“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Is there life after blogging?

I have always felt that as a hobby the internal bickering and general comings and goings of Leninist grouplets was marginally less interesting than brass rubbing. I'm sure that most people feel the same way about anarchist blogs, so I'll make this brief. My techno-probs continue. BT seem to have left me with no Hotmail, YouTube or Google Analytics. I can no longer comment on other blogs and Blogger is now without all the bells and whistles (spell check. hyperlink, italics, all that stuff). This seems like a good time to take a break from blogging and perhaps have a look at the real world. Talk to real people. If you see me in the pub come and say hello while I still have the power of speech. This blog may return, or not.
( Edit: It turned out that none of this was down to BT at all. It was actually a problem with my computer )

Thursday, 25 February 2010

BT Broadband? Don't do it.

If ever there was an example of "don't fix it if it ain't broke......." We decided to change our broadband provider (if that's the right word) and the last 36 hours have been a complete cyberspace nightmare. My Hotmail account has disappeared, Blogger is not functioning normally and Google Analytics has thrown a wobbler. BT claim that it's nothing to do with them but I bet that the standing order works OK. Tossers!
(Edit: Ooops! Don't let this post put you off BT. It was actually a fault with my computer.)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Bully Brown gets a bashing.

As Sugar Ray Leonard (or was it Angelo Dundee?) famously said, "there are ways of dealing with bullies". Something for Gordon Brown to reflect on as he trudges toward election defeat and his own personal "no mas" moment. When Blair talked of "clunking great fists" was it a cryptic warning to No 10 staff as well as a threat to the Cameroons? This dodgy sounding helpline that aggrieved staff are said to have turned to has Anne Widdecombe as it's patron. Do they send her round to sort out bullies? Does she rock up on the doorstep to deliver a lecture on the advantages of not having sex before marriage? That will learn 'em.


Sunday, 21 February 2010

The hungry gap.

Things are looking pretty grim up the plot at the moment. The ground is still far too cold and wet to get on with anything and apart from leeks and parsnips I don't have anything much to harvest. The sprouts and kale are finished, the purple sprouting broccoli shows no sign of sprouts purple or otherwise and the continuing cold weather means that the spring greens are going to be late this year. This is the time of year that the old country folk called the "hungry gap", and not without good reason. Of course it doesn't make a lot of odds to me. After all, the shops are full of reasonably priced vegetables and I'm not strapped for cash. It was a very different matter for the traditional cottage dweller of the past; people for whom self-sufficiency was not a hobby and a way of accumulating greenie points, but a matter of survival. Mucking about with organic growing, producing some of our own food and experimenting with self-sufficiency is great fun, incredibly satisfying and if you have the land, can make a big contribution to the family budget but just remember - without the industrial and chemical advances of modern agriculture this would be a matter of life or death.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Boxing, a social construct? Oh do leave off!

There aren't that many old or rare books in my home library. A 1912 edition of Modern Science and Anarchism, a very old copy of Faust that belonged to my Dad and a few other odds and ends account for the vintage section of my overburdened bookshelves. One little gem that I do have is Bombardier Billy Wells' Modern Boxing. A Practical Guide to Present-Day Methods. Published in the early years of the 20th century it shows, despite it's claims to modernity, a style of boxing close to that of the 19th century prize ring and very different to the one that we see today. Boxing in the day of Bombardier Wells (and now you know how the beer got it's name) was very much a straight standing, straight punching, parry and counter kind of affair. Yet fast forward twenty years and fighters, especially in the States, are fighting out of a crouch, using the hook a lot and standing much more square on to their opponent. This more square stance lends itself to bobbing and weaving, rolling the hips and shoulder and a far more fluid style. So how come this transition? There is a school of thought suggests that this new approach was something learnt from the Filipino fighting arts and adapted for the boxing ring by American servicemen stationed in the Philippines.It could well be true.
In the years that I spent in boxing, wrestling and martial arts gyms I don't recall that much time being spent discussing fighting as a social product but from my current safety of being a mere keyboard warrior I can probably risk it. Clearly combat systems are not only products of society but reflect changes in society as well. From the Sioux Indians getting the horse to British Indians getting rap, hybrid culture is always innovative and exiting; and it changes things. This change is frequently resisted by traditionalists and the more conservative the particular area of culture the more the change will be resisted. In the past for example musicians have been considerably more amenable to outside influence then have martial arts masters. Sometimes this innate conservatism produces a faux tradition. A false history that might claim for example that Japanese Karate is thousands of years old when in fact it was introduced into Japan from Okinawa in 1922. The Martial Arts boom of the late 70s seemed to become the last refuge of Orientalism. The truth is that few aspects of culture remain "pure"; and those that do simply stagnate. Modern boxing probably does owe a lot to Filipino influence. Judo has certainly been influenced by Western wrestling and I have often wondered how much Muay Thai is a product of French colonialism.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The last refuge?

The general election looms. An unpopular Prime Minister looks gloomier by the day. The soothsayers of Victoria Street seem unable to discern any light at the end of the tunnel. Some are not even able to locate the tunnel. It's rumoured that some are unable to locate their arse in a dark room.Is there any way that the PM can be marketed as anything other than a dull as ditch water wet blanket? How might the Red Tops be brought on side? Just a minute! No, he ain't got the balls. Well it's worked before. Go on Gordie, it's your only chance. GET THAT FALKLANDS TASK FORCE UNDERWAY NOW.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The Middle East? I wouldn't start from here.

Dubia, where global capital, commodity fetishism and conservative Islam form an (un)holy alliance seems a very fitting location for the (probable) Mossad assassination of Hamas strong man Mahmoud al Mabhough. The "problem" of the Middle East is in fact the ongoing failure to build any kind of stable, decent, fair society after the collapse of the Old Empires at the end of World War 1. After paying a huge price in blood Europe has more or less emerged from this phase of history; but not so the Middle East. Here the fall of the Ottomans, the rise of Arab Nationalism,the establishment the state of Israel and finally the resurgence of jihad have continued to produce misery and insecurity. The inability of Europeans to deal with each other in any kind of rational and humane way resulted in the making real of the Zionist project. The "final solution" was thankfully not the one that Hitler had in mind but rather the final act of European colonial expansion. A land without people for a people without land - like Africa, Australia and the American West. One can't turn the clock back. We have to deal with the world as it is but truly, if asked how the Middle East could be made whole the only response would have to be like the old answer to a request for directions, "I wouldn't start from here".

Monday, 15 February 2010

A world turned upside down.

OK, relax over there in Middle England Mail Reader Land. It is actually 0.54% of teenage girls in the more deprived parts of the country who are getting up the duff and not the 54% as previously announced by Conservative Party Central Office. Sorry about that. One of the chaps got a trifle confused with his decimal points. Could happen to anyone. The main point is that New Labour have failed to address the increasing gulf between the rich and poor in our society and continue to be totally relaxed in the company of the filthy rich. The New Tories on the other hand, under the firm but benign leadership of The Peoples Champion, Dave "Caring" Cameron, are working flat out to create policies to ensure a more equal and just society. Even as we speak an army of highly trained researchers are poring over yellowing texts by everyone from William Morris to Bill Morris in an attempt to get to grips with all this stuff. Co-operatives are said to be the coming thing and my contact at White's Club tells me that some senior Tories are even talking about the possibility of that lefty Clause Four thing being slotted into the manifesto somewhere. Strange times.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Never trust a hero.

A recent comment on this blog regarding Billy Bragg has got me thinking. First off I have to admit to being a long term fan of Billy Bragg and I was pleased to see him at the G20 last year. As you can imagine I was disappointed to see him, an hour or so later, being escorted through the police lines while the rest of us remained in the kettle. From Bob Dylan to the Sex Pistols my music heroes have tended to let me down by failing to live up to a political stance that they never claimed in the first place.But what is important here is not my own naivety about Billy Bragg or any other rock hero; that doesn't concern me that much and certainly should not concern anyone else. What matters is the whole issue of expecting others to live your life for you, and expecting them to live their lives according to your own image of them. Look, what I'm trying to say here is that it may not matter much if I fetishise a musician and they fail to live up to my expectations but we are also very capable of fetishising any group of people-an organization, a political party, even a whole class. When we feel let down on this much grander scale, the political consequences can be profound-and sometimes profoundly unpleasant.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Identity Project.

How do we see ourselves? From what do we derive our identity? From our nationality, class, skin pigmentation, politics, religion? All of this -or none of it? Never has the question been so relevant. The Identity Project is a nine month season of events and exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection. The season includes the thought provoking exhibition "Eight Rooms-Nine Lives". It really is well worth a visit.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Bill who?

"The socialism I believe in is not really politics. It is a way of living. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day. That might be asking a lot, but it's the way I see football and the way I see life." Bill Shankly

Regardless of whether or not she has heard of him, I don't suppose that yuppy New Labour wanabees like Luciana Berger would have the faintest glimmering of a clue what the man was talking about.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Maria's bubble hits the spot.

To be honest, Borough Market is not really my kind of place. Don't get me wrong, there is some wonderful produce on the stalls but it's all overpriced food for the overpaid chattering classes. The truth is that the bourgeoisie are neither discreet nor charming. But right in the centre of all this nonsense is an oasis of common sense value for money. I'm referring of course to Maria's Cafe. Maria's bubble and squeak is world famous, and rightly so. I dropped in today for a bacon and bubble sarni - top grub.

Birds Eye shaft pea growers big time.

Birds Eye's decision to pull the plug on the East Anglian pea growers will have serious consequences for the local economy. Farmers have already bought in this years seed and will be left facing an uncertain few months. But that is only part of the story and a whole network of agricultural and other dependant industries will feel the pinch.
I must be one of the very few allotment growers who's favourite vegetables are frozen peas and chips, so I have a vested interest in all this. Norfolk farmers had intended to drill peas in the next couple of weeks which seems suprisingly early to me. I would have thought that the ground would be much to cold and wet. Amazing what you can learn if you happen to wake up early and catch Farming Today.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Olympic dream will be a nightmare for some.

Even if no modern games has managed to live up to the Olympic Ideal that is no reason to succumb to a lefty knee jerk anti Olympics reaction. There is much to be said for sporting achievement, for the coming together of international athletes and a couple of weeks of thrilling entertainment and sometimes nail biting drama. Having said all that though it has to be admitted that time after time we find the Olympic Dream tainted with the reality of human rights abuses as the poor, the disadvantaged, the dissident and the unwanted are bulldozed out of the way lest they tarnish the gold and glamour. This years Vancouver Winter Olympics looks like being attended by the usual spiteful social cleansing as the homeless are removed from the streets in preparation for the games. Here in London we have just two years before our own carnival of sporting excellence, social engineering, large scale corruption and security psycho-drama takes to the road. Chariots of Fire it won't be.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Cops For Jesus.

A good bit of media attention is given to The Muslim Police Association as well as to Black and Gay police groupings but perhaps less well known is the Christian Police Association. Over on the Freethinker site you can find a very informative piece on these Cops For Jesus including an outstanding video clip featuring one young guardian of the law explaining about the power of prayer in solving crimes and how being a Christian doesn't stop him from being a right bastard to deal with. I suppose it's only a matter of time before we have a Humanist Police Association, and from there it will be but a short step to the formation of the Federation of Anarchist Police Officers.