Sunday, September 30, 2007

What Not To Wear

It turns out that the Shiraz Socialist Jim D's recent railing against the Banana Republic generation is not the only example of a lefty blogger whose thoughts have turned to matters Bolshevik-Sartorialist.

Via the comments section of Jim's original grumble comes a link to an really funny post from the Splintererd Sunrise blog (number two in Socialist Unity Blog's 'Operation Sitemeter Spotting') about the changing fashion sense of the Irish Republicanism from the '70s onwards.

Check out the comments on the post as well. Good stuff.

You know the type. Those "completely demoralized elements, wearing showy bell-bottom pants and sporty haircuts."

Not sure if Jim D over at Shiraz Socialist is blogging with a straight face, but he's unearthed a quote from James P. Cannon for those of you who are sick and tired of always having to fall back on that old George Orwell quote from 'The Road To Wigan Pier'. You know . . . that one.

Yeah, I know the Cannon and the Orwell quotes are not like for like, but they both boil down to the same sentiment. To paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre: "Hell is other party members."

Double-Header: August and September Socialist Standards

Apologies. Been a bit slack lately with posting details of the Socialist Standard on the blog. Details of the August and September issues are listed below. That brings me up to date just in time for me being late posting details of the October issue.

Cheers.

September 2007 Socialist Standard

Editorial

  • Competition Rules?
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Earth Version Two
  • Cooking the Books #1 Turmoil At The Stock Exchange
  • Cooking the Books #2 How To Undermine Socialism
  • Greasy Pole Like Father, Like Son
  • 50 Years Ago You and the Rent Act
  • Main Articles

  • Who Controls the World: the Illuminati or the Market? Why do some people think the world is run by a shadowy group called the Illuminati? Who were they?
  • Can Capitalism ever be Green? Yes, say a new school of green economists. No, say socialists.
  • One-party rule in Japan at an end? Politics in Japan has reached a turning point—or a dead end—with the crushing defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party in the upper-house election on 9 July
  • The Scramble for the Arctic On August 3, the oceanographer and polar explorer Artur Chilingarov declared that “The Arctic is Russian.”
  • Too Much Hot air Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol little substantial has been done to address the the problem of climate change.
  • The Single Issue The futility of the ever-increasing single issue campaigns is clear for all to see. Could it be because they are being reactive rather than proactive?
  • Letters & Book Reviews

  • Letters to the Editors 'Socialist MPs'
  • Book Reviews: 'Why We Hate Politics' by Colin Hay; 'Pirates of the Caribbean – Axis of Hope' by Tariq Ali; 'The Anarchist Geographer: An Introduction to the Life of Peter Kropotkin' by Brian Morris
  • Voice From The Back

  • Outdated Marxism?; Loads of Money; USA: Worked To Death; Same The World Over ; Homeless Heroes; Illusion and Reality
  • August 2007 Socialist Standard

    Editorial

  • World Without Borders
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Conspiracy of Dunces
  • Cooking the Books #1 Brown Means Business
  • Cooking the Books #2 Strictly For The Birds
  • Greasy Pole Goldsmith Gives Up
  • 50 Years Ago Mr Hutchinson Investigates
  • Main Articles

  • Borders Crossed Does immigration cause working-class problems, or is it rather that capitalism needs immigration?
  • “Old McDonald’s had a brand...” The world’s biggest fast-food chain trains customers in its own image – but we don’t have to be part of its assembly line.
  • The Perils of Moralism Pharmaceutical companies’ promotion of baby formula in the Philippines.
  • The right to be homeless “A homeless man who argued that begging is a form of free speech has won his case” (Scotsman, 1 June).
  • Free Access To Services Apart from material things, socialism will bring many intangible benefits that capitalism denies us.
  • Smile, smile smile! But why?
  • It’s the system! To many the socialist criticism of the capitalist system may seem like a crude act of oversimplification, if not a type of scapegoating.
  • Letters & Book Reviews

  • Letters to the Editors 'Some Defining Features of Socialism'
  • Book Reviews What’s In Your Shopping Trolley? by Andrew Simms; Six Degrees. Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas; We won’t pay! by Gary Mulcahy
  • Voice From The Back

  • The Filthy Rich; Wealthy Get Wealthier; Biblical Weather Forecasting; The Failure of Reformism ; The Church Goes Commercial; Big Brother Is Watching You; Charity As A Symbol Status
  • Friday, September 28, 2007

    Hobgoblin Soup

    Well as the hardy perenniel of 'socialist as cultists' is currently doing the rounds on various discussion boards, I guess it's timely and apt that socialists will see the prophet, Karl Marx, in everything . . . but in a bowl of radish soup?

    I wonder if the picture above has any connection with that time I discovered the 1905 IWW Preamble in a tin of Heinz Alphabetti Spaghetti?

    Maybe that's the sign we need to confirm that we truly are living in revolutionary times.

    Picture from here. Hat tip to the Stationmaster Magnus B for spotting it.

    Jobs for the Bhoys

    Sick as a parrot.

    Friday's Playlist #16

    An ongoing series:

  • My Brightest Diamond, 'Golden Star' (Bring Me the Workhorse)
  • The Mary Onettes, 'Void' (Labrador Summer Sampler 2007)
  • Chas & Dave, 'There Ain't No Pleasing You'
  • Future Of The Left, 'Manchasm' (Curses)
  • National Skyline, 'The Last Day' (The Last Day EP)
  • Alistair Griffin, 'Mark Viduka'
  • The Legends, 'Call It Ours' (Up Against The Legends)
  • Abba, 'Head Over Heels' (The Visitors)
  • Amy Rigby, 'Dancing With Joey Ramone' (Little Fugitive)
  • The Tom Morton Two, 'Learning To Hate The Beatles' ('A Complete and Utter History of Rock'n'Roll')
  • Friday's Playlist #15.5 Stranger Than Fiction

    An ongoing series:

  • The Proclaimers, 'Whole Wide World' (Life With You)
  • Wreckless Eric, 'Whole Wide World' (Wreckless Eric)
  • Pardon the pun, but it was wreckless of me to inadvertently leave two songs on permanent repeat on iTunes overnight whilst the volume was down. I mean, I love both versions of the song, but the play count is now lying to me about how much I love the song.

    Sadly, this wee entry doesn't even have a happy ending. Another 30 minutes of not discovering the musical mistake would have finally displaced Cheap Trick's 'Surrender' from the Top 25 Most Played folder, but it wasn't to be. Maybe next time.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Class Warfare

    Old blogger, new blog, new blogger, old blog. Check it out:

  • Class Warfare
  • Must dash. The news series of Ugly Betty is starting.

    Football and the Far Left - Constructing a False Trail

    British Pabloite Tendency -> Seventies Vintage -> Tractor Boys Country -> Ipswich Town -> Bobby Robson era -> Soccer Coach -> NASL -> Seattle -> Soccer in Seattle? -> Seattle Sounders -> Check Wiki -> Nope -> Other micky mouse sporting franchises in Seattle? -> Seattle Mariners? -> That a heavy hint? -> Christ, surely not?

    Nah, according to his wiki page, PM is still living stateside.

    Start again.

    British Pabloite Tendency -> Seventies Vintage -> Student radical at Warwick -> Lady Godiva Land -> Coventry City -> Chocolate brown away kit era -> Seattle -> Soccer in Seattle? -> Seattle Sounders -> Check wiki -> Mmm, looks promising -> Stalwart for the Sky Blues in the seventies -> Played for the Sounders -> Scottish -> Really promising -> Can Cardenden be considered part of Red Clydeside? -> Worth a punt -> Could it be this bloke?

    Damn, according to wiki TH has been living in South Wales for the last couple of few years. He can't be both a mate of the British Pabloite Tendency and and be an acquaintance of the last living member of the Muggletonian International Socialist tradition.

    Last effort. Come on . . . try and think more laterally this time.

    British Pabloite Tendency -> Seventies Vintage -> International Marxist Group -> Warwick University -> West Midlands -> Aston Villa -> American Soccer -> Seattle Sounders -> Politically unsound -> Pabloism -> Fourth International -> Football International -> What, this bloke?

    It can't be JPA. Wrong decade . . . wrong coast of America . . . too good looking to be selling vanguardist newspapers outside Tesco's on a Saturday morning . . . no Colombian section currently in the IST.

    As long as I don't find out it was Alan Brazil.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    That Alex Glasgow Song

    Further to footnote #3 in the previous post, where I mention that John Sullivan's pamphlet, 'As Soon As This Pub Closes', was named after the Alex Glasgow's song of the same name, cut and pasted below are the lyrics to Glasgow's song.

    I wish I could point you in the direction of an mp3 link to the song but no luck, I'm afraid. I don't even have a copy of the song myself. A comrade in the SPGB kindly did me a tape of Alex Glasgow's songs a few years back, but I left the cassette back in Britain alongside my Bucks Fizz picture discs. Maybe next time . . .

    As Soon As This Pub Closes
    I could have done it yesterday if I hadn't a cold,
    But since I've put this pint away I've never felt so bold.

    So as soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

    As soon as this pub closes, the revolution starts.


    I'll shoot the aristocracy and confiscate their brass,

    Create a fine democracy that's truly working class.

    As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

    As soon as this pub closes, I'll raise the banner high.


    I'll fight the nasty racialists and scrap the colour bar,

    And all fascist dictatorships and every commissar.

    As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

    As soon as this pub closes, I'll man the barricades.


    So raise your glasses, everyone, for everything is planned,

    And each and every mother's son will see the Promised Land.

    As soon as this pub closes, as soon as this pub closes,

    As soon as this pub closes, I think I'm going to be sick.

    UPDATE:

    There you go. It sometimes pays to come across all whiney on the blogsphere. That good man, Piers, over at Border Fever has been good enough to send me an mp3 of the song.

    OK, I'll start off and you can come in at the start of the second verse with the doo-wah-wah's.

    Do They Mean Us? #9 & #10*

    Two for the price of one: A brief resumption of what has always been an irregular series.

    Via the yahoogroup, Leftist Trainspotters, comes the news that there is now a page on ETOL especially dedicated to the late John Sullivan's wonderfully witty writings from the eighties that satirically skewered just about every British far left group that ever had a batch of unsold papers overstuffed in the magazine rack at Housmans Bookshop.**

    Pride of place naturally goes to his two pamphlets, 'Go Fourth and Multiply', published in 1981 under the pseudonyms of Mo Klonsky and Chas Aguirre, and the pamphlet that updated and overtook GF&M, 'As Soon As This Pub Closes', published in 1986 but this time using the pseudonym of Prunella Kaur. (I bet I got the pseudonyms mixed up.)

    Bob Pitt's What Next? had previously published 'As Soon As This Pub Closes' on the net, (the late Al Richardson's obituary for John Sullivan that appeared in What Next? can be read here), but it's wonderful that both pamphlets are now together on the same link, alongside a piece, 'Rolling Your Own', that I'd previously never read before.

    'Rolling Your Own' dates from the same period as 'As Soon As This Pub Closes'***, and is a handy bullet pointed guide to kick starting your own sect. Think the SWP's Rebel Guide Pocket Pamphlets, and then toss that thought out the window. . . the analogy doesn't work.

    I have one minor quibble, however, with Sullivan's essay; his list of forgotten theoreticians included in bullet point, 3.2, in the section entitled Ideology. What about a Menshevik Internationalist franchise based around the writings of Martov? It could have been a contender.)

    I could overwork the cut and paste button on the keyboard reproducing choice nuggets from both pamphlets where Sullivan hoisted the left on its very own piss-poor petard - just the subheadings should be evidence enough of the wittiness of Sullivan's pen: "If you enjoyed the 1950s, you’ll love the NCP" . . . "The Agonies of Being English" (about the RCG) - but as this post is supposed to be part of the SPGB series, Do They Mean Us?, I'll confine my cut and paste to Sullivan's gentle barbs lobbed in the direction of the SPGB:

    From 'Go Fourth and Multiply' (1981):

    "THE Socialist Party is in some ways the most extreme of all left organisations. It stands for nothing less than complete socialism now and has no time for Labour governments, Alternative Economic Plans, or any kind of transitional strategy.
    On the other hand, the SPGB can be seen as moderate. Its activity consists of contesting elections, selling its publications and giving lectures. It abhors violence and sees no reason why the socialist society should not be smoothly inaugurated once it gets a parliamentary majority. It is this legalism which has prompted the gibe that they are the Small Party of Good Boys.

    The SPGB is sometimes ridiculed for having so few members after 77 years’ work. (This gibe surely loses force as the groups formed in the 1960s settle into middle age without having found a way to the masses.) . . .

    From 'As Soon As This Pub Closes' (1986)

    ". . . People have the impression that a group bound to a doctrine first enunciated in 1904 must be composed of dogmatic robots. Nothing could be further from the truth! The SPGB was, until recently, full of the most delightful and varied eccentrics one could hope to meet. The reason for this is that although the D of P is sacrosanct, it covers only the question of how the socialist society will be brought about. The party, in contrast to many other sects, does not try to regulate its members’ domestic lives, eating habits or personal relationships . . .

    . . .However, the D of P, inflexible as it is in the area which it covers, does not specify what the society of the future will be like; consequently, SPGB meetings, whatever the ostensible topic, quickly tend to gravitate towards discussion on precisely this theme. Under socialism will we be vegetarian, monogamous or not? Will we still live in cities? Will we use more or less water, and will goods still be mass produced? Visitors to SPGB meetings, expecting to hear solemn Marxists discussing how to overthrow the bourgeoisie, are usually surprised and charmed. No speculation is forbidden by the D of P, so imaginations can soar, unfettered by the tedious discussions on tactics and strategy which form the content of most socialist theory. Even the least imaginative of the speculations are more appealing than descriptions of the Christians’ dreary, male chauvinist heaven . . .

    . . . As we reach the fag end of the twentieth century, thoughts inevitably turn towards the centenary celebrations in 2004. Conway Hall has been looking a bit dowdy in recent years, but it is a central spot with many associations for socialists, so it might well be the site for the festivities. A committee will be set up to determine the precise form which these will take, as the party does not believe in arbitrary decisions by authoritarian leaders. It can look forward with quiet confidence. Membership has grown from a mere 100 founders to nearly 700. In contrast, most of its early rivals have passed into history, and later competitors are in disarray. The Communist Party is splintered and in apparently terminal decline, while the Labour Party has abandoned whatever socialist rhetoric it once employed to deceive the masses. The Socialist Workers Party no longer attracts intelligent young people as it did in the early 1970s, so the SPGB can look forward to having the field to itself. The apolitical sociologists asking boring questions about the party’s social composition are a nuisance, but the D of P has nothing to say about them."

    Poor John . . . if only he was about today to write up the sequel to the sequel. No idea what his pseudonym would have been this time around, but perhaps he could have toyed with the idea of calling the updated pamphlet, 'We Started Something We Couldn't Finish'. Twenty-One years is a long time waiting for a revised edition. And a hell of a lot can happen in the intervening period . . . even in the case of the 'Small Party of Glasgow Bookies'

    *Hat tip to the Phil Evans cartoon that I've lifted so shamelessly from the online version of 'More Years For The Locust', by that other seriously funny writer from the Trotskyist tradition, Jim Higgins.

    **On the left side of the picture, sandwiched inbetween 'Workers Action' and 'Marxist Review' - and to the left of the 'Jewish Socialist', naturally - is the 'World Socialist Review', the occasional printed journal of the World Socialist Party of the United States. Why no Socialist Standard in the picture? As it looks like an oldish pic of the magazine rack in Housmans, I'm guessing that either the infamous Max placed it under the counter as an act of Stalinist intervention or some embittered ex-SPGB member hid that month's batch behind the ICC titles. OK, I'm lying. Comag probably fucked up the delivery . . . again.

    ***Named after the Alex Glasgow song of the same name.

    I'll Never Forget Where I Was . . .

    . . . the day I heard that Derek Riordan started a game for Celtic.

    'Derek . . . DEREK . . . the pitch is that way son.'

    Somebody Please Swiftboat Fred Thompson . . .

    . . . so I can get back to watching repeats of Law and Order on TNT.

    Unfortunately that clip from an old episode of Roseanne won't do the trick, as his campaign team are already onto it by posting this crappy spliced effort from the same episode on YouTube.

    Help Free The Carlisle 2 (Part II)

    Please feel free to repost or forward the following message:

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (13)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 13th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 791 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • FAQ on the World Socialist Movement
  • Never a follower be
  • Can capitalism ever be green?
  • This week's top quote:

    "Under Capitalism you sell your piss to the urinal." Attributed to Bertholt Brecht (1898-1956)

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Misplaced Morose Delectation

  • Hibernian 3-2 Celtic
  • Finally got round to seeing the Scotsport highlights of the Hibs/Celtic game. As has been mentioned by others, despite the scoreline, Celtic played well and I don't think it was necessarily delusional sour grapes on Gordon Strachan's part when he said after the game that that was the best Celtic's played in Edinburgh since he's been at Parkhead.

    Of course Boruc's two mistakes were David James like in their clunkiness, but what was more cringeworthy was Boruc acting like a muppet towards the Hibs fans after McGeady's goal - making look like a total arse in the process when he later spilled that shot in the 87th minute to allow Shiels to toe poke the winner for Hibs - and Caldwell's gestures towards the Hibs fans when he scored Celtic's second equaliser. Barracked or not, it's always classier when a footballer playing against his one of his old club goes down the Robbie Keane road of not celebrating a goal against those fans who once sung your praises.

    Meantime

    Drumroll Please:

    I never get tired of laughing at linking to my old jokes posts.

    PS - it was Mike Leigh's birthday seven months ago.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    "Away and vandalize some phone boxes"*

    Last couple of days, managers of the Labour Party Conference and the political editors of the broadsheets have been contenting themselves with the heightened focus on this particular scion of the Old Left**, but I'm more tickled with the news that 17 year old, Emily Benn, has been selected by the East Worthing and Shoreham Constituency Labour Party to be their parliamentary candidate for the coming General Election. Yep, the grandaughter of Tony and niece of that nice Mr. Benn the Younger.

    No snidey or sarky comments at my end. I'll leave the apoplectic blogging rage to Mr. Class War 'cos, in truth, her acceptance statement is no more anodyne and generalised than similar type acceptance statements from Labour Party hacks three times her age (see what I mean). And however much Mr Bone's blogging rage is a mighty fine sight to behold at the best of times, I'll get a bigger buzz from sniffing out the blogging envy from such career politicos as L & K.

    Just one minor quibble, though: from looking at the selection winning photo above, couldn't her election agent have ensured that she put down her pez dispenser before being photographed?

    *Random quote from 'Gregory's Girl' (currently on my mind 'cos the DVD is currently on top of the tv. You either get the reference or you don't). Footnotes are not the place for seven paragraph explanations.

    **Roll out Dave O's quip about Ralph Miliband, and his two sons, David (and Ed): "Ralph Miliband devoted his life to making the theoretical case for the proposition that Labour has nothing to offer the working class. David Miliband has devoted his life to proving it."

    Keep From Trucking

    Via the Pretending Life Is Like a Song music blog - and for completists only - comes Prefab Sprout's "Faron Young (Trucking Mix)"

    Take the opening track from one of the best albums of the mid-eighties, and smother it with a meaningless tinny remix, and you have all that was harrowing about pop music in the dark ages of 84-89 (save a few exceptions that I can't be arsed to list here).

    I don't blame the record company; Paddy McAloon has to take the occasional brickbat alongside the fulsome plaudits. I lost count of the number of times that Prefab Sprout and the record company remixed and re-released "When Loves Breaks Down" before it finally crept into the top forty via an appearance on the Wogan Show. Paddy Mac knew what he was doing, and it was simply the opening chapter of him selling his musical soul before going that final stretch and passing songs onto Jimmy Nail.

    You know the drill: download the mp3 within the next ten minutes, otherwise you'll lose out.

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Spot The Bloggers

    Via Iain Dale's Diary comes news of the Top 100 Left of Centre UK Blogs (2007).

    I know I'm stateside, but I haven't heard of three quarters of them. Part of the reason that I'm blogging about the list is so that I have an easy accesible link to the list in what might be a coming election period, and 'cos I want to name and shame some of the bloggers listed in the Red Hot Top 100:

  • 9 - Dave's Part Should be top five, at least. Somebody has been interfering with the ballot.
  • 21 - Three Score Years & Ten The blog of Harry Barnes. Who thought someone could be a MP for 18 years, and come out the other end a decent person? Always had a soft spot for HB, because of his columns in the old ILP magazine.
  • 29 - A General Theory of Rubbish He swears a lot, and has been known to send me contraband Irn Bru flavoured rock candy through the mail. Good man.
  • 31 - Austin Mitchell MP Refused to buy a Socialist Standard off of me one time. Known as a wit in the House of Commons, because it was rumoured he once told a funny joke thirty years ago.
  • 35 - Shiraz Socialist I knew one half of the Shiraz's - Volty - when he was a cadre member of the 'tha matgamnite wing of old man 1904'ery'.
  • 38 - Hak Mao The acceptable face of the Drink Sot Toon Blogging Army.
  • 63 - Gauche Paul Anderson's blog. He doesn't blog enough. He doesn't gossip enough about his nefarious ultra-left past in his posts.
  • 81 - Random Pottins Always readable, always fucks up his hyperlinks.
  • But no room on the list for Socialist Unity Blog; The Scottish Patient or, it has to be said, Lenny's Blog? Strange omissions, IMHO.

    I'm not a fan of Lenny or his politics, but you can't deny that the bloke gets the hits. Socialist Unity Blog and the Scottish Patient are always readable and, in SUP's case, has played a central role in publicising the current Galloway/SWP shakedown within Respect. The SWP's Central Committee goes to bed at night cursing Al Gore for inventing the t'internet.

    Last Word

    And of course the SPGB blog, Socialism Or Your Money Back, isn't on the list. That would mean that we acknowledge that we are part of the left . . . and we can't have that.

    No, This Is The Last Word

    Andy N. over at the Socialist Unity Blog has compiled his own list of Top 101 Left Blogs. Honorable mentions to:

  • 31 - Another Green World Derek Wall's blog. Totally unreadable, IMHO, but come the Green Revolution, it's handy to have a former subscriber to the Socialist Standard with his hands on the levers of power.
  • 33 - Socialism Or Your Money Back The SPGB momentarily think of doing a Marlon Brando, but at the last minute bottle it and do a Sally Field instead.
  • 80 - Spaces of Hope Its placing in the top 101 adds another five years to the life of the World in Common collective.
  • 81 - Reasons To Be Possible Highly literate blogger who refuses to use spellchecker. If he wanted to, he could produce one of the best blogs out there. Bastard.
  • 95 - From Despair To Where Maybe Andy included FDTW as an afterthought in a hastily constructed top 101. A shame if that's the case, 'cos Stuart and Dave's blog pisses over the majority of blogs on the list. No offence to the offended blogs, but it's always got something original to say, and says it with good grace and humility. So why the fuck they're blogging is anyone's guess.
  • Spot The Blogger

    You can't even click on a random page on the internet these days without tripping over a political blogger. That bloke will end up in the House of Commons one day. And, if he must, hopefully before this bloke

    In other UK blogging news, Dave O has been listed by the Daily Telegraph as the 93rd most influential lefty in Britain! That's 28 places lower than Claire Fox of the dodgy organisation formerly known as the Revolutionary Communist Party Institute of Ideas, but he does rank higher than Ken Loach, Tariq Ali, Germaine Greer and John Pilger, apparently.

    You can gauge the semi-seriousness and the lack of political nous of the Young Tory Boy list compiler by his heavyweight labour movement analysis that states John McDonnell that (No.86), " . . . will be a big influence if Labour were to lose the next election", and by the fact that he has appeared to include the Green Party's Sian Berry and Caroline Lucas, primarily on the basis that he has a crush on them both.

    Don't forget to also check out the comments generated by the list from your average Daily Telegraph reader. So that's where Guido gets his readership from.

    Quote of the Day/Old Anarchist Joke

    It's an old quote/joke, but I just stumbled across it today, so bear with me:

    "What do you get if you cross a situationist with a mafioso? A guy who makes you an offer you can’t understand."

    From an interesting article/book review from a few years back.

    "Santino, find out whether it was Vaneigem or Debord who called me a c*#@, and clip him."

    Next Week's Sp!ked Editorial

    We are living in revolutionary times.

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    New Socialist Website

    Bookmarks at the ready.

    Kudos to Morgan M. (and his mate FN Brill) for the spade work in putting together the new website for the World Socialist Party of the United States. Now you have all those impossibilist hyperlinks at your fingertips.

    It looks like a nice blend of contemporary articles alongside reprints of material from the long history of the *cough* World Socialists* in North America.

    Articles that caught my eye on the 'is it a website or is it a blog?' include:

  • How Money Downed the Minneapolis Bridge
  • The Ballot Over The Bullet
  • The Wildcat Strike (from The Western Socialist, July-August, 1953)
  • Paul Mattick's review of Hayek's 'Road To Serfdom' (from The Western Socialist, September 1946)
  • Interview With a WSPUS Union Organizer
  • Who will do the dirty work? We all will!
  • I have to make a special mention of the innovation - for the WSM, that is - of including mp3s on the website. Of course, front and centre is the 'heavy stuff'; SPGB talks on 'War' and 'Israel, Intifada and Peace' (plus an interesting recording from 68/69, where the late Socialist Party of Canada member, Bill Pritchard, recounts the foundation of the One Big Union in 1919), but I also like the decision to include 'light stuff' such as the following mp3s:

  • The Fugs', 'Kill For Peace'
  • Chumbawamba's, 'That’s How Grateful We Are'
  • Groucho Marx's, 'I'm Against It'
  • Fatima Mansions, 'Shiny Happy People'
  • No doubt this FN Brill bloke was influenced by the classic 2003 SPGB Mix compilation CD, 'The Secret Melody of the Class Struggle',** that was specially produced for the SPGB stall at Glastonbury that year.


    *The *cough* is in place 'cos I think the term 'World Socialists' is a bit naff.

    **Original working title for the political pop music compilation CD was 'The Best Impossibilist Album in the World...Ever!'

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Smack My Gob . . . and Smack It Again

    Despite all the rumours coming out of Stamford Bridge these last twelve months, I did not see that coming. And it turns out that ickle Rosenburg were the tipping point.

    If Abramovich wants elan to go with the trophies, he should head up to the Hawthorns and snaffle Tony Mowbray, but that's simply me speculating via a day trip to my alternative universe. My magic ball says even money on Dennis Wise being the next manager of Chelski* (after Hiddink turns them down), with Bernd Schuster, Frank Rijkaard, Claudio Ranieri and Carlo Ancelotti currently on speed dial to their respective lawyers to ensure that there are no loopholes in their contracts.

    However much I hate Chelsea and all that they represent, I think I miss José Mourinho already. Strange that.

    *That'll be the same magic ball which predicted that Wayne Biggins was the new Jimmy McGrory, and that Diesel Park West were the next Beatles.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Miller Time, Newcastle Lite - Who'd Have Thunk It?

    Northern Clay

    Latest post from the SPGB blog, Socialism Or Your Money Back, on the subject the recent difficulties at Northern Rock:

  • Northern Clay
  • Over at Dave's Part, Dave O runs his journalistic eye over the same subject.

    "Joe Stalin's three-album plan!"

    Not a particularly favourite XTC track of mine off one of my least favourite XTC albums (too urgent, not enough melody), but Andy Partridge's discussion of the track, 'Meccanik Dancing', over at the XTC's MySpace Page is fun if for no other reason than AP coming clean about the dynamics of the band at the time, and his feeling threatened by what is known in the music business as the 'George Harrison Effect': a third songwriter entering the recording studio.

    PS - yep, AP discussing 'Meccanik Dancing' was what prompted my sudden fascination with all things John Leckie.

    Leckie Lacking

    You've got a resume that includes producing The Fall, Radiohead, (early) Simple Minds, The Verve, XTC, Magazine and Mark Owen, but all that doesn't matter if you've got a crap Wiki page; that, sadly, will be what John Leckie will be remembered for if a mixing desk was to collapse on him tomorrow.

    GG Obsessives - Sitemeter Sighting

    I get it; people don't like George Galloway, but typing in "george galloway" dundee labour club into the google search engine, and trawling all the way through to the eleventh page of the searches seems a tad obsessive for a Monday morning, IMHO

    Not sure what they got out of this post, but haste ye back.

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    False Dawn (probably)

    Mmm, just noticed that the stats for Celtic's last three league games reveal a goal difference of fifteen goals for and one against. Is it too late to change my prediction about the outcome of this year's title race?

    Hibs next*, at Easter Road. The way Hibs' forward line and their goalkeeper is playing at the moment, I'd have to go with a prediction of a 4-4 draw.

    As an aide memoire to myself, I'm going to post the links to Celtic's opening six games of the 2007/08 SPL season. I always forget these things for some reason, and I'd like to keep better track for a change. Strange how you can remember that wonder season from Charlie Nicholas back in 82/83, but struggle to remember what Lee Naylor had for his breakfast yesterday:

  • Celtic 0-0 Kilmarnock
  • Falkirk 1-4 Celtic
  • Aberdeen 1-3 Celtic
  • Celtic 5-0 Hearts
  • St Mirren 1-5 Celtic
  • Celtic 5-0 Inverness CT
  • What with the R*ngers Reserves turning over R*ngers yesterday, and strong early season starts from Dundee Utd, Hibs and Motherwell, it would be foolish to think that Celtic are going to score five every week. It'll still be between the ugly sisters this season, but I'm sure that it won't just be Hearts and Kilmarnock who will be securing surprise results this season. And the league will be all the better because of it.

    *It's too soon to think of Shakhtar Donetsk at this point.

    Kailyard Kommentary

    Pay no heed to the title of this post. I'm just trying to be clever, and failing miserably. Some links with a Scottish angle for your delectation:

  • In the aftermath of Scotland performing a smash and grab raid in Paris last Wednesday - cheers lads for buggering up my intended 'Domenech Bliss' post - came the debate at the Guardian's football blog about whether or not this was Scotland's greatest ever result.
    Granted, there isn't much competition but the obvious counter-candidate is Scotland beating England 3-2 at Wembley in '67. Kev at the The Scottish Patient is nicely on cue by posting the nine and half minute YouTube clip of the game.

    Sadly, being YouTube, the footage is grainier than a cheap snow globe and there's no sign of Jim Baxter playing keepie-uppie or sitting on the ball, but you have to check out six minutes into the clip. Denis Law tries the most audacious of chips and Gordon Banks has to pull off a brilliant save to deny him. Trust me, if Law had scored that goal nobody but Danny Baker and Chris Evans would have given a flying fuck about Gazza's lucky punt against Scotland in '96.
  • F.I.S sticks a well-deserved boot into the Andrew Carnegie myth over at the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Republic blog.
  • Found via google alert is a not so recent - but don't let that stop you from reading it - interview with Denise Mina over at Powells.Com.
    Kara will especially like this quote from the interview:
    Really what I'm doing is writing feminist stories in a really accessible medium. That is what I'm really interested in, just getting those sort of feminist stories out there, because I don't see representations of women in a lot of literature that I recognize as the real experience of women.

    On matters relating to Denise Mina and Kara; did I ever mention that Kara and I attended an excellent event back in April, where Denise Mina, Ian Rankin and Allan Guthrie spoke on the subject of 'Tartan Noir'? It was part of the Tartan Week events that takes place in New York every Spring. The only real crime in evidence that night was when Kara grabbed my copy of the 'Dead Hour', and got Denise Mina to inscribe 'To Kara - from Denise Mina' in the inside front cover.
  • And, finally, back to Kev at the Scottish Patient. I've never been one for the Welsh; I'm more of a Legge man, but I did like Kev's latest post, where he reviews Irvine Welsh's latest novel - and Welsh's entire back catalogue - via a trip down Easter Road.
    But what's with the front cover of Welsh's latest book? If I'm not mistaken that wee subbeto guy's wearing Motherwell colours. And what's with the cigarette in hand, empty beer cans, handcuffs and novelty boxer shorts? Did they get Andy Goram's permission before they were allowed to use his image as a subbuteo figure for their front cover? That's the only guy I can think of off-hand who played for both Hibs and Motherwell. It can't be Chic Charnley; he never played for Motherwell, and they'd have needed a bigger base to support the weight of his subbeteo figure.
  • Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Friday's Playlist #15

    An ongoing series:

  • Microdisney, 'Genius' (The Clock Came Down The Stairs)
  • Ghosts, 'Stay The Night' (The World Is Outside)
  • Ian Brown, 'Illegal Attacks' (The World Is Yours)
  • King Creosote, 'You've No Clue Do You' (Bombshell)
  • The Proclaimers, 'Blood Lying On Snow' (Life With You)
  • Camera Obscura, 'Tears For Affairs' (Let's Get Out Of This Country)
  • Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, 'Falling Slowly' (The Swell Season)
  • Air Traffic, 'No More Running Away' (Fractured Life)
  • The Questions, 'Tuesday Sunshine'
  • Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, 'Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)' ('The Best Years of Our Lives')
  • Monday, September 10, 2007

    Notts Thoughts

    Remembering Jimmy Sirrel's nose . . . Chiedozie scoring with a looping shot whilst running at speed from the right flank against Luton at Kenilworth Road . . . "that story" concerning the old ladies of Turin . . . perplexed that for the life of me I couldn't remember (or know of) Rachid Harkouk. He's the sort of footballing character* that When Saturday Comes would have devoted a special pull-out section to in its glory days . . . County fans insistance that there is only one team from the city of Nottingham . . . Everton's Andy Gray at Meadow Lane not trusting either of his feet in the penalty box and opting instead for what can best be described as a sliding header . . . surprised to think that both Deans and Lawton played at Meadow Lane in the black and white . . . less surprised to know that Draper and Johnson played for them many decades later . . . buying 'The Pie' in Sportspages on Charing Cross Road . . . thinking that if Charlie Resnick wasn't from the black and white side of the Trent, he should have been . . . wondering what sort of surname McSwegan is, and where it came from . . . certain that the only reason Fat Sam decamped to St James Park was because he misses the glory days of managing a team playing in black and white vertical stripes, and because Michael Owen reminds him of Sean Farrell . . . setting your heart on really, REALLY liking Shane Meadows' Twenty-Four Seven but feeling let down by it all - yeah, the soundtrack's overrated as well - when you saw it in the theatre on its release, and it's one saving grace being that laugh out loud joke at the end of the film by one of the minor characters about replica Notts County shirts being sold at Tescos . . . wondering why you have a soft spot for the Magpies despite the fact that their best known managers since the Sirrel era have included such kick and punt merchants as Fat Sam, Neil Warnock and Howard Wilkinson . . . designated driver - and former Notts County player - Jermaine Pennant only scoring one more goal for Liverpool than he did during his time at Notts County . . . and that final thought; yeah, I know, the same question that's been pondered a million times before but if Notts County are considered to be the first football club to be founded in the modern era, who the hell did the play against? Did they play five a side practice games amongst themselves for 12 months until Stoke City foundered were founded in 1863?

    *Despite the fact that he's best known as a Notts County, I could only find colourful quotes from his time at Crystal Palace.

    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    MIA New Releases

    Sorry Richard, not that MIA.

    Mike S in Japan has been doing excellent work in updating the SPGB archive at the Marxist Internet Archive. Since the last time I looked, the writer sections for both Jack Fitzgerald and Edgar Hardcastle have expanded considerably. Posted below are a few of the newly uploaded articles that caught the eye.

    Jack Fitzgerald:

  • Review of Eduard Bernstein’s Evolutionary Socialism (1909)
  • Review of William Paul's The State: Its Origin and Function (1918)
  • The Revolution in Russia: Where It Fails (1918)
  • The Passing of Lenin (1924)
  • Review of Kautsky’s Foundations of Christianity (1925)
  • Edgar Hardcastle:

  • Trotsky States His Case (1928)
  • The Nationalisation of the Railways (1947)
  • Inquest on Keynes (1968)
  • The End of "Full Employment" (1971)
  • Was Marx a Monetarist? (1983)
  • Hopefully other authors from the 'impossibilist tradition' will be added in the fullness of time.

    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    News

    Bit of news for my four regular readers. Kara's pregnant.

    We're not sure about the date at this point - the earliest possible appointment with the midwife is three weeks away - but we're guessing that the baby should be born around late April/early May time. We found out Sunday morning, but it was only after triple confirmations from three home pregnancy tests that I've picked up the nerve to mention it on the blog.

    Both our families are really happy for us.

    Kara's nervous, excited and - being the sensible one in the relationship - thinking through the practicalities of the coming months. (In Kara's words, she's thinking about the matter of saving up for a crib whilst I'm panicking about the possibility that the unborn baby might not support Celtic; "Don't worry, we'll enrol them in a school in a predominantly Latino area to ensure that they get into football" is Kara's sage advice.)

    Me? Happy, dazed and a wee bit scared seems to be the order of the day but the more it's sinking in, the more the feeling of happiness is overtaking the other two.

    I'm sure we're both in for a rollercoaster of emotions in the coming days, weeks and months. I'm already experiencing the tumult of fifty questions shooting through my mind simultaneously:

  • Please God - did I mention that I've temporarily ditched my disbelief in God? - please don't let the unborn baby inherit my nose or Kara's taste in music.
  • When they start school - yep, already thinking that far ahead - will they be teased and ostracised by the other school kids for having the name Eleanor Marx Bell Hooks Rosa Luxemburg Kathleen Hanna Patsy Cline Roseanne Barr Youngs O'Neil?
  • What if it's a girl?
  • Too many questions at this point, but I'm too happy to hazard a guess at the answers.

    Gone to Siberia? Try Miami

    David T. from Harry's Place is getting in a tizzy about the whereabouts of uber-SWP blogger, Lenny. Apparently he's gone missing.

    Of course, he claims his concern is motivated by no more than a desire to know where Lenny will pitch his tent on the Galloway versus SWP dispute, but you know that it's more than that.

    Dave T and co need Lenny as much as they need Benji in their comment box. They're a source of political comfort in an uncertain world. It's like a modern day blogging version of the The Jocks and the Geordies. A verbal scrap and a cyber-warrior scrimmage, and then home in time for tea.

    Bugger the whereabouts of Lenny. In my alternative universe, he's suffered suffocation after disappearing up Zizek's arse once too often. The more pressing question is where's Harry? Oh, there's Harry.

    PS - Look at the first comment on the Harry's Place thread. What did I say before? Google Alert is good, but Tim's 'Galloway Alert' is better.

    "Don't want to live in an Adidas world with the Adidas boys and the Adidas girls."

    Is it the first of April?

    "I suffered from a condition known as obsessive branding disorder - a combination of compulsive shopping and a reliance on status symbol brands for the maintenance of one's self esteem."

    Nah, just turns out that he's got a book to sell.

    Liked this knowing quote from an interview that Boorman did with the Press Gazette from a while back:

    "Ultimately it's impossible to abandon brands altogether, says Boorman.
    'The final twist in the book, if the book is a success, is it doesn't matter how many brands I get rid of, one new brand is created — and that's Neil Boorman, the anti-brand bloke.'"
    [Quote found here.]

    Perhaps the quote is too knowing.

    The Magazine Wrack

    Mr Bone has a . . . . has a . . . . point to pick make regarding the glossies.

    Whatever you do, don't sign him for a subscription to Lucky for his Christmas. The poor sod will have a heart attack.

    A Bitter Dispute

    Ouch, it can be a bit of a pain in the arse for union bureaucrat types when the workers decide to get a bit too militant in the wrong places.

    Via the Dreaming Neon Black blog comes the news that the servers who work at various music festivals for the Workers Beer Company have decided to set up a union.

    According to Adam Ford - who was a worker/volunteer himself for the WBC at the recent Leeds Music Festival - apparently trouble has been brewing for a wee while now with disputes over such bread and butter issues as health and safety, working conditions and what happens to the tips given to servers.

    It's still early days, so there's no information about which union they are seeking to link up with, but you'd think that they'd give the IWW some consideration? The original Bread & Roses crew for the Pot Noodle & Festival Tickets generation.

    I have to admit that I have a declared interest here: the WBC bar was ridiculously overpriced in the Leftfield Tent at Glastonbury Festival a few years back when four of us spent six days in the Green Fields doing an SPGB stall. Surrounded by the spiritual and the trustafarians, alcohol was needed in high doses to get us through the week, and the WBC and their pricing policy had us by the short and curlies.

    Couple that with the fact that the WBC pub, the Bread and Roses is just around the corner from the SPGB's Head Office. As I remember it, it was a wine bar masquerading as a pub, with chintzy black and white pictures of Arthur Scargill on the wall, and a clientele that seemed to have stepped out of the pages of Marxism Today, circa 1988. The personal being political, I opted for the Manor Arms pub a few hundred yards down the road.

    Hat tip to Alan J.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    She Respect Belongs To Me

    Galloway Redux

    You can't take it with you. You can't take it back.

    Seasoned readers of Dave Osler or the Shiraz Socialist blogs will testify to the danger of even thinking the words 'George Galloway' sotto voce on those esteemed blogs, because even before the miscreant can exclaim, 'Fuck, what have I brought on myself and the innocents around me?' in quick succession comes six comments from a 'Tim', outlining in exhaustive detail the open and shut case of Galloway being the second gunman in Dallas in 1963 (he was the man behind the grassy knoll, but missed his chance to fire at Kennedy 'cos he was filling out his expenses form at the decisive moment); GG being the last man seen with Shergar before the thoroughbred went missing in 1983; and, most shockingly of all, GG being seen Christmas week, 1987, coming out of Our Price in Dundee with 174 copies of the Pet Shop Boys single 'Always On My Mind', thus depriving The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl of the Christmas Number One that year.

    Google Alert is good, but Tim's 'Galloway Alert' is better.

    It's all harmless stuff in the main and, if nothing else, it makes the other Galloway Watcher, 'http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/', seem well balanced and good humoured by comparison, but credit to 'Tim' when it's deserved.

    Via that same Galloway thread on Dave O's blog came this Dylanesque gem from 'Tim'. Why have an blogzession, if you can't capitalize on it at every opportunity? And, it has to be said, that it was a stroke of genius to get John Molyneux to play Allen Ginsberg in the background of the clip. The SWP's loyal oppositionist conducting an open-air meeting of the 'Democracy Faction' of the SWP is another sock in the eye for the 1930s cover band John Rees and the CC's.

    Quote of the Day

    "Tony, we received a special midnight shipment from our crew on the south side. We'll make a bundle."
    (Caught off-guard, the minutes secretary and the student officer of the Glasgow Shettleston CLP are spotted caucusing discussing next week's combined jumble sale and tombola to raise branch funds for the coming General Election.)

    Over at Dave O's Place, the artists formerly known as the UK Left Network Denizens are currently chewing over what many of them are interpreting as George Galloway's Dear John Letter to that 1930s cover band, John Rees and the CC's.

    In its own way, it's fascinating stuff, and I'd definitely recommend to anyone interested in the nitty-gritty of the machiavellian far left to wing your way over there - or to any other of the 57 far-left blogs also currently doing the rounds on the Galloway/SWP square off - for a quick shufty.

    Dave O's thread on the matter is especially enjoyable as you can witness a snowball melt before your very eyes in the comment box, and it also contains this wonderfully vivid quote from Jim Carroll that definitely makes my quote of the day:

    "No one with any knowledge of the brand of Scottish labourism that nurtured Galloway, which is essentially an amalgam of Straight Left and The Sopranos, would have been under any illusion that the swp were anything more to him then useful idiots and that sooner or later they were going to get right royally screwed. One would have though that the swps scottish wing might have counselled a degree of caution but given that leading members of that grouping seem to have got themselves fatally involved in the looming disaster that is Sheridan and Solidarity, maybe that was too much to ask for.

    The bit in the Galloway document that amused me was GGs reference to the train wreck that is the scottish left. Given that Galloway actively campaigned for Solidarity at the scottish elections I would imagine that Solidarity members will not be too chuffed to read that comment. More useful idiots to advance Galloways career.

    The SWP and Galloway deserve each other. Its like watching rats fighting in a sack.

    Sunday, September 02, 2007

    Providing Back-Up

    Inspired by the common sense approach of fellow WSP'er, Jason, who has set up the The World Socialist blog, and fearful that the unofficial Socialist Standard page on MySpace could be deleted at any moment by some minion at Murdoch Inc, I've decided to provide a back-up with the Socialist Standard@MySpace blog.

    Sadly, I can't carry over/transfer the comments from the MySpace blog - over a thousand and rising - at the same time, and I can't be arsed to make a note of all the splendifirous music that I've listened to whilst maintaining the page, but hopefully over the next few weeks/months, I'll be able to transfer all 475+ articles, book reviews and glorified links to pump up the sitemeter on this blog from the MySpace page over to the blog. *Gulp* . . . only 350 to go.

    It's not some maniacal attempt on my part to duplicate unnecessary work, but the recognition that in amongst the articles, book reviews and glorified links that can be found elsewhere on the web, there are a number of excellent articles on the MySpace page that appeared there on the net for the first time, and if the page suddenly got dropped-kicked into a cyberspace black hole one morning a lot of that good stuff would be unnecessarily lost. For that reason alone, it makes sense to provide the back up.

    As I've been doing the cut and paste in the last couple of days, I thought I'd use it as a cheap excuse to point people in the direction of a number of recommended articles amd reviews that have already been posted on the blog back-up.

  • Orwell's Nightmare
  • Class War No More?
  • The Beauty Trap
  • Oscar Wilde and Socialism
  • The Wobblies
  • What Marx Should Have Said To Kropotkin
  • The Most Dangerous Song in the World - A Rewrite
  • Xmas Eve at the Grotto
  • Class Politics in the USA - Interview with WSPUS and Union Activist
  • Is The Socialist Party Marxist?
  • Socialism in the 21st Century
  • Brendan Behan's 'Borstal Boy'
  • More links to follow when the mood takes.

    Do I Even Know How To Read? Do You Even Know Me?

    Nothing like a broadsheet reading poll to show one up to be the poorly read dolt that you've always suspected yourself to be.

    It's not enough that I don't 'get' the subtle nuances of the handful of books that I have read, it now transpires that there are 48 must-read lost classics out there that I've not even heard of, never mind read.

    Snappy Kat can probably guess the one book out of the fifty from that Observer's Forgotten Fifty that I've actually read, and I will put my hand up to having actually heard of 'The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin' by David Nobbs, but I fall into the category of people who thought that the book was a novelisation of the sitcom, and not the other way round.

    The fact that none of the fifty "celebrated"* writers feel fit to mention Gordon Legge's 'The Shoe' or Edward Gaitens' 'The Dance of the Apprentices' seems to confirm my long held suspicion that both books are lost classics only within the realm of my ever-diminishing brain.

    *Of course they are 'celebrated'. Any time I see Will Self's name in the paper, I do a Mexican Wave in his honour. I'm sure you're the same.