Thursday, September 30, 2004


Been a bit busy lately - procrastination can take it out of you - which means that I've been a bit backward in coming forward in updating the blog. I may or may not get back to regular blogging in the next few days. I'm not sure if I want to continue with this blogging business. The original *cough* mission statement, in setting up the blog, was to try and get into the habit of regular writing. The truth is I can't really be arsed - I will always be more Oblomov than Goncharev when it comes to such dedicated and disciplined matters.
If I do get to pull my finger out with regards to the blog, then I really will have to change the template - it has been bugging me for ages now (and has probably contributed to me not updating the blog as often as I should). Nothing fancy - just another shameless steal from Bloggers offer of free templates. I would also have to update the sidebar. I really need to update my links - reciprocating to those who have linked to my blog, etc. Apologies to those of you out there for my slackness - it is just part of a general pattern.
Rather than just leave this message and blog hanging in such a 'face like a slapped arse' miserablist fashion, I thought I would take the opportunity to take a leaf out of the SIAW triumverate's book (otherwise known as shamelessly ripping them off) by reproducing below a favourite poem of mine. They have for the last few days taken it upon themselves to updating their blog with a selection of their favourite poetry. As they apparently got the inspiration for the idea from this guy , I don't feel half as guilty about also partially lifting the title of their thread, 'Otherwise Engaged', and calling this post Otherwise Detained.
I can't pretend to be the greatest afficiando of poetry - this blogger here knows his onions when it comes to poetry - but I read the following piece in a collection of thrities poetry recently and it caught my eye for its humour. The collected lyrics of Paul Weller may be cut and pasted at a later date.
Bagpipe Music It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crepe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with head of bison.
John MacDonald found a corpse, put it under the sofa,
Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,
Sold its eyes for souvenirs, sold its blood for whiskey,
Kept its bones for dumbbells to use when he was fifty.
It's no go the Yogi-man, it's no go Blavatsky,
All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi.
Annie MacDougall went to milk, caught her foot in the heather,
Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna.
It's no go your maidenheads, it's no go your culture,
All we want is a Dunlop tire and the devil mend the puncture.
The Laird o' Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober,
Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.
Mrs. Carmichael had her fifth, looked at the job with repulsion,
Said to the midwife "Take it away; I'm through with overproduction."
It's no go the gossip column, it's no go the Ceilidh,
All we want is a mother's help and a sugar-stick for the baby.
Willie Murray cut his thumb, couldn't count the damage,
Took the hide of an Ayrshire cow and used it for a bandage.
His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish,
Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.
It's no go the Herring Board, it's no go the Bible,
All we want is a packet of fags when our hands are idle.
It's no go the picture palace, it's no go the stadium,
It's no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,
It's no go the Government grants, it's no go the elections,
Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.
It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.
Louis Macneice

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bob Doolally writes . . . .

I was originally going to entitle this post: 'The Script was Already Written', before I realised that the same cliche had already been used by every proper football journalist reporting on the game last night. Yes, it was obvious Larsson was going to score and, football being football, it just had to be the killer third goal after Celtic had forced their way back into the game after Marshall's penalty save and Sutton's equaliser.
Don't know what else to write on the matter, except to say that my replica 1970s Barcelona top is in severe danger of being binned. That's a strong reaction from me - 'cos I didn't even get shot of it three or four years ago after a pissed up Real Madrid fan took exception to me wearing it, whilst we were both standing in Trafalgar Square (after yet another bloody march). Me thinking - "For fucks sake, yet another bastard Swoppie speaker on the platform not mentioning that they are speaking on behalf of the SWP Party Line rather than the front organisation they are claiming to represent." Him thinking - ¿What's ese Scotsman híbrido que hace usando un balompié Jersey de Barcelona?*
Until the heat dies down, if anyone asks, I'll deny that the shirt has any connection with Barca and just state that my second team is Smurf FC, who just happened to hammer The Muppets 4-0 in a pre-season friendly a few years back and, since then, I have always had a soft spot for them.
* He spoke very bad Spanish. The above translates as: "What's that Scotsman hybrid that does using a Jersey soccer football of Barcelona? " Which is an amazing coincidence 'cos that is what you get in Spanish if you type "What is that Scottish bastard doing wearing a Barcelona Football shirt." into Babel Fish and then try and retranslate it back into English. He obviously couldn't handle his drink, but as for what Babel Fish has been drinking I wouldn't venture to guess.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Party Line

A telephone conversation from recent memory: Socialist (Putting on his best telephone voice): Hello, is that Such and Such Library? I'm ringing on behalf of a com-, *cough*, colleague, who mentions that your library doesn't appear to have the Socialist Standard in its periodical section despite the fact that, according to our database, we send it to your library every month. Head Librarian (Posh voice - this posh): I am sure I have seen it come in. I will check with a colleague to ensure that it comes in next month and get back to you on the matter. Socialist (Just trying to make light of the matter): It's probably a case of one of your librarians being an SWP member and inadvertently misplacing it every month. Head Librarian: Bugger the SWP - I used to be a member of Class War. I'll make sure it gets on the shelf. Socialist: . . . . . . . .

Monday, September 13, 2004

"Pro-intelligence, anti-intellectual"

Is this connected to this and this? I certainly hope so. UPDATE Damn - I should have titled the post ' A Pseud Cornered'. Maybe next time - 'l'esprit d'escalier' and all that. Fuck, I'm coming down with it now. Never mind, I could do with that tenner.


The following report courtesy of the Skookum Talk blog about class struggle in so-called 'Socialist' China.
Hundreds of police break up factory occupation in China
By John Chan13 September 2004
In the early morning of August 30, around 1,200 paramilitary police officers, security personnel and plain-clothes police stormed the Banan Special Vehicle Factory in the Chongqing municipality of Sichuan province to forcibly break up a 12-day occupation by workers. The protest was sparked the corrupt sale of the state-owned enterprise and concerns over back-pay and jobs.
A retired worker told Radio Free Asia that police blocked the entrances of nearby workers’ apartments to prevent them from joining the protest. Clashes with workers occurred when riot police forcibly entered the factory and at least one old woman had her arm broken. “Most workers are extremely angry,” the worker said.
She told the reporter that 90 percent of workers at the factory were owed wages, even before “restructuring”. The government and management had promised to pay them, but no money had materialised. Moreover, some workers’ wages were as low as 80 yuan ($US9) a month.
Protest leaders issued appeals for help on the dissident Internet website—the World of Workers and Peasants. They described the situation in the factory as a “white terror” with brick walls being built to fortify the buildings, and searches being conducted for strike leaders. About 100 security personnel were guarding the entrances to the factory.
The incident is typical of the violent police methods used to enforce the sale of state-owned enterprises—a process that has resulted in millions of workers being thrown out of a job and cheated of wages and pensions
The factory was previously operated by a government weapons manufacturer, Unit 3403, under the Chengdu Military Zone. Like many other state-owned firms, it went bankrupt in June under managing director Zhang Ermao, who was accused of systematic financial plundering.
Under Chinese law, the bankrupt enterprise had to be auctioned publicly. However, a group of corrupt government officials and businessmen decided to sell the factory, estimated to be worth 200 million yuan ($US24 million), for just 22 million yuan to the private company Naide, run by Lin Chaoyang.
Managing director Zhang had already been “cooperating” with Naide since 2002 in helping to “restructure” the factory’s operations. Naide had itself been a state-owned plant before being taken over by its former manager Lin. As part of this “cooperation”, Naide exploited the Unit 3403 factory to produce vehicles and motorbike engines for its subsidiaries, ending in the unit’s bankruptcy.
Zhang immediately went into hiding once the factory was declared bankrupt to avoid workers who were demanding that he explain and secure their jobs and pay. It was later found out that he had been appointed to a highly paid managerial position with Naide and had enjoyed a holiday in the western province of Xinjiang, leaving the unit’s workers to fend for themselves.
The deal to sell the factory was done behind the backs of workers. When the news spread, workers resolved to occupy the factory on August 18 to demand the government provide an explanation and punish Zhang for the corrupt sale. At the same time, they declared that if the plant were to be sold for 22 million yuan, then the 3,000 employees would raise a fund of 30 million yuan to buy the factory and run it themselves under “democratic management”.
The following day, the Banan district government, as well as the police bureau and officials from the Chongqing economic commission, confirmed the sale and warned the workers to withdraw. On August 19, Zhang and Naide’s boss Lin sent some 60 thugs to try to intimidate the workers.
Over the next two days, Lin forced all male employees working at his company to cancel their weekend leave and sent them by bus to attack the occupying workers at the 3403 factory. However, many refused to participate after the unit’s workers explained what had happened.
At the same time, using the pretext of conducting an “investigation”, police entered the factory and tried to arrest the strike leaders but they escaped. An attempt by Lin to buy off the workers’ leaders with a bribe of 400,000 yuan was rejected.
On the morning of August 24, the city committee of the Chongqing Communist Party organised negotiations with the workers and demanded to enter the factory. Workers agreed but refused to allow the officials into the financial department, which contained the evidence of malpractice and corruption. As the purpose of this ruse was to destroy the incriminating financial evidence, “negotiations” collapsed.
The following day, 300 police appeared at the factory, declaring that the property already belonged to Naide and thus the occupation was illegal. They refused to listen when workers demanded the presentation of the legal documents of the sale and the opening the company’s books, insisting that the “illegal private company gets out of here”.
“The factory is bankrupt and employees’ legal rights must be protected,” workers said. “We need redundancy pay and money for food and health care. Because of the lack of money for sick workers, three people have already tried to commit suicide by jumping from the top of buildings. Two are dead and one seriously injured.”
During the protest, the unit’s workers have made several appeals on the Internet. In a letter published on August 27, an organiser explained that similar incidents had been taken at several state-owned factories in the region in recent years, only to be brutally suppressed by the Chongqing police bureau. “Now the tragedy is turning on us,” he wrote.
The organiser denounced the crimes of managers and Communist Party cadre in looting the “hard labour of workers’ blood and sweat”. He said they had used the company’s money to set up businesses for their families and had been involved in illegal trade contracts to plunder state-owned assets. At the end of the year, management shared the annual dividend amounting to hundreds of thousands of yuan, but gave little to the employees.
After this letter appeared, the organiser disappeared. On the eve of the August 30 police crackdown, other workers raised concerns on the Internet that he and other organisers may have been arrested, because the Chongqing branch of National Security Bureau (the secret police) reportedly had become involved.
The vicious state repression used to end the factory operation demonstrates once again that the Stalinist leadership in Beijing has nothing to do with socialism. From top to bottom, the bureaucracy is guided by the slogan first enunciated by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping: “To get rich is glorious”. Over the past 25 years, officials from the local to the national level have engaged in the looting of state-owned enterprises at the expense of tens of millions of workers, while opening up the country for foreign investors and the capitalist market.
Workers from the Unit 3403 factory wrote a letter to Wu Guangzheng, a powerful member of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee, appealing to him to stop the violent attacks and to act on their demands. But they received no response. After the police crackdown on August 30, workers warned that they would not stop their campaign and issued a defiant statement denouncing the government.
“The Chongqing government thinks they are safe now after suppressing workers at the 3403 factory but they forget that incidents like this are taking place everywhere in China. The highest decision-making body should also not think this is just an isolated phenomenon. If this type of ‘restructuring’ to privatise state-owned assets allows entrepreneurs to continue and spread, all of China will burn in a fire of revolution..
“If the Chinese government doesn’t want to collapse, doesn’t want an escalation of large-scale social unrest and wants to maintain social stability, then it must stop ‘restructuring’ and privatisations as soon as possible. Otherwise, a working class revolution is inevitable, it is just a matter of time.”

Sunday, September 12, 2004

"A sandal-wearing bearded fruit-juice drinker."

I'm not that big on the Jesus debate - you know the one: Was he the son of god? Did he actually exist? Was he in fact a revolutionary freedom fighter against the yoke of Roman Imperialism, but whatever else, he did provide Bill Hicks with a decent gag*; Billy Connolly with his best stand up routine; a smart opening to one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century; and his *cough* life did provide all the po-faced paper sellers out there (guilty as charged) the opportunity to pretend that they have a sense of humour when - pissed on foul tasting Weatherspoon's Real Ale - they recite the 'People's Front of Judea' routine at each other.
However, I think that - as the campaign poster below indicates - the Bush Campaign Team may have a point. Think about it - the bloke in the picture has a beard, has been known to wear sandals (the biblical scholars have yet to establish whether or not this was with or without socks), believes that the role of the state is in benign intervention to help the poor (not for them to help themselves, mind) and thinks that the problems of the world can be sorted out via a scheduled committee meeting (think Last Supper) with properly typed up minutes from the last meeting, and committee members only allowed to speak through the chair.
I can now exclusively reveal that Jesus Christ is alive and well, and is serving as a Liberal Democrat Parish Councillor in a small hamlet just outside Cirencester in Gloucestershire.
The pic is courtesy of the always readable and scribbable Backward Dave, who got it from here, who probably got it from someone else. The bad jokes are all my own.
* "A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. You think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a fucking cross? It's like going up to Jackie Onassis wearing a rifle pendant."

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"It's what's inside that counts."

From this week's Private Eye 'Funny Old World' section. No link available, so I have had to type it out in full:
"The little missus was away at a Tupperware convention, so I had to do my own laundry," Klansman Arnie Stevens told reporters outside his house in Pigeon Hole, Oklahoma. "But I'm not used to washing clothes, and they say this has happened because I didn't separate my whites from my colourds. A Cincinnati Reds tee-shirt must have gotten into the wash, that's why my robe turned pink. This just goes to show that segregation is the way of the Lord. In laundry and also in life."
Stevens was speaking after trying to attend a Ku Klux Klan rally, dressed in a pink hood and pink robe, and being ordered to leave. "I only have one robe and hood, so I had to wear them. But the others told me to go home immediately, because they said pink made me look like a faggot. Unfortunately, my fellow Klansmen judged me solely on the colour of my robe. But I can't help what colour my robe is, can I? It's what's inside that counts."
(Maryland Live Journal, 27/5/04. Spotter: David Harvey)

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Resolutionary Socialism

Oops - been a bit slack lately on the old blogging front.
Apart from turning up occasionally in other people's Comments boxes - Hello Lenny! - I've been elsewhere in cyberspace in recent weeks, but I guess I'll try and post a bit more on the blog in the near future. The blogging world can never have enough bad jokes and decent taste in music.
Just to ease me back into posting, I thought I would cut and paste below the following poem, 'Ode To A Committee', that someone posted on the Socialist Unity Network website. From what I can gather, the Socialist Unity Network is the latest example of a support network made up of fragments from the various 'Generals Without Armies' who have now rediscovered such long forgotten concepts as democracy, openess and a sense of humour within the workers movement - aah bless.
The words of the poem I have lived through many, many times; sitting through boring meetings, staring into space, with my legs going to sleep, the rest of my body wishing it could follow suit, but too scared to shut my eyes because I know the words below are tattoed on the inside of my eyelids.If you have no idea what this poem is about, don't gloat - it could happen to anyone.
You have been warned ;-)
An Ode to a Committee
Oh give me your pity, I'm on a committee
which means that from morning to night,
we attend and amend, and contend and defend
without a conclusion in sight. We confer and concur, we defer and demur,
and reiterate all of our thoughts,
we revise the agenda with frequent addenda,
and consider a load of reports. We compose and propose, we support and oppose,
and points of procedure are fun
but though various notions are brought up as motions,
there's still very little gets done. We resolve and absolve, but never dissolve,
since that's out of the question for us!
What a shattering pity to end our committee
for where else could we make such a fuss?