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Stuart Hall

photo © Eamonn McCabe

photo © Eamonn McCabe

Just devastated to hear about the loss of Stuart Hall, one of our most profound and challenging thinkers, and a lovely man too. Maybe his complex relationship to Britain as an ‘outside insider’ gave him unique insight into our culture and politics.
I loved the fact that he recognised the importance of intellectual thought to the ‘left’ project, something we see all too little of in this country. His recognition of the enduring significance of Thatcherism was often vilified on the left, particularly amongst those for whom nothing ever changes and ‘the problem is always capitalism and the answer always socialism’. His characterisation of Thatcherism as ‘authoritarian populism’ brought a rare understanding of the relationship between cultural, economic and social reality, which embraced rather than rejected popular cultures.
His influence on a generation of thinkers, political activists and cultural practitioners has been immense and probably under appreciated. Above all he taught me that the terrain of struggle is always developing and shifting ground, that marxism is not one fixed thing that is either simply ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and his championing of Gramsci’s dictum “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” is the perfect dialectic for our times. I shall be playing some of his beloved Miles Davis today.

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