Friday, December 23, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Don't Mention Harry Webb

Aye, everyone either goes for either the Pogues 'Fairytale of New York' or Noddy Holder shouting and bawling 'Merry Xmas Everybody', but the best Crimbo song bar none has to be this one. Christ, I even like the Spice Girls version

Hat tip to Spiked Candy

Monday, December 19, 2005

Obscurantism Knocks

This is my 300th post to this blog (473, if you were to also include the posts I've started, only to delete), and rather than try and attach any significance to that milestone landmark figure, I will instead just post a link to a quiz that Kara has already done.

I'm not as interesting as Kara, so instead of a quiz solely about myself, I've instead concocted a daft political quiz that intersperses personal political trivia, ultra leftism and an unhealthy interest in 1980s pop culture. I've typecast myself in this role, and nothing short of years of expensive personal therapy and retro electro-convulsive treatment will ever break me from it.

Take my Quiz on!

That Reminds Me, I Better Return That Copy Of 'The Anarchist Cookbook' To Brooklyn Public Library

Men in Black asking after the Little Red Book.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Fellow SPGBer, Piers at Border Fever, alerts us to the mid-seventies classic 'Understanding Marx' by Red Shadow (The Economics Rock & Roll Band).

Anybody know anything about Red Shadow? There is too much wit in the lyrics for it to be straight faced. Though, saying that, the mid-seventies was a weird period for lefty politics. How else can you explain the then popularity of the WRP?

For My One Reader In Zagreb

Dobrodošli na stranice WMS-a

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Introduction To Socialism 101

Tonight's repeat of Seinfeld carried as good a definition of socialism as I have ever read or heard outside the pages of the Socialist Standard. Trust me, it's sowing the seeds and, with a few more repeats of that episode, I can say with assured confidence that I will see socialism in my lifetime. Kramer and Mickey, take it away lads:

KRAMER: Each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

MICKEY: What does that mean?

KRAMER: Well, if you've got needs and abilities that's a pretty good combination.

MICKEY: So what if I want to open up a delicatessen?

KRAMER: There are no delicatessens under Communism.

MICKEY: Why not?

KRAMER: Well, because the meats are divided into a class system. You got Pastrami and Corned Beef in one class and Salami and Bologna in another. That's not right.

MICKEY: So you can't get Corned Beef?

KRAMER: Well, you know, if you're in the Politburo, maybe.

More red propaganda from Seinfeld can be gleaned from this excellent website. MIA better watch out; Looks like there is a new old sheriff in town.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"A Sare Yin."

And no, it's not me. Anybody who knows me, knows that if I were to ever get a tattoo it would be this inscribed on the inside of my eyelids in gothic script.

At the time of posting, Walter Crane was unavailable for comment.


John at A Revolutionary Act has sent me the following link in connection with the above post.

Yep, I would have used the Joe Strummer lyric as well.*

But surely we are all products of . . .

Not as cheeky as that washing powder ad on British TV a few years back that called upon you to Demand The Impeccable,** but just as brazen nonetheless.

Hat tip to Histomat.

*Ask Reidski, he'll sing you the line.

**Ask John, he'll supply you with the reading list from the Kate Sharpley Library.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Another WSMer with a blog has been added to the sidebar.

That's the easy bit; the hard bit is that it is in Italian and my crash course in learning Italian isn't pencilled in until 2009 (same year Livorno is scheduled to win the Scuddetto). Nevertheless, I want to extend a warm welcome to Movimento Socialista Mondiale, which is written and maintained by a comrade from Milan Verona.

Thought for Today

Where the hell is Hampstead Norris, and why is somewhere from there looking at this blog?

"I would like to thank everyone who has ever met me."

My cheeks are moist . . . and the cheque is in the post.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Arise Ye Blogger From Your Slumber

John at A Revolutionary Act has finally got his *cough* act together in updating his blog in recent days.

Click on the day-glo link for recent - and not so recent - posts on Chavez and the Venezualean Revolution; the Bush Administration's use of "rendition to torture" and a post where he sticks a well aimed boot into Blair and his threadbare claim of a commitment to an open government.


A Revolutionary Act does the hard sell on the cheap commercial tat advertised in the post below. Downloaded thirty thousand times in the space of five months is an impressive figure and, yes, I can say I was there when an ordinary punter recognised its star, Paddy Shannon, just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh one Sunday late last summer. First time I've ever witnessed the bloke speechless in the 15 years I've known him.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Harry Hacked

Looks like Harry's Place has been hacked. Hope that the site is up again by the time I write this post; otherwise, what else will I have to occupy my time?

Update: Interested parties have just heard the bad news

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Blinkmummy Went To London, And All She Brought Me Back Was Some Lousy Left Communist Literature."

Scanning the site meter the other night, I noticed that someone had accessed the blog via Technorati, after typing International Communist Current into the Technorati search engine.

Curious to see who else blogs about Planet ICC, I found this blog post from a Singaporean tourist who, visiting London in the aftermath of the terrorist bombings in London on July 7th, bought a copy of the ICC journal, 'World Revolution', at Camden Market, and decided to mention the event in her blog. Being of a skeptical bent, I was a tad suspicious that it may be a spoof and/or pisstake of the ICC - it happens only because they are such a threat to global capital, and because they represent the genuine revolutionary current amongst the proletariat - but this quote below was a dead giveaway to the authenticity of the piece:

" . . . I saw an elderly couple selling this just outside the station. I wanted to take a picture with the old lady but she refused. This mild-mannered lady then asked me to buy a copy of the paper from her for 75p. She's from the International Communist Current. Then, 少爷 and I decided that we should have beer, while I read the paper. I was trying to make sense of who's exploiting who in this encounter."

The insistence on anonymity on the part of the ICC members; the blog's physical description of those ICC members (they look like everyone's favourite aunt and uncle) and that final scene in the pub when you are drinking a beer, trying to plow through the inpenetrable jargon of ICC-speak and, being a wee bit embarrassed, mumbling to your drinking companion sitting next to you: "Maybe if I get drunk enough, I'll be able to understand it better . . ." (but he's not listening to you, 'cos he's giving himself a headache trying to understand a footnote in the latest issue of Aufheben) all point to the authenticity of the encounter.

I await with baited breath the future two page write up in the ICC press of this historic meeting of Left Communism and the proletariat of the Asian Tiger economies. I'll even get the beers in so that I can properly understand the article.

"Fascinating by five past ten."

Though I'm loathe to admit it - what with my long held opinion that he is a humourless git - Andy Kershaw is probably right when he writes of the inaugural John Peel Day being something that Peel himself would have found "maudlin" and "nostalgia-driven" but sod it, even if only for this one year, we can all indulge in a Peel fest.

Drum roll:

Nice interview in the Telegraph with John Peel's widow, Sheila Ravenscroft, on the complexity of a man most of us thought of as that genial bloke off the radio who had a tendency to play ungenial records.

Today's Guardian carries a piece by Ryan Gilbey about the process undertook to piece together a biography of Peel from fragments of diaries, letters and reminiscinces.

Alister tips us the wink about The Perfumed Garden, an audio blog dedicated to posting Peel Sessions gratis on the net (. . . though truth be known I've not been too impressed so far with the selections); and The Scottish Patient who, as mark of respect to Mr Peel, offers up a wee mini compilation of mp3 tracks that have sprang forth from that place in the East.

But what about a Flowers track, Kev? 'After Dark' should have been included.;-)

Post-It Note From America

I hate it when it's dreich outside. When I get soaking wet, my hair seems to take on a life of its own.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Going Back, Way Back . . . When I Still Used To Mention Politics On This Blog

A meme snaffled from Bertram Online

The title of my twenty-third post was They Are Reprinting Oz Articles In The Pages Of The Socialist Standard, Man!.

The fifth sentence was:

Christ, there was no fifth sentence. There was me kidding myself on that my blog posts of yesteryear were super-sized, and it transpires that I was doing the old 'link to an article', with a wee garnish of self-deprecation on the side, shennanigans even back then. I need to write more blogs under the influence. Everyone says I'm too gobby when I've been scoffing the winegums.


  • Go into your archive.
  • Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
  • Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
  • Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

    I'm passing this meme on to Normski. He can either do his 23rd post ever, or his 23rd post of the day. I'm not fussed. ;-)

  • A Warm Glow

    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant; that musical moment when you discover a new song and you just have to listen to it over and over and over again.

    Step forward that song . . . The Fall's Midnight Aspen, off the new album. Absolutely no idea what Smiffy is havering on about, but the music is pure dead class. I told you Hak. It's the tunes everytime.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    "Fred, can I borrow forty quid? A man of my stature should be using typepad."

    "Marx was definitely a blogger. The Paris manuscripts read just like a blog. (NIck Dyer-Witherford pointed this out to me once). Hegel was a newspaper editor for a while -- back when newspapers were more like blogs than newspapers. Adorno reviewed all the music performed in Frankfurt for who ever would publish him. I think its only graduate school that produces this odd notion that there is some infinite chasm between occasional writing and Big Theory. Even Kant wrote his 'enlightenment' essay for a newspaper competiton.

    The Kant thing was pretty damn funny, tho'..."

    Hat tip to Fred Stuart.

    "For those of you watching in black and white, Hilda is resting behind Dot."

    It's either genius or bilge, but who cares? I'm cancelling the subscription to BBC America, and going in search of a secondhand copy of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

    "Spotty exterior hides a spotty interior."

    Fall Quote Generator

    Out On A Limb

    Apparently I'm the only blogger out there who has Gordon Legge listed as one of their favourite authors on their blogger profile. That either qualifies me as a sad bastard (another four or five authors listed by me also draw a blank), or you tasteless sods out there are missing out.

    What do you think?

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    Big Black Smoke

    ". . . which I actually wrote for my daughter's punk band, and they turned it down"

    Everyone's banging on about Bob Dylan at the moment, 'cos of the Scorcese documentary the other night but the best songwriter of the sixties, bar none, is interviewed in today's Guardian on the subject of his new album, moving back to London and dealing with ungrateful children.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    A Wee Nugget

    Nice quote from Tom Mann spotted on the AWLwebsite:

    “Actions that aim only at securing peace between employers and men are not only of no value in the fight for freedom, but are actually a serious hindrance and a menace to the interests of workers. Political and industrial action direct must at all times be inspired by revolutionary principles. That is, the aim must ever be to change from capitalism to socialism as speedily as possible. Anything less than this means continued domination by the capitalist class.”

    Tom Mann (1856-1941) quoted by Trevor Griffiths in his screenplay Such Impossibilities about the 1911 Liverpool dock-strike

    Saturday, September 24, 2005


    Thanks for the kind comments in response to my previous post announcing that Kara and myself tied the knot last Friday. They are all very much appreciated.

    However, I do want to here and now place on record the statement that there is no truth in the scurrilous rumour doing the rounds, that by placing a PDF of the marriage certificate on my blog, that was my none too subtle hint for cards and prezzies to be sent to the address listed on the certificate. As if I could be that shameless.

    Kara's posted a piece on the fastest ceremony in history, and we have sold exclusive photo rights of the wedding to an appropriate publication.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Katrina and the Waves

    OK, the title of the leaflet makes me cringe - it's on a par with the obituary of Paul Foot entitled 'One Foot in the Grave' - but nonetheless, click on the link to read the World Socialist Party of the United States leaflet on the catastrophe in New Orleans.

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    Here You

    Just popping in to say hello 'cos I'm 34 today. Promise I'll get back to blogging in the fullness of time. Still in the States, still very much in love with Kara, and still telling bad jokes when I'm not ranting about obscure ultra-left politics.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    He's a bit special.

    The Telegraph Is Required Reading Anyway . . .

    . . . but I actually nicked this funny piece from Pooter Geek

    Of course he was small beer - or should that be small Pimms? - but I would hate an article on posho post stars to go past without any mention of Chris Dean of The Redskins fame. The fake Yorkshire accent, coupled with the membership of the SWP means that he ticks all the requisite boxes, but unlike the likes of Dido and the rest, The Redskins did put out some absolutely brilliant singles.

    Tuesday, August 09, 2005

    "We've had fashion and music, so now throw in some politics as an afterthought."

    As Jim bought me a drink last Sunday, the least I can do is give a plug for his political webpage.

    From sitting in on the business meeting of the New York Branch of the IWW that same day, it does like that they are doing more than just celebrating their hundredth anniversary this year. Fair play to them.

    The Listening Post

    Coming out of San Antonio, Texas, Girls In A Coma are my required listening at the moment. 

    The name is a giveaway for The Smiths/Morrissey influence but if you check out songs such as Consider and Their Cell, you will see that they amount to something much more than this year's Echobelly or Gene.

    More details and downloads about Girls In A Coma are available at their MySpace Page.

    So Hip It Hurts

    On the New York subway* the other night, and I think I spotted my first hipster.** Wearing the tattiest jeans and trainers you've ever seen in your life outside of a Lancaster Branch meeting, what sealed the deal for identification purposes was the so hip it hurts haircut and an Adam Ant Friend or Foe T shirt that looked so washed out and old that you just knew that the bloke had to sell a kidney to put a down payment down on buying it outright.

    More snotty outsider observations about New York at a later date.

    *Similar to the London Underground, only grottier.

    **I don't think the person I spotted a few days previously, wearing a Stranglers T shirt, qualifies. Surely that qualifies as a subtle protest against hipsterism?

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    Bloggers Block

    OK, so technically the image is not about the travails of finding stuff to blog about but I thought the image was apt . . . and now that I think about, it is a true depiction of May Day 2000 - that weekend when Winston got his makeover - and when I tried to write a 10,000 word essay in the space of 12 hours.

    Of course, I fell on my arse.

    Saturday, July 30, 2005

    Westway In The East Village

    This may be my first New York exclusive but going by this mural featured on a wall in the East Village, I'm guessing that Sean Penn is going to be playing Joe Strummer in a forthcoming bio-pic. The suggestion that Mick Jones will be played by Steve Buscemi didn't come from me - right?

    Thanks to Kara for taking the pic on her camera phone.

    Thursday, July 28, 2005

    For Reidski

    I know you have been asking about my whereabouts, and I promise to get back to regular blogging once I come to terms with the humidity, Hershey Bars and last night's hammering, but in the meantime here's a wee video for your enjoyment. I think you might need this crumb of comfort after last night's misperformance.

    "Playing Like The Brady Bunch"

    Christ, I turn my back for two minutes.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    One Suitcase of Clothes and One Suitcase of Irn Bru

    Yep, another post where I apologise for my slackness on the blogging front. I guess I've been doing other stuff, though I'm still a regular reader of all the blogs on my sidebar. (Whatever did happen to the Timid Maximalist? Perhaps he or she did join the SWP after all, and these last five months they've laid buried under their unsold copies of the Socialist Worker?)
    Just to mention that I won't be blogging in the next few days 'cos I will be meeting up with Kara of Radio Active fame in New York. Of course, New York will be great and no doubt a couple of 'A Scotsman in New York' type posts will appear in the fullness of time, but seeing New York pales into comparison next to how much I'm looking forward to seeing Kara again. It could be New Malden for all I care. I'm really looking forward to my trip.
    Speak to you soon.

    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    Making Your Marx

    "A penniless asylum seeker in London was vilified across two pages of the Daily Mail last week. No surprises there, perhaps - except that the villain in question has been dead since 1883."
    I don't do Radio 4 unless it is this lot, but apparently the bloke with the beard won Radio 4 listeners greatest philosopher poll. Francis Wheen in today's Observer does his recurring Marx's is not dead, he's only sleeping piece, which helps pay the mortgage.

    Canny Lad

    Will Rubbish gets his moment in the sun via Normski. He didn't mention this blog by name, but I'm sure he had me in mind when he gave his answer to the question: 'Who are your intellectual heroes?'

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    “With the hard disk full of socialism”

    "Roza Javan continues to talk about her father and says that he always used to come home and curse the company. Since the company was owned by the state, his curses would also be directed against the state and the “Imam” which was Khomeini’s honorary nickname. “When I heard him swear, I used to tear out pages from my notebook and use them to make leaflets bearing the slogan “marg bar Jomhourie Islamie Iran”: down with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Then I would put them under the neighbours’ doors, ring the doorbell and run away. I have been political since I was a child. Here in Iran, children of the poor always talk about politics in school and at home, watch and follow the news and try to read the newspapers.”
    Fascinating interview from the In Defence of Marxism website with Roza Javan, an Iranian radical growing up and being politicised in the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is no mention of Lenin or Trotsky in the piece but I'm guessing that she is affiliated to the Grant/Woods International, the CMI.
    Hat tip to some bloke on Leftist Trainspotters.

    Lazy Blogger

    Spent the weekend at the various demos and events in Edinburgh surrounding the forthcoming G8 summit at Gleneagles. As a comrade mentioned to me, when we were discussing who would get the short straw and have to write a post to the SPGB email list detailing Party activity that weekend, you really don't always get a full sense of the what a demo is like and its mood when your expressed purpose in being there is to distributing literature and to make the Party better known. That may sound a tad cynical, but it is true nonetheless.
    That means that I don't think I could do full justice in writing up a 'I was there' type post of the weekend, except to write that the sun was shining; Saturday's demo was good natured; put some faces to names, if that makes any sense; gave out lit to, amongst others, Jonathan Dimbleby, Bruce Kent and Billy Bragg; got into a daft row with a couple of Sparts who I'll probably have a daft row with again when I attend this event next weekend; debated the burning issue of who is less likey to take a leaflet with the word socialist on it - a christian or a lifestyle anarchist (the latter in my experience); thought Pink Floyd were the best of a bad bunch on the telly; had a drop dead gorgeous mutton pie and chips supper from a chippy in Pumpherston; saw Paddy's face light up when someone recognised him that film; and then had a ponder on how over a million could have come out for that demo on February 15th 2003 and over 220,000 in Edinburgh this past weekend but it's still the case that class politics are at such a low ebb in this country. I don't pretend to have any easy answers to that one - and no easy answers on a postcard either, please. I've never been one for going into all that: 'We sold ten extra Standards at this demo - the tide is turning' kidology.
    A few reports of from people who attended various events over the past weekend are contained here, here and here.

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    As I'm Walking Out The Door . . . .

    Via Buff's sidebar at Fear in the City of the Living Dead I discovered this marvellous post on John Cooper Clarke's '(I Married A) Monster From Outer Space', with downloadable mp3 to boot.
    No idea who Dr Mysterian is, but it looks like I will have to be checking out his or her blog in more depth when I get back from the city of fur coats . . .

    Back In Ten Minutes

    I will be in Edinburgh this coming weekend with my Socialist Standards and my autograph book so, unless a laptop falls in my lap, I won't be blogging much over the next few days. In the meantime, here's a post on this weeks G8 summit from an impossibilist perspective.
    I always feel so much better when I have a legitimate excuse for my slackness on the blogging front.

    Download of the Day

    I first heard about Sleater-Kinney a few years ago from an Irish CWI'er who used to haunt the various lefty yahoo discussion lists and as I was going through my 'if it moves, download it' phase, I *cough* sampled a few of their tracks from Winmx. At the time, I thought: 'Close, but no cigar', but after downloading the track Entertain* from their website, I'm prompted to ask: 'Sleater-Kinney, where have you been all my life?'
    *Right-click, and save to your desktop.

    Thursday, June 30, 2005

    Philip Hobsbaum 1932-2005

    The obituary from today's Herald for poet and academic Philip Hobsbaum.
    Anyone who played a part, however small, in nurturing the talents of such outstanding writers as Alasdair Gray, Agnes Owens and Bernard MacLaverty deserves to be suitably acknowledged and remembered.
    There is also an interesting interview with Hobsbaum here that originally appeared in the Summer 2002 issue of the Scottish-American Poetry Magazine, The Dark Horse.

    In Preparation . . .

    "Mao killed more people than Hitler. Mao killed more people than Hitler. Mao killed more people than Hitler. Mao killed more people than Hitler."

    He's a bit slow in replying to emails, but Bill at Reasons To Be Impossible practices at doing his best Dalek impersonation, whilst reflecting on what Ciliga referred to as 'Au Pays du Grand Mensonge' *
    Stanley Johnson also refers to the Chang and Halliday book in today's Guardian. I wonder if it is that Stanley Johnson. It must be.
    *Yes, before some pedant points it out; I know Ciliga was specifically writing about the Soviet Union, but I think the term/title is equally applicable to China and elsewhere.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    Otherwise Disposed - Thanks Lisa

    Currently preoccupied with watching over and over again that final sequence of This Year's Love where Kathy Burke sings Shine.
    Pure Dead Brilliant.

    Sunday, June 26, 2005

    Careerist Opportunities

    Christ, if there is one thing lower down the food chain than politicians, it has to be their mini-me children, with their own pretensions of future careers in politics. I'm coming out in a cold sweat just thinking of Blair Junior and this chancer being the dream ticket for Labour in 2025.

    Saturday, June 25, 2005

    "this is happening without your permission"

    "Stefani was tilting at windmills. Sexism just isn't that blatant anymore. Sexists bury their opinions in socially acceptable forms of discourse--talk about how feminists are stonewalling scientific exploration of women's inferiority, bullshit theories about how women can't play instruments or simply pulling the Standard Issue Music Critic act and judging women harshly where you'd judge men favorably."
    Excellent post from Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon blogging fame on the not-so-recent history of Riot Grrl, and how it was the case that whilst MTV could quite happily put Alanis Morissette on heavy rotation, with lyrics and a persona that Marcotte took exception to:
    "I have trouble swallowing the idea that the supposed feminist anthem "You Outta Know", a pissy rant at an ex-boyfriend, has shit to do with feminism and is much closer to the myth that feminism is about individual women's anger towards men for personal reasons instead of a political movement."

    . . . The reality was that MTV and the mainstream could not handle the real deal of Bikini Kill and Sleater Kinney, with the former " . . . kick[ing] ass because Hanna did more than make a couple boys squirm over how they'd mistreated a girlfriend--she made all men squirm about their attachment to male privilege and she challenged them to make absolute asses of themselves to defend it."

    Hat tip to Kara at Radio Active.

    Thursday, June 23, 2005

    Site Meter Sightings - Ongoing Series

    Beautiful sunny day today, and I spent most of it in Edinburgh. Christ I love that city. Nipped into Word Power Bookshop - too cramped and too overpriced; Just like every other lefty bookshop I've ever been into.
    Back to regular blogging - and replying to comments tomorrow - but I just had to mention the following word search on the Mexican version of google that brought someone to this blog today. Someone typed in: 'engels letters robin williams'.
    Now if someone can tell me what the hell that is all about, I'd really appreciate it.

    Supermarkets For Goalposts

    Articles from the Socialist Standard can end up in the strangest of places. (And yes, this blog post is nothing more than just a case of me ticking over, missing my footie - 2006 World Cup, hurry up and start already you bastard - and the obligatory plug for the SPGB that must appear in every other post on here)

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    It's Hot, I'm Bothered.

    Following on from my mention of Bill Casey recently, I stumbled across the following obituary on the net, from an old issue of the Western Socialist, for Alex Shepherd, a member of the Socialist Party of Canada.
    Why post the link? Well, apart from the obvious of wanting some of the old comrades who done their bit to be remembered, it is also pleasing to read the following:
    "Alex was also active in the trade union movement and was a member of the machinists’ Local that triggered the Winnipeg general strike. He became a member of the strike committee, whose authority started and stopped activity in the area, earning for themselves the hatred of those whose exclusive right to issue orders had been for the moment usurped."
    It really sticks in the craw to hear or read the caricature of impossibilists not involving themselves in the class struggle. Especially when such bullshit comes from hacks whose idea of involving themselves in the class struggle is carrying a placard, a petition and far too many platitudes.

    Rip Van Paps

    Surprise, surprise - discovered that I got a couple of comments from Paps today. It can only mean one thing; aye, you've guessed it, the bugger has actually got round to updating A Revolutionary Act, and that's his cryptic way of telling me.
    A card would have been so much nicer.


    Just when you thought Lee Bowyer couldn't get any more bastard moronic:
    "Newcastle midfielder Lee Bowyer turned down a move to Birmingham because he was concerned for his physical safety, according to David Sullivan. "Steve Bruce, we thought, had talked him round," Blues co-owner Sullivan told the Birmingham Evening Mail. "But he was genuinely worried that one night there would be 10 Asians waiting outside his house ready to kick seven bells out of him."

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Anarchy In The UK by Ian Walker (New Society 22 November 1979)

    Looks like Double-Booked is getting a double mention. As I mentioned in that post, the last book I had re-read was 'The Other Britain', and one of the writers featured in that book, Ian Walker, was the author of one of my favourite books, 'The Zoo Station'.
    As with the case of one of my favourite cartoonists, Phil Evans, Walker seems to have been criminally overlooked on the net. To try and redress that imbalance in my own wee fashion, transcribed below is an article of Walker's that originally appeared in the New Society in November 1979, and which was reprinted in 'The Other Side of Britain'.

    In truth, I was spoilt for choice in terms of which of Walker's articles I could have chosen to copy from the book - and I still might write others up if I have the time - with other subjects covered in the book including: 'Skinheads: the cult of trouble'; 'The most abused and pilloried community in the world' [about the Protestant community in Northern Ireland]; 'The Jews of Cheetham Hill';  'A quiet day out at the match' [about football hooliganism, amongst other things.], but my reasons for plumping for 'Anarchy In The UK' is simply because it is more in keeping with other subjects covered on this blog, and there is the obligatory left trainspotting thrown in for good measure.

    There are a few mistakes that I spotted in the article, and I decided to leave them in. Just for the record, the ones I spotted:
    • Freedom first appeared in 1886 rather than the 1866 quoted in the article.
    • IWW stands for Industrial Workers of the World, rather than the International Workers of the World. Amazing the amount of people who get that wrong.
    • 'Anarchy In The UK' was never a top ten hit for the Sex Pistols, and I'm sure that it was released '76 rather than '77.
    • It was 'Dr Robert' rather than 'Dr Roberts'.
    OK, now that I've got my Order of the Leftist's Trainspotter Anorak sorted, I'm sure others better versed in the history of post-war British Anarchism will spot howlers that I've missed. For all that, I don't think Walker's article was ever meant for anoraks like myself. I can almost imagine there being a Donald Rooum Wildcat cartoon at the time - there probably wasn't - depicting all the stock Anarchist cartoon characters complaining about the article. Some, because they were misrepresented in the article, others because they weren't represented at all, and one wee guy in corner muttering under his breath that he is the only true anarchist amongst those assembled.

    For all that, I still think it is the strength of Walker's writing that enables him to capture the *cough* milieu of the outer fringes of politics so perfectly, with its - our - combination of ultra-seriousness, rebel romanticism beginning to fray at the edges and, for some, the self-realisation that any moment it can all descend into self-parody. Though the period and the politics are not the same, I can't help but visualise the faces and voices of Cyril and Shirley from Mike Leigh's High Hopes when re-reading the article.

    And maybe I'm getting sentimental in my old age, but I think there is a certain sadness when reading the following words that Walker writes when meeting 'Justin' [who from the physical description and the clues scattered about must have been Phillip Sansum] : "Sitting over a pint next to a man who has fought good causes for a good few years - against bombs and hanging, against spies and censorship, torture - you feel humble, and you wonder if you'll have anything to say for yourself when you're 60 and in a pub with someone 30-odd years younger?" Sadly, Walker was die at the young age of 38, but I do hope his writings will be remembered.

    Anarchy In The UK by Ian Walker

    At the end of Angel Alley in Whitechapel, the name of Kropotkin is written in whitewashed capitals. In a small room on the first floor of this building, eight men are collating the latest issue of Freedom, the anarchist paper founded by Kropotkin himself. An adjoining room is stacked with back numbers of Freedom, going back to 1866, in brown envelopes. There are pictures of heroes on the walls, and a poster: 'All excercise of authority perverts. All subordination to authority humiliates.'

    An A in a circle, spraypainted on walls in city streets, is the nearest most citizens come into contact with anarchism. The media spectacle that the anarchists themselves find comic and tragic, has no room in its schedules for the ideas and actions of the anarchists. But they have chosen to live on the margins, in a kind of political exile, and that is the way it must be. The support group set up on behalf of the five anarchists now facing conspiracy charges at the Old Bailey is called, appropriately, Persons Unknown. Marxists say that anarchists don't live in the real world. But a lighthouse is as real as a supermarket.

    Some of those who shop in the supermarket of ideas are attracted to anarchy, but most aren't. It does not have the academic respectability of Marxism. (Students, after all, answer questions on alienation under examination conditions.) Yet the anarchists have always had an influence, even in Britain, out of all proportion to their numbers. William Morris, Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Edward Carpenter, Herbert Read, Augustus John, were all anarchists of sorts. Over the last 15 years, anarchist ideasand methods of organisation have had an impact particularly on the 'alternative society' of lifestyle politicos, on the women's movement, on squatting and other forms of community activism, on punk.

    I have been speaking to different kinds of anarchists. Orthodox ones like members of the Freedom and Black Flag editorial groups. Unorthodox ones like a punk band called Crass, and an electrician who produces a libertarian motorcycling magazine, On Yer Bike, in his spare time. I went along to a meeting organised by a libertarian group called Solidarity, and to the Persons Unknown trial.

    The weight of ideology and history hangs as mustily in the atmosphere at the Old Bailey as it does, in a different way, at Freedom's HQ.

    'I said, "Are you denying you're an anarchist?" "No!" he said.' A Policeman is giving evidence. He has a working class accent - unlike the barrister questioning him, who possesses the voice which seems to fit the oak and wigs and the motto on the crest which says DIEU ET MON DROIT.

    Two of the defendants, Iris Mills and Ronan Bennett, were active in Black Flag, I am told by two members of Black Flag I meet in a pub. This is the 'organ of the Anarchist Black Cross'. It is a paper set up by Stuart Christie after his release from a Spanish jail, where he was serving time for an alleged attempt on Franco's life. Christie is now up in the Orkneys, running a publishing house called Cienfuegos Press.

    Rob is 28, and Kate 31. They speak with pride of two anarchist veterans still active in Black Flag: Albert Meltzer and Miguel Garcia. Garcia fought in the Spanish civil war (always called the Spanish Revolution by anarchists) and was imprisoned for 20 years. 'Black Flag has got people throughout the world, helping political prisoners where they can,' says Kate, who has not lost her Australian accent. She is a friend of Iris Mills. 'I met Iris in Australia. She stayed in the same house. That's how I first got involved in anarchism.'

    Ronan Bennett was in Long Kesh, awaiting trial, when he first came across Black Flag, which is sent out free to prisoners who request it. 'He wrote to Black Flag,' Kate says, 'and Iris wrote back to him about anarchism. That is how they first made contact.' Mills and Bennett were subsequently charged with 'conspiring with persons known and unknown.'

    Rob and Kate seem unaffected by recent movements in libertarian politics. Kate brushes aside feminist critiques of language: 'I think it's a load of shit myself. I call people "chairman".' They cling to the anarchist eternities.

    Marxists and Trotskyists are every bit as much their enemy as capitalists. 'Even groups like the IWW [International Workers of the World] in Oldham,' Rob says. 'They're trying to revive syndicalism, but we couldn't work with them due to the corruption of international socialism.'

    They proceed to list the atrocities committed by socialists against anarchists: the suppression of the Krondstadt revolt and the execution of anarchists after the October revolution, Communist Party manipulation of the war in Spain. Here in this saloon bar, too: the weight of history. Showing in Kate's face as she rages about these events which occurred before her birth.
    I ask Kate how she feels about the current political situation. She says she feels very depressed. We all go our separate ways.

    Another night, another pub, and another anarchist view of life from Michael, who says he gets less outraged and more cynical as he gets older. He is only 29, but has been through a number of things, including the Harrogate Anarchist Group, the Stoke Newington 8 defence committee and the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists. Michael has been up at the Old Bailey himself, charged with 'conspiracy to effect a public mischief'; but these days he has withdrawn from what he calls ' official anarchist politics'. He now works for On Yer Bike, is an electrician for a housing co-op in north London, and an active trade unionist.

    Michael started out in politics in 1968 with the Young Communist League. 'They were still living in the cold war,' he says. 'Read your Lenin, be a good boy, live cleanly.' But it was not just the YCL's ascetism which turned Michael off. 'I alsocame to believe that being a socialist entailed notions of equality which all hierarchical structures contradicted. That's what led me to anarchism.'

    Michael rolls his own cigarettes, has one ear-ring and a skinhead haircut. He says he got his haor cropped because he was working on a co-op that was full of 'squatters-army types', with hair down to their shoulders. 'They think I'm strange. Last job I had was a straight job; those people thought I was strange, too. Blokes I used to work with, when they stuck up tit-and-bum pics I used to tear them down.'

    He says that most ordinary life is about observing conventions, and he enjoys flouting them. 'I ignore hierarchies. say you get some cretin of a supervisor who wants to be called Mr Blah - you call him "Squire".'

    The capitalist, in Marxist cartoons, is a fat man with a fat cigar; the workers are puppets in his pudgy fingers. The anarchist has more sense of the comic absurdity of those who crave wealth and power. The anarchist, too, has confidence in his/her personal ability to resist the diktats of the leaders. 'Ain't no fucker going to grind me down.' The anarchist must be an egoist of sorts.

    Two of the people Michael has tagged 'suatters army types' come into the pub, sit at our table. One has hair down to his waist. The other speaks very slowly, this slowness as a result of ECT treatment he received ina mental hospital. 'I worked down t' pit, in Wakefield, for six month,' he says. 'Fucking murder, man. I'm not doing that again.'

    Six punks walk into the pub, and the landlord refuses to serve them. One of the women, bleached hair and black leathers, jumps up and down singing, 'We're too dirty. We're too dirty.' They leave and are followed out by another dozen who quickly quaff their drinks and walk out in solidarity. Michael takes the piss out of the man with long hair. 'Didn't refuse you a drink did they? See, it's respectable now.'

    For Michael, anarchy is 'a way of living your life'. He lives in a squat, is not married, and says that he never will get married. The feminist message that 'the personal is political' has led Michael, like many anarchists, to experiment with life: anarchists are to be found these days around whole-food co-ops, housing co-ops and squatting groups, libertarian cafes, anti-nuke protest, animal liberation, cmmunity newspapers, women's aid centres.

    Hundreds of thousands of words produced for publication by this libertarian movement have been typeset by Ramsey, a worker at the Bread 'n Roses co-op in Camden Town which, he says, is 'the premier left typesetter'. But Ramsey, after a long involvement in anarchism, has now turned his back on it. 'It's the politics of individual paranoia.'

    He now believes what most Marxists believe, that anarchism is an idealist philosophy. 'It's rooted in ideas of wouldn't it be nice if . . . Instead of saying, this is the present, this is how we got here, this is how things change, the whole materialist approach. On the continent, anarchy is a more collectivist, class-based politics. Here anarchy was to do with the youth revolution, and the consumer society of the fifties and sixties.'

    The most imaginative of the critics of consumerism, as Ramsay prints it, were the Situationists (who were the catalyst for the events of May '68 in France). 'They turned Marx on his head. Instead of saying that consciousness was determined at the point of production, the Situationists said it occurred at the point of consumption: this is the consumer society, the society of spectacles, spectacular commodity production. But there's not many Situationists left. It fizzled out when the boom ended, and there was no longer any scope for talking about never-ending commodity production.'

    Nicholas Walter, whose grandfather was a middle-class dropout who met Kropotkin at an 'at home', disagrees with the idea that the Situationists are burned out: 'I think we're much more Situationist now. This new book on poverty [Peter Townsend's] shows how definitions of poverty have changed to include anyone who doesn't have a television. Give them the dole and put lots of crap on the telly . . . And that lovely American cartoon showing a bombed-out landscape and a man walking across it with a TV set trying to plug it in. Of course, the Situationists themselves were part of the spectacle. Especially in France in '68, there were TV cameras all over the place.'

    Respected authority on anarchy (?), Nicholas Walter is now editor of the New Humanist and still a prolific writer for anarchist newspapers and magazines. He was introduced to the Freedom group by his grandfather. 'I haven't changed my mind in 20 years. I'm just more pessimistic now.'

    What are the highlights of his anarchist career?

    'Spies for Peace in 1963. And the Brighton church demonstration in 1966, when I was one of the members of the group which carried out the interruption of the church service before the Labour Party annual conference. Also, the reproduction of James Kirkup's poem, "The love that dares to speak its name", when Mary Whitehouse prosecuted Gay News in 1976. I reckon I circulated more copies than anyone - even though I think it is a silly poem - on the libertarian ground that anything anyone wants to ban should be criticised.'

    Anarchy in the UK was a Top Ten hit for the Sex Pistols in 1977. It introduced the word 'anarchy' to a new generation. It became fashionable again, for a time, to say you were an anarchist, to spit in the face of the normaloids. But most punk bands who attached themselves to anarchy were merely boarding the gravy train. That is why I went over to a cottage in Essexto talk to one punk band, Crass, who seemed to have thought more seriously about their anarchism.

    A man in black with dyed blond hair - his name is Pete - pours tea for an old farm worker in the living room. Someone upstairs has Dr Roberts, by the Beatles, at high volume. We're waiting for the rest of the band to come back from wherever it is they are; and when the farm worker has gone, Pete explains the various activities they have going here at Dial House. One of the women, he says, is away in New York, printing the latest issue of their magazine, International Anthem. Two other publications produced here are called The Eclectic and Existencil Press. A film maker lives and works in the cottage.

    There is, too, what Pete calls a 'graffiti operation'. He says they have taken over a section of the Underground. 'We don't just rip the posters down or spray them. We use stencils, neatly, to qualify them. Especially sexist posters, war posters and the sort of posters for sterile things like Milton Keynes.' He spits those two words out.

    'A few of us going round and spraying with stencils reaches more people than the band ever could. It gives the people the feeling that something is going on; that there's a possibility of something happening; that things aren't all sewn up. You're bombarded with media which you don't ask for when you go from A to B and a lot of it is insulting and corrupt.'

    'But what have you got against Milton Keynes? What's wrong with it?' I asked.

    'I was actually working on the plans for the place. I started discovering what a complete shithole the place is. Cardboard houses, no facilities. It's just a work camp, totally sterile, offers nothing.'

    It was Steve who was playing the Beatles. He cpmes downstairs, runs his fingers through his Vaseline-spiked hair as he tells me he ran away from home seven years ago, and has lived in this cottage for two years. A woman who drifts in says that her name is Eve and that she sings in the band.

    We talk about the various gigs that Crass have done - for Person's Unknown, the Leveller, Peace News, Birmingham Women's Aid - and the violence that has plagued their gigs of late. The band, it seems, has developed a following among British Movement skinheads. But Crass blame this on Rock Against Racism which, they allege, has polarised youth. 'If you're not in RAR then you're a Nazi. Now we're sandwiched between left-wing violence and right-wing violence.'

    The rest of Crass show up: Andy, Phil and a man called Penny Rimbaud. Two children appear at the door and look around with interest. 'Racism and mohair suits,' says Steve, who has not said much up to now. 'That's the difference in punk music. Two years ago, you had Johnny Rotten standing on stage saying, "I am a lazy sod." So where's it all gone?'

    What's wrong with mohair suits, and anyway why is everyone in this room clothed in black? 'Lots of reasons,' Pete says. 'Convenience. Anonymity. I'm doing the washing at the moment; it's very convenient.'

    We're drinking tea in his room, which is filled with books, and I'm wondering which writers have influenced . . . 'Zen and all its offsprings,' interrupts Penny. 'Existentialism.'

    'Zen and punk,' smiles Andy.

    'The American beat movement,' continues Penny. 'Kerouac or Ginsberg.' Pete says he hasn't read Kerouac or Ginsberg. Andy goes off to make another pot of tea and when he comes back announces that, 'Anarchy to me means living my own life, having respect for other people, respecting their right to do what they want to do.'

    This is a long way from Black Flag, Freedom and anarcho-syndicalism. I doubt if Andy has read many books on anarchism, but he speaks of the kind of anarchy which has always been at the heart of rock'n'roll. It's my party. Do anything you want to do. I can go anywhere, cha-chang, way I choose. I can live anyhow, cha-chang, win or lose. Anyway, anyhow, anywhere I choose . . . Take your desires for reality and make your reality your desires was, I think, one of the slogans of the Situationists.

    One man who has remained true to himself through war resistance, two prison sentences, public-speaking campaigns on a long trail of causes, is Justin. Now, at 63, he is still active in Freedom. I met him over the road from the British Museum.

    'For me it all started with the Spanish revolution, grew with war resistance. And then you realise that war grows out of certain things in capitalist society. So you have to oppose the whole bloody lot. Nothing that's happened since has made me change view.' Justin is bearded, wears a black peaked cap, and a cord jacket. He drinks whisky.

    'A lot of intellectuals supported the movement in those days. People like Herbert Read, Alex Comfort, Ethel Mannin, all rallied round marvellously when Freedom was attacked in 1945 by the Special Branch. We were charged with disaffection of the forces; mustn't tell the soldiers the truth about the war.' He got nine months, and served six.

    'When I came out, the Special Branch tried to do me again for refusing to serve in the forces, tried to make me take a medical. I refused that and got a further six months, of which I did only six weeks because quite powerful papers like the New Statesman started to huff and puff.'

    Justin remembers the days in the 1950s when he used to speak three times a week: once at Tower Hill, once at Hyde Park Corner and once at Manet Street in Soho. He remembers demonstrating at the Shaftesbury theatre when a dance troupe came over from Francoist Spain and he remembers occupying the Cuban embassy. 'We just wanted to show everyone we were as opposed to the communist regime in Cuba as we were to the Americans in Vietnam. Plus the fact that Castro, as soon as he'd gone into power, had begun to lock up all dissident leftists. Same old story: use all the anarchists and libertarians to make the revolution; then get rid of them.'

    He remembers a libertarian literary quarterly called Now, edited by George Woodcock and contributed to by George Orwell, who also wrote occasionally for Freedom when he came back from the Spanish civil war. 'Orwell didn't really agree with the anarchists, 'says Justin. 'But when we were attacked, by God, he came out and supported us; spoke at Conway Hall in 1944, a meeting on free speech. I chaired it. He was a straight man, straight as a bloody die. He respected the anarchists, because of what he'd seen in Spain.'

    He remembers Spies For Peace too, and the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty ('The anarchists kicked off that campaign and I'm particularly proud of that').

    Justin remembers enough things to fill a book, which is why he's going to write one, when he retires in three years' time. But most fondly of all, it seems, he remembers the Malatesta Club in Soho, which was run by the London Anarchist Group from 1954-8, seven nights a week. Habitues used to write songs and poetry and perform them at the club, which also had a resident jazz band. 'I used to make up songs - sort of sing and shout, to a drum. Couldn't play anything used to hammer away on the drum . . . it was really something, all run completely voluntarily.'

    The anarchists' coffee house (it never had a licence) was called the Malatesta because he was the only anarchist writer the group could agree on. 'Some were Kropotkinists and some were Bakuninists, but we all agreed Malatesta was a good guy.'

    'There's a man used to be in the anarchist movement in wartime.' Justin is pointing at a man who's just walked in, a woman on his arm. 'Hello,' says Justin to this old comrade, who smiles back briefly but doesn't pause to chat.

    I ask Justin if he's ever doubted his views? 'Towards the end of the war, when we saw the pictures of the Nazi camps, we wondered whether, after all, we had been right to oppose the war. But then the war ended with an atrocity from our side, Hiroshima. You can't choose between any of those bastards.'

    Sitting over a pint next to a man who has fought good causes for a good few years - against bombs and hanging, against spies and censorship, torture - you feel humble, and you wonder if you'll have anything to say for yourself when you're 60 and in a pub with someone 30-odd years younger? But there is one last question: does he still, deep deep down, believe that some of what he has fought for and dreamed about will ever come true?

    'You've got to think your ideals have got a chance before you'll give your life to it.'

    Two days later in the Drill Hall, just off Tottenham Court Road, the question under discussion is not so much about whether the ideals have a chance, but more what are the ideals? The meeting was organised by Solidarity, a libertarian group who draw on themes first developed by the 'Socialisme ou Barbarie' group in France. About 50 people are sitting on the floor, listening to a man called Akiva Orr, who says he is an 'ex-Israeli'. He has no notes and uses his hands theatrically as he speaks. His cigarette, too, he holds as if he is on the stage.

    The emphasis has shifted from the exterior to the interior, that's it. Suddenly there's an awareness that life, reality, meaning, dadadada, it's all in there.' His finger a gun to his head. 'Used to be a time when meaning was all up there,' he points to the ceiling. 'Or out there,' he gestures to the streets below the windows. 'Now it's shifting, it's in here . . . There's a jungle out there,' he pauses for dramatic effect. 'I mean in here,' putting his hand to head again.

    'All I can say is that we've got to develop answers in this battle for the interpretation about what is real. We are the meaning-making animals.'

    Someone sprawled on the floor drawls that he needs a coffee break. On the stairs leading down to the cafe a woman wearing a yellow T-shirt which says I AM A HUMOURLESS FEMINIST tells someone that her father-in-law is a judge.

    Outside these windows, people are buying new stereos on the Tottenham Court Road; people are standing on football terraces; watching the TV; cleaning the car; knocking up shelves, watering the plants - whatever the hell it is people do in an attempt to relax on a Saturday afternoon. 'The central human question,' says a man in a black leather jacket, 'is how to be happy without hurting people.'

    The various critiques are over. Time for Akiva's reply. He has great style, and he knows it. He has this audience in his hands. 'We could expend a lot of time and energy discussing Marx. We want to discuss ourselves,' he says, his hands pointing elaborately at his chest. 'What do you want to smash when you say you want to smash capitalism? The police stations? Parliament?'

    'Yeah,' someone shouts from the floor.

    'You must smash structures which are abstract, too,' Akiva continues. 'You won't find them. They aren't lying around. You have to construct them. Fuck the historical process. I want to construct a model which is enjoyable for me.' He lowers his voice now to say, 'But it's not an easy task.'

    The anarchist who wanted to smash up the police stations interrupts again. He is, someone tells me, a postman. There is a heated exchange between him and Akiva: the young activist versus the older intellectual. 'I have a friend,' says Akiva. 'He spent the first half of his life constructing socialism in Czechoslovakia, the second half of his life dismantling that structure he spent the first half of his life building. The system has smuggled itself into your mind.Your own system will be a mutant of that system you set out to smash.'

    Discussion over. Some will stay in the Drill Hall for the social tonight. There will be a real ale. I go out to watch Alien, and remember a drawing by an artist called Cliff Harper. It shows a spaceship landing in London. The Houses of Parliament have toppled from the impact of the laser beam attack. A woman holding a ray gun steps out of spaceship. 'Take me to your anarchists,' she says.
    22 November 1979
    Endnote to the article
    The trial of anarchists at the Old Bailey, before Judge King-Hamilton, ran from September to December. The case became a 'cause-celebre' when it was learnt that the police vetted potential jurors politically. Despite the vetting, all those who pleaded not guilty (including Iris Mills and Ronan Bennett) were acquitted.

    Mr Smith Goes To Bedfordshire

    Reidski, by way of making Patti Smith's number one fan extremely jealous with his report of attending last night's Meltdown to see Patti Smith and Steve Earle in concert, mentions bumping into Martin Smith, National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party, who apparently is an old college chum of Reidski's. (Who do you support in the Boat Race, Reidski?)

    Maybe Reidski sank a few too many beers with Martin reminiscing about various sit-ins from their college days - think Porterhouse Blue with a Billy Bragg soundtrack - so I'm sure he will correct the mistaken impression given in his post that the picket outside Bookmarks was in protest at the SWP's supposed promotion of Zionism. It was in fact a protest organised by the group Jews Against Zionism against the SWP decision to give Gilad Atzmon, someone who has: " . . . distributed Holocaust Denial literature by Paul Eisen (‘The Holocaust Wars’) which clearly supports the view that there was no deliberate extermination of the Jews or anyone else by the Nazis." a platform at both Bookmarks and their forthcoming Centrism.

    Interesting to note that Martin Smith dismisses the protestors as nothing more than "ultra-left nutters". One of the people protesting outside Bookmarks at the SWP's decision to invite Atzmon was Hilary Rose. Mmm, I wonder if this is the same Hilary Rose who, alongside her partner Steven Rose, speaks most years at the SWP's annual Recruitathon, and who was mentioned as recently as the June 4th in the pages of the Socialist Worker in positive terms, in connection with a debate organised in Leeds between Norman Geras and herself over the issue of whether or not the AUT should boycott certain Israeli universities?

    Martin Smith's name rings a bell as well. Once I had established it wasn't this Martin Smith (that's especially for Will Mackem) I suddenly remembered where I had spotted his name before. This wee gem from the vaults of the Weekly Worker where Martin interviews Eric really does go down as a classic in my ongoing compilation, provisionally entitled: 'If the SWP didn't exist, Chris Morris would have to invent them.'
    Martin Smith: "This is not a court and I won’t have this minuted."
    Absolutely brilliant.

    Sunday, June 19, 2005

    Mugging Normski

    I'm not waiting around on my haunches for this survey to eventually come my way like I did with this one, so despite the danger of being accused that this blog is nothing more than a series of surveys - its collective term being a 'banality of memes' - here comes yet another post where I inflict my taste on an unsuspecting internet population:
    1. The total volume of music on my pc: Not much at the moment, as a few months back I burnt most of it onto discs, but at times in the past it was something like 7GB.
    2. Songs playing right now: John Cooper Clarke's Readers' Wives
    make a date with the brassy brides of britain
    the altogether ruder readers' wives
    who put down their needles and their knitting
    at the doorway to our dismal daily lives
    the fablon top scenarios of passion
    nipples peep through holes in leatherette
    they seem to be saying in their fashion'
    I'm freezing charlie - haven't ya finished yet?'
    cold flesh the colour of potatoes
    in an instamatic living room of sin
    all the required apparatus
    too bad they couldn't fit her head in
    in latex pyjamas with bananas going ape
    their identities are cunningly disguised
    by a six-inch strip of insulation tape
    strategically stuck across their eyes
    wives from inverness to inner london
    prettiness and pimples co-exist
    pictorially wife-swapping with someone
    who's happily married to his wrist
    Part of the reason I seized the opportunity of doing this survey is because I was going to cut and paste the lyrics above as a post anyway. I can't believe that I have had this track burned onto a CD for a couple of months now, and it is only just now that I have discovered how absolutely brilliant it is. Literally discovered it this morning.
    Though I've always been aware of Cooper Clarke; from seeing the two minute splenetic blast of 'I Don't Want To Be Nice' on a Best of the Old Grey Whistle Test special to my exclaimation of: "Who the fuck is the anoxeric Mike Scott advertising Sugar Puffs alongside the Honey Monster?" he only really registered with me a few years back when I was listening to the Mark Radcliffe Show on Radio One late one night. I loved John Peel to bits, but I always preferred the music that Radcliffe played on his show, and this particular night he played The Kinks Dead End Street and Cooper Clarke's Beasley Street back to back. I hadn't heard either song before and both songs totally blew me away. Definitely one of those special musical moments.
    3. Last albums I bought: Gang of Four's Shrinkwrapped.
    4. Five songs I've been listening to a lot: Josef K 'Sorry For Laughing'; John Cooper Clarke's 'Readers' Wives'; Kathryn Williams 'No One Takes You Home'; Magazine 'Model Worker'; Human League 'Empire State Human'.
    5. Passing this along to: Kara, Victor and Lisa (Reidski, you'll tell me anyway, whether I ask you or not ;-)

    The Links Effect

    I've been slacking again, and I had promised I wouldn't. The 'Worth A Gander' section - stage left - has taken on some new names, but apologies to two of the three bloggers newly added for the delay in adding their links. The blogroll looks as if it is on random select at the moment, and really does need an overhaul but fear eats the soul when I even contemplate rejigging the blogs listed. Sometime soon a skip will be placed next to the blog, and a few of them will be drop kicked in. The rest will get reshuffled to give some semblance of order.
    Isn't It About Time We Had Socialism? is the blog of a fellow SPGBer, Gray, who operates out of Denmark. A kindred spirit of sorts, in that he is one of those all too rare SPGBers who actually likes sport, and he can even contemplate the existence of sport in a socialist society. (From my experience, quite a few SPGB members must have been the last to be picked when it came to School footie games, and this has coloured their outlook on the question of sport in a socialist society.) However, he goes and spoils it by supporting Gillingham FC, and having a fascination for Rugby Union. I'll stick to reading his blog for the politics. ;-)
    Piers is another SPGBer armed with a blog. Border Fever operates out of Cumbria, with a socialist spin on Carlisle, Cumbria and the World.
    What do I know about Carlisle? Well, they have a footie team, who spent about two minutes atop the old First Division back in the mid-seventies. Their star player at the time was Chris Balderstone, who was one of the last breed of professional footie/cricketers (Andy Goram doesn't count). They were last seen being promoted back into the football league after spending some time in non-league football. By all accounts the fans are gutted that they won't be playing Accrington Stanley next year.
    What do I know about Cumbria? Apart from travelling through it from time to time when going between Scotland and England, my main experience of Cumbria was attending a Socialist Party meeting in Barrow back in about 1990/91. I was part of a Lancaster Branch contingent that sought to provide support for a couple of comrades seeking to generate some activity in the area. My memory of the meeting is a bit hazy, but I remember that the local comrades were a tad over optimistic in the size of the venue they booked, a middle aged cynical CPGBer done the 'What about human nature?' objection routine that had probably been done on him a hundred times before, and the pub/Labour Club we went to after the meeting was one of those: "We only like locals in here type" places.
    What do I know about the World? It's small, but I still wouldn't want to leaflet it.
    Fear in the City of the Living Dead is the blog of Buff, a good friend of Kara's from back home in Indiana. He writes like a dream on such varied subjects as films, censorship and porn (erm, isn't that basically David Cronenberg's Crash?),and this recommendation is being typed in green-with-envy ink through gritted death. He is a seriously funny writer, and now that he has escaped from MySpace to write in the outside world I can no longer get away with lifting his jokes and passing them off as mine. If another friend of Kara's from MySpace, Abby, decides to set up a blog, then I will be really stuffed for material to fill this blog.
    All three blogs are well recommended, and I'll be sure to click on their links 25 times a day when I should be doing more important things like playing solitaire on the computer, downloading Ed Harcourt tracks off the internet and putting in bogus bids on ebay.

    A Message For The Passing Sightseers From Harry's Place

    As a result of this post being referred to on Harry's Place, my sitemeter is currently going like the clappers. Past experience of such phenomenon tells me that the visits will be brief, fleeting and the buggers won't even sign the guest book.
    However, I would be failing in my revolutionary duty if I didn't take the opportunity to do a bit a bit of product placement for the benefit of those two or three who decide to linger on the blog longer than the usual 0.00 seconds. Sit back, here comes the adverts:

    Saturday, June 18, 2005

    Gilad Atzmon at Bookmarks - Addendum

    Mark Elf's notes and comments on Roland Rance's account of last night's picket of Bookmarks. A brilliant riposte in response to the SWP's attempts to restrict those who could attend the meeting:
    "The problem was not with the lease on their building, but with the Arnold Leese in their building . . . "

    Gilad Atzmon at Bookmarks

    Cut and pasted below is Roland Rance's account of the picket and protest that took place last night outside Bookmarks - the SWP's bookshop in Bloomsbury, London - at the SWP's decision to invite Gilad Atzmon to speak on the subject of ‘My One And Only Love’ and on the deconstruction of the Zionist Identity'.
    Much has been written on the net and elsewhere about the controversial decision taken by the SWP to invite Atzmon to speak both at Bookmarks and their forthcoming Marxism event (he has spoken at Marxism twice before), and naturally many people who have an axe to grind with the SWP - yes, I'm a natural member of that bloc - have obviously waded in with both boots to call them on it, but if you want an inside account of the protest - on the whys and wherefores - against the views expressed by Atzmon, then I would suggest that you check out Mark Elf's blog jews sans frontieres for a pretty thorough trawl through all the claims and counter-claims. An alternative take on the matter of the rights and wrongs of protesting against Atzmon can be read on the Counterpunch website here.
    From the UK Left Network discussion list:
    About 30 activists turned out to protest the talk by Gilad Atzmon at Bookmarks bookshop, significantly outnumbering those who actually went in tothe meeting. Several of these had attended for the express purpose of denouncing Atzmon and his views, and it is clear that very few attended in order to listen to and learn from him. Numbers of attendees were further restricted by the (unannounced) decision to make the meeting ticket only,those preventing even some of their own members from attending. Of course, none of the pickets was allowed to attend.
    Although some of the audience took our leaflets, and a few engaged in debate with us, the SWP's leadership treated us with arrogant contempt, refusing even to acknowledge, let alone touch, the leaflets; and, in some cases, aggressively pushing us aside without even asking us to move.
    Despite earlier attacks by the SWP that, by calling the picket, we were"lining up with the AWL", they, and other sectarians and Zionist apologists were totally absent, and the protesters were all clearly opposed to Israel and its Zionist practices. We were further admonished that "reasionable people" like Hilary Rose and Moshe Machover opposed the picket. In fact,Hilary turned up and stood with us in the protest, while Moshe, who was unable to come, sent the SWP a letter strongly supporting and endorsing the picket.
    It's clear that the SWP had no idea of the extent and depth of revulsion atAtzmon's ideas, and the anger at them for giving him a platform. They have been given something to think about.
    After the picket, most of us went for a drink, and were later joined by sympathisers who had attended the meeting. We learned from them that Atzmon had not been received well, that no-one had sppoken in his defence, and that several SWP members were apparently in dismay at the views they heard, and the damage they have done to the party's image. Our shouts, and the many speeches through the megaphone, were heard clearly throught the meeting. Apparently, Atzmon devoted a large part of his talk to discussing the highly controversial theories of Otto Weininger (who, as Atzmon himself admitted, was Hitler's favourite Jew), who, in his work Sex and Character, characterised the Jew as "feminine, and thus profoundly irreligious, without true individuality (soul), and without a sense of good and evil . . . The decay of modern (ie early twentieth century) times was due to feminine, and thus Jewish, influences - see here. Atzmonalso propounded his own highly sexist theory of gender, before giving a rambling account of his own views, and expressing his bemusement at the picket. In the ensuing discussion, he was roundly denounced by several speakers; John Rose of the SWP reportedly made a particularly powerful and effective response.
    Members of the SWP who did not know at the beginning of the meeting, certainly realised by the end what an error they had made. However, we must still marvel at their stupidity in even inviting Atzmon in the first place, as well as expressing our anger at the contempt we faced from some SWP leaders, notablty their national secretary Martin Smith, who refused (unlike most of his comrades) to exchange even one civil word with us.
    All in all, we are pleased with our efforts, which in a short time mobilised a large and vocal protest, and which confronted the SWP with a reality they wished to ignore -- that they cannot hold a meeting with a racist and expect it to pass quietly, and that you cannot defend Palestinian rights if you accept the Zionist paradigm which identifies all Jews with Zionism.
    Roland Rance