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

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Blogger off to Cornwall.

Well that's it for now my handsomes. I'm off down to Newlyn for Mazey Day or Golowan or whatever. I know it's not the Fish Festival. They like their festivals the Cornish do. Don't start anything big until I get back.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Jim Wango and the Nazis.

The left's habit of labelling all and sundry as "Nazi" has always struck me as less than clever. The cops who shrugged their shoulders at Stephen Lawrence's murder, spent years covering up their ineptitude and even mounted undercover operations to discredit the grieving family, these people may have been deeply racist but that is not "Nazi". The history of what befell those who failed to live up to Nazi racial ideals is long and harrowing. It includes mass murder and individual stories of bigotry and injustice that are not so much horrific as just very sad. I came across one such story on the Wrestling Heritage site. Jim Wango was a globe trotting black professional wrestler who made the mistake of upsetting top Nazi  thug Julius Streicher on the eve of the Berlin Olympics. It's a little bit of history on the margins and one of thousands of such stories that formed the true narrative of what "Nazi" really means.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Peoples Assembly or a day at the races? The people choose.

Inside Methodist Central Hall Westminster the hot air rose in almost equatorial proportions. Outside a large marquee housed the Firebox Cafe, a stand up venue and the usual plethora of literature stalls. On that stone plinth that overlooks the entrance to the hall a handful of anarchists suggested possible alternatives to what was being proposed inside. I'm not knocking any of this because apart from the career politicos who think that taking the masses through the negative experience of another Labour government will somehow "radicalise" them (I'm never sure how many times this has to be experienced before the radicalising finally kicks in) there must have been hundreds of good folk who genuinely want to change the world for the better and will grasp at anything that may offer hope - and that applies equally to those inside and outside the hall. Trouble is that politicos, both amateur and professional, tend to go on a lot about "ordinary people" but frequently seem to have little connection with same. I was reminded of this when on the way to the event. Clapham Junction and Waterloo were both heaving  with people dressed up to the nines and on their way to a good day out at Ascot. Just because it's "Royal" Ascot don't run away with the idea that all of these punters are toffs or in some way "posh". A day at the races is a day at the races and there is a long and honourable tradition of lorry drivers, dinner ladies and dodgy scrap metal dealers getting shit-faced and making an exhibition of themselves. The point is that all those people were off to have a good day out. They will not have heard of John Rees or the Peoples Assembly and certainly won't have much interest in us anarchists. They also dress a lot (a fucking lot) better than us. The left (even the anarchists) used to be a part of the working class milieu and somehow we have to make that connection again. I think that Class War had it for a while back in the eighties but that was then and this is now. I keep thinking of all those punters on the station platform as well as all the other "ordinary people" in London yesterday and I can't for the life of me see how they might be made to feel that Peoples Assemblies or New Movements could in any way relate to them.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The truth is lurking down on the farm

Environment Minister Owen Paterson has come out very strongly in favour of lifting the EU ban on GM crops, going as far as suggesting that a failure to embrace genetic modification will result in damage to both European agriculture and the environment. The trouble is that the science is so complex that it's difficult for most of us to develop an informed opinion. We tend to just end up taking on board a range of pro and anti propaganda some of which we suspect is Monsanto marketing strategy dressed up as concern for both the hungry and the environment, and some that sounds a lot like organic back to nature lets all join hand and get in touch with Mother Earth pseudo-science of the worst kind. The truth is out there but scientists need to help us ordinary unlettered folk to find it if we are to get beyond prejudice and jerking knees.
One agricultural conundrum that I can get my head around the issue of feeding pigs with swill. This practise was banned when the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak was traced to a swill feeding pig farm. But we waste as much as 30% of our food in this country and properly treated domestic and catering waste is a cheap and reliable feed for pigs especially for the small scale producer. The pig is natures very own organic wast disposal unit. The trouble is that although we don't like our meat to be produced on agri-business factory farms, in the past few decades  we have gone out of our way to make life difficult for the small scale producer. There is a movement afoot to take another look at this problem and how nice to see that Stepney City Farm is playing a major role in this. It ain't rocket science - or GM.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Perhaps it does take a weatherman after all.

This year we had the coldest spring for 50 years. Last summer was the wettest for a century. The weather seems to lurch between draught and flood and now UK farmers are predicting a 30% reduction in wheat yealds this coming harvest. We are used to changeable weather in this country, it's the price we pay for being situated in the path of the prevailing South Westerly winds bringing moist, unstable air from the Atlantic, but the last few years have seen a lot of what meteorologists like to call "extreme weather events". The Met Office, and meteorologists are not normally prone to panic, are so concerned that they have called an emergency meeting tomorrow to try and decide if the recent weather extremes are related to climate change and advise the government accordingly. If we had to double our flood defence  budget and at the same time face up to a serious reduction in farm output, all against the background of a stagnant economy and the current program of austerity, we could be in for some unprecedented hard times. The big question is, could a genuine upsurge of mutual aid and egalitarian feeling keep us all afloat or will this be yet another example of the the rich and powerful commandeering all the lifeboats while the rest of us go down with the band playing the national anthem?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The loss of a legend. End of an era. We will not see the like ....etc.etc.

Well, that's it. From now on it's all pan fried bullshit garnished with parmesan shavings, drizzled with extra virgins or something and consumed to a background track of champagne bottles rolling out of taxis and the braying laughter of the chattering classes. Details here. Bugger!

The Emperor has no shops. Only prisons.

The G8 protests roll on and part of the problem for the state is containing what so far have been fairly low turn out if sparky gatherings and at the same time reassuring the world that, here in the UK at least, it's business as usual. That's why it was so clever of the Tuesday's young Apaches to take their protest into the heart of what is the shopping playground of the international bourgeosie. Meanwhile over in County Fermanagh, where the actual G8 negotiations on how best to right the listing S.S. Capital are taking place, shops that have been empty and boarded up since the recession have been given fake window displays in an effort to make hard hit towns seem like a thriving retail wonderland. A disused army camp in Omagh has been turned into a temporary holding centre for arrested protesters and presumably this facility is real.  But who knows what is real anymore? Certainly not me.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Portillo investigates The Great Unrest.

Tomorrow sees the start of a new Radio4 series of short programmes about the run up to the First World War. 1913 The Year Before does have the disadvantage of being presented by Michael Portillo who having exhausted his Bradshaw's Guide, and no doubt the patience of rail staff everywhere, is now set to take a long hard look at The Great Unrest. What Thatcher's former best boy will make of this time of unprecedented  industrial and social militancy remains to be seen but just don't expect him to be humming The Red Flag at any stage.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Tory press cream pants over Polish private clinic shock.

When Poland joined the EU the first wave of immigrant workers arriving here tended to focus on the building trade. They soon became well known for going out for considerably less than their British equivalents but producing a much inferior standard of workmanship. Part of the problem was that the newly arrived, in an effort to secure employment, understandably claim to be skilled in all kinds of trades that they may have very limited knowledge of. Thus a worker who was perhaps a painter in Poland would blag his way into kitchen fitting, with the inevitable results. Well you get what you pay for and if some members of the chattering classes end up with new extensions parting company from the rest of the house what do I care? Now however we learn that a private clinic for Poles in West London is offering a half hour consultation with a Polish doctor for £70. That's about what you would expect to pay to have your boiler serviced by a qualified heating engineer and the job would probably take about the same amount of time. The MailTorygraph and the Economist all use the story to both slag off the NHS and once again grind on about that wonderful Polish work ethic. But the comments on the Economist piece are most revealing, and when it comes to the health service in Poland itself, so is this FT piece.
Just as an aside, the Poles have certainly put paid to the long held belief that the work ethic is a protestant malady.

Friday, 7 June 2013

"No power in the universe can stop the UKIPS."

A new Doctor needs to be chosen and in this age of consultation it was deemed essential that a YouGov survey be conducted to asses links between political persuasion and Doctor Who preferences. Should The Doctor be gay or straight? Black or white? Male or female? Are swivel eyed loons actualy Daleks or just one step away from UKIP? It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog to learn that UKIP supporters are strongly in favour of a Doctor who is white, male and not one of those shirt lifter types.
I stepped inside the Tardis once. It was on a visit to Ealing Studios a few years back. I'm not wanting to  piss on anyone's chips here but I have to report that the dimensions inside seemed pretty similar to those outside. The Met once brought an unsuccessful action to claim trade mark rights to The Tardis. ( sighs and switches off computer.)

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Some thoughts on a new social movement.

Re-posted from the INCUBUS blog and well worth a read.

In the dead time at work today, I imagined a movement, one that stretches across the country, a unified Social Movement in every city and every town, a movement of thousands of ordinary people, that sees all struggles as ONE single struggle, whether resisting Bedroom Tax evictions, the closure of Hospitals, protesting against ATOS, the next war or the EDL, occupying libraries, besieging town halls, joining picket lines and wildcat workers demos. A movement not divided along the lines of ideology, that makes its own way in the world, makes demands, states refusals, one that will not compromise, one that is bound by feeling rather than stale theory, one that welcomes everyone, a movement that sees no difference between the waged and unwaged, skilled or unskilled, one that decides everything democratically through its own local assemblies, councils or groups, where everyone is afforded respect as individuals, where authoritarians pushing their own agenda are not welcomed, a movement that will not tolerate the manipulation, parasitism or infiltration by the dead Left or ‘process’ experts, where real effort is made to bind people together through practical mutual aid that breaks down the physical isolation and fragmentation of urban living and the reserve that it breeds.
A movement that takes direct action, but one that takes care of people, that can have a laugh, party and eat together, a movement that is prepared to defend its communities, and to support its neighbours, a movement that shares ideas and information on resistance, everyday survival , attack and legal rights, a movement that spits on racism and challenges every form of bigotry, first through persuasion, and then if necessary, by force, a movement powered by the skills and imagination of everyone in it, a movement based on the reality of life, its possibilities, not the plastic promises of the future, a movement that has nothing to ask of the ‘representative’ political parties, a movement that makes use of social media, but knows what a phone-tree is and is also attuned to the human need for face to face communication without pointless egotistical antagonism.
A Social Movement which practices real, compassionate, solidarity and autonomy side by side. A movement that produces unapologetic, relentless, blunt propaganda that makes it plain that the rich, the politicians, the bosses, the corporations and their assorted guard dogs, are robbing us blind and are never, ever to be trusted with our well being, our future and that of our kids. When it comes to Mutual Aid, a new movement could incorporate ideas like ‘Time Banks’ where people offered and shared skills with each other, whether it was plumbing, I.T. help or doing a bit of shopping or DIY for elderly members- anything that is not just purely political, that helps people out when they’re skint, and that meetings it holds should be more like a gathering with food and drink, an alternative to the sterile tedium of the average talking shops of current political groups. None of which would detract from the actual politics naturally, just Mutual Aid and solidarity in action.
Royal visit to the Bank of England
We have to build a new Social Movement from the bottom up, it’s no good thinking you can ‘convert’ people, or ‘win them over’ to a set of pre-conceived ideas offered like another manifesto or foisted on them from ‘above’. As far as I’m concerned, ideology breeds sectarianism, sectarianism breeds division, division breeds weakness, weakness breeds defeat.
With politicos it’s always the same, like that old Yiddish joke “If you have two Jews in a room, you’ll get three opinions”…
How many revolutions in the past have been made through ‘political’ methods? I’d venture to say very few, and even when they have occurred, it’s been down to social movements that preceded them.  You cannot expect people to jump from protest to the complete overthrow of the political and economic system the live under and depend upon (even as it kicks them in the teeth), this is a conclusion they come to themselves- more often than not, together, and it’s the ‘together’ that counts.  A new Social Movement needs to see solutions not problems, ideas people cannot fundamentally disagree on, refusing to pay for GPs appointments, keeping the local  firestation open,  practical stuff, stuff that makes a real difference to real lives and the simple facts of the matter- that the rich should pay for their crisis, not us our neighbours or our kids, that people should come first, not profits, that direct democracy is preferable and fairer than elitism in all its forms, that direct action is preferable to indirect, bureaucratic (mis)representation and (mis)leaders.
We need a sense of social community, locally and nationally- a community of class-  where the concerns that effect those in say, Liverpool are the same as those in Portsmouth.
There’s no reason why a Social Movement could not embrace groups such as UKuncut, Boycott Workfare, the Anti-ATOS Alliance, ACA Manchester, ‘Radical London’ groups, Private tenants rights groups and rank and file union members- the possiblities are endless, on estates, in workplaces (organising perhaps like the German Shop-Stewards movement did during the First World War.)  There ought to be nowhere this movement could not go- certainly not because of an ideology, in spite of one in fact. No more dour meetings filled with angry, unsmiling, po-faced politicos- we need to be able to welcome each other with open arms- the society of the bosses is all about alienation and rejection- enough of all that!
Building from the bottom up means having a Social Movement that is based first and foremost in doing what Her Majesties Loyal Opposition and the TUC cannot and will not do, what the Left, Ken Loach, ‘Owned’ Jones is incapable of doing- defending and advancing our interests as a class. A Social Movement however, ought to avoid hair-splitting, especially on the very definition of class. A better definition for those who consider themselves ‘ordinary people’ is just that, ordinary people- this is the term used by media snobs and politicians to define ‘the masses’. It doesn’t carry a load of (what’s perceived to be) Soviet communist /politico baggage, and more people would happily identify with it than you’d think.
pigs and a horse
We need to take the initiative, to get ahead of the game, because the crisis is far from over, because the bosses are raising the spectre of fascism to divide and terrorise us, and the threat of yet another war, because their single aim is to impoverish us for the rest of our lives, to exploit us and our children, by any means necessary, (even our kids education, our poor health and our infirmity in old age).
The real challenge is to actually unite ‘ordinary people’ and then to seriously contest Capital for the hearts and minds of the rest of our class, from plumbers to pole-dancers, hairdressers and Housing Office workers, bus drivers and nursing assistants -and their families…
Solidarity and flexibility, not ideological rigidity, is the key to any real unity and that means putting aside tired old ideas to work together. An idea doesn’t work, been tried and tested? – so throw it away, try a new one, move on. It’s OK to be wrong, never mind; it’s OK to change your mind. None of us have the absolute, definitive, answer in trying to ‘Make Capitalism History’, so we should drop all those pretensions that make us think that we as individuals or in organisations are ideologically, intellectually, strategically or emotionally ‘right’.
Hatred of the system is what should unite us all, as proletarians first and foremost, and from that we should be able to forge unbreakable bonds of solidarity and comradeship, which should outweigh all other considerations. to completely escape the straitjacket of the past, a totally new conception of uncompromising, militant and human revolutionary politics aimed at total democracy, total revolution and the abolition of class society.
Ideology breeds inertia, hierarchy and boredom. All ideology is counter-revolutionary, it reproduces the system and merely serves to divide proletarians, and in the context of propaganda, it is boring, boring, boring. Drop the labels and the self-defeating psychology; reject the dried-up icons of ideology and accept the living, human fluidity of theory.
People, leftists, anarchists, fundamentally disagree over nothing, you can have idealism and mutual aid and agreed-upon aims and direct action, SHOULD YOU ALL WANT IT. The first thing to do is create a social movement. One that carries a new world within it, whether it is in Sunderland, Cardiff, Truro, Leeds, Newcastle, Brum, Arbroath etc. A world that could be growing in this minute, but for pointless ideological prevarications. The priority is to have usproletarians coming together to defend and advance our interests.
…and fuck anything else, it’s not a Jamie Oliver recipe where we haggle over what percentage of idealism or street activity or mutual aid there ought to be. It doesn’t really matter what it’s called- but I’m in favour of total simplicity, a name as broad as it can possibly be without being ideologically hemmed in- ‘The Social Movement’. I think that is a fitting name, as the term ‘social’ flies in the face of Thatcherism (‘no such thing as society’), relating back to the anarchist idea of a ‘social revolution’, ‘social resistance’, and also to ‘work-socials’, signing on at the ‘social’ etc. generally ‘of the common people’. A society in movement.  Wikipedia defines a Social Movement as-
‘... a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals or organizations which focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist or undo a social change.’ A new Social Movement can have as many ‘specific political or social issues.’ as it likes, so long as it defends and advances the interests of our class, and by ‘advances’ that can also mean ‘going all the way’ and abolishing all classes.
It’s about all of us- every single one of the thousands that reads this- we could have a social movement that the Left cannot touch or co-opt, an ‘anarchist’ or ‘socialist’ movement in all but name- living ‘anarchism’, living ‘socialism’- think of the post-war squatters movement and going beyond that. Imagine saying to people ‘we’re democratic- we don’t have leaders’, banishing the worship of Bakunin’s/Kroptokin’s/Durruti’s/Trotsky’s/ Lenin’s Holy Underpants, the clubbiness and the jargon that ordinary people find so off-putting. We have to be able to make other people in our class feel welcome to get anywhere. Ordinary people and politicos- we’re all of us sick of the fucking inertia and the attacks on our class.
If the thousands of us who read these ideas and make them a reality and act on them, then we really will be onto something-, we’ve got nothing to lose, nothing at all, and everything to gain. It’s down to all of us, me and you and everybody else.
Who shares my imagination and can improve on it?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Pitmen's Reggattas, Coot Club and the Bolsheviks.

Watching Countryfile on Sunday night has become a bit of an institution in our house as we sit and groan at the Baker/Bradbury 'relationship' and wait for the appearance of Eric the Highland Bull. But in amongst all the dumbed down froth about "The Countryside" there is usually at least one item of interest and last weeks episode featured something that I had never heard of, the Fife miners coastal regattas where up until the late 1950's the local pitmen would compete in rowing and sailing, usually in craft built from scrap wood from the mines. For a long time I have been interested in the working class involvement in the history of what are now considered to be almost exclusively posh sports and have posted before about the history of working class rowing. Sailing was never a hobby for me but rather just another way that I could make a bob or two. It has to be admitted that these days sailing is very much a middle-class hobby and it's a trend that began a long time ago. Nothing sums it up quite so well as the works of Arthur Ransome. Swallows And Amazons and Coot Club are the epitome of a strand of literature that, in spite of the inherent snobbery, I find pretty enjoyable to be honest. For a long time I laboured under the misapprehension that Ransome had been taught to sail by none other than Peter Kropotkin but have since learnt that it was skiing that the young Arthur learnt from the great Russian anarchist. Skiing or sailing it didn't make much difference during the revolution when  Ransome became great friends with many of the leading Bolsheviks. His childhood friendship with Kropotkin didn't stop Ransome from dismissing the anarchists as scruffy and mad when Lenin decided that when it came to freedom one could have too much of a good thing - and crushed the Russian anarchist movement. Some say that Arthur Ransome was actually a British Secret Service asset. If so he certainly developed a pretty deep cover and ended up marrying Trotsky's secretary. Enid Blyton was never like this.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Never rains but it pours Dave. Never rains but it pours.

Am I the only person in the country who has not a clue about the mystery affair so gob smackingly unbelievable that nothing short of a total collapse of government as we know it will result when the identities get out? Who on earth could they be? Middle aged couple not in the cabinet. Narrows it down a bit I suppose.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Dont Loose The Plot discovered.

You might be forgiven for thinking that allotmenteering is a pretty apolitical pastime but nothing could be further from the truth. From the early days of plots of land being "allotted" to working folk who since the Enclosures Acts had found themselves without the land to produce a portion of their food, to today's campaigns to ensure that Local Authorities fulfil their allotment obligations,  the plot is anything but apolitical. I just came across a cracking website http://www.dontlosetheplot.org  and Facebook page. At last an allotment online presence that goes beyond 101 interesting things to do with a cucumber!
Artwork by Liam O'Farrell. (Another great find BTW.)