Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mixing Pop and Politics (13)

Obscure Factoid of the Day

Haven't done one of these for a while.

Taking the wee one to the Doctors' last night for his flu shot meant that I missed Wayne Price's meeting on his new book, Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution?, at Bluestockings bookstore but, just this minute looking at the website for NEFAC, I couldn't help but notice that I've seen that image of the bloke with the black flag before.

Looks like someone in the NEFAC has a penchant for early eighties leftfield electro-pop. If I'm not mistaken that image is Fad Gadget's Under The Flag album cover. I wonder if it was Frank Tovey's 1989 album, 'Tyranny And The Hired Hand', that swung it for the anarcho-webmaster?

Whatever the case; excellent taste in music. Have a T shirt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's just not cricket!

This is hilarious.

If there was ever a case where the Daily Fail earns its nickname, this article must be it.

Daily Mail journalists Kate Loveys and Eleanor Harding - got to give them a namecheck in the hope they google their own names - sex up the threat of the tomorrow's impending student walkouts with the revelation that the ICC ARE INVOLVED!!!! (An exclamation mark for each member of the ICC.)

Yep, Eleanor and/or Kate must have attended a recent student organising event in London, picked up an ICC leaflet and decided to run with the red scare story that impressionable students with legitimate concerns are being manipulated by a shadowy organisation with links to the historical bunfight that was Paris '68. Suburban parents choke on their morning cornflakes as they discover that Tarquin and Jemima's strings are being pulled by an organisation called International - that must mean swarthy foreigners are involved - Communist - a sealed train is travelling down to Esher and it's Bordiga on board - Current - it's happening NOW!!!!

In response, the ICC cancel cadre activity for tomorrow. They have to now totally rewrite December's World Revolution to include a four page response to this attack by the bourgeois press; call an international plenum - make sure to send out an invite to that bloke in Venezuela and to their pole of regroupment in East Asia - to discuss the burning question of whether or not having a picture to accompany the article is a concession to Centrism; and, finally, issue a complaint to both the PCC - this lot, not that lot - and the National Union Students for Aaron Porter's suggestion in the article that students are "‘aligning themselves with anarchists’.

The ICC's complaint will be turned down by the Press Complaints Commission's chair, Baroness Buscombe, whose pithy response will be, 'If you will insist on sniffing around the Anarchist Bookfair year after year after year, you can't really complain when people mistake you for members of the Solidarity Federation.'

Hat tip to Tendance Coatesy, who got the story from Entdinglichung.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bad Amkra

I think I must have murdered a scrabble player in a past life.

Zoo Station by Ian Walker (Abacus 1987)

P. 27-28

Walking to the party. Tommy was describing a gig he had recently attended at the Church of Our Saviour in Rummelsburg, a few miles away. Gigs in churches were always unofficial, advertised by word-of-mouth only. Although the security police never arrested anyone inside the church grounds, there were always plenty of Staasis at such events, mingling with the audience and maybe taking photographs.

'In the front row of pews there were about twenty Staasis,' said Tommy, 'You know how they always stick out a mile in their tight white T-shirts and moustaches? Well there was this group playing a mixture of R & B and soul and one of the Staasis got really into it, jumping up and down and singing along. The other cops kept trying to restrain him, but eventually they had to escort him from the church.'

P. 319-320

I thought about the nightshift, the international community of nightshifts, all the metropolitan people toiling at nights to earn enough money for the basics plus one annual family holiday and maybe a car and some new furniture now and again if they were lucky. The driver had asked what freedom was. What was freedom for the nightshift? What was freedom for the women nightcleaners vacuuming office blocks in cities all across the west? The freedom to work all night and wait for the bus home at dawn? The freedom to fix breakfast and get the children off to school? The freedom to clean up the house and maybe catch a few hours' sleep before the children came home for their tea? The freedom to wait again for the bus that will return them to the deserted empires of the company headquarters that must be spick-and-span by morning for all the secretaries, clerks, accountants, PR people, designers, marketing and personnel managers, salesmen, lawyers and company directors, especially the place must be spick-and-span for the company directors, for all these armies of people busy making and selling useless things for fun and profit, the freedom to be part of this grand design? The freedom to enter polling booths, to inscribe twelve crosses during the course of a voting lifetime? I was thinking that people like the driver of this Trabant, people anywhere working on the nightshift, had neither the energy nor the inclination for silent bicycle protests of the kind described by the graphic designer of Köpenick. East and west, the same kind of people did these things. Dissent was also a kind of luxury. The driver of the Schwarzetaxi didn't give a fuck about freedom.

He would have felt out of place at the party in Köpenick. I had felt at home there. There was an international community of big-shots, of dissenters, of nightshift workers, all these little western worlds and eastern worlds holding up clean mirrors to each other. Big-shots in West Berlin lived in Dahlem. Big-shots in East Berlin lived in the suburb nicknamed Volvograd. Big-shots in West Berlin were capitalists. Big-shots in East Berlin were communists. Big-shots said we and spoke for all their nation. I felt drained and drunk. I wanted to shout things from the rooftops, but the things got so complicated and the words just blew around like dust in the wind.

What can I say; a writer I love so much that I had to inscribe two passages rather than the usual one for a book just (re)read to give you a flavour of his humour, humanity and sense of anger at the injustice of the world. For the millionth time on the blog, I'll recommend the following articles by Walker that originally appeared in the pages of the New Society magazine:

  • Anarchy in the UK
  • Skinheads: the cult of trouble
  • Also check out the comments on this old blog post which gives more background on Walker.

    The Card (1952)

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    "What's Wrong With Using Parliament?"

    Via the SPGB's MeetUp Page:

    Saturday, 20th November 5pm.

    Official launch of The Socialist Party's latest publication:

    "What's Wrong With Using Parliament?",

    with an introduction by Stair.

    "Stair has had a long interest and involvement with what he may have described at one time as "anti-authoritarian politics".

    Housmans was one of the destinations he had on his agenda pre-internet on numerous trips to London when further exploring these ideas.

    His employment meant he did his "time" in the "retail and service sector" and will talk about his experience of the attitudes and positions of his fellow workers and how some of these observations tie into the question of "how we get from here to there", a classless, wageless, moneyless, stateless society.

    This pamphlet comes at a time when many people are questioning the destructive effects of capitalism and also with it a rejection of leaders and the traditional left. This is something that can be encouraged. The aim of the pamphlet is to show that there is another view of social change that may be a "blind spot" with those who get involved with "anti-capitalist", "activist" or/and "anarchist" politics".

    Location: Housmans Bookshop

    5 Caledonian Road,

    Kings Cross,

    London N1 9DX

    The Coca-Cola Kid (1985)

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    If I was in London right now . . .

    . . . I'd be attending this meeting:

    Talk on Politics & Song

    Wednesday, November 10

    Time: 7:00pm - 9:30pm

    Location: Housmans Bookshop

    5 Caledonian Road - Kings Cross

    "Starting out writing satirical comedy songs for BBC’s ‘That Was the Week That Was’, Leon Rosselson has branched into different music genres and experimented with multiple influences.

    His songs are loved by many, his innumerable fans include Billy Bragg and Dick Gaughan, who have both recorded his most famous song, ‘The World Turned Upside Down’. Described by Record Collector magazine as defining the ‘power, musical eloquence and history of politicised song’, his songs seek to challenge received opinion.

    Both as a singer and demonstrator, Leon Rosselson has inspired many to the political cause. An internationalist, he believes in the fight for justice, equality, and civil liberties, seen in his biting ‘Ballad of a Spycatcher’, ridiculing the Thatcher government’s censorship of the book. One of his most recent albums, ‘The Last Chance’ donates all proceeds to Medical Aid for Palestinians.

    Leon Rosselson discusses his politics and music at Housmans, and will make a brief performance of some of his songs."

    Rosselson's voice is an acquired taste but he's got to be one of the political songwriters of the past forty years. If you've not heard his material, YouTube Dick Gaughan singing Rosselson's songs for a real treat.

    Here's one to be going on with:

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Mr Alfred M.A. by George Friel (Calder & Boyars 1972)

    He saw a new rash break out on the scarred face of the city. Wherever the name of a gang was scribbled the words YA BASS was added. The application of the phrase caused some dispute at first. Nobody doubted YA BASS meant YOU BASTARDS. But the grammarians who discussed it were undecided about its vocative or apostrophic use. Some said COGS YA BASS meant O COGS! YOU ARE BASTARDS! Others said it meant WE ARE THE COGS, O YOU BASTARDS! A fifteen-year-old boy charged with assault and breach of the peace, and also with daubing TONGS YA BASS on a bus-shelter, said in court that YA BASS was an Italian phrase meaning FOR EVER. But the sheriff didn't believe him.

    Some of the intelligentsia seemed to believe him.

    Following a fashion, as the intelligentsia often do, they wrote the names of miscellaneous culture-heroes in public places and added YA BASS. Thus soon after the original examples of COGS YA BASS, TOI YA BASS, TONGS YA BASS, FLEET YA BASS, and so on, which were plastered all over the districts where those gangs lived, a secondary epidemic occurred on certain sites only. SHELLEY YA BASS suddenly appeared in the basement of the University Union. In a public convenience near the Mitchell Library MARX YA BASS was scrawled in one hand, LENIN YA BASS in another, and TROTSKY YA BASS in a third. When The Caretaker was put on at the King's Theatre PINTER YA BASS was pencilled on a poster in the foyer. BECKETT YA BASS, later and more familiarly SAM YA BASS, was scribbled on the wall of a public-house urinal near the Citizens' Theatre the week Happy Days was on. When the same theatre presented Ghosts somebody managed to write IBSEN YA BASS in large capitals on the staircase to the dress-circle.

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    The Man Who Killed Himself by Julian Symons (Penguin Crime 1967)

    In the end Arthur Brownjohn killed himself, but in the beginning he made up his mind to murder his wife. He did so on the day that Major Easonby Mellon met Patricia Parker. Others might have come to such a decision earlier, but Arthur Brownjohn was a patient and, as all those who knew him agreed, a timid and long-suffering man. When people say that a man is long-suffering they mean that they see no reason why he should not suffer for ever.