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

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Still time for a ripping yarn or two.

"The age of exploration" was of course very much the age of exploitation of both indigenous people and natural resources. But that never stopped generations of kids thrilling to the exploits of the great explorers and dreaming of the adventures they themselves might have given half a chance. Eventually all the blank spaces on the maps became filled in and it seemed that there was little left to explore. For would be explorers and adventurers, the news that a hitherto unknown peat bog the size of England has just been discovered in Central Africa comes as a real tonic. No doubt we should all be pleased about the carbon sink benefits to the environment and suchlike worthy concerns but for me at least this huge area teeming with crocodiles, gorillas and elephants is straight out of a Tarzan story. Great stuff!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A shot across the bows.


There is a class war waging and we are losing it. The rich are getting richer and the gilded elite who have ruled us since Norman times remain in power and dominate land ownership just as they did when they first robbed it. We live in a feudal society dominated by an oligarchy of privately and Oxbridge educated toffs who run not just the government, banks, diplomacy but the media, music. comedy and even the opposition. We see no difference between any of the parties – we oppose Tristram Hunt with the same venom we hate Zac Goldsmith. . We don’t want to kick the tories out to replace them with Labour or any variety of failed Trots. We don’t want to kick them out at all – we want to kick them in!
Started in 1982 CLASS WAR was first a combative, funny, populist anarchist newspaper then mutated into a similar political organisation. We are proud of our past. But 30 years later the same approaches do not work. Endless photos of overseas riots and balaclaved anarchists bring no movement here. The same old same old is getting us nowhere. Time to think and do the unthinkable, to cross the Rubicon.
We are standing Class War candidates in the general election on May 7th 2015. We are doing this to launch a furious and co-ordinated political offensive against the ruling class with the opportunity an election gives us to talk politics to our class. We in no way see the election as an alternative to direct action. By the brick and the ballot.
We are not talking community politics here. It’s too late for a patient slowbuild like the IWCA. The ruling class have us by the throat -they need a short sharp kick in the bollocks. Our election campaign will use any means necessary. we won’t be ushered away by PR minders – we will make ourselves central to the campaign in a funny, rumbustious combative and imaginative way. We will be on the streets and in their faces.
Comrades whatever our yesterdays you are welcome now. join in. reject cynicism. have fun.

Re-blogged from Ian Bone.

Inclusive Capitalism.

At the Mansion House today a gathering of economists, bankers, politicians, IMF top bananas and Prince Charles come together to discuss Inclusive Capitalism and how best to bring about such a happy state of affairs. I reckon that capitalism is already inclusive. Fully inclusive, all embracing and totally pervasive - that's the problem.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Foreigners using British trains shock.

It's a given of the human condition that two people can be in exactly the same situation and have a totally different experience. Take for example me and Nigel Farage and our view of foreigners on trains. I was on the train yesterday and next to me in the carriage was a Polish girl and a young guy who might have been from the Middle East or Mediterranean. They were chatting away (in English) about this and that. I got the impression that they were work colleagues or perhaps attending the same college. Back home they might never have met someone from such a different background but they interacted here in London. Will this not effect their view of the world and am I just being a naive old fool to think that in a small way this was a good thing? I am not a relativist and there are many aspects to some cultures, especially in the areas of religion and gender politics, that I find abhorrent. I also understand only too well that a population increase from abroad on the scale we in the UK have seen over the past few years puts a terrible strain on housing, schools and the NHS and that this impacts mainly on folk who don't make the decisions and have no way of buying their way out. All this was going through my mind as the results of the EU Elections were revealed this morning. Interestingly enough, the countries that have really felt the brunt of high unemployment and the crisis driven austerity policies, Spain and Greece, moved toward the left despite Greece's Golden Dawn getting some 10% of the vote. In Germany and Italy the voters opted for the status quo but in France the Front Nationale were clear winners and in Belgium a Flemish Nationalist party with a policy of dismembering the country secured a third of the votes in Flanders. Compared to some of the political parties lurking in the European undergrowth the Kippers seem quite benign but across the EU voters have shown that when the going gets tough people frequently turn inward, exclude the outsider and look for scapegoats. There may come a time when the likes of me and the two young people on the train will need to stand up and be counted.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Billericay casterway.

From the moment that she first started to make a name for herself in the early eighties I was a fan of Alison Moyet. Her voice and the way she can deliver a song was enough, but there was something else. We should never expect anything from performers than that which they are paid to do and to ask for more is frequently the road to an unjustified disillusionment. None the less, I always felt that offstage Alison Moyet was probably an interesting, warm but complex person and her  appearance on Desert Island Discs was confirmation of this. Nice selection of music too.

Unlike puppies a councillor is not for life - thank fuck.

Early indications are that UKIP are making a real breakthrough in the local council elections making some inroads into the traditional northern Labour strongholds as well as in the areas were you might have expected them to do well. How many of these newly elected councillors will have the stomach for long hours of tedious meetings about the local issues that affect peoples lives but have absolutely nothing  to do with Europe or immigration or "foreigners" remains to be seen. What almost certainly will put the cat amongst the pigeons in local council chambers is today's report that the Tory heartland of the Home Counties is actually sitting over a vast reserve of shale gas. How will the Kippers respond to this? Little England Nimbyism will need to be weighed against fuel security in a possibly destabilised Europe that they want nothing to do with anyway. The problem of having to listen to foreign tongues on the train may soon pale into insignificance.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The true nature of the beast.

Back in the late 60's and early 70's I became very influenced by the writings of the Situationists and I suppose that to an extent I still am. I struggled with the writings of Debord and Vaneigem and had frequently no clue as to many of the other theoreticians that they referred to but I was none the less captivated by the stuff. From May '68 in was downhill all the way for the SI but how could they have known that their theory of recuperation would in turn be recouped by generations of shit for brains middle-class art students working "The Situationists" into their dreary dissertations? For all of their failings the Sits were on the money about many things and not least the utter futility of the old hierarchical left. Also central to the ideas of Debord, Vaneigem and the rest was the notion that, in the developed world at least, the struggle was no longer about material inequality but rather the total alienation of daily life and the drudgery of work - commute - TV. It was claimed that capitalism could feed the masses and  provide us with all the labour saving gizmos but would never be able to mask the fundamentally hierarchical nature of the system; it was always going to be us versus the bosses. We might all be well fed but an authentic life was not possible within capitalist society. All of this is true of course. Today more people than ever spend their working lives isolated in an open plan office staring at a computer screen. The working day has been extended with workers starting earlier and staying on into the early evening. But this increase in the alienating nature of work has also gone hand in hand, not with any levelling of material wealth but with an increase in inequality that the Situationists could never have foreseen.
This years Sunday Times Rich List spells it out in harrowing detail. The Richest 1% of UK population own as much as the poorest 55%.  The richest 1000 individuals own the equivalent of one third of UK GDP and that same 1000 have seen their wealth increase by 15.4 % during the past twelve months. The rich are getting richer. Our poor dear Queen increased her share of the cake by £10 million last year but that's nothing compared to that diamond geezer and geezerete Jamie and Jooles Oliver who amassed a further  £90 during the same time. The top 64 people in UK own between them £255 billion. The same amount is shared between the poorest 30% of our population. And all of this in a country where for the first time in my memory the distribution of food parcels to the needy is a commonplace.
But if the Situationists got it wrong about distributive trends they were right about one thing. The solution, as always, lies not with some new re-alignment of left grouplets or placing any trust in the pre-election pledges of politicians. The solution is on the streets.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

It's all in the past.

The gentrification of mile after mile of London's old housing stock has gone hand in hand with the  transformation of the capital's skyline into something resembling Dubai and the almost complete decline of the small workshops that could be found down every side street in Central London. As long ago as the 1950's Ronald Searle and  Kaye Webb could see that the writing was on the wall for the old shambolic unhygienic street life and decided to capture some of the flavour in drawings and prose. The classic, Looking At London (and people worth meeting),  was the result.
Nothing lasts forever and all cities are in a perpetual state of flux. I know that but I can't help feeling that we have lost something irreplaceable anarchic in return for a sterile metropolis suitable for international tourism and the global property market. London has been replaced by the "London Heritage Experience". Wandering around town, and even here in the suburbs where I live, I frequently come across a "development" and wonder what was there before. Sometimes of course I already know the answer and such is the case with a small part of the Kingston Upon Thames riverfront. Kingston had a thriving river industry at one time with coal and timber being unloaded at what are now blocks of expensive apartments. One small oasis of higgledy-piggledy delight survived right into the 1990's as the headquarters of a passenger boat and marine film services company. When Jerome K Jerome and his chums hired a skiff for their Three Men In A Boat adventures it was from this already well established firm. At that time such was the enthusiasm for pottering about on the river that at Kingston Railway Station a man was employed for the sole purpose of shouting, "This way to the boats!" as the crowds descended from the trains. By the time that I became acquainted with the it there were half a dozen passenger boats operating from the site with an engineering shop, a house that had once been the family home being used as an office and also a large store containing an amazing collection of small boats and nautical odds and ends that were hired out as film props. When I was a young seaman getting ready to take my Able Seaman exam I had to learn about a piece of kit called a Kelvite Sounding Machine. I had never seen this machine nor met anyone who had used one. I'm not even sure if the National Maritime Museum had one, but years later I would find one here in this store. The whole site was patrolled by a large number of semi-feral cats who helped control the rat population. There was also a pub. The Outrigger was not the kind of establishment where the chattering classes meet for lunch. The ceiling was papered with old navigation charts stained brown by the smoke of a million roll-ups. I once walked into this salubrious establishment  to find a bloke standing at the bar with a goat on a piece of string. He had bought the animal in Southall Market - as you do. Looking at the area now it seems almost inconceivable that such a haven of wonderful chaos existed there only a few years ago.

Friday, 16 May 2014

UKIP immigration own goal.

It's so difficult running a political party that has an anti-immigration stance as a main plank of it's policy. For one thing everyone to the left of the right-wing of the Conservative Party will be queueing up to accuse you of being Fascist, generally it must be said without much idea of what Fascist politics actually are. No matter, mud sticks and appealing to the less generous side of our nature is always going to be problematic in the long run. Such are the trials and tribulations of Nigel Farage and his UKIP comrades. A few weeks ago Farage was revelling in the media attention but as the EU Election approaches there are signs that he may be beginning to unravel just a little bit. The last thing that the Kippers need now is an illegal migrant scandal in the party. Oh bugger! Curry entrepreneur and top UKIP candidate Amjad Bashire has only gone and employed dozens of illegals at his Manchester curry house. Get a grip Amjad for fucks sake.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Eurovision. More camp than a Nuremberg Rally - but not as frightening.

You would expect that by Tuesday morning all memory of Saturday night's Eurovision Song Contest would have faded and that few people would even remember who the winner was. Not so it seems and still the debate about bearded ladies, Polish porn and Russian homophobia trundles on. Personally I lost interest when Terry Wogan retired and I don't remember Eurovision ever being more than a Saturday night stay-in for the elderly, skint or just musically unhinged. However for the rest of the Europe it's incredibly important and this strange production that is more camp than an Olympic opening ceremony has the power to expose once again all the old fault lines of a continent. Mind you, I suppose that if we must have nationalism and bad songs it's as well that these two curses  are contained together within   this sequined spectacular. Anyway, forward to the World Cup!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Tally Ho!

I have only once ridden a horse. It was at a not very well supervised 'dude ranch' type set up in France and was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. For all of that I respect the skill of riding and the ability to control a strong and unpredictable animal. Riding to hounds, foxhunting, must be an exciting and satisfying activity and although I have never had the slightest desire to take part myself I can understand why others do and I reckon that the sight of a hunt in full gallop is quite something. There is no doubt about it, hunting on horseback is the preserve of the well off. But then so are a lot of things. I have met very few people of my political persuasion who approve of hunting and many comrades have been appalled that I don't share their condemnation of the hunt. I remain firmly out on a limb when it comes to hunting and just wish that a fraction of the energy spent defending foxes had been spent demanding the repeal of anti-working class legislation. Now we hear that pro-hunting lobby group Vote OK have promised to get the Tory vote out if Cameron will pledge to repeal anti-hunting law. That limb I'm perched on is getting close to breaking point.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Art and Anarchy in the UK.

From Ali Sloper to Tank Girl, from Viz to V For Vendetta there is no more subversive form of art than the comic. Comics Unmasked, the new exhibition at the British Library, is a real treat for fans of comics and the wonderful cast of iconoclastic anti-heroes who have stepped out of their pages from Victorian times to the present day. It's all recorded here in this wonderful exhibition and so too is the effort of the establishment in all it's guises to ban this form of expression. Everyone from Mary Whitehouse to the Communist Party have at one time or another got their knickers in a twist over comics. It's just a shame that the British Library now charge admission for exhibitions. Some of the people who might get the most out of Comics Unmasked will probably be put of by the £9.50 demanded on the door. I note that the British Library have made a big effort to warn parents about all the sex, drugs and rebellion on display. Under 16's parental guidance and all that - no mention of the possible effect of us over 70's getting over excited.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The right to buy for private tenants. You know it makes sense.

It was recently suggested on Ian Bone's blog that The Class War Party should adopt a policy of "Right to Buy" for tenants in the private sector. A cracking proposal I reckon. The right to buy for private tenants and with a 60% subsidy. That should give buy to let landlords something to think about.  Vote Bone. It may not make sense but at least it's a laugh.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Time to take another look at zero hours?

Many years ago Solidarity published a pamphlet simply entitled "The Lump" that attempted to take an unbiased look at the building trade work practise of the same name. I don't remember all of the arguments and never having been employed in the building game am not best qualified to comment but I do know that simply challenging the knee jerk lefty response to casual employment was enough to bring down a cascade of shit onto the head of the author. Perhaps it's time to take a similar look at zero hours contracts especially in view of the latest announcement that JSA claimants may lose benefits if they refuse zero hours employment. There is no doubting that zero hours contracts suit employers and the very fact that it tends to be the most vulnerable workers  in the least organised and worst paid industries that end up with such contract should set alarm bells ringing. But casual work does suit some people and it seems to me, and yes I have done a lot of casual work as it goes, that the trick is to get the best possible deal out of it. All I'm saying is that lefty knee jerk reactions are frequently wrong and that a hard look at the facts, no matter how uncomfortable, is always the best way.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The workers garden.

There is no getting away from it, and events like today's annual plant and seedling sale always bring it home to me, in our neck of the woods allotmenteering is an almost exclusively middle class hobby. Alright, I live in an area that started out pretty middle class and has become increasingly so as property prices have spiralled up, but even that can't account for the fact that where as the chattering classes are beating the gates down to get a plot, the local proles seem to be not interested at all. I know that this is a shocking generalisation and no doubt things are different in other parts of the country but we have hardly any working-class plotholders under 70. Why is this? Of course, at one time keeping an allotment was pretty much the preserve of the working class male and gardening itself was a hobby that cut across class lines. Just as military history tends to be victors history and the history of nations the history of their ruling elite, so it is with something as mundane as a spot of gardening. We know all about what Capability Brown designed for the aristos and who planted what at Sissinghurst but comparatively little has been written about the countless number of ordinary folk who laboured in their spare time in order savour the simple pleasure of growing something. A new book, Gardens Of The British Working Class by Margaret Willes, put this omission right. At a cover price of twenty five quid it might be something to order from the library rather than buy.

Friday, 2 May 2014

St Paul's. I blame the parents.

The paedophilia scandal that is set to engulf St Paul's School will no doubt come as a shock to those parents, the ink still wet on their cheques, who are about to send their little darlings to this supposedly noble institution. The British Public Schools are a law unto themselves being exempt from tax, Ofsted inspection and the wilder aspirations of Gove The Alien. The snobbish creeps who send their offspring to these schools do so in order to secure for them a place at a "good" university, ensure that they talk posh and , most important, make friends with the right sort of people. But there is a price to pay for this and it's paid by some unfortunate children who fall prey to the staff perverts. I blame the parents. If you want to keep your kids away from paedophiles don't encourage them to associate with Catholic priests and the same thing applies to Public Schools.
Our esteemed Chancellor Gideon Osborn is a St Paul's old boy. I wonder if he will be called upon to give evidence at any stage?