Celebrating its 18th year, 2017’s Writing On The Wall festival coincides with another radical milestone–the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. 100 years since Lenin’s Bolsheviks overthrew the corrupt Tsar autocracy, precipitated the creation of the Soviet Union, and demonstrated how radical ideas could propel world changing action.
100 years on and the world is a chaotic place with Trump, Putin, Assad, and Jong-Un all jostling for centre of the same murky stage. Closer to home, continuing austerity measures have acted as a toxic catalyst for strong opinions which the official media, at best, avoids and at worst, castigates. If many were hoping such tumult would fade then May’s calling of a snap general election will put paid to that. Divisions will be exacerbated by a doubtless nasty campaign based on personal slights, false promises, and factional rivalries. An event entitled Revolution! sounds like a welcome invitation.
Bringing together science fiction and political writer China Miéville, graphic novelist and activist author Kate Evans, and Stop The War Coalition co-founder John Rees, Revolution! promises vital discussion on the long history of insurgency. A narrative which spans the Levellers of 17th century England to the Russian Revolution, via the incendiary ideas of Rosa Luxembourg: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains”. Sage words which may be lost on the apathetic masses apparently too busy to notice their chains, trapped on the daily hum-drum hamster wheel and seemingly colluding in their own oppression. Provocative events like Revolution! are therefore essential, and where better than Liverpool? A city rich in the arts and social activism which continues to this day. Wowfest state Revolution! will ‘consider how we can create our own fight for freedom’—five days after Shadow Chancellor and Corbyn ally John McDonnell addresses the crowds at an electoral rally outside the imposing St George’s Hall.
Dusty old ideas of libraries (shhh!) are passing into history and the location of Revolution! at Liverpool Central Library is contemporary and inclusive—helping to reinforce conceptions of the modern library as communal places of learning and empowerment. As radical thinkers with a literary bent, China Miéville, Kate Evans, and John Rees should be at home here and will no doubt receive a warm welcome.
The roots and pertinence of Revolution! seem clear, but Lenin’s seminal diktat ‘Party Organisation and Party Literature’ showed him to be something of a hypocrite, advocating the expression of revolutionary ideas but only when it was on his terms. We can only speculate on what he would have made of Revolution!. It doesn’t matter; this isn’t his time, it’s ours, and we can make our own minds up. I, for one, am looking forward to it.
Revolution takes place on Wednesday May 3rd. Tickets are available here.