Wednesday, February 28, 2007

. . . Not This Bloke Either

Without wishing to incur the wrath of some of my more hardcore comrades in the SPGB - muchos respectos to the Glas-Vegas Branch comrades - politics differences aside, John McDonnell seems like a decent sort, and I've always been impressed by the fact that he is one of the few Labour Lefties who never felt the need to froth at the mouth when stating his political viewpoint. However, for all that, I have to agree with the following article that will be appearing in the March issue of the Socialist Standard:

If John were Prime Minister

And it's the SPGB who are dismissed as the impossible dreamers?

Now, if I could work John Prescott and Jon Cruddas into this post, I could entitle the post, 'The Three Johns' . . .

Somebody's Having A Laugh

Monday, February 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

Lest we forget:

"General envy constituting itself as a power is the disguise in which greed re-establishes itself and satisfies itself, only in another way. The thought of every piece of private property as such is at least turned against wealthier private property in the form of envy and the urge to reduce things to a common level, so that this envy and urge even constitute the essence of competition. Crude communism is only the culmination of this envy and of this levelling-down proceeding from the preconceived minimum. It has a definite, limited standard." [From Marx's Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844]

I couldn't help but be reminded of that quote from 'the good german' after reading some of the comments generated by Dave O's two most recent posts.

Of course, I could just be flanneling.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

They’ll Be Back: Left Bashing and the "New" Right

The following piece by WSPUS member, Ron Elbert, was presented as a paper to the 2006 SPGB Summer School, 'What's Left of the Left?':

They’ll Be Back: Left Bashing and the "New" Right

It's got endnotes and everything. I'm too good to you sometimes.

Monday, February 19, 2007

So Sad About Us*

Erm, well I guess I could go with 'Funeral Pyre' or maybe 'I've Changed My Address' or 'The Great Depression' or 'Music For The Last Couple' or 'Running On The Spot', or even, at a stretch, 'Scrape The Barrel Away', but I'll settle for 'Sad Bastards Reunion Tour'**.

*The Jam covering The Who.

**Obscure b-side. It was on the flip side of the limited edition Japanese only release of 'Just Who Is The Five O'Clock Hero?'

Sunday, February 18, 2007


From the BBC Sports website:

"Real Betis plan to ban Sevilla president Jose Maria Del Nido from their stadium for life after he told board member Javier Paez that he had 'the face of a bender'."

A Violent Act

No bad jokes about the old WRP and its reliance on the equity section of its membership to give off that air of physical menace to its political opponents on the left, as the following story from the East Village Journal section of the New York Times - and a report from the NYC Indymedia website - discloses the disquieting news of the events surrounding the closing down of the May Day Books & Infoshop, which for the past six years has operated an anarchist bookshop in the lobby of the Theater For The New City in the East Village in New York.

Reports of intimidation and physical violence from individuals associated with the Theater against volunteers for the bookstore collective, and the sneering bullshit response from Crystal Field, artistic director of the Theater for the New City, of:

"I think it’s funny and strange that the anarchists would go to the police . . ."

on hearing the news that one of those attacked had filed charges against their assailants, really makes my hackles rise. And regular readers of the blog will know that the occasional anarchist have been known to get on my wick.

How the Theater's supposed counter-culture radicalism sits with such apparent dirty low tactics of a bullying landlord can only be rationalised explained by the concerned parties but, perhaps for the for the time being, they can excise the following quote from director Eduardo Machado from their website:

""Theater for the New City is the place where I’ve always been allowed to do the dangerous and daring. I find its audience lively and eclectic. Anarchism is the most important element in theatre; but most theatres in NYC have become totalitarian, rather than anarchistic and revolutionary. That’s why I’m thrilled to be returning to TNC for this show."

That quote doesn't really square with the reality of the current situation.

Here's hoping - if only for the sake of Ms Field's sense of countercultural proprietary - that the next time the Theater has a run in with anarchists that the latter, rather than calling Car 54, opt to turn up mob handed with fizzing bombs hidden under their swirling black capes.

I understand that Professor X, Ossipon and Karl Yundt have every other Tuesday free.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm more of an autumn type of guy

Keep On, Keepin' On

From the Wobbly City Newsletter:

The IWW And Make The Road By Walking Keep On Marching To End Slave Wages And To Defend Workers' Right To Organize!

What: MARCH TO DEMAND AN END TO EXPLOITATION IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY. The march will begin at 9:30 am and proceed through the industrial areas of Bushwick, Williamsburg and Ridgewood. DRESS FOR COLD WEATHER!!

When: Monday February 19, 2007 starting at 9:30am

Where: Rally with us at 3 locations!

- 9:30 AM @ Sunrise Plus/E-Z Supply, 48-01 Metropolitan Ave. in Ridgewood, Queens.

- 11:30 AM @ Morgan stop of the L train (Morgan and Harrison)

- 1:00 PM @ March on Associated Supermarket on Knickerbocker ave

- L train running on Saturday Schedule

Why: In an attempt to rise out of sweatshop conditions, workers in the Brooklyn wholesale food distribution industry have engaged in strikes, protests, and filed lawsuits alleging minimum wage and overtime violations. Over 20 workers from two warehouses were fired in the past few months in retaliation for their union activities.

At Associated Supermarket owners have committed egregious wage violations against their workers, including failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, and having some workers paid in tips only with absolutely no benefits.

These workers need your support as they struggle to enforce the minimum wage and demand their right to organize.

For the latest update visit the Wobbly City Newsletter

For more info call

Billy J Randal at 646 645-6284

or Tomer Malchi at 646-753-1167

Directions and details

Starting location:

9:30 am @ Sunrise Plus/E-Z Supply, 48-01 Metropolitan Ave. in Ridgewood, Queens.

Take the L train to the Grand stop, walk east over bridge and onto Metropolitan ave. Walk 6 blocks past fork in the road, Sunrise plus (EZ-supply) will be on the left. Street map at or

People will be stationed at the Grand Street L stop from 9:30 – 10AM to give directions and lead contingents to Sunrise Plus/E-Z Supply.

Secondary meet-up/Press meet up

11:30 – 11:45am at the Morgan stop of the L train. The March will wait for 15 minutes at the Morgan stop before marching on Handfat – Handyfat is 2 blocks south from the train on Thames between Morgan and Bogart.

At 1:00pm we will march from Handyfat to Associated Supermarket on knickerbocker ave.

Pics from our last MLK march

MLK March

Much more info on the campaign

Background Info

The 460 campaign began around a year and a half ago when workers at Handyfat, a food distribution warehouse, approached the Bushwick Latino community/workers center, "Make the Road by Walking." The Handyfat workers had already organized outside of any union, but were looking for support. Make the Road by Walking put them in touch with Billy Randel and Bert Picard, two experienced IWW organizers. Since then, the campaign has expanded to four other warehouses, and we are constantly talk to more and more workers.

A year ago, workers at EZ-Supply voted for IWW representation in a NLRB certified union election. In May of last year, Amersino's boss rigged their election by saying that a number of his friends were a "night shift" that didn't actually exist. Later he illegally fired several key organizers. The NLRB is (still) currently considering action against Amersino regarding the firings.

EZ-Supply on the other hand flaunted its obligation to bargain in good faith with the union after the successful election, and retaliated and harassed union members. Only in November of this year, after leafletting EZ-Supply's customers (restaurants) and convinced several to switch to a different supplier, did EZ-supply reinitiate bargaining with the union. At this juncture the union negotiated a landmark contract (for the industry) that was tentatively agreed upon by EZ-Supplies boss and the union. In December, the union marched on Top City Produce to demand the boss pay their workers according to minimum wage requirements and to recognize the union. Also in late December the union filed several lawsuits against all of the above companies for wage and hour violations, in excess of 100,000 dollars.

At this point Handyfat, EZ-Supply, Amersino, and Top City all gave their union workers letters requesting workers' immigration papers. This move, although a flagrant violation of the law and clear retaliation for union activity, was their trump card. The bosses had never requested to see any immigration papers before and some of the workers had worked for their respective companies for over 10 years. EZ-Supply also claimed that it had never tentatively agreed to a union contract. The next week, the very day the IWW served EZ-Supply with a complaint for back wage violations, EZ-Supply fired all its union workers. Next Handyfat did the same. Top City had also closed temporarily to "reorganize" its business supposedly to get rid of debt but rehired everyone as of February 15th. This leaves 25 workers. The union's defense fund has compensated all the workers for their lost pay and all have gotten new jobs by now. Major court action against the employers is pending from the NLRB and the Department of Justice for various lawbreaking.

Friday, February 16, 2007

'I preferred the Rockford Files'

First of all, get the obscure joke out of the way; the title of the post refers to this. Sorted? Good.

Now, why is someone scurrying about the USA running off graffiti stencils of James P. Cannon? I guess that the more obvious explanation is that someone has a warped sense of how one goes about recruiting to the FCFC, but I'm clinging to the hope that my original flight of fancy explanation is proved correct.

From overexposure to spray paint fumes, a later-day Johnny Appleseed - half Banksy, half Dave Spart - is now on a fucked up mission to immortalize obscurantist lefty politicos from the last century across the backwaters of America. Look out for Eric, Raya and Gus on a concrete breeze block near you in the coming weeks.

Hat tip to the SWPUSA supporter in North Carolina, whose image above gave me the excuse for yet another fluff post.

Blackpool Rock

There's a couple of Fall songs on my Friday playlist, which reflects the fact that I am currently reading - and thoroughly enjoying - Mick Middles and Mark E Smith's auto/biog of The Fall.

It started off slowly enough, with Middles insistence on placing himself at the centre of the story at the start of the book, but once he got past the burning subject of buying fish and chips in the Lake District and onto the story of the lack of a Manchester music scene in the mid-seventies, and how there were seemingly no pricks for the early Fall to kick against - wait up, stand corrected, Paul Morley's in there somewhere - the story has picked up pace and I know that I won't be settled until I've finished the book.

Natuarally enough, Motormouth Smith sits centre stage in the book with his beer on the table and his cigarette in one hand, whilst his other hand is used to direct his withering one-liners. At turns, he's startling in his autodidactism and insight but in the next paragraph strays far too close to the edge of self-parody in his calculated attempt to be the permanent outsider, but the most enjoyable part of the early chapters of the book is the interweaving of quotes and anecdotes from Middles interviews with both Smith and his mum, Irene, about Smith as a schoolboy - same taste in clothes, apparently - his dealings with his parents, finding his voice in the Fall and how the little matter of muso circumstances patterned the resultant thirty year career of Mark E. Smith and whichever 4 non-musicians happening to be picking up a weekly wage at a particular given time.*

As I'm still at the witch trials, I won't witter on too much about the book, but I loved this quote from those interviews, where Smith speaks of a particular aspect of his relationship with his mum:

" . . . she keeps tabs on what's going on. Not so much on me, but what is going on in the pop world. I may go and see her and tell her that we have a new record out or are about to go on tour . . . blah blah . . . but she will say, 'What about that Eminem? I know about him and he had a problem with his parents.' She tells me all about his problems . . . all kinds of stuff. I quite like Eminem, anyway. So it's OK. She's pretty sussed, in the Salford way. She might ask if 'dance music is like Joe Loss' but she knows, really. She sussed out Robbie Williams straight away. I mean, anyone of our generation who knows anything knows that he is a pub singer. But she grasped that straight away. She saw that he was a Blackpool act."

Btw, Lard's not turned up yet. Looking forward to the put downs from Smith, of which I'm sure there will be many.

*Don't mind me, I'm just being provocative for its own sake. At their best, the Fall's music is up there with Smith's mini-manifestos.

Friday's Playlist #8

An ongoing series:

  • The Fall, 'I Am Damo Suzuki' (This Nation's Saving Grace)
  • Kutosis, 'Nina Vatolina'
  • The Proclaimers, 'Act of Remembrance' (Persevere)
  • Dark Little Poet, 'Tired of Waiting'
  • Amy Winehouse, 'Me And Mr Jones (Fuckery)' (Back To Black)
  • Aberdeen City, 'Another Seven Years' (The Freezing Atlantic)
  • Popup, 'Lucy, What You Trying To Say?'
  • The Fall, 'Rebellious Jukebox' (Live at the Witch Trials)
  • Panic Stations, 'Riots (At The Viper Room)'
  • Strawberry Switchblade, 'Since Yesterday'
  • Your Politics Looked Better On MySpace

    Join me in a celebratory drink at the good news that the unofficial Socialist Standard page on MySpace has just passed the 100,000 viewing mark.

    I know it sounds like small beer in the great scheme of things but, bearing in mind the longstanding stereotypical image of the average Socialist Standard reader, it's heartening to know that we're able to pump the abstract propagandism into the impressionable minds of the today's Yoof. Mint.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Bad Santa

    Click on the pic above for a cartoon clip of what I think might qualify as Bill O'Reilly's favourite cartoon character.

    Doesn't it remind you of something else? Maybe not . . . I'm always claiming credit for the SPGB where it isn't due.

    Though it does definitely remind me of a true story that I once read in a situationist pamphlet - maybe from one of the booklets in Larry Law's 'Spectacular Times' series, maybe not - about a kid in Canada who got in trouble with the authorities for writing to his local press with the suggestion that Santa Claus was a communist, because of his red apparel and his insistence ton giving presents away for free.

    Either way, I should give the present of a hat tip to Will Rubbish for bringing Captain Capitalism to my attention.

    Blogging of Landscapes

    Colder than an arctic monkey

    Bloody freezing in New York at the moment, but at least the scenery is so much more beautiful when there is a blanket of snow over the Brooklyn landscape.

    Letter of the (last) week

    Nearly missed the canny letter cut and pasted below from last week's Weekly Worker.

    Whilst most people in the lefty blogosphere were killing themselves laughing/frothing with anger/denouncing the CPGB-PCC for being sectarian scandalmongers spewing out at a Private Eye lite gossip sheet (delete as appropriate) over either the WW's front page image or the interview with newly selected Respect candidate, Yasir Idris, tucked inside the front page was a wee two paragraphed letter that succinctly cuts through all the crap of so-called 'socialism from above':

    Sick society?

    The Morning Star last week was delighted to report that Cuban leader Fidel Castro had recovered sufficiently from serious illness to be shown on TV meeting Hugo Chávez.

    While wishing the comrade well, we have to ask why his health is apparently so important to the success of Cuba as a state. Why are socialist societies so fragile, and so undemocratic, that their stability relies on the continued public appearances of elderly leaders? Surely, at 80, Castro should be allowed to retire and a new government should be elected by the population. It creates a poor impression of the quality of democracy under socialism that its enemies eagerly await, and its friends dread, the consequences of the death of a single sick old man.

    Zoe Ellwin


    Leaders need not reply.

    Some Like It Not

    Over at Shiraz Socialist, it looks like JD has been sucking a Lemmon over the issue of the 'big bastard versus the little bastard who wants to be a big bastard' debate. Someone should give the guy some Sugar Kane before he gets any Wilder.

    But don't fret over the matter, "nobody's perfect".

    Monday, February 12, 2007

    When Old Wave Met New Wave #2

    Another trivial factoid of the day:

    Billy Joel considered his 1980 album, Glass Houses "as a reply to punk in general, and The Jam's second album This Is the Modern World in particular."

    When Old Wave Met New Wave #1

    Trivial Factoid of the Day:

    "Rod Stewart used to use the Fall's "Totally Wired" as introductory music before he took to the stage." [ from The Fall's wiki page.]

    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    A Political Lightbulb Joke

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, banging on about Banksy yet again. You've got me pegged as a one-trick pony, but I'm actually a two-trick pony 'cos I also like to bang on about Billy Bragg from time to time.

    Loved this Billy Bragg anecdote about his cultural visit to East Germany in the late eighties as recounted on 'Brewing Up With Political Pop', which is the title of episode five of his ongoing series of podcast reminisces of his thirty year career:

    "I got selected - I don't know why - to do a gig in the Nava Lightbulb factory. Which was, you know, not really my cup of tea. It was a noisy, horrible place, and I played in front of the men and women's toilets at lunch hour, whilst people were trying to get their lunch. It was not the greatest Billy Bragg gig, you know. Hopefully, there isn't a bootleg of it anywhere.

    But it was all broadcast for the radio, and they asked me what I thought of the fabulous people's lightbulb factory? And I said, look, I do this job so I don't have to work in a shithole like this, mate. Don't expect me to be saying good things . . ."

    The Berlin Wall was torn down a few years later.

    Hammer Horror

    "Boss, can you hold onto my shirt for the next three weeks whilst I'm out injured? I need both hands free to pick up my sick pay."

    Oh to be a West Ham fan at the moment: From blowing bubbles to wanting to blow your brains out in the space of ten months.

    What sort of odds would you have got that a team that had a top ten finish last season - and who were within seconds of winning the FA Cup - could plumb to such depths? And that was only after they'd signed two genuinely world class footballers?

    Retreads of that most famous of West Ham mantras: 'They're too good to go down' was brought into sharp relief in recent weeks after the Hammers got spanked 6-0 by Reading and 4-0 by Bolton in the space of a few games, and resulted in the new Icelandic owners stumping up the cash for Curbs shore up the defence, but what happens?

    Six million dollar pound man, Matthew Upson, lasts only 28 minutes on his debut before limping off against Aston Villa, and news now reaches me that the sixty grand a week man, Lucas Neill, went off injured after 32 minutes - admittedly, 4 minutes more staying power than Paddy Considine lookalike Upson - in yesterday's 1-0 home defeat against Watford, erm, two weeks after he went off injured on his West Ham debut in a 1-0 FA Cup defeat . . . at home . . . against Watford.

    Such bad luck for a team's defence can only come in threes and, sure enough, I've received confirmation that sadly Calum Davenport is still fit, and is able to play in West Ham's next game against Charlton.

    That game against Charlton is so much more than the cliched six-pointer. Pardew and Curbishley playing musical chairs in the worst of circumstances means that there will be more background to this encounter than a Peter Jackson film.

    Going against all my previous preferences, I'm hoping that Charlton do the business against West Ham. I've warmed to Pardew in recent months and, in comparison to Curbishley, he's got the greater mountain to climb with the empty transfer kitty and inheriting the weaker squad.

    And part of me wouldn't be too aggrieved if West Ham get relegated this season. I'm still holding out for the possibility that in the next few years the Hammers could be both division sharing and ground sharing with Leyton Orient in East London. Any old iron?

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    February 2007 Socialist Standard

    The February Socialist Standard can also be viewed as a PDF here.


  • Blair is Right!
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Junk Shopping
  • Cooking the Books #1 The Poverty Line
  • Cooking the Books #2 International Non-Cooperation
  • Greasy Pole The Trouble With Kelly
  • 50 Years Ago Macmillan Must Go!
  • Main Articles

  • Racists Can't Define Race Race is a completely unscientific concept, as is shown by the fact that racists have been unable to define what a race is other than in completely arbitrary ways.
  • Terrorism: means to a dead end Terrorism is now associated with Islamic extremists, but in the early 1970s there were terrorist groups on the "far-left." We look at the half-baked "socialist" notions from the New Left that these terrorists took.
  • Patents: Capitalism versus Technological Advance The technological dynamism of capitalism is undeniable. But the functioning of capitalism also means the shelving of many useful inventions.
  • The Money Trick It was probably a rich person who devised the saying, "Money can't buy happiness". But there is more truth in the cynical retort that at least it allows you to be miserable in comfort.
  • Beyond Sectarianism David Ervine, Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for a loyalist area of East Belfast, who died in January, saw that working class Protestants and Catholics had both been conned.
  • Reviews, Letters & Meetings

  • Book Reviews Worlds Apart: Measuring International and Global Inequality by Branko Milanovic; Zapata of Mexico by Peter E. Newell; The Communist Club by Keith Scholey; Kennington Park by Stefan Szczelkun
  • Letters to the Editors 'Naked bonobos?' & 'But What Can I Do?'
  • Meetings London, Manchester & Birmingham.
  • Voice From The Back

  • Is This The Way In Amarillo?; Viva Las Vegas?; Post Xmas Blues; New York, New York; The Insecure Society; Priorities
  • A Showing of 'that' Socialist DVD In Little Beirut

    Join us for a showing of Capitalism and Other Kids Stuff on February 11th at 7 pm at Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th Ave, Portland Oregon.

    Capitalism and Other Kids Stuff is a dvd which asks us to take a fresh look at the world we live in and to question some of the most basic assumptions about life in capitalism.

    Call or write for more info:

    (503) 616-3WSP
    Caption for image

    Gnashing of teeth somewhere near Gowanus*

    Phor phuck-sake, that's the tin lid on the biscuit tin.

    From now on, every time - and I mean EVERY-TIME - Banksy gets a pride of place mention on the BBC News website, I'm linking to this old post from the blog as a not so gentle reminder of what was a lost opportunity of bastardido proportions for the Party - which, incidentally, is now thinking of changing its acronym at the forthcoming Conference from the 'SPGB' to the 'SPOSIITFF. . . A'.**

    What started out as a lame running joke on the blog of how we could accidently trip over something hip and current, only to come up for air clutching a Gareth Gates box set, has now mutated into a some kind of symbolic non-gesture that was apparently scripted by EM Forster.***

    BBC News also carries an article entitled 'On the trail of artist Banksy', by Fiona Pryor, which seeks to tease out the enigma of who Banksy actually is. Aside from following the headlines - with added gnashing of teeth for full effect - I've not really followed Banksy's career that closely since our briefest of encounters, so I was surprised to read that even now when he's up there with Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and Rolf Harris in public consciousness in matters relating to *cough* modern art, so little is still known of him.

    According to the article only a select few have met or spoken to him - christ, I spoke to him twice on the phone - and the jury is still out on whether or not he is a clever self-publicist, albeit one who is also very talented, or someone who is orchestrating a sophisticated joke at the expense of the Guardian Media types carrying a political punch.

    I'm not too bothered either way. I just wanted to envisage the scenario years from now whereby the Japanese and American branches of the Banksy fan club would be making pilgramages to South London to get their happy snaps taken outside a bunker-like building in Clapham High Street, before hopping on the Northern Line to get do the Abbey Road 'Walk This Way' photo op north of the river.

    *I'm nowhere near Gowanus, but I like the sound of it.

    **Socialist Party of Shooting Itself In The Fucking Foot . . . Again. I'd like to see the Millies or anyone else try to steal our identity after that name change.

    ***Throwing in the Forster reference as a sop to Will Rubbish, and his insistence that the SPGB is locked in an Edwardian time vacuum. Don't call my bluff by asking me questions about Edwardian literature. I know more about Gareth Gates.

    Mirroring My Mindset

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Friday's Playlist #7

    An ongoing series:

  • Love of Diagrams, 'No Way Out' (Love of Diagrams EP)
  • The Rogers Sisters, 'Freight Elevator' (Three Fingers)
  • The Grates, 'Rock Boys' (Gravity Won't Get You High)
  • Teenage Fanclub, 'The World'll Be OK' (Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Seconds: A Short Cut To Teenage Fanclub)
  • Spoon, 'Jonathan Fisk' (Kill The Moonlight)
  • James Brown Is Annie, 'Planet Betamax'
  • Love of Diagrams, 'Theme'
  • Graham Coxon, 'Standing On My Own Again' (Love Travels At Illegal Speeds)
  • 1990s, 'You Were Supposed To Be My Friend'
  • The Shins, 'Sea Legs' (Wincing The Night Away)
  • Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Sullivan's Travels

    Kara's good friend - and the witness at our wedding back in 2005 - Glynnis, has an article on Andrew Sullivan in today's Huffington Post.

    What's that she writes about blokes with beards?

    Bono Goes Solo

    You know me, I've never had any issues with Bono; so I wish him well in his planned solo career.

    I'm also glad to note that with the new project Bono has decided to swop the cheesy leather trousers for more sober attire.

    With regards to a post-Bono U2, here's hoping that Jim Kerr finally gets the job he's been hankering after these last twenty years.

    He should be a shoe-in for the gig as long as the Edge, Barney and Smudge can forgive him for this little incident from a few years back.

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Swansea, England*

    ABC News gets its geography askew when reporting on the letter bomb that went off at the DVLA office. Also, according to the crack team at ABC News, apparently Swansea is "near London".

    *I declare an interest in this story 'cos Kara's Dad is originally from Mumbles.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    London's Brilliant Parade

    Good comrade and friend, Keith "Keeef" Scholey* - who's greatest claim to fame is that he knows more obscure shit about the SPGB and the old De Leonist SLP (British section) than even I do - has recently written a pamphlet about the old long gone Communist Club of London, which, from the mid-nineteenth century up until the early twentieth century, was the political haunt of radical emigres, social malcontents, ner-do-wells and that one bloke who always turns up at radical meetings with his 'funny money' theories.

    Naturally, the pamphlet gets the obligatory plug in the pages of the Socialist Standard, but I think I may have also stumbled across the text online at the rather excellent Past Tense website, which I believe has some connection with the South London Radical History Group, but it's too early and much too cold on this February morning in Brooklyn for me to be arsed to join the dots . . . and the political clots . . . to work out the connection between them all.

    I'm hoping it's the full text but apologies in advance if it's incomplete. I'm sure Keith won't be too put out by my linking to the text. The couple of quid in lost royalties would only have been mispent on obscure political postcards from yester-year, and it's a welcome addition to the social history of radical London. It should be filed alongside such texts as Ken Weller's 'Don't Be A Soldier' and Stan Shipley's 'Club Life and Socialism in Mid-Victorian London'.

    Finally, click on the link for a photograph that dates from 1905, and is of the first SPGB Conference, which was held at the Communist Club when its premises were in Charlotte Street. Sadly, I'm not in picture. I was doing a paper sale outside the Royal Court Theatre at the production of George Bernard Shaw's 'Major Barbara'.

    * Yes, it's the self-same 'Keef' from this stream of consciousness post that dates from March 2005.

    Saturday, February 03, 2007

    The Dude's An Arse

    From today's Guardian:

    I threw out the TV for practical purposes many years ago, and barely ever go to the movies. I do know (slightly) and very much like Matt Groening, and did get my children a tour of the Simpsons set a few years back, but have not seen many episodes. Same with South Park - people say, hey look, they attack the Pope and the Mormons and the Islamists, and I say, "Tell me about it." I do this myself in real time: don't need the vicarious living that seems so central to all this stuff.[Christopher Hitchens on The Simpsons]

    Friday, February 02, 2007

    Reidski's On Wikipedia

    Further to Big Blowdown's recent anecdote about Paul Hartley, when he was at Reidski's second club, Millwall, it's heartening to see that someone has taken those sentiments and run rampant with them on the Paul Hartley entry on Wikipedia.


    Kev at The Scottish Patient has more on Hartley and the Huns, but from a very different perspective. Christ, Hartley looks about 12 in that old photo!

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Weller Watch

    Great performance by Paul Weller on last night's Conan O'Brien show, performing the much neglected wee gem - that term again - 'Running On The Spot' from the last Jam album, The Gift.

    Nice to see Steve Craddock has stopped wearing stupid sixties bunnets to hide the receding hairline, and great drumming from Steve White but I wish he wouldn't eat all the pies. No wonder I can't find Cornish Pasties in NYC.

    PS - Before I forget - here's the link to said performance.

    Macmillan Must Go!

    A wee gem from the '50 Years Ago' section in this month's Socialist Standard

    "If we were Labour or Communist vote-catchers we would be campaigning for "Macmillan Must Go!" and telling anyone silly enough to believe it, how successful we had been with our last campaign for "Eden Must Go!"

    Since the S.P.G.B. was formed in 1904 there have been ten such campaigns for getting rid of a no-good Prime Minister.

    There have been rather more than ten governments because some of them, after being pushed, pulled or squeezed out have managed to get back again. When we survey the list we marvel at the rich variety.

    Scots, English, Welsh, and half- American (Churchill); spellbinders like Lloyd-George, and others who didn't know how to gild the lilies of oratory; philosophical types like Balfour and Asquith and "plain, blunt men" like Baldwin; semi-Pacifists and war-mongers; business men and professional politicians; the relatively poor and the passing rich; religionists and agnostics; aristocrats and commoners; Tory,Liberal, and Labour.

    There are the differences:What of the similarities? They have all had a strange belief that the country was very lucky to have them at the helm. They have all come in generously promising how much better they will make life for the people and have all gone out little lamented.

    And what difference has it made in the one thing that ought to be of paramount concern to the workers, the question of establishing Socialism in place of Capitalism? Just no difference at all. That job has yet to be done and it won't matter in the least whether the next Prime Minister who tries to administer Capitalism is Mr. G., or Mr. B., Mr. X or Mr. Y.

    ['Notes By The Way' by H, Socialist Standard, February 1957].