Article in Emergency, No. 2 (1984)
What was ‘Emergency’? After Big Flame folded, some of us tried out a different type of political intervention, this time confined to writing. I don’t know who had the idea first, but Pete Ayrton asked me to join up with Sarah Martin (like Pete, a member of Big Flame from the start), Mark Ainley (a long-standing member who became the National Secretary) Paul Gilroy (briefly a member of Big Flame), Vron Ware, John Merrington and Malcolm Imrie. I see that John Solomos and Dave McKay are listed as editors in the first edition (Winter 1983/4) but I don’t recall seeing them at meetings.
Emergency’s founding editorial opened with these words:
With the Tory nightmare about to start in earnest, rigour mortis setting in on the organised left, and the shape of post-industrial society indeterminate, this may seem a strange moment to start a new magazine. Bleak as it looks, we think it’s time to take some chances, to stir things up and short circuit the fear which drives people back into the illusory safety of worn-out idas and obsolete political institutions. The dying dynasaurs and high-flying technocrats can’t be allowed to win by default.
Emergency insists that there is more to political life that either capitulating to the forces of darkness or brooding over the details of our oppression in the committee rooms . . . Emergency seeks to play a part in giving shape to the political forms that will arise out of the disorder and disaffection that is sure to increase over the next decade.
That issue had articles, stories, drawings, photographs and cartoons by Farrukh Dhondy, Robin Jenkins, Joe Sim, John Barker, Vron Ware, Eileen Phillips, Cliff Harper, Toni Negri, Ben Lowe, Pete Ayrton, Ursula Huws and Andre Gorz.
Emergency’s editorial group changed a little in its short life – Issue 3 (new Year 1985) was edited by Ainley, Ayrton, Farrar, Gilroy, Martin, Ware and Andy Pearmain and Mandy Rose. Issue 4 (no date) was edited by Ainley, Ayrton, Farrar, Gilroy, Rose, Ware and Kate Pullinger. I can’t find the final issue (5) which appeared in 1987. One day I’ll post a list of the contents of all five.
I wrote ‘Love and Dread in Modern Times’ for Issue 2 in a heart-felt effort to combine my growing sense of depression with the solace I found found in some pop music, and in the writings of the early Karl Marx and the existentialists. The article was a strange confection.
Love and Dread in Modern times can be downloaded here.
For more on Big Flame, click here