Urban Revolutionary (n): A latter-day species commonly found in
the region comprising the postcodes EC1, EC2, E8, N1, N8, NW1 and NW3 in
London. Urban revolutionaries are a natural progression from previous species,
including the Anarchic Anti-capitalist Protester and the Bearded Socialist. In the
case of the Urban Revolutionary, he (also a “she”, but we’ll settle for
masculine for now), he is the result of a strange mix of late 90s ‘oxton
gentrification and mid-noughties Shoreditch hipsterism.
Urban Revolutionaries are socially active creatures with deep
concerns about the state of our world. In this respect their role in society is
to be welcomed. However, URs (don’t we love acronyms?) have a weakness: most of
their activism happens online. Whereas both the Anti-capitalist Protester (the
name is self-explanatory) and the Bearded Socialist took to the streets in the
past to show their displeasure at the way our modern polities were run, the
Urban Revolutionary’s best friend is the mouse. Not the rodent, but the computer
one. And sometimes not even the palm-sized, technological version of a real Muridae, because who needs a pointing
device when one has a smartphone?
Fashion-wise, the Urban Revolutionary look is über-chic,
poster-boy Russell Brand, from the out-and-proud teeth (in permanent “smirk”mode, especially when interviewed by Evan Davis) to the Jesus-like hair and
beard. Tight-fitting T-shirts and skinny jeans complete the sartorial package.
In the past, the battlefield against globalisation was Seattle,
for instance. Nowadays it is change.org. At the click of a mouse you can start
your own petition and the Urban Revolutionary has been at the forefront of this
new approach to politics. In his favour, he has the vigour of youth, a good, all-round
education and possibly, although not always, an affluent background. On the
other hand, critics are quick to point out the short-termism of his campaigns. This
could be seen as a detrimental factor in – paradoxically – putting people off
politics. Too many campaigns being waged at the same time deprive a social
movement of the necessary pabulum it
feeds off. There are further complications in that, when trying to mobilise
support for a cause he deems just, the Urban Revolutionary might overlook the
root causes of the problem. You can quite rightly campaign to ban a misogynist from
entering Britain, but it would be better to look at the reasons why some people
thought it was a good idea to invite him in the first place. Whilst some might
rage at an art exhibition that supposedly denigrates a particular ethnic group,
Bob Geldoff and his merry Band Aid 30 get away once again with patronising Africans
with the three-decade-old question: Do They Know It’s Christmas? They bloody
do, Sir Bob, they bloody do. But sadly, the Urban Revolutionary is not available to
start an online petition to stop this musical travesty. He is too busy,
clicking, swiping, clicking, swiping, clicking and swiping... ad infinitum.
Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and
Music”, to be published on Sunday 30th November at 10am (GMT)
|Time for a comeback?|
Not sure they get very far now a days as all can click away through the day come what may.ReplyDelete
Thanks a lot for introducing me to that "Jesus like" guy in the video. To start, the TV setting made me cringe, with that Che mural in the background, but then, listening and watching that young man, so full of himself, so much in love with himself... oh dear...ReplyDelete
And thanks for voicing your thoughts about Bob Geldof and his latest comeback.
Oh, has Geldof emerged again? I miss such a lot by not watching television. Or maybe not.... He's not a guy I can take to somehow.ReplyDelete
Isn't it great to live in a world where we can, with just a click of a mouse, feel good about saving it :)ReplyDelete
You are in a prolific mood, it appears, CiL.ReplyDelete
As someone who has seen actual revolutionaries, cultural and political (it was their breath of life), it seems to me most "wannabes" in today's world (in the U.S., anyway) are largely confused and unhappy individuals screaming to be noticed and searching for some way to give their existence relevance. They, in turn, are manipulated by schemers who seek power, which equals monetary profit. There are no visible, legitimate descendants (street variety or computer-bound) to the anti-war and social rebels of the Sixties, only overindulged babies and pockets of gangsters/hell-raisers who are delusional enough to believe that they are the heirs apparent (in this country, anyway).
A very well and cleverly written piece, CiL. I enjoyed it immensely.
A brief defence of us 60s revolutionaries - drawing our pensions now, but we've not all sold out and become Tony Blair. Some of us still believe that people can behave better, if they only have the information they need and time to think. Which is why I struggle with the knee-jerk of modern revolutionaries. They are purely reactive - while I like to think that some of us are still willing to spend hours thinking through the messy contradictions of the way we live and long for people to be kinder.ReplyDelete
I think you nailed it, Jo. "Reactive" is the word as opposed to "proactive" and they lack focus. Too many petitions to sign up to. You can trace the root of most causes to the unfair economic system we live under.ReplyDelete
Thank you all for your comments.
Greetings from London.
What a strange and crazy world this one has become... you've captured perfectly this aspect of it in at very thought-provokind post.ReplyDelete
Just as in the previous one. I read it, but couldn't comment at the time. I read a lot of YA - maybe I can be a teenager again... :-)
Hi--I think this may be more of a Brit phenomenon than a U.S. one--or at least the accoutrements you describe seem rather British to me. We have change.org and the petitions, but I do not think they gain so much traction here, and really our media is such a DIS-traction in the sense of focusing on the stupidest sorts of things. I do not have a TV so I miss a lot. (Thank goodness!) Take care! k.ReplyDelete
what a sweet combination! been a urban revolutionary in a black friday. *)ReplyDelete
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