Saturday, March 31, 2007

Liars A to E*

An A-Z of Marxism (A through E)

File under 'Classic Reprints', 'An ABC of Marxism' was written in the 1980s, and was originally intended as an introduction to socialist ideas in a simple and concise form.

I believe that the author of the text was 'Lew' - he writes under a pseudonym for the Socialist Standard, so I'll respect his privacy - and was proposed as a SPGB pamphlet, but the *cough* New Pamphlets Committee never got round to publishing it. Shame that, 'cos I think it's a canny idea.

Parts of the text were later reproduced in the excellent Socialist View, the journal of the World Socialist Party of Ireland in the mid to late eighties.

I've only put up A to E at this point 'cos the football's coming on the telly and it'll take ages to reproduce the full text. Further instalments to follow. (Before you ask, there are no entries for Chomsky, iPods or the Pussycat Dolls. Fingers crossed that they will be covered in any future updating of the text.)

In the meantime, I think it's best to reproduce below the foreward to the text so that will give you some flavour of the original project:

"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."

*Dexys Midnight Runners . . . beat that one Reidski

Friday, March 30, 2007

Getting Lippy Gets You Lifted Into The Liffey

From SPOPEN - the SPGB internet discussion list - comes a reminiscence from Richard Montague, a longstanding socialist activist in Belfast about the ups and downs of putting forward the case for socialism both North and South of the border fifty years ago. The anecdote stems from the news of the recent death of the comrade, Tony Fahy, who died in the past week:

Comrade Richard Montague has sent in the following recollection:

Tony and I were friends and comrades 50 and more years ago. We were both young and very enthusiastic having discovered dignity in the struggle for socialism. In Belfast, we thought it was difficult; we were frequently verbally abused and sometimes physically attacked by loyalists; in Dublin, it was the priests and their mindless followers who resisted the arguments for socialism with the threat and the reality of violence.

Dublin comrades invited Com Jack O'Kane and myself to do two meetings in Dublin one weekend. Saturday evening was the Boilermakers' Hall. We had a good crowd in attendance but not necessarily there for our good. A short time before this there had been a very violent general election for the Northern Ireland Parliament; the loyalists had been wound up by collections outside chapel doors in the south for those opposing the Unionists - indeed, money was so plentiful that they mistakenly offered to sponsor me to fight a Belfast seat!

Anyway, I spoke first in the Boilermakers' Hall and dealt with the behaviour of loyalists during the recent elections. "cowardly... afraid to listen... bitter opponents of democracy" etc. It created a very docile audience for Jack.

The meeting on the following day was to be an outdoor one at Middle Abbey Street/O'Connell Street corner. Our Dublin comrades had a tacit arrangement with the Communist Party, masquarading as the Worker's League; we shared the pitch on alternate weeks and this was not only our weekend but our comrades had let the whole of Dublin know with massive postering around the city. As we approached the pitch we were amazed at the turnout; there were literally thousands there to attend our meeting. Come on the Revolution! Here in the shade of the historic General Post Ofice where the renegade socialist Connolly had betrayed the cause for faith and motherland!

But the huge crowd were milling around a meeting in progress! The Commies had jumped our pitch and were addressing an audience intended for us. At the time we were angry; unaware of what the soviet patriots were shielding us from.

There were priests prominent in the crowd leading members of Catholic Action who had earlier distributed leaflets headed "CLEAN THE RED DIRT FROM YOUR UNIONS!" Prayers and swears were intermixed, fused into a frightening cacophony of righteous anger. The CP member on the platform was lifted bodily, part transported over heads and finally carried to the nearby O'Connoll Bridge and dropped into the Liffey.

Cowards that we were, some of our members quickly carried our platform in the opposite direction from the melee. The rest of us moved quietly now into the sated anger of the victorious crowd. We stood outside the window of The Irish Press offices and as the crowd thinned we protested the cowardly behaviour of those who had organised the riot against freedom of speech. Eventually Tony had a small but attentive audience who learnt the difference between socialism and totalitarian state-capitalism and none of us got wet.

Subsequently Tony and most the other Dublin members went to England and eventually Tony lapsed from the SPGB. Of one thing I am sure: he know too much to be silent and in or out of the Socialist Party he would have his say for socialism.

The news of his death brings bitter sweet memories but I remember him as a comrade who did his stint for a sane world.

For a further flavour of Cde Montague's reminiscences of politiking in times past in difficult circumstances, you can also check out the following article, 'Northern Ireland: Our First Electoral Campaign', that appeared in the June 2004 issue of the Socialist Standard.

I Can See An Old Joke From Here

Leftist Kult Kuts (V)

Aufheben magazine now has a MySpace page, which is a handy gateway to all their back issues online and to one of my better political MySpace jokes on the blog.

I still have high hopes that someone will eventually find it funny.

Political Weather Report

Leftist Kult Kuts (IV)

What with me being in the States, I haven't seen the programme under review but I can still appreciate a good piece a writing when I read it.

The Pathfinder column in next month's Socialist Standard carries Paddy Shannon's - the talking head in that video - review of Channel 4's 'The Great Global Warming Swindle' Swindle. I'm sure British readers of the blog will already have an opinion of the programme, and will know of the controversy surrounding the programme maker, Martin Durkin's, previous programme for Channel 4, 'Against Nature'.

However, the reason I'm mentioning a programme that I haven't seen on the blog is because of one of the comments that the review received when I posted it on the MySpace Socialist Standard page. 'The Commons Newspaper' wrote:

"I was wondering what this program was about as I live in the US. I received a call from some Larouche people inviting me to attend a showing of the film. Don't condemn me for putting my phone number on a war protest list I didn't know that Larouche was involved. Anyways I got a call and the first thing the person on the other end said was that "global warming is a conspiracy by corporations." This led to a twenty minute argument about how corporations have no interest in environmental control and that global warming is real. It seems that conspiracy theories do much more damage than good the "Holocaust Hoax" is gaining in the mainstream in addition to global warming and 9/11 conspiracies you have to believe visual and scientific evidence despite the negative implications not everyone is out to get us."

Not one for conspiracy theories myself, I still have to raise a smile at the thought of ex-Trots turned right-wing conspiracy theorists on one side of the pond using the material from a latter generation of ex-Trots turned right-wing conspiracy theorists on the other side of the pond, for their campaign purposes in proving to the rest of us that there are special interests at work behind the shadows. Furedi and LaRouche . . . now that's a dream team.

A Revolution of Two Halves

Leftist Kult Kuts (III)

I guess it's one for the knowledge corner of the footie section of the Guardian, but has there ever been any bona fide anarcho-footballers?

Every other day, someone finds the blog via a google search of 'Gary Neville' and 'socialism', and every leftist transpotter who has ever used his anorak for a makeshift goalpost knows about Jackie McNamara (sr) being a member of the old CPGB; Paul Breitner thinking the cultural revolution was more about Mao's bloodthirsty dictatorship than seventies Dutch 'total football'; Livorno's Cristiano Lucarelli being a fan of Che; and my piss poor attempt at trying to claim Tony Higgins for the SPGB (well, anyone who reads the blog), but any noted anarchist footballers?

I don't think so off the top of my head, though I'm sure someone will try and make a case for such front page/back page luminaries as Mickey Thomas, Stan Bowles or Ramon Quiroga as honorary anarchists but unless they can show me the receipts for their subscription to Freedom, I'll continue to peg them as the pisshead, the gambler and the cheat (mmm, sounds like the title of a Jimmy Webb song).

The best I can come up with is that I seem to remember that Eduardo Galeano mentioned something in his footie book, 'Soccer in Sun and Shadow', about Argentinos Juniors - Diego Maradona's* first club - originally being called the 'Chicago Martyrs', in honour of the anarchists framed, and then executed, in the aftermath of the 1886 Haymarket bombing but, christ, that was about a hundred years ago. A forgotten era of quorate SPGB branch meetings, Mugsborough and a slimline Chic Charnley making his debut for Third Lanark.

Therefore, it was a tonic to read of the anarchos/libertarian communists down in the south coast winning their recent footie grudge match against the local Brighton branch of the Millies. A 4-1 spanking, and that after the Red and White Taafite Army were 1-0 up at half time, which is surely a reversal of history in the relations between the anarchists and the bolsheviks?

The usual post-match analysis between these two sides chews over the fact that it's the 'meninblack' who make the running early on - Petrograd 1917; Barcelona 1936; Paris 1968; The Coronet Pub, Holloway Road 2003 - only for the vanguard to wear them down late on in the second half with their deft use of supersub(stitutionism) . . . placards, petitions and paper sales.

Does this mean that the Spanish anarchist team have finally found the stamina and 'bottle' to win the big tournaments? Or are they just 'homers'? Who, once they play away from home - Urban 75 noticeboards, Graduate Common Rooms, suburbia, shouty anarcho-punk gigs - will crumble quicker than you can sing,'You're going home in a class war ambulance'?

And whilst I'm on the subject of politics and footie, why are there so many Chelsea and Fulham fans in the SPGB?

So many questions, and yet I feel they will remain unanswered.

*Of course, Maradona is known for his Che Guevera tattoo on the bicep of his right arm. Sadly, it's not connected to the 'hand of god'.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

'You got on my Wik, Godber'*

Leftist Kult Kuts (II)

Absolutely love this.

The Sparts give both barrels to Wiki-Misledia in a splenetic article entitled, 'Wikipedia: A Million Monkeys Typing'. You have to stand in awe at an insult with the elan of:

" . . . What better habitat for the dregs of yesterday’s Spartacist-hating “Marxism” and “Trotskyism” Internet newsgroups, the kind of people who probably have not left their computers, bathed or seen sunlight in weeks?

Christ, with that sort of invective on display, you'd think Bob Black is now writing op-ed pieces for the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) press - I'll give them their proper title for once - but as someone on Leftist Trainspotters has suggested, all that has happened is that one of the many enemies that the Sparts have picked up on their political travels down these polemic strewn years has stolen a march on the vainest of the various vanguards, by penning the wiki entry on the Sparts. They at some point have tried to amend the entry, and found that they don't have the final word on the matter. Hence, the Sparts bursting a collective bloodvessel on the matter.

Knowing the Sparts, they are currently concocting a conspiracy theory that involves Jimmy Wales, the International Bolshevik Tendency and that SWP member who chaired a Stop the War meeting in Birmingham in 2005, and who didn't allow a Spartacist member ask a seven minute statement question from the floor.

Bugger that old chinese proverb of: “If a man sits on the bank of the river long enough, he will see the bodies of his enemies floating by.” That involves too much sitting around.

Just stand by the river with your laptop in hand, and pen your political enemy's wikipedia entry courtesy of some local free wifi. Sectarian revenge will be all the more sweeter for being so instant, and there's less likelihood of getting a bad case of the piles.

Hat tip to a spotter on Leftist Trainspotters.

*Godber as in Lenny, as in Norman Stanley Fletcher insulting said Lenny Godber in their prison cell, and as in giving me an opportunity to mention the Sparts and a classic seventies British sit-com** in the same blog entry.

** Nope, sorry, Citizen Smith doesn't count. That was a classic 'sit-con'. I've been to ICC meetings that had more laughs than your average episode of John Sullivan's overrated comedy.

I hate myself and I want to die.

Leftist Kult Kuts (I)

I have to reproduce this excellent joke that opens Mitchell Cohen's pamphlet/essay, '"What is to be Undone?" or, How to Spot a Vanguardist at Twenty Yards', which is number six in the Zen/Marxism series, as published by the Red Balloon Collective:

An incorrigible anarchist was on her deathbed when she'd announced that she'd become a marxist. Her affinity group was shocked! They spraypainted slogans all over her room, threw rocks through the windows, slamdanced to blasting MDC, and paraded around her bed with a black flag. Finally, one of her lovers asked: "After all these years and all we've been through, how could you become a marxist?"
"Well," said the turncoat, "my time is up. So I says to myself, if anyone's going to die, let it be one of them marxist bastards."

Hey, if I can pretend to laugh at myself and my politics - anarchistfuckingbastards - the least Mitchell Cohen can do is get his arse in gear and set up a website to put the Zen/Marxism series on the t'internet.

With other titles in the series such as 'What is the Existential Vacuum . . . & Does it Come with Attachments?'; 'Help, I'm Voting and I Can't Get Up!'; & 'Those Not Busy Being Born are Busy Dying', you know that he's got more ideas and wit whizzing round his brain than the average autonomous situationist anarcho-pacifico collective.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ticket to Ride

Gray over at Socialism Or Your Money Back blog reports on the case of some bright scamp in the campaigns dept of Sheridan's (a) Social Pariah deciding to nick the only brilliant campaign design idea that the SPGB has had in the last 103 years.

Left reformist nationalism aside, I'll give them kudos for their Wildean “Talent borrows. Genius steals.” style chutzpah. The original designer of the spoof rail ticket - Mike F. - got his due recognition when I mentioned his design classic a couple of years ago on the blog, and he should get the deferential nod once again.

Friday, March 23, 2007

At Last I Am Free

It's not been one of my more purple patches for blogging, but I thought I'd acknowledge the figure nonetheless.



From his wikipedia entry:

Recently the verb "Wyatting", named obviously after Robert Wyatt, appeared in some blogs and music magazines to describe the practice of using weird tracks from a pub jukebox to annoy the other pub goers. The name was coined by Carl Neville, a 36-year-old English teacher from London, because one of the favourites LPs for this effect is Dondestan.

Robert Wyatt was quoted in The Guardian: as saying "I think it's really funny," and "I'm very honoured at the idea of becoming a verb."[1] However, when asked if he would ever try it himself, he said "Oh no. I don't really like disconcerting people. Although often when I try to be normal I disconcert anyway."

Advanced western capitalist society is divided into two groups: those of us who recognise the brilliance of Robert Wyatt's voice, and the rest of you fuckers who will insist in selecting five Rolling Stones tracks on the pub jukebox.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday's Playlist #9

An ongoing series:

  • The The, 'This Is The Day' (Soul Mining)
  • Fad Gadget, 'The Box' (Fireside Favourites)
  • The Undertones, 'Hard Luck' (True Confessions - Singles = A's + B's)
  • Randy Nerve, 'Spray Paint'
  • Autokat, 'Shot'
  • The Violets, 'Seen It On TV'
  • The Yachts, 'Suffice To Say'
  • Kaiser Chiefs, 'Thank You Very Much' (Yours Truly, Angry Mob)
  • That Petrol Emotion, 'It's A Good Thing' (Children of Nuggets)
  • The Bitter Springs, 'Benny Hill's Wardrobe'
  • Thursday, March 15, 2007

    SPGB Talking Shop

    Just stumbled across this list on Wiki.

    Looks like some comrades have too much time on their hands. Shouldn't you be doing a paper sale, comrade? Only joking . . . maybe.

    From a quick glance through the list, I think I attended maybe six of the listed debates. I think the compiler missed out a debate the Party had with the AWL at the Lucas Arms in Kings Cross in '97. I remember Dave Flynn speaking for the SPGB but, for the life of me, I can't remember who the AWL speaker was.

    It was when I was a *cough* candidate member of the AWL and, if I remember rightly, I was half-cut quite early on and proceeded to make an intervention from the floor in favour of the SPGB. This resulted in leading AWL member, Tom Rigby - whatever happened to him? - sidling up to me and whispering in my ear: "You haven't psychologically broke from the SPGB, comrade." He may have been right 'cos after the meeting, I ended up getting the other half cut downstairs in the bar with old SPGB comrades.

    For some reason there always seemed to be a bit of needle at AWL/SPGB debates, and I'm not sure why. I think it was more from the AWL side. They seemed to encourage a culture of snottiness and high-handedness amongst their members. A 'less is more' approach to Trotskyist grandstanding that meant that part of their debating technique was to look down their collective noses at political opponents.

    The SPGB didn't get the worse of it. If the AWL cadre hated the capitalist class as much as they hated Socialist Action and Workers Power, the North London Poly Junior Common Room would have stormed the Alexandria Palace sometime around tea-time, October 1997.

    Should mention that Kara and I attended the Left Forum last weekend at Coopers Union in Manhattan. Really interesting event, once you get past the overpriced tickets - we got a free pass by volunteering for the event - and the academic jargon wafting through the air. Attended a couple of panel discussions that I found of interest, and if I can get off my lazy arse, I might blog about them. But in the meantime, Next Left Notes has some photos on its blog from the event. Enjoy.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Take hArt

    It's official: Banksy has entered the mainstream.

    Forget the artwork for the Blur album cover or him post-punking Paris, you know that he's made the leap from a EC1 coffee table to the dashboard of the white van man, when the Sun does a story on some of his early graffitti in his home city of Bristol being officially vandalised by some over-exuberant workmen from the local council.

    It's not exactly on a par with the demolition of Diego Rivera's 'Man at the Crossroads' mural at the Rockefeller Center in the thirties, but don't be too surprised if you switch on Radio 4 in the coming weeks, only to discover that The Archers has a storyline about an anonymous tearaway leaving his signature tag around the sleepy environs of Ambridge, whilst the locals sit in The Bull, supping their beer, speculating on who might be the 'young Banksy' in their midst.

    Banksy inspired Tesco carrier bags coming to a supermarket checkout near you.

    Hat tip to Will Rubbish.

    Thursday, March 08, 2007

    IWW Day

    Thoughtful piece from Richard at the Commie Curmudgeon (II) blog on today, March 8th, International Women's Day:

    International [Working] Women’s Day - Time Again to Remember the Words of Clara Zetkin

    The last line from Clara Zetkin that Richard quotes is particularly telling:

    "We must not let ourselves be fooled by Socialist trends in the bourgeois women’s movement which last only as long as bourgeois women feel oppressed."

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    Choke Yourself On The Flag

    Max Blumenthal of The Nation takes a day out to meet the I-Don't-Care-In-The Community at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

    David Horowitz, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter = box of frogs. Do I need to say anymore?

    Hat tip to Will Rubbish

    Press the Word

    Quick post to mention that the blogroll has been updated.

    No new additions as such, but just to let you know that Richard at Commie Curmudgeon and those crazy kidz over at Shiraz Socialist have both moved their blogs over to wordpress.

    Richard's latest post at CC is a trip down memory lane where he meets ten thousand maniacs.* As well as writing consistently excellent posts on genuine 'ultra-left' politics**, Richard is also a canny writer on music. You should blogroll him if you haven't already done so.

    The political Dead End Kidz at Shiraz Socialist are the latest toastmasters at the Carnival of Socialism, and choose the subject of “Why is the left obsessed with the Middle East?” as the topic for debate. Again, you should check them out and if you haven't already blogrolled the scamps, then you should do so. If only so that you can keep tabs on JD's alcohol consumption and VP's increasingly bizarre obsession with Yvonne Ridley.

    The last line is meant in jest even if they did neglect to include me in their new blogroll.

    What do they want from this blog . . . politics? humour? originality? insight? No chance, it's not on my agenda. But have they been out recently in sub-zero temperatures working to unionize home child care providers or to fight health care cuts? Course they haven't . . . I've checked the temperature chart for Birmingham. It's a balmy 12 degrees in the Midlands at the moment. Bah, Armchair Sean Maxshachtmanite Wankers

    I should rant more often. It has such a calming effect.

    *Reidski, did you really think that was led off for me do a lame gag about the old Den?

    **Real ultra-left politics. Not the 'You fucker! You don't follow the same self-appointed leader as me. You don't stuff the same bundle of unsold shouty-lefty newspapers under your bed that I do, therefore you're an ultra-leftist' type of political labelling so beloved of the 57 varieties.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    This is not an automated blog message

    Apologies for the light blogging in recent weeks.

    Still about, but cold weather and other such suck-ass stuff has intervened. Currently involved in this campaign at a grassroots level, after being partially involved in this other campaign previously. (Also at a grassroots level).

    Both campaigns, however slightly, have gone some way in exorcising the spirit of Tommy Jackson from my frozen bones.

    Why the sleeve of Win's, 'You've Got The Power', as an accompanying pic to the post? No other reason than the fact that a kind chap by the name of Eddie has made the song temporarily available for download on a fan page for Win on - you've guessed it - MurdochSpace MySpace.

    As my two Win albums have long since been hocked to some smug muso bastard at Record & Tape Exchange on Camden High Street - come the revolution, those bastards are going up against the wall before the capitalist class but after that bloke who put the kibosh on Smiths' Bovril Crisps - I'm just grateful to get my greedy wee mitts on the mp3 whilst it's up for grabs.

    Undeniably dated in a way that only songs recorded between 1984-1987 can be - anybody Wang Chunging Tonight? - try and get past the plinkity-plonk keyboards and the tinny production so you can wrap your ears around one of the best lost singles of that lost musical weekend best known as the mid-eighties.

    It can be played on its own, or if you have the means, could I suggest that you also sample Love and Money's 'Candybar Express' as a sweet.

    Win's main man was Davey Henderson, still releasing music as part of the band Nectarine Number 9, but best known as the voice and guitar of the seminal post-punksters, the Fire Engines.

    Do you have a CD in your music collection from some band with choppy angular guitars and shouty vocals? Whether they or you know it or not - musical copyright lawyers are looking in - they probably ripped off the Fire Engines. Think early Fall, but with a better looking singer and lyrics that didn't namecheck shop assistants at the Cheetham Hill branch of Debenhams

    Strange but true, but the Fire Engines evolved out the band 'The Dirty Reds', who had the actor Tam Dean Burn as their lead singer. Dean Burn was a parliamentary candidate for the CPGB/Weekly Worker mob back in the nineties in a Glasgow seat. It was pre-internet so I don't have the exact facts and figures at my fingertips.

    How do I know this obscure lefty political bullshit? A blend of wikipedia; too many hours mispent in Housmans and Porcupine . . . breathing in paper dust and polemics; and 'after the pub closes' styled half-pissed sectariana conversations.

    Back to my regular irregular blogging soon.

    Sunday, March 04, 2007

    March 2007 Socialist Standard - 'American Workers On Death Row'


  • Slavery and slavery
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Particles of Faith
  • Cooking the Books #1 Venture or Vulture
  • Cooking the Books #2 Is Ian Paisley a Socialist?
  • Greasy Pole If John were Prime Minister
  • 50 Years Ago The Unification of Europe
  • Main Articles

  • Death penalty: state-sanctioned murder The bungled execution of Saddam Hussein has raised this issue again. But executions in the US Constitution are no better.
  • Who caused global warming? “Global warming is caused by mankind, is here to stay and is getting worse, leading scientists have concluded”.
  • Burberry applies the law of profit Last September Burberry announced that its Treorchy factory was no longer viable and would close this March with the loss of 309 jobs.
  • This land is your land (or maybe not) Author Kevin Cahill is wrong. Wider landowning is not the answer as we are excluded from ownership of the means of production in general not just land.
  • The God of the Killers When in comes to condoning violence it’s a case of the Christian kettle and the Muslim pot.
  • Reviews, Party News & Meetings

  • Book Reviews Capitalism. A Very Short Introduction by James Fulcher; Socialism. A Very Short Introduction by Michael Newman; Anarchism, A Very Short Introduction. by Colin Ward; Bash the Rich by Ian Bone; Make Capitalism History: Poems and Other Communications by Bob Dixon
  • Party News Report of public meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
  • Meetings London, Manchester, Norwich & Birmingham.
  • Voice From The Back

  • The Sick Society; A Brave New World?; The Distortion of Science (1); The Distortion of Science (2); The Distortion of Art; The Distortion of Honesty; And Now The Good News