Saturday 13 December 2014

Saturday Interview: Andrew Coates

Andrew Coates is from Ipswich and is perhaps the left's best-known Francophile. A veteran of the far left in France and Britain and noted for his Pabloist heresy, Coatesy's thoughts can be found over at the Tendance and on Twitter here.

What has been your best blogging experience?

The debate on Hitch 22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens (it received 324 comments).

This cleared the air about a lot of issues opposing the 'decents' and the Euston Manifesto types against the left. It really launched the blog

Have you any blogging advice for new starters?

Write about things you know about and write what you really think - don't just say what you think what people expect you to.

Do you find social media useful for activist-y things?

Very - Facebook and Twitter and as much a part of blogging as blogs themselves.

Who are your biggest intellectual influences?

European leftism: the German, French, and Italian lefts.

What are you reading at the moment?

Just finished Terry Eagleton's Culture and the Death of God.

What was the last film you saw?

Leviathan by Vladimir Vdovichenkov (last week); "a sober and compelling tragic drama of corruption and intimidation in contemporary Russia, set in a desolate widescreen panorama" - Guardian.

Do you have a favourite novel?

Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes - Honoré de Balzac. "One of the greatest tragedies of my life" wrote Oscar Wilde, "is the death of Lucien de Rubempré."

Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major influence on how you think about the world?

Lire le Capital - Louis Althusser.

How many political organisations have you been a member of?

International Marxist Group, Fédération pour une gauche alternative, Labour Party, Socialist Alliance - four.

Can you name an idea or an issue on which you've changed your mind?

Yes, I used to believe in specifically socialist democratic rights, now I also believe in universal human rights.

What set of ideas do you think it most important to disseminate?

Democratic Marxist socialism.

What set of ideas do you think it most important to combat?

Nationalism and religious bigotry.

Who are your political heroes?

Rosa Luxemburg, Jean Jaurès, and Andreu Nin (Andrés Nin).

How about political villains?

Apart from the obvious, Hitler; there's Stalin - he overshadows everybody on the left.

What do you think is the most pressing political task of the day?

Winning the coming election for Labour.

If you could affect a major policy change, what would it be?

Make Milband reject austerity.

What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?

Religious bigotry.

What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

Nil desperandum

What is your favourite song?

On lâche rien by HK & Les Saltimbanks.

Do you have a favourite video game?

I don't play games....

What do you consider the most important personal quality in others?


What personal fault in others do you most dislike?


What, if anything, do you worry about?


And any pet peeves?

People who rant about 'foreigners', and rant, and rant and rant.

What piece of advice would you give to your much younger self?

Travel as much as you can.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Gardening on the allotment, reading, going to the excellent Ipswich Film Theatre.

What is your most treasured possession?

Books - thousands of them!

Do you have any guilty pleasures?


What talent would you most like to have?

Playing a musical instrument.

If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true - apart from getting loads of money - what would you wish for?

Home internet connection.

Speaking of cash, how, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money?

I would immediately visit lots of European countries, starting with France and buy a flat in Paris.

If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be?

Victor Serge, William Hazlitt, and Flora Tristan.

Will Labour win next year?

I will do whatever I can to help this.