samedi 31 mai 2008

Brain download of shit

The upper clarses [sic] are on the offensive everywhere. Their system is now exposed as the inequallity generating starvation death machine that the left warned everyone it was - but they continue to vie for resources and to protect their own. In a small, stupid way Chris Parry self- styled chief executive of the Independent Schools Council has launched an attack on state education that illustrates this point clearly enough.


He is reported as saying that state school pupils could not be expected to get into top universities if they were bullied by classmates from "disadvantaged backgrounds" amongst other things ("There are too many leaders but not enough leadership, there are a lot of managers and not enough management. There aren't enough teachers, and aren't enough teachers in subjects we need. It's lacking human, material [and] financial resources."). And also that their parents were 'ignorant'. I say.


Of course, one doesn't look to dickheads from the Independent sector for an accurate picture of state schooling. It is obvious enough that there is a massive class bias in education at all levels, but the reasons for this are far from being purely educational. The disadvantage starts long before pupils get to the school gates, of course. So this load of cam is just cheap publicity for the sorry load of private schools that collabos send their offspring to. There can be no argument for the existence of an independent schooling sector, but competition for scarce educational resources is tough and so this Parry snout has to oink loud and clear to his market share about what is really at stake - i.e. get little Lucinda, Porche, Tristran and Victor away from these frightful hoi-poloi, give them that life long lasting of social superiority and educate them beyond their intelligence and get them into Oxbridge.......

After this pile of arsewash, Parry goes all scifi. He thinks that in the future, there will be no need for lessons as "Within 30 years, sitting down and learning something will be a thing of the past, I think people will be able to directly access, Matrix-style, all the vocabulary you need for a foreign language, leaving you just to clear up the grammar." and that ". . ."It's a very short route from wireless technology to actually getting the electrical connections in your brain to absorb . . .knowledge." .

Firsth thought is, what a load of shit. It's just like all the promises in the seventies about electricity being so cheap in the future that it won't be worth metering it (see below). 'It's a very short route'!? Someone's being at the catnip here. The Matrix was a fantasy - when David Icke came out with similar nonsense (all that stuff about Lizard-men) , he got (rightly) ridiculed in public for it.

Second thought is that this is a pure capitalist fantasy and one that reveals the thinking behind the upper classes faceless facade. Want to play the piano? No need for all that work and effort - just pop a pill and play Chopin instantly! Converse with your Chinese customers via internet and mind meld - just swallow this transmitter device and speak Manderin like a native! It's pure capitalism because the bourgoisie don't want to have to bother with all that grubby work. Getting tutors and teachers for off-spring is all too vulgar and time consuming. These hallucinatory flights of fantasy show how far removed the ruling classes have become from the social milieu 'around' them. Education, at root, is a social exercise. It is a process that is inextricably linked to the social context of its practitioners and participants. The idea of a short cut individualistic route to knowledge (and in the form of a pharmaceutical fix, as if 'ignorance' were some kind of contageous disease caught from the 'smelly rabble') exposes the cold logic of ahuman capitalistism and its willing collaborators of which Parry is but one insignificant but indicative little fleck.

Thirdly, this ties in queasily with the piece of "research" carried out by the evolutionary psychiatrist (see below) from Newcastle University that said people from 'lower' down the social scale are basically thick and therefore don't deserve to go to University. If I was of a paranoid disposition, I'd think that the upper classes had a chip on their shoulder about education and educational resources and that they're prepared to use any amount of slander, fantasy and bogussery to justify their unearnt advantages. . .

This Parry fella would be rewarded with the REL Wanker of the Week - but Blair has already one that, once again, this time with his 'uniting faith' bollocks (see below).

vendredi 30 mai 2008

Cough

"British Cabinet had warning of cancer-smoking link" - but decided to do nothing because of the tax revenues smoking brings into the Government's coffers.


No real surprise here, just a timely reminder about where the real interests of governments lie. Because it wasn't just about protecting a safe source of tax cash but, of course, protecting the profits of the tobacco industry which has always been arse and shirt with the powers that be and doesn't need to count its profits - but just has to look at the lung cancer stats from around the world to know how well their product is doing.

True faith

The news that Tony Blair is going to devote the rest of his life to uniting faiths by setting up a foundation is bound to cause widespread nausea. "His foundation will attempt to bring religions together to tackle global issues such as the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals, which range from eradicating extreme poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability"

He aims to unite all faiths - well hasn't he already done that? Christians, Jews, Muslims Hindus Buddhists and atheists all hate him.

"Mr Blair, who recently converted to Catholicism, said: "Faith is part of our future, and faith and the values it brings with it are an essential part of making globalisation work." His foundation will attempt to bring religions together to tackle global issues such as the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals, which range from eradicating extreme poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability."

So the world's problems only exist because we lack faith. If we only, you know, believed then globalisation would work. Well it seems to me that globalisation has worked. The rich have got fantastically richer and the poor are starving in the streets. Why does religion have to figure in the story unless it's meant to just play the traditional role of giving succour and keeping people quiet whilst they die conveniently and quietly?

It doesn't even work on its own terms - the rich can enter heaven as easily as a camel get through the eye of a needle - with Blair pocketing over four million quid for his book deal, being responsible for untold deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless millions for his boardroom jobs and lecture tours - who the hell is he to preach morality to the rest of us?

Finally - eradicating "extreme poverty" - that's a bit disingenuous isn't it really. Those in extreme poverty are those with absolutely nothing - not even the two dollars a day a billion or so people eke out a living on. Just making sure the former have just enough to starve to death over a slightly longer time period doesn't make the world any better. What an ambitious thing to believe in.

But all political histories end in failure - that Blair's was a permananet failure doesn't change that. Wanker.

jeudi 29 mai 2008

Republic Now - acts of resistance # 3


There are many appalling things about the Iraqi invasion and there common knowledge now, of course, the game's up, it's all over and it's as plain as sunlight - but one thing still rankles and that is when you hear somene (ok - not so much now) say that "Yes it's bad - but Saddam had to go!". Their point is that these poor swarthy foreigner types just can't handle their own lives and look with starry eyes to the West and beg troops to come to liberate them.


It's bollocks of course. One piece of evidence against this whole garbage way of thinking is the abolition of the monarchy in Nepal Tuesday. Ok, ok purists can bemoan the maoist 'oppostion' for cuddling up to western business (see www.wsws.org) and this caution is needed, but for the moment, this news enlightens an otherwise desultry Lille day in a (temporarily) politically moribund France. Good on these people - why can't the same thing be done in Britain? Kings and Queens are there precisely to be abolished, banished and executed.

' "This marks the occasion when we are getting rid of autocratic period and the beginning of democratic republic in the country," Bishwa Kant Mainali, NBA president, told the gathering of the lawyers.
"This occasion is the beginning of prosperity and progress in the country," he said while congratulating the Nepali people. '
Good start - now get rid of all the lawyers.

mercredi 28 mai 2008

My next book. . .

. . .will be about how the advertising industry misleads the public into believing in the existence of a rotund man in a red suit with a white beard who gives out presents at the Winter solstice.
But less seriously, how can we be expected to take this,

"A former senior aide to President Bush claims that the White House deliberately mounted a dishonest propaganda campaign to sell the Iraq invasion to the US public, in the most damning insider account of the presidency so far." ?

I'm no statistician, but I would be prepared to bet that 75% of the people reading that opening paragraph have a) wearily frowned then b) raised eyebrow briefly before c) saying 'Welldur.'

It does raise the slightly more interesting question, though, as to why a senior aide is sticking the knife into Bush's podgy arse now. True, the latter is coming up to the end of his tenure in office, of course, and it's always open season on politicians at that stage in their death cycle and former staffers have to make a dime somehow, but this signifies something else. It illustrates that the ruling class is in a state of civil war. They are fighting amongst themselves over how to respond to the economic crisis, the forthcoming conflict with Iran and how to continue the supression of the world's working population. Scott McClellan's obvious statements naturally provoked disingenuous rebuttals from the Shitehouse. The following,

"Karl Rove, who had been Bush's chief of staff and is now a commentator on Fox News, said yesterday that McClellan had been out of the loop on many issues and had never expressed his concerns while working for the administration. " is indicative on at least two levels. Firstly its bitterness, not that surprising, but secondly the throwawy line ". . .and is now a commentator on Fox News. . ." which can be read without realising. It proves McClellan's point that the media is too compliant with the government - but also shows that, in fact, the media is part of the ruling class' governance tactics.

[This just in: "Father Christmas has reacted angrily to claims in redexile league that he does not exist by clainming ...."distrungtled atheist"...'bastard'...'faulty crackers and stupid hats'...'which broke out at staff Xmas party'.........

Lights out

I'm crock enough to remember the promises we got in the seventies that electricity would be so cheap in the future, "The year 2000 imagine that young man!", that it wouldn't be worthwhile metering it. I didn't believe them, but it seemed a cool idea at the time along with back-pack booster travel and other Tomorrow's World garbage. Yeah, ok, the technology worked - out but did anyone predict just how boring it would be?

Besides and anyway, the electricity 'promise' was just a load of propaganda on behalf of Nuclear Electricity boffins, of course, - I've still got a 'Atoms for Energy!' badge somewhere - but it's dream of unceasing profit hit a bump yesterday with "Britain suffer[ing] its worst blackouts in a decade."
(I've had a few Tuesday blackouts in my time but this seemed like one totally different bender altogether).
Apparently, "Half a million people were hit by unscheduled power cuts on Tuesday after seven power stations, including Sizewell B in Suffolk, unexpectedly stopped working within hours of each other." The 'unscheduled' is a reassuring touch there. One remarkable feature of this episode is the fact that seven power stations stopped working all at the same time. Someone must be able to work out the maths for thie probability of this type of 'coincidence' but the numbers involved must be pretty high to astronomical. (Yep, a bit like a 2008 electricity bill-o-meter, those bastard contraptions on the walls of rented flats that you can watch all your money slowly count down and evaporate). "According to David Porter, chief executive of the Association of Electricity Producers, the disruption was due to a "gigantic coincidence"."
Now I'm no conspiracy theorist, but how the hell do seven plants all pack up at the same time?

The Guardian report makes it fairly clear that the fck p affected people all over England but spends the majority of its report talking about the effect this unevent will have on share prices, the price of electricity (..."The outages forced the price of wholesale electricity up 35% to a new record high of £95 a MW hour" - "Wow thanks Mr.Free Market Man!") and at one point decended into neo-lib gothic to describe the financial consequences,"In its financial results for the 12 months to March 31, published this morning, British Energy blamed these problems for a drop in earnings before interest before tax, depreciation and amortisation, which fell to £882m from £1.2bn last year." amort-fucking what-isation?

Essentially, then, the hardware's all fckd p and the cheps at BE are going to have to queue up behind Northern Crock in front of muggins taxpayer for a hand-out. The free market turn illustrates its real concerns again and shows how stupid the electricity privatisation was, how supine and pointless New Labout is and how the power grid should be taken back under workers' control and the snouts in the trough that run the whole cash printing press/generators taken to a cliffside somewhere and shot.

The promise back in 1974 came true, inversed and for someone else.

Update : "Details of its failures are kept under wraps by ministers keen to persuade the public that the answer to both energy security and climate change lies in more nuclear plants. Yet it has always been the most expensive way of producing electricity and has been given huge public subsidies, the report argues." Professors of the Obvious unite.

mardi 27 mai 2008

This again


I find it difficult to believe that anyone takes the idea of IQ seriously anymore. Sure there are the sad types who join up to Mensa and get their feelings of social superiority that way, but surely no body takes all that box ticking, shape comparing and word wankery as an indication of how intellectual a person is. Come on. Things have surely moved on - what next women have smaller brains and so should do all the sweeping, black people are a bit slow but have natural rythym and the Chinese really are inscrutable?


But what's this? A doctor Bruce Charlton (no honest) an evolutionary psychiatrist from Newcastle University has taken a look out of his window/done a bit of research and made the conclusion/sweeping generalisation that working class students have lower IQs than those from wealthier backgrounds and should not be expected to win places at top universities.


Of course, you're right, it's shit on so many levels and I make no apologies for sinking into the venacular. But here's his argument:

"Poor people have lower average IQ than wealthier people... and this means that a much smaller percentage of working-class people than professional-class people will be able to reach the normal entrance requirements of the most selective universities.". . . the average child from the highest social class is up to 30 times more likely to qualify for admission to a highly selective university than the average child from the lowest social class."


There's not much intelligence in Charlton's work. I have to say, his paper is really thin stuff.

I was expecting some damned well serious sociological statistics and weighty analysis. Instead

i. "Evidence to support the allegation of systematic unfairness [to university entrance] has never been presented, nevertheless the accusation has been used to fuel a populist ‘class war’ agenda."

You have to have a laugh at this - the government, (Welsh accent à la Kinnock "a Labour government!") fueling a class war agenda???? Further, 'evidence of educational unfairness has never been presented'? Really? Professor of the Obvious has reams of stuff.


ii. The use of the word 'simple' is never a good indicator of a serious paper if you think about it. 'This issue is really simple.' 'The causes of the first world war are really simple.' 'Chemistry is a really simple subject.' Einstein's proof of e equals m sea squared is well, dead simple.' 'Yet in all this debate a simple and vital fact has been missed: higher social classes have a significantly higher average IQ than lower social classes.' (Geddit?)


iii. "The exact size of the measured IQ difference varies according to the precision of definitions of social class – but in all studies I have seen, the measured social class IQ difference is substantial and of significance and relevance to the issue of university admissions."


So social class determines IQ? "In all the studies I have seen. . ."? How can he expect to get away with that? His argument here is deliberately unclear.


iv) "The existence of substantial class differences in average IQ seems to be uncontroversial and widely accepted for many decades among those who have studied the scientific literature. And IQ is highly predictive of a wide range of positive outcomes in terms of educational duration and attainment, attained income levels, and social status (see Deary – Intelligence, 2001). "


"Seems" - what gross obfuscations one can lazily hide behind this weasly word. Either it is uncontroversial - 'The earth spins on its axis.' - or it isn't - 'Witches exist.' It is not the case that those who have studied the scientific literature agree on this point. His next sentence is pure question begging. It just assumes what he is trying to prove.


v) "This means that in a meritocratic university admissions system there will be a greater proportion of higher class students than lower class students admitted to university. "


"Meritocratic"!!?? This ironic word has no place in a "scientific" document. Again, his point here is mere question begging.


vi) "What is less widely understood is that – on simple mathematical grounds – it is inevitable that the differential between upper and lower classes admitted to university will become greater the more selective is the university."


Simple mathematical grounds - that are never covered. Ah yes 'inevitability'. We just have to accept the upper clarses [sic - please] are just inherently better you know.


vii) "There have been numerous studies of IQ according to occupational social class, stretching back over many decades. In the UK, average IQ is 100 and the standard deviation is 15 with a normal distribution curve."


You might as well say that taller people deserve to go to university because tallness is also an upper class feature that follows an identical statistical distribution. It does, honest.


viii) "In general, the more precise the definition of social class, the larger will be the measured social class differences in IQ and other biological variables.
Typically, the average IQ of the highest occupational Social Class (SC) - mainly professional and senior managerial workers such as professors, doctors and bank managers - is 115 or more when social class is measured precisely, and about 110 when social class is measured less precisely (eg. mixing-in lower status groups such as teachers and middle managers). "


Here is the nub of the issue - remember seeing 'University Challenge' on TV and wondered why Oxbridge won all the time? OK ok smart arse, they cheat by having hundreds of colleges all competing at the same time - but it goes deeper than that - the people who set the questions belong to the same social mix as the Oxbridge chaps and gals in the studio. It's that fucking obvious. If Lenin of lenin's Tomb set the questions, us lefties would win hands down. So of course the profeesional classes are going to do well in this type of parlour exercise. It's what they waste their time doing in their leisure time. And that's before all the good food, quiet and coaching that they get too.


ix) "By comparison, the average IQ of the lowest social class of unskilled workers is about 90 when measured precisely, or about 95 when measured less precisely (eg. mixing-in higher social classes such as foremen and supervisors or jobs requiring some significant formal qualification or training)."


IQ is not a scientific measurement of some illusive mental 'ether'. It's a social fix that forms part of the wider 'matrix' of social exclusion and exploitation that forms the fabric of our everday lives. This last paragraph is nothing but an ugly tautology. It says, really, "The intelligence measuring system that is designed to exclude the lower orders finds that the lower orders are of lower intelligence and thereby are right to be excluded." Yeh, really scientific.


x) "The non-symmetrical distribution of high and low social class around the average of 100 is probably due to the fact that some of the highest IQ people can be found doing unskilled jobs (such as catering or labouring) but the lowest IQ people are very unlikely to be found doing selective-education-type professional jobs (such as medicine, architecture, science or law)."


"Probably" - do some fucking research you idle get. So there are no 'stupid' architects - clearly our trick cyclist hasn't lived in a tower block in Stoke or been misrepresented by a duff solicitor.


He drones on and the analysis by now is hopelessy flawed - even he recognises it,

"Naturally, this simple analysis is based on several assumptions, each of which could be challenged and adjusted; and further factors could be introduced. However, the take-home-message is simple. When admissions are assumed to be absolutely meritocratic, social class IQ differences of plausible magnitude lead to highly significant effects on the social class ratios of students at university when compared with the general population." [my emphasis - do I need to go on?]


His conclusion is the utterly lazy and conformist one of


"In other words, with a fully-meritocratic admissions policy we should expect to see a differential in favour of the highest social classes relative to the lowest social classes at all universities, and this differential would become very large at a highly-selective university such as Oxford or Cambridge.
The highly unequal class distributions seen in elite universities compared to the general population are unlikely to be due to prejudice or corruption in the admissions process. On the contrary, the observed pattern is a natural outcome of meritocracy. Indeed, anything other than very unequal outcomes would need to be a consequence of non-merit-based selection methods."


So equality is basically unatural and the lower orders are (near enough for this Dr.) a different species. It is an utterly worthless paper - indeed it is not research as there is no fucking research involved. He should really go out into the world and find something more worthwhile to do with his time. Even if you have an IQ of 200 why should you be excluded from the pleasures of being a porter in a hospital - after all if you're paid a living social wage you should enjoy it. Further, what is the connection between finding the next number in the series, the odd one out, the cat is to rabbit as dickhead is to a) carpenter, b) evolutionary psychiatrists c) car d) lasagne and being a good doctor or a good lawyer (if that's not a contradiction in terms).


IQ is bollocks



And that's giving him the benefit of the doubt. Further, giving him the disadvantage of the doubt as it were, IQ is not really a very scientific tool to be flinging about. It's one of those urban myths that has never gone away - that there is some 'objective' intelligence 'behind' all social culturalisation that finally determines whether one is to be a bin man or a rocket scientist (not that there is anything inherently better about the latter, but Brucey is bound to think so). It's the next 'level' up from believing in the soul. It's essentially Plato's Republic with a desperately vulgar scientific gloss.


All IQ really assess is how good you are at doing IQ tests. Thus, you can train yourself and get better at the sad little puzzles they give you to do. Now imagine a lonely working class girl who spent her time doing just that and took her IQ 'score' up to 156 say - would she get into Oxbridge? (Answer a) no b) yes c) the train will take 45 minutes d) the circle with the black square in it) Further, what is Prince Charle's IQ - assuming for the moment that the concept means something - I'm guessing but I'd think that him and his family wouldn't trouble the scorer unduly and they ended up at Bolton Polytechnic. O no sorry Eton and Cambridge.


Further, "Alan Ryan, warden of New College, Oxford, said the relationship of IQ to academic success was "very much looser than Dr Charlton imagines". [no shit - REL]
He said: "All the evidence suggests that measured IQ is a function of innate endowment and nurture; high-IQ children in the lowest income quintile do less well in IQ tests over time, while low-IQ children in the highest income quintile do better. The most obvious explanation of the class differential in Oxbridge intake has nothing to do with IQ and everything to do with the ability of private schools to get their students three As at A level."


If someone at Oxford can work that out why is Dr. Charlton making a chimp of himself excreting such sewage research? Well, these buggers have to publish and make a name for themselves. They can't get by on IQ after all - they have to, you know, make stuff up and get it out there.


All this would be just knock about nonsense were it not for it to keep getting taken seriously and for it just putting the splinter of doubt in enough people's minds so as to not bother competing with the upper class bastards for the next uni. place.


Because it's all about competition for education recources: "Gemma Tumelty, president of the NUS, said: "Of course, social inequality shapes people's lives long before they leave school, but the higher education sector cannot be absolved of its responsibility to ensure that students from all social backgrounds are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential."


Bruce Charlton should hang his head in shame. He has exposed himself as a old Tory ractionary, besmirched the good name of Newcastle University with his awful style his awful paper and his rubbish analysis and pulled 'evolutionary psychiatry' down to the level of scientology.


Good work fella.


What's all this then?

There's a good post over at the consistently brilliant Tomb about the effect of immigration on wage levels. Read it, the facts are nowhere near the accepted/expected thing you might think. But my reason for this message is that in the comment box, we read:
"Mst f th stds ndct tht th mpct n wgs s nglgbl, nd n fct th Lrds hd t rlctntl cncd ths. Bt sn't tht lk clmng vrll scrppng th p rt ws nglgbl n mst ppl's wgs? t's th prst tht r mst ffctd b mmgrtn. Tht shld nt b blttld. nd whl th clm thr s 'lttl bnft' t mgrtn, th vdnc sggsts tht ths s nt s. Th grwth th hv ddd t th cnm s nmstkbl. Th stt tht thr s "lttl r n bnft" t th vrg Brtsh prsn. Th d nt dn tht t dds t th prfts f bg bsnss. t's jst chp sht t th gvrnmnt frm Tr-ld gggl f nlctd prs. t's gd fr hdlns, bt lttl ls. t's n ll prt cmmtt tht dd mch nvstgtn nd hd t rch cnsnss cnclsns. T clm t's jst chp ttck n th gvrnmnt s wd f th mrk. 'm ncrsngl f th vw tht w nd mr rlstc pprch t ths ss. Stv Brwn Homepage 27 May, 00:49 " [my emphasis]

The homepage is some duff link to some selling site and whoever Stv Brwn is - it isn't me, I'm in bed way before that time, the way things are here atm. It just got me wondering who on earth would bother doing something so pointless? At least this REL blog is a political diary of sorts (see below) - but what possible motive could somebody have of writing that load of bllcks and pretending to be me - for I know my name is pretty common but - there is a limit to coincidences? Perhaps I've pssd somebody off somewhere. If so gd.

Please starve quietly

The World food crisis threatens to cause political instability in regions crucial for Western interests. This current turbulence is not only a economic and philosophical setback for the ruling elites but may well have undesirable consequences for their long term objectives all over the planet. Niger, Egypt are just two countries that have experienced violent upheavals in the last few months and countries like these cannot be subject to anything other than ruthless western domination. If their population reach the point where they have nothing else to lose - in the shape of imminent starvation - they will revolt and either leave the political administration in a state of unusable chaos or, worse, set up governments hostile to western profit interests.

It is an economic failure because, despite, as the Guardian desperately says, the price of wheat and other staples having stabilised of late, price imports for a whole swathe of 'developing' countries have risen by at least 40% in the last year. There can be no other reason that capitalism for that. There was once no alternative - we were told by the yet to die Thatcher - well here it is - the chosen direction we are 'here' - and it still condemns billions to malnutrition, disease, starvation and death. Either the system is not being applied properly (like the first line of defence argument of the left when faced with the jibe that "Communism doesn't work - look at the Soviet Union.") or starvation is not just acceptable economic collateral damage, but immanently bound up with the operations of western capital.

Gordon Brown vainly opts for the first option. Thus, "Gordon Brown is arguing that a WTO deal on trade barriers in Geneva could be critical in bringing food prices under control and supporting farmers in poor countries by providing an export market for their output. He is mounting a diplomatic offensive, lobbying for the US and Europe to do more to cut subsidies to their own farmers, which he says add up to $1bn a day. Brown said farm support schemes in the west cost poor families in developing countries $100bn a year in lost income."
But the reduction of trade barries and the imposition of free trade created this hungry impasse in the first place. It has to be said that farm support schemes do cost the poor - but 100 billion isn't going to solve this crisis. It's a structural exploitative problem and not one that the pathetic talking shop of a conference is going to do anything about. (These patch-up insta-solutions are for the media consumption, of course, but also are aimed, if anything, at doing just enough and as little as is possible so there is not too much political disorder - the rest can crawl away and die in a ditch somewhere).
So, we are left with the other alternative - that mass hunger is a necessary part of the west's profit system. The evidence is overwhelming when you merely scratch the surface looking for it. Nineteenth century Imperialism, the IMF, the World Bank, neo-liberalism nuimperialism, resource wars and gouging of developing countries food supplies and export systems.

Imagine watching your children and/or family slowly waste away from famine - imagine feeling the hunger eat away at your own self. Eventually they will have nothing left to lose - hopefully they will act long before then - and us too.

Juggernaut


On the one hand they are protesting against the government and, in a way, the system that creates all the disorder and chaos. On the other hand they block motorways even when they are not campaigning and ruin the roads with their ninety ton monster wagons. So, another contradiction within a contradiction manifests itself. however, you've got to admire the organisation of these truck drivers - working class (on the whole), pissed off and mobilised with an economic grievance everyone can sympathise with and, who knows, even emulate. Their methods of sabotague-lite and democratic centralism are heartening. There is talk of a blockade of the ports - like there is over here in France - and that can only be a good sign. One - people are thinking strategically and two - it shows spirit and fightback.


Here's hoping it spreads.


lundi 26 mai 2008

No surprises

The point of continuous outrage capitalism has been to gradually numb the population into acquiesence. No change can be countenanced, no real concession has been granted because that would have the effect of raising expectation and confidence. Those sectors of the electorate not actively collaborating with the system, have nowhere to go. Their active support has long since been discounted - the Crewe by-election was one such reminder of this state of affairs - thus discipline has to be maintained by forcibly reminding us that the winners will win - but more importantly will be seen to win. The nauseating boredom of this centreless psychological operation is most obvious is in sporting spectacles, where the winners increasingly take everything, where coming second is a criminal offence and where inequality is exultingly celebrated, in the putrification of cultural life, take the latest block-buster the Iron Man, for instance, or virtually anything TV based where simulation inverts and replaces even the idea of the real and in education, where so-called academics try to explain class asymmetry in university places as a function of IQ and where league tables count the most. Everywhere in the socio-cultural realm, the message is a continual breaking news that the hyper-minority of winners win by sheer natural and moral superiority and that the losers have only themselves to blame. In the same crude fashion, this psychological offensive also serves to soothe away the consequences and nature of permanent war and mass starvation that the system requires.

Thus, it is announced coyly, as if it were a birth annoucement or a bout of good weather, that city bonuses have amounted to just over thirteen billion so far this year. The government and the elites who control them hope there will there will be no collective outrage, no surprise, not even a shrug. They have faith in their hegemony, their propaganda and their media nozzles. But there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are not fooled and who are seething with rage.

There was some talk a while ago, that the idea was for governments to 'boil the frog' - that is to gradually turn the heat up until the frog (presumably the population) was cooked - I hate analogies anyway - but it seems that this one is going the wrong way too, it seems that what is hoped is that the frog has been so continually chilled that it has ceased to respond and nothing surprises it anymore - not even stormtroopers on the streets. Like all analogies, of course, this one breaks down under the briefest of analysis.

Frogs cannot endure, hope or smash the kitchen up and take over the house, for instance. UPDATE: maybe I got the frogs wrong.

dimanche 25 mai 2008

Everybody hates us - we don't care



After losing the Crewe by-election, New Labour appear doomed but none of their spokespeople seem to be all that concerned with their electoral fate. Here's Gordo under the latest popularity figures for his interim government. The point is, the Milibands and Hewitts of their world will always have cushy jobs lined up for them when they, or the electorate, decide the game's up.

jeudi 22 mai 2008

Prediction

Labour to lose Crewe by-election by 6543 votes.

mercredi 21 mai 2008

immortality


Philosophy evening class West Yorkshire. Head of Social Sciences says I've got a case from the local psychiatric ward. Ten minutes into the class and I can't really tell who it is or even if they'd turned up. We are discussing empiricism and one, up to then, quiet student speaks up and says that since he has no experience of death, it can't exist and hence he is immortal.

That's the problem with empiricism - there is a kind of madness attached to it. He can't have been that 'ill' - he got an A grade in the end. Or maybe you need to look at things from an excluded point of view to do the damned subject right. . .

Conspiracy. . .?

Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael Delong is heard noting to Rumsfeld that with the new political configuration on Capitol Hill, “you’re not going to have a lot of sympathetic ears up there until it [a terrorist attack] happens.”
Rumsfeld agreed, responding: “We haven’t had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it’s not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment ... The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack. And when that happens, then everyone gets energized for another [inaudible] and it’s a shame we don’t have the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats...the lethality, the carnage, that can be imposed on our society is so real and so present and so serious that you’d think we’d be able to understand it...”

'The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack.' So to get sympathetic ears "up there" Rumsfeld is just going to have to wait for Al Qaida to gets its act together and launch another hit on America. . .or another way of looking at it is . . .

mardi 20 mai 2008

Free market death

Free market fundamentalism is entering its death throes. It is rotting all over the world. Riots in South Africa, and 37 other countries, inflation and rationing breaking out in other parts of the planet, foreclosure and debt and politicians powerless to do anything other than stir up racial hatred and violence (that Berlusconi bastard for example).
But a story summing the utter pointlessness of modern capitalism is that of Folole Muliaga, 44, who has died in New Zealand in May last year two hours after power was cut from her home. Thing is she was on an oxygen machine and the private company desperately needed the thirteen pounds it was owed that it robotically severed her supply. Thus killing her.
To me, this is at least manslaughter. However, be relieved, "The energy company said it would look at how it dealt with customers with medical dependencies and those in financial difficulty.
A police investigation last year found no grounds for filing criminal charges against the company.
The coroner's inquest will not assign blame, but can make recommendations to prevent future incidents."
So that's o fucking k then. This is the nature of the beast - capitalism is a system that actively destroys human beings. Here is just a flek of evidence. When is anyone ever going to fucking fight back?

lundi 19 mai 2008

green and pleasant land



Drax power station South Yorkshire. Who needs fresh air?

socialism or barbarism

The outbreak of violence in South Africa has clear economic causes. The townships and shanty towns around Johannesburg are riven by unemployment, social breakdown and economic ruin. People become desperate and left without any alternatives - turn on the scapegoats. From a Marxist perspective this is s terrible failure. For the ruling classes a boon. Their class enemy fights amongst itself, satiates itself and new riot police techniques get to be tried out. Meanwhile thousands of people are left destitute. This thrashing around of the working class is an indication of the economic turbulence convulsing the world at the moment. The S.African government is contemplating declaring a state of emergency. Soon, there may well be a world wide one. . .

samedi 17 mai 2008

Acceptable collateral damage


Britain is one of the four leading countries for armamnet production not far behind the US, and ahead of China and France. Surprisingly, these countries constitute the four countries on the UN security council. Hmmmm...


Anyway, Britain's MoD is having problems with a proposed ban on cluster bombs. These munitions are lobbed into civilian areas where they stay until someone picks them up or plays with them and they explode. They aren't aimed at killing personnel, but in maiming horribly enough to soak up resources and manpower. Take some evil thinking that, to get old fashioned there for a minute. Some get in the MoD is quoted as saying, "In briefings to journalists, the MoD stressed the conference was not aimed at a total ban, as some governments and humanitarian groups have urged, but at eliminating only those that cause unacceptable civilian casualties."


So there is a threshold of acceptability. One can imagine some foie gras stuffed old bastard in some cosy MoD office smoking a cigar and sipping a brandy whilst he debates with his overeducated Eton chums whether half or three quarters of a leg being blown off a seven year old girl is acceptable or not. Or whether the shrapnel should only cut one inch into flesh and not go all the way through to the bone and maybe the pig trials could be redone. In this 'war on terror' - who are the fucking terrorists again?

metaphor sale

In the Sun Trevor Kavanagh writes that the local elections have “torpedoed this Government beneath the waterline.”

It would be a curious torpedo that hit a ship above the waterline. That's the trouble with metaphors and analogies (see Philips on Iran below) pretty soon, ok almost instantaneously, they unravel. "Life is like a game of chess." you might hear from someone - and it does sound profound. For a second before you think - ok who are the bishops? Where's the board? How come the rules don't apply equally across the board if you could find it in the first place?

The strength of a philosophical argument is in a inverse relation to the amount of metaphor and analogy it contains. Any political argument that compares present political action with appeasement in the 1930's automatically destroys itself.

True, reading the Sun one doesn't expect genius - nor gems like this though, "As Gordon Brown prowled the TV studios saying sorry yesterday, we were watching a dead man drowning. I give him six months."

That's a long time to watch a dead man drown - what next, 'one fine day in the middle of the night. . .'

The struggle of memory against forgetting

Milan Kundera - that excellent fraud - wrote about how important memory was in the struggle against totalitarianism. His target back then was, of course, Stalinism, but his work has ironically a lot to say about current market fundamentalist societies. Over at K-punk there is an excellent essay on the nature of memory and contemporary society. Blogging does serve, in a minute way, as a form of remembering. Constant forgetting, a political amnesia, would be a perfect capitalist disease.

That's all folks. . .

Governor Mervyn King warned that the “the nice decade is behind us” and the economy was “travelling along a bumpy road.”

So that's it then? The nice decade is behind us? Now is the time of bumpy roads? If those were the good times, what are the bad times going to be like?

vendredi 16 mai 2008

The bitch is back

We shouldn't be all that surprised at the surge of attacks on the Roma people in Italy this week. It is one of the right's ways of dealing with economic turbulence - stir up hatred to distract people from their economic worries. On the face of it, these fire bombings are acts of terrorism - though I guess we won't be hearing about it like that - if we hear about it at all. Because, save for the snippet in the Guardian, no news service has covered it.

First they came for the gypsies but i wasn't a gypsy so I didn't speak out. . .

Pay Back Time

Lefties are sometimes called cynical. The Rev Williams spoke recently about how inequality and vast wealth create 'alienation' and 'cynicism'. But it has always seemed to me that cynicism is only partly about "attitude" or approach to the world. It is about seeing it in the actions of others. Take this story from the Guardian about donations to third world, a gesture at first greeted with fanfare and self-congratulation, that now have been reinterpreted as loans payable with interest. "Britain's £800m international project to help the poorest countries in the world adapt to climate change was under fire tonight after it emerged that almost all the money offered by Gordon Brown will have to be repaid with interest.
The UK environmental transformation fund was announced by the prime minister to international acclaim in November 2007, and was widely expected to be made in direct grants to countries experiencing extreme droughts, storms and sea level rise associated with climate change.
But the Guardian has learned that the money is not additional British aid and will be administered by the World Bank mainly in the form of concessionary loans which poor countries will have to pay back to Britain with interest."

There could not be a political at act so steeped in cynicism, at least this week, - so why bother feeling cynical when it's there, all around, in front of your very eyes?

Fighting Talk


The only war, for Marxists at least, is the class war. But this is the unreal world and in that world, there are the more traditional forms of war that pitch working class people against other working class people from different socio-economic geographical units in the pursuit of economic resources, strategic advantage or plain kudos. But when is such a war ever 'legitimate'. I tried to explain below the new 'decent' thinking on this issue - the idea seems to be that since there is no ultimate authority, either spiritual or earthly, then the strongest will attack the weakest if there is any hint of a threat.

It's an appalling argument but once all the 'reasons' for the attack on Iraq evaporated, iot's the only ones the 'decents' have left. One thing for it, though, is that it clarifies things. Once all the waffle about human rights, freedom and democracy have been jettisoned all there is left for them to talk about is brute real politik. The debate, in future, can only be understood in these harsher but clearer terms. Equally, it's no use those on the left invoking legal or moral arguments against the wars to come. Our opponents have transcended that type of consideration. True, to win over supporters to either cause (war or anti-war) ethical and juridicial arguments might be effective, but it's no use when arguing face to face with these people. It's just fact and strategy.

So it is with the likes of Melanie Phillips who has written an extraordinary piece in the Jewish Chronicle, called 'Now is the time to attack Iran'. It is a terrible piece of journalism. Worse, it is a terrible piece of writing. There always was a streak of absolutism in her style, even when Philips used to write for the Observer but here she is so convinced about the need to attack Iran that not a moment's scepticism or doubt is allowed in. Indeed the first word of her piece is "Everyon". Everyone is waiting in Israel for the end of the birthday party there, everyone is waiting for the US election to be over - this sets the tone for the sweeping certainty and generalisations that follow.

For it is the waiting that is the problem. The longer bombs aren't falling on Iran "[i]t provides alibis for putting off what needs to be done quickly; it results in the slaughter of yet more innocents." There is the absolutism there again, but also the subtle insinuation that the 'innocents' aren't the people of Gaza or the million or so dead in Iraq, but those unlucky enough to get hit by Palestinian rockets in Southern Israel.

And who is behind this slaughter of the innocents. None other than Iran. Iran is funding these 'terror' groups, is encircling Israel and is the centre of strategic gravity in the war against the free world. (Again, there is the absolutism - the simple vision of 'free' world against 'evil'). She clearly finds this unconvincing aswell as me. If you're going to surround a nuclear power with a massively funded army, you're going to have to do a damned sight better than a few local kids from inner city Beruit and a lorry load of AK-47's. So the frighteners have to be dredged up. Only not even that works anymore, if it ever did. She writes that Iran has a "working arrangement" with Al Qieda despite the obvious theological differences that exist between them. True to 'decent' form, not a glimmer of evidence is put forward for this but no matter, by this point in her quite brief article, she is on a roll. (I say 'quite brief' because if you're on side for sparking off Armageddon, you'd better have a longer more convincing set of things to say, I'd have thought). So, noticing that her AQ waving sounds comical rather than weighty, she plunges on hallucinating that Iran's embassies in the west are explosive stores that will serve the unleashing of terror once war is declared. But if that were true, it would be a good argument against any kind of atttack on Iran, you could be forgiven for thinking. However that would exhibit appeasement which only makes war more likely (which, considering Philip's appetite for bloodshed, would make it a good idea on her terms, one might think). Her argument staggers towards its close held up by our old friend the 1930's analogy. Philips here though, puts the anal into analogy. Philosophically, anaologies are ruses disguised as arguments. There practically useless as real debating points and this one in particular is merely the thinest of tissuey rhetoric. Iran = Nazi Germany? The country hasn't attacked anyone for a thousand years at least. But facts like this are of no importance to someone in the grip of such dread certainties as Philips. But soft, she is not urging the carpet bombing of Iran - just those good old fashioned precision strikes that have worked so well in the psat. No one will get hurt! But war is inevitable and it's best done when we're ready and not when Iran is ready. (Yes - what's all this "we" shit?).

I remember Jack Straw saying war with Iran is the 'talk of nutters', back in 2005. It still is, but the nutters are still in power and given the airtime this rancid pile of words is getting in the media - there's an appetite for it alas.

At least we've been warned.

On a critical level - there's so much wrong with her argument that the war if it does come can have no other rationale other than blind madness, demonic celebration of death, addiction to destruction and religious hatred. Fortunately, time is running out for the US chap who embodies these attributes. Hopefully Philips is just pissing in the wind as usual.

jeudi 15 mai 2008

Bush and Israel

I flick over to CNN - there are so many adverts this has to happen occasionally - and see Bush's speech to assembled worthies in Jerusalem. Three things stuck out about his talk. First, the supreme confidence of the man. He really does think all is going well. This can't be, surely, a facade. He genuinly believes all you think he does and more. He jokes with the audience, is relaxed and doesn't fluff a line as he rewrites Middle East history and laudes the democratic values the coalition is spreading throughout the world.

Then there is his repeated reference to Israeli "independence". As far as Bush is concerned, this isn't 60 years since the foundation of Israel, but a celebration of Israel's independence. It is a startling description. Former occupied countries can be said to celebrate their independence from their one time invaders. France does every May, India does etc., but the state of Israel only came into existence 60 years ago and was not occupied by anyone. Only the land was. In saying this Bush was attempting to eradicate from historythe fates of the 7000 000 Palestinians ethically cleansed from what is now Israel. All this is covered admirably in Seamus Milne's piece at the, er, Guardian - again, soz.

Finally, his delivery was calm and collected until he increased the tempo and got all together aggressive when he started to talk about peace. With Olmert's declaration that calm may have to be imposed in Gaza and the West bank, it's a strange kind of peace he's trying to spread around.

To his (dwindling) supporters and reluctant followers (the rest of the capitalist class and their hangers-on) it was a reassuring speech. There will be no change, the war, neither losable nor winnable, will continue - money will be made.

It was chilling stuff.

mercredi 14 mai 2008

Pathetic pathetic fallacy

The hot weather ended today in a cleansing heavy shower. The sky is full of heavy grey cloud and the air feels dense and charged. There are less promenuers by the river and streets have an abandoned air. People are waiting for the storm.

Rich List rant

A copy of the Sunday Times in the office at work. This year's rich list has already been remarked upon (see below) butI noted one thing from the Sunday Times' Rich List blurb caught my eye. Beresford, the Rich List compiler notes, "In times of economic uncertainty, the gulf between rich and poor is rarely ignored by those looking for a convenient scapegoat."

This is cam on a lot of levels, of course. Firstly, the gulf between rich and poor can't be a scapegoat - because it is the problem. It would be scapegoating to attack the Sunday Times building for instance. In fact no bad idea. Secondly, it's not as if this issue is "convenient", it is right there in your face - it's not as if mentioning the soaring incomes of the rich and the robbing of the poor is to drag up some coincidence or some accident, like a chance happening in a film or a play. It is a deliberate policy choice whose consequences cannot be ignored. Even the Labour Party has beacked down on its 10p tax band robbery idea. Thirdly, inequality is not a topic that is ever ignored by the genuine left. It does get erased out of existence by the 'decent' stooges and comfortable Euston moment frauds, but it is not just in times of economic turbulence that inequalities get highlighted, they are there all the tipme and grind the life out of billions so a tiny elite can enjoy choosing fifteen different types of cruise holidays, luxury flights or silver gilded napkin holders or billions of other useless bits of shit that they fill their vacant lives with. Rich list? - hang 'em.

mardi 13 mai 2008

Starvation is part of the plan.

In these times of (impending? deepening? ending?) crisis the upper classes do two things. They turn on eachother (witness the scrap in the LP at the moment, for example) and tend to speak a damn sight clearer about their plans and interests. Thus in the FT yesterday,
"It should therefore not surprise us if prices rise a good deal more. In that case, more speculative money will go in, and will play a larger role in the rise itself. And, of course, more people in the poorest countries will starve. It is a potentially grim situation in which the world's wealthy must proceed very carefully."

It's long been a belief of those toiling away here in the REL offices, that hunger levels and starvation rates are a barometer for the capitalist class and mass starvation a deliberate policy choice. Inter alia, it tells them how well their policies are increasing inequalities (a good thing!) and satisfies some lizard-Malthusian sadism in the glass cages of their hearts. Of course, it means being on the look out for trouble and maybe getting shut of currencies belonging to the next riot torn IMF'ed and fucked up country, but as long as you 'proceed very carefully' the culling can be hurried along without too much bother - and who knows you could even make a bob or two.

How long will it be before someone responds to all this with a mighty and just wrath?

We can't tell how bad it will get.

These reassuring words were spotted on Caroline Flint a Government minister's notes. In these situations one often wonders if these types of leaks are done deliberately to let us all down gently from the heady expectations we've been harbouring these past years of sunny golden uplands, peace dividends and an affordable flop house to doss down in at the end of a fulfilling day's work.

Do they think there's a recession going on or something?

lundi 12 mai 2008

Tiny acts of resistance # 2


Milwaukee US March 2008. This US military families for victory site is bemoaning the anarchists who redisgned this recruitment office.
We here at REL on the other hand, say "Well done fellas and lasses. Keep up the good work."

knock knock


No international outrage or condemnation from our cherished leaders over this latest atrocity from the Israeli armed thugs/army in Gaza.

We read the blithe, "The UN is demanding an investigation into how the Israeli military killed one of its Palestinian school teachers by blasting open the front door of her Gaza home with explosives in the presence of three of her children. " see the picture of the victim, and then presumably go to a 'happy 60th birthday party Israel' event and forget all about it.

Doomed


He looks fucked. Everything's fucked we're all fucked.
Less seriously, though, he doesn't look right. True these photos are selected for a particular purpose (this one's from the Independent), but even so - the bags under his eyes have got bags too.
And what's been the response to the local election blow? Some inconsequential guff over social care for the elderly and acquiescence to big business lobbying for tax protection. That'll claw the votes back. French chums over here mused on whether the next two years would see the LP say "fuck it" and go socialist for a change and a laugh. Since they're going to lose, and lose majestically, why not introduce a hard hitting Leninist programme that would expropriate the bourgeoisie, introduce worker councils and execute the royal family and settle old scores. It'd make a rousing finale to a woeful thirteen years.
But like over here, there's only one party and the business show must go on whichever public school stooge is sucking the corporate schlong in No. 10 at any particular time.

Healthy and thriving



Corporation tax is meant to be 30% but in reality it is little more than 22%. That's the conclusion of a year long survey carried out by chartered accountant Richard Murphy, a former KPMG tax specialist, estimates that tax dodging by multinationals ". . .are equivalent to almost one and a half times the amount of foreign aid given to poor countries each year.", a grand for every worker in Britain, or about 82 billion quid.


The survey has to be taken seriously but the government won't do anything to rectify the situation. In fact, it's doing exactly the opposite and is in the process of caving into big business pressure on this very issue. It turns out that there was some small print in a government draft proposal that - oo no! - would have meant that corporations would pay more in tax - i.e. might actually pay what the law says that they should.

Big business lobbyists "have hinted that they could move their headquarters off shore unless they reach an agreement over the next few months. " That is, unless the government backs off.

The dastardly proposals have provoked, "[m]oves in recent weeks by pharmaceutical firm Shire and publisher United Business Media to relocate their head offices to the lower tax regime in Ireland [which] have spooked ministers and forced a rethink of reforms designed to simplify taxes on profits earned abroad."

It's interesting to note that ministers have been "spooked" into a retreat over this issue and not spooked by the kicking they got last week in the local elections. But what glares out about this story is that (surely uncoincidentally) the two stories appears the same day. The reader is offered a stark choice - there is no third way. Either you support those people who swan about in offices like the one pictured above or you care more about the kid in the picture. The world is divided into two camps. All the information is there and reay to hand - it's stares you in the face.

Even the Guardian can't really ignore it, though it does spend longer on the latter story which it headlines at the expense of the tax dodger story, and adds lamely, "At the heart of the row is a campaign by multinational businesses to pay less tax. They argue that Britain's major competitors are more business-friendly and willing to cut taxes to maintain a healthy and thriving community of major corporations.", as if we didn't get the point.

Ah yes "healthy and thriving".


It's a peculiar choice of biological adjectives - maybe downright disgusting and even perhaps deliberately provocative - meant to generate legitimacy for the business' campaign. Their profits are like food that keeps the body politics healthy and glowing, or like water and other natural good things, of course. Yet the counter-evidence destroys the credibility of the CEO's moves. The government's craven capitulation before this (wildly undemocratic) lobbying (face it, it's called corruption) erodes what's left of their legitimacy even further. Naturally, this goes not just for the Blair Party, but for the other gang as well. The whole British state stands before us dripped in gore, cowering before its limosined, Gucci suited champagne quaffed masters. Brown, Straw, Cameron etc. are the vomit dripping down the unaccaceptable face of capitalism.

How long can the whole life draining rigidly boring system carry on before it is blasted away?

samedi 10 mai 2008

Ceasefire

'Peace' breaks out in a part of Iraq and Beiruit. Too late for a lot of people in Sadr city. As the BBC points out "Nearly 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in the fighting, many of them civilians." That ". . .many of them civilians" and "are believed to have been killed" do all the work in the article. The words are like a shroud on what the news story means. The separation of belief and knowledge, and the vagueness of the "many" is different to "Many civilians have been killed in the fighting." and that is before one considers the absence of the main reason for all the civilian death - the US bombing of the area. There is no news as to whether the US army is going to be forced to withdraw. The tone of the item is dour - the reality is the US has been defeated in its attempt to eradicate Sadr city of the resistance forces.

Lenin was right about the exageration about the fighting in Beiruit. Angry Arab is a mine of info about this. There's a viscious comment box.

If p then q


There are no causes, just events that bring about clarification

Big Brother isn't watching you

Over at Spiked! the last resting place for ageing RCP supporters, Brendan O'Neil gives his views on the 'surveillance' society. It is a take that I wouldn't disagree with much (see 'Technology Lies' below) but where I don't agree is when he writes, "In truth, the real driving force behind the surveillance society is not a practical one at all; it is a political one. It is underpinned by an existential crisis, if you like, by a powerful and palpable sense amongst government officials that they are increasingly cut off and disconnected from the public. The surveillance and database society is an attempt by officialdom to reconfigure a relationship with the public, to engender a direct, functional relationship to replace the political, citizenship-based relationship that has eroded in recent years. "

Firstly, what's all this 'citizen-based relationship' we once enjoyed with the Labour Government? They treated us all like scum for the most part - from the trains, to the hospitals, to the war our voices were blithely ignored and sniggered at behind closed doors. If that relationship has eroded in recent years - so much the better.

Secondly, is it really possible to imagine Gordon Brown or Jack Straw having an 'existential crisis'? These are today's politicians who, by nature, don't think about profound philosophical issues. The nature of contemporary politics is to leave everything to the market - why bother to pause and think about it? As for philosophy and deep thought - that doesn't pay the shareholders and so isn't an option. The crises that face the Labour Party are far more serious than than some dope induced panic attack, of course. So this part of O'Neil's argument just doesn' convince. He is right, though, to argue that ministers are "cut off and disconneted from the public".

But how is that news? That was the point of the whole Blairite project all along if the 'public' is anyone with the remotest connection to the party's 'base'. Blair wasn't a moderniser in that sense. He maintained the backward nineteenth century looking ideals of his real predecessor. He wanted to continue Thatcher's returning of British politics back to the élite and its practitioners - the 'true governance class' - and eradicate any democratic forces that would hold this project up. The beneficiaries of this whole tedious process have been , of course, the businessmen and shareholders whose principles ultimately direct the path of British politics.

Thus the idea that all these cctv cameras are some attempt to re-engage with the British public has to be some sort of ironic gag. O'Neil has taken the wrong turn here. He should cherchez l'argent. It is not a political crisis but an economic one. According to research recently fabricated by myself, I can reveal that the sureillance industries at the centre of this current boom all have financial links with the ministers involved. You read it here first. O'Neil does say that to argue that they don't work or aren't manned is to "miss the point" and that the cameras are 'totems. . . symbols of government interaction in our daily, public lives". Sounds plausible enough, but once you start to introduce terms like 'symbolic' and 'totem' into your argument, your argument goes the same way. After all, the government intervenes enough in radically unsymbolic ways in our lives a lot of the time without sticking symbols up about it - try signing on.

The fact that the ugly cameras don't help reduce crime and that there is nobody to watch the reams of thouroughly meaningless and boring copy is, in a way, beside the point. There's money to be made - at the taxpayers' expense and that's the real point. It is there where the real scandal of all this cctv hooha lies and not in some existential crisis - for which, anyway, you would have to be a human being to experience one. . .

So, go on, nick it, chuck a brick through a window or slap a copper or something - there's no one watching.

vendredi 9 mai 2008

Wars and wars within wars

The near civil war in Lebanon is but one further consequence of the depraved US 2003 attack on Iraq. Lenin thinks the whole picture is being exaggerated. But if things turn nasty at least we will be prepared for the propaganda news onslaught. Hizbollah will be presented as the bad guys in the media and future western action as regrettable but, alas, necessary. As far as the decents are concerned, any noises left that criticise the US or 'support' the Shia forces (who it seems are bound up with unions and others protesting about price hikes) will be caricatured as self-loathing islamofascists terrorists.

Their words are as ugly as the policies they are embedded in.

jeudi 8 mai 2008

Listen to the silence let it ring out


Suicide - a long term solution to a short term problem.

What would you do then?

There comes a time in fractuous political discussion when the status quo right winger take a different tack and demands "Well, what would you do then?" It is a comfortable rest point for them. They have been satiated by the ideological mantra that there is no alternative - their tactic will, they are certain, show up your left wing words as mere posturing. After all, they will look at you sagely, icapitalism is not the best system but it's the best that's possible.

One way to respond is to congratulate them warmly for their rejection of the capitalist order - as disingenuously as they are asking you for alternatives, of course, and invite them to join the movement. A more realistic tactic is to give them a list of 'temporary' demands that are realisable and could lead on to more a socialist and constructive future. But what?

Over at 'Through the Scary Door' there is a list of modest enough proposals that could act as a block to this weary right wing ruse and, maybe, even something more. . .
"1) Stop the War – all British troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan – no support (military, financial or diplomatic) for further US or Israeli wars.(2) Trade Unionism – smash the pay freeze imposed by the government on public sector workers with united, rank and file led industrial action.(3) Unite Against Fascism – no public platform for racist or fascist parties – effective public campaigning against racism in state or civil society.(4) Housing – immediate end to all council housing sell-offs – direct investment in building and repairs.(5) Education – comprehensive education for all – all grammar schools and city academies abolished – return the grant to all HE students".

The labour Party should adopt this before 2009 - they couldn't do much worse than they did last week.

Who do you call. . .

. . .when rozzer is beating you up? This problem is set to increase in the coming months. But in the police in Philidelphia got really carried away at stuck into a trio of unfortunate lags who were suspected of links to Al Qiada - sorry scratch that force of habit - in fact they were tangentially linked to a shooting of a cop a few days before.

The video shows a cluster kick of a three prone citizens. They must have exhausted themselves and well earned their wages for the day. The chief says, "On the surface it certainly does not look good in terms of the amount of force that was used," Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey admitted, after seeing the video.
"But we don't want to rush to judgement."

One or two things stand out here - On the surface it doesn't look good. This must mean he thinks we dimwitted dolts just don't see the whole picture goddammit. Because, underneath, seen with a forensic eye and more, hell, philosophically, this is actually a good thing. Not for those on the receiving end for sure, their surfaces will need some time to get back to optimal, but really in the long run this can only be good for freedom justice and liberty for all.
The second point, of course, is that, no, they certainly don't want to ". . .rush to judgement." Why, after all, believe the evidence of your own eyes - and that of the rozzer copter that shot the whole viscious fiasco? Hey c'mon - don't be so hasty. There's more going on here than meets the eye - and in fact, you know, not only do we not want to rush to judgement we're not gonna move to any kind of judgement at all. Period. This is what we're fightin' for. See y'all.

Tiny signs of resistance # 1


mercredi 7 mai 2008

This'll teach you

The Labour Party has responded to its electoral fiasco last week byt turning on the areas that have no where else to go but stayed at home anyway. OK, these people the Home Secretry is targetting in her latest bash the chav vote winning scheme, aren't the most likely ones to be sat home learning their Latin declensions. But all the same - this is a hopeless but viscious lash out at those at the 'bottom' of society. (Though I'd say Smith herself was the arse of the country).

The Home secretary is ordering police to actively harrass young 'thugs' with the idea to give them a taste of their own medicine. It's a clear sign of political failure. Firstly it is a response to failure, it is a panicky way of trying to (yuk) 'woo' back core middle class voters. Second it is a failure of a policy because (like CCTV) these simplistic attention grabbing headline measures will be counter-productive and won't work and finally it is a failure because it fails to recognise that rozzer has been harassing young working class people for years.

Technology lies


The affluent west is addicted to technology. That much is obvious. The problem gets more serious when people start to believe that its application can solve social problems. This is innocuous enough in films when the water shortage is solved by bombing ice flows or when the earth-bound comet is taken out by a nuclear missile. But when the propaganda seeps into real life the effects are more just sad than dramatic. Thus the widespread belief, almost a common sense assumption that CCTV's would 'solve' crime in some preventative way. The empirical data (which probably won't dent the government's enthusiasm for CCTV's since they seem immune to material evidence - witness their reaction to their own cannabis research) shows that only 3% of crimes are solved by CCTV ". . .despite billions being spent on kit." according to DCI Mick Neville.
The surveillance society is often described in 'Big Brother' terms, though recently, Orwell's vision has been superceded in people's minds by the TV show, and both the Mailers and parts of the left can frighten themselves into thinking that our freedoms are being curtailed.
The reality is far less dramatic but shocking in a different way. It is less dramatic because once one starts to think about Orwell's idea of a camera constantly perceiving you - it is easy to forget that the camera needs one awake person at the other end of the line alive to what is been recorded. Shocking because of all the wasted money. Think it through a bit further and it becomes clear that it would be far too expensive to employ hundreds of thousands of people to constantly watch over us and that far too much money has been wasted already. Tons of CCTV footage never gets watched. People just find it too hard to find images. The technology is unreliable. Footage gets erased.
This is probably what happened to the 'recordings' supposedly showing the July 7 bombers. To some it is tempting to think that there is a state cover up and the footage has been deliberately supressed. The reality is far more prosaic. The cameras weren't working (come on, this is Britain), someone forgot to press record or the tape had worn out. This can't be admitted too many middle class jobs would be at stake and so in the gaps conspiracies grow.
There is no Big Brother - just a system gradually, gleefully sliding into chaos.

Detector

It is a common place that one knows when politicians are lying - their lips are moving. But the state has found a way to make sure the unwashed proles who claim uneployment benefit (though 'benefit' is an inappropriate term for the pittance one actually receives) actually tell the truth to the civil servants who deal with them.

Callers to welfare centres will have their voices analysed by a software that calculates the probability that claimants are telling lies. The computers can calculate the minute waverings in peoples' voices and this alerts staff who can then ask more searching questions and bump the claimants out of the system.

The idea is so rancid it is only being piloted at the moment and ministers couldn't be pinned down as to whether the scheme would be extended or not. It's rancid because when the program alerts the caller to a welfare centre that they are being monitored to see if they are lying - you're going to feel like you are a suspect. You are treated as if you just can't be trusted. That would really piss me off. My voice might then waver a bit. Thus the civil servants withhold belief about the truths that I tell about my situation. Further deeper enquiries are made into my privaqte life. Eventually I put the phone down and think of other ways to get the money. I put the TV on and see a repeat of Blair in the Houses of Parliament telling us about the WMD's again.

BAE corrupt as hell


The BAE scandal is old news of course. "Old News" that tried and tested way of brushing unhelpful stories away - but the story popped its snout out of the trough again the other day under the heading "BAE paid too little heed to ethics, says report". This is the last reference to the Guardain for a while - it does seem to have become an irony free zone.
Imagine, an arms company that fails to pay heed to ethics. Which Ethics101 unit are they talking about Utilitarian ethics - 'only kill if the overall level of happiness is increased' perhaps? Or the Kantian 'Do not act in a way that is counter to the univaersal law'.
The core of the isuue, though, is the 'unethical' bribes paid to some Sheik to buy a bunch of those horrible Typhoon planes (see pic). If selling weapons of mass destruction to dictatorships and using public money to persaude them to purchase and then getting the government to supress the enquiry into the case weren't enough, BAE is in the shit in America for prety much the same reasons but ". . .political moves are being floated that could extricate BAE from corruption investigations in the US, in return for a financial settlement without admission of liability."
So to get off a bribery charge you can pay the authorities and get away with it. Strange ethics indeed.

Faking it up

Martin Allen is an unhappy man. He has written three books (no mean feat given the pressure for publication in acamedia these days) but alas, all the evidence for his historical arguments have been shown to be fakes.

The claims made by Allen seem believable enough. It is well known that the British upper classes had a soft spot for Adolf, the Daily Mail still regarded him as a force for good right up until 1938 and their attraction for fascism occassionally bursts forth - take Prince Harry's Nazi officer disguise and the Max Mosley spanking scandal below for instance. So Allen was on solid enough ground. He claimed that, "British agents used the royal family to deceive the Nazis into expecting a pro-German putsch. The Duke of Windsor leaked secrets to help Hitler. And, most sensationally of all, SS chief Heinrich Himmler was murdered by secret agents on Winston Churchill's orders." Apparently these were 'sensational' claims. To me, they seem just boringly probable.

As it turns out the evidence was not what it seemed. "Details of an investigation by the National Archives into how forged documents came to be planted in their files have uncovered the full extent of deception. Officials discovered 29 faked documents, planted in 12 separate files at some point between 2000 and 2005, which were used to underpin Allen's allegations."

The strong implication is that it was Allen himself who planted these forged documents in a desperate attempt to boost his publication ratings, especially when it is considered that Allen was the only person to have handled all the files that contained the forged documents and that the forgeries themselves were, er, not very well done.

Case closed then it would seem. But there remains a lingering sense of doubt. For a start, we learn that the forgeries were poorly cobbled together affairs that looked fake with a capital F. Letters were printed on the wrong kind of paper, with laser printers and spelling mistakes. Now it seems to me that if you're a historian (ever the sceptical paranoic types) even a historian in a hurry and anxious to slip in a bit af helpful evidence into the archives, that you would put the effort in and get it right. Because if you're job depends on the quality of your fakes, these fakes had better be pretty accurate. It could well be, of course, that Allen is not just a poor historian but an inept forger as well. At the moment he is a very unwell man and unavailable for comment and perhaps that is the most likely interpretation.

However, we live in a country steeped in lies and deception. 45 minute WMD claims, BAE, Navy not in Iranian waters, the Belgrano, the Stockwell shooting, PFI, Liar loans to reel off just a few things. This is not to justify Allen (if he has carried out fakery) but to withold belief on this story. After all, there is nothing to prevent one thinking that, in fact, Allen's story was true but that the evidence he had used was noted by Special Branch, who lifted it from the National Archives and then replaced it all by crude "amateurish" forgeries. The aim being to discredit Allen and his dangerous reminders of the British ruling class' love affair with fascism. If so, the ruse worked beautifully. The Guardain swallowed the line uncritically and poor Allen is left out to dry.

Maybe all historical archives are opertated along these lines.

mardi 6 mai 2008

Capitalism at work

The seige and bombardment of Sadr city continues. Neo-liberalism's work is never done. The ground has to be prepared for its glistening temples of plenty. So if hospitals are hit by precision guided missiles - it's regrettable, but a price well worth paying.

This just in, “Sadr City right now is like a city of ghosts,” Abu Haider al-Bahadili, a Mahdi Army leader told the Washington Post by phone. "

The plan is working just fine then. It has to be noted that the decents (see the first part of my critique of Khawja's piece below) go quiet when this sort of destruction unfolds. When their relativism is imposed, they become relatively silent.

lundi 5 mai 2008

Aesthete

The Epicurean gets drunk every now and then - after all even moderation has to be done in, moderation.

Gravedigger


An acquaintance in England inherits a lot of money and buys her husband a 28 grand 4by4. Another borrows a ton of money from banks credit cards and friends to live the 'British Dream'. A business partner of another friend borrows to invest in the company he partly owns. The huge car generates hostility. Her friends argue with her and, finally, shun her. The share deal goes South and the lendee has to flee the country leaving hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of debt. The businessman's scheme collapses and he commits suicide. His company collpases.

Three failed capitalists can do more damage to capitalism than a thousand depressed revolutionaries

Meanwhile. . .


. . .the slaughter continues.

Sadr city is being wiped out by the US air force. A whole way of life is being exterminated. Why is there no response - no widespread outrage?

The media plays its part of course. In its selective reporting and what it leaves unsaid. Yet the information is out there. The American policy is a product of the entire failure of the West's foreign policy. Bombing is a 'quick fix' way to regain the initiative in a doomed campaign. They have lost intellectually, morally and now in the field. This is not to be anti-American, but Post-American.

dimanche 4 mai 2008

Euston Moment

Alan Johnson, the political theorist and editor of the dreadful Democratiya website/tarted up blog is distinct from Alan Johnson, MP, New Labour clone, minister and no qualifications boy who did good - but you'd be pressed to tell the difference in the way they write and the things that they say. The material fed to MP's to regurgitate to the popular media and the stuff oozing out of academia are part of the same corporate-think engine. One might as well call them both the same aspect of a kind of acamedia department at the governance's centre.

Thus for a while I gave the 'Euston Moment' piece in the Guardian the benefit of the doubt. If the guy had no GCSE's give him his due he has remembered his lines and even got a few intellectual quotes to give his banalities a weighty aura. After a brief echeck, though, I was mildly surprised to see that the essay was written by another kind of Alan Johnson, one who is cited as being a political philosopher. The essay is quite risible. It is asupposed attack on the left. Johnson believes that the left's "theoretical collapse" and "loss of sensibility" stems from its reductivist response to the new complexities of the post Cold War world. The left has simply applied the ideas of imperialsim and resistance and collapsed into anti-Americanism, self-hatred and "demented anti-zionism".

His rant is not directed against ant particular figure or element of left wing thought, of course, but is just a 'critique' of the 'left' that exists in Johnson's imagination.
His argument veers from the accusation that John Rees' (supposed) unconditional support for Saddam Hussein (generally, when I hear any 'decent' describe a left winger 'supporting' i) terror, ii) the latest bogeyperson or iii) oppression of unions in soon to be invaded countries, I always wonder how the decent really thinks a left wing writer can actually materially support any of the things he is being accused of supporting and how, in fact, the actual nasties being talked about have in the end Western governments behind them), an argument that Johnson provides no evidence for, to Albert Camus - quoted wildly out of context - to the crass claim that criticisms of Western foreign policies are evidence of 'self-hatred' to Bladerunner (!) and then to the truly awfully expressed idea that criticising America means 'Along this road madness lies'. I really hate that phrase.

The guff ends with a long sales pitch for the democratiya site and the claim that the Euston moment is not a movement but whose ideas should be important in helping to define the shape of the left.

Euston moment sounds a lot like 'senior moment' - one of those moments of forgetting. Thus Johnson claims that the Manifesto (if you can call the back of a beer mat scribbles that make up the wretched thing a 'manifesto') was 'agnostic on economics'. So, nothing left at all then. How can you be remotely 'left' if you efface economic injustices? But to do that would unravel the whole sorry facade Johnson is mixed up in.
If this is the best "left" wing acamedia can dredge up then they'd best stick to writing propaganda for their Nu Labout masters. Thanks to K-Punk for drawing attention to this cry for help though.

Betrayal

'Gordon Brown suffers Long bloody Sunday' - the headline in The Guardian. First thought is, really? I mean as bloody as the hospital in Sadr City that got hit by an American air raid? Or as bloody as this fella in Gaza just trying to get by and getting beaten up by occupying forces? Or as. . .well you get the point.

The electoral 'defeat' is really nothing of the sort. The National Continuation Party (comprised of the two main 'factions' Lab and Con) did very well. Gordon Brown's side of the wall has, of course, committed the most serious betrayal of all - that of not winning. The only reason given for the abandonment of any vestiges of socialism was that it was necessary to serve the greater god 'Electoral Success'. Thousands of NuLab robots signed up. Now it has betrayed this idea and them too. On this latter point - every silver lining has a cliché

There was speculation in the paper that this could mean a conservtive government in 2009, from Martin Kettme of all people. That kind of waffle is so besides the point when there is only one choice on offer - the Business party and, of course, the Business as usual Party.
The real left has an ambiguous relationship with the whole electoral process - and rightly so. Thus, one should interpret the 'catastrophe' for one side of the NCP as nothing but the merest ripple in the political lake. And that Boris' victory as a sign that the whole mayor spectacle has been 'dollared' - as in devalued.