Jul 27

The socialism in "Reports of Certain Events in London"

6 comments

Miéville must have been 25 or 26 when he wrote Perdido Street Station. Likely a similar age when he wrote this short story. This is flippant disregard for Miéville's character, but, we were all young once, Miéville's claim that his mail is being inspected because he's a socialist is simply just him being an edgey teen. The classic, "I'm a "radical" socialist and I'm so special and important and everyone is after me." Heck, even Marx is guilty of this, everyone has a bit of the victim complex when it comes to their politics, ideologies that believe themselves to be outside the norm more so. Perdido Street Station is likely the most disgusting book I've ever read, and it oozed with edgy teenism as well. The Scar to a slightly lesser extent. I assume as he matured he's settled down, which happens to most people. Anyhow, I'm a big fan of Miéville, thanks for doing this story, I've had this collection for years and you finally made me crack it open.

You dudes have such a measured, honest, and wise way of discussing everything. Even when you say something I passionately disagree with, you make me stop and reevaluate things. Or maybe I'm just beginning to not be an edgy teen myself.

I also really did not like Perdido Street station. I listened to a small portion of it on an audiobook but was put off really by the so-called "edginess" and grotesque nature of the world and characters in it. It reminded me like an angsty version of a Bosch painting.

 

I don't think it's too far outside of the realm of possibility to think that the government does track people it views as dissidents. Prior to the internet, the best way to do this was via the mail. I totally did not read that bit about being a radical socialist in London as being a bit of leftover teenage angst, but I can see how, coming off of Perdido St Station, or looking at the timeline of Mieville's publications, this notion can be imported into the story.

 

I haven't read too much more Mieville and I've heard great stuff about his recent work. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to get back to him as I'm working my way through some of Peter Straub's work, which is really great stuff so far.

Socialists do have a victim complex. The whole ideology is more or less a victim complex. I haven't read anything outside the Bas Lag books, I can't tell you how gross they are.

I do have the sense (entirely from other fiction) that UK intelligence services have a much broader legal mandate to read mail, so while this would certainly be a paranoid delusion in the U.S., this may ring truer to a British audience. But I may also just watch too many British police shows that are wholly unrealistic. Hopefully one of our British listeners can let us know.

 

I was really inspired by this story to read The City and the City, which has a much more sophisticated approach to political ideologies, which is one of the major themes of the book. It sounds like you've probably already read it, but if you haven't I can highly recommend it.

 

And if you've read further in this short-story collection, let us know what some of your favorites are. They may show up on a ballot sometime.

 

 

Jul 30

I'm not aware of the UK government/intelligence service having any mandate to read mail and read this as purely paranoid delusion. That may be political naivety on my part though: I don't get the sort of mail the government would be interested in reading - most of it is from them in various guises anyway. Indeed, for me the idea of a known socialist's mail getting read seems more like the sort of thing that would happen in the US than over here!

@Karanthir The CIA is just as lazy as any of us. Social media is the only thing they pay attention to, and even then it's just a bot.

In the U.S. the FBI has a long history of both wiretapping and reading the mail of people they classify as dissidents. So any socialist would rightly expect the government to spy on them as a matter of course. That is the reason intelligence services try and recruit spys young, to conceal the persons ideology before it is well known.

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