“You are involved”

by Nicholas Laughlin on February 2, 2011

I really wish al-jazeera could call on CLR James right now.

That was a comment made on Twitter three days ago by The Public Archive, a small collective of historians based at Vanderbilt University.

Like them, like many people, I’ve spent much of the past week observing from afar the astonishing events in Egypt, where hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of citizens have been protesting against President Hosni Mubarak and his government, calling for freedom and democracy. Like many people, I’ve been constantly refreshing websites and blogs, watching the stream of commentary and information (and misinformation) on Twitter, and watching Al Jazeera’s TV coverage via their website. I’ve watched — witnessed — as an optimistic, upbeat mass movement took a violent turn today, when pro-Mubarak protestors — hired thugs, according to many people on the ground in Cairo — attacked the main body of peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

And I’ve reached for Martin Carter. I’ve been reading his early poems of the 1950s — the poems, in particular, of The Hill of Fire Glows Red and Poems of Resistance. Their ferocity seems recharged by the images and stories from Cairo — “I will make my shirt / a banner / for the revolution,” “Wherever you fall comrade I shall arise” — but also their moral imperative, and their hope.


You Are Involved

This I have learnt:
today a speck
tomorrow a hero
hero or monster
you are consumed!

Like a jig
shakes the loom.
Like a web
is spun the pattern
all are involved!
all are consumed!

— Martin Carter,
from Poems of Resistance from British Guiana

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