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

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Orwell Prize

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune have conspired to see this blog fall at the first jump for this years Orwell Prize. Two years running was a big ask. Congratulations to those that made it onto the longlist. Details here.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Freedom at it's best.

After all the euphoria, disappointment, anger or shocked disbelief (delete as appropriate) following the "events" of 26th I haven't noticed any mention so far of the excellent demo special that Freedom distributed for the occasion. We hear a lot of talk about the need to get our ideas out to people beyond the anarchist milieu, Well here was a practical example of how it can be done. Good readable down to earth stuff with no mention of any dead Russians.
Me and Freedom go back a bit. At various times I have been a subscriber, occasional reader, lapsed reader, regular reader, I was even a street seller back in the day. My opinion of the paper has swung between thinking it wet and boring to being the best thing since sliced bread. The old rag has had it's ups and downs and no mistake, but it has kept the ideas alive through thick and thin. The anti-cuts protest special was Freedom at it's best.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

A thousand flowers bloomed.

Cracking day out in town yesterday but now we will have to listen to all that guff about the Labour Party and TUC regretting and condemning the "small minority of troublemaker" hijacking peaceful protest etc; etc; I hope that all of those involved will see through the cynical attempts by the police, media and politicians to drive a wedge between the families with buggies and banners who had got up at some unearthly hour to cheerfully march through London and the spiky young Black Blockers who charged about with all the energy and fearlessness of youth.
For myself it was a case of a thousand flowers blooming. We started the day with a monster breakfast in the Regency Cafe before ambling up Whitehall and along the Strand, bade farewell to those members of the breakfast party who wanted to be involved in the Choir For Social Justice at the Law Courts (thousand flowers comrades, thousand flowers) and made our way to join up with the very lively Mallet Street Feeder. When this arrived at the Embankment we decided to make our way toward Trafalgar Square and were in time to see the Black Block storming up Charring Cross Road red and black banners flying. Onward to Piccadilly and Oxford Street. One of the nice things about the day was the fact that we kept bumping into friends and comrades and of course a few pints were involved as well. So if your bag was Samba Band and banners or a bit of mild redecorating of the West End - well done all.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Tomorrow. See you on the streets.

Well, by now you will probably have decided on your personal plan of action for tomorrow. If not there are plenty of options here. Whatever your own preference, be it the slow trudge to Hyde Park or a little West End action, stay safe and have a great day.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

As We See It.

The old libertarian group Solidarity was small, but perfectly formed. The following, taken from their As We See It pamphlet, is as pertinent today as it was when first published over forty years ago.

Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self -activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.

Stay 4 One Day is not cancelled.

Despite the Facebook page being taken down by the forces of darkness, Stay 4 One Day will go ahead as planned. Details here.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Freedom Pass "sock puppet" outed by Guardian.

Bugger! The Guardian have only gone and blown my cover. It all started when I got a phone call from Dave Petraeus (we were in psy-ops together back in the day) asking if I wanted a piece of the new "cyber command" he was setting up to combat extremism. "All we want you to do Ray", the General told me, "is develop a false persona on the interweb. Something along the lines of a pensioner anarchist with an allotment and an interest in wrestling should do nicely. It shouldn't be a lot of hassle and there's a few quid in it for you." Obviously I almost bit his hand off, had a flick through Society Of The Spectacle, and launched this blog. The rest, as they say, is history. The money certainly came in handy but now the whole thing has been ruined by a bunch of pinko lefty do-gooders. Her indoors said it was too good to last.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Save Our Cafes.

Regular visitors to this blog will be aware that when I'm not working up the allotment or hijacking peaceful demonstrations, I'm a noted figure in cafe society. If there is one thing I'm fond of it's a decent cafe. We all have our favourites but surely one of the finest eating houses in London, if not the world, is the Regency just off Horseferry Road. Cafes have been a vital part of our cultural landscape since the Second World War. The first teenage social scene that I was a part of revolved around a cafe in Francis Road Leyton, where we would feed the jukebox coins and ourselves tea and buns. At about the time that the traditional cafe was coming under threat from rising rents and a rising Starbucks lo and behold they started to become cult establishments. I welcome this trend and hope that the revival in interest of the past few years will help save our remaining cafes. Fear of losing such wonderful places generated a few books and websites that are all worth a look. You could make a start by visiting the very excellent Great British Cafes followed by Adrian Maddox's Classic Cafes site and book of the same name. Eggs Bacon Chips And Beans should also be mentioned as should Edwin Heathcote's London Caffs. This last is a fine little pocket size book that's just right for a quick read while the finishing touches are being applied to your black pudding. The trouble is that cafes are closing at an alarming rate and all these books and sites will be out of date to some extent.
Get out there and support our cafes - and swear on this sacred sauce bottle that you will never cross the threshold of a Starbucks.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Niall Ferguson-First as tragedy.......

History was bunk as far as Henry Ford was concerned while for Santayana those who do not know it are doomed to repeat it. Niall Ferguson on the other hand seems to consider history a vehicle for proving the legitimacy and inevitability of the neo-liberal project. What I find irritating about Ferguson's latest Channel 4 offering is not so much his unashamed bigging up of Western ideas and achievements, in fact it makes a refreshing change from all that lefty apologetic hand wringing and cultural relativism , no, what gets me about Niall Ferguson is not just the repeated assertion that "West Is Best" but the smirking implication that he, Niall Ferguson, is in some way to be credited for this superiority.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Threat to Japan's nuclear power stations should make us stop and think.

When I was a kid the talk was all about how nuclear energy need not be used to vaporise entire nations, a real possibility at the time it seemed, but could be used to benefit mankind. Modern, clean, "scientific" (see the white coats and high foreheads) nuclear power was going to supply all our energy needs in a brave new world of modernism and mono-rails in the sky. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island sounded a warning but then concerns about climate change gave nuclear a new lease of life. Now the vulnerability of Japan's nuclear industry in the wake of the dreadful earthquake and tsunami will give more pause for thought. Nuclear has a pretty good track record when it comes to safety. It needs to have because when it all goes tits up it does so big time.

Friday, 11 March 2011



Thursday, 10 March 2011

Royal weddings butter no parsnips.

We didn't order this. The struggle is supposed to be about the alienation of work and daily life, not recreating 19th century battles for a crust of bread. Ah! the poverty of political theory. Here we are, having left the 20th century as per instructions a decade back and inequality of wealth and opportunity is actually on the increase. The Hutton proposals will mean more work, less pay and smaller pensions for thousands of public sector workers. And this is just the start. The next couple of years could see a dramatic reduction in living standards for whole swathes of the population. How will we respond when it becomes obvious that Royal Weddings and Olympic Gold will butter no parsnips? Retreat into a depressed isolation, or kick the chair out from under the plutocracy? The choice is ours.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Edgelands.

There is nothing us psychogeographers like more than a nice bit of marginal land. Of course, when we are out and about with our lovers and muses we can be found striding the Surrey Hills, waxing lyrical about the view across The Weald or some example of hedging and ditching. But when we are out in our usual male groups of one, pursuing the psychogeographer's art as we do, we tend to gravitate back to the edges and a landscape that is home to treatment works and trailer parks, pylons and gypsy ponies; back to Britain's real wilderness where breaker's yards accommodate endangered species and anything could happen.
There is not a great deal of edgeland literature. There's Iain Sinclair of course, Richard Mabey's 70's classic The Unofficial Countryside is back in print and at the moment I'm reading Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts' very fine Edglands. Probably less well known is Marion Shoard's Edgelands essay in Remaking The Landscape. Splendid stuff! Although quite what this respectable woman from Dorking is doing poking about in the armpit of modern capitalism is another matter.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Give the kids a chance.

Despite having beaten Germany in two world wars and one World Cup and possessing a hugely superior understanding of rock 'n roll, we in this country never seem to get over our inferiority complex. "Why can't we be more like the Germans?" is a cry that I seem to have heard for as long as I can remember; and sometimes it's justified. The most recent example is the provision in our two countries of craft apprenticeships. Well, I say recent, in fact this has been running for years but a report by government analyst Professor Alison Wolf has once again exposed our poor level of vocational training and got the pundits comparing UK to Germany. Part of the problem is traditional British snobbery about folk who work with their hands. Not that Germany with it's faux aristocracy and "von" this and "Herr Doktor" that is immune from snobbishness but at least they recognize the worth of a skilled artisan compared to a desk bound keyboard jockey. British middle class reservations about their offspring doing anything but office work chimed nicely with the Thatcherite project of replacing a skilled and organised working class with a non-unionised and passive underclass of service workers. Manufacturing was replaced by gambling and trade skills by the black arts of the business school.
When the spivs in the city behaved in a way that would shame any half-decent on course bookie and buggered up the economy, everyone was falling over themselves to point out the importance of manufacturing. Too late I'm afraid. We now have a society that considers a mortgage to be a "product" and thinks that manual labour is a Mexican bandit. Yet for all of that there are still young men and women who would love to be given the chance to learn a real skill and have the vision to aspire to being something more than a mere manager or celebrity chef. It would be foolish to romanticise the manufacturing industries of the past. Much of the work was dirty and dangerous and for many redundancy must have come as a blessed relief, but in a world where we are constantly told of the importance of choice, politicians should be reminded that a choice between staring cold eyed into a computer screen or flipping burgers is no choice at all.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Health and safety on the back foot.

I have mentioned before my concerns about cuts to the Health And Safety Executive and I'm afraid that my worst fears are coming true. Anyone who thinks that "health and safety" is nothing but Nanny State trampling on our freewheeling lives, and such people tend to have never worked anywhere more dangerous than an office in my experience, should take a look at Hazards magazine; and wise up.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Jane Russell Dies.

With Jane Russell flatlining it yet another pubescent fantasy is sadly gone. Yes, I know that she was old enough to be my mum. RIP a fine looking lady.