“Mentioning the War” by Kevin Higgins. (Salmon Publishing)

“Kevin Higgins attacks not only the sell out socialism of the Irish Labour Party, to which he once belonged, but also the factionalism and scary ubercontrol of the far left in Irish politics, and outlines why we are better with the devil we know for all its ills than the one we dont know, as the SWP-SP/ULA may be a scary beast if it got into power seeing the crushing of dissent and members expressing their opinions within them groups”

This makes uncomfortable reading for those of the hard left in Ireland, and made an interesting speech of introduction from Clare Daly (then of the Socialist Party), a founding organ of the embryonic ULA.This was a task Clare took to with gusto at the launch which  attended at the Irish Writers Centre, the surrounds karatay escort of which she said was not her usual habititat.

That in itself is unfortuante, that the working classes see the literati as beyond them, even when left wing such as Higgins.

The book itself is not my usual genre, being a collection of essays and reviews of others books, and ranks there with an obscure MP’s collection of letters published somewhere in the I’d 1800′s that I bought randomly some years back.

But Higgins is not your usual writer. Id first come across him on the Stinging Fly website of which was an active forum of self professed wits from which emerged Ozy – aka Peader O Donoghue whose book Jewel was launched earlier in the day – and Arthur Broomfield of Portlaoise along with Kevin himself, who announced events and such to the usual lampooning from those who thought themselves uberfunny and so on.

Kevins “Over the Edge” events specialise in finding new poets, and have launched the careers of many, and alas so far Ive only made it to one, but hope to rectify same in the coming months.

The book itself has a very striking cover, and the title is about the  War on Terror, and a witty take on the Fawlty Towers phrase “Dont mention the war”, but the book is not all politics, a couple of personal articles are in it of him growing up, his mothers illness, and so forth.

My second favourite though, is political, and is a take down of the one member of the Labour Party I personally despise… the smug Ruarai Quinn. A review of his autobiography, it lampoons the writing style, corrects the details in the book that are erreonus and gives background to events in it where Higgins political alanysis would differ from Quinns.

The most contributing part of the book possibly to Irish political analysis are the passages where he gives his opinion of the hard left in Ireland, and explains without being asked why it never made it in Ireland politically speaking. He draws from the Spanish Republic of the 1930′s to the  anti-Trotskiest purges under Stalin, and poses the question without putting it into words that would the Trotsyists who suffered as much as any Soviet dissisents be any better than the Stalinists if they got into power?

His experience of samecomes from the arts, and his treatment as part of Militant in the 1980′s on a political and artistic field makes him think it scary if they got power and concludes better the devil we know for all its curruption, at least we have  the freedom to compain and dissent. The rest, its only money.

Ive not finished the book, just read bits that caught my eye. So fair, it has got me into reading Orwell, and his critiques of others positions. A self confessed Orwell fan, I think if Higgins adapted Orwells satire style and wrote a book akin to Animal Farm based on Irish politics right and left, as well as the Churches, we might find his best writing has yet to come.

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