Thursday, April 28, 2005

"So Who Would Listen To Beastie Boys CDs In A Socialist Society?"

My sister is his number one fan, and keeps "nipping my heid" to get him to update his blog more often but in the absence of any new posts on his blog since his love letter to the late Pope, cut and pasted below is a recent piece that 'Paps' posted on a discussion list in response to feedback to the issues raised in the film, Capitalism and Other Kids Stuff.
How else can I get members' of my immediate family to read my blog?
So who would do the dirty work in a socialist society?
Well, it depends what you understand by ‘dirty work’. As a Socialist, what I look upon as dirty work is the killing carried out by the armed forces, or those whose job it is to destroy food in the knowledge that their fellows, thousands of miles away, might be dying for the want of it, or the duties of the bailiff who is sent into the home of a single parent with five kids because they’re months behind with the rent.
Such work is not what my opponents mean by ‘durty work’. So I can press them:
“Oh, you mean the type of work where a man will go come in from his job, exhausted covered in mud, stinking of sweat, having endured a shift filled with endless insults from people urging him to work harder?”
"Yes,” comes the reply.
“You mean like a Newcastle United football player?”
“No! They make thousands.”
When this method of Socratic reasoning is pursued it is common to find that my critic is referring to the menial, droning, poorly paid and unpleasant jobs - money seemingly the determining factor. Of course, when asked if sewer work would be classed as ‘dirty work” if the sewer worker earned £100,000 a week, just like a Premier League player, the answer is a definite ‘no’. He’d be a ‘lucky bastard’, the envy of his friends.
The detractor asks who will sweep the streets? Well, even under capitalism street-cleaning vehicles operated by drivers are now in regular use and I would envisage that in socialism people will have a lot more respect for their surroundings when they feel valued and a part of something, and will thus be less likely to litter. And if we can land a man on the moon, does it really take that much more technology to put machines into sewers, operated from the surface? Of course, in socialism, not everything will be mechanised. Spades, axes, sledge hammers, brushes and the like will still be in use as they are today. People use them today in their spare time, in their gardens, carrying out home improvements, doing charity work. Ask them and they will invariably confess that they enjoy using them, even though they are not to be paid for their toil. Many will say ‘there’s nothing better than a good and honest bit of graft’. Neither would they consider the work they do to be ‘dirty wark.’ They’re happy to do it without pay, but the thought of doing it full-time for a minimum wage is unthinkable.
Thousands come home from hours of wage-slave drudgery and pass their spare time pursuing any one of a thousand hobbies, some demanding a lot of energy, patience and expense. None would consider, if asked, that their hobbies and leisure activities were work. They find these activities gratifying, rewarding and relaxing, an escape from the pressures of the office or the harassment of the shop-floor rate-setter with his stop-watch.
It is clear, then that dirty work only becomes ‘dirty’ when it is carried out for a pittance of a wage, and set against the backdrop of say an eight-hour day. If a surgeon, standing many hours at a time in an operating theatre, his hands deep inside somebody’s bowels, or his fingers up a patient’s rectum, were to receive £4.50 an hour, the job would be considered degrading, pitiable, and ‘durty work’. Add a couple of noughts to that hourly figure and this is a respectable, worthy and enviable job.
Critics might derisively suggest that if we established a moneyless system of society, with free access to all goods and services, and no coercion, that people would become languid, preferring to ‘sit around on their arses all day.’ In truth very few, even today, take up such a lifestyle. Anybody who did would soon end up overweight and with deep vein thrombosis. Indeed, it is nigh on impossible to find a really lazy person, someone who will not exert themselves in any way. Those we find like this are either suffering from some severe physical disability or a psychological problem that induces in them a state of profound lethargy.
In socialism, there would be no ‘dirty work’, only work that ‘needs doing’, useful toil, if you like. Menial jobs, in the sense of butlers and servants waiting on royalty and other sundry parasites would disappear. No one would be servile in a society in which all the good things in life are freely available.
We would also see the disappearance of countless millions of jobs that today only have a use in capitalist society, a world where buying, selling, exchange and competition, killing and coercion are the norm: bank clerks, supermarket check-out staff, accountants, police, soldiers, prison officers, munitions workers, ticket inspectors – the list is indeed a long one.
Take the above with recent suggestions by economists that within 20 years the total world demand for goods will be provided by 2% of the global work-force (and this is in a capitalist society) and it takes no bold leap of the imagination to picture socialism as a society in which each of us need only contribute to society a few hours of necessary work a week.
Who would then complain about going down a sewer for three hours on a Monday if it meant having the rest of the week free, to pursue their own interests or to travel? Would such workers feel their jobs were degrading if they knew that the money system had been abolished, that the criterion that had once served as the “dirty work” gauge was history, that a society of free access to the benefits of civilisation now existed, and that they were all cooperating freely and contributing to the common good?
‘Dirty work’ would become necessary work. Sewer work, cleaning and all those other unpleasant jobs that had hitherto attached to them negative connotations (in capitalism) would simply become work that needs to be done because society is dependent upon such work.
At present, if the sewers and streets are not cleaned, if bins are not emptied, because of strike activity by those employed in these occupations, disease can spread and the well being of millions is endangered. If brain surgeons were to go on strike a few might die. Yet one worker is highly valued, the other held in low esteem, simply because of the money they earn.
And of course, in socialism, with increased chances of personal fulfilment in various fields, many could learn new abilities in their free time. A sewer worker may well study surgery a few days a week and a surgeon may well, after a his work for the day at the hospital is over, wish to volunteer his spare time carrying bricks or digging a garden - both happy in the knowledge that their species has cooperated to create a beautiful world, and that ‘dirty work’ is now history.

MP3 Soundtrack of My Life . . . .

  • 1) The Delgados - 'Mr Blue Sky'
  • 2) Interpol - 'C'Mere'
  • 3) Yazoo - 'Goodbye Seventies'
  • 4) Simple Minds - ' I Travel'
  • 5) Human League - 'Empire State Human'
  • 6) Cocteau Twins - 'Heaven or Las Vegas'
  • 7) Orange Juice - 'Mud In The Eye'
  • 8) Robert Wyatt - 'A Sunday in Madrid'
  • 9) Altered Images - 'Don't Talk To Me About Love'
  • 10) Belltower - 'Outshine The Sun'
  • 11) Beth Orton - 'Best Bit'
  • 12) Breeders - 'Cannonball'
  • 13) The Buzzcocks - 'Just Lust'
  • 14) The Mekons - 'The Ghosts of American Astronauts'
  • 15) Gravy Train!!!! - 'You Made Me Gay'
  • 16) The Dears - 'Lost In The Plot'
  • 17) Le Tigre - 'Hot Topic'
  • 18) Blank Students - 'Fun At The Fair'
  • 19) Basczax - 'Karleearn Photography'
  • 20) The Ex - 'Frenzy'
  • 21) The Associates - 'Party Fears Two'
  • 22) Steps - 'Stomp'
  • 23) St Etienne - 'Like A Motorway' (Chemical Brothers Remix)
  • 24) Super Furry Animals - Northern Lights'
  • 25) Desireless - 'Voyage Voyage'
  • 26) The Flowers - 'After Dark'
  • -----------------------------------------------------------

    A music psychologist writes:

    "Eclectic selection mixing pop classics with pretentious obscurantist tracks. Obviously someone seeking both approval from mainstream society (see the choice of the Steps track), but also a hat tip from the hipsters (picking a few tracks from the 1979 Earcom compilations.)

    Thinks he is being knowingly ironic in some of his more hit parade selections (again see the choice of Steps and the Desireless track), but it just belies the fact that he is a pop kid at heart. Picks mainstream artists from the eighties such as Yazoo, Human League and Simple Minds but goes for the little known tracks from their early days, claiming this was when they were interesting musically and lyrically (in the case of Human League), soulful (in the case of Yazoo) and under 250 pounds in weight (in the case of Jim Kerr of Simple Minds). He's just being pretentious again - he can't help that atavistic behaviour.

  • Noted that seven of the tracks are by Scottish artists - one can only speculate whether or not more or less of the tracks would have been by Scottish musicians if the subject was still holed up in Sarf Lahndun. Need to monitor this to see if his Scottishness diminishes or grows in the coming months. (It has been suggested that his 'Scottishness' will simply be replaced with the little known phenomenon of 'West of Scotland patriotism', a variant on Nationalism of the better known variety made up mostly of taking the piss out of East of Scotland accents and referring to Edinburgh as that place that is "All fur coat and no decent bookshops.")
  • Thirteen of the twenty-six tracks have female lead vocalists. Either a concession to self-policed political correctness, or a sub-conscious acknowledgment that he thinks that women have better voices than blokes. Cites the fact that when suitably emotional, has been known to squeeze out a tear when listening to either Patsy Cline or Ella Fitzgerald. Still think he's bluffing but that may be his way of saving face about a soundtrack drawn up to take his mind off mindless political activity.
  • With reference to the matter of his much-vaunted politics, asked him where the politics were on the selection. If he is soooo political, then where's the Gil Scott-Heron track, the Woody Guthrie outakes and the Dory Previn satire? Mumbles in response about something called 'The Secret Melody of the Class Struggle', claiming that it was a "brilliant compilation of political music that sold out at Glastonbury in 2003 but when he last passed a copy onto someone he was met with an indifferent response", and it knocked the political wind out of him. His two concessions to his political pop aversion was the inclusion of the Le Tigre and The Ex tracks. Who thought Dutch Anarcho-Syndicalists could record something so melodic?
  • Ticked the boxes alongside the usual fixation with the eighties, electro-music and bitter sweet love songs.
  • Noted that he has an interest in Beth Orton that goes beyond the musical.
  • In conclusion, a recommendation that he takes out a subscription to Filter magazine, and watches the Amp music channel rather than 'We Love the Eighties' all-weekender. Throwing in an Interpol track doesn't fool anyone. The chap is locked in the past - 1890s politics, 1980s music and 1990s dress sense only confirms that. He must also try to snap out of writing about himself in the third person. That really is fucking annoying."

    *Copyright - Manny Shinwell (Labour fakir Passim)

    Reassuringly Offensive

    Those of a nervous disposition or who are easily offended really shouldn't click on this link, but I love this trailer for Sarah Silverman's new stand up film Jesus is Magic.

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    The Man With Two Faces

    So let's get this right. This bloke will be playing this bloke in the forthcoming film The Game Of Their Lives.
    Rumours that this bloke will be playing this bloke in the West Ham's 2005 end of season video We're Forever Blowing Promotion has yet to be confirmed at the time of going to press.

    Can't Get You Out Of My Head

    Harry suggests a reform that I would consider putting my X against come May the 5th. Where else would I have found The Cavedogs Love Grenade or Kristen Vigard's God Give Me Strength or Belltower's Outshine The Sun? And trust me, I hunted high and low in the second hand record shops* of West London looking for the bastards.
    Interesting comment on that thread from 'David T':
    "I went to see a documentary about Morrissey fans last week. The film started with the idea that there was a "window" in your life in which songs really were able to change your life; that window closes after a while, and doesn't open again. " (My emphasis)
    It would explain about ninety-five per cent of this blog.
    * Otherwise known as halfway-houses for employing the terminally smug.

    Backword Dave Coming Forward With His Velleities and Lemmas*

    Who said l'espirit de l'escalier was the best form of humour?
    In amongst reminding me of this T shirt, which I had the long sleeve version of years ago, Backward Dave in his latest post has one of those moments of political wit on his doorstep that has PJ O'Rourke crying into his martinis.

    Sunday, April 17, 2005

    One Year On

    No drawn out overview, no cutting of the cake and no 'My Ten Favourite Quips': Just an acknowledgement that this blog is one year old today.
    In its first year, this blogging business never did fulfill its original mission statement of getting me to sharpen up words-wise, and propel me to actually getting my arse into gear to write something for the Socialist Standard - in fact the mention of politics has been conspicuous by its absence at times - but it has allowed me to indulge in, and share with you all, my excellent taste in good music, good films, good literature and good hyperbole.
    It was also a contributory factor in my meeting a friend for life - yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm referring to you Kara - and for that alone, I'm glad I started this blog. Even if I am a little late with the promised blog review of that Le Tigre concert - apologies.
    Here's to the next twelve months with more of the same and maybe, just maybe, the occasional mention of politics. I know I left my political mojo somewhere around here.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Normal Service Will Be Resumed

    Apologies for the slackness with the blogging. Will be back to normal service in the next few days - just waiting to hear back from a man in the Gorgie who has a job lot of bad jokes that should be right up my street.
    I know that I should be mentioning the current Election, and it did cross my mind to try and pass off my recent silence with the excuse that I have been too busy leafletting/canvassing/fly-postering/stalling (erm you know what I mean), etc, etc but: 1) I'm still finding my feet in the Kingdom of Fife. 2) I've been that seriously underwhelmed with the General Election up to this point, that I'm almost nostalgic for John Major and his soapbox or John Prescott and his uppercut.
    Every other hour, I'm twitching the curtain to see if a canvasser knocks on the door but as this is one of those Parliamentary Constituencies where they don't count the Labour vote, they just stick it in a pile in the corner come polling day, and intone: "Another Labour landslide . . . ", I've got more chance of seeing Shirley Henderson renting a copy of Vin Diesel's XxX in the local Blockbuster than I have of having a verbal sparring match with a chinless wonder from the local Conservative Association.
    In the meantime, I would like to direct people to Vaux Populi, the election blog of Socialist Party members contesting the Vauxhall Parliamentary Constituency down in Sarf Lahndun. I wish I was there helping out with the leafletting etc etc. Going up and down the stairs on the William Bonney Estate is the best form of keep fit regime this side of you walking into a pub in the Old Kent Road and shouting in a loud voice: "Millwall supporters are a shower of wankers."
    It's not just me that has been sidetracked during this election; have a read of the mammoth comment section of this post from Harry's Place. You just know the election is a non-event when Harry and chums need to stick the boot into Gorgeous George and his cohorts bleeds over into the Election period. The notion that whoever wins Bethnal Green and Bow would be some sort of watershed for the left beggars belief, as does Harry donning his rose tinted specs and havering on about the Communist Party's so-called glorious past in the East End.