never spoke to him, but I have long admired his numerous clever and insightful posts on “Normblog“.