Monday, March 31, 2008

A Reminder To MySelf

  • Don't take blogging too seriously. It's a dumping ground.
  • No post can be too short.
  • No post can be too long.
  • Beg, borrow or recycle but always provide a hat tip where necessary.
  • Only one YouTube on the main page at any one time.
  • Not enough posts about New York.
  • Not enough posts about US politics.
  • Not enough posts about Gordon Legge.
  • The more obscure and self-indulgent the joke, the funnier it is.
  • I seem to be slacking on the 'here, have my music taste shoved down your throat' type posts. Must up the ante.
  • Northants Man

    I wonder what that is all about.

    Last couple of days, persons unknown have been on the look out for someone and have chanced upon the blog as a consequence.

    Don't wish to sound unnecessarily mysterious but it does have me (silently) speculating.

    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    Doing The Lambeth Talk

    Possibilist Impossibilist Bill informs the blogosphere that Vaux Populi, the "vauxhall socialist election campaign blog", is up and running again.

    Four more posts! FOUR MORE POSTS!

    You know you want one

    What was I thinking?

    Never knew this quip was going to come back and bite me in the arse. Couldn't bring myself to drag my carcass out of bed to make it through to Manhattan early morning 'cos I knew what was going to happen.

    When you think of the stick that Strachan gets from sections of the Celtic support when he's winning, you can only imagine what'll be like if and when Smith & McCoist's roadshow win a clean sweep come the end of the season.

    Whatever I think about his mistreatment of Riordan's Celtic career, I don't take any pleasure in offering the opinion that the clock is now ticking on Strachan's time at Celtic. I'm sure he'll be there next season, but if he doesn't deliver the title then both parties will want him to move on.

    And of course the inevitable happened with ". . . McGregor, Barry Ferguson, Christian Dailly and Lee McCulloch all . . . . [returning] from injury after missing Scotland's friendly against Croatia in midweek." Wankers.

    Looks like the Brooklyn Knights for me, after all. Though after watching Man Utd sublime display against Aston Villa this afternoon, I do sometimes wish I was a Man Utd supporter. If only I'd been born in Cornwall.

    Late March Madness

    March 2008 Socialist Standard


  • The Disarming Truth
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders The Socialist Gene
  • Cooking the Books #1 Marx and corals
  • Cooking the Books #2 Who would work for nothing?
  • Material World Still In Chains: South Africa After Apartheid
  • Pieces Together Tough At The Top?
  • Greasy Pole Flint's Hard Line
  • 50 Years Ago The Uses of Monarchy
  • Main Articles

  • To Campaigners for Nuclear Disarmament The first ban-the-bomb march from Aldermaston to London took place at Easter 50 years ago. We reprint here a leaflet we put out for the 1961 CND March.Work as it is (and could be).
  • War: the Socialist Attitude Since our formation in 1904 our response to the problem of war has clearly distinguished us from other organisations claiming descent from Marx and Engels and the early socialist pioneers.Profit laundering: what's justice got to do with it?
  • Basic Income: a dangerous reform The Green Party’s idea of paying everyone a minimum income whether or not they are working might seem attractive, but it won’t necessarily leave us better off.
  • Can the media be made democratic? That there was once a press free from commercial or governmental influence is a myth.
  • Labour In Hell: Mining Sulphur In Indonesia The plight of workers who extract sulphur from the Kawah Ijen volcano in eastern Java.
  • Nationalism and Culture Nationalism is a perversion of a shared identity in the interest of some local elite.
  • Ire of the Irate Itinerant Cartoon strip
  • Letters, Reviews, Obituary & Meetings

  • Letters to the Editor: 'Work and Leisure'; 'Northern Rock'; 'The Hull Floods'
  • Book Reviews: 'Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice to Theory' by Uri Gordon; 'A Socialist Critique of the BBC, Albert Einstein, Amartya Sen and Muhammed Yunus' by Binay Sarkar; 'The Real Toy Story' by Eric Clark; 'Symond Newell and Kett’s Rebellion' by Peter E. Newell
  • Socialist Party Meetings: Central London, Manchester, Norwich, South London
  • Voice From The Back

  • The Obscenity of Capitalism; Not So Primitive; Loaded But Stupid; Toothless Watchdog; Transcendental Materialism
  • Ladies They Talk About (1933)

    Do They Mean Us? #12

    No idea why, but I seemed to have put this blog series in cold storage in recent months, but along pops the letters page of this week's Weekly Worker to bring it back to life:

    SPGB time-warp

    I was intrigued by the letter from Alan Johnstone of the Socialist Party of Great Britain (March 20).

    Over the past 20 years or so, the ‘Socialist Party’s’ house journal has become a shadow of its former self, having been transformed into a coffee table glossy, containing long, rambling, self-indulgent articles on the state of the world and the individual, denuded of any study of Marxism, or need for revolution, or the role and changing nature of the state in any such process.

    Johnstone’s party in its reverence for parliamentary bodies is trapped in a time-warp and unable to find a way out. It has ditched its former, strictly defined identity, but failed to develop one relevant to the 21st century, which is why it is decaying, demoralised and internally fractious.

    It is true that Marx once maintained, between 1870 and 1883, there was a possibility of a peaceful transformation of bourgeois democracy into proletarian democracy in the United States and Britain (Johnstone even denies the desirability of proletarian democracy!). At that time monopoly capitalism did not exist, imperialism had only just been born and bureaucracy and militarism were not yet highly developed. Later, in 1917, Lenin stated - in his outstanding scientific study of the Marxist theory of the state and revolution - that this exception was outdated and non-existent and that in these two countries too the destruction of the bourgeois state machine and its replacement by a new one was the indispensable precondition for the proletarian revolution.

    Parliament did once function as the executive of the capitalist class in its struggle against feudalism. But with the development of monopoly capitalism, parliamentary democracy - democracy for capital - lost its validity. The dominant section of the ruling class could no longer control events through this machinery. A new apparatus of government was developed: a cabinet and prime minister with supreme power; increased use of ‘orders in council’, statutory instruments and other powers to ministers; a well organised civil service, central and municipal; a police force and a standing army. Other instruments of coercion such as the judiciary and prisons are complemented by the ideological apparatus of the educational system, the mass media and, lastly, parliament.

    ‘Democratic’ methods are always preferred by the capitalist class as being more effective, but history, logic and common sense tells us that when democratic means and other methods of influencing opinion start to fail, the real powers behind these come into play: the repressive machinery of the law, the police and prisons in individual cases, the armed forces when the threat to capitalist policy and safety is on a large scale.

    The conclusion is that the only way to solve the contradictions of capitalist production, to put an end of class conflicts, international wars and environmental destruction, which are inseparable from capitalism, is for the conscious organisation of the working class to take power by revolutionary action, to destroy the capitalist state machine and carry through the change to socialism, on the basis of which a communist society can develop.

    Andrew Northall


    Ouch. Hell hath no fury like an ex-member sticking the boot in.

    "Internally fractious"? Absolutely. It's having one of its periodic rows and I wouldn't pretend there is any light at the end of the tunnel, but it's kind of cute for a latter day Leninist accusing the SPGB of not adapting to the 21st century.

    And the dig about the coffee table Socialist Standard not measuring up to its inky ancestor from the late eighties? Curious accusation to make which doesn't really bear out on close inspection. I actually have some sympathy with any critic - friendly or otherwise - raising the issue of there not being enough theory in the pages of the Standard but that criticism was equally valid in '78, '88, '98 and 2008. It's rooted in an ancient Conference resolution which means that the Standard is primarily aimed at the first time reader which means, in my personal opinion, that it will always be caught between two stools.

    If Northall's criticism is to hold any water, it's a criticism he should have been making in '88 or '98, never mind 2008, but that would mean that he'd have to explain what he was doing in the SPGB during all that time.

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    What would Terry and Bob do? (this time)

    Bastards. The horn of a dilemma.

    Celtic are scheduled to lose to R*ngers tomorrow morning, thus losing the SPL title in all but name, and I was contemplating making the trip through to Manhattan to experience the misery first hand via a Setanta big screen.

    But now I've discovered that the Fox Soccer Channel have plans to replay the game in its entirety on Sunday evening 7pm (ET). Could I really go 30 hours without knowing the result? Do I really want to put myself through that much potential pain, when the real pain with regards to Celtic is watching them fuck it up live via satellite?

    On the other hand, do I really want to have the same experience as last time of some Irish bloke screaming in my ear for about hour about what a shower of orange c*nts the Rangers players are? (Trust me, it loses it comedic charm after about 37 minutes.)

    I need to think about this one.

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Love on the Run (1936)

    "I wonder what's in this week's edition of the SPGB's MySpace bulletin?"

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (39)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 39th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1213 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Labour, the state and the market
  • Can the media be made democratic?
  • "Their Country Needs You"
  • This week's top quote:

    "We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies . . . The world is a collage of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable laws of business. The world is a business . . . !!" [Jensen in Network by Sam Hedrin, 1977.]

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    The Spector of Left-Wing Reformism

    Sounds as depressing as f*&% to me, but someone reading the blog might want to pencil the date in their diary:

    "Stop the War Coalition is asking as many people as possible to help create a wall of sound to accompany Tony Blair as he gives a lecture on Faith and Globalisation at Westminster Cathedral in London on Thursday 3 April."

    AKA as the long and winding road.

    I think some people have taken the '68 fortieth anniversary zeitgeist thing in the wrong direction.

    Hat tip to Rob S in Norway.

    Full Time Sour Lemon Slice

    Whistle blown on the telly on a game that, in reality, finished a few hours ago.

    Fair play to Scotland on a respectable result. The Croats were a class act despite the bad weather conditions and don't let the matter of them turning over the 'Trevors' home and away in the Euro qualifying campaign detract from the fact that they are an excellent team. (Even the Arsenals and Man Utds of this world have to dispense with the Derby Countys if they are to win the championship.)

    Scotland acquitted themselves well - though I'm not sure why Gordon's getting the plaudits from the journos reporting on the game in various papers - and I liked the fact that there was a bit of a bite to the game. One minor gripe, though, and its less to do with the performance and more to do with tonight's team selection.

    There were four Celtic players - Caldwell, McManus, Hartley and Brown - in Scotland's starting line up as opposed to one R*ngers player, Kris Boyd, who came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute. Of the Celtic players, only Brown got substituted and that was in the 66th minute. What's the big deal with that? Well, only that Celtic are playing R*ngers this Saturday at Ibrox in a must win game in the SPL . If they lose, that's bye bye to the title. Doesn't that seem a bit one-sided?

    I don't buy into conspiracy theories, whether it be politics or footie, but it seems a bit off when Derby County and Sunderland provide more players on the night than R*ngers. It's not even as if they can use the old excuse of not having any Scottish players at Ibrox. Throw an Irn Bru bottle into their dressing room - please, do it now as a scientific experiment - and you're guaranteed two things: 1) Allan McGregor won't catch it; & 2) It'll hit someone with a Scottish accent and unsightly tattoos. I bet if Hutton was still at R*ngers, he wouldn't have been playing last night.

    Has former Scotland manager Smith has played it cute? Or is Strachan just a straight guy with a patriotic streak? Who knows, but I do know that it's the first time I've thought well of McGeady for being a plastic paddy. Five Celtic players in the starting line up would have been taking the piss.

    Sorely tempted to make my way through to Manhattan on Saturday morning to Jack Demseys bar so I can witness first hand via Setanta the misery of witnessing Celtic getting gubbed. At least I'll be able to shout and holler my disapproval of Barry Ferguson, Lee McCulloch, Christian Dailly and Allan McGregor for pulling out of Burley's squad.

    Half-Time Orange Slice

    Just struck me.

    At Hampden tonight, Scotland drew with a Croatian team who had previously beaten England both home and away. Over in Paris tonight England lost to a French team that had previously lost home and away to Scotland.

    That (kind of) conclusively proves that Scotland are better than England. At a push, they could even be termed unofficial World Champions. And it also explain why England continue to refuse to revive the British Home Championships. Too much face to lose. It's all falling into place.

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    No Hiding Place

    The Scotland-Croatia game is currently being shown on the Fox Soccer Channel. Yep, the entire game. Don't believe me? Just spotted Bilic on the touchline. From the neck down, he looks like a suave and debonair Euro-chic man about town. From the neck up, with that daft hat on his head, he looks like me when I nip out in the morning for a carton of milk and some dog food.

    Fuck sake, Gordon's just this second made an arse of himself with the Kranjcar goal. The tv director must be a close family friend of the Gordon family 'cos he's decided to show at least 10 different camera angles of the goal to try and manufacture the illusion that there was some sort of deflection that caused Gordon to be wrong-footed. He'll be showing Zapruder footage in a second to suggest that the ball caught a divot on the grassy knoll. Truth is that Gordon has brought his current form north of the border with him from the Stadium of Light.

    When I discovered that they were going to show the entire game on the telly, I was sorely tempted to do a 'Likely Lads' and avoid finding out the result and then sit down and watch the game tonight as if I was watching it live. Maybe even do a bit of pseudo live blogging. But I'm glad I didn't now. Watching Scotland is always a pain rather than a pleasure, and that goal that was just scored would have resulted in the dog getting a swift kick to the vitals.

    And, anyway, live blogging footie is a myth anyway. Last time I tried it, the actual writing of the post took about three days to write.

    Oh, Miller's just scored. Now that's what I call a deflected goal. And Miller will have a cheek to claim it.

    Back to the game. No more goals coming so I don't have to have a panic attack anytime Croatia crosses the halfway line. Just as I like it when watching Scotland . . . and Celtic.

    Hey Zinesters

    Oops, turns out Communist Headache was an ultra-left, rather than a council communist zine.

    Apologies. I was working from a hazy memory of the zine that I picked up in the 56a Infoshop in south east london - which, if memory serves me right, was a molotov cocktails throw away from the old Labour Party headquarters in Walworth Road - about 10 or 11 years ago.

    Now that I think about it, all I can remember about the zine was that the author - or authors - were based in Sheffield, he/they worked in a library and I'm sure that there was a drawing of an insect on the front cover that looked like it'd been cut and pasted from a school textbook. Always loved the title. For sheer imagination, it's up there with 'Proletarian Gob' and Dan Chatterton's 'Chatterton's Commune - the Atheist Communistic Scorcher'

    What was I doing haunting the 56a Infoshop? I think I must have been on a hunt for a copy of the aforementioned Proletarian Gob. I really would go the extra-yard in those olden days for the obscure and badly-photocopied.


    Turns out that typing "Communist Headache" into the google search engine does turn up more than my blog entry and a ten part article by Weekly Worker's Jack Conrad on Jesus Christ and the Dialectic of History. 'White Punks on Bordiga'? I like the sound of that. Reminds me of half-digested Stewart Home novels. I'll have to check it out when I get back.

    Cheers to 'Butchersapron' for the correction.

    Barack Obama, Race and Class

    Good post over at the Marx and Coca-Cola blog on Barck Obama's 'A More Perfect Union' speech from last week in Philadelphia:

  • 'The Visible Man'
  • Hat tip to Alan J over at Mailstrom blog.

    Seafood Co. Losing Millions as Sushi Samba Says No More Wild Edibles

    Via the Brandworkers International website:

    For Immediate Release:

    Brandworkers International


    March 26, 2008

    Sushi Samba Becomes Fifth Major Restaurant Group to Drop Embattled Seafood Company

    Wild Edibles Continues to Lose Millions of Dollars Over Mistreatment of Workers

    New York, NY- Large seafood wholesaler and retailer, Wild Edibles, is seeing its customer base rapidly erode with Sushi Samba, one of the nation's hottest sushi restaurants, cutting off purchases from the company until an employment dispute with workers is fairly resolved. Sushi Samba Park and Sushi Samba 7 join leading New York restaurants like Pastis, Union Square Cafe, La Goulue, and Mermaid Inn that have previously pulled out of Wild Edibles over concern for the treatment of employees there.

    "We are very pleased that Sushi Samba has chosen to support the legal rights of workers at Wild Edibles," said Daniel Gross, the founding director of Brandworkers International, a non profit workers' rights organization providing legal and advocacy assistance to the employees. "Wild Edibles' remaining customers would do well to consider playing a similarly positive role."

    Wild Edibles workers have joined with concerned community members to make positive change on the job. Last September, a group of employees filed a large federal class action lawsuit potentially covering hundreds of workers alleging that Wild Edibles withheld overtime pay and retaliated against workers who asserted their rights. A federal judge subsequently issued an injunction against Wild Edibles and its owner Richard Martin against further retaliation. The National Labor Relations Board has also alleged that the company interfered with the rights of employees who have joined the Industrial Workers of the World labor union.

    "I have four children to support and tens years without overtime pay was too much," said Cesar Barturen, one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Wild Edibles. "It's shameful that for standing up for my rights, [owner] Richard Martin fired me."

    Wild Edibles warehouse employees come mainly from Peru and Mexico and most have financial obligations to families here and abroad. They start their work day at 2am and work through the night until 11am or later. Working in a facility that is often painfully cold, Wild Edibles employees must contend with cuts and strains from preparing and hauling the seafood on a tight-schedule. Though they work hard and service many of New York's most expensive fine-dining restaurants, the workers were systematically denied overtime pay and many haven't seen a raise in years. Many of the workers take home around just $400 a week for as many as 55 hours of work. They receive neither company health insurance nor retirement benefits.

    Brandworkers International is a non-profit organization providing legal, advocacy, and organizing support to retail and food employees across the supply chain. By connecting retail and food workers with concerned citizens, Brandworkers increases employer compliance with the law and challenges corporate misconduct. The Brandworkers Focus on the Food Chain initiative enables the mostly immigrant food processing workers in Brooklyn and Queens to rise above poverty and abuse.

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Thought I'd write a post to annoy someone

    I was going to write a short blog about Simple Minds, but whilst undertaking my extensive research to flesh out the piece I spotted this instead via the original - I guess, the working - script of High Fidelity:

    A few minutes later - ROB AND DICK stand behind the counter. ROB holds a CD in his hand, and surveys the roaming customers with a semi-serious air of authority.

    ROB: I will now sell four copies of Cats and Dogs by the Royal Trux.

    DICK: Do it. Do it.

    ROB pops the CD in and it begins to play... He stands there with his arms folded, waiting. After a moment, a Customer approaches.

    CUSTOMER: (re: music) What is this?

    ROB: It's the Royal Trux.

    CUSTOMER: It's great.

    ROB: I know.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that Royal Trux's 'Inside Game' is featured later on in the film but it's not the same, is it? The Beta Band will always be associated with that film, whilst for most of us it will always be Royal who?

    I know, I know. I should be mugging up on Mattick, Marx and that wee guy who swears by that old council communist zine, 'the Communist Headache'

    Never knew that.

    "At the time, Hansa had come to the UK and were looking for fresh talent by means of a competition (there was a large advert with an impressive looking woman astride a motorcycle, stating "Wanna be a recording star? Get your ass up! Take your chance!"). Japan auditioned for Hansa at Morgan Studios on Friday 13th May 1977. The winners of the contest were The Cure, but in true Gareth Gates style Japan were also signed just 3 days later (May 23rd 1977) and given £1000 to buy new instruments - which was part of the advertised prize, although it has been denied that they had anything to do with the competition. The following information may make things a little clearer - information courtesy of Robert Smith:
    "There was a competition at the back of the Melody Maker. You had to send Hansa a tape and some photos. We ended up doing a three song performance for them in front of a video camera, and they signed us on the strength of what we looked like."

    Then The Cure were put into the studio, and emerged with three classics - "Killing An Arab", "Boys Don't Cry" and "10.15 Saturday Night" - all of which Hansa refused to release and henceforth proceeded to drop the group (after attempts to get them to perform cover versions, hmm, sounds familiar doesn't it - read on). Just after that, Japan were given more attention. As with The Cure, Hansa funded studio time, and Japan, with an average age of 17, were allowed to develop their style."

    Info via a rather fine (and exhaustive) Japan fan website.

    You know the sort of devotional fansite I mean. The sort that'll inform you when the magnificent 'Ghosts' is featured in an episode of Ashes to Ashes. That sort of devotion. (Episode 6 of the series, since you're wondering.)

    Political Undertones

    How does someone go from checking out this photo on the blog to wondering about John Peel, his festive fifty and one of the best singles of all time? And all from a keyboard in New Delhi to boot.

    Mmm, "to boot" . . . makes sense: search for photo of fascist nutjob who just happened to be a fine footie player - that goal against Wimbledon, sigh - on the net brings thoughts of footie hoolies which sparks off memories of bootboys, which makes one think of teenage kicks. It rubs off one me 'cos I head straight to iTunes to check out some classic Auteurs.

    The tea should have masked by now.

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    (Insert question mark)

    Since when has Everything But The Girl become everyone's favourite band from the last century?

    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    Revisiting Pop and Politics

    Belatedly realised that the post on the punk band Crisis doesn't really qualify as an "obscure factoid". Must try harder. Don't wish to be seen to be corrupting the purity of the series. (Bear with me, I'm babbling.)

    Just thought it was a funny wee story and I also think that Crisis were an excellent band who deserve a wider audience. The four and a half (aye, Kara, you're the half) dedicated readers of this blog could make all the difference in them being discovered by a new generation. There's an excellent fan page for Crisis over here and be sure to check out a MySpace page dedicated to them.

    Surprised that they don't get more plaudits from the usual suspects. There's only so many articles one can write about Crass or Zounds before it all gets a bit stale. Punks not dead: It's just a bit musty.

    If Chic Murray had subscribed to War Commentary

    Hot on the heels of attending the meeting 'Towards a synthesis of Anarchism and Marxism?' at last weekend's Left Forum, where one of the panel speakers, Ruth Kinna, spoke on “Bridging Differences Through Revolutionary Action: Aldred on Anarchism and Marx”, comes news - via a SPGB google alert - of a fascinating article on the anarchist movement in the 1940s in Glasgow that has recently been posted on the LibCom website.

    'Anarchism in 1940s Glasgow' contains an interview with Charlie Baird Sr that dates from '77 and the transcribed reminiscences of a roundtable discussion of Glasgow based Anarchists (1940s vintage) that dates from 1987.

    Both pieces are fascinating insights into a tumultuous period for radical politics, and, like Ruth Kinna's talk at the Left Forum, it was a blast from the past for me 'cos many, many years ago, I went through a period of reading up on this subject in depth.

    Not for any academic reasons, but simply because I was combining my interest in the history of radical politics with my interest in the history of Glasgow. I was reading John Taylor Caldwell's biography of Guy Aldred; Mark Shipway's book on Aldred and Sylvia Pankhurst; Wildcat's mega-pamphlet on the APCF; and Freedom's hundredth anniversary works on their tradition amongst others at a time when I would have been better served listening to Pop Will Eat Itself and getting drunk on snakebite. Maybe in my next life.

    PS - Chic Murray? War Commentary? Chic Murray was a brilliant Scottish comedian who is probably best known today - if at all - for playing the headmaster in 'Gregory's Girl', and War Commentary was the name of Freedom during World War II (it's a convoluted story . . .don't ask me now), and Eddie Shaw came across as that sort of speaker even before I spotted the reference in the roundtable expression.

    It seems that Glasgow has a history of outdoor speaking that comprised of half polemicist, half patter merchant.

    The case for "Unscientific Socialism"

    I was just about to scribble off a post about how I'm tearing my hair out at the thought that Celtic were going to surrender their title to lowly Gretna (saves me penning a similar line when Celtic surrenders its title to R*ngers next Saturday), when MacDonald goes and restores my faith in the power of whinging prayer by scoring a goal.

    It takes 43 minutes to score against Gretna? Christ, they're not even on win bonuses. Get it bastard sorted!

    Mixing Pop and Politics (7)

    Obscure Factoid of the Day

    OK, I know that with this post I'm stretching the whole theme of 'mixing pop and politics' a tad but I do love this anecdote about the late seventies punk band, Crisis, that I spotted on the excellent 'Always Searching For Music' music blog:

    "I can still remember when one of their protest songs nearly got their drummer Luke Rendall (also played with Theatre of Hate) into trouble. One of Crisis onstage favourites was a track called SPG, which for those of you who can remember was the abbreviated name for the Special Patrol Group (a controversial unit of the metropolitan police force of which in 1979 became notorious for the alleged murder of protester Blair Peach. In the inquiry the SPG officers were found to have weaponry such as Baseball bats, sledgehammers and crowbars - No SPG officer was convicted but an out of court payment was made to the Peach Family, the SPG were also cited as a major factor in the 1981 Brixton riots)

    The SPG often hassled punks (and I guess anyone young), I can personally remember a number of occasions where they were over the top and over aggressive for no real reasons.So they had a reputation that you didn't muck around with.

    Luke was wearing the Crisis SPG badge (see scan) when we were pulled up by the actual SPG. They looked at Luke's badge and said "Whats this then".

    Luke replied "I'm in a band and it's a song about the SPG"

    The SPG officer said "oh, what's it all about then"

    Luke stood their silently thinking "Oh shit, the chorus is "smash, smash, smash the SPG (something like that I'm struggling to remember now)"

    then replied "It's an instrumental"

    Check out the links above if you want to hear some *samples* of Crisis. Excellent stuff. 'White Youth' is especially fine.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    My Favourite Political Picture of This Year . . . Or Any Other Year.

    Why try and come up with a witty headline, when I know that I can't come up with anything to match the picture itself.

    Well, that and the fact that the original source, Ian Bone's blog, has all the bases covered.

    Whatever happened to the likely lads?

    Remember the Euston Manifesto? Of course you do. Harry's Place never seem to mention it much these days, but I'm sure that's because they're too busy making anniversary plans for marking its 5th anniversary in 2011.

    Splintered Sunrise blog pops up to put the EM in a nutshell in his latest blog.

    "It may be best to go back to the Euston Manifesto. You remember the Euston Manifesto, one of the defining documents of this century, yes? No? Well, the Reader’s Digest condensed version goes like this: Norman Geras and Nick Cohen go to the pub. Nick bitches and moans about what a shower of bastards the left are. Norm scribbles a manifesto on the back of a beer mat. (Eustonians like to say there was Serious discussion involved, but I’m sticking with the beer mat theory. It’s the best explanation for the combination of windy truisms with weirdly specific stuff on the Middle East and, er, Linux.) Alan (Not The Minister) Johnson then sets up another one of his thousands of websites, and invites punters to sign the document."
    Ah, O'Neills pub on Euston Road. Halfway between the Housmans Bookshop of their past, and the British Museum of their future.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    Bubble Troubles

    "The intoxicating US housing boom has come to an end. Now the economic hangover has arrived. What is likely, at the very least, is a prolonged crisis of the credit system. And as credit greases the wheels of capitalism this is no laughing matter for the capitalist class." ['Bubble Troubles' by Michael Schauerte]

    Hot on the heels of sitting through the 'Decline of the Dollar: Decline or Flexibility of the Empire?' meeting at last weekend's Left Forum with a mixture of bewilderment and the cold sweats comes 'Bubble Troubles', the latest article from the World Socialist Party of the United States website.

    I'm now taking odds on who'll be the first amongst McCain, Clinton and Obama to quote Norman Lamont's old words of: "If it's not hurting, it's not working." (I'm not taking bets on Ron Paul. He's been mouthing those words with a smile on his face for the last thirty years.)

    Where did I put my copy of 'Sullivan's Travels'? I think I'll be needing it for the long haul.

    C'est Chic

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (38)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 38th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1211 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • World hunger: A global problem
  • Terrorism and political violence
  • Political ideas in Africa
  • This week's top quote:

    "When that crisis comes the great act of confiscation will be the seal of the new era; then and not till then will the knell of Civilisation, with its rights of property and its class-society, be sounded; then and not till then will Justice - the Justice not of Civilisation but of Socialism - become the corner-stone of the social arch. (E. Belfort Bax, Concerning Justice, 1887.)

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    A Fleeting Five Seconds of Blogging Fame

    Nope, I don't understand why the blog turned up (briefly) on the front page of the New York Times technology section either. (Click on the pic, and then look under 'Technology Headlines From Around the Web'.)

    Quote of the Day

    "A cause isn’t necessarily correct because people die for it."Oscar Wilde

    Further Reading:

  • Oscar Wilde and Socialism
  • Monday, March 17, 2008

    "Um, I think the old country is that way."

    I've got the surname, the colouring and even the Microdisney mp3s but, for all that, I couldn't bring myself to do the plastic paddy bit today.

    Maybe I'm off the Murphys, or maybe it's due to the fact that for 364 days of the year my accent is mistaken for Irish in a country where 91% of the population claims Irish ancestry.

    Whatever the reason: March 17th is my day for remaining sober, stumm and sarcastic. Have an appropriate mp3 to sample:

  • Eric Bogle - 'Plastic Paddy' mp3
  • More info on the brilliant Mr Bogle here.

    Sláinte Pog ma thon.

    Sunday should be a day of rest.

    I guess I should take my eye off the MySpace Socialist Standard page more often.

    836 views in one day? Bit of a shock when I got back from the Left Forum last night to see the stats staring back at me. And all I did yesterday morning before going into Manhattan was repost the transcript of the 'What Marx Should Have Said To Kropotkin' talk.

    Love to claim it was an indication that the thin red line is finally breaking out in a viral like fashion on the net. In all likelihood, what really happened is that an old gnarly SPGBer has finally gone online and discovered the page.

    Take it easy, comrade. Space your impossibilism out. 800 views and 600 articles over the course of 12-16 hours adds up to a hell of a lot of carpal tunnel syndrome and a bad case of 'final paragraph syndrome'.*

    *My best jokes are SPGB in-jokes.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    What is the Left Forum?

    In their own words . . . and better late than never, I guess:

    Wait up . . . what's that that Francis Fox Piven says in the clip?

    She briefly mentions the differing traditions and movements that make up the attendees of the Left Forum but when she mentions the Anarchist Left the camera pans to a copy of the magazine, Left Turn, on a shelf. Are the Left Turn touting themselves as anarchists these days? That's a bit of a departure from their (brief) time as the American franchise of the International Socialist Tendency after Callinicos and the SWP leadership in London expelled the ISO in murky circumstances back in 2001/02.

    Had a quick nosey around the Left Turn website and, at first glance, it does look like they've dropped the S-word in favour of social justice this and anti-capitalist that. I guess that's the sort of misbranding that gets the punters in these days. Bit cheeky that, and it's also a wee bit naughty that they don't clarify their real origins in their 5 Year Anniversary Editorial that they've published online.

    But I put it down to the fact that we're living in interesting political times for the left. Revolutionary? No. Confusing? Definitely.

    Why else would you have the Left Forum citing Left Turn as the public face of activist anarchism whilst, at the same time and at the same event, the anarchist publishers, AK Press has a mini-bookcase solely devoted to books about and by Che Guevera on its stall at the event.

    The world truly has been turned upside down.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    "The revolution is just a T shirt (and a panel discussion) away."

    Back from The Cooper Union

    Just a quick post to mention that I attended the following meetings at the Left Forum today:

  • It's official: We're up shit creek.
  • Frank Lampard is an overrated Tory bastard.
  • That wanker, Karl Kautsky, broke Little Lenny's heart.
  • What's so funny about peace, love and revolutionary socialism?
  • I may have half-remembered the titles of some of the meetings, but I'm sure that you get the gist. Hopefully, I'll write a bit more about the event . . . erm, after the event. Or at least, I'll get the titles of the meetings right if nothing else.

    At the moment, these are the meetings that I fancy attending tomorrow:

  • Waiting for the working class to turn up . . . again.
  • "Concentrate, you bastard. CONCENTRATE!"
  • Selling your back issues of 'Subversion' on eBay
  • Anybody spot the deliberate reference to Gregory's Girl? Speak to you soon. Just popping out for a loaf of bread.

    Will Powers

    Is it just me, or does the late Adrian Borland look like Christopher Hitchens's doppleganger?

    Shame that. The Sound never stood a chance.

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Gone Fishing

    Back blogging in a couple of days. Have a look through the programme of this year's Left Forum and tell me what meetings I should have gone to. I'll tell you next week which ones I did attend.

    Not Forgotten About The Other One

    A Sugar High (Duff Cheer: Part Two)

    I sometimes have to give the youth of today the benefit of the doubt. Despite my innate curmudgeonly tendencies, they're not all snot-nosed bastards with shit taste in politics and chocolate bars. And I have to thank the blog - or rather its sitemeter - for partially restoring my faith in Generation teXt.

    Recent months has seen a steady stream of traffic to the blog from people wishing to *sample* Duffy tracks. Of course, they're looking for the Welsh chanteuse who's a current back shift stand in for Amy Winehouse, whilst the latter works through her demons to provide enough lyrical material for the third album.

    What they find instead is this old post from the blog where I get a sugar high over Stephen Duffy during his mid-nineties Britpop period (in my alternative universe, it's not Blur vs Oasis, it's Duffy versus Luke Haines), when he dropped the Stephen for some reason and shuffled back into the pop mainstream after being away in the country for a few years with the Lilac Time.

    Sadly, despite producing an excellent self-titled album in '95, and regularly getting pissed in the Camden Falcon, he had to wait another ten years for the overnight success/comeback cliche with the work he did with Robbie Williams. Can't say I've heard much of that stuff, but if it ensures that he continue to do his own stuff then who am I to carp?

    Anyway, I'm getting off topic. I meant to do my best Weller-esque impression with a mockney 'The Kids Are Alright', 'cos more often than not the disappointed kids still choose to *sample* the original Duffy. Good for them. If I can pretend it's 1981, they can pretend it's 1995.

    By way of a thank you, here's another stellar track off of the 'Duffy' album:

  • Duffy - 'Sugar High' mp3
  • Should have been a hit. That alternate universe that I wrote of above had this at number 2 to The Auteurs number 1 with a re-released 'Chinese Bakery' . . . . and Tiny Monroe lingering just outside the Top Ten with 'Vhf 855V'.

    Psst . . . .Psst . . . bottom left hand corner of the blog.

    Still cross-posting articles to the Socialist Standard@MySpace blog, and I will continue to take the opportunity to flag some of the articles transferred on the blog.

    However, in the meantime, I've added a new sidebar on the left side of the page - just underneath the links to Steve Coleman's 'Socialist Thinkers Series - where people I can see which months are completed and have been fully transferred from the MySpace page to the Blogger page.

    At the moment only six months are listed in the column, but I'm guessing that more months than that have been completed. I just have to check through a few of the pages again to ensure that I haven't missed anything.

    Trust me on this one, Sisyphus has nothing on me. The bloke was a lightweight by comparison.

    Why I (nearly) resigned from the Celtic Supporters Club

    I'm sorely tempted. If there was only a retro version along the lines of Toffs.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    November Spawned A Roster

    Same deal as the last post, so I'll spare you the schtick this one time. Some articles and other sundry stuff of note from November 2006 on the Socialist Standard MySpace page:

  • From the November 2006 Socialist Standard, a review of Benjamin Franks's 'Rebel Alliances': Anarchism in Britain Today
  • Centenery editorial from the September 2004 issue of the Socialist Standard: The Challenge of a Better Future
  • From the October 1991 issue of the Socialist Standard: Jack Common and Working Class Writing
  • Selected passages from "Philoren's" 1943 pamphlet, 'Money Must Go': Money Must Go
  • Film Review from the December 2006 issue of the Socialist Standard: An Inconvenient Truth
  • From the Socialism Or Your Money Back blog: Rendition To Torture
  • Check out the link for 17 other pieces from that month.

    Rupert, Bear With Me

    I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the day at the thought of Rupert Murdoch deleting my Socialist Standard MySpace page.

    The fear's not so much from losing the page itself. These things happen, and I'd either start the page again or channel my energy into something more productive . . . maybe counting the cracks in the sidewalk outside our apartment building.

    No, the real tragedy would be that there are some real gem-like articles that I have both cut-and-pasted and transcribed onto the page in the past two years, and if the page was to disappear into the cyber-aether one morning that'd be a lot of one finger typing that would have gone to waste.

    With that in mind, I set up Socialist Standard@MySpace as a back-up blog a few months back, but with over 600 articles, book reviews and other ephemera to cut and paste it's taking longer than I thought to fully back up the page. The good news is that I'm about 2/3's of the way there in transferring the material, and that when it's all up to date it will be a good extra resource for impossibilism on the net.

    Other plusses are that the label system that blogger provides means that it will be easier to access - say - all the Pathfinder columns from the Socialist Standard, and the exhaustiveness of blogger's search facility. For all the visibility that MySpace can provide, it's a pain for burying away archived articles. Once an article disappears off your main page, it's nigh on impossible to locate it again. The back up blog will allow me - and others - to find old articles, and I will now also be able to locate the original article on MySpace via the hyperlink provided. (Just click on the title of any post.)

    As I've stated, it's a rather slow and laborious process transferring over from one site to the other, so I'm having to do it in stages. Being the contrary swine that I am, I'm picking months at random and I've just finished backing up the month of December 2006. Linked below are a few articles from that month that deserve a wider audience:

  • From the LibCom website: The Actor and the King by Ret Marut - a short story
  • A Jim Plant article from the SLP newspaper, The People: Luxemburg in China?
  • A 1974 paper from the old Aberdeen group of the SPGB: Marx v Lenin - What Kind of Revolution
  • From the WSPUS MySpace page: Class Politics in the USA - Interview with WSPUS and Union Activist
  • A Steve Coleman talk from the SPGB's 1998 Summer School: Is The Socialist Party Marxist?
  • Book Review from the July 1925 issue of the Socialist Standard. Jack Fitzgerald reviews Karl Kautsky's 'Foundations of Christianity': The Origins of Christianity
  • From the WSM Website: Shelley: a socialist poet
  • Editorial from the October 1987 issue of the Socialist Standard: Professional Revolutionaries
  • You'll notice that the articles cherry picked are not from the Socialist Standard from that particular month. Nothing against the December 2006 issue. It's a fine issue: I've been known to carry spare copies around with me.

    No, it's just that articles from current Standards are easy enough to access and the purpose of the back-up blog is to ensure that the older, quirkier stuff is saved (and cited) for posterity.

    More months to follow. Watch this space.

    Back of the Bastard Queue

    Awww diddums, Björn. Take a chance on me.

    "Very superstitious, the devil's on his way"

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (37)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 37th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain @ MySpace.

    We now have 1202 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • What are your wages?
  • The Socialist Gene
  • Danger: capitalism at work
  • This week's top quote:

    "The Prince of Darkness is upon the land. Now in the Bible his name is Beezlebub, Lord of the Flies. Right now on Earth today his name is Bolshevist! Socialist! Communist! Union man! Lord of untruth, sower of evil seed, enemy of all that is good and pure and this creature walks among us. What are we going to do about it? " The Hardshell Preacher in John Sayles' Matewan, 1987.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Come Back To This . . . Maybe

    Bah! I was wearing this outfit 32 years ago.

    From the BBC website's 'Day In Pictures'

    A model displays an autumn/winter collection by designer Kazuaki Takashima, at a Tokyo fashion show.

    Bread Heads

    I'm a sucker for a good political graphic and this one from the modern day SDS recently caught my eye. Very clever.

    Is it just me, or has someone been mashing up their Pink Floyd with their Red Floyd to come up with the inspiration for the above image?

    Only thing to add is that if I was a proper sectarian - with attendant photoshop skills - I'd have bleached out the blurb for the SDS. Just thought I'd tag that on in case some passing comrade spots the graphic and wants to lay an action detrimental on me.

    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Thank You Wiki (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)*

    Never knew that. Procrastination sometimes has its own rewards.

    Turns out that the bloke who produced the first two Duran Duran albums, Colin Thurston, also produced the following seminal records:

  • Human League's 'Reproduction'
  • Magazine's 'Secondhand Daylight'
  • Our Daughter's Wedding 'Digital Cowboy'
  • Talk Talk's 'The Party's Over'
  • KajaGooGoo's 'White Feathers'
  • Well, seminal records for me, I mean.

    And people still insist on sneering at Duran Duran after all these years. Dismissing them as being nothing more than vacuous pretty boys. Pop culture harbingers of Thatcherism.

    "Pretty boys"? Have you ever seen John Taylor in his natural light? Fulham's Jimmy Bullard scrubs up better. If it weren't for the tunes and Simon Le Bon's Sondheim-like lyrics, Nick Rhodes would still be second assistant at the bovril stand at the Holte End to this day.

    *With regards to the title of the post; Yeah I know that Colin Thurston didn't produce that particular classic Magazine track, but the song was ringing through my ears whilst spewing out this post.

    Want a real post? Not a prayer.

    First single I ever bought. The song still holds up after all these years.

    Further Linkage:

  • The 'Save A Prayer' wiki page.
  • The 5p blog gives the lowdown on 'Save A Prayer'. (Dates . . . deeds . . . discomania. That sort of stuff.)
  • Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Mansour Osanloo - Freedom Will Come

    Via YouTube, a ITWF campaign film giving more background on the campaign to free Mansour Osanloo, the trade unionist imprisoned by the Iranian regime.

    "An injury to one is an injury to all."

    Free Mansour Osanloo - Action Day 6 March 2008

    No doubt you've seen the story elsewhere via various blogs but, as a reminder, today is an international day of action by the trade union movement in support of raising awareness of the plight of Mansour Osanloo, a trade unionist imprisoned by the Iranian authorities because of his trade union activities.

    Cut and pasted below is the press release that was issued by the International Transport Workers' Federation in support of the day of action, and further information about the campaign is available at Labour Start and International Transport Workers' Federation website.

    World support for Osanloo release

    5 March 2008

    "Hundreds of thousands of people will take to the streets in over 41 countries tomorrow (6 March) to demand the release of imprisoned Iranian trade unionist Mansour Onsanloo.

    Supporters will protest at Iranian Embassies and Consulates; lobby diplomats and governments; leaflet, demonstrate and rally. The mass of protests worldwide are all in support of Mansour Osanloo, 48, the elected leader of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, a trade union founded three years ago. Even though the organisation is free, democratic and legal it has been violently attacked by Iranian security forces. As a result of his work Osanloo has been beaten, arrested and had his tongue sliced as a warning against speaking out. He is now being held in Evin Prison in Tehran, where he is in danger of losing his sight in one eye due to a previous beating.

    David Cockroft, General Secretary of global union the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation), which has spearheaded the fight for Osanloo, added: “Today workers across the world stand alongside their Iranian counterparts, whose request is a reasonable one – the basic right to belong to a union. The Iranian government’s brutal attempts to stifle that call are just making it heard more loudly and more widely.”

    He continued: “For three years we and our colleagues in the trade union movement have fought to defend Mansour and his colleagues from the vicious and sustained attacks that have culminated with his imprisonment on trumped up charges of endangering national security. Today’s worldwide action day allows us to shout out that enough is enough, and it is time to set this innocent man free.”

    The ITF and ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) are committed to securing the release of Mansour Osanloo, who has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, which is supporting the campaign. See for further information about Osanloo and his union’s struggle. A short film about him can be seen at The following actions will be taking place on 6 March 2008 as part of the campaign to free him, with more being confirmed all the time. Updates on these can be seen at"

    Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    Socialism In One Country

    "Rodney, this time next year we will do away with the millionaires."

    Hat tip to Olly's Onions and to Alan J.

    Wednesday Weak

    Weekly Bulletin of The Socialist Party of Great Britain (36)

    Dear Friends,

    Welcome to the 36th of our weekly bulletins to keep you informed of changes at Socialist Party of Great Britain@MySpace.

    We now have 1194 friends!

    Recent blogs:

  • Greedy bastards
  • The politics of joining
  • The workfare state: enforcing the wages system
  • This week's top quote:

    "Journalism is one of the devices whereby industrial autocracy keeps its control over political democracy; it is the day-by-day, between-elections propaganda, whereby the minds of the people are kept in a state of acquiescence, so that when the crisis of an election comes, they go to the polls and cast their ballots for either one of the two candidates of their exploiters." Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check, 1919.

    Continuing luck with your MySpace adventures!

    Robert and Piers

    Socialist Party of Great Britain

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Whatever happened to Pigs' Feet?

    A welcome post from Bill the possiblist impossiblist.

    Well, a half-welcome; I had a tenner on the bugger ending up in Parliament one day.

    'eFAin Travesty

    I think they just make this shit up as they go along; just so I can hate Chelski all the more.

    In the space of a week, Middlesbrough's Aliadiere gets an extra game slapped onto his existing three game ban, whilst Lampard gets a chocolate biscuit from the FA for a worse example of on-pitch petulance.

    Come on Olympiakos. Turn those bastards over. I won't even mind if Hutton Torosidis scores the winner.

    Mea Culprit

    Hands up time.

    Despite my best intentions, the last post was a bit of a garbled mess. So, for clarifications purposes:

  • Matt Gonzalez was a 15 minute darling of the left a few years back for fighting the close run campaign for the Mayoralty of San Francisco. He came within 14,000 votes of winning for the Green Party. He would have been the first left of the Democrats Mayor of a major American city for a generation . . . and then some.
  • He was in a rock band, who named themselves after John Heartfield. A homage of sorts, and it doesn't mean that he was playing bass in a band fronted by some bloke called John Heartfield. Sir, I've listened to Lloyd Cole albums. I attended the same college as Lloyd Cole (he dropped out after a week.) John Heartfield was no Lloyd Cole.
  • If only my posts were as canny as my post titles.
  • Monday, March 03, 2008

    Mixing Pop and Politics (6)

    Obscure Factoid of the Day

    Ralph Nader's running mate for the forthcoming US Presidential Election, Matt Gonzalez, was the bass player in the rock band, John Heartfield.

    John who? Helmut Herzfelde.

    Examples of Heartfield's work and further info about this world famous photomontagist and anti-fascist is available at this website.

    Unfortunately, it turns out that Matt Gonzalez's band is the first recorded instance of someone who has played music in the past 25 years to not have made a music page for themselves and placed it on MySpace.

    Saturday, March 01, 2008

    A Scots-American in the Big Hoose

    Via John over at the Class Warfare blog. It's a weight off my mind.

    Nice Surprise

  • Hibernian 0-2 Celtic
  • A really nice surprise. I thought we were definitely going to get turned over at Easter Road, cue much gloating from the Scottish Patient and the Championship race all over bar the shouting. Samaras really is doing his bit with the goals, and maybe R*ngers will start to get a wee bit nervous with Celtic refusing to slip up at this point in the season. Fingers crossed that whatever happens in Barcelona won't have a negative after effect in the domestic campaign.

    I guess it's too much to ask for Aberdeen to get a result at Ibrox this afternoon?