Monday, August 31, 2009

Tepper Isn't Going Out by Calvin Trillin (Random House 2001)

"I wouldn't have thought you were a reader of the East Village Rag." Tepper said. "Is there something I've missed about you all these years?"

My niece sent it to me," Gordon said. "She lives on Rivington Street. I don't know if that's included in what they call the East Village. We still call it the Lower East Side. You don't even want to know what she paid for the apartment. A co-op. A co-op on Rivington Street! I told her that her great-grandparents worked sixteen hours a day just to get out of Rivington Street. What was cooperative about those buildings when they lived in them was the bathroom. Now whatever miserable cold-water flat my grandparents lived in has probably been made into a co-op. For all we know, that may be her co-op. She may be paying thousands to live in the place her great-grandparents worked themselves to death so their children wouldn't have to live in. What a city."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Obama's the wrong sort of socialist

Obama is the third period?

An 'American patriot' tells it like it is about living under the jackboot of Obama's First Reich.

As recommended by nine out of ten LaRouchians who click on the 'Obama is literally Hitler' website every morning before they pour kool aid on their Special K.

Hat tip to Carlos over at F/B.

Ready to sleep

Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 113

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 113th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

We now have 1528 friends!

Recent blogs:

  • Message for filesharers
  • Goodbye Mr Socialism
  • Politics is too important to leave to politicians
  • Quote for the week:

    " .....a schoolmaster is a productive labourer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a sausage factory, does not alter the relation... " Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 16, (1867).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    > Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Socialist Meeting in London: Marx, Myth and Money

    The Socialist Party


    Marx, Myth and Money

    Speaker: Pat Deutz

    Saturday, August 29th


    The Socialist Party Head Office,

    52 Clapham High Street,

    London SW4 7UN.

    (nearest tubes: Clapham North and Clapham Common.)

    Website: SPGB


    Socialism Or Your Money Back Blog

    Silent Scream

    A quick word to all the music bloggers out there:

    Please stop posting links to - what looks like brilliant - Spotify playlists when you know that some of us are turned away from the door because of our country of residence.

    Step forward the latest culprit, You're killing me, people.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi (Scribner 1995)

    Brownlow went on with his packing but kept stopping to look at Shahid - who was turning the aubergine in his hand - like he wanted to say something. "The thing is, this religion - the superstitions, cults, forms of worship, prayers - some are beautiful, some interesting, all have their purposes. But who'd have imagined they'd survive rationalism? Yet just when you thought God was dead and buried, you realize he was merely awaiting resurrection! Every fucker's discovering some God inside them now. And who am I to challenge this?"

    "Exactly. I'd say you're just a weak bastard, Dr. Brownlow."

    "Thank you. Are they the fools or am I the fool? Where does that leave me?"

    Where could it leave you?"

    "Because, because, you i-idiot, everything I believed has turned into shit. There we were, right up to the end of the seventies, arguing about society after the r-revolution, the nature of the dialectic, the meaning of history. And all the while, as we debated in our journals, it was being taken from us. The British people didn't want e-education, housing, the a-arts, justice, equality . . . "

    "Why's that?"

    Because they're a bunch of fucking greedy, myopic c-cunts."

    "The working class?"


    "A bunch of cunts?"

    "Yes!" Brownlow struggled to contain himself. "No, no, it's more complicated. Very complicated." He was sobbing. "I can't say they've betrayed us - though I think it, I do! It's not true, not true! They've b-b-betrayed themselves!"

    He untucked his shirt and wiped it across his drenched face. He threw down his hands, put his head back and, with his lips quivering, angled his thinker's forehead at the ceiling.

    "C-c-cut my throat. Please. Lost in more than my fortieth year - no direction home! End me before things get w-w-w-worse!"

    Shahid leapt up and rushed to the window. Thinking he'd heard Chad coughing, he concealed himself behind the dusty curtain and peered outside.

    "You don't have to plead, Brownlow, the throat-cutters are checking the address right now. They'll be coming up the front path. If you stay in that position, redemption will be on the way!"

    Shahid could see no one. But it was dark, and if his enemies did reach him, he'd be trapped here; and Brownlow gibbering like Gogol's madman awaiting the straitjacket, would hardly provide cover.

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Another late night

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 112

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 112th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1527 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Unholy Wars
  • The Rise and Fall of the NHS
  • Parecon or socialism?
  • Quote for the week:

    "All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind." Aristotle, (384 BC-322 BC).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    I like this . . .

    . . . even though it's got bugger all to do with my version of the S-word:

    Q: If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would it be?

    A: Socialism.

    [From Alan Cumming's Q & A in today's (tomorrow for some of us) Guardian.]

    Did Trotsky Point the Way to Socialism?

    Two part video of a debate between Adam Buick of The Socialist Party and Hillel Ticktin, editor of the Critique Journal, from January of this year.

    The debate took place in Hillhead Public Library in Glasgow on the question of 'Did Trotsky Point the Way to Socialism? Ticktin was arguing in the affirmative with Buick taking the opposing view:

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Socialist Meeting in Glasgow: Why the SNP Must Fail

    Glasgow Branch of the Socialist Party


    Why the SNP Must Fail

    Speaker: Vic Vanni

    In his talk the speaker will look at the birth of the SNP and why it’s nickname was "The Tartan Tories” and he will explain how the SNP was transformed from the mere handful it had been until the late 1950s to the major political force it is in Scotland today.

    The speaker will also look at the conflict which raged in the SNP for decades between the traditionalists and the pragmatists and why the triumph of the latter paved the way for this rags-to-riches transformation.

    The SNP can hardly wait for the next General Election when it expects to make the substantial gains, probably at the expense of Labour, which it hopes will be a major step towards their goal of a fully independent Scotland.

    Could this happen at some point in the future and would it be in the interests of the working class in Scotland if it did?

    Wednesday, August 19th


    Community Central Halls,

    304 Maryhill Road.

    Website: Glasgow Branch of the SPGB


    Socialist Courier Blog

    Can I tell you how much I hate you in 140 characters or less?

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 111

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 111th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1522 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Then and Now - The Penny Drops
  • The call of the patriot
  • The crisis: an open letter to trade unionists
  • Quote for the week:

    ..It doesn't matter if you're black or white, the only color that really matters is green...MacFarlane, Zuckerman, Calaghan, Family Guy, (1999+).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Hannibal Buress . . . remember this guy's name

    Give yourself a treat and watch this clip of stand up, Hannibal Buress, from Jimmy Fallon's talk show from a few days back. I haven't laughed so much in the longest time, and if you don't get a kick out of the apple juice routine, then I have a few 'How I Met Your Mother' dvd's that I'd like to sell to you.

    Never heard of him before, but he's going to be big.

    *Apologies for you having to sit through the 30 second advert before the routine kicks in but I couldn't find the clip on YouTube. By way of compensation, here's another clip of Hannibal Buress from the Comix Comedy Club, NYC from July of this year. A lot of its the same routine from the Jimmy Fallon show but stay with it as he diverts into different material in the second part of the routine. Funny, funny stuff.

    Do They Mean Us? #19

    Has it really been 14 months? Wee Owen has a lot to answer for.

    The unexpected return of an occasional series on the blog which was prompted by this recent post on the SPGB discussion list:

    "I've been reading Ken MacLeod's novel The Night Sessions. It's a near-future thriller where religion is marginalised but fundamentalists plan violent resistance. At one point, a document is quoted as follows:
    'The Congregation of the Third Covenant, therefore, calls upon the true Protestant Church and People of Scotland and the other Revolution States ... to muster under its banner, and to wage war upon the apostate Churches ... '
    Wonder where he got some of the phraseology from.

    Longstanding readers of the blog will know that Mr MacLeod is a friendly critic of the Party, which makes a nice change. (The friendly bit, I mean.)

    And the SPGB as inspiration for some fictionalised 'Wee Free'ers'? Why not. Wasn't the first ever SPGB branch in Scotland in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire in around about 1909/1910 period? We both have enough dourness to spare.

    Hat tip to PB for the Ken MacLeod spot.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Socialist Meeting in Toronto: Socialism as a Practical Alternative

    The Socialist Party of Canada


    Socialism as a Practical Alternative

    A discussion on the problems of society and how to solve them.

    Saturday, August 22nd

    2:00pm - 4:00pm

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge (just north of Bloor)

    Website: The Socialist Party of Canada


    The Socialist Party of Canada on MySpace

    The Socialist Party of Canada on Facebook

    Saturday, August 08, 2009

    Sick as 25,000 canaries

    A quick add-on to the bloodbath that occurred at Carrow Road today.

    SC over on Facebook picked out this gem of a quote from yesterday's Guardian:

    John Ashdown, predicting promotion in yesterday's Guardian: "Norwich look the strongest of the relegated teams despite the departures of Lee Croft and Sammy Clingan. Bryan Gunn's squad is full of players who have impressed at this level before and, with 25,000 expected at Carrow Road tomorrow, optimism doesn't seem in short supply. Question marks still hang over Gunn's ability in the dug out, however." (Quoted here.) Time to revisit that assessment.

    Looking at this picture below that I snaffled from the BBC Sports website, it looks like a couple of Norwich fans want to discuss that question mark (and a few stars) with Bryn Gunn personally.

    Have you noticed that the riled up fans who get pissed off and want to invade the pitch to have a one on one with managers, players, referees etc, etc are never the fans wearing the replica tops?

    Canaries on life support

    Norwich City 1 - 7 Colchester Utd

    I absolutely love the start of the season when it throws up results like this. All that pre-season optimism going out the window quicker than you can say, 'Wes Hoolahan: crazy name, crazy mad bastard for signing for Norwich'.

    Poor bastards. Nobody saw that coming, and if I was a Norwich fan I would be dreading what could be a very drawn out season. Ian Gibson got out not a moment too soon. (There's already rumours doing the rounds that Bryn Gunn has contacted the Daily Telegraph to say that he's admitting to submitting false expenses claims. He's been claiming a salary for managing Norwich.)

    Some of us are old enough to remember the ghost of opening seasons past. If only Norwich still had the goalkeeper that they had that glorious day.

    Friday, August 07, 2009

    Celtic and Arsenal*

    I knew it was coming - in that way that if you spout enough gibberished predictions in life some of them will occasionally come true - and it's definitely the match of the round, so all eyes will be on Celtic.

    Well, most eyes: My eyes will be on the bloke pictured below. I fear he's going to run rampant.

    *One of my more mundane post titles on the blog, I'll think you'll agree.

    Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley (Harper Perennial 1994)

    The Captain snorted into his snifter. "You know, your generation of tobacco men - and women, I'm always forgetting to add 'and women' - think they have it harder than any generation who came before. You think it all began in nineteen fifty-two. Well, puh!"


    "It's been going on for almost five hundred years. Does the name Rodrigo de Jerez mean anything to you?" Nick shook his head. "No, I suppose it doesn't. I suppose they don't teach history in the schools anymore, just attitude. Well, for your information, sir, Rodrigo de Jerez went ashore with Christopher Columbus. And he watched the natives 'drink smoke', as he put it, with their pipes. He brought tobacco back to the Old World with him. Sang its praises high to the frescoed ceilings. Do you know what happened to him? The Spanish Inquisition put him in jail for it. They said it was a 'devilish habit'. You think you have it bad having to deal with the Federal Tobacco Commission? How would you like to have to state your case before the Spanish Inquisition?"

    "Well . . . ."

    "You bet you would not. Remember that name, Rodrigo de Jerez. You're walking in his footsteps. He was the first tobacco spokesman.. I sppose he, too, found it 'challenging.'"

    "Uh . . . "

    Thursday, August 06, 2009

    John Hughes Montage

    Nice reprise of John Hughes best films from the eighties. Not a Curly Sue in sight.

    I guess that Breakfast Club sequel will never be made after all.

    'Lancaster Branch weren't expecting any visitors to the Branch business meeting that night . . . '

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 110

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 110th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1521 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • The power behind the shame
  • Capital, science fiction and labour
  • Fat Cats: creaming off profits
  • Quote for the week:

    "Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has purchased of him." Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 10, (1867).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Wednesday, August 05, 2009

    'Felix Dzerzhinsky, your boys took one hell of a beating today.'

    I really wasn't expecting that. A very nice surprise and a very classy goal from Samaras.

    According to the BBC Report, Celtic could get the likes of Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Lyon, Stuttgart or Fiorentina in the next round and, as I'm not expecting Celtic to progress too far in the Champions League, I wouldn't mind them drawing one of the bigger clubs asap.

    Bring on the Gunners.

    Tuesday, August 04, 2009

    Nick Lowe once sang, 'I love my label'

    Probably the first and last time I will use this label on the blog:

    'Confusing the WRP for the RCG - we've all done it'

    Ian Rankin was in his mid-twenties and still a student at Edinburgh University when he wrote that passage. I'm guessing he was settling some old student union scores. The bloke would be a natural for writing guest posts for Harry's Place.

    Spam Factory

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 109

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 109th of our weekly every few minutes bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1522 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Politics of Apathy
  • Job-Seekers from the Isle of Sun and Poverty
  • The Right to be Lazy
  • Quote for the week:

    "Just as the chicken developing within the shell is compelled as a condition of further existence and development to burst the shell which had till then served as a necessary condition of further growth, so the working-class will sooner or later become conscious of this hindrance to their development - become conscious that they are the only useful class and progressive force in Society - conscious that they are potentially, the Society of the Future..." TA Jackson, Socialist Standard, (1906).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    I've been slacking (B-sides and early demos)

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain 108

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 108th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1524 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Oscar Wilde: the soul of man under socialism
  • The New Scramble for Africa
  • Ordinary people
  • Quote for the week:

    " ..The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it..." Oscar Wilde, The soul of man under Socialism (1895).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    I've been slacking (vol II)

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (107)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 107th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1525 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • The theory of capitalist crisis
  • The Fetishism of Money
  • Britain: An 'Endemic Surveillance Society'
  • Quote for the week:

    " is only as the workers learn that they are slaves, and clearly grasp that the essential factor in their emancipation is the control of political power, that they will build up the Socialist organisations, political and economic, necessary for the establishment of Socialism." Jack Fitzgerald (1872 - 1929), Socialist Standard, (1918).

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    I've been slacking

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (106)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 106th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1523 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Cartoon Karl
  • Who are the outsiders?
  • Who's afraid of the BNP?
  • Quote for the week:

    " my mind the unattractiveness of labour, which has been the necessary outcome of commercial industry, will have played a great part in this revolution; the price which commercialism will have to pay for depriving the worker of his share of art will be its own death." William Morris, Unattractive Labour, Commonweal, 1885.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Monday, August 03, 2009

    Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin (Orion 1987)

    'Fight Imperialism, fight Racism,'

    A young girl wearing a mock-leather coat and little round glasses stood behind Rebus. He turned to her. She had a collecting tin in one hand and a pile of newspapers in the other.

    'Fight Imperialism, fight Racism,'

    'So you said,' Even now he could feel the alcohol working on his jaw muscles, freeing them of stiffness. 'Who are you from?'

    'Workers Revolutionary Party. The only way to smash the Imperialist system is for the workers to unite and smash racism. Racism is the backbone of repression.'

    'Oh? Aren't you confusing two entirely different arguments there, love?'

    She bristled, but was ready to argue. They always were.

    'The two are inextricable. Capitalism was built on slave labour and is maintained by slave labour.'

    'You don't sound much like a slave, dear. Where did you get that accent? Cheltenham?'

    'My father was a slave to capitalist ideolgy. He didn't know what he was doing.'

    'You mean you went to an expensive school?'

    She was bristling now all right. Rebus lit a cigarette. He offered her one, but she shook her head. A capitalist product, he supposed, the leaves picked by slaves in South America. She was quite pretty though. Eighteen, nineteen. Funny Victorian shoes on, tight pointed little things. A long, straight black shirt. Black, the colour of dissent. He was all for dissent.

    'You're a student, I suppose?'

    'That's right,' she said, shuffling uncomfortably. She knew a buyer when she saw one. This was not a buyer.

    'Edinburgh University?'


    'Studying what?'

    'English and politics.'

    'English? Have you heard of a guy called Eiser? He teaches there.'

    She nodded.

    'He's an old fascist,' she said. 'His theory of reading is a piece of right-wing propaganda to pull the wool over the eyes of the proletariat.'

    Rebus nodded.

    'What was your party again?'

    'Workers Revolutionary.'

    'But you're a student, eh? Not a worker, not one of the proletariat either by the sound of you.' Her face was red, her eyes burning fire. Come the revolution, Rebus would be the first against the wall. But he had not yet played his trump card. 'So really, you're contravening the Trades Description Act, aren't you? Do you have a licence from the proper authority to collect money in that tin?'

    The tin was old, its old job-description torn from it. It was a plain, red cylinder, the kind used on poppy-day. But this was no poppy-day.

    'Are you a cop?'

    'Got it in one, love. Have you got a licence? I may have to pull you in otherwise.'

    'Fucking pig!'

    Feeling this was a fitting exit line, she turned from Rebus and walked to the door. Rebus, chuckling, finished his whisky. Poor girl. She would change. The idealism would vanish once she saw how hypocritical the whole games was, and what luxuries lay outside university. When she left, she'd want it all: the executive job in London, the flat, car, salary, wine-bar. She would chuck it all in for a slice of pie. But she wouldn't that just now. Now was for the reaction against upbringing. That was what university was about. They all thought they could change the world once they got away from their parents. Rebus had thought that too. He had thought to return home from the Army with a row of medals and a list of commendations, just to show them. It had not been that way, though . . .