Friday, 28 October 2011
Corporate greed, rather like police brutality and religious hypocrisy, is a given. It's how they do and in the next couple of weeks we may see all three of these phenomena on show on the steps of St Paul's. Even so I imagine that in a lot of Guardian reading households this morning a good few spoonfuls of muesli are being sprayed across the breakfast table at news of the whacking 48% pay rise in top company boardrooms. Most of us will just shrug our shoulders I suppose. Mutter something about getting even rather than mad and just get on with our day. As I say, it's how they do. But for all of that I can't help wondering how these fat cats justify the huge disparity between what they take home and what the overwhelming majority of folk get by on. Most of us are prone to that occasional waking in the early hours and mulling over the rights and wrongs of our lives. Do the rich do the same? Perhaps the arrogance of wealth and privilege keeps them immune from self doubt. I suspect that that is the case.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
The Bolsheviks have plenty to answer for. The silencing of all opposition voices, the millions who starved to death, the enforced collectivisation, the gulag. For those of us who became politicised during the cold war, another legacy of the old Leninist gang was constantly being told to "go back to Russia. "It didn't work in Russia did it?" etc. etc. On and on. You might expect that twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Empire that all this comparison to the Bolshevik catastrophe was a thing of the past; might indeed be consigned to the dustbin of history. Not a bit of it. Yesterday at the St Paul's camp I found myself having to go over the same old ground. The existence of a libertarian current in socialism, direct democracy, a movement from the bottom up, the anarchist tradition. Keeps me on my toes I suppose. Perhaps more telling were the Russian tourists who demanded that the couple of cops on duty at the camp explain why they allowed this disgraceful gathering to continue. That comrades is the true Bolshevik legacy. The good news is that most of the activists at the camp seem far to concerned with trying to live politics to be interested in polemic from any quarter.
Monday, 24 October 2011
Some things just never seem to change. For as long as I can remember there has been a housing shortage in this country and that shortage has been set against the obscene backdrop of thousands of properties standing empty year in and year out. The post-war squatting movement, Cathy Come Home, the founding of Shelter, the second wave of squatting in the 70's, housing action initiatives by the cart load. Is there no end to it? The truthful answer to that question is no, probably not. Well not at least until we start to talk about the meaning of property, question the idea of housing as a commodity and challenge the role of speculation in that most basic of human needs - a roof over our heads. Heavy stuff, but nothing short of this will do I'm afraid.
Sunday, 23 October 2011
I awoke this morning to the usual post Anarchist Bookfair hangover. Not too serious mind and certainly nothing that a few hours work down the allotment couldn't put right. I also awoke to the usual pile of magazines and pamphlets that I had acquired. There was all the regular stuff that I pick up of course, Black Flag, Now Or Never etc. but also some more esoteric publications as well. Kittens (journal of the wine and cheese appreciation society of Greater London) for example. Also the usual (but wonderful) selection of neo-situationist pamphlets that I can never resist and to cap it all the story of Joe Hill - in Polish! Not a bad haul but I was disappointed not to see two of my favourites, The Cunningham Amendment and The Land.
Apart from the wealth of reading material there was a stellar line up of meetings and talks and as usual the Wright And Bone Show was a superb example of restrained and measured moderation that is a beacon to us all. But by far the best thing about the bookfair is the people that I haven't seen for ages, the new people I meet and the chance to relax in the pub afterwards with good company. Lovely!
Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Friday, 14 October 2011
You don't tend to make a lot of friends by insisting that in order to make any sense of the state of the world it is essential to get to the heart of the matter. "Back to basics", as Major whispered in Vindaloo's shell like all those years ago. We have to ask fundamental questions and encourage others to do the same. What is property and what are property rights? We need to ask not if the inflated profits of energy companies are "just", but where those profits came from. No doubt Eton has produced more total shits than any institution this side of the Lubyanka but it's abolition without challenging the whole notion of elites would be pointless. Every small victory, every marginal redistribution of wealth from the rich to the masses. every individual who's self-confidence is bolstered by successfully challenging authority; all of this is to be welcomed. But in order to liberate ourselves from the perpetual tinkering with the detail of capitalism and get on with the job of superseding it, we have to risk being accused of being theoreticians and ask some very basic questions indeed.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
At thirty one years of age and with a 23-2 professional record David Haye has decided to hang up his gloves. Haye has been a controversial figure in the sport. This has been partly due to the man's self-confident persona, us Brits like our sporting heroes to be shy and self effacing, but also because of some real misgivings about the genuine quality of Haye as a boxer. On the face of it the Bermondsey fighter had everything going for him. Admittedly small for a heavyweight, he was always a gifted athlete, a talented boxer who was committed to the sport; or at least committed to being successful in it. So why did many of us feel that something was missing? More to the point, why do we always struggle to define that "something" that makes the difference between between being a top athlete and a truly great one? From the time of the Ancient Greeks, through to the modern day world where every gym seems infested with sports science graduates, we have sought to improve our understanding of physical excellence and when it comes to the measurable things such as nutrition, recovery rate and skill development, the project has been a huge success; but we are no closer to defining that hidden "something" than Homer was. Next time you are watching world class cricket you might have a go at pondering what the relationship is between "talent" and "form" - answers on a postcard to the ECB.
We might also ponder what it is that allows professional boxers to climb through the ropes and put their health on the line in the most physically and psychologically demanding of all sports. Haye may not have been the greatest but he was part of a tough and courageous elite who we mere mortals salute. Thank you David.
Monday, 10 October 2011
Sunday, 9 October 2011
Just across the road from Tower Hill and nestling beneath the imposing Trinity House lies Trinity Square. This small park, probably unnoticed by most of the tourists visiting the Tower Of London, is home to the Merchant Navy War Memorial. Some thirty five thousand British and Empire seamen lost their lives during the Second World War and although our Merchant Navy is now all but a memory, for ex-seaman like myself and for the relatives of those lost at sea, strolling around the memorial remains a moving experience. Now comes news that the site is to be desecrated by a series of lavish Christmas parties and banquets for city bankers. The average banker and city spiv would not be fit to wash the jock strap of the men who's courage is commemorated here. Keep the scum out of Trinity Gardens this Christmas.
Saturday, 8 October 2011
The time has come for this blog to make clear, once and for all, where we stand regarding Defence Secretary Liam Fox's relationship with the much younger Adam Werritty. Here at Freedom Pass Anarchist House we take the view that if Fox is in fact a hypocritical closet shirt-lifter who has reduced his wife to the level of a mere fag-hag we should refuse to make political capital out of what is clearly going to turn out to be a personal tragedy. There is a long and honourable tradition of closet homosexuality in right-wing politics and Fox has every right to be a part of it if he so chooses.
If there is one thing that gets up the noses of the rich and powerful (no not that Gideon) it's being laughed at. We should not be surprised, but we have every right to be outraged, at the story of international corruption that will be unfolding over the next few days - and Fox should not be surprised if he becomes the laughing stock of the nation.
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Paul Stott once remarked that taking the trouble to really learn about economics was a bit like decorating the spare room - seemed like a good idea but you just never find the time. Politicians frequently attempt to help us simple people make sense of such higher matters by comparing the nations economy to our own household finances. Margaret Thatcher was fond of equating the mysteries of our part in the web of global capitalism to putting a few extra tins in the cupboard in case one of the kids turns up unannounced. Now the Great Helmsman is telling us that just as he is dealing with the national debt as he pilots us safely through the maelstrom of financial crisis so we must play our part by paying off our debts and putting a bit by for the coming shit storm. Just in time the finance monitor whispered in Dave's ear that what the punters should actually be doing is spending like sailors on the last night ashore. There's obviously more to this financial malarkey than meets the eye.
The London Anarchist Bookfair kicks off in a couple of weeks. Autonomists, Syndicalists, Anarcho-Syndicalists, Anarcho-Communists, Council-Communists, Radical Feminists, Libertarian-Marxists, Pro-Situationists, Vegetarian-Pacifists, Vegan-Activists, Freedom Pass Anarchists, Steam Punkists, Continental Theorists, Can Of Special Brew And Dog On Stringists.
We'll all be there. We're all going down the pub later.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
The nice new fat twenty four page issue of the now monthly Freedom has thudded onto my doormat. I have to say that I was unsure about the old rag dropping the fortnightly format but I am aware that the decision was largely a financial one. The truth is that a long history and an iconic status in the international anarchist movement butter few parsnips and Freedom is always strapped for cash. Anyway the October issue is chock full of good stuff with interesting pieces on everything from industrial action to martial arts by way of "The Riots" and timely reminders of Cable Street and the Attica Prison massacre.
A deepening economic crisis and a government determined to address that crisis with policies that must result in tough and uncertain times for ordinary people may well lead us into uncharted political waters. Who could have predicted what has happened on the streets during the past year - and who knows what the next couple of years have in store for us? If anarchist and libertarian communist ideas are to have any role in the days ahead a paper that can be trusted and that can provide somewhere to turn to (figuratively and for real) will be essential. I think that that paper is Freedom.
Sunday, 2 October 2011
I have just got home after a cracking day at the Cable Street 75th anniversary in the company of comrades old and new. It could be the beer but I've come over all non-sectarian. Bob Crow gave a rousing speech, one dear old soul on the stage will be 106 tomorrow, Wiltons Music Hall was a knock out and Benjamin Zephaniah was in the pub after. What more could you ask for?