A smashing debut from Scottish observer, pundit, commentator, rapper & social-activist Darren McGarvey (also known as Loki). His sphere? Let’s contract it to poverty-class-community, in which ever order you so desire. Growing up in Pollok, in south Glasgow with a whole heap of hard-knocks, Darren’s authority & experience outstands pretty much everybody in the spectrum at an elevated level (I can only really think of Stafford Scott, who actually doesn’t have as much access to established platforms).
I use the description “elevated level” as in inclusion & access to major media platforms (how often & to what degree is another angle, as this guy can clearly unsettle & outperform his ‘peers’ in the field before we even get to authentic emersion & experience based credentials). I also recognize him from the excellent “The Divide” documentary (previously reviewed on this website) that examined impecunity & wealth inequality in the US & UK to great effect. Anyway, this guy is VERY fucking good…VERY! Sections of this book are exceedingly powerful & lucidly accurate in their explanation & examination, boring to the absolute depths & rolling out the crux & kernels in a very comprehensive fashion. From a massive pantheon of vantages & acutely penetrating assessment purposes – its really worth reading this book if you have any serious interest in the multiple conjoining subjects. Even if you feel ‘you know it all’, McGarvey brings definition & clarity, to both the obvious & the more amorphous underlining complexities & some of the lesser mapped but extremely important & crucial primary/accompanying features that are often overlooked or marginalized in the debate/war. Just one such thoroughfare that is rolled-out for dissection in the chapter ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ is “stress” & its contribution to the whole jeremiad of affliction & problems that thrive in ‘poverty’. I find that the subject of stress (& perhaps specifically poverty related stress) is way too frequently fleeting & minor for the immensely insidious & damaging creature that it is. In terms of debilitation & perhaps even worse, the extremely bad life-states & psychological spheres that it prompts & places people in. it is of course not just terrible for the victim, but such poor states then lead to the externalization which degrades the community, environs & cohabitants as well as encouraging drastic forms of amelioration or escape (substance abuse being the most obvious) in an absolute circle of shit. There is actually a law that can be used to sue – “causing alarm or distress to the individual (or something like that)”. When you look at the torture that is compulsory with so much of today’s system-driven, faceless, machine bureaucracy, which is often compulsory, intimidating, remorseless, unreasoning, preemptive & peremptory; you really need a law suit against the agents responsible themselves & the horror they cause. Any level of significant stress, especially if its prolonged, has to be considered criminal & inherently (anti-social/pernicious/against societal interest) in the first degree. Unfortunately, that stress is considered a precious sedative & vital distraction for the fooling arses, who manipulate it to great personal advantage.
In another brilliant chapter ‘The Way We Live Now’ Darren delivers the best piece I have read on the sanctity & importance of public libraries. These places have been absolutely decimated since the Cancervative’s came to power in the wake of barbaric cuts to public amenities. Not only that, but as Darren elucidates so well, these spaces have been badly degraded by being forced to adopt ‘emergency’ compromise & essentially provide host to “community-center” & “third sector organizations”. Personally, I used to love libraries. Unfortunately, as a result of this retrograde devaluation, they have become some of the shittest places available & your better off on a bench on a busy road (if you can actually find one?). The anti-logical mobile-phone-tolerance along with some kind of mass pro inconsiderate-shit-bag exceptionalism topped off by the frankly insane decision to put giant mother & baby groups in the same building (often without any structure of separation). A place of lucubration, scribe & quiet is now a singing nursery & scream fest (literally)??? You have to have your brain filed down with nerves still attached by some geek singing “up little bunnies” for the 500th time & literally encouraging infant kids to screel like screaming kettles on a full flame. By accident or design, its ruined, unless you’re looking to stockpile resentment, anger, exasperation, despair & enmity towards your fellow man.
In yet another great chapter of note “The Stranger”, McGarvey covers & accounts the very difficult subject of establishment & shall we say ‘administrative’ & perhaps also ‘higher-echelon’ classes, positions & residents that cover ‘representational’ reporting on such matters (the fuckers are everywhere in media like some kind of embedded cult). Its pretty amazing reading & an area I would very much like to hear him expand on, as very few people of his caliber & origins are ‘admitted’ or granted ‘agency’ in these fields (not to mention the strength & scope of his skills & analysis).An extremely valuable book & voice.
“- I always just thought the aim was to dismantle poverty. However, once you see the mechanics of the poverty industry up close, you realise it’s in a state of permanent growth and that without individuals, families and communities in crisis there would no longer be a role for these massive institutions.”
2017, Picador, 205 pages