Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Starts like fascination . . . Ends up like a trance

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (18)

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 18th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 911 friends!

<Recent blogs:

  • "The Dead Russians Society"
  • What causes famines?
  • Free trade and the environment
  • This week's top quote:

    "The Proletariat originated in the industrial revolution...[which was] precipitated by the discovery ofthe steam engine, various spinning machines, the mechanical loom, and a whole series of other mechanical devices. These machines, which were very expensive and hence could be bought only by big capitalists, altered the whole mode of production and displaced the former workers, because the machines turned out cheaper and better commodities than the workers could produce with their inefficient spinning wheels and handlooms. The machines delivered industry wholly into the hands of the big capitalists and rendered entirely worthless the meagre property of the workers (tools, looms, etc.). The result was that the capitalists soon had everything in their hands and nothing remained to the workers...."From The Principles of Communism, Frederick Engels, 1847.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    How many times do I have to mention Derek Riordan's name on this blog?

    Halloween - candy and cuban communism

    Spotted this interesting pumpkin on my travels.

    I've been here before with this whole pumpkin business on the blog, but what can I say: Halloween is so much more of a bigger deal in the States than it is back in Britain. Any excuse for some adults to dress up in the most unlikely of costumes, IMHO. (That joke is as old as some of the candy I'm giving out to the local kids tonight.)

    An Afterthought

    I'm as cynical as the next abstract propagandist when it comes to spotting a latter-day Citizen Smith sporting the radical chic of Che, but it just struck me that when I see someone wearing a Che T shirt locally, it's usually someone from the Latino community . . .someone who's doing the shittiest of jobs for the crappiest of wages. No chic there.

    Happy Birthday Big Sis

    A pink-topped big sis breaks into a smile because someone out of shot has selected a few Luther Vandross tracks on the jukebox.

    What's the point of having a blog if you can't make use of it to embarass your big sister?

    Happy birthday sis. I'll pretend to be a gentleman by not mentioning how many lighted candles should be on your birthday cake . . . and it's probably inappropriate and in poor taste what with the forest fires currently raging in California, but readers of the blog can hazard a guess via the hairstyle you're sporting in the pic. (I can't remember you with a mullet, but the camera never lies.)

    Hope you're having a great day, and a song just for you:

    Jeff Buckley - 'I Know It's Over' mp3

    OK, maybe it's not the most appropriate of songs for a celebration - remember back to the time when it seemed you'd padlocked Stevie Wonder's 'Hotter Than July' album to the record player? I could have opted for Stevie singing 'Happy Birthday' - but as you have been known to sing the praises of both The Smiths and Jeff Buckley from time to time, I thought you might like two for the price of one.

    Love you to bits.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    New York Stories

    Catching Up (I)

    I can't believe it. My last two posts have given direct reference to New York. That must be a first for the blog. It almost gives off the impression that I'm actually living in New York.

    Why bail out now when I'm on a roll? A few more New York links, but this time of a semi-political nature:

  • Cathy Wilkerson at Bluestockings I missed this talk and I regret it. I've only popped into Bluestockings four or five times - one time to hear Gary Younge speak, and it was worth it - since I've been in NYC.
    It's probably just me but I can't help but feel that Bluestockings does have that whiff of exclusivity and 'sneeriness' about it that is one of the worst aspects of left politics. You feel underdressed if you don't have a copy of Empire sticking out of your back pocket when you walk through its doors.

    What with the documentary film about the WU a few years back, and the current raft of memoirs from former participants doing the rounds, obviously there has been a recent reappraisal and reflection of that period in American 'radical' history. I've placed 'radical' in inverted commas 'cos I think it's very much open to debate whether the explosion in violence borne out of a frustration of what wasn't going on at that time can truly be viewed as radical or progressive.

    What's interesting about the link to the Wilkerson talk is that it both challenges my instinctive SPGBism on such issues, and that Wilkerson hasn't gone down the nostalgia route with the rose-tinted spectacles about the good old days, and how they were simply misunderstood.
  • Doris Lessing - One Nobel Prize I Don’t Mind A post from Richard over at the Commie Curmudgeon that is a few weeks old but is none the worse because of it.
    Written in response to the news that Doris Lessing had won this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, Richard writes about - and has a much higher opinion of - Lessing's 1985 novel, 'The Good Terrorist' than I ever did. It's the only work by Lessing I've ever read, and I hated it.

    Lessing is a writer I only knew of in passing - mainly because of 'The Golden Notebook', and how it partly related to her experience as a member of the CPGB in the 50s - but when I read 'The Good Terrorist' about ten years ago it came across as overblown and frankly far-fetched.

    It depicted a pocket of time and a group of people that I simply couldn't recognise. They rampaged across the page like a rogue branch of the RCG who had swapped the writings of David Yaafe for a xeroxed copy of The Anarchist Cookbook, and I remembered being irritated at the time with the thought that Lessing was being given a free pass with this book because of her membership of the CP thirty years previously; Lessing supposedly knowing the psychology, motivations and dynamics of the left because she was once part of it.

    That's where Richard's post comes in.

    Despite the fact that the novel is set in Britain and relates to a ficticious Leninist group, Richard could see parallels with the scene that he was a part of in Philadelphia in th early eighties, and more recently with the anarchist circles he was moving in a few years back in New York. Those self-same circles that Richard moved in had a low opinion of the novel, and Richard's take is that: " . . . . part of the reason for their [his political friends] dislike of this novel was that its satirical depiction of dysfunctional leftists hit a little too close to home. Moreover, her character study obviously applied across sectarian divides . . . "

    I'm still not totally convinced by that line of argument, but I've never moved in the same sort of political circles as Richard. I should give the novel another try sometime. [Adding it to the ever-increasing 'to re-read' pile.] Maybe my mistake was taking the novel at its word, seeing it as a contemporary commentary and rooting it too closely and literally in the period in which it was set [1985].

    Perhaps it would be better to approach it again as a satire that could equally apply to the secular political extremism of the 60s and 70s (see above with Cathy Wilkerson) or even today where in some small quarters a religious political extremism has taken grip.
  • Bryan Palmer speaks at NYU Louis Proyect carries a report of a meeting that I attended at the Tamiment library a few weeks back. I did take some notes at the meeting but being the lazy bastard that I am, I never got round to writing them up. In truth, the notes were more for my personal use, as it's not a period or political tradition I pretend to know a lot about.
    Bryan Palmer, a Canadian Labor Historian, has recently published the first volume in what will be a major biography of James P. Cannon, the father of American Trotskyism. Speaking with ease before an audience of about 160/170 people, Palmer's central point for Trotskyist activists today was that Cannon was at his best when he engaged in broad work and the Leninist left in America that is covered in this volume [the book finishes in 1928 when Cannon was expelled from the American CP and the CI for his siding with Trotsky] was at its most productive when undertaking labor defence work in the mid to late twenties that allowed itself to break out of the self-imposed ghetto that the American Comminust movement had placed itself because of the warring factions disagreeing on the question of an open versus an underground party in the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the Palmer raids.

    As I say there was an impressive turnout of about 160/170 people at the meeting on what was a cold Friday night. The majority of the audience could be loosely termed as being part of the '68 generation and, believe it or not, I was one of the younger ones in attendance.

    Naturally being a meeting on Cannon in the labor history library at NYU it was anything but a dry academic lecture. The meeting had been sponsored by - I think - five different Leninist organizations, ranging from the Sparts to the Freedom Socialist Party to the International Bolshevik Tendency through to Socialist Action (I will have missed someone out), and after Palmer's talk part of the meeting was made up of prepared statements from those groups sponsoring the meeting on why they alone were the true Trotskyist organization in the room *cough, I'm saying nothing*, and why all the other groups were attending under false pretences. These contributions were quickly followed by prepared speeches from the floor delivered in an equally acerbic fashion from those groups and individuals who hadn't got around to co-sponsoring the event.

    It actually didn't get as bitter or as acrimonious as I was expecting [they were pussycats in comparison to the current political punch up between Galloway and the SWP], but that's perhaps because the Sparts were actually the most heavily represented in the audience and were therefore on their best behaviour during the course of the meeting, and because - as Louis mentions - the audience fell in love with the contribution from 91 year old Lillian Pollak.

    Pollak joined the Trotskyist movement in the early thirties and worked alongside Cannon, Bert Cochran and other 'names' from the early movement. You just knew that if she had wanted to she could have taken the meeting over with her stories of the movement from that period.

    This half-baked Menshevik enjoyed the meeting for all its denunciations and vanguardist verbiage, and it was nice that it ended on the warm fuzzy feeling of the IBT, the Sparts and Jan Norden's Internationalist Group briefly reuniting around the warm glow of the political memories of someone from the thirties, talking of a period untainted by Third Campism and Pabloism.

    One final thought, though: what was with the six busts of Eugene Debs in the library? Did the library not get the memo with that quote* from Debs?
  • *" . . . if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I lead you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition." [Spoken to a Utah audience, 1910.]

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    New York is the center of the universe . . . and the Yankees are at the center of that center. Never Forget it (Mets fans)

    They're not bitter.

    Nice sense of proportion from New York 1 in their sports coverage this morning:

  • Headline story - Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract.
  • As an afterthought - Boston Red Sox win the World Series.
  • PS - Trust me, they take these things seriously. Giuliani's face was plastered all over the front cover of the New York tabloids last week because of a certain sporting faux pas. If he loses New York, you'll know why.

    Clitheroe, Manhattan

    Spotted in the latest issue of the New York Press:



    "A campaign was started to get a bit of Greenwich Avenue near West 12th Street officially called Little Britain. The main culprits: Virgin Airlines and the restaurant Tea & Sympathy (located, by an odd coincidence, on Greenwich Avenue, near West 12th Street), at which homesick Brits can cop their favorite revolting delicacies such as bangers & marmite, treacle & mash and the ever-popular spotted dick. Bollocks, say we. Shouldn't a new NYC neighborhood start with artists squatting in rancid old hovels where the rent then goes up, the artists are booted out and bond salesmen and Ralph Lauren boutiques move in? And then people start calling it something like NoWesGrenvillAbCa? But we're willing to compromise. We'd support a new nabe if it's called Wee Twee Perfidious Albion."

    The author of the unsigned piece can take the piss all they want but, in a scene reminiscent of Kevin Costner in the Prince of Thieves, I dropped to my knees with tears in my eyes when I spotted Cornish Pasties for the first time in Myers of Keswick in Greenwich Village.

    It didn't matter that the store looked like something out of Take The High Road circa 1981, and that I was half-expecting Molly Weir to be serving behind the counter, the joy of seeing a cornish pasty and a decent bag of crisps for the first time in two years was nearly too much to bear. The staff at the shop let me sit down on a stack of 'People's Friend' whilst I recovered my composure.

    For me, wherever there are jars of Patak, Smiths Bovril Crisps** and re-runs of Tenko playing in the background, there will always be an Inger-lund.

    *NABE doesn't stand for 'Never Anything Bloody Edible'.

    **I'm teasing. Smiths Bovril Crisps are long gone people. They are never coming back, and the sooner you lot come to terms with that, the sooner we can all move on, and get used to the cardboard taste of Pringles.

    Chalkhills and Children

    Todd Bernhardt: [laughing] Los Angeles.

    Andy Partridge: Which everyone knows, in Spanish, stands for "City of Lying Bastards"! [laughs]

    Latest installment from the XTC MySpace page has Todd B and Andy P discussing 'Chalkhills and Children' from XTC's 1989 album, 'Oranges and Lemons'

    Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

    Spotted this funny joke over in the comments box of Hak Mao yesterday:

    "I remember I saw a comedian in Edinburgh a couple of years back who noted that during the Afghan war American planes dropped food aid packages that contained peanut butter and "jelly" sandwiches. He thought that this lacked cultural sensitivity saying it would be like dropping fresh fruit over Scotland." [Hat tip to 'Duct']

    Glasgow, England

    Strange List.

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    What else would you do in Barnsley on a Saturday night?

    Song of the Day

    I know I've already posted a late Friday's playlist, but on this day of days there can only be one song that is appropriate for today:

    David Rovics - 'I'm A Better Anarchist Than You'' mp3

    It's only available to download for the shortest of times, and you should high-tail it over to David Rovics website for more goodies than you can shake a rolled up AK Press catalogue at.

    Good luck to Dave and Stuart with their Rag Day. (Looking forward to reading about it at FDTW.) And a special mention and best of wishes also go out to Stair. If the stallholders page for the website is any guide - and it isn't - his stall will be stuck between Aufheben and Class War. Nothing like getting a front row seat to the high end and the special brew end of the direct action/anarchist movement in Britain.

    I'm sure the ACA* will be bigger than ever this year - even if it rarely ever seems to translate into a strengthened Anarchist movement all year round - and in this week of weeks which have been so damaging for the largest Trotskyist movement in Britain, it's interesting to note that one of the speakers at this year's bookfair will be Paul Mason, and that the AWL's No Sweat is doing a joint meeting with the IWW on the campaign against Starbucks.

    Nice to see that old faithfuls such as Ian Bone, Stuart Christie and Iain McKay will also be doing meetings this year.

    No doubt every anarchist and autonomous group in Britain will have pulled their fingers out in the last few months to ensure that if they publishing anything at all this year, it will be in time for the bookfair. The Ashbourne Court Group will probably have their stall outside the event, the AK Press mega-stall will be ridiculously overpriced and there will be some falling out amongst former friends that will be written up at length on both the Urban 75 and Libcom message boards in the coming days.

    I'm just hoping that the New York rain will let off enough this afternoon for me to pop along to this event with my knapsack of abstract propaganda.

    *ACA - Annual Commodification of Anarchism

    Audio Hijack, I Love You

    . . . you've made an eighties pop fan very happy.

    Friday's Playlist #20

    . . . on a Saturday morning. An ongoing series:

  • The Mekons, 'Millionaire' (I Love Mekons)
  • Win, 'Shampoo Tears' (Uh! Tears Baby - A Trash Icon)
  • Of Montreal, 'Raspberry Beret' (Live version)
  • The Bourgeios Four 'Fool Pt 2'
  • Girl In A Coma, 'Say' (Both Before I'm Gone)
  • Art Brut, 'St Pauli' (It's a Bit Complicated)
  • Popup, 'Chinese Burn'
  • Colourbox, 'Manic' (Colourbox)
  • Pete Wylie, 'Stay Free' (White Riot Vol. Two A Tribute To The Clash)
  • Cassette Kids, 'Acrobats'
  • Friday, October 26, 2007

    Broken Link

    Oops, turns out that in my haste to publish the 999 + 1 post, I neglected to check that all the links in the past posts were in working order.

    Granted, one has to accept that some of the links - especially some of the more frivolous picture links will have disappeared into the cyber-ether - but there's no excuse to have a broken link when one isn't necessary.

    That's my long-winded way of explaining that I have since fixed the Scottish Patient link on the 'Passport To Pittenweem' post.


    A Mashup* in TH

    Radar: "Their ringer spotted our ringer."

    A total misuse and misapplication of a film quote as you will see below but it is drag down Friday, and I couldn't help but think of the above quote from M*A*S*H, Robert Altman's classic 1970 anti-war film, after I spotted this comment from 'Johng' over at Socialist Unity Blog:

    "In other words this was an anti-democratic move. All this talk of late surges. Really. How absurd. Hundreds of people were being recruited and paid for by a single counciler just a couple of weeks ago. Did you not notice?" (From here.)

    Mmm, an SWPer getting all upset at the idea of someone packing a meeting. Whatever next? A mormon complaining about someone turning up unannounced on their doorstep on a wet and windy Wednesday night? In fact, I can just picture it:

    The scene: The doorstep to a mansion situated just outside Boston. Two people with clipboards and a bundle of papers are at the door. The one who rings the doorbell does all the talking.

    Bright eyed and bushy-tailed doorstepper - Mr Romney?

    Mitt Romney [hesitant and wary.] yes?

    BEABTD - You signed our petition back in August . . .

    MR - I did?

    BEABTD - Yes, it was about plans for a local incinerator.

    MR - OK, I vaguely remember that, and did you vote for me like I asked when signing the petition?

    BEABTD - Sorry, we'd already committed ourselves to Ron Paul. He has a more consistently anti-imperialist position on the war.

    MR - [clearly irritated] I'm a busy man. What do you want?

    BEABTD - Well, as you signed our petition, we've thought you'd be interested in an event we've organised. It will be a week of debate, drama and the dialectic.

    [Bushy-eyed hands Romney a glossy brochure advertising the event. A familiar face stares out from the brochure.]

    MR - Wait a minute? This was months ago. I'm a mormon not a moron. You know there's a difference, right? Wait up . . . I get it. You don't know how to finish this post, do you?

    BEABTD - [Now looking anything but bright-eyed. If anything, looking a bit sheepish.] Don't know what you mean.

    MR - You should have finished the post on the quote from M*A*S*H. That was one of your better efforts.

    BEABTD - [Now totally crestfallen.} I guess so. But we still have to sell another five tickets for this event or our district organiser will have us doing paper sales outside Foodtown for the next six months. What do you suggest?

    MR - "Off you go - fuck off, fuck off the lot of you" [Slams the door in their face.]

    BEABTD - [Talking to the door just shut in his face.] Ok, totally understand. Would you like to take out a supporters subscription to our newspaper, then?

    Mashup - "A Jamaican Creole term meaning to destroy".

    The Games That People Play

    I guess it's appropriate that the following should coincide with the ACA*.

    What's the odds that a pirated version will be sold on the AK Press stall at the ACA 2008? I guess it gives a whole new meaning to the notion of playing at revolution.

    Further Reading:

  • No, my name wasn't on the list: Last month in Brooklyn
  • From last month's New York Times: In Brooklyn, a Confluxion Junction
  • Oldish article about Debord from the online magazine, The Three Monkeys: The Game of War. Guy Debord and the Society of the Spectacle.
  • Thursday, October 25, 2007

    999 + 1

    Thank christ. I've finally stumbled over a particularly annoying blogging figure that has been taunting me these last few weeks, and I can once more think about putting the blog back on a low gas.

    I have to pause for a moment to stop myself from welling up when I think back to the good old days when five posts a month necessitated a lie down and a mug of hot sweet tea. When it comes to matters blogwise, more is generally less.

    As it's a time for counting backwards, a few facts and figures lies and links:

  • 4/17/04 First ever post on the blog:

    No Title: I was hiding behind a pseudonym at this point. The absence of a title for my first blog post reveals the fact that I had yet to got my head around the abc's of blogging.

  • 5/28/04 First ever post on the blog to receive a comment

    For God and Country: Still struggling with the abc's of blogging, it took me over a month to discover how to enable comments via the dashboard. Yeah, I know what you're thinking; I also thought my first comment would be from Reidski. Quickly followed by a comment from Will accusing me of being a wanker. Turns out it was from someone called Jess L. She hasn't written or called back since.

  • 3/12/06 Post that has received the most comments on the blog

    Cliff Notes: For the longest time I was labouring under the mistaken impression that it was this post that had received the most comments on the blog. Naturally, I thought it was apt that it was the post where I wrote jack shit that would generate the most interest. Turns out I was wrong. It was the 'Cliff Notes' post that sparked off the most interest, but only because it was quickly taken over by one of those 'how long can we keep this comment thread going' ablogimations. Seemingly I was very excited by it all at the time. Knowing now that a Socialist Unity Blog post gets that many comments in the time it takes for me to take a piss, I've been overcome with the feeling of the loneliness of the long distance blogger, and has left me feeling like the loneliest man on the planet.

  • 11/22/06 The post that generated the most page views

    Sick Fucks: It has to be this one. How else do you explain that for that month, the blog received 11,457 visits and 15,780 page views? And I still think they're sick fucking wankers a year after first seeing the clip.

  • 6/15/04 The Calvin & Hobbes and Photoshop do not mix post

    The Socialist Party Discuss Their Campaign Strategy For The Next General Election: Wasn't Robert Kilroy-Silk supposed to be the 21st century Mosley?

  • 6/11/04 The first 'I really just want this to be a music blog' post

    Alternative titles for the book 'Socialism or Your Money Back': It was the book that became the blog, but in the beginning it was an excuse for me to indulge in the worst type of hipster muso bullshit.

  • 10/13/05 Favourite ever post on the blog

    "Blinkmummy Went To London . . . ": Come the future workers revolution planned and executed by the International Communist Current - you know, Laurie and Pierre - I'll be one of the first up against the wall (MF). I will have died for the most just cause of all. Laughing at one of my own jokes.

  • 6/13/06 Second favourite post on the blog

    From a Rooftop in Kings Cross: I'll keep linking to this post until someone other than myself actually find its funny. If the ICC don't deliver me to revolutionary justice, the Aufheben collective - you know, Justin and Marcus - will.

  • MIA and (dis)honorable mentions in dispatches

  • Running gags that ran out of breath after 100 yards

    Whatever happened to that image of Marco Tardelli that I used to link to in every other post? A running gag without the gag bit, I can't actually locate on the blog the first time I used the picture as my shorthand explanation for ecstasy and joyous euphoria but I'm guessing it was about 45 seconds after I first discovered how to insert hyperlinks in blog posts. Nice to see that Tardelli has carved out an alternative career in Hollywood inbetween his chairing duties for Juve.

  • Whatever happened to that bloke in Russia?

    She was wonderful in Wonderland, a respected stage actress and noted political activist but for one bloke in Russia he was only interested in the bare essentials, and, in the process, I stumbled across the strange fascination of sightmeter sightings.

  • 11/14/06 The part time commentator, full time legend post

    Get Y'r Bank Account Fitter: The eighth comment: Was it really him or some other gobby bastard pretending to be the crucial one? If it really was him, how did he find the blog? Is he one of those types who google searches his own name? (Admit it, we've all done it. Turns out that I like to spend my weekends riding a BMX bike around a concrete eyesore in Chesterfield. ) I immediately issue a post-it note to myself to mention Sarah Silverman in at least three posts a week in case she also likes to google search her name. I'm still waiting. No matter, the blog is momentarily the recipient of a sprinkle of stardust via the visit of someone claiming to be Pete Wylie. Walking it like The Clash, talking it like Chicory Tip.

  • 10/12/04 The piss off someone's mate post

    Passport to Pittenweem: If you are going to be controversial, you may as well pick the right targets. I picked the wrong one in the form of Iain M. Banks.

  • 8/8/06 Quoted in the papers post

    News of my 15 seconds . . .: The surreal scenario of the blog being quoted in an article on the then crisis in the Scottish Socialist Party on the Glasgow Herald website. Yep, someone sitting at a computer desk in a den in central Brooklyn supposedly has a special insight into the machinations of 'SheridanGate'. Maybe the trainee journo who penned that piece should have checked where I was blogging from before citing me as a credible talking bloghead on such murky machiavellian matters. Maybe I should have screen-grabbed the mention of the blog on the website, cos it's since disappeared from the Glasgow Herald's revamped website. *Sob*

  • 6/1/04 The claiming credit post

    "Two Hooses, Diver! Not Even Elvis Had Two Hooses": Only three years ago John Byrne's 'Tutti Frutti' was languishing in the vaults of the BBC and in the frontal lobe of my skull. Fast forward to today, and it's a National Theatre of Scotland stage production and, after twenty years, there are tentative plans to finally repeat the series again on the BBC. Throw in the possible release of the series as a DVD, and I'll claim my finders fee. It's amazing what a teenage crush on a Scottish accented Emma Thompson can do for the preservation and commemoration of a tv classic.

  • And what's in store with the next thousand posts? Well, if the 68 posts currently in draft are anything to go by, more of the same old shite. But memo to myself: I must up the mentions of Sarah Silverman on the blog. She is as human as the rest of us, and one day she will google search her name. The blog has to be there when it happens.

    Must publish and go. Regular visitors to the blog are hosting a celebration party to mark the special occasion of the thousandth post.

    Your Friends & Neighbors

    Class War in Kensington

    I'd always set my heart on it being the other Kensington.

    The local blog for (some) local people re-enacts the Bone Debates from eighties London, but with a modern urban Brooklyn twist.

    I guess that also means I will have to settle for sten guns in Bay Ridge.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Introduction To Seinfeldism

    Just two shy of 1000 published posts, and it should have been my proudest blogging moment.

    The wee devil sitting on my shoulder - otherwise known as my sitemeter - lets me know that someone has found the blog via a google search for an "introduction to socialism". And it appears at first glance that it gets even better.

    The specific search has my post catapulted right into page one of google with a bullet, alongside such illustrious (dead) company as Leo Huberman, Paul Sweezy, Einstein and Engels.

    All those hours spent sweating out impossibilist theory as I scratch out rants about music, footie and Sarah Silverman, and it finally pays off with my very own variation on blogging entryism: Inveresk Street Ingrate as a surreptitious gateway drug to SPGBism

    So what's the catch? The proverbial kick in the balls? It leads people to this this bastard post.

    That groan at my political own goal you can hear back in London is the spirit of Freddie Engels, murmuring: "What a wanker. Typical sectarian progeny of that other tosser, Hyndman."

    Burnley Man

    Leninist Vanguard editor, Dave Dudley, takes time out from his current self-imposed exile in Miami to shout Schadenfreude! in a very loud voice at the SWP and George Galloway over at Monesvain's Place.

    Then again, it might not be the real DD. It may be an imposter doing a karaoke Dave Dudley for comedic effect. Who cares? This is post #997, and I will soon be able to put the blog on a low gas again.

    Boorish Boruc?

    I actually think Boruc might have a point on this one.

    Did I miss the memo that stated football players had to act like something out of 'Corinthian-Casuals - The Movie', whether they felt like it or not? (I bet I did - there will be a bullshit FIFA directive out there about it.)

    Boruc is guilty of nothing more than candour, which is more than can be said for the Celtic and R*ngers boards with their hollow cant about tackling sectarianism, whilst their eyes glisten at the ever-ringing cash registers.

    I nearly coughed up my cream cheese bagel Saturday morning, when I caught a glimpse of Hutton, Ferguson and McCulloch on the big screen with their gee'd up sectarian gurning. If they're that hate-filled when they are rolling over a disappointing Celtic, think what they'd be like at the receiving end of a Celtic hammering? (I'm know such a scenario is hard to imagine at the moment.)

    Boruc was within his rights not to indulge in the post-match hypocrisy.

    A Tale of Two Quotes - Crisis? What Crisis?

    From the Socialist Unity Blog

    "The answer I have come to is that they [the SWP] cannot and will not tolerate the development of Respect, or personalities within it, that could act as an alternative pole of attraction to the SWP on the left, because Respect will only be tolerated to act as a bridge INTO the SWP, and not towards different directions on the left. They have no conception, or respect, of a left beyond themselves or outside their control. This debate is about sectarianism, pure and simple." Ger Francis, ex-SWP hack turned Salma Yaqoob's gatekeeper.
    "The SWP needs all voices within the Party to be heard in the run up to and at conference itself at the moment - if you have an issue with the Party on something then don’t just walk away and vent your spleen in the blogosphere- you have to fight within the Party for your position - write an article for the next Internal Bulletin or something. In fact, you have a duty to do this if you are a serious revolutionary - Lenin for example disagreed with the Bolsheviks on a lot of things - at times he was in a minority of one within the Party - yet he stayed and fought for his position within the Party. If your arguments make sense, then you will win the support of the Party - if they don’t, you won’t - thats how Party democracy works. But the Party itself will almost certainly emerge stronger for having had the debate." SWP blogger and all round Party loyalist, 'Snowball', dishes out the advice to a disillusioned SWPer. (As an aside: He doesn't mention if he offered the same advice to Wrack, Hoveman and Ovenden just before they were expelled from the SWP.)

    I have to redden up this wee nugget from 'Snowball's' comment that caught my eye:

    "If your arguments make sense, then you will win the support of the Party - if they don’t, you won’t - thats how Party democracy works.

    Guilty of the worst sort of ultra-left sectarianism, I have to ask the McCarthyite like question, 'Snowball, have you now or at any other point in your life actually been a member of the SWP?' Your exhortation doesn't have any passing acquaintance to the actual reality of being paper-seller fodder within the ranks of the SWP?

    Maybe Andy should turn down the temperature in his comment box. It looks like 'Snowball' is melting.

    The Memory Gap

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (17)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 17th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 886 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Marxism versus Leninism
  • Anarchism and Marxism
  • Socialism and Darwinism
  • This week's top quote:

    "The materialistic, realistic, and collectivist conception of freedom, as opposed to the idealistic, is this: Man becomes conscious of himself and his humanity only in society and only by the collective action of the whole society. He frees himself from the yoke of external nature only by collective and social labor, which alone can transform the earth into an abode favorable to the development of humanity. Without such material emancipation the intellectual and moral emancipation of the individual is impossible. He can emancipate himself from the yoke of his own nature, i.e. subordinate his instincts and the movements of his body to the conscious direction of his mind, the development of which is fostered only by education and training. But education and training are preeminently and exclusively social ... hence the isolated individual cannot possibly become conscious of his freedom." Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (1814 -1876) in Man, Society, and Freedom (1871)

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Shout Louder

    Looks like Chairman Lenny is bowing to the mood of the meeting, by allowing some dissenting voices in his comments box.

    Obviously with it being a meeting organised by the SWP, the Chair can be a bit partial, refusing to allow certain 'sectarians' to speak, and heavily weighting the contributions to SWP fellow travellers and those people who have a Socialist Workers Party 'Party Notes' surgically implanted in their brain, but this ultra-left Kremlinolgist is spotting a thawing - nah, more an uneasiness - on the part of Lenny and his cohorts in having to explain/argue their political machinations in front of their *cough* class.

    More please!

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    It Started With Wrack, Now It's Ruin


    Lenny has finally broken his silence on the matter of the current ongoing crisis within Respect between the SWP and Galloway.

    Apparently the ". . . nature of the crisis is a division between those in Respect who cleave to socialism and those who have always tended toward electoralism. So it now comes to a point where this has to be stated in the open."

    That's cleared that up then. The SWP leadership has taken the initiative and stepped forward to defend the core principles of socialism against those within Respect who are all too ready to transform the Coalition into a vehicle for pure and simple electoralism. Join the fight against the parliamentary road to reformism anyone?

    Except, and I'm sure it's a minor point, Lenny neglects to mention to his readers that it was Galloway who initiated this 'debate' within Respect by penning his 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times' letter to the Respect National Council way back in late August. (And the leadership of the SWP has been on the back foot ever since in its vain attempts to keep its grip on proceedings.)

    But, then, maybe Lenny does truly believe that he* and his readers don't actually read those "sectarian blogs" that have been abuzz with this story since it broke in August and who, in the case of the Socialist Unity Blog, currently has a bigger blog readership than Lenny?

    Anyway, all this business - you know the most serious internal crisis the Socialist Workers Party leadership has experienced in a generation - is beneath Lenny, and he has stated in no uncertain terms, in the very own comment box to his post no less, that his blog is not the place for anyone outside his very own inner cricle and wider fan club to turn up and ask any awkward questions about the one political and organisational issue that actually directly concerns him.

    If you were in any way unsure that Lenny really . . . honestly . . . seriously doesn't give a shit about any of this or is even the least bit bothered about any of those irksome dissenting voices out there who have the cheek to point out the authoritarianism that is at the core of the SWP's politics, he protests too much reiterates the point one more time to his loyal readership in the comment box:

    " . . . I am not told what to say on my blog by anyone or authorised, or otherwise instructed. I could easily have commented on this before, but didn't, and only did so here because of the urgency of this matter."

    Sorry to sound cynical about Lenny's explanation but it does appear that he's only chosen now to publically comment on this matter on his incredibly popular blog after he saw that the Socialist Worker had published an editorial on the issue.

    It doesn't take a Kremlinologist to work out that Lenny has a party card where his spine should be.

    *This Lenny who popped up twice on the Socialist Unity Blog to comment on the expulsion of middle ranking SWP cadre was not our Lenny. It was the other Lenny. Glad that misunderstanding has also been cleared up.

    Further Reading On Developments Within Respect:

  • Socialist Unity Blog
  • Liam Mac Uaid's blog
  • "From Boston to Broxburn . . . "

    I hope the ESPN commentators are talking about Boston, Lincolnshire. Could there really be any R*ngers supporters in 'Baw-stun', Massachusetts?

    It's half way through the second half at Ibrox, and Barcelona are absolutely murdering R*ngers nil-nil. The last time I saw this much one sided possession, it involved Pete Doherty and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (The drug jokes don't work.)

    RefereeWatch at Ibrox: it looks like Saturday morning all over again. Barcelona are denied a stone wall penalty in the last few minutes of the first half when Hutton blocks a Ronaldinho shot with his hand. It's not for me to say whether or not it was a deliberate, but within seconds of the incident, Hutton received a text message from Alex McLeish inviting him to join his next squad as Scotland's third choice goalkeeper. (The football jokes don't work either.)

    "Most referees would have given a penalty in that situation." opines the wee Irish guy - He could be 6ft 8in for all I know. He sounds like a wee munchkin on helium - who regularly does the Champions League commentary on ESPN. I'll hazard a guess that neither him nor ESPN cover a lot of R*ngers games at Ibrox.

    The Dark Side are going to nick something from this game.

    The Ex Files

    Excellent post by 'Girlcrawl' over at MOG about the Dutch anarcho-syndicalist punksters, The Ex, and their not so recent compilation album, SINGLES PERIOD (The Vinyl Years 1980-1990).

    Sadly with the MOG website, it appears you can't *sample* the tracks uploaded but Girlcrawl has embedded in her post such early Ex tracks as 'Cells', 'Gonna Rob The Spermbank', and a cover version of The Mekons' 'Keep On Hoppin.''

    Although I first became aware of The Ex over twenty years ago with the music press coverage surrounding the release of their 1936, THE SPANISH REVOLUTION EP, I didn't really listen to any of their stuff until a few years back when Stair, a SPGB comrade back in Britain, gave me a mixtape that included the absolutely brilliant Ex track 'Frenzy'.

    Hand on heart, it is one of my top 25 favourite songs of all time (even if our Top 25 on iTunes suggests otherwise). I wish I could link to a page with the lyrics, 'cos they are so smart and so funny, and I won't even pretend to understand half of what the lead singer is singing about . . . and that has nothing to do with the fact that G.W Sok is not singing in his native-tongue. It's just that multi-layered and smart without having to lunge over into smartarsery.

    How often do you get to signpost a kickarse tune/lyric that includes the opening line: "Let me tell you about Karl Marx, a visionary fish in a pool of sharks . . . ", and which then goes on to rattle on at breakneck speed about Lenin Lennon and McCartney, "Groucho, a serious bloke, who never told a single joke", and the sit-down strikes in Western Europe in the last century?

    The track is off the 1998 Ex album, 'Starters Alternators' - produced by Steve Albini? Never knew that - and details of how to get a hold of the album are at the following link from The Ex's website.

    'Frenzy' can only really be properly appreciated if played at very high volume. Your neighbours will thank you at a later date.

  • The Ex - 'Frenzy' mp3
  • Unacceptable in the 80s

    I've been here before on the blog about this matter, but please bear with me. Just posted on the unofficial myspace page for the Socialist Standard is the 'An A to Z of Marxism', an unpublished SPGB pamphlet that originally dates from the mid eighties.

    Previously, the A to Z was posted in six parts on the MySpace Socialist Standard page, but this time I've taken the trouble to cut and paste all six parts together into one blog post for your perusal.

    No longer do you have to be left hanging by your R's, wondering which S will follow the entry on Russia. Will it be Saint-Simon, as in Henri Saint-Simon, the Utopian Socialist; Sangria, as in Paul Lafargue's favourite tipple; or Saturday, as in Saturday's alright for fighting as Fred and Charlie go on a pub crawl down 1860s Tottenham Court Road, only to finish the night off with a polemical punch up with the Lassallean mob taking up residence at the Communist Club in Fitzrovia? (I won't spoil it for you.)

    "Charlie, these Wetherspoons pub menus are excellent, and such good value. I suggest we line our stomachs with the five-bean chilli before we go on the lash and, that way, you might avoid a repeat of last week's incident with the cobblestones and the street lights down Tottenham Court Road."

    Before I get a second wind for some more piss-poor jokes, reproduced below is the original introduction to the unpublished pamphlet that will give you some flavour as to what the text was setting out to do. Wonder why the SPGB didn't get round to publishing it?

    It's a shame it wasn't published then. It's a shame an updated and revised edition isn't being published now.

    "This dictionary is intended as a reference-companion for the socialist. It is aimed particularly at the newcomer to the socialist movement who may be unfamiliar with socialist terminology.

    Our approach has been to combine brevity with clarity, as far as possible, with cross-referencing and a guide to further reading at the end of most entries.We have been selective.

    We have concentrated on those words and ideas that are relevant to the case for socialism. In addition, there are many biographical entries of individuals and organisations of interest to the socialist movement. The inclusion of any of these should not necessarily be understood as an endorsement of their ideas and practices. Likewise, many entries have suggestions for further reading but the views expressed in these books are not necessarily the same as those of the socialist movement.

    It will be obvious that there are some errors, omissions and unworthy inclusions. We make no claim to comprehensive, final and definitive truth. This dictionary can and should be better. We therefore invite suggestions and constructive criticisms for use in future editions of this dictionary."

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    What do you call an addendum to an addendum? Feeding A Print Run Of 5000

    "Victoria, if the Spice Girls ever do reform, any chance of you lot doing a cover version of the Crass song, 'I Ain't Thick, It's Just a Trick'? I mean, I've got the T shirt and everything."

    "Sorry David, I've set my heart on us doing a cover version of the Poison Girls's 'Cry No More' for the comeback album. Ask All Saints."

    Christ, nothing like stumbling across a draft post hidden away in your dashboard to hit home the fact that you are and always will be a one-trick blogger.

    The struck out title, the snatch of imagined dialogue above with the (wrong) accompanying picture - see previous post for elucidation - and the italicised text below dates from the 1st of December of last year.

    Sod it, I'm posting it anyway. It's one post closer to one thousand published posts that I'm hurtling towards with increasing banality, and hopefully I'll catch some extra stray search engine traffic via the mention of Posh and Becks.

    . . . Oh, and the Spice Girls have now reformed for a reunion tour; the New Statesman have seen the archive access light, so I can now link to Ian Aitch's book reviews direct; and the B52s track 'Housework' has just come on iTunes. I love a happy ending.

    Hidden in draft, and dating from 12/1/06 1:42am

    No idea if the New Statesman continues to have the annoying habit of charging for archive material, so I'm falling back on the good service provided by someone on the Leftist Trainspotters List who has cut and pasted a review from the October 2nd 2006 issue of the magazine on

    Ian Aitch's review of "The Story of Crass" by George Berger and "The Day the Country Died" by Ian Glasper is no great shakes, but I liked this nugget from the review.

    "On one occasion during the Falklands conflict, the band heard a rumour that a battleship, HMS Sheffield, had been willingly sacrificed by the British government in order to protect HMS Invincible, on which Prince Andrew was then serving. In response, Crass created a fake taped telephone conversation between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher discussing the matter. This recording was sent out anonymously to newspapers, and before long it surfaced in the US state department, which denounced it as the work of the Kremlin. The KGB was so impressed by the stunt that it, too, tried to recruit the band members. But they simply drank the free vodka and played dumb."

    Drank "the free vodaka and played dumb.? Even back then they were 15 years ahead of Chumbawamba.

    Addendum to Anarcho-Celebrity: Feeding the #987

    For the short-sighted amongst you, I meant to mention that the last post - Anarcho-Celebrity - had an oldish picture of Posh and Becks accompanying the text because of Beckham's choice of T shirt in the picture.

    If you look closely enough, you can see that he is wearing a Crass T shirt. Fashion statement or political statement, it doesn't matter: LA Galaxy's season is over, Beckhamania Stateside jumped the shark about two months ago - though we will always have that balmy night in New Jersey in mid-August - and political/football statements by overpaid footballers begins and ends with the iconic image reproduced above from ten years back.

    For that action alone, I'll always cut Fowler and Steve McManaman a line lot of slack. (Now's not the time for Bolivian marching powder on the Anfield touchline jokes.)

    I hunted high and low for the pic of Beckham in the Crass T shirt, 'cos I'd heard about it through the grapevine down the years, but I'd never ever seen a picture of him anywhere wearing the T shirt - even originally mistaking this T shirt for it in the last post (since amended) - until I stumbled across this post which has the grainy shot of Becks doing his best impersonation of the 'Man From The WSA' . I'm just glad that I finally located the Beckham Crass pic in what is the week of the ACA* back in Blighty.

    Both Beckham pics are mentioned in this funny pop-culture page, which is entitled 'Trendy t-shirts and clueless celebrities: Ignorance on parade, purists go mental', and does exactly what is says on the tin.

    Going on past form on the blog, the obvious thing to do at this point would be to have a short snarl at pop muppets wearing Sex Pistols or Ramones T shirts, and to throw in for good measure some obscure hipster reference about how I'd have a coronary if I spotted Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd twinning up by wearing Fatima Mansions 'Keep Music Evil' T shirts on The View. But have you ever seen Rock 'n' Roll High School? It would have taken more than the E Channellers turning up in punk T shirts to faze The Ramones. (It was in fact Green Day citing them as an influence that pushed 3/4 of the band over the edge.)

    In fact, I think the two pics below of Kirstin Dunst wearing a Smiths T shirt and Jennifer Aniston wearing an MC5 T shirt are cool, and I'm looking forward to the day when The Office's Dwight Schrute is discovered to be wearing some vintage FGTH boxer shorts under his polyester suit.

    *ACA: the Annual Commodification of Anarchism aka The London Anarchist Bookfair.


    Nice wee personal reminiscence post from Another Green World, which takes in Ian Bone, early eighties Anarchism in London and the anarcho-punk DIY scene of Crass and the Poison Girls.

    The post also pointed me in the direction of this recent article from the Guardian which details the radical reworking of *cough* Crass classics and a storm in a tea stained cup over Crass's legacy that is going on between Penny Rimbaud and Steve Ignorant.

    Crass were never my cup of tea - stained or otherwise - so I was more interested in the fact that Derek Wall namechecked The Poison Girls in passing in the post.

    Now's not the time and place for me to detail at length why I think that the Poison Girls were a better band than Crass. For two reasons: 1) I know that Crass were more important, influential, seminal and all that hippy-punk-avant/garde jazz but; 2) Vi Subversa and the rest of the band had the tunes. And tunes win out for me everytime.

    It's the same reason why I'll take Captain and Tennille over Captain Beefheart any day. Take your seminal and shove it up your jacksie. I'll grab with both hands a catchy tune that creeps in your earhole and takes up squatting rights for the next six months every time.

    Anyway, enough self-immolation, you can check out the Poison Girls for yourself:

  • Poison Girls - 'Perfect Crime' mp3
  • Poison Girls - 'Real Woman' mp3
  • Both tracks date from the latter part of their career (82-85), and are both on the Statement boxset, a retrospective of the Poison Girls career that documents their recordings from '77 to '89. The boxset is available from Active Distribution last time I heard.

    Maybe it's only me who can see it but Vi Subversa reminds me of the late Ian Dury in both vocal stylings and in lyrical archness combined with a sly wit. He's considered a national treasure, Vi's a hidden treasure.

    Further Reading:

  • Derek Wall interviewed over at the Socialist Unity Blog
  • Doug Henwood's radio interview with Ian Bone that dates from March 15th of this year.
  • Ian Walker's 1979 New Society, 'Anarchy in the UK'
  • Socialist Standard's review of Derek Wall's 'Babylon and Beyond: the Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements'
  • Sunday, October 21, 2007

    "And cows disagree with me."

    Who's chairing this bastard meeting?

    Don't like to overload the blog with too many YouTube clips at any one time - the video clip of Elisabeth Hasselbeck singing a bluegrass version of Marilyn Manson's 'I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)' will have to wait for another day - but I had to post this clip from the most recent 'Real Time With Bill Maher'.

    Nothing beats live television; especially when you throw into the mix one pissed off host and a selection of '9/11 Troof' hecklers strategically placed in his audience who are intent on bringing disruption to his show.

    The Sparts and the LaRouchites will be kicking themselves for not coming up with the same idea years ago. I think the hecklers deserve leninency for momentarily shutting Chris Matthews up. That laugh of his comes from a place that I would never want to visit.

    Must Try Harder

    An old clip from Fox News, but a funny one. Sean Hannity confronts his old socialist professor from NYU, who supposedly had the temerity of giving him his lowest ever college grade because, in Hannity's words, he refused to regurgitate the rubbish socialist ideas that he was being force-fed in the classroom.

    'Supposedly', because before anyone thinks that this is half David Horovitz/half Howard Kirk, where proof is provided by Hannity of the left-wing bias entrenched in academia and its persecution of those students and faculty who fall outside it's ideological box, it turns out that Bertell Ollman wasn't Hannity's red professor at NYU during the eighties, and simply took the opportunity of the television appearance to publicise Democracy Now.

    Anyone who has read Ollman's 'Class Struggle Is the Name of the Game: True Confessions of a Marxist Businessman', about the travails of getting his board game, Class Struggle, produced, will recognise the glint in Ollman's eye as he gently chides Hannity whilst also playing up to the eccentric professor routine.

    Unlike yesterday's result, a win for the good guys.

    Further Reading:

    Bertell Ollman's 'Dare to Laugh! Dare to Win'

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Saturday Night, Sunday Morning Quote

    Gray's right; I do love this quote from BBC Radio 5 Live :

    "My politics was like my rugby; I hung around the left-wing and never did much."

    That was my schooldays football career in a nutshell.


    That's my political life in a nutshell.

    The Twelfth Man

    Apologies for the last post being so garbled. (I've since polished it up a bit.) I wrote it in a bit of a rush as I was heading out to catch the Celtic/Rangers game at Jack Demsey's in Manhattan.

    The game was a bit of travesty and, in truth, Celtic didn't deserve anything out of the game. Brown seemed to disappear in the second half, with Jarosik and Sno being nothing more than the squad players that they are. The first goal from Novo - Phil Neville lookalike with a suntan, anyone? - was a gift via keystone cops defending, and apart from a couple of long range Jarosik shots and Donati's header in the second half Celtic never looked like scoring.

    However, despite the fact that Celtic didn't deserve anything out of the game, there was no excuse for the partial, biased and bullshit referring from McCurry. Until the handbags at four paces in the last few minutes of the game between the players, their agents, their extended families and their classmates from primary school, it would have taken a Rangers player to headbutt Dame Judi Dench whilst simulataneously stealing a crust of the bread from the mouth of a blind orphan before it would have even crossed McCurry's mind to possibly book a Rangers player. And even then he would have taken it under advisement from the Rangers bench. Shocking that the bloke's piss poor performance pushes me in the direction of being one of those paranoic Celtic fans who thinks that everyone is out to get them.

    I'm away for a lie down.

    World Cup Finals: First Time Was A Tragedy, This Time?

    The 'Only Living SPGBer in Aarhus', otherwise known as Gray, is no doubt currently having a nervous run up to this minor game that will be taking place later today. Who knows, maybe these last few days he's been waking in a cold sweat thinking about the little matter of this recent encounter between England and South Africa?

    Well, Gray, if it's any comfort, maybe you can draw comparisons and hope from history with these two results from over fifty years ago.

    Granted the better team on that occasion lost in the final and, five decades later, we are still talking about the great team of Puskas, Czibor, Kocsis; Hidegkuti, whilst the eventual winners nary get a mention outside their own households but as you're in the grips of your very own version of 'Ninety-Minute-Nationalism' (Rugby's eighty minutes of stop-start play, right?), I'll cut you some slack this one time.

    Wishing you well on a day that, as a socialist who has also been known to succumb to bouts of N-M-N, I've never had to go through, and (probably) never will.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Friday's Playlist #19

    An ongoing series:

  • Aztec Camera, 'Spanish Horses' (Dreamland)
  • Judy Mowatt, 'She Kept On Talking' (Trojan Reggae Sisters)
  • AC Acoustics, '16.04.2010' (Peel Session)
  • U2 'Out of Control' (Boy)
  • Prefab Sprout, 'The Ice Maiden' (Jordan The Comeback)
  • The Sound, 'Winning' (From The Lions Mouth)
  • Al Green, 'L-O-V-E (Love)' (Al Green Is Love)
  • Manic Street Preachers, 'To Repel Ghosts' (Lifeblood)
  • The Upsetters, 'A Taste of Killings' (Trojan Skinhead Reggae)
  • Suicide, 'Ghost Rider' (Suicide - the first album)
  • Yeah, Yeah . . . What The Hell?

    Gordon Legge, you feckin' swine.

    All these years I've been re-reading The Shoe the same way Sherri Shepherd reads the Bible: Lovingly, reverentially and accepting the words on the page as the literal truth, and it turns out that he's been lying to me all this time.

    Ever since I first read Legges's debut novel - 13 years ago? - I've been labouring under the false belief, that the Yeah Yeah Noh performed a session on Peel, where they performed the tracks 'Cottage Industry' and 'Bias Binding', and now I find out that no bastard Peel session featuring those two tracks ever took place.

    Even the timing of the alleged session doesn't pan out. The novel opens with Archie, Mental and Dave travelling through to Glasgow on the train to catch the Hearns/Hagler fight, 'The War', via live transmission at the Glasgow Apollo. That fight took place on April 15th 1985, but the only session that the Yeah Yeah Nohs recorded for Peel that year was broadcast on the 9th April.

    What's with the missing chapter, Gordy? You know, the one where the lads find a time machine on the way back to Grangemouth, that not only allows them to teleport themselves six days back in time, but also allows them access to the parallel universe where the YYN do indeed record those two tracks for a Peel Session. For the record - in case you decide to insert the missing chapter for a future reprint of the novel - I bastard hate sci-fi novels. Only things worse in this known universe are sci-fi films and sci-fi tv series.

    What am I going to find out next? That when Archie wakes up on page 86 in the book, he doesn't in fact listen to Al Green's singing 'Unchained Melody', but instead opts for the Jimmy Young version? Don't bastard tell me if you ever happen to google search your name and find this post. I don't think I could take the further disillusionment.

    I'm away for a lie down.

    The Biggest Egos in the Smallest Mass Party in the World

    Splintered Sunrise has the best post that I've seen so far on the current crisis within the SWP and Respect.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Fast Forwarding Through The Adverts

    As their recent bulletin that I reposted on the blog indicates, Robert and Piers over at the SPGB page on MySpace have been good enough to repost Danny V's excellent article, Punk Rock's Silver Jubilee, on their blog.

    I've posted the article myself a few times on the Socialist Standard page on MySpace but Robert and Piers, being more savvy than myself, have also had the good sense to break up the text with YouTube clips from such groups as X-Ray Spex, Sex Pistols, The Clash and Crass. One of their regular commentators on the page has also chipped in with the addition of a playlist of some of the songs mentioned in the article as a comment. (Nice Devoto version of 'Orgasm Addict', by the way.)

    Therefore, just like the bloke you knew at school who always got into stuff the day after everybody else had moved on to something else (I was that bloke - how was I to know that the SPGB legwarmers were out of fashion in 1986? I didn't get the bastard memo.), I thought I'd get in on the act fashionably late by posting a couple of mp3s on the blog from some of the bands mentioned in the article.

    As Piers, Robert and Terry have mostly focused on the early punk stuff, I thought I'd chime in with some post-punk material. It also saves me having to come up with a plausible explanation as to why Danny V's can love The Adverts so much, but can't bring himself to mention The Undertones in the article.

    The mp3s are just for sampling purposes, and I'll only have them up for a few days. I urge you to check out the albums of the bands featured. All good stuff, and you can always take out a subscription to the Socialist Standard at the same time that you're buying the back catalogues of the featured artists on Amazon:

  • Au Pairs - 'Dear John' (John Peel Session) mp3
  • Delta 5 - 'Mind Your Own Business' mp3
  • Kleenex - 'Nighttoad' mp3
  • The Flowers - 'After Dark' mp3
  • The Au Pairs' track is from their 1980 Peel Session. Delta 5's 'Mind Your Own Business' was released in '79 by Rough Trade, and Kleenex - otherwise known as Liliput - were a post-punk band from Switzerland. I'm not sure when 'Nighttoad' was originally released, as I found the track on a compilation album. I'm guessing it dates from round about '78/'79.

    I'll put my hands up to cheating with the last track included. Danny V doesn't mention The Flowers in his article, but I have enough faith in him that if he had known about them at the time, he would have given them a namecheck in the article.

    Sadly, not a lot is known about The Flowers but what I do know is that they were from Scotland and signed to Bob Last's Fast Product label. Some of their early tracks are featured on the first Earcom compilation.

    The featured track, 'After Dark', was originally released as a b-side to the single 'Confessions' in '79, but this version is from the Mutant Pop compilation that was released in 1980. A compilation which also featured The Mekons, Human League and the Gang of Four.

    I personally think the song is a lost classic of the post-punk era, but maybe it wasn't lost to everyone. I can't help hearing traces of 'After Dark' in the PJ Harvey track, 'Dress', from her 1992 album, Dry. Maybe it's just me.

    Latest Score Just In: They're Winning

    Alan J over at the Mailstrom blog comments on the increasing income gap between the super rich in America - the citizens of Robert Frank's Richistan - and the rest of us, whilst last Sunday's New York Times magazine asked if they were sitting fine living in the Second Gilded Age.

    Wait, I'll just check with my financial advisor.

    Hat tip to Above the Borderline for the cartoon.

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Why Not Blame Alan Hansen?

    Didn't see the game (US versus Switzerland anyone?), not even seen the goals yet but I won't let that stop me from venturing an opinion on the result minutes after end of the game. Now is not the time for considered analysis.

    Maybe the Scottish Patient had a point, and Scotland have fallen victim to the curse of the dodgy kit. I'm sure the tops looks great atop a pair of jeans, but when have a football team ever won an important game looking like Hearts of Midlothian? (Sit back, and drink in the media campaign to ensure that Scotland never wear that kit ever again.)

    No doubt the post mortems in the press will play on the matter of Scottish football perhaps getting ahead of itself in recent weeks, and point to the fact that despite the rennaissance of the Scotland team in recent years, it's only ever a few injuries and suspensions away from slipping up on a Georgia Peach. But, one can only wonder if on a different day, a Scotland team that had Scott Brown, Paul Hartley, Alan Hutton and whathisname* available, might have been able to squeeze out a result.

    Anyway, irrational ranting getting the better of me, I'll be blaming Italy and Alan Hansen for this debacle. If it weren't for the Italians beating a woeful Georgia on Saturday, the Georgian coach, Klaus Toppmoller, wouldn't have gone ahead and blooded a 17 year old goalkeeper (Georgi Makaridze), and played a 16 year old central midfielder (Levan Kenia), and a goalscoring 17 year old (Levan Mchedlidze) in the team that faced Scotland tonight.

    "You don't win anything with kids"? Fuck you Hansen. I knew that line would come back to haunt the rest of us eventually.

    Only upside is that the 'Ninety-Minute-Nationalism' has been put in perspective, and I don't have to attend that meeting of the New York branch of the SNP next Tuesday.

    *My blogging campaign on behalf of Derek Riordan knows no limits. D.R should simultaneously get a game for both Celtic and Scotland.

    I'd Rather Jack

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (16)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 16th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 872 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Punk rock's silver jubilee
  • Opportunity cost
  • Freegans
  • This week's top quote:

    ""It is for the working class to study and realise that while one section of the community—the capitalist class—own the means of life of the whole community, the remainder of the community are slaves to that section. Whatever label a political party or person may wear—whether Conservative, Liberal, Radical, Reform, Labour or any other—the one question for the working-class is "do they stand for the retention of a system allowing a small section of Society to exploit the other, the working class"? If so, no matter, with what qualification or modification, if any, then they are necessarily and inevitably the enemy of the exploited and must be so branded. Fine promises avail them nothing. In the words of Wendell Phillips, "WE NEVER FORGET", but keeping the facts clearly in front of our fellow workers' eyes march steadily to the goal of our Emancipation." Jack Fitzgerald (SPGB), 1906.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    That Tosser Pete Doherty Again

    What Hak (and Charlie) Said

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    XTC's 'Great Fire'

    Latest song under discussion by Andy Partridge and Todd Bernhardt over at the XTC MySpace page is the excellent 'Great Fire' from the 'Mummer' album. (I've previously declared my opinion on the song on the blog here.)

    Not as instantaneous a pop classic as a lot of their early singles, 'Great Fire' did have to creep up on me before becoming one of my favourite XTC songs. But for all that, I was still surprised to discover that the song didn't even chart when it was released as a single in '83. Coming so soon after 'Senses Working Overtime' and 'English Settlement', I bet it was a bigger surprise for the band and their record company at the time.

    Andy P reveals in the interview that the song was played on Radio 1 a grand total of one time! That was when Radio 1 could make or break a song in a matter of weeks. It'd have probably been better if it had never been played at all. That way they could have at least claimed they were victims of some sort of deliberate campaign to kill their career.

    I'm trying to think back to why they might have been so out in the cold by '83. I can only speculate that by that point in their career they were caught between the hard rock and the missing chart place of not being pretty enough to compete with the Duran Durans and Spandau Ballets on the one hand and not having that cache of being new or left-field enough to still be championed by the likes of John Peel and Janice Long (the last XTC Peel Session was way back in '79).

    Any chance of being part and parcel of the Second British Invasion of America at that time was effectively killed off by Partridge's stage fright and refusal to tour, and it would be another three or four years before XTC would become an overnight sensation in the States via 'Dear God' picking up airplay on college radio.

    OK, I'm getting off topic and before I start hunting high and low on the internet to see if John Hughes ever featured an XTC song in one of his films*, I'll jump back on blogging track by echoing the opinion of one of the posters on the XTC MySpace page in stating that this is definitely one of the best interviews so far in the series between Andy P and Todd Bernhardt.

    Granted a great bulk of the interview is made up of the muso bits that leaves me in a fog, but even I in my musical illiteracy recognise that it is in the bridge of the song, when Andy P. kicks in with the line "I've been in love before . . . " and the music totally shifts in mood and tone that moves it up from a good XTC song to a great one.

    To placate us musical numpties, the interview also carries the by now expected abundance of Andy P's anecdotes, skewed viewed of the history of XTC and the world, and a brilliant humour which spells out once again that you have to be a clever bastard to write with the acuity and wit of Andy Partridge. I especially loved this passage from the interview:

    AP: I was listening to the song today, as is the sort of thing I do when you ask me about these songs, so I put it on and had a listen. But, just to show you how paranoid I am -- I know there are some fans traipsing around the town [there was a meeting of XTC fans that weekend in Swindon, to see The SheBeats and tribute band The Fuzzy Warblers play at a local club the night before this interview], so I sat here with headphones [chuckling] so they wouldn't hear the sounds of my music coming out of my house and think, "What a wanker he is, listening to his own songs!"

    I actually heard a horrible story about Sting -- where'd I hear this story, about someone who went to dinner with him, and a few other people...

    TB: I sent you that! From the Holy Moly newsletter...

    AP: Yeah, you did! He pulls out his iPod during dinner, cutting himself off from the conversation...

    TB: ... and the guests ask Trudi if they said anything wrong, to make him be so anti-social. She says, "He always does it, and the worst thing is, he's listening to his own fucking music."

    AP: Yeah! Unbelievable. Well, I didn't want that to be the case, I didn't want people thinking, "Wow! There's Andy, and he's listening to his own songs!"

    TB: [laughing] Right. Sobbing.

    AP: [laughs] Yeah. Sobbing gently.

    I think that passage is all the more brilliant and funny, 'cos I can hear him telling this story in his West Country accent. (You can check out more wondeful quotes from this series of interviews in this old post from the old blog.)

    And after the recent Colin Moulding slideshow on the blog, I thought would also include a picture of the 'Great Fire' record cover with this post. I'm glad that I sought it out, 'cos it tipped me the wink to the possibility that there is another XTC fan within the ranks of the SPGB back in Britain. How else do you explain that the cover of 'Great Fire' carries such a strong resemblance to a particular Socialist Standard front cover from the mid to late nineties?

    At the time of the issue's appearance, I remembering thinking that the layout editor of the Standard must have been on something to come up with such an outlandish design but I now think that it was nothing more than being exposed to a bit too much Psonic Psunshine. OK, I'll stop here before this paragraph turns into a Super Furry Animals lyric.

    *It turns out that XTC had the song 'Happy Families' on the soundtrack of the 1988 John Hughes film, 'She's Having a Baby'. Never seen the film, never heard the song. Never will see the film, but I'm off to hunt down the song.

    When In Alabama

    From the latest episode of 'Real Time With Bill Maher':

    BILL MAHER:Thank you very much. Thank you. How you doin’? Thank you. Thank you. Wow, what a crowd. I think I know why you’re happy tonight. ‘Cause Al Gore won the Nobel Prize, is that right? [applause] [cheers] That’s true. Al Gore won the Nobel Prize. Or as President Bush announced it: “Sweden is with the terrorists.” [laughter]

    No. The President did not say that. What he said was, “The Nobel Prize is just a theory. It needs more study.” [laughter]

    And you could tell Al Gore is still wary about these kind of things, because they told him today – they said, “You received the most votes.” He said, “Yeah? Who won?” [laughter] [applause] [cheers]