The Passion of the Kriss…

One thing I will give Sam Kriss is that he can write. His prose can be elegant; his phrases original and his invective perversely amusing. Take this passage from his pre-election article endorsing Jeremy Corbyn…

Britain is not just sliding into fascism; we’ve landed. This has become a deeply ugly place. Our Prime Minister – gurning, grimacing, parochial,  incompetent, rhadmanthine, segmented, arachnid, and inhuman; the Daily Mail letters page given chitinous flesh; a zealous ideologue for the doctrines of smallness and stupidity and dumbfuck blithering hatred; a vicar’s daughter distilling all the common-sense peevishness and resentment from the dingy grog of the English national spirit; a leader who doesn’t so much impose austerity as embody it, in every word or gesture that seeks to foreclose on all possibilities and draw the furthest boundaries of the sunlit world no further than your respectable lace curtains – instructs the public to give her more power, to paint over a divided country with a false unity in Parliament, so she can exercise her supreme will.

Gripping stuff. And yet this avalanche of adjectives cannot distract one from the fundamental ludicrousness of his claim. Britain is not even remotely fascistic. Its large ethnic, sexual and religious minorities have almost exactly the same rights as everybody else; its free speech is constrained mostly to silence people who resent its liberalism; it has a free press; it has active trade unions; it offers benefits to the disabled and the unemployed; it has academic and artistic classes that enjoy state subsidies while opposing the government. It could be a lot more conservative – as some of us wish – without being remotely comparable to Franco’s Spain, never mind Hitler’s Germany.

Kriss is a man whose ranting never quite coheres with the universe. (How else could he mock Nick Cohen’s “strange remnant of a haircut” as his hairline continues to retreat?) The anti-fascist paranoia is at least amusing. The communist apologetics are not. Elsewhere in his pre-election piece came a tentative, qualified defence of the Soviet Union. He wrote…

…whatever its failings, the Soviet project was our project. Socialism is not an abstraction or a negation; it’s the real attempt to build a better world in this one, and it demands our fidelity. It won’t be possible unless we’re prepared to do more than oppose the evil. Demands are made on us for the sake of a liberated existence, and the first is that we be prepared to make ourselves vulnerable, and that we accept that our faith might be disappointed.

Kriss, living in English freedom, has not had to make himself “vulnerable”. People who were “vulnerable” to actual socialist projects risked far more than disappointment. They risked their lives, and often lost them. Kriss knows this. He hardly cares. In a perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek tweet two years ago he wrote…

in revolutionary china landlords were made to self-criticise kneeling on broken glass and frankly mao was a big softy who went easy on them

A bit tongue-in-cheek, perhaps? Is it? Well, not wholly. When a girl responded that during the Cultural Revolution her dance teacher had been forced to work on a farm, Kriss sneered, without a trace of humour, that…

all these denunciations of the great proletarian cultural revolution resolve into “but they made RICH PEOPLE do POOR PEOPLE work!”

Kriss did not mention the girl’s second tweet, where she added that if the woman did not work quickly enough her legs were cut as punishment. This posturing ideologue, who is paid well to write in freedom about how we live under a fascist government, sneers at forced labour and torture as if it is nothing, while congratulating himself on his willingness to make himself “vulnerable” to “disappointment”. No elaborate similes or florid insults can obscure how pathetic and obnoxious that is.

About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
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3 Responses to The Passion of the Kriss…

  1. Simon says:

    I am reminded of how one of the main motivations for the late Frank Zappa becoming a rather strident right-libertarian later in life was how his daily experience in the hippie movement constantly exposed him to people who’d chew out NATO countries for their authoritarianism and then in the very next breath praise the People’s Republic of China of all countries as a superior way of arranging a society.

    I also wonder how Sam Kriss deals with the fact that during World War 2, Mao’s Communists largely sat out the fight against the Imperial Japanese Army, the bulk of which was done by Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang… as in, you know, conservative nationalists.


  2. Asteri says:

    He is also clueless about the Cultural Revolution, there were no landlords left to be subjected to that by the late 1960s, it was Communist party members being purged, denounced and made to kneel in broken glass. Had he been there he would have met the same fate, Mao was just re-enacting Stalinism on a grander scale.


  3. Richard Powell says:

    You’re too kind to Kriss the writer. He knows lots of words – or at least he has the ability to use a dictionary – but he ain’t got rhythm when he tries to string ’em together. Sesquipedalianism is no substitute for skill when it comes to that.

    What he also doesn’t get is that in a regime of the type he admires his turn to kneel in broken glass would come round quite soon. Let us hope he doesn’t find out the hard way.

    Liked by 1 person

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