Richard Seymour (writer)

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Richard Seymour

Richard Seymour (born 1977) is a British Marxist writer, activist and owner of the blog Lenin's Tomb. The author of The Liberal Defence of Murder and other books, Seymour was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland to a Protestant family,[1] and currently lives in London. A former member of the Socialist Workers Party,[2] he left the organization in March 2013. He is currently preparing a PhD in sociology at the London School of Economics under the supervision of Paul Gilroy.[3] He writes for The Guardian,[4] London Review of Books, ABC Australia, Al Jazeera, In These Times and other publications.[5][6][7][8]

Lenin's Tomb[edit]

The blog Lenin's Tomb began in June 2003[9] and was listed in 2005 as the 21st-most-popular blog in the country.[10] Although run by Seymour, it also has front-page posts from other contributors, including, occasionally, China Miéville.[11] It has been cited by the BBC,[12][13] The Guardian, Private Eye, and Slate magazine.[14] Seymour writes about "issues such as imperialism, Zionism, Islamophobia and anti-capitalism, and covers strikes and protests with footage, images and reportage".

Beginning in January 2013, Seymour focused his blog on an ongoing scandal involving allegations of rape committed by a (now former) member of the SWP's central committee, and accepted guest entries from other party members criticizing the party leadership's response.[15] He announced his resignation from the SWP on 11 March,[16][17] and began using the original blog to convey a more thorough account of the party's crisis than hitherto.[18] Writing in The Guardian, Seymour responded to an article by Julie Sherry,[19] a central committee member: "We will take no lessons from the Daily Mail, Sherry says. How right she is. With a record like this, who needs lessons from the Daily Mail?"[20]

The Liberal Defence of Murder[edit]

A review by the journalist Gary Younge of Seymour's 2008 book, The Liberal Defence of Murder, which was featured on the book's cover, describes Seymour as "expertly" tracing the descent of liberal supporters of war "from humanitarian intervention to blatant islamophobia". China Miéville praised the book as an "indispensable" guide to the "pre-history and modern reality of the so-called 'pro-war Left'". Owen Hatherley, writing in the New Statesman, praised the book as "a freshly written, heavily footnoted and clearly obsessively researched history of 400 years of the 'decent left'".[21] An Independent on Sunday review described it as "an excellent antidote to the propagandists of the crisis of our times", and a later review in The Independent by the policy director of Save the Children described the book as "timely, provocative and thought-provoking".[22]

A review in The Times praised the book as a "powerful counter-blast against the monstrous regiment of 'useful idiots'" who have "contributed in recent decades to the murderous mess of modern times".[23] On the other hand, columnist Oliver Kamm, writing for his Times blog, disputed the review, accusing Seymour of some historiographical distortions and spelling mistakes.[24] Seymour posted a lengthy reply to Kamm's criticisms on his own blog.[25]

A critical review in The Guardian by Philippe Sands contended that despite the book's "damning material" on the supporters of war, this "potentially important book" was weakened by "the generality" of its conclusions and the failure to concede that there are instances where the use of force is justified.[26] Seymour also responded to this critique on his blog. An enthusiastic review appeared in Resurgence magazine in March 2010, declaiming that: "Richard Seymour's obsessively researched, impressive first book holds its place as the most authoritative historical analysis of its kind".[27] A scholarly review in the Journal of American Studies commended the book's "truly impressive breadth and depth", arguing that it provided "a new European perspective – and a warning – on the left’s pragmatic and ultimately shortsighted support for imperialist adventures".[28]

Computer programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz praised the book unreservedly in his 2009 review of books: "This book is like a little miracle. I’m not even sure how to describe it, except to say that it turns one’s understanding of history completely upside-down." [29]

A later interview on the literary website, ReadySteadyBook, discussed Seymour's motivations in writing the book, and his responses to critics. He explained that: "The shape the book eventually took, as a genealogy of liberal imperialism, was prompted by the combat clerisy themselves. They were the ones appealing to the legacy of 19th Century liberal imperialism. They were the ones vaunting a kitschy manifest-destinarianism, as well as a muscular determination to visit vengeance on the barbarians. It was they who culled their catchphrases from a disgraced imperial lexicon. Unless I wanted to write a gossipy, huffy polemic in the manner of Nick Cohen's What's Left, I had no choice but to anatomise these discursive strategies from their origins to the present day."[30]

Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens[edit]

Unhitched, published in 2013, focuses on Christopher Hitchens's work on religion, his engagement with British politics and his alleged embrace of American imperialism.[31] Seymour has said of Unhitched, "It is written in the spirit of a trial ... I do attempt to get a sense of the complexity and gifts of the man, but it is very clearly a prosecution, and you can guess my conclusion."[32]

Published works[edit]

Selected articles[edit]

Talks[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Seymour « Interview « ReadySteadyBook – for literature. Readysteadybook.com. Retrieved on 2012-09-21.
  2. ^ Seymour, Richard (2004-01-01). "About Lenin's Tomb". Lenin's Tomb. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  3. ^ Richard Seymour | London School of Economics – Academia.edu. Lse.academia.edu. Retrieved on 2012-09-21.
  4. ^ Richard Seymour. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2012-09-21.
  5. ^ LENIN'S TOMB: Oh, by the way. Leninology.blogspot.com (2010-09-16). Retrieved on 2012-09-21.
  6. ^ Richard Seymour – The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Abc.net.au. Retrieved on 2012-09-21.
  7. ^ Gore Vidal remembered: 'Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little' – Opinion. Al Jazeera English (2012-08-04). Retrieved on 2012-09-21.
  8. ^ Richard Seymour – Profile. In These Times. Retrieved on 2012-09-21.
  9. ^ "Links: Blogs". Mediabite: A shot at bias in the media. MediaBite.org. 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  10. ^ "Top Ten, Saturday 26 February 2005". BritishBlogs. 2005-02-26. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  11. ^ Miéville, China (2005-08-29). "The politics of weather". Lenin's Tomb. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  12. ^ "As it happened: Mumbai attacks 27 Nov". BBC News (BBC). 2008-11-27. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  13. ^ Connor, Alan (2005-07-04). "Music blogs close ears to Live 8". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  14. ^ a b "The Liberal Defence of Murder (review)". Verso Books. Retrieved 2009-04-08. [dead link]
  15. ^ Paul Kellogg "Britain: Reflections on the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party", LINKS - Journal of International Socialist Renewal, 13 January 2013
  16. ^ "Resigning from the Socialist Workers Party", International Socialism, 11 March 2013
  17. ^ Richard Seymour "On resigning from the SWP", Lenin's Tomb, 12 March 2013
  18. ^ 'Lenin' (Richard Seymour) "The crisis in the SWP: part I", Lenin's Tomb, 12 March 2013
  19. ^ Julie Sherry "Challenging sexism is at the heart of the SWP's work", The Guardian, 21 March 2013
  20. ^ Richard Seymour "The SWP leadership has turned the party into a sinking ship", guardian.co.uk, 22 Marcvh 2013
  21. ^ Hatherley, Owen (2008-12-11). "Persistent empire". New Statesman. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  22. ^ Renton, David (2009-01-25). "The Liberal Defence of Murder, by Richard Seymour (review)". The Independent on Sunday (Independent.co.uk). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  23. ^ Finlayson, Iain (2009-01-24). "Non-fiction reviews". The Times. 
  24. ^ Kamm, Oliver (2008-12-11). "More valuable as history than as polemic". TimesOnline: Blogs. TimesOnline.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-12-16. [dead link]
  25. ^ Seymour, Richard (2008-12-11). "Kamm reviews". Lenin's Tomb. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 
  26. ^ Sands, Philippe (2009-02-21). "War – What is it Good For?". The Guardian. Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  27. ^ Koek, Ariane (2009-02-21). "The Moralisation of Violence". Resurgence. Resurgence.org. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  28. ^ Ryan, Maria (2010). "Intellectuals and the "War on Terror"". Journal of American Studies. Cambridge Journals. 
  29. ^ Swartz, Aaron (2010-01-03). "2009 Review of Books". Aaron Swartz - Raw Thought. Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  30. ^ "Interview with Richard Seymour". ReadySteadyBook. ReadySteadyBook. 2009-06-30. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  31. ^ Shupak, Gregory (17 January 2013). "Christopher Hitchens Stands Trial". In These Times. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  32. ^ Flood, Alison (16 January 2013). "Christopher Hitchens faces posthumous 'prosecution' in new book". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  33. ^ Cottee, Simon; Cushman, Thomas (2008). "The Genocidal Imagination of Christopher Hitchens". Christopher Hitchens and His Critics (ISBN 0-8147-1687-3, web preview) (New York: NYU Press). ISBN 9780814716878. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  34. ^ Seymour, Richard (2009). "John Spargo and American Socialism". Historical Materialism (Leiden, Netherlands.: Brill) 17 (2): 272. doi:10.1163/156920609X436225. 
  35. ^ Marie Breen Smyth (2010). "The War on Terror as Political Violence". The Ashgate Research Companion to Political Violence (Surrey, UK: Ashgate). ISBN 978-0-7546-7752-9. 
  36. ^ "The Meaning of David Cameron". The Meaning of David Cameron (Hampshire, UK: Zer0 Books). 2010. ISBN 978-1-84694-456-7. 
  37. ^ American Insurgents: A Short History of American Anti-Imperialism. Haymarket Books. 2011. ISBN 978-1-60846-141-7. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  38. ^ Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens. London, UK: Verso Books. November 2012. ISBN 9781844679904. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  39. ^ Against Austerity: How We Can Fix The Crisis They Made. London, UK: Pluto Press. March 2014. ISBN 9780745333281. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  40. ^ Alexander Anievas, Nivi Manchanda, Robbie Shilliam (2014). "Race and the Cold War". Race and Racism in International Relations: Confronting the Global Colour Line (London, UK: Routledge). ISBN 978-0-415-72434-0. 

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