Thursday, October 28, 2010


Sprite Spite

Cannot post, email or even type atm. The keyboard is busted. It lost a fight with a glass of Sprite last night.

The mouse still works, so this communiQue has been painstakingly brought to you via cut and paste . . . ransom note style.

I'll be in touch.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Post-Capitalism: Parecon or a World without Money? Which way to a classless society?

SPGB debate with Z Magazine's Michael Albert at Conway Hall this coming Saturday:


Which way to a classless society?

Debate with Michael Albert (founder member of ZCommunications and author of "Parecon: Life After Capitalism") and Adam Buick (World Socialist Movement) about the alternative to capitalism.


- form of money economy featuring workers' self-management and consumer councils, price-setting, and personal incomes based on effort and sacrifice not property or heredity.

"In the world you desire to attain there is, I presume, production. Likewise, I assume you agree that people will consume. More, beyond production and consumption, is there some regulation of what is produced and in what quantity? The alternative would be that anyone can produce anything, with no concern other than that they wish to. This is nonsense, but if there is regulation of how resources, energies, and labor are allocated to generate outputs, does that regulation reflect the preferences that both producers and consumers have and especially a full valuation of the relative contribution to well being and development of different choices? If it does, then to that extent it includes "money." The valuations are prices, albeit not necessarily as we have known them in market and centrally planned systems".

Michael Albert (ZCom)


- the abolition of the property-based money economy including markets, profits, rent and wages, with all land and goods owned and democratically controlled by the whole society.

"In implementing the long-standing socialist principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs”, socialist society breaks the link between work done and consumption. Rather than being “allotted” what to consume as under “Parecon”, people would be able to take from the common store of wealth set aside for individual consumption what they judged they needed to live and enjoy life, irrespective of what they had contributed to production. Every able-bodied person would be expected to contribute something, but we don’t share your bleak view that, in this event, not enough would be produced to satisfy people’s needs (that “demand would exceed supply”, as you put it) - and that therefore, not just profits, but the wages system too would have to be retained as a means of both obliging people to work and of limiting their consumption. Just like under capitalism.

Our description of “Parecon” is “post-capitalist capitalism”, i.e. not post-capitalism at all".

Adam Buick (SPGB)

Peter Bodak versus Man City, January 1982

Don't ask me why but I just thought of this goal, and YouTube was good enough to confirm that the goal and the goalscorer weren't just a figment of my imagination.

I had totally forgotten about that red and white Coventry City away kit, though. My memory was still locked on their chocolate delight from the Wallace and Ferguson era.

Sadly, Bodak doesn't have one of the more informative wiki pages but this article which dates from 2005 fills in some of the gaps.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Malvinas Requiem by Rodolfo Fogwill (Serpent's Tail 1983)

Garcia had brought the newspaper photos showing the two sets of officers having tea together. The Brits had given him a bundle of photos of Argie officers who had surrendered taking tea with the naval captains from the British fleet. On the reverse were written the names of the Argentine officers, and of the place where each had surrendered.
'Chuck the lot of them!' said Viterbo. He was insistent. The Brits had asked the dillos to hand them out in the Quartermaster's, to hasten the surrender.
'Let's throw them away! No surrender! Let them kill each other, so they all fuck off and leave us in peace. We'll chuck the photos away and tell them they were distributed.'
So the dillos burnt them in the stove. There were lots of photos, the bundle was as big as a large ammunition box. It burnt slowly, giving off an acrid smoke, which made their eyes smart and their throats sore.

Weekend by William McIlvanney (Sceptre Paperbacks 2006)

She paused the tape and started to spool forward. She was looking for a moment during the question time that followed Harry Beck's lecture. Mickey Deans had asked a question in a tone of such aggression it had stirred the room from somnolence into tension. Eventually she found it.
'You mentioned in class once that you still regard yourself as a socialist. How is that possible when you have such a jaundiced view of humanity?'
She thought she could almost hear Harry Beck's sad smile.
'First thing is, I don't think it's jaundiced. I think any kind of hope begins in honestly trying to confront what you see as the truth. That's all I've been trying to do. It's the darkness of that truth as I see it that makes me a socialist. After all, the dark is where the dawn comes from. I don't believe in Utopia. You won't find it on any map we can ever make. And if it did exist, we couldn't breathe the air there. It would be too pure for us. But I believe in our ability to drift endlessly towards dystopia. We seem to be programmed for it. As if we were saying to ourselves: if we can't beat the dark, let's celebrate it. I'm against that. I'm a dystopian socialist. Socialism is an attempt to share as justly as we can with one another the terms of human experience. Don't do the dark's work for it. If it's only void out there, let's write our own defiant meaning on it. And make it a shared meaning. I think believing in good is the good. Against all the odds. Even if I'm part of the odds against us. I think it's what makes us what we are.'

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Gift by David Flusfeder (4th Estate 2003)

My father approved of football. It was the people's game, working class, played in barrios and ghettos worldwide. With the right ideological apparatus it could be a force for international communism. I set myself diligently to the task of becoming a world-famous footballer and, therefore, revolutionary. I practised heading against the block of flats where we lived until the widow whose bedroom was behind the wall I was using came out with her poodle yapping. I developed my weaker left leg by practising corners with it; I built up my stamina on long training runs invigilated mercilessly by my Marxist father tottering behind me on a woman's bicycle through the streets of south-east London. My rise was prodigious. At ten I was the second-best player in the London under-twelves. Like Stan Bowles I was a stylish, shaggy-haired number ten capable of a blistering shot with either foot, of finding the miraculous pass, and with a gift for dribbling that I used seldom and apologetically, because my father had trained me into believing that the player must subordinate himself to the team and not indulge in displays of bourgeois individualism.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shame The Devil by George P. Pelecanos (Dell Books 2000)

The reverend's thin lips turned up in a gaseous grin. "So you like Edwardtown."
"Yes. How about you?"
"Well, I'll tell you. I've lived in New York and some other glamorous places, too. But it was always my dream to come to a small town like Edwardtown to build a congregation from the ground up."
And to fleece the local hayseeds for everything they have.
"I moved around a lot," said the reverend, "searching for I didn't know what until I came here."
"And because I never had a wife or children of my - "
" - this congregation has become my family. I'd like very much for you to become a part of that family."

Monday, October 11, 2010

To An Early Grave by Wallace Markfield (Dalkey Archive Press 1964)

And then off, off to the boardwalk, to hang around and watch the kids. Honest, you never saw such kids. Brown and round and mother-loved, fed on dove's milk and Good Humors. At night they pair off under the pavilions - Milton and Sharon, Seymour and Sandra, Heshie and Deborah. They sing stupid songs, an original word doesn't leave their lips and, clearly, not one will ever stand up for beauty or truth or goodness. Yet - do me something! I could stay and watch them for hours. I feel such love, I chuckle and I beam, and if it was in my power I'd walk in their midst, pat their heads and bless them, each and every one. So they don't join YPSL and they never heard of Hound and Horn and they'll end up in garden apartments, with wall-to-wall carpeting. What does it matter? Let them be happy, only be happy. And such is my state that I will remit all sins . . .

Thursday, October 07, 2010

From Doon With Death by Ruth Rendell (Ballantine Books 1964)

"About your boyfriends, Mrs. Missal?" As soon as the words were out Wexford knew he had been obtuse.
"Oh, no," she said sharply. "You've got it wrong. Not then, not in the garden. It was a wilderness, an old pond, bushes, a seat. We used to talk about . . . well, about our dreams, what we wanted to do, what we were going to make of our lives." She stopped and Wexford could see in a sudden flash of vision a wild green place, the girls with their books, and hear with his mind's ear the laughter, the gasp of dizzy ambition. Then he almost jumped at the change in her voice. She whispered savagely, as if she had forgotten he was there: "I wanted to act! They wouldn't let me, my father and mother. They made me stay at home and it all went. It sort of dissolved into nothing." She shook back her hair and smoothed with the tips of two fingers the creases that had appeared between her eyebrows. "I met Pete," she said, "and we got married." Her nose wrinkled. "The story of my life."
"You can't have everything," Wexford said.
"No," she said, "I wasn't the only one . . . ."

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"Wearing badges is not enough . . ."

. . . but I've always had a soft spot for this one:

Now, where can I find a button hole?

Mention of the SPGB badge in the comments to this old post from Alan J's blog.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid (2008)

It had been a few years since Karen had last taken the single-track road to Newton of Wemyss. But it was obvious that the hamlet had undergone the same transformation as its sister villages on the main road. Commuters had fallen ravenous upon all four of the Wemyss villages, seeing rustic possibilities in what had been grim little miners' rows. One-bedroom hovels had been knocked through to make lavish cottages, back yards transformed by conservatories that poured light into gloomy living-kitchens. Villages that had shrivelled and died following the Michael pit disaster in '67 and the closures that followed the 1984 strike had found a new incarnation as dormitories whose entire idea of community was a pub quiz night. In the village shops you could buy a scented candle but not a pint of milk. The only way you could tell there had ever been a mining community was the scale model of pit winding gear that straddled the point where the private steam railway had once crossed the main road laden with open trucks of coal bound for the railhead at Thornton Junction. Now, the whitewashed miners' rows looked like an architect's deliberate choice of what a vernacular village ought to look like. Their history had been overwhelmed by a designer present.