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Inciting Revolution


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Initial post: 24 Jun 2013 19:07:41 BDT
Does anyone know of any books other than Civilised Blood by Tom Phelps that appear to actually encourage people to overthrow bureaucrats and bad politicians

Posted on 24 Jun 2013 21:41:22 BDT
gille liath says:
Communist Manifesto too obvious?

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 06:42:23 BDT
Good point but Civilised Blood is a novel that is definitely trying to get the middle classes and workers to unite against unelected EU officials. Are there any works of fiction that are trying to do something similar against other groups of rulers?

Posted on 25 Jun 2013 11:29:32 BDT
Alexis Scott says:
'A VERY BRITISH COUP' by Chris Mullen was first published many years ago and that is when I read it so the memories are a little dim. As I recall it is more about the failure, or impossibility, of revolution. The book has been reprinted and indeed there appears to be renewed interest in the subject.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 20:24:20 BDT
I think the difference here is that Civilised Blood is very obviously trying to get people to think about successful ways to take on the unelected bureaucrats whereas you are 100% right that A Very British Coup made it sound impossible. I think you are also right that there is a renewed interest in the subject which is why I was looking to see if anyone else was attempting to provoke people into action. I hope this book is the beginning of a movement by writers and perhaps protest song writers as we need change.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 20:29:25 BDT
gille liath says:
I'm not sure whether this thread is for real - ie whether it is spam - but assuming not, I don't believe any book can have that impact in our culture. Books just don't have that sort of clout for us anymore. Besides, you would need to do more than just criticise and be negative - that's easy; the likes of Paine and Marx had a *positive* vision of what they wanted to put in place of existing structures. As far as I can see, nobody really has that vision today. If we get rid of what's there - and a lot of us would put capitalists rather than bureaucrats top of the list - what next?

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 20:38:19 BDT
I am not sure how spam gets into this but protest songs and street protests did create change. Books such as those by Dickens and pamphlets against slavery made a difference. Without supporting everything in Civilised Blood it does have a positive alternative to unelected bureaucratic power. However my point is more that the protest singers have been replaced with at best new folk from Mumford and Sons but without a message and I can't find anyone else other than Tom Phelps trying to get people to think about an alternative to unelected despotic power.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 20:42:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jun 2013 20:48:54 BDT
gille liath says:
*Did*, *made* - past tense. The media marketplace was a lot less crowded in those days.

There might be another reason too: the revolutionary feeling isn't there. To have the sort of impact we're talking about, I suspect a text has to be telling people something which they already believe. In other words it has to be the right message at the right time.

And as I say, for most of those who might potentially have revolutionary leanings, bureaucracy is not the main enemy. Is this going to be a UKIP revolution? ;)

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 20:53:42 BDT
Gille I think the problem as that we believe in the theory of democracy as a moral alternative to dictatorship but politicians in Europe are actually completely controlled by unelected bureaucrats or profit orientated capitalists. Sometimes the control is subtle and sometimes it is blatant. The "people" need some real power which is delivered constantly and effectively. Phelps proposes major changes to the EU way beyond Cameron's proposals and also uses an unattractive anti-hero to expose gross undemocratic powers and influences. I am not sure if his utopian solution would work but it is better than nothing. What I am searching for is the Dickens or Steinbeck or Bragg or Dylan or maybe Che who can inspire today's armchair critics of excess power to get up and do something. Civilised Blood is politically incorrect and will offend a lot of people who will see it mistakenly as right wing. So we need to find who else is trying to create the rebellion that is needed.

Posted on 25 Jun 2013 20:56:09 BDT
I also guess that as we seem alone on this discussion it proves your point that no-one really cares enough

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 21:07:04 BDT
gille liath says:
To be fair, this is the Fiction forum! The Politics forum has had lengthy discussions about this. Not so much the bureaucracy, though. To me, that seems a slightly strange thing to call for revolution against; surely that's just a symptom, not the system.

But I guess 'reform the EU!' isn't a sexy caption to sell a book with. :)

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 21:19:19 BDT
I don't think this book will sell because of many things that make it politically off centre. I will go to the political debate to see if anyone has identified texts and songs that might be more acceptable to those who are left of centre. Anyway we seem to be debating this alone and I think it will take more than 2 to start a protest against anything whether a cause or symptom

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 21:24:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jun 2013 21:25:35 BDT
gille liath says:
I think you're right. :)

You might have to dig for the discussion, it was a while ago - the one I'm thinking of had a title something like 'Wall Street Protest: what's the point?'. Zizek was mentioned, but I can't recall any other writer.

Posted on 25 Jun 2013 21:27:21 BDT
Alexis Scott says:
Of course fiction is of limited value but good fiction should make us think and in so doing help change our lives. I also read Zoe Fairbairns' feminist (arguably revolutionary feminist) novel way back in the 80s (shows how old I am!) and while that is still in print (I think) it is not at all popular.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 21:34:11 BDT
I Readalot says:
As you say gille this IS the fiction forum, not exactly the place to start a revolution, unless it is against the pricing of ebooks!

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2013 23:14:14 BDT
monica says:
I'm not knowledgeable about these things but I don't know of the authors you cite inspiring rebellion. Dickens, Steinbeck, Stowe (Uncle Tom's Cabin) may well have exposed social evils and may simply by making them known have inspired reform, but the only work of fiction I know of that may directly have led to bureaucratic change is Sinclair's The Jungle--bureaucratic change, mind you, not coup d'etat.

In fact, it just now occurs to me that any book propounding a Better Way that provokes a mass emotional response is probably not a good thing. (Cast your mind about for examples & you'll understand, I hope.) Informing rather than inflaming might be more effective: there were so many people who didn't know how wretched life was for child labourers, for migrant farmers, for humans & other animals in meat-packing plants and were aflame with indignation once they learned of their conditions and who consequently may have helped better them. If the book you refer to has stirred you to angrily question the state of things, so much the better (though personally I rest easier knowing that bureaucratic decisions aren't wholly made by my country's politicians) but calmly presented facts & figures and even case studies are more influential than polemic.

Dylan & Billy Bragg are singing to the choir, surely? gille liath, very very nice to see a post from you, despite your playing the bagpipes overhead at 3 a.m.

Posted on 26 Jun 2013 06:47:23 BDT
I think perhaps revolution is the wrong word as what is needed is constructive change. The trouble is that revolution sounds more decisive. Dickens, Steinbeck and supporters of Wilberforce certainly made people think and may have been catalysts in bring about change. Perhaps Phelps is hoping people will question a new creeping evil of excessive executive power started by the need to respond to 9/11 but abused by other branches of Government who were lured by the corrupting influence of unlimited control. In which case there have been movies that have questioned this distortion of democracy. Maybe people have changed and the written word does not have the power it previously had?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2013 09:13:52 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Jun 2013 09:19:51 BDT
TomC says:
"I guess 'reform the EU!' isn't a sexy caption to sell a book with. :) "

Oh, I don't know: "50 Shades Of UKIP" sounds pretty erotic to me.

Dominica Stern, Britain's newly-elected euro-MP, sat back in her chair, her leather dress moulding itself to the contours of her body. Before her grovelled the whimpering, naked figure of the French Commissioner, fresh whip marks showing as livid cuts on his pasty white skin.

"Now, Monsieur Escargot, I've been looking at your latest proposals to increase the agricultural subsidy, and I am very displeased with you. You know what that means, don't you, slave?"

"Oh please, Mistress, no more, I beg you! I'll do anything! Anything!"

Dominica purred with satisfaction. "Very good! Now crawl to me and lick the soles of my English boots!"

I think it's a winner ....

Posted on 26 Jun 2013 09:41:23 BDT
Alexis Scott says:
Of course we in Scotland are having a referendum on Independence next year and up here UKIP is an irrelevance. I have been looking out my old (unpublished) (political) stories written around the millennium and having a laugh because things haven't really changed that much. Or, at least , they haven't got any better. There is actually not that much new political fiction out there or perhaps publishers don't care to categorise it as such as it doesn't sell. Books do not have to be overtly political, of course, to be life-changing but perhaps British writers tend to avoid the big themes. I've had a look at the sample of 'Civilised Blood' and am slightly worried it reads like UKIP propaganda. Maybe because I'm pro-Europe. I think EU membership has done a lot for the UK. There may be problems but they brought us the working time regulations. And then there is the ECHR which is separate, of course but still a European thing.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2013 09:48:31 BDT
gille liath says:
This is it: in or out of the EU? In or out of the UK? Most of us want change, but we don't all want the same change.

Personally I think fiction should deal with 'themes', yes - I'd argue all fiction is political, whether consciously or not - but I'm not so sure about 'issues'. Fiction, pace Dickens et al, isn't the place for polemic. To put it as the budding authors here might: show, don't tell. Anyway, 'issue' novels have no appeal to me.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2013 09:49:26 BDT
gille liath says:
I'm sure all those people (is Nigel Farrage one?) who have pictures of Thatcher on their bedroom walls will love that...

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2013 09:49:58 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Jun 2013 09:51:49 BDT
gille liath says:
And I stuffed cotton wool in the drones, just for you...

I do think polemic can still be influential, but it has to be telling people what they already want to hear. Facts, figures etc - well, you can prove anything with statistics can't you guv?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2013 09:57:26 BDT
Ethereal says:
Every writer has unconscious influences, that's why it's interesting to compare past and present writers and the worlds they were writing in.

I don't think writers should seek to influence readers, I hate to feel lectured at. If books bring about change I think it's a by-product.

Posted on 26 Jun 2013 10:44:06 BDT
Alexis Scott says:
Personally I have nothing against satire.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2013 11:44:09 BDT
Kriss says:
I do not recall any. No one publishes such books, which might topple the apple-cart.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  39
Initial post:  24 Jun 2013
Latest post:  27 Jun 2013

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