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The Anarchists’ Revue

June 8, 2010

The genesis of today’s ridiculous poetic effort is a complex one, but suffice it to say it involved operatic separatists, the idea of which then combined with leftover Essence of Gilbert & Sullivan and my continuing quest to use the word ‘panjandrum’ in as many places as I think I can get away with it to produce the following.

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wickedday presents

THE ANARCHISTS’ REVUE

Actus Primus, Scœna Prima: In Which The Anarchists Gather To Elect Their Leader

A room. At the front of it is a table at which sit the CHAIR and the CLERK. Anarchists mill around in the rest of the room, most probably sitting in an untidy circle. Two, SMITH and MAY, are the focus of our attention. SMITH looks respectable for an anarchist and is holding a large, official-looking envelope, and occasionally nervously fiddles with bits of his/her clothing. MAY is, by contrast, a walking stereotype, and this should be made obvious in his/her dress; s/he is almost certainly also a conspiracy theorist. They do not like one another. Neither of them is meant to be ‘right’ in this scene: SMITH is practical but lacks ideals, whereas MAY is fiery and idealistic but lacks basic common sense.

SMITH
Hush! Hush! Silence! Order, order!
(A hush.)
Comrade Chair, Comrade Recorder.
(Smith is acknowledged by the chair and clerk.)
The executive committee
Of the Party for the city,
Has received communication
Citing legal information
Of our standing in relation –

MAY
Smith, I’m nodding off. You said?

SMITH
Comrades, we require a leader.
(A pause.)
Not that internally we need her –
Or him, of course. Or them. Whatever.
We don’t discriminate. However.
The law has changed, despite petition;
Now, if we want recognition
Of our anarchistic mission,
We need a figurehead.

MAY
My comrades in adversity,
Without undue perversity,
I have some reservations
About these deliberations;
I give agreement tentative
For process argumentative,
To elect a representative
To speak for us in court;

But a leader to commission
For an anarchist position?
Seems a very strange decision,
Surely rooted in misprision,
Something of a contradiction;
Might I venture a prediction,
Sure to end up causing friction,
Wouldn’t you have thought?

SMITH
Refusing to dilute our essence
Loses us our public presence;
Losing public recognition
Making us a niche position,
Affects us deleteriously –
To say it less mysteriously:
We won’t be taken seriously
If no-one is in charge.

MAY
But choose a leader, then – hey presto! –
Theirs is then our manifesto.
How can one voice represent us –
Hardline, moderates, dissenters –
Considering our variousness,
Our unity’s precariousness,
Reflect the multifariousness
Of anarchists at large?

SMITH
The changing times and law’s restrictions –

MAY
So these are what you call convictions!

SMITH
– to keep intact our own democracy –

MAY
You say that, but I smell hypocrisy.

SMITH
– have forced us in this new direction –

MAY
Yes! Betrayal by election!

SMITH
Why such a strenuous objection?

MAY
I don’t want to be oppressed!

SMITH
Nobody’s proposed oppression.

MAY
Funny, but that’s my impression.

SMITH
I think you’re over-reacting slightly,
And that’s putting it politely.
Comrade, this is unbecoming.

MAY
Comrade, this is soul-benumbing.
Can’t you hear yourself succumbing?
Drink the Kool-Aid, be my guest!
(A pause.)

Leaders! Government! Religion!
Can it be I smell a smidgen
Of emissions retrogressive?
Well, now isn’t that impressive!
What a bloody brilliant showing!
At the rate this party’s going,
The panjandrums will be crowing
As we blithely self-destruct!

A hundred hearts, a hundred voices,
A hundred queries, courses, choices.
Send them all or don’t send any:
No voice but the voice of many!
If you have to, summarise us;
Compress, conflate, contextualise us;
But we fail when that divides us:
We’re united or we’re fucked.

~ Curtain ~

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Copyright wickedday 2010. Please credit (and, preferably, link) if you want to reproduce all or part of the text elsewhere.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2010 5:43 am

    “Operatic separatists” — have you nicked my idea without asking? Well, to be fair, the specific bit with the anarchists was your idea, and my idea for how to do this bit is completely different, so it’s not too much of a problem.

  2. wickedday permalink
    June 9, 2010 12:04 pm

    All I meant was that the germination process (as it were) involved operatic separatists (yours). I’m still not sure if the Anarchists’ Revue is actually in that world or not.

  3. June 9, 2010 3:48 pm

    Probably best if it’s not in that world, since I imagine it would be pretty hard to make an opera audience understand that the world portrayed on stage represents a world in which everyone is actually singing and where, somewhere outside the walls, people are not singing, and yet, presumably, the people singing on the stage are not singing what they’d actually be singing in the reality of the story otherwise, to quote Shirley Valentine, where did that orchestra come from? Well, the idea has some comic possibilities, but a hell of a lot more scope for confusion I think.

    Also: how does the idea of your Westside crew and my Eastside crew going out for some kind of jolly at the weekend strike you? We’re lacking the house branch of the Muse fan club at the moment, as they’re off getting their METAL on in Donington, but I’m fairly sure I could mobilise Belushi and the Count to go out and do something, perhaps even something un-booze-related, if you want to bring a posse?

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