A modest proposal: we need Enemybook

Don't be tricked into electronic friendship.

If you're off it, people will reasonably assume that you have contracted a disease. No, not medicine- Facebook: the free medium of self-promotion. Go to mine and you'll see that I speak 5 languages (Russian, Gaeilge, Clackamas, Dompo and Yawdanch) and have 60,000 friends. Self-promotion it certainly is. I once spoke to another person with close to 60,000 friends; we had an interesting conversation in which he pointed to miscellaneous household objects, labelling them all in Japanese.

But Facebook also tricks us in another way. Have you ever sat and looked through a few hundred photographs of Dave's party, wondering why you weren't invited and brazenly insulting the "terribly dressed and really annoying" people grinning at your screen-blazed eyes? I know you have. A key reason behind Facebook's success is its understanding of, and enhancement of, the negative side of human nature: envy, nosiness and an affinity for insults (can be good). This is all fair enough, my complaint is that Facebook is providing an outlet for this human behaviour under the guise of friendship; Dave's party-goers aren't your friends! Stop shimmying around a land of anonymous mates amiably poking you and embrace cruel (social-networking) human nature. It is time for Enemybook.

Keep enemies close to by staying up-to-date on their family holidays and favourite pastimes. Is Jane Eyre their new favourite book? Maybe you should write as your status that you hate it. Instead of a poke, why not gouge? Electronically vomit on people's walls, view enemy pages adorned with pictures of "Your Worst Moment Together" - the potential of this ingenious idea is endless. So someone make it and send me the money - I just need to go and laugh at the annoying guy from the café's new profile picture.

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At last, Jeremy Corbyn gets the biography he deserves

Liam Young reviews Richard Seymour's Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics.

Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics is the fullest and fairest account of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise released to date. In avoiding much of the rhetoric espoused in similar accounts focusing on Corbyn’s early career this book provides a frank account of how the unlikely leader took charge of the Labour party. It is a very readable account too. Richard Seymour writes plainly but effectively and his writing is both accessible and incredibly informative.

Seymour attempts two monumental tasks in this piece: first he attempts to account for Corbyn’s rise and then he attempts to predict where such a rise will take him, the Labour party and the wider left. Zoe Williams wrote that Rosa Prince’s Comrade Corbyn was an account of “ex-girlfriends, the state of his flat” and featured “very little ideological insight”. Seymour does the opposite. In simultaneously engaging with Marxist and Gramscian theory, Seymour provides readers with something of academic value in the place of such gossip.

For any supporter of Corbyn, the first few chapters are a trip down Memroy Lane. Reading of the last minute rush to get Corbyn on the ballot paper sends the heart beating once more. While perhaps a niche political event, supporters know where they were the minute Corbyn’s place on the ballot was confirmed. The fact that we know the outcome of the uncertainty that surrounded the leadership election doesn't detract from the reading.

Seymour’s work is not simply the polar-opposite of Prince’s hit-job though. It would be wrong to suggest that it is a positive, self-fulfilling account of Corbyn’s rise. In many ways it is a hard hitting and realistic look at what lies ahead. For supporters of the Labour leader much of Seymour’s analysis will be discomforting; indeed the writer concludes that it is likely “labourism” will outlive “Corbynism”.

Such a view is hardly surprising though. Seymour’s repertoire of anti-establishment work suggests that it was always unlikely he would find a comfortable home in an establishment party. In this sense it suffers from being an account written by an outsider looking in. While the Marxist analysis of the Labour party is thought-provoking it seems too lengthy and seems to fit with an orthodox view surrounding the inevitable death of the Labour party.

Seymour’s concentration on “movement-building” is pertinent though. Utilising Jeremy’s own words on such a phenomenon is an effective tool. In drawing this distinction Seymour pokes at an open wound on the left asking exactly where all of this fits. It is about time that frank discussion on this topic was had. While there is a range of different opinions on the matter, Seymour’s intervention is an important initial step. It is an awkward conversation that the left can put off no longer.

The criticism levelled at the media is also well founded and long overdue. Seymour’s take on long established journalists who refused to accept Corbynmania makes for entertaining reading. On a more important note the fact that he credits social media as a central part of Corbyn’s campaign is interesting. The importance of this often overlooked element has been a point of debate within “Team Corbyn” and Seymour is right to poke at it.

Seymour’s work is, on the whole, a refreshing take on the events of last summer and a thought-provoking piece on the future of the Labour party. It is important to note that rather than viewing this book as an account of Corbyn’s campaign it should be seen as a review of the context surrounding Corbyn’s victory. Given that context is open to interpretation it is only fair to add the caveat that it should be read with an understanding of Seymour’s ideological foundation. Though I disagree with his conclusion concerning the Labour party’s future, I found it an important read. With an accessible yet authoritative tone Seymour manages the task of providing an academic insight into Corbyn’s election. Such analysis is far more valuable than words wasted on rumour and gossip – Seymour does well to avoid this and should be proud to have done so.

Liam Young is a commentator for the IndependentNew Statesman, Mirror and others.