Sunday, August 31, 2008

Manhattan Bound

What with my ongoing bloggers block indifference, I haven't really been mentioning the SPL much since it started up again a few weeks back but August 31st means this place and, who knows, maybe come 1pm my time I'll actually be back in the flow of blogging again.

Aye, and I also predict that Derek Riordan will bag a hat trick today.

I'm not going to venture a prediction on the score today, but I do hope Celtic, as the home team, can at least buck the trend of yesterday's SPL results:

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A megaupload of H E. Hardy Edgar Hardcastle articles

Hot on the heels of Graham's Ragged Trousered Philanthropist blog comes an updating of Edgar Hardcastle's page over at the Marxist Internet Archive.

Edgar Hardcastle? Click on this link (or this one) for more info on who Hardcastle was. Passing SPGBers - or that even rarer breed, regular readers of this blog - will know who I'm wittering on about.

Same deal as with post about RTP: here's the newly added articles that caught my eye, but be sure to click on the link to discover your own favourites:

  • From the August 1937 Socialist Standard G.B. Shaw as a Guide to Socialism
  • From the April 1938 Socialist Standard Trotsky-Stalin Feud. An American View
  • From the August 1936 Socialist Standard Socialists Do Stand for Equality
  • From the April 1939 Socialist Standard The Last Hour in Madrid
  • A lecture from October 1978 The Materialist Conception of History
  • From the November 1936 Socialist Standard What to Do About Fascism?
  • Kudos to Adam in London and Mike in Tokyo for the work done in updating Hardcastle's page. Hopefully, there'll be more to follow.

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (Metropolitan Books 2001)

    Guilt, you may be thinking, warily. Isn't that what we're supposed to feel? But guilt doesn't go anywhere near far enough; the appropriate emotion is shame - shame at our own dependency, in this case, at the underpaid labor of others. When someone works for less pay than she can live on - when she, for example, goes hungry so you can eat more cheaply and conveniently - then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The "working poor", as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else. As Gail, one of my restaurant co-workers put it, "you give and you give and you give."

    Someday of course - and I will venture no predictions as to when - they are bound to tire of giving so little in return, and demand to be paid what they're worth. There'll be a lot of anger when that day comes, and strikes and disruption. But the sky will not fall, and we will all be better off for it in the end.

    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    "Anarchy's dead now, Maxine"

    A rapid share of old socialist articles

    The 'Isn't It About Time We Had Socialism?' blog is no more.

    Not sure what happened but it appears that Graham - the Gillingham supporting death metalist SPGBer living in Denmark - (who's not to be confused with Rob, the vegan death metalist SPGBer living in Norway) decided that the blog couldn't hang around any longer for the revolution bus* to fill up.

    However, not being a comrade to rest on his blogging laurels, Graham has kick-started the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist blog to take its place.

    A first glance it looks like death to death metal as this blog is geared more towards reprints of old articles and pamphlets from the SPGB *cough* canon. I'm pretty sure that the majority of the articles are appearing on the web for the first time, and that it's Graham who has done most of the transcribing. So, kudos to him for performing the public service:

    Of course, you should check out the blog for yourself but these are the articles that caught my eye:

  • From the July 1970 Socialist Standard A write up of a debate between the SPGB and the International Socialists
  • From the April 1969 Socialist Standard Marx and Engels and the 'Collapse' of Capitalism
  • 5 part article from the Socialist Standard in early 1979 How Capitalism Works
  • From the June 1928 Socialist Standard A vintage debate between the SPGB (Jack Fitzgerald) and the ILP (James Maxton)
  • The SPGB 1978 introductory pamphlet, Questions of the Day
  • From the January 1969 Socialist Standard Rosa Luxemburg and the Collapse of Capitalism
  • From the October 1923 Socialist Standard Jingo Communists
  • There's a lot more to check out on his blog, so feel free to click on the link.

    A lonely footnote

    *If you can find that Peter Rigg's cartoon online, you're a better googler than me.

    The Warriors (1979)

    "I can't breathe . . . I can't breathe"

    Via Bust magazine's email blast:

    I was just thinking the other day that I'd love to know how to make a nice Red Leicester.

    A mini mixing pop with politics whilst my tea cools down

    The internet does like to throw up the most surprising facts sometimes:

    Bear admits to shitting in the woods.

    That sound you can hear in the far distance is an undiscovered Indian tribe in the Amazonian basin agreeing that it must be a slow news day for Yahoo News.

    Up The Funny Roundabout

    I know: the picture on the left could be the East Village 2008, but it is in fact St Albans circa 1975.

    The members of Wire at this point in time were still mixing their paints at Watford Art College . . . The Undertones weren't to play the Hemel Hempstead Pavillion for another eight years so, for one brief moment, power pop/new wave/proto punk (delete as appropriate) in Hertfordshire had its moment in the sun in St Albans. Squeeze supporting Curved Air. (Wasn't that Stewart Copeland's first band?)

    Is it that obvious that I've been listening to the Frank Cottrell-Boyce's One Chord Wonders radio plays?

    The pic comes via the excellent Packet Of Three website, which is dedicated to all things Squeeze-like, and which I have duly added to the 'Fill Your Head With Culture' sidebar. That's all. Just saw the pic and wanted to bring it to blogging light.

    "A future morning at 4:50 the F Train took her rather nifty . . . ". I never can remember the rest of the lyrics.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Quack quack - two little ducks

    Via Normski, and just to piss Kara off.

    No doubt I'm letting the side down with the alumni bit.

    Popcorn, Politics but what about the actual film review?

    Further to this old post, the Communist Workers Organisation have finally got round to posting their review of Persepolis online.

    Maybe now I can finally get round to sitting down and watching Persepolis myself. (Naturally with a print out of Rev Specs review close to hand, in case I lose track of the plot.)

    What can I say? There's been a lot of King of the Hill re-runs this summer, and it has interfered with our Netflix viewing habits.

    Popcorn, Politics but no Matewan?

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (61)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 61st of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1321 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • At the conscientious objectors tribunal
  • Gradualism and revolution
  • War in Georgia
  • Coming Events at SPGB Head Office, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 (nearest tube: Clapham North):

    Saturday 20 September, 6pm

    Which Way the Revolution - What are our differences?

    Ian Bone (Class War) and Howard Moss (Socialist Party)

    Forum followed by open discussion.

    Chair: Bill Martin (Socialist Party)

    A Season of Free Film nights from Sunday 14th September to Sunday 23rd November at 52 Clapham High Street, London.

    All films start at 4 p.m.

    Sunday 14 September: Animal Farm

    Sunday 28 September:
    Who Killed the Electric Car?

    Sunday 12 October: Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on trial

    Sunday 26 October:The Corporation

    Sunday 9 November: Zeitgeist

    Sunday 23 November: The War on Democracy

    Quote for the week:

    "A few days in my old man's factory have sufficed to bring me face to face with this beastliness, which I had rather overlooked. ..., it is impossible to carry on communist propaganda on a large scale and at the same time engage in huckstering and industry." Engels, Letter to Marx, 1845.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Six Degrees of Fourth International Separation

    Just struck me, but surely it's not that surreal that Jeremy Beadle was dishing out copies of Mark Steel's 'Reasons To Be Cheerful' to his celebrity rotary club friends.

    According to his wiki page, Jeremy Beadle was an early activist in CAMRA. What's the chances that he and Roger Protz struck up a working relationship of sorts? Beer mats and pamphlets quickly exchanged.

    Not convinced with that explanation for the Bolshevisation of British Light Entertainment? What about from this angle?

    On what programme did Jeremy Beadle first make his name? That piece of garbage otherwise known as Game For A Laugh.

    Who else starred in Game For A Laugh? Matthew Kelly, who just happened to be a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party once upon a time. I bet it was 'Newsline this' 'Socialist Worker that' every Saturday in the Green Room before the show.

    What about the other two? Henry Kelly, being Irish and the cerebral type, was probably a member of British and Irish Communist Organisation. Sarah Kennedy? As the token woman and token posh person on the show, it's pretty obvious that she was probably a member of the IMG. Probably in the same branch as Hilary Wainwright. Branch educationals must have been hell to sit through.

    Abraham, Mark and (no mention of) John

    "Mark strikes up an unlikely friendship with Bob Monkhouse, started surreally by Bob approaching Mark in the Television Centre car park and saying how much he loved Reasons to be Cheerful, which he’d got as a 75th birthday present from Jeremy Beadle."

    Hop on over to Splintered Sunrise for his must-read review of Mark Steel's 'What’s Going On?' (Previously mentioned on the blog here.)

    Very funny, very informative and the only reason I can think why Splintered Sunrise didn't make Iain Dale's recent Top 10 Northern Irish blogs is because Splintered rises in the South. (It can be confusing sometimes working out if he's working out of Belfast or out of Dublin when he's working over the SWP.)

    And as much as I like Mark Steel, kudos to Splinty for taking Steel to task with this wee barb at the end of the review which is, in the main, largely positive:

    ". . . But, and I have to make this point as a small criticism, Mark may be a good bloke but he’s also a little bit of an asshole. What I mean by that is, the history of the SWP, and other left organisations, is full of people in privileged positions who have known all about the organisational skulduggery that goes on, and haven’t said a word until they have been targeted themselves. I think there is a particular responsibility on people like Mark Steel or Paul Foot or Eamonn McCann, who function as a human face of their organisation and make people feel good about being in it, and who could function as a sort of conscience of the organisation. But normally they don’t. Paul Foot, who I miss a lot, was a lovely man, a brilliant journalist and one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. But it must be said that, when confronted with the SWP leadership and with Cliff in particular, Paul could be the most awful creep. Eamonn has gone along with all sorts of hair-raising stuff, as long as he’s been allowed to plough his own furrow in Derry. And so on."

    There's a hell of a lot of truth in that. Of course, it's now much too late for Steel to take on any sort of constructively critical role with regards to his old organisation because if he so much as coughs in the direction of the SWP his former comrades will be quickly on hand to dismiss him as nothing more than a political apostate. Such is life in (and out) of a political organisation.

    PS - You got that Abraham is Tony Cliff, right? I posted one of Phil Evans's excellent cartoons to make the point and everything. I was originally going to go with 'Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide' as the post title, but who but the most avid Marvin Gaye fanatic will know that that was his first single on Motown back in '61?

    With a heavy heart . . .

    . . . but what Phil said.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    A welcome back for Maloney?

    Banner from Saturday's game at Celtic Park.

    Hat tip to Matt C from Socialist Courier blog for the pic.

    1968 . . . and all that chat

    Further to last Friday's post on the blog about an SPGB speaker at a session at Glasgow's Radical Independent Bookfair, 'News From Nowhere', the yahoo discussion list for SPGB members and sympathisers in the Caledonian area, carries a mini-report back of the meeting.

    I've posted it in the comments of the blog through a mixture of respecting the comrades list privacy and because I want to hoover up the page views.

    Bloggers with sitemeters will understand my reasoning.

    PS - Don't quote on me this, but I'm pretty sure that the Benjamin Franks that was listed as one of the panel speakers is the same Benjamin Franks whose book, 'Rebel Alliances: The means and ends of contemporary British anarchists', was reviewed in the November 2006 issue of the Socialist Standard.

    Last time I looked there was a secondhand copy of the book in the Left Section of a secondhand bookshop in the East Village. I'll have to see if it's still there the next time I'm in the Lower East Side.

    Brandworkers Exposes Wild Edibles' Use of Corporate Fronts

    Via the Brandworkers International website:

    For Immediate Release:

    Brandworkers International

    Contact: press (at)

    August 26, 2008

    Statement of Brandworkers on Wild Edibles' Deceptive Use of Corporate Fronts

    "In their continuing bid to avoid accountability for their illegal employment practices, Wild Edibles and owner Richard Martin have begun using different company names to deceive restaurant owners into buying seafood from Wild Edibles.

    On the heels of filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, Wild Edibles is deploying at least eight trucks under various company names and is billing restaurants using invoices from front companies. Wild Edibles and these front companies are one and the same and are therefore all subject to the current labor dispute.

    The fish from the front companies is processed, packed, and delivered by Wild Edibles workers in the Wild Edibles warehouse. The same warehouse which received a warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for selling adulterated tuna that had been, "prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health."

    Employees have been campaigning for over a year to win respect for work and family at Wild Edibles, Inc., a formerly well-regarded seafood wholesaler and retailer. Instead of paying illegally withheld overtime pay and improving working conditions, Wild Edibles owner Richard Martin responded to the workers' efforts with a fierce campaign of retaliation, a questionable bankruptcy filing, and now a sorry attempt to obscure Wild Edibles' identity through front companies.

    The Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain initiative is providing comprehensive legal and advocacy support to twenty-four current and former Wild Edibles employees. Focus on the Food Chain promotes the principle that healthy, wholesome food includes respect for the dignity of workers along the food supply chain. Brandworkers International is a New York-based non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees.

    Saturday, August 23, 2008


    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (60)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 60th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1316 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Pioneers of socialism
  • Wages and exploitation
  • Why not socialism now?
  • Quote for the week:

    "I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few." William Morris, The Lesser Arts of Life, 1882.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Socialist Party speaker at tomorrow's Glasgow Radical Independent Bookfair

    'Learning from 1968……. To the Present'


    August 23rd 2008

    Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow

    "Recent media reports on the 40th anniversary of the student protests of 1968 recalled students' discontent with class inequalities, civil rights and the increasing beureaucratic control of education. In 2008, in the grip of neoliberalism, recession, temporary contracts, job losses and increasing emphasis on 'employability' in education, it has been reported that today's students no longer want to change society or the education system, but instead just want their education to enable them to get good enough jobs so they can pay their rent. The August RIB will host a symposium that looks at these and other issues surrounding how education policy and practice has developed and changed over the last 40 years, and student/teacher responses to them."


    1pm- Angela McClanahan (worker in higher education): Introduction

    1.45 start- Benjamin Franks (worker in higher education)

    2.05-2.10 start: Gordon Asher (student and worker in higher education)

    2.30 Break

    3pm Christian Garland (author and activist)

    3.20-25 start: Victor Vanni (Socialist Party of Great Britain)

    3.40-3.45 start: Audience discussion, chaired by Angela

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Depending on Berbatov . . . . and Midtablebrough

    Oops, been slacking off with the Guardian's preview of the upcoming English Premier League. That calls for some last minute substitutions:

  • Man Utd
  • Middlesbrough
  • I just want to dance

    Kudos to Matt and the Education Department of the SPGB (who they?) for updating - and posting online - an A-Z of Socialism on the SPGB website.

    As the Education Department lays it out:


    This compendium is intended to be a reference-companion for socialists. It is aimed particularly at the newcomer to the socialist movement who may be unfamiliar with socialist terminology. We have included cross-referencing, suggested books for further reading and links to relevant websites at the end of most entries.

    We have concentrated on those 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 relevant books and websites, but the views expressed in these are not necessarily the same as those of the Socialist Party.

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

    Education Department

    August 2008

    Why start at A? It'll only be banging on about accumulation, alienation and assorted anarchists. Take the scenic route.


    Yes comrade, you too can boogie.

    Whatever happened to the saturday kids?

    Love this pic via Twilightzone! blog.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    1994: And Mr Hansen's losing it with the pop kids

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (59)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 59th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1315 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • What to Do About Fascism?
  • Not Worth the Paper
  • Free work versus forced employment
  • Quote for the week:

    "Not only can we manage very well without the interference of the capitalist class in the great industries of the country, but that their interference is becoming more and more a nuisance." Engels, 1881, Social Classes - Necessary and Superfluous.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Fresh by Mark McNay (MacAdam Cage 2007)

    Fresh chickens to be sold in butchers and supermarkets for the ease of the purchasing public. Fresh chickens you assume have been killed recently. You picture a redbrick farmyard with purple foxgloves growing in a corner. The healthy smell of shite. An old 1950s tractor quietly rusting on flat tyres, only useful to the robins that nest under the seat. The farmer's wife comes out of the door, pulls a chicken from the ground it was idly pecking, and twists its neck with her fat powerful hands. She sits on a stool, places the quivering bird on her lap, and plucks it while it's warm. She sings a song of somebody's lover lost in a foreign war. She stuffs hand-stitched pillows with the feathers and sells them on the local market on a Wednesday afternoon. The plucked and dressed chiken is trussed ready to be hung that afternoon in the butcher's and you walk in and buy a bird whose pulse has barely died in its throat.

    The fresh chickens Sean handles are driven to the factory in shoebox-sized containers packed on the trailer of an articulated truck. The driver flicks a roll-up butt out of the window and calls for Rab, who sidles out of his hut and guides the lorry into the loading bay. Strong forearms reach into the shoeboxes and drag their prey into the artificial light and hang them by the ankles on a hook. They fly along, upside down, flapping their wings, trying to escape, shitting down their chests, squawking and pecking at their mates. The hooks drag them into a tank of water where an electric current stops their hearts moments before rubber wheels grind the feathers from their skin.

    Too much Barking, not enough Brighton Beach

    Buddha Da by Anne Donovan (Canongate Books 2003)

    'Most religions do have a god, or gods, but Buddhism doesn't.'

    'Ah thought that was whit religion was - worshippin sumpn.'

    Mr Henderson smiled. 'If that was the case then supporting Celtic or Rangers or even,' he turnt tae big Davie McCormack, 'Partick Thistle would be a religion.'

    'Haw sur, that's no funny slaggin him aff for bein a Partick Thistle supporter,' Angela Hughes piped up fae the back. 'His da brung him up tae it.'

    Everybody burst oot laughin. Mr Henderson laughed too. 'That would definitely make it a religion then. I hope you didn't think I was laughing at David for supporting Partick Thistle. I only know because I see him there on the terraces every week.'

    'Are you sayin you're a Jags fan?' Kevin Anderson looked up fae drawin RFC on the inside cover of his jotter.

    'I am indeed,' said Mr Henderson. Kevin went back tae his drawin.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    The world (temporarily) turned upside down

    The Road to Colchester

    Bastard godlike. The hairs on the back of my neck are tingling at the brilliance of this YouTube clip.

    Who thought the nearest I would ever get to a religious experience this side of Denise Mina answering one of my emails would be from watching a black and white clip from an acoustic set performed at the Colchester Arts Centre?

    I'm actually jealous of that (seemingly) disembodied foot away in the audience. How's that for a personification of going soft in the head?

    Info accompanying the YouTube clip is as follows:

    "Martin Newell performs Julie Profumo, in an excerpt from the 1st Golden Afternoon. Recorded live at the Colchester Arts Centre in the summer of 2003. Martin is joined by Nelson on mandolin & backing vocals. The film was produced & directed by Michael Cumming."

    There's another 5 or 6 YouTube clips from the same performance that you should also check out but it's Newell singing 'Julie Profumo' that does it for me. A well played mandolin banjoes me every time. Put it down to early exposure to an alternative universe Rod Stewart where he used to be good.

    You don't love this clip as much as me? Fuck you cloth ears. (My God is definitely Old Testament.) As penance you can check out this fascinating 49 minute interview with Martin Newell, where he catalogues his life and times, and which comes courtesy of Cherry Red Records Web TV. Yep, that Cherry Red.

    I'm saying it's a form of penance but in fact Newell is a witty and entertaining motormouth in the interview. The interviewer, Iain McNay, hardly gets a word in edgeways for forty odd minutes, and Newell takes you on an autobiographical journey that starts in the backwoods of early seventies Essex, careering on to the nascent punk scene in mid-seventies London to selling out tours in Germany but selling sod all back in Britain. Throw in a mention of dodgy dock pubs in Ipswich, Captain Sensible, the cassette culture of the early eighties to Newell at one point being the best selling living British poet - and it all being told with a garnish of wit and Newell's bullshit detector firmly in place - and you'll come to realise that my God has a bit of the New Testament in her as well. Just a smidgeon. That's all you need.

    The things they say

    Olympic commentators on American TV say the strangest things:

    "She was born - quote unquote - to a workers family. Gymnastics has changed the life of that family . . . "

    That's all.

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Unofficial Beijing Olympic merchandise

    Remember the How China got its Olympic logo image that was previously mentioned on the blog?

    Now, via Amused Cynicism blog, we have another politically pointed image highlighting the collective media amnesia surrounding the current Olympic Games being held in a country with a Government that has a bronze medal attitude when it comes to such trifles as free speech, labour rights, human rights etc etc.

    However, this time, it's an image that you can put on a T Shirt or your commemorative tea towel. In fact, Amused Cynic blog specifically came up with the idea of the image for that expressed purpose:

    On the matter of the Olympics itself, I guess I might do what I usually do when it comes to half-watching the Olympics: try and catch a bit of the athletics, the boxing and final of the football but what with the football season starting this weekend I know the wall to wall coverage on US TV will probably pass me by.

    Who needs Michael Phelps and LeBron James when it's Bolton Wanderers versus Stoke City next weekend?

    For a more considered political take on the Beijing Olympics, check out Dave Zirin's recent 'China's Olympic Trials' article from his Edge of Sports website.

    Bhoy Keano and Thaksin's mercenaries

    Continuing on with the Guardian's preview of the upcoming English Premier League:

  • Liverpool
  • Man City
  • Twinning Baltimore with Basildon

    I haven't posted an mp3 (for sampling purposes) in a while, but this one caught my ear when I stumbled across it recently:

  • Charli Baltimore - 'Lose It' mp3
  • Philadelphia rapper Charli Baltimore, working with Producer Scott Storch, samples Yaz(oo)'s 1982 US dance number one, 'Situation', for a radical reworking of what was Alf and Vince's biggest hit Stateside.

    RED ALERT: The lyrics are a bit risque. (Put it this way; I can't see Alison Moyet doing a cover of the 'cover') but, for all that, it's still a hundred times better than the recent Hercules And Love Affair remix of 'Situation' on the Reconnected EP and, I'm guessing, that this is the toned down PG version of the track.

    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    August 9, 1938 . . . August 9, 2008

    The people behind the Orwell Prize have hit upon the bright idea of publishing Orwell's diaries in blog form.

    The first entry, from this day seventy years ago, finds Orwell back in Britain after his experiences in Spain. He's convalescing in a sanatorium in Kent where he and his dog- which goes by the name of Marx - discover a large snake in the grounds.

    All I can I say is that that snippet of information is eerily uncanny because, on August 9. 2008, our Boston Terrier - who goes by the name of Martov - decided to puke his dinner up all over Kara's snake-like pregnancy pillow. It took me all of SIDE A of Martin Newell's 1993 classic, 'The Greatest Living Englishman', to put the bastard cover back on the pillow after putting it through the hot wash.

    Be sure to check out the Orwell Diaries each and every day as they are published, and look on in wonderment as every shade of the political blogosphere decided to claim as Eric Arthur Blair as one of their own.

    Martov? Put it this way: if the wee git pukes up on our bedding and pillows again, he's going in the dog crate of history.

    Mixing Pop and Politics (12)

    Obscure Factoid of the Day

    Blogger's dilemma.

    Which name will generate the more random google hits: Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus? And what happens if I throw in Billy Ray Cyrus and Disney's High School musical for good measure? (Nothing, except the fact that it renders this post as something that has just jumped a hundred yards past the shark.)

    Back to the matter at hand. The obscure mixing pop and politics factoid of the day is that Miley Cyrus's paternal grandfather, Ron Cyrus, was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Kentucky AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO? The American version of the TUC.

    Granted the factoid is not as obscure or hipsterish as the previous disclosure on the blog about Beck and the ILGWU, but that's only because Miley isn't as obscure as Beck.

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    'Your name's not on the guestlist, your book is not getting in'

    Funny incident recounted by 'PaulOK' over at Urban 75's UK politics, current affairs and news forum:

    Anybody read Steel's new book, "What's Going On?"

    Supposedly he gives a real literary kicking to his former comrades in the SWP?

    I popped into Bookmarks near Tottenham Court Road yesterday and asked the assistant if she had it in stock. She looked at me as if I was something stuck to her shoe before answering "No, We haven't nor will we be getting it"!.

    Looks like Steel is now an "un-person"

    Guess it's Amazon.

    There's an extract of the book over here at The Independent. I loved Reasons To Be Cheerful but, if the extract is anything to go by, his new book looks a bit more sombre. Maybe it's just extract selected. I'll have to see if I can get a copy of the book itself.

    The toffeemen and the diddymen

    Jose Baxter? Love the name, but the bloke's from Bootle!

  • Chelsea
  • Everton
  • The Guardian thinks that Chelsea will end the season as champions. They won't even finish in the top three.

    Mediafire Marxian Socialism

    Still looking for a couple of the Coleman 'Socialist Thinkers Series' talks to repost but, in the meantime, I've been pleasantly surprised so far by the response to the posting of the Socialist Audio Files:

    And at least it tides me over whilst I continue to be in the midst of the current bloggers block.

    Damn, too far down the line to just go ahead and delete the blog. Not too far gone that I can consider submitting the blog to the Smithsonian Institute for preservation for future posterity.

    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Padding out the entourage at Ewood Park

    News just in: Kevin Dillon has signed for Blackburn Rovers.

    At the time of posting, Matt Dillon was unavailable for comment.

    Special K

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (58)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 58th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1316 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Poles Apart? - The Arctic, Capitalism and Global Warming
  • The Curse of Money
  • History as mystery
  • Quote for the week:

    "Et non dicatis aliquid proprium, sed sint vobis omnia communia": 'Call nothing your own, but let everything be yours in common'. [St. Augustine, ca. 400AD.]

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    The Great Profundo and other stories by Bernard MacLaverty (Penguin Books 1987)

    After I had finished my first painting under his direction he went up to it and looked all over its surface from six inches. He nodded with approval.
    'I'll call you my drapery man.'


    'An eighteenth-century caper. Portrait painters got a man in to do the time-consuming bits - the lace and the satin stuff. The best of them was Vanaken. Hogarth drew this man's funeral with all the best painters in London behind the coffin weeping and gnashing their teeth.'
    [From 'The Drapery Man']

    Sunday, August 03, 2008

    Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Critique of Religion

    Quick, no one's looking. Delete that best of James Blunt playlist from your iPod and upload Steve Coleman's two part talk on Karl Kautsky's Critique of Religion:

    First Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Critique of Religion

    FILE NAME: 02 Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Critique of Religion.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~46.17 megabytes


    Second Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Critique of Religion

    FILE NAME: 03 Karl Kautsky and the Socialist Critique of Religion Part 2.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~51.61 megabytes

    LENGTH: 56:01

    Further Reading on Karl Kautsky:

  • Kautsky on the Marxist Internet Archive
  • William Morris's Vision of Socialism

    Another bit of flagrant cut and paste from the blog archive.

    Another talk from the 1982 'Socialist Thinkers – People Who History Made' lecture series.

    According to the Socialist Standard of the time, the talk dates from Sunday 12 December 1982, and was held at the Prince Albert pub in Kings Cross, London.

    First Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: William Morris's Vision of Socialism

    FILE NAME: 02 william morris Part 1.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~60.58 megabytes


    Second Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: William Morris's Vision of Socialism

    FILE NAME: 03 William Morris Part 2.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~50.57 megabytes

    LENGTH: 54:54

    Further Reading on William Morris:

  • William Morris on the Marxist Internet Archive
  • The William Morris Society
  • William Morris: Life and Times (From the Socialist Standard, 1984)
  • Morris and the Problem of Reform or Revolution (From the Socialist Standard, 1984)
  • Art, Labour & Socialism by William Morris . . . With a Modern Assessment (SPGB pamphlet from 1962.)
  • Joseph Dietzgen and Dialectical Thought

    Cutting and pasting like the best of them.

    Another talk from the 1982 'Socialist Thinkers – People Who History Made' lecture series and, again, the speaker is Steve Coleman:

    First Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: Dietzgen and Dialectical Thought

    FILE NAME: 01 Steve Coleman Dietzgen Part One.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~53.24 megabytes


    Second Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: Dietzgen and Dialectical Thought

    FILE NAME: 01 Dietzgen Part Two.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~48.46 megabytes

    LENGTH: 52:36

    Further Reading on Dietzgen:

  • Jospeh Dietzgen page on the Marxist Internet Archive website
  • 'Joseph Dietzgen - The Workers Philosopher' by Adam Buick, which originally appeared in the journal, Radical Philosophy (1975).
  • Centenary Of Joseph Dieztgen by Frank Roberts, which originally appeared in the OBU Bulletin (1928).
  • 'Cosmic Dialectics, The Libertarian Philosophy of Joseph Dietzgen' by Larry Gambone

    Saturday, August 02, 2008

    Get Carter (1971)

    Top 100 Book Meme

    AVPS Phil has passed on the following book meme to me. These book memes always kill me because it only goes to confirm my long held suspicion that I haven't read nearly as many 'classics' in this life as I should have.

    The sticking point for this particular meme is that a lot of the books listed are books that you've supposed to have read as a child, and I only really got into the habit of seriously reading novels when I first went to Lancaster and discovered that I didn't have a TV in my room. The other things that bites is that there are five or six authors in the 100 who I have read, but not the book that is included on the list.

    Phil provides the following blurb with the meme:

    “The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
    1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.

    2) Italicize those you intend to read.

    3) Underline the books you love.

    4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.

    5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them

    I would add that 'read' means read, not flicked through or given up half way to the end. It's cover to cover or nothing.

    Here goes:

    1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

    2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

    3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

    4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling (I've read the first book in the series. Cut me some slack.)

    5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

    6 The Bible

    7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

    8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

    9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (Again, I've read one and a half books of Pullman's trilogy.)

    10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

    11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

    12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

    13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

    14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

    15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

    16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

    17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

    18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

    19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

    20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

    21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

    22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

    23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

    24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

    25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

    26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

    27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

    29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

    30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

    31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

    32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

    33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

    34 Emma - Jane Austen

    35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

    36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

    37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

    38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

    39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

    40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

    41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

    42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

    43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

    45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

    46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

    47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

    48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

    49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

    50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

    51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

    52 Dune - Frank Herbert

    53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

    54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

    55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

    56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

    58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

    59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

    60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

    62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

    63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

    64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

    65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

    66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

    67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

    68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding

    69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

    70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

    71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

    72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

    73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

    74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

    75 Ulysses - James Joyce

    76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

    77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

    78 Germinal - Emile Zola

    79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

    80 Possession - AS Byatt

    81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

    82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

    83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

    84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

    85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

    86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

    87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White

    88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

    89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

    91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

    92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

    93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

    94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

    95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

    96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

    97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

    98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

    99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

    100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

    I guess 16/100 isn't too bad. Not too bright either. Phil snaffled the meme from a Liberal Democrat, and one of her blogging mates had the following red letter day when he took the meme. It's amazing what one can achieve in life when you don't have broadband.

    I'm happy to pass the meme onto anyone out there who wants to take it. I won't name names (but if Sarah Silverman is looking in, it would be a pleasure and an honour if you picked up the blog meme baton) but do let me know if you do take the meme. Don't let me know if you read more than thirty of the books listed.

    Belfort Bax and the "Ethics of Socialism"

    I've decided to repost the Socialist Thinkers Series on the blog via mediafire filesharing service. Same deal as the recently reposted audio lecture, 'The Historical Place of the SPGB'; a lot of the old ZShare links are dead and I much prefer uploading mp3s via mediafire. Less hassle all round.

    I won't mess you about with the whole posting one lecture a day on the blog like I did with Hardy's economics lectures. If I've got the talks on the computer, I'll repost them as quickly as I can.

    There's no rhyme or reason as to why I've opted to post the Belfort Bax talk first, other than the fact it is the closest talk to hand.

    For more background info on Bax and the talk, I've previously blurbed about both over here.

    First Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: Belfort Bax and the "Ethics of Socialism"

    FILE NAME: 02 Belfort Bax and the Ethics of Socialism Part 1.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~59.47 megabytes


    Second Part

    DOWNLOAD LINK: Belfort Bax and the "Ethics of Socialism"

    FILE NAME: 01 Belfort Bax and the Ethics of Socialism part 2.mp3

    FILE SIZE: ~41.88 megabytes

    LENGTH: 56:01