'I moved on. A man stepped into my path. He was part of a group of sharp-dressed types at the edges of the crowd. He sneered and gave me a leaflet.The more astute leftist trainspotters among you will have recognised the reference to the notorious 'Why the Socialist Labour League is not Marching' leaflet produced by Gerry Healy's followers in a now infamous display of paranoia and sillyness. These references are not why I like his work, but I do like that Mieville does occasionally wink at socialist activists through his fiction.
'INSTITUTE OF LIVING MARXIST IDEAS.
'Why We Are Not Marching.
'We view with disdain the pathetic attempts of the old Left to revive this Christian ceremony. The notion that the government has 'stolen' 'our' Christmas is just part of the prevailing Fear Culture that we reject. It is time for a re-evaluation beyond left and right, and for dynamic forces to reinvigorate society. Only last month, we at the ILMI organised a conference at the ICA on why strikes are boring and hunting is the new black...'
I really couldn't make head or tail of it. I threw it away'
Anyway, I have to say that when I started reading Un Lun Dun, Mieville's first novel aimed at the young adult market, that I really wasn't expecting one one of these 'winks' to show up, given the target audience. I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong a mere 55 pages in:
'Obaday took them past a house-sized fist, carved out of stone with windows in its knuckles....'
Bottom right hand corner of the page, third building from the right. Yep, that symbol should be more than familiar to socialist activists:
which is itself based on the old logo of the Militant tendency:
So, that most potent symbol of revolutionary socialism, the clenched fist of insurrection raised defiantly in the air has been re-imagined as a dwelling in an alternative fantasy London. Thanks for the wink China.