The Top Ten Greatest Literary Moments in Eighties Pop Part one: Wylie and Vaneigem

People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.

Raoul Vaneigem , The Revolution of Everyday Life

So listen, when the smile, the condescending pat-on-the-back comes and says: ‘we’re sorry, but you’re nothing, you’ve got nothing for us and we’ve got nothing for you’, you say: ‘No’, and say it loud: “NO!”, and remember, people who talk about revolution and a class-struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love, and what is positive in the refusal of constraint…such people have a corpse in their mouth…”

Wah!, ‘The Story of the Blues part II’

This is a roundabout way of pointing to the new Scarecrow, which has Vaneigem as its cover star.

It’s also the launch of a feature I’ve wanted to run in the past. Here’s the theme: I sit around and point out literary allusions and borrowings in 80s pop. ‘Pop’ is broadly defined. So is ‘literary’. I’m planning to be pretty strict about ’80s’.

First up is the end of Pete Wylie’s motivational speech to the job-seekers of Thatcher’s Britain from the end of “The Story of the Blues Part 2”. Fabulous.

Broader question: why do the independent spirits of North-west England like Situationism so much? Wylie, Factory, The Hacienda, ‘Bye Bye Badman’, ‘Corpses in their Mouths’, The Return of the Durutti Column…

Is it because the Situationists represent the intervention of the imagination in urban life? The transformation of work’s world – Manchester and environs, of course, are arguably the landscape of classical capitalism – through a transformation of vision? Or is it because the SI offer art school rebellion? You can claim you’re changing the world without having to read Capital, or commit to a workers’ movement, or burden yourself with a limiting ideology. There’s revolution and violence, too, the frisson and glamour of Latin Quarter Barricades.

I honestly don’t know. The SI have been the cool revolutionaries for the last twenty-five years at least; does cool automatically neuter revolution?

You figure it out. I’m off to listen to ‘Story of the Blues’ again.