A couple of times I have started writing to wade in at length on the whole Laurie Penny / Alex Calinicos online spat.
I was going to write something against Laurie Penny's political dilettantism (New Labour apparachik- to LibDem voter -to angry anracho-'new' Left). Another time I was actually going to write something supporting her criticism of the traditional Left's fetishisation of producing and selling newspapers.
On each occasion however I aborted the mission because wonderful and democratising though this whole online thing is, it actually provides the masturbatory oxygen that makes possible the whole Laurie Penny phenomenon. A phenomenon that the whole Orwell Prize thing seems to celebrate - and it troubles me.
It's a phenomenon that represents a new take on the very oldest form of 'vanguardism' - that of the intellectual in the movement. Relatively privileged people who think that have just invented being poor, or being young and angry - and along the way manage to pick up quite a nice career niche as the tame media-friendly wadicals of a new generation. In other words I look at her and see Tariq Ali.
Actually I do Tariq Ali an injustice; he might just be a media-twat these days but there was a time when he actually was an influence in the real world (albeit the student world) , and so for better or worse he came to represent something. A genuine moment in the history of the movement - and a bit more substantial than trading on the experience of being kettled for a few hours.
And meanwhile as - Though Cowards Flinch so well describes - life and struggle goes on.