The concerning rise of French Situationism in Thornton Heath

By - Thursday 16th May, 2013

Is the north of the borough becoming a breeding ground for cultural Marxists?

By now, many of you will be familiar with this viral video of a man and his female consort enjoying an evening meal together in the middle of Whitehorse Road in Thornton Heath.

Apparently oblivious to the underlying political message of this contrived spectacle, the video has provoked derision and amazement in equal measure from the general public and media, causing one local paper to pose the question – “Croydon’s answer to Jackass – or just a Jackass?”.

Clearly, the gentleman, who was later identified as ‘Ashley Inkz’  is waging a systematic war on everything the Croydon bourgeoise hold sacred: heteronormative gender roles, the Common Agricultural Policy, and the liberties afforded by paying one’s road tax.

Far from being a puerile Jackass copycat or a poorly-educated figure of mirth, Mr Inkz has actually shown himself to be the rightful heir of the Situationist tradition.

‘Situationism’ refers to a mid-20th century European movement which was fostered by Marxist artists, intellectuals, and political theorists. Although the movement was incredibly multi-faceted, fundamental to it was a unified critique of advanced capitalism of which a primary concern was the progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects.

An important concept of situationist theory was the primary means of counteracting the spectacle; the construction of situations, moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of life and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life.

Incredibly, what took the cultural Marxists of yesteryear decades to achieve, Inkz was able to realise in less than two minutes as he effortlessly deconstructs the vanities of modern British life.

Who knew merely eating a chicken burger could challenge the status quo – this act of mastication is almost probably at least as significant as Gandhi’s Salt March.

Undoubtedly, the spectre of postcolonialism hangs heavily over this urban vignette. It can be no coincidence that Inkz chose to stage this spectacle in the same year as the 65th anniversary of HMS Windrush arriving in Britain.

Nor can his skin colour be ignored,  for Inkz is a black man in a predominantly Caucasian land. Only time (and a financially-wasteful public enquiry led by the council) will tell if it was his pigmentation that ultimately drove him to tastefully arrange miniature plastic furniture on an A-road, or if it is completely and utterly irrelevant. Either way, I suspect it was incidents like this that Enoch Powell prophesied during his Rivers of Blood speech – except the figurative tributaries of arteriol spray have extended to unleaded fuel too.

Inkz’s urban vignette uncompromisingly forces us to address the similarities between the Victorian-era ‘Scramble for Africa’ and present-day Westfield’s exploitation of Croydon’s economic and social capital

Jackass or misunderstood intellectual? You decide.

Jackass or misunderstood intellectual? You decide.

Let us also not forget the female protagonist in this elaborate example of urban epic theatre. In a knowing nod to Guyatri Spivak’s essay Can the Subaltern Speak?, the woman in the video is mute throughout as Inkz repeatedly tells the drivers to “Shut up…shut your mouth!”. Together, the duo subtly highlight the plight of an economic strata of functionally-silenced females whose reality can only ever be understood through the enlightened think-pieces of Polly Toynbee and Harriet Harman.

Not content to appropriate the contemporary feminist movement, Inkz’s situationist tendencies reveal where his other sympathies lie: with environmentalists and Eurosceptics.

His aggrieved cries of, “F*ck off and let me eat my food in peace” will resonate with anyone who has even a working knowledge on the effects of the Common Agricultural Policy on Thornton Heath’s food economy. And whilst I wouldn’t be so reckless as to out him as working with a radicalised terrorist group, it does seem quite obvious to me that Inkz’s actions are the sort of extreme stunt we’ve come to expect from the Croydon Green Party.

Most interestingly, what looks like an unsophisticated demonstration against fossils fuels and qualitative easing, actually goes beyond an oblique fixation with the material and penetrates deep inside the existential heart of Man:

What is Man’s telos if he cannot progress? Forever doomed to an arrested development (existentially and on the A212)…

Inkz’s obstruction of traffic (clearly a metaphor for ‘progress’) forces us to question concepts of agency, autonomy and self-determination. Do we control our destinies? Are we nothing more than the random product of time + chance + amoral matter? Or, is there an uncaused Cause – both transcendent and immutable – which is sovereign over everything we do and enjoys eating fried chicken? I think we should be told.

There are many who have made much of the urbane, bright young things that congregrate at Matthews Yard in central Croydon, but Inkz’s brazen act of feng shui has single-handedly challenged this precocious loci of intelligentsia. No one is safe from his unique brand of anarchy.

So the next time you see a young male with low-seated trousers and a Nu Era snapback bopping through Broad Green Village – just remember: that could very easily be the next Raoul Venageim.

Surprised to see Croydon has such promising and stimulating intellectual talent, and *hungry* for more?

Check out Croydon Tech City.

Come along on Thursday May 30th at 7.30pm for a ‘Women in Tech’ event featuring demos, prsentations and a panel with the UK tech scene’s leading ladies. If you are interested in attending, please sign up here.

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose

Jonny Rose is a committed Christian who has lived in the Croydon area for nearly twenty years. He is an active participant in his local community, serving at Grace Vineyard Church and organising Purley Breakfast Club, and was ranked "Croydon's 37th most powerful person" by the Croydon Advertiser (much to his amusement). He is the Head of Content at marketing technology company Idio, the founder of the Croydon Tech City movement, a LinkedIn coach, and creator of Croydon's first fashion label, Croydon Vs The World. Working on Instagram training. Views are his own, but it would be best for all concerned if you shared them. Please send your fanmail to: jonnyrose1 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  • Gary James

    WRT ” the liberties afforded by paying one’s road tax.” As ‘Road Tax’ hasn’t existed for many decades I’d love to know what liberties are being alluded to.

  • Mario Creatura

    Sorry – I vote ‘Jackass’. Croydon Citizen poll perhaps?

  • Alessandro Zambelli

    As Guy Debord said, “Pour savoir écrire, il faut avoir lu, et pour savoir lire, il faut savoir vivre.” Apparently.

  • Christopher Matthews

    Well, I must hand it to you. These are quite pretty sentences. It reminds me of this ancient Arabic quote which I’ll type here in Arabic to keep it’s beauty: تهانينا، لقد ترجمت بشكل صحيح فقط هذا جزء من النص باستخدام خدمة ترجمة على الانترنت.

    • Jonny Rose

      I agree – “ham-fisted anus tripe” does look much more palatable in the original Arabic.

  • Terry Coleman

    Perhaps the young couple were just trying to draw attention to themselves, for reasons I could not possibly fathom.

  • Terry Coleman

    Ah, I think I may have it: They were promoting the idea for a restaurant quarter to the north of the borough.

  • Tw1itteratti

    Wonderful post Jonny. You show that there is intellectual life in Croydon even as there are human fruit bowls holding up traffic. I only wish Inkz had brought napkins, a candelabra and cutlery to his critique of capitalism.