Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Dave Renton on the crisis in the swp, and the mad professor

(This post was published by Dave Renton in reply to the version of history being peddled by pinky and the brain, Kimber and callinicos, in the new ISJ, it is reprinted here as there is a rumour that Stalinicos is seeking to have it removed) 6 Alex Callinicos, Charlie Kimber and the investigation of rape Posted on 06/10/2013 by lives; running Standard Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber’s piece in new issue of International Socialism sets out, amongst other things, the SWP Central Committee’s justification for how its members acted during the complaint of rape against our National Secretary Martin Smith. The problem with publishing an account like theirs is that there will be people out there who do not accept the veracity of it. And I am one of them. What am I supposed to do: keep silent, while others present a narrative which I believe is substantially untrue? Like all of us, I have lived with the crisis for a year, and done everything in my power to find out as much as I could about what happened. My duty to the comrades I know and love – inside the SWP and out – is to explain what, to the best of my knowledge, happened. I make no claims to omniscience. If it turns out that I am wrong when I describe what happened in detail, I will say so. But the party is in crisis; our reputation has been wrecked. Unless we start telling the whole truth and explain properly to others and to ourselves the mistakes the party has made, no-one will ever trust us again. Callinicos and Kimber write: “The SWP Central Committee responded to the complaint by referring it immediately to the DC” (i.e. the SWP’s Disputes Committee) Callinicos and Kimber imply that the Central Committee (CC) were barely actors in the dispute, and that all important decisions were made by other people (in particular our Disputes Committee). But this is not true; since the case began, the DC has been involved only when asked. The question of whether and when to involve the Disputes Committee and what kinds of decision it was allowed to make were all made by our Central Committee before the DC was convened. Starting from the beginning: the Central Committee was made aware of the complaint for the first time in July 2010. They were told that a woman had made serious, sexual allegations against Smith, although she was not in London at that time to put her case to anyone directly. After Marxism, two members of the Central Committee, travelled to the city where the complainant lived in order to speak to her. On their return to London, the CC agreed its strategy of dealing with the complaint, which was to ignore the then “Control Commission” (i.e. the forerunner of our present Disputes Committee), which played no part at all in the 2010 complaint. All decisions in 2010-2011 were taken by the Central Committee, not the DC. Alex Callinicos and the other members of the CC encouraged Smith and the woman to “negotiate”, i.e. if the woman could be persuaded to keep the detail of the complaint out of the public eye, Smith would in turn agree to his voluntary demotion. During the course of the negotiations, he was able to bargain his proposed sanction down, from the original punishment (that he would stand down from all paid work for the SWP) to the end result that he would remain not just on the party’s payroll but even on our Central Committee. Anyone who thinks it is appropriate to compromise a sexual complaint before investigating whether it is true or not should recall the immense criticism the police received in 2009, once it became known that in certain cases they had accepted cautions as a way of resolving rape complaints. Socialist Worker would have known where to stand on that one; the politics are made no better when it is the leadership of a revolutionary party that deals with a rape complaint by trying to negotiate it away. Callinicos and Kimber write: “there had been controversy between the parties to the case from 2010 onwards, although the issues raised then were not the same as in 2012.” I compare the account which appears in a resignation letter written by G-, who was until this year a member of the editorial board of the International Socialism Journal and a regular contributor to that journal, and before that, a member of the central committee of the SWP’s sister party in Germany. He had been a member of the SWP and its sister parties for more than 20 years before he left this year: “[Women] who were present, and involved in these discussions, insist that though W may not have wished it to go forward to the DC, she was evidently in tremendous distress, was making a serious complaint, and was demanding that something urgently be done. Women comrades who heard W’s story back in 2010 judged that what had taken place was rape – even though she, back then, did not use that word.” G- says, in effect, that he spoke to the women who were there when the complainant met the CC, and the women who had brought her complaint to the CC’s attention, and a common picture emerged. Every woman he spoke to recalled the complainant saying that Smith had forced her to have sex with him against her will. She did not use the word “rape”, but in every conversation she conveyed that she had not consented to have sex with him but had had sex with him. If G- is right, and he, unlike Alex Callinicos or Charlie Kimber, does not have a position to protect and has no motive to make things up, then their claim that she raised different allegations (“issues”) about Smith in 2010 and 2012 is simply untrue. Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber’s piece makes no mention of anything that took place between 2010 when the complaint was made and 2012 when the woman asked to have it properly investigated At the party’s 2011 conference, it was announced that Smith had decided to stand down as National Secretary. Alex Callinicos introduced the session. He explained that a complaint had been brought to the Central Committee’s attention, and resolved. He declined to say what the complaint was although he hinted that it involved a woman and was sexual. Others have already given their accounts of Callinicos’ speech. One of the members of the SWP in the audience, R-, on hearing this, said aloud “It’s because Smith jilted her!” I do not criticise him for saying it: it was exactly the impression that Alex Callinicos actually communicated to the delegates. Smith spoke next. He said that he was no angel but he would not admit to doing anything wrong. He said that he was hurt by the things that had been written about him on the internet, but he was a fighter. Normally at party conferences, speakers are allowed no more than 3 minutes. Smith spoke for 10 minutes, twice telling the chair he would carry on even when asked to stop. I wonder which CC members it was who had planned who would speak after Alex Callinicos, and who within our leadership approved the idea of Smith going first? We are a very centralist organisation; our party conference and our summer event Marxism are controlled through “speakers’ slips” requiring anyone wishing to speak from the floor to indicate first, after which their proposed speech can be approved before they are allowed to the microphone. Decisions as to who to speak in a debate of this importance are not made without planning in advance. Our leadership behaved as if they wanted the session to follow a particular script: that is, for Smith’s behaviour to be minimised and for him to be “vindicated”. Between them, Smith and Alex Callinicos set the tone for the session. Smith told the delegates that sectarians had considered publishing the story of the accusations against him online, but had not. The reason they didn’t publish the story, he said was that there was simply nothing to it. If people knew the very worst he was accused of, they would gasp at how empty the story was. After Smith, a number of long-standing comrades rose and spoke in his support. A leading woman comrade told conference that everyone had skeletons in their closets. Another leading woman comrade J- also defended Smith. When one comrade later asked J- why she had spoken up for someone accused of a serious sexual crime, she said, “I wanted to know whether it was true or not, so I asked Smith. I said, the thing you are accused of how bad is it from 1 to 10? And Smith told me, ‘it’s not even 1’.” In response to every signal from the people who had planned the session that the misconduct was of the mildest character possible, the delegates chanted “the workers united will never be defeated” and gave Smith a standing ovation. The first people to leave the SWP over the complaint resigned then – in response to an episode which subjects to the harshest test Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber’s claim that “we [the Socialist Workers Party] are a revolutionary socialist organisation that has prided itself in its principled opposition to all the different forms of oppression that capitalist society maintains”. In reality, we are a party which has to be judged, like any other, not on what we say but on what we do. Horrific as the scene appears in retrospect (a socialist party, applauding out of the room a man accused of rape?), I do not blame the delegates who clapped and chanted in his support. Several of them have spoken out since against the leadership cover-up. The fault lies with our Central Committee. Smith was our party’s National Secretary, our leader. Just a few months before he had gone on trial for assaulting a police officer, a prosecution which was presented inside the SWP as a challenge to the entire left. He was only under attack, he had said at his trial, because of his politics. The memory of his trial hung over conference. Alex Callinicos and our whole CC gave delegates the false impression that the complaint against Smith was minimal. On the information that Alex Callinicos had allowed the delegates to hear; who could blame them for clapping? Callinicos and Kimber write: when the woman complained a second time in 2012 there was a “serious investigation” The flaws of the investigation are now well known – the choice for the DC investigation of a panel on which a majority were or had been on the Central Committee of the SWP, the refusal to allow the complainant to know the basis on which he defended her case (while making sure that the details of her case had been provided to him), the confusion as to what burden of proof applied, the failure to provide the complainant or her witnesses or even the party as a whole with any explanation which could join the two things we were told about the complaint: “the woman was believed” and “her complaint was not upheld”. I could go through any of these in detail, but I will focus here on just one particular problem, the questions asked of the woman and of her corroborative witness. Of the two worst questions asked of the witness, one was asked directly by a present member of our Central Committee. Trying to rebut the second woman’s evidence that Smith had plied her with drink before repeatedly sexually harassing her, Amy Leather asked the woman, “Don’t you think Smith is generous? Whenever I go out for a coffee with Smith, he always buys me coffee.” A former CC member Maxine Bowler then asked the second woman “Is it true that you like a drink?” She then followed it up with another version of the same question, “Are you someone who likes to have a party?” Just in terms of the ordinary competence you might expect if a complaint was being investigated by people with any experience of questioning (managers in a workplace, trade unionists or whoever else), these were hopeless questions. Whether a woman drinks never, occasionally, or often makes no difference when it comes to deciding whether, on that occasion, the man had harassed her. The politics that informed the question was specific. Its logic was simple: a woman who goes drinking regularly or parties is by definition a woman who is asking for sex. If a man abuses her, the woman – and not the man – is to blame. You cannot call an investigation serious when it is informed by a prior logic of disbelief in sexual complaints, and an automatic, institutional belief in the necessity of protecting the man who is the subject of the complaint. Callinicos and Kimber’s piece never explains properly that there has been a second complaint against Martin Smith Their piece writes out of history the second woman who complained about Smith. But she is human: she lives, she breathes and she has suffered. And there can be no honest account of what happened which ignores her story. Her complaint was submitted at the end of February of this year. For three months, the Disputes Committee, supported by the Central Committee prevaricated and refused to say directly whether it would allow her complaint to be heard. After three months of hesitation, on 14 May 2013, the DC with the approval of Alex Callinicos and our whole Central Committee, wrote to the woman again, telling her that they refused to hear her complaint. This position was then maintained in a series of further letters through the remainder of May and June. There then followed a battle within the party before eventually the CC – not the DC, which made none of the important decisions in the case – finally, in July, admitted defeat and agreed to allow the case to be heard. We know what happened next – Smith resigned from the SWP and declined to co-operate with the subsequent Disputes Committee investigation. At exactly the same time that Smith resigned from the SWP, the Central Committee decided that the Disputes Committee which investigated the second complaint would not be allowed to determine the truth or otherwise of the allegations, but only whether he had a “case to answer”. This decision was taken long before the people were chosen who would eventually sit on the DC. To grasp the significance of this decision, you need to understand that no employer, no union, no professional disputes body, no Tribunal and no court would have done the same. For all these bodies, it is entirely normal to have to deal with someone who does not want to attend a hearing – whether that is a worker who is accused of making off with the company funds, or a nurse being investigated for abusing her patients who says she is too ill to attend a hearing before the Nursing and Medical Council, or an older man accused of raping a woman thirty years his junior. All of them, faced with a person subject to a serious complaint who refused to attend a hearing, would have determined the case in their absence, deciding whether the allegations were convincing or not. If the person was cleared in their absence, that would be the end of it. But none of them would leave the door forever open to an accused person, just in case they felt like clearing their name in the future at a time of their choosing. None of them would say that until the defendant has chosen to attend a hearing in person, no finding could be made against them. There are two ways you could look at the second DC investigation. One would be to focus on the sanction it imposed. Smith has been excluded from membership of the SWP unless he applies to rejoin, and, should he apply, he would be required to be investigated by a further Disputes Committee panel. In so far as the panel has chosen to place this restriction on his membership of the SWP, it would appear that the original DC found that the complaint against him was probably true. Their decision, it follows, has implications for the first complaint too. The essence of the first complaint was that he had pursued the complainant for sex, and made her have sex with him. And the essence of the second complaint was that he had repeatedly pursued the second complainant for sex, and harassed her, although they never had sex. Inevitably the findings of the second DC investigation case a long shadow over Smith’s supposed exoneration in the first complaint. The other way to look at the second DC investigation would be to focus on its decision, not “conduct inappropriate of an SWP member”, but merely “a case to answer”. The practical effect of instructing the DC that they could not make a finding about Smith but only determine whether he had a case to answer, was to protect the Central Committee from having to face what would otherwise inevitably be questions from the membership along these lines: “How can you justify driving 400 comrades out of the party in order to protect your account of Smith’s innocence, when you now accept he is guilty of similar behaviour with a second woman?” The question can of course still be asked. But when it is asked, the CC now respond, “the DC never did find Smith guilty…”. And the answer to that is: “You’re right, the DC, after a two day hearing, at which the complainant provided a detailed 33-page statement backed up by written documents, and had eight corroborative witnesses, and she and her witnesses were questioned by a panel, found no more than that there was ‘a case to answer’. The reason they stopped there and would not consider whether Martin Smith was probably guilty of the conduct giving rise to her complaint is that Alex Callinicos, Charlie Kimber and our whole Central Committee had decided in advance that the DC were not allowed to find any more than this.” And then you have to ask: who came up with the proposal that the panel investigating Smith would not be allowed to adjudicate on the merits of the complaint, but restrict itself to a finding of “case to answer”? Was it Callinicos, Kimber; was it Smith himself? Now is the time for the CC to start telling the truth. The Central Committee SWP is not infallible; the members of the party are not children. The party gains nothing by our leadership continuing to keep secrets from us. I have no ill-will towards either of the authors of the ISJ article. I, like every member of the SWP, can remember each of them in better times. Alex Callinicos is the longest serving member of our Central Committee. Charlie Kimber was seen for years as a consensus figure in the party, someone who could avert situations of conflict with a smile and a kind word. The strategy behind Callinicos and Kimber’s piece is to blame everyone but themselves for the crisis in the SWP: Michael Rosen, Lindsey German, John Rees, George Galloway, John McDonell, Jeremy Corbyn and many others get criticised by name for their failures of revolutionary nerve. But you cannot blame anyone outside the party for the way we handled the rape investigation. Who was it who introduced the special session at the 2011 conference? Who devised the strategy of labelling the party opposition as feminist or autonomist in order to distract from the leadership’s handling of the rape complaint? And which CC member had the job of “co-ordinating” the relationship between the DC and CC during the rape investigation? The answer to all these questions is Alex Callinicos Share this: Twitter37 Facebook396 Like this: Filed under SWP and tagged Alex Callinicos, Charlie Kimber, rape investigation, swp | 2 Comments Post navigation Previous Post 2 Responses » lives; running on 07/10/2013 at 3:59 pm said: [NOTE TO ALL READERS] Because of the nature of this article, I will not be approving comments on it. Those of you who have my contact details are of course welcome to write to me privately about it Reply ↓ lives; running on 07/10/2013 at 4:03 pm said: [EXPLANATION OF AN EDIT] Three friends have written to me, via social media, about one part of the piece – the reference to “J”. When I originally posted this I gave the comrade’s name in full. No-one has said to me that my account of what she said at the SWP’s 2011 conference was inaccurate, or that they disagree with my assessment of the damage it did. But friends have explained that she regretted the speech afterwards and apologised for it at the next SWP (district) event which she attended a few days afterwards. In those circumstances, I have thought it right to only publish the first letter of her name. If it is true that she apologised, even if only before a smaller gathering of comrades, then this is a sign of that comrade’s strength and something to be encouraged in others Reply ↓ Leave a Reply

Monday, February 25, 2013

WHAT IS FILTH?

WHAT IS FILTH? A repost by Anna chen SWP faction leader and Central Committee member Pat Stack wrote to members of his beleaguered party, saying: “I think a lot of comrades would like some respite from the filth that is out there (here I’m talking about non-party bloggers), but these expulsions will only give that filth fresh impetus.” Thanks for the impetus, Pat. Aside from noting the commonplace party practice of throwing people off the back of the sleigh to save one’s own skin, let us explore the question you raise: WHAT IS FILTH? “Filth” is an alleged rape taking place when a woman is nineteen, 2 years after she and her party leader meet, at which time he is forty-six and she seventeen. “Filth” is an appeal to the party’s internal disciplinary body being met with a kangaroo court run by several of the party leader’s friends, who then exonerate him. “Filth” is the woman denied access to his evidence while he sees hers: the game is surely “I’ll show you mine IF you show me yours.” “Filth” is a woman ostracised, cast out as unclean with a scarlet letter “A” carved into her forehead. “Filth” is her friends put under heavy manners by the party’s attack dogs, fresh from their two-minute hate. “Filth” is power relations that exist under capitalism going unchallenged and amplified in the party playground. All that youth and pulchritude — yummy! “Filth” is continuing to claim exemption from “bourgeois morality”: may I remind you once again that Trotsky wrote “Their Morals and Ours”, not “Their Morals and We Ain’t Got None”. “Filth” is saying “you don’t lie to the class”, and then lying to the class about how many members you have. Claiming 7,000 while actually having far fewer than 2,000, even after it has been brought to your attention (remember?), is far from clean. “Filth” is honeytrapping people who want to change the world for the better, who bring love and hope to the party, and then find themselves smashed up on the rocks of the politics of envy and the drive for personal power. “Filth” is love-bombing potential recruits and then treating them like your property once they’ve joined. “Filth” is demanding their full-time intellectual and physical labour for no pay while you draw a salary. “Filth” is paying your printshop workers well below the minimum wage (in 2003 and maybe even now for all we know) — and what happened to that fulltimer’s tax and National Insurance, by the way? “Filth” is expelling four members for the thought-crime of discussing issues on Facebook. The internet to the party in 1998: “What does that mean to a postie on eighty quid a week?” “Filth” is denying potential recruits the free information with which to make an informed choice: in the public interest, Caveat Comrade. “Filth” is Professor Darkside’s puppies fed the stolen milk and apples and now look: lynch-mobs and goon squads patrolling the perimeter. “Filth” is practising filth and yelling “Filth” louder than the next guy. “Filth” is watching your party go from excess to excess and being surprised when, like a child given no boundaries by the grown-ups (of which you are supposed to be one), it does something RE-E-E-E-ALLY ba-a-a-ad! “Filth” is knowing all these abuses exist while in a leadership capacity and doing nothing about them. “Filth” is pointing the finger when three fingers point right back atcha. “Filth” is a mirror.

Monday, April 30, 2012

In what senses can we describe certain political, religious and social movements of the English Revolution (1640-1660) as radical?

Just how useful is the adjective ‘radical’ in describing or categorising the Minority religious, political and social movements that emerged in the course of the English Revolution? In an age when stalwart and staid country squires led armies in rebellion, sat in judgement and then condemned to death, a divinely anointed monarch and the most hard headed of pragmatic politicians believed genuinely in the imminent arrival of King Jesus and the Reign of the Saints, how does a historian assess what makes a radical in this, the most radical of ages? Equally it is also clear that there was at the heart of the intellectual and social ferment of the Revolutionary years a flowering of new dissident ideas, of new concepts of civil, social and religious liberty, that grew independent of, and in opposition to, both the old regime and the emerging power of the gentry. Although it is true that there are serious weaknesses in the use of the term ‘radical’, which is anachronistic, and has the potential of misleading the reader into ascribing the 17th century radicals views and motives not of their own, it is difficult to find a term which more adequately fits them. There are those who have recently argued against use of the term radical at all; Clark and Condren have argued that Radicalism was a term created in the early 19th century to describe a specific form of politics; democratic, atheist, and pro free trade, and by using the term for very different conditions and politics of the 17th century created a false impression of the nature of those movements and suggested continuities between the ‘radicals’ of the 17th century and modern politics which were not necessarily present1. This also created the danger of isolating the ‘radicals’ from their own circumstances and conditions and rewriting them in modern terms in order to provide historical justification, or criticism, of modern ideals and movements; writing in The Times in the wake of the April 1st G20 demonstrations Dave Horspool contrasted the demonstrators with the example of Gerald Winstanley and the Diggers: “Unlike the Meltdown protesters, they made no attempt to attack anything - “we shall not do this by force of arms”, but by good example. It would be heartening to think that a few of this week's activists will read up on the words of their non-violent, environmentally friendly, making- poverty- history forebears: “For where money bears all the sway, there is no regard of that golden rule, Do as you would be done by.” The pacifism that Horspool commends so highly was adopted by Winstanley’s followers in the wake of 7 years of civil war and defeat of the old regime and monarchy, pacifism was possible only because “kingly power” had, it seemed, been broken. Tony Benn, writing on the anniversary of the Putney debates, attributed the Labour party’s recently junked Clause 4 to the direct influence of the Levellers. It is largely due to the work of the left wing historian Christopher Hill and especially his 1968 classic, The World Turned Upside Down that the movements and individuals who dwelt on the margins of 17th century society during the years of the Great Rebellion have become far more well-known and have received far more historical attention than many of the revolution’s more mainstream participants. The inspiration for Hill’s work was found in his political activity and membership of the Communist Party in the 1940’s and 50’s. The Communist Party Historians Group, of which he was a founding member, set itself the task of “reclaiming” a hidden radical British history from “conservative historians who had been responsible for the conformable, reassuring, self-satisfied platitudes of Whig history.” Hill and a number of other historians notably A. L. Morton and Rodney Hilton attempted to challenge the orthodoxy of the time which found the entire civil war and interregnum an embarrassment which it was generally agreed was better off never happening. What positives for the evolution of British society and the development of British democracy that could be identified from the turmoil of the 17th century were to be found entirely in the controlled and ordered ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1689 and certainly not in regicide and rebellion. The problem inherent in the CPHG project was its loyalty to, and dependence upon, a Moscow based dogmatic state Marxism which imposed on historians a rigid ‘stageist’ theory of history which demanded that the English Revolution must have been a ‘classic’ Bourgeois one and that whatever other causes and impulses might be stated by the participants themselves were unconscious expressions of the class war hidden behind the religious language of the time. Hill, and the majority of the leading members of the Historians Group, left the Communist Party in protest at the brutal Soviet invasion and crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, but the Soviet methodology from which he drew much of his earlier work and gained during his post graduate work in Moscow in the 1930s continued to play an important part in his work. One mistake which is inherent in the History Group method is to association of the radicals as being advocates of a larger silent mass (perhaps reflecting the Groups communist politics in which the party considered itself as being the vanguard and ‘Tribune of the oppressed’). There is little evidence that the Levellers especially saw themselves as being in any way as being in a separate class or party from the rest of the revolutionary party. Cromwell, in the course of the First civil war repeatedly made statements and took positions that associated him with the most radical sections amongst the army, defending Lillburne both on the battlefield and in Parliament associating with radical officers and causes and setting himself forward as a champion of those who were willing to fight the war to the finish against the old guard of parliamentary grandees- above all the commander of the parliamentary army, the Earl of Manchester; “..(I)t would not be well until Manchester was but Mr Montagu”, and “God would have no lording over His people’, are sentiments not far from the utterances of many levellers. The close proximity of many of those who can be seen as the chief spokesmen of the radicals to the leadership of the army make it easier to see them as being a wing of the Independent Puritan elite, who only stepped out from that position when once the army had beaten the forces of the royalists and imprisoned the King. Cromwell and the generals were beginning to sketch out the shape of the future regime and the politicised New Model through its elected Agitators were concerned that they should have a say in the new world which they had had such a part in creating. The Leveller leadership were concerned that there was no place in Cromwell’s new Commonwealth for the small men of property and thus made common cause with the Agitators. Cromwell is simply the most prominent example of another problem with the use of the term radical; it implies a fixed, set and fully developed position, however the truth is far more fluid, in the rapidly changing situation of the revolution those who had been on fringe, on the very extreme in 1638, such as the Scottish Presbyterians, whose refusal to accept Charles’ Bishops and book was to first spark the crisis, and whose army was to tip the balance of the first war, would become guardians of privilege and royal power by the end of the decade; the Kirk had not changed but the world around them had changed utterly. Without over riding ideological positions men who were radical at one point, or over one issue could find themselves on the side of the existing order at the next; Ireton, for example has been recognised as being on the radical fringe of the Independents, a passionate advocate of the need to pursue the war to the end and for the need to try and execute the King, a radical advocate amongst the revolutionary and radical Independents, and yet Ireton was also the chief witness from the generals against the Agitators and Levellers at Putney. Sexeby, an agitator and Leveller at Putney, is later a colonel in Cromwell’s army in Ireland and Scotland, later still an agent for Cromwell amongst Huguenot rebels in France and in the end a conspirator, reputedly with royalists, in an attempted assassination attempt on Cromwell, this criss-crossing from radical opposition to stalwart of the regime suggests that the Political radicals should be considered less as the ‘voices of the voiceless’ and more in the role of junior members of the elite vying for a place in the new order. At the heart of the revolution was religion, for Hill and the other history group members who had grew up in the 1930s and survived the war to be faced with the prospect of nuclear backed extermination the threats they faced came from secular political sources, and the hope that they sought in the soviet system was also secular and political, the religion that they came into contact with (in the shape mostly of the Church Of England) was benign in its ineffectualness. It was natural for them facing a wealth of religious writing emanating from the most radical of the 17th century revolutionaries to assume that this was a codified expression of deeper, more secular concerns, Even when engaged in a study of the role of the Bible in the seventeenth century revolution Hill said that: “This book focuses on a few areas where the bible was directly influential in matters other than the – in the modern sense- strictly religious.” Today after the experience of the Iranian Islamic republic, the Taleban’s attempts to return Afghanistan to the 7th century and the brutalised religious child soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, the idea of a religiously based revolution is far less outlandish and the type of governance that such a revolution might produce would be treated with far less equanimity than that showed by the historians of the 1950s and 60s. Before the collapse of the old regime and its power of censorship in 1642, the major religious forces that existed were the ‘Laudian’ Church of England, with the pomp and ceremony of Charles Stuarts ‘popish’ innovations and the rebellious Presbyterian Scottish Kirk. However most English puritans were outside of both Kirk and the official church, gathering together to form congregations of like- minded souls, persecuted by the Laudian authorities these ‘Independents’ attracted into their ranks a wealth of dissenting opinions united in both their opposition to the oppression of the Laudians and also extremely distrustful of any attempts to impose a conformity upon them. The ending of censorship allowed the production of a flood of pamphlets and newssheets which were consumed by a population which was by the standards of the day highly literate. Parliament’s first call for troops was answered in the main by the Godly; those who were most threatened, who felt they had most to lose by the threatened arrival of a royalist Irish Catholic army to London. As the imminent threat to London diminished the parliamentary army expanded out of their metropolitan base they took upon themselves the duty of purging the churches of Arminian decoration and ritual, the Godly example of the parliamentary armies attracted to their ranks more and more of the most convinced independents and the army’s developed a increasingly militant religious self image. The army became a hothouse of religious and, partially political, debate, as the Godly soldiers searched heir bibles for some precedent for a God fearing people in rebellion against their King. Chiliasm, never far from the surface in Christian reform movements, came much to the fore as many became convinced that they were the army of the saints preparing the ground for the imminent arrival of King Jesus and the final defeat of the Antichrist. In the areas which were occupied by godly regiments, local independents and other sectaries were able to find safe havens free from the threat of persecution by Justices of the peace or church authorities. Radical preachers were sure of an appreciative audience. Cromwell in his preference for the plain but godly rather than members of the aristocracy to serve as his officers, encouraged the religious radicalism of the army but did not cause it. It is when the question of Ireland that dispels the illusion that the radicals of the 17th century are the contemporaries of today’s liberals, the English revolution did not take place in a vacuum, it was a part of a far wider crisis of religion and society that was taking place across Europe, like all good English protestants the radicals had been brought up reading Foxe’s Lives of the Martyrs and believing that the Pope was the Antichrist and that Catholicism was ever waiting and planning the destruction and forced conversion of England’s Godly Kingdom. National myths around the fortitude of the Marian martyrs, the heroic thwarting of the Spanish Armada, the evil machinations of Jesuits and Guy Fawkes’ gunpowder plot encouraged a climate which has been described as ‘The Beleaguered Isle’.In the course of the revolution many were convinced that England was predestined to launch a protestant crusade to liberate he embattled protestants of Europe and pursue the Antichrist to his den in the Vatican, in 1657 the Quaker George Fox urged Cromwell to capture Rome and overthrow the Pope. Catholic Ireland had risen at the very start of the Civil war, the newssheets and chapbooks deluged London with horror stories of thousands dead at the hands of the vengeful papists and amongst the radicals there was if anything even more clamour for harsh measures in the suppression of papist Irish treachery, Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland and the subsequent military operations have been seen in hindsight as being at least partially concerned with removing radical regiments from the political scene, but as Christopher Hill ruefully notes: “The Irish were cast in the role of Antichrist, the enemy of all the revolutionaries stood for.” Quakers, Agitators, fifth Monarchists and Levellers all took important roles in the Invasion army and considered the war necessary and Gods will: “The work of Justice in Ireland... Prospering under the standard of the interest of Christ.” Those who dreamt of a world turned upside down and the establishment of the ‘Reign of the Saints’ have become far more memorable than those who overthrew a divinely anointed king, dared to try him for his crimes and cut his head from his shoulders. Movements such as the Diggers who were, at most, made up of a few dozen adherents have passed into the national consciousness whilst men who made the revolution, like Henry Ireton or William Waller, have been consigned to the dusty outskirts of historical marginalia. Attempting to apply the term Radicalism to the minority sects and movements of the 17th century without sufficient qualification is Anachronistic and a hostage to the fortune. In this respect the revisionist critics of Christopher and the radical historians are justified. However, it must be acknowledged that the English Revolution was not, as old Whigs and young revisionists would pretend, a mere power struggle between social elites that did not touch the lives of the ordinary people at all, there is at its heart a fundamental shift within society itself that took place during the years 1640-1660. Ordinary men and women broke through the limits of the old order and started to make a new one for themselves. Radical may be an insufficient appellation, but in the absence of a better term it is the one that we are stuck with, we must therefore learn to identify and read the writings of the radicals in their 17th century context. The first use of the term radical applied to the participants of the English revolution was by the 19th century Historian Macaulay: “In politics they (the independents) were to use the phrase of their own time, “Root- and- Branch men,” or, to use the kindred phrase of our own , Radicals.20” Root- and- Branch men (and women) is a term that fits the radicals of the 17th century very well indeed. Bibliography Benn, T., Set my people free The Guardian Sat. 13/05/2001 http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/may/13/election2001.uk10 Burgess, G., "A Matter of Context: 'Radicalism' and the English Revolution", in M. Caricchio, G. Tarantino, eds., Cromohs Virtual Seminars. Recent historiographical trends of the British Studies (17th-18th Centuries), 2006-2007: 1-4 http://www.cromohs.unifi.it/seminari/burgess_radicalism.html Friedman, j. The battle of Frogs and Fairford’s flies: Miracles and popular Journalism during England’s revolution in Sixteenth century journal XXXIII/3 1992 Hill, C. The experience of defeat London 1993 Hill, C. A nation of novelty and change London 1993 Hill, C. The English Bible and the Seventeenth century revolution London 1993 Horspool, D., “G20 protesters owe a debt to the diggers” The Times April 4th 2009 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6028098.ece Humber, L. And Rees, J. The Good Old Cause- an interview with Christopher Hill in International Socialism 56, Autumn 1992 Thomas Macauley: from History of England, Volume I London 1880, pp. 90-95. Found at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/macauley-cromwell.html Trevor-Roper, H.R. The General Crisis of the 17th Century Past and Present, No. 16 (Nov., 1959) Weiner C.L., the beleaguered Isle: A study of Elizabethan and early Jacobean Anti Catholicism Past and Present 1971 51

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guardians of Law and Order

From Ian Bone's blog
Case Study One: Gerald Kaufman MP fraudulently claimed £750 for a Bang and Olufsen television on his parliamentary expenses.

He was not prosecuted but asked to repay the £750

Case Study Two: A young woman with no previous is alleged to have looted a Bang and Olufsen television from a store in Manchester

She was remanded in custody to crown court to get a sentence longer than 6 months

PLEASE SPREAD THIS FACT AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE. …..‘ONE LAW FOR THEM ANOTHER LAW FOR US’……as a certain band once sung.

Kaufman could be seen in parliament today demanding ROBUST action against rioters. Robust…..robust..fucking ROBUST….FUCKING ROBUST…..IF I HEAR THAT AGAIN…………………….ROBUST AAAARGGHH!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

order reigns in Tottenham, order reigns in Clapham

“Order prevails in Warsaw!” declared Minister Sebastiani to the Paris Chamber of Deputies in 1831, when after having stormed the suburb of Praga, Paskevich’s marauding troops invaded the Polish capital to begin their butchery of the rebels.

“Order prevails in Berlin!” So proclaims the bourgeois press triumphantly, so proclaim Ebert and Noske, and the officers of the “victorious troops,” who are being cheered by the petty-bourgeois mob in Berlin waving handkerchiefs and shouting “Hurrah!”
Who is not reminded of that drunken celebration by the “law and order” mob in Paris, that Bacchanal of the bourgeoisie celebrated over the corpses of the Communards? That same bourgeoisie who had just shamefully capitulated to the Prussians and abandoned the capital to the invading enemy, taking to their heels like abject cowards. Oh, how the manly courage of those darling sons of the bourgeoisie, of the “golden youth,” and of the officer corps flared back to life against the poorly armed, starving Parisian proletariat and their defenseless women and children. How these courageous sons of Mars, who had buckled before the foreign enemy, raged with bestial cruelty against defenseless people, prisoners, and the fallen.

“Order prevails in Warsaw!” “Order prevails in Paris!” “Order prevails in Berlin!” Every half-century that is what the bulletins from the guardians of “order” proclaim from one center of the world-historic struggle to the next. And the jubilant “victors” fail to notice that any “order” that needs to be regularly maintained through bloody slaughter heads inexorably toward its historic destiny; its own demise.


“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing:

I was, I am, I shall be!


Rosa Luxemburg. Berlin 1919. shortly before she was murdered by victorious reaction

Monday, July 18, 2011

No Class (my arse)

They say that class don't matter,
But that just cannot be,
The jury said they're innocent,
They each had a degree.
No previous bad character,
And references galore,
A soldier and a nurse for friends,
Well who could ask for more?
They say we are all equal,
It's simply just not true,
The way the law applies to me,
Does not apply to you.
We all sat in the courtroom,
Accused of the same crime,
You're getting on with your life,
I'm in here doing time.
I'm angry at the system,
The judges and the law,
That sit in ivory towers,
The rich above the poor.
This is our 'big society',
It isn't worth a cus,
There'll always be one law for them,
Another one for us.

Sean Cregan A5769CE HMP Wormwood Scrubs

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

solidarity is a two way street

from the Norfolk Community Action Group
by Ruahri ó Cléirigh



It’s been an interesting week, watching the media talk up a riot, public servants ‘STRIKING…RALLYING…MARCHING!’

Yet it seems it doesn’t have enough ‘oomph’ anymore for the press. It’s only newsworthy if there’s a ruckus involving ‘latchers on’ from the ‘anarchist movement’…heaven forbid an anarchist might themselves be part of a Labour Party recognised trade union…

HEADLINE! READ ALL ABOUT IT! THE SCARY UNIONS HAVE LOST THEIR MOJO! HOODED MENACE TO TAKE OVER PLANET! More dangerous than Al Qaida…till next week…

Likewise it’s been an interesting and pleasing week watching friends and comrades rising to the challenge in defending the unions and taking the struggle to the streets against the Tory/Liberal ‘coalition’ government…who seem hell bent on destroying our welfare state…much to the derision of the press and unions in equal measure of course…

It’s also been a sad sad week. A week where comrades have been taken from us…

You know solidarity is a great great thing. There’s not enough of it about these days. So it fills me with joy to see it on display.

It is however a two-way street. And it is rarely reciprocated.

Over the last year I’ve spent a lot of my time involved with my organisation in our local ‘Coalition Against The Cuts’. Those on the inside ‘leading the fight’ are a hodge podge bunch, of local and regional union officials, some permanently involved in the usual paper-sale and petitioning for this months big issues, others less politicised but falling into place behind their more ‘senior’ union members. Hidden caucuses, caucuses hidden or within caucuses that are hidden from caucuses…

They use great and meaningful words like ‘worker’ and ‘working-class’. Even…’comrade’…although it’s often followed my a snigger and a red face…

These words however just seem to roll off the tongue.

There’s little passion there. It’s as if they’re acting out a part and the main lines of the script have become their catch phrases.

They talk of ‘fighting’ and ‘uniting the class’…

And this friends is where they start to lose me…when they eagerly discuss booking whole trains to take down to demos held in London which would ‘easily be filled to the carriage’ by a happy throng of ‘the class’…who would be eager to ‘rally to the cause’…

Only it’s all just fantasy…

As is all the talk of ‘the class’…

Class… They don’t belong to my class. Increasingly…they don’t belong to my class…Increasingly they don’t share the same life experiences, of dole, and housing office queue…of the prison…

They work for the state, they increasingly have the degree (that’s not a dig), often work in comfy offices, they have ‘expenses’, and something called’by the mile’… they work a rigidly set working week, hours never to be tampered with or there’ll be hell to pay…most of us don’t…and they have things called pensions…and their idea of conflict with the state…

Many of us too are currently in conflict with the state…and all it’s little branches…it’s offshoots…it’s wheels and centres of enforcement…

They work in the police station, the social services, the job centre, the housing office…’the public services’…the very services that many of these individuals will never ever have to utilise themselves… the very services that many of us have to deal with on a regular basis when we’re unemployed or in need of housing or desperate for work and money…or banged up…

‘NOW JUST HOLD ON!’ I hear you cry…’There’s nothing wrong with having a degree or working for the state and going on strike over pensions!’

You’re absolutely right, there’s not and my hat goes off to them…Likewise I remain steadfast and committed to the principle ‘a grievance to one is a grievance to all, I SHALL NEVER CROSS A PICKET LINE…’

But It would be nice if the solidarity that you and I believe in would be…and here’s that word again’…’reciprocated’.

It would be nice to know that those on the marches and rallies waving their flags shouting ‘support us’ and ‘join us’…that those same people this Monday weren’t going to be throwing us out of our houses, taking or children away, cutting our dole money, putting us in prison, and being the holders of the keys to our cell doors…

Because they will be.

Yes it would be nice if there was…solidarity…

The recent attempts made by the Norfolk Community Action Group within the local coalition to try and bridge this situation fell on deaf ears. So we chose to part company.

Our arguments that if they want ‘popular support’, and yes folks that does mean engaging with the Sun reader and the Daily Mail reader, then they will have to stop solely ‘agitating’ within their unions…an ‘agitation’ that often is nothing more than an email and a flyer on the union notice board or a phone call to the very same people who attended the meeting the week before, the pathological ‘preach to the converted’ who can only be bothered if it affects ‘them and theirs’…and get off their arses and physically start engaging with their local population explaining and arguing why they BELIEVE they are RIGHT to take the actions they are taking, in plain words with the use of plain English, without the use of a pre-script or the handing over of a leaflet that will never ever ever in a million years dear God get read because it’s cold, it’s heartless, it will not engage…

It can not engage.

Because there’s no soul in a leaflet…or a petition…especially when it’s a petition for OUR benefit…and our benefit only…

Yes that means job centre staff walking onto council estates, Yes that means teachers walking onto council estates, Yes that means housing officers walking onto council estates…Yes that means social workers walking onto council estates, Yes that means trade unionist from each and every sector of public services in this ‘country’ of ours walking onto council estates…

And engaging…

Not destroying peoples lives and being the first port of call of the oppressive state…

Only they won’t will they?

They won’t because there is a barrier…

They won’t because there is a barrier of ‘us’ and ‘them’…

They won’t because there is a barrier of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and ‘service provider’ and ‘service user’…

That is…dare I say it…a barrier…of one class against another, even if that ‘class’ can not be easily differentiated. They would if they could though comrades…’differentiate that is…

Long gone are the days of Dave Douglass and the great Hatfield Main branch of the NUM, all the miners, the steel workers, the toilers, the manufacturers, the print workers…

They have been taken over…by the bureaucrat…the degree in trade union studies…and the Tolpuddle Martyrs, more an historical quaintness than a model, example, direction and template of struggle…

Increasingly…not…my…class…

Increasingly…not…my… fight…

Unless miraculously new Dave Douglass’ appear and return the trade unions to their rightful place…holding meetings at the bottom of our streets, discussing and showing ‘solidarity’ and helping the unemployed with education and training, and building a real resistance to the aggressive Tory doctrine that has recently returned to plague us…

Unless…

You know comrades, only 26% of the workforce in Britain today are unionised…and it’s falling daily…

They had better appear soon…before trade unions go the way of the Tolpuddle Martyrs..and become ‘a quaintness’..

Saturday, July 02, 2011

reflections on J30


Miliband on BBC yesterday

I must admit to heretical thoughts in the lead up to J30, the first concerted national strike action in response to the Condem assault has been the subject to paeons of hyperbole from the left press whose salivating coverage was mirrored by the fake horror of the right wing press at what one might have thought from the coverage was the presage to the establishment of a revolutionary commune.
the truth was that a one day strike by teachers, civil servants and college lecturers involved far less strikers than any of the TUC 'days of action' that peppered the early years of Thatcher's reign, all of which were derided by the Left at the time as tokenistic and ineffectual.
the day to day roles of those who were taking action was also problematic. the PCS, UCU, the NUT and the ATL all benefitted from the rapid expansion of white collar trades unionism in the 1980s, the majority of contact that the working class are likely to have had with their members is almost uniformly negative ; from the engineered failiure of the school system, its indoctrination and petty rules in preparation of a life of regimentation as a wage slave, to the policing of the undeserving poor by the fortnightly humilitation and sly vindictiveness of the Job centre interview. Those on strike on thursday would be back at their desks by friday investigating 'dole scroungers' and arranging the detention and expulsion of asylum seekers; there was little to promote solidarity from the wider working class, and much to permit their demonisation by the Goverment and press.
But that isn't the way it worked out. The ham fisted attempts to accuse the unions of greed in demanding high pensions at the expense of the private sector tax payer faltered as private sector workers recalled the bankers and bosses that stole their pensions and now sit pretty on the ConDem benches.
As Rick Dutton pointed out on facebook-
"I hated most of my teachers when I was a kid, always got shit off the Jobcentre when I went to sign on, regularly took crap from the housing office when I was homeless, have had bad experiences of prison officers, hate the police, despise careerist Trot trade union officials...in fact most public servants I've had contact with are c~~~s...but I wouldn't cross their picket line ;)"


Basic solidarity.

the Tower Hamlets ALARM website reports from the London demonstration:
I felt a bit funny marching with lots of teachers, they deserve a good pension and good money, but whenever I’m around teachers all I can remember is getting detention for some pointless reason, sexually repressed RE teachers flying into rage at homework not being done, art teachers thinking their class matters, French teachers convinced they can teach another language to a group of kids that are mostly failing English…the list goes on. But I marched with them, avoiding detention.

Clearly no one was expecting anything more than a few pickets and a fun family march, but the police hadn’t got the message, after a bit of walking and a few speeches a group began to move up Whitehall. A kettle sprang out at the crowd. Police lines formed to the shock of everyone. Snatch Squads (a gaggle of police out to snatch people away from the crowd) circled targeting anyone under 18 who wasn’t white, and then moved on to just grabbing anyone.

Here I saw teachers at their best, not the scum from my childhood, but concerned teachers jumping forward and grabbing back their students from the claws of the police. Teachers willing to confront the crazed uniformed thugs, a real solidarity between the EMA kids of last year and the striking staff off today. Brilliant.


Basic Solidarity.

In fact the only person in the country who appears to have swallowed the ConDem Bollocks is the sad sock puppet that it is rumoured is in charge of the Labour party.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

solidarity with anti fascist prisoners

Six antifascists were recently fitted-up and sent to prison. Because of ongoing legal issues, for the moment we are unable to say more about their case, but a full report will eventually be issued. Suffice to say, they have been well and truly fucked over and deserve our fullest support and solidarity. Please write to them. (One person has asked to be left off lists and therefere no longer appears here). As always, assume your letters are being read by our enemies and ensure you do not compromise your own security or that of others. Also please note that Thomas Blak and Austin Jackson are as yet unsentenced. For advice on writing to prisoners see the Leeds ABC website. La lucha continua!
Andy Baker (21 months)
A5768CE
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Rd
London
W12 OAE

Thomas Blak (Unsentenced)
A5728CE
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Rd
London
W12 OAE

Sean Cregan (21 months)
A5769CE
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Rd
London
W12 OAE

Ravi Gill (21 months)
A5770CE
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Rd
London
W12 OAE

Austen Jackson (Unsentenced)
A5729CE
HMP Wormwood Scrubs
PO Box 757
Du Cane Rd
London W12 OAE

Monday, June 27, 2011

1984 reviewed on amazon



1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics)
by George Orwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.78
Availability: In stock
257 of 354 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely misleading, 11 Oct 2009
This review is from: 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Do not buy this book if you're expecting to find out anything at all about 1984, as this writer seems to have been living on a different planet. I was trying to do a bit of research into the influence of New Wave on cross-over dance music in the Mid-Eighties, but I found "1984" a complete waste of time... Jackson's "Thriller"?(the soundtrack of the summer, and the biggest selling album of all-time) - not mentioned; Frankie Goes To Hollywood (their breakthrough year leading to world pop domination) - not a whisper; Style Council? (Not Paul Weller's finest hour, but still an honest nod to the white soul roots of Mod culture) - you'd have thought they didn't exist if you read this book. Nik Kershaw? Ray Parker Junior? Sister Sledge? Nope, nope nope. Instead this man seems to have moped around in his room and at work, watching some kind of depressing news channel (was his remote broken? This isn't explained - but you'd have thought they'd have had MTV on at least one of the channels in his office). Orwell completely fails to capture the uplifting vibe that was the pop explosion of the summer of '84... maybe he lived in Norwood. 0 Stars.
Oh, and don't read "the Road to Wigan Pier" either, as we drove around for ages last August Bank Holiday before asking a traffic warden, who said that the sea was about 30 miles away, by which time it was too late. I don't think Orwell had actually ever been to Wigan. What does he do - just sit in his room making this stuff up for kicks or something? 0 stars also."

"graceless, voracious, crass, always on the take"


Glastonbury is nowadays a dull, corporatised affair, the place where middle aged advertising executives and public sector managers go to pretend that they are still as 'radical' and 'with it' as they were when they were 19 and once smoked a herbal cigarette at Live Aid. Even the (fairly limp) attempt by UKuncut to embarrass U2, was punctured by the festival security, determined to keep EavisWorld a safe place for tax dodgers.
The procession of the Bland was punctured by the discovery at 9 am sunday morning of the body of Christopher Shale, David Cameron's consituency chairman, in a portaloo in the exclusive VIP (ie pay for nothing) section of the site.
Although at the moment, this is not in the same class as other great 'dead tory' moments- Steven Millington is still all time champion on that score- the thought of him briefly surfacing for the third and final time before finally sinking beneath the feotid ocean of human faeces and urine, brings a certain song of joy to the heart.
once again: "Ha Ha Dead Tory!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Counterfire: when rape is relative...

Victoria Darbyshire Radio 5 "But rape is rape"
Kenneth Clarke "No it isn't"

There was a great deal of justified anger when the oiliest of an oily bunch, ken clarke suggested that certain catergories of rape should be considered lesser crimes. the outrage he caused brought many more out to join the Slut Walk protests at the start of June.
however as Sofie Buckland has shown on her blog he has an interesting co- thinker amongst the neo trots of the Counterfire site, Lindsey German, who regularly trumpets a bogus authority as "the voice" of a marxist 'true' femininism, and in doing so has promoted the Islamist burka as the epitome of feminist freedom (sic, sick)
Strauss-Kahn v. Assange

Counterfire have published an article by Lindsey German, questioning what it says about the French ‘left’ (or rather, Parti Socialiste) that a man with the reputation of Dominic Strauss-Kahn might be considered an acceptable Presidential candidate.

It takes the allegations made against him very seriously: the “truly shocking story”, with details of the accusations that Strauss-Kahn “physically and brutally” attacked a cleaner in his New York hotel room, is fully relayed.

The article doesn’t say he’s definitely guilty. Rightly: we don’t know yet. But it’s perfectly valid to discuss what the emerging picture of Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour tells us about the French political system and the sweeping under the carpet of vile sexist behaviour towards women in case it damages the cause.

Funny, then, that German is unable to apply the same analysis to the Julian Assange case. Of course, Wikileaks is of the left – German talks at great length on this video about the “great service they have done for us”, meaning the anti-war movement – unlike Parti Socialiste. She likes Wikileaks, thinks it needs defending, and so… participated in the exact same behaviour she’s accusing the French social democrats of here.

I’ve written about the Guardian letter calling for all charges to be dropped against Assange. You might have seen the set of Youtube videos of the Stop the War ‘Defend Wikileaks and Julian Assange’ meeting, particularly the one where Tony Benn makes light of rape, suggesting violence is a necessary component for a crime to have taken place. Lindsey German pops up on another, with a toe-curlingly embarrassing attempt to dismiss the rape accusations against Assange just seconds after reiterating her solid feminist credentials; the case, she says, is “not about what happened, and nobody knows what happened in this case, it’s about the politics of ensuring Julian Assange is discredited” (around 8:16).

Could there be any clearer statement of utter contempt for Assange’s alleged victims here? They’re not genuine complainants, they’re stooges of the CIA. We don’t know what happened, but really, we do: nothing. Unlike the Strauss-Kahn case, you won’t find the allegations against Assange on the Counterfire site. As Angus Johnston has pointed out repeatedly, failure to accurately report the allegations has become a central tactic of the Assange Defenders Club. Their followers/listeners/readers don’t need to know the ‘facts’, because the conspiracy is obvious.

Just like DSK’s chums in the French political system, German springs to the defence of someone she is politically invested in defending, regardless of the ongoing struggle for rape allegations to be taken seriously; if we like them, if we appreciate their politics, if they’re on our side, they’re innocent and their accusers are lying for political reasons. Is German’s dismissal of the Assange allegations any different from Jean-Marie Le Guen’s desperate assertion that a conspiracy to bring down Strauss-Kahn is behind his arrest? Not really. You couldn’t slide a cigarette paper between their responses. German is on the side of taking rape seriously here because Strauss-Kahn heads the IMF and PS are a centre-left party, not America-kicking, conspiracy-busting internet cowboys.

The hypocrisy here is just another sad indictment of the state of the British left when it comes to feminism. This article was a nice opportunity to look a bit radical, to say something about gender and sex to keep those feminist credentials updated, but it fails miserably. Quite aside from the Assange issue, the article goes on to a generally pathetic attempt at feminist analysis, displaying all the hallmarks of today’s popular feminism picked up and turned round into something ‘socialist’; the impulse to zeitgeist (“the present political culture has turned a new page in its attitudes to women and sex”, the “culture of the new rich”), the anti-capitalism of idiots (casually linking “conspicuous consumption”, the sale of sex, women as “sex objects” and sexual assault in a way that’d make an anti-porn rad fem proud), the portrayal of a Big Bad Patriarchy (Berlusconi, check. Sarkozy, check. “politicians, bankers, industrialists and media tycoons”, check) over sober analysis of power, class interest and political expediency – there’s nothing here that couldn’t be answered by calling for more women politicians and a nice social democratic government to rein in the excesses of consumer culture.

It’s just so insufficient, as if wheeling out a few tropes of popular feminism, chucking in a few anti-capitalist stock phrases and name-checking some bad guys makes up for failing to stick to socialist feminist principles when it actually matters. It matters when it’s difficult. On Assange, German and her group Counterfire fell at the first hurdle, headlong into the mire of conspiracy and denial. The same cesspit fuels the defence of Strauss-Kahn, of all these rich powerful men this article rails hard against – the conspiracy rumours, the denial, the victim-blaming allow them to get away with rape and sexual assault. Forgive me if I remain somewhat sceptical of the commitment to feminism of a group who appear perfectly happy to throw this mud around when it suits them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

angry Brigade communique #1


from the AMP. download PDF here print and paste widely.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

OK, deep breath

these six posts which make up the first part of Captain bollox's magnum opus. The second part(entitled the ideology of the british left) I think still needs tidying up, and I will post it soon. Don't be scared off by the length it is worth persevering with.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Long Live the Spanish Revolution!


The democratic Revolutions that swept across the Middle East and North Africa were a response to the economic crisis, and the inability of the dictatorial elites of those countries to be able to respond to that crisis, and their determination to make the poorest of their society endure the pain of that crisis.
Ever since the protests began the question has been when and how will they spread to the West, where democracy might be the norm, but in fact means a five yearly 'choice' between one group of privately educated neo liberals and another, slightly posher group of neo conservatives.
Now the Spanish people have taken to the streets demanding direct, real democracy and not the sham of the parliamentary farce. In Madrid, Barcalona, Valencia Seville and Bilbao, as well as numerous smaller cities, the youth, sacrificed to a lifetime of unemployement by the austerity programme of the government, are demanding a place in the sun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Worker Dandyism

I might be too scruffy for this, but I dream of tweed and plus fours, I am a dandy trapped in a slobs clothes. I heartily endorse this, and agree that the revolution may not necessarily be televised but that is no reason for it not to be well dressed



The Worker-Dandyist Manifesto





1. The Working Class is paramount. Our Dandyism is subordinate to our class. Dandyism outside of the class is of no interest to us. Dandyism without class-consciousness is of no interest to us.
2. We are committed to total social change with the ultimate aim of absolute democracy. There is no blueprint for the New Society so we needn’t get into any pigeon-holing or championing of dead Russians just yet. Suffice to say, we are not vanguardists; we are of the seething, but smartly dressed, masses.
3. Proletarian revolution is not, as enemies of the class insist, about universally lowering living standards to the level we plebs are currently forced to live at. It is about raising our living standards to the highest levels achievable. We refuse to abandon the good things in life to those chinless dolts who have done nothing to assist in their production. We reject the stale crumbs flicked from the rich man’s table. We demand the entire bakery and one day we will take the entire bakery. What’s more; we will take the rich man’s table and ram it up his foetid posterior, one splintered leg at a time.
4. We define our Dandyism, in essence, as simply making as much of an effort as possible with the limited resources available. An effort in sartorial flair and individuality, an effort in civility, social responsibility and courtesy, and an effort in communal culture, welfare and hedonism. Our definition of Dandyism will most certainly conflict with the pompous elitists’ definition of Dandyism. Of course, we embrace and encourage popinjays, peacocks and coxcombs but we shall dispense with the conceitedness associated with such terms in favour of community and kindness.
5. The Worker-Dandy opposes sweatshop labour, child labour and forced labour. If you paid £5 for a new skirt then someone, somewhere has been paid, at most, pennies to manufacture it. The Worker-Dandy will never knowingly contribute to such exploitation.There are many ways and means of dressing well. Slavery is not one of them.
6. The Dandy will seek out what he or she regards as the very best in music, art and film. We will not allow ourselves to be bottle-fed shit by talentless, creatively bankrupt moguls. We are not affected one jot by any artificially created charts, polls or ratings and are equally unmoved by profit-driven advertising. Information is what we require to make choices, or, failing that, a coin.
7. We regard Worker-Dandyism as just one method of achieving greater happiness, friendship and social cohesion within the class. Dandyism is not for everyone and may be regarded as superficial by many. We agree: outward appearance is intrinsically superficial but, in the case of Worker-Dandyism, is the icing on the cake. Dandyism may also be thought of as silly. True enough, it is. Humans without humour are no fun to be around and fun is, after all, humanity’s raison d’être.
8. We reject religion and supernaturalism just as a growing child rejects Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy: as nothing but infantile fantasies passed from generation to generation and, in the case of organised religion, with the sole purpose of converting the class to fatalistic defeatism and apathy thus avoiding revolutionary desires. People are born atheists, they are converted to simpletons.
At worst, religion is a force for unmitigated evil directed by a hierarchy of deep-dyed degenerates with no regard for life, human or otherwise.
9. Worker-Dandyism is rational and therefore vehemently opposed to quackery. Pseudo-science is a leech that feeds on humanity both economically and physically. Reflexology, homeopathy, magnet therapy, etc., are all bunk. Snake-oil salesmen have always exploited the gullibility and desperation of the sick for financial ends and, while people are free to dispose of their earnings as they please, when people are discouraged from seeking proven medical treatment in favour of junk remedies we regard this as tantamount to criminal assault.
10. We are Anti-Fashion. Fashion, being a man-made, capitalist construct, is irrelevant. We do not change our tastes from month to month and do not need to change our wardrobe from season to season -excepting the demands of climate and weather. We appreciate that clothing design evolves through the ages but quality, style and function are, to a Worker-Dandy and, indeed, to anyone with an ounce of sense, what matters. Wear what you like, not what the High Street dictates.
11. Alcohol, when consumed imaginatively, responsibly and regularly, can act as a stimulus to hedonism, carnality and revolt. It should, therefore, be embraced with gusto.
12. The Worker-Dandyist International has no leaders, no structure and no organisation. We simply encourage YOU to declare yourself a Worker-Dandy, live by the spirit of this manifesto and encourage others to do so.

Brenda visits Dublin

the Irish and british media and goverments have been constantly informing us that the people of Ireland welcome the Windsor woman's visit
Here we see the masses who turned up to welcome the Queen




later a joyous crowd offered to take the Royal couple for a traditional Dublin supper
(ham sarnies anyone?)




Tomorrow Madge will be visiting Croke Park (yes THAT Croke Park!)
which I am sure will go down really well!

Honestly who thought that this was going to be a good idea?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nil out of two ain't bad

having been a bit previous with Maggie, it seems that my report of the demise of Class War was also a little premature;
Ian Bone reports from his blog:
The Class War Federation has long ceased to have any meaningful political or organisational existence. However the merchandise in hooded tops and shirts has thrived,the finances kept in good order, the website maintained and the occasional paper appearing, plus recent outings in London and Birmingham for the very fine CW banner…………all achieved by ten or so people round the country…….and a load more who though inactive identified with CW. About ten days ago a statement apppeared on the CW site and Wikipedia announcing the end of the CWF. I have no idea who put this out. There also apeared on the website blog a racist reply to someone enquiring about merchandise.This was placed via the admin page by someone not authorised to use it or somehow hacked the password and was clearly of malicious intent. It has now been removed. So I thought it was time to say something.

There are five of us in LondonCW and two of us – me and Jane Nicholl – will be leaving after the weekend. I’m going to the ALARM meeting on Sunday and if it turns out any good – and they’ll have us – we’ll probably throw in our lot with them. What others do elsewhere is down to them. I have no more right than anyone else to declare CW dead and would not want to…..it’s death has been declared before and I suspect the revivalist tendency wil surface again. If so and they continue in the original spirit of CW I’ll wish them well but my energies will be going elsewhere. I think the CW merchandising arm will probably continue in good health. And I post this in the true spirit of CW by someone who still best exemplifies the true spirit of CW – Patrick MaCroidain:’ Class War will never be gone not even if it only had one member, it would still cause havoc.’

Monday, May 09, 2011

Class War is not Dead!

Though it appears that Thatchers worm-addled, rotted corpse is still twitching enough to keep her out of the grave (for now), news has reached me that Class War has been wound up:
The following statement was issued by Class War on 3rd May 2011.

The Class War Federation is no more.

Given our inability to continue to function at an organisational level and the huge amount of debt that the organisation finds it self in we have no choice but to formally dissolve the group.

Given that we only have 5 paid up members it is the decision of the five of us to end our association and in doing so end the project known as Class War


I am somewhat depressed by this news; it is clear that with the departure of many of us who were a part of London CW a few years ago to pastures new, the responsibility of maintaining the paper and the group in London fell onto the shoulders of others; the weight of such has, it seems, proved beyond them.

Class War however is not dead, the class war continues.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

theres a rumour that was spread around town...

There are whispers that Thatcher has finally died
even if these prove once again to be premature..

Sunday, May 01, 2011

on AV

the political commentators all seem to be in agreement that ordinary people find AV too complex to understand and this is the reason that there appears to be little interest in next weeks referendum, and that the opinion polls which have shown a decided majority against changing the voting method reflect our collective stupidity and inbuilt conservativism.
seems bollocks to me.
AV is not hard to understand, and that is the reason that most people want little to do with it.
It has nothing to do with fairer votes and everything to do with ensuring a permament Lib dem presence in Govt.
for me the choice is simple- If you want to make Nick Clegg cry: Vote no

You know it makes sense

Thursday, April 28, 2011

a blank cheque



I won't be at Mayday this year, not because I am under bail conditions or about to have my door kicked in ( i hope), but because I am completely skint. Reports are sketchy but it appears that the numbers arrested today runs into the hundreds; amongst those rounded up in the pre-nuptual clampdown are Patrick Macroidan, Chris Knight, Camilla and Charlie Veitch. Alfie Meadows, the lad whose skull was smashed by a police truncheon at the pre christmas anti fees demos has been charged with "violent Disorder", although it is not clear whether this offence was commited before or after the pig put him into a coma!
Across the country social centres, squats and private homes have been raided. Anybody with a history of activism is in danger of being picked up.
Last week the BBC (who seem to be ignoring the clampdown completely, so enamoured are they in the happy perfect couple) reported that a spokeswoman for the police announced that Cameron had given them a blank cheque. Now we know what she meant.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Every little hurts...


Last week the son of friend was sacked by Tescos after twice collapsing at work and needing paramedical assistance. On the day that the Company boasted of record profits he was handed his cards for 'repeated sickness'.
There are seven Tescos In Reading,Two on the Oxford Road, and the company has just been refused permission to build another (though it will appeal and with the condem new rules on planning will almost certainly get permision). Elsewhere local opposition to Tescos total disregard to local communities and wishes has taken off in big style.
Last night the long running campaign to the attempts to build a Tescos in Stokes Row Bristol exploded when the Police attempted to shut down the squat that had been acting as a centre for campaigners. locals flocked to the sound of sirens and low flying helicopters.
Tesco has been trying to move in to stokes croft for over 2 years and has been unable to because of huge protests. They have had to move builders in under police escort and have 24 hour roof top private security. Last weekend Tesco opened and there have been non stop protests all week.

When I arrived the police would only tell me that I could not enter stokes croft for my “health and safety” and that it was to do with Tesco. Asking around there were various different explanations. Most people said that the police were raiding protesters houses throughout stokes croft. We could see across the police line approximately 10 riot vans and a riot squad entering the famous “Telepathic heights”. A house, like a lot in the area painted from head to toe in murals. One mural on the side of the block reads “No Tesco in Stokes Croft” in huge letters. Stokes croft is known in Bristol as the cultural quarters and spansonly a few thousand square feet of concentrated cultural activity not dissimilar to Camden in central London.

At something like 10PM a huge crowd landed on the front of stokes croft drawn by the lowflying helicopter with spotlight and the army of police emerging from 12+ riot vans dressed for combat. Pretty soon tension peaked as no explanation would be given for the roadblocks and there was intimidation on both sides.

I was on the junction of stokes croft high street when the police charged what was only at that point a croud (of about 100 but which quickly grew) down Ashley road pretty much all the way to the end of it over the course of a couple of hours. Due to the absolute confusion a number of people had emerged from their houses only to shortly find they were the wrong side of a road block and got roped in to what became a three hour running battle through pretty much all of the back streets coming off Ashley road croft and in to St Pauls, numerous burning barracades were errected and a huge amount of people were battered and bloodied by police for attempting to approach police lines to get home of find friends. By this point there was devastation everywhere. All junctions were blocked by overturned glass bottle dumpsters and makeshift neighbourhood roadblocks blocks.

Eventually what seemed like the entire residence of stokes croft emerged and pushed the police back on to stokes croft high street. For a long time there was a deadlock, people stood around and shared rumours about the reason behind the army of police that had arrived unnanounced and were terrorising the neighbourhood.

There was total confusion and stokes croft (street) was mostly cordoned off, the police started making arrests and then all hell broke loose. Missiles began coming down from telepathic heights, the starting point of the problem and police braugh out dogs to clear people from the street, quite a few got bitten. Meanwhile a lot of police vans had their tyres let out. At that point the dogs retreated and the convoy of about 10 vans that were surrounded drove at speed through the crowd clipping a large number of people on their way out. Both Tesco and telepathic heights were abandoned by the police.

At this point I decided to go home since now the police had retreated all hell was being unleashed on Tescos and hundreds of pieces of police riot gear were being handed out from the abandoned vehicles, since then the police returned and there’s been more running battles and people flooding down my street.

from bristol Indymedia

Friday, April 08, 2011

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Marxism and Anarchism

Paul has directed our attention toward the 'theoretical journal' of the SWP; International Socialism, which has, amazingly published a article in defence of Anarchism by Lucien Van Der Walt, co-author of the newly published Black Flame: the Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism
This is a very useful piece and considerably better than the woeful article in this weeks Socialist worker advertised as 'the first part of an examination of the politics of Anarchism and autonomism'.
I have heard a number of reports from those who were in positions to know that numerous SWP activists joined with Black Bloccers in direct action in both Oxford street and at fortnums, and that at trafalgar square were, horror of horrors!, persuaded to burn their papers in order to keep protesters warm. Such acts of independance may well have caused some consternation amongst the party leadership still attempting to find a course after the failure of Respect and the split with the counterfire group.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

a minor redesign

When one has nothing interesting to say, its always a good idea to have a fiddle with the controls on blogger without having any idea what each one does...
Actually I am quite pleased with the outcome.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

table for two?


from the admirable Anarchist media project.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

undercover anarchist- Silver Bullet


For all our comrades who are keeping their heads down at the moment.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some Thoughts On The Stop The War Coalition’s “10 Reasons To Say No To Western Intervention In Libya”.

By Stan Cullen Grant
taken with thanks from the excellent Norfolk unaligned community action website
http://norfolknonaligned.wordpress.com/
Some thoughts for discussion by Stan on yesterdays statement by the Stop The War Coalition on international involvement in Libya. The ‘left’ in the UK once again deem themselves to know what’s best for the people in foreign lands. There’s something slightly ‘imperialist’ about that isn’t there?
While we would never support international intervention that would likely be used for hidden agenda, we also would never stoop so low as to treat the oppressed of any nation to a lecture on whats best for them while they are screaming out for assistance.
Marching against military intervention while Free Libyans are fighting for their lives is nothing short of disgraceful, but we’ve come to expect that from the British ‘left’. They should be thrown out with the rest of last centuries trash.


http://stopwar.org.uk/content/view/2299/27/


1. Intervention will violate Libya’s sovereignty. This is not just a legalistic point – although the importance of observing international law should not be discounted if the big powers in the world are not to be given the green light run amok. As soon as NATO starts to intervene, the Libyan people will start to lose control of their own country and future.
The rebels are in the process of trying to establish a more democratic form of government-Libya’s ‘soverignty’ is already in question. If the rebels have a right to sovereignty and have requested aid through an apparatus of provisional government their soverignty is NOT being violated.


2. Intervention can only prolong, not end the civil war. “No-fly zones” will not be able to halt the conflict and will lead to more bloodshed, not less.The civil war will only be perpetuated in so far as it will not be ended by a swift and brutal massacre of rebel forces but a consolidation of their power, which will take longer than exterminating them and it seems more pertinent to assess the scale of violence rather than its length.


3. Intervention will lead to escalation. Because the measures being advocated today cannot bring an end to the civil war, the next demand will be for a full-scale armed presence in Libya, as in Iraq – and meeting the same continuing resistance. That way lies decades of conflict.
The rebels have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the deployment of ground forces, and only by violating their wishes will their soverignty be violated. Perhaps the STWC should send a delegate to Benghazi and give them advice?


4. This is not Spain in 1936, when non-intervention meant helping the fascist side which, if victorious in the conflict, would only encourage the instigators of a wider war – as it did. Here, the powers clamouring for military action are the ones already fighting a wider war across the Middle East and looking to preserve their power even as they lose their autocratic allies. Respecting Libya’s sovereignty is the cause of peace, not is enemy.
Whilst Gadaffii’s rump state has access to superior technology and more resources non-intevention will aid his regime. (Or is that precisely what the British Left want? If so come out and say it.)


5. It is more like Iraq in the 1990s, after the First Gulf War. Then, the US, Britain and France imposed no-fly zones which did not lead to peace – the two parties in protected Iraqi Kurdistan fought a bitter civil war under the protection of the no-fly zone – and did prepare the ground for the invasion of 2003. Intervention may partition Libya and institutionalise conflict for decades.

To replace oppression with conflict is an attempt to liberate oneself. Do the STWC know better than the people of Libya what is good for them? Sounds like old school colonialism…


6. Or it is more like the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia. NATO interference has not lead to peace, reconciliation or genuine freedom in the Balkans, just to endless corrupt occupations.
To oppose one action under the assumption that it will inevitably lead to another assumes too much, especially as there is merit to the former, independent of the later.


7. Yes, it is about oil. Why the talk of intervening in Libya, but not the Congo, for example? Ask BP.
Ofcourse its about oil and futhering corporate and national interests, but to the rebels its also about averting their impending deaths.
As one Benghazian put it on Al Jazeera
“Thankfully we have the oil so the West will come to our aid but we pity our brothers in the Middle East who have none…”


8. It is also about pressure on Egyptian revolution – the biggest threat to imperial interests in the region. A NATO garrison next door would be a base for pressure at least, and intervention at worst, if Egyptian freedom flowers to the point where it challenges western interests in the region.
The spread of revolution across the Middle East and North Africa must surely pose a greater threat to western hegemony than one ‘successful’ revolution alone.


9. The hypocrisy gives the game away. When the people of Bahrain rose against their US-backed monarchy and were cut down in the streets, there was no talk of action, even though the US sixth fleet is based there and could doubtless have imposed a solution in short order. As top US republican Senator Lindsey Graham observed last month “there are regimes we want to change, and those we don’t”. NATO will only ever intervene to strangle genuine social revolution, never to support it.
It is indeed hypocritical but to allow people to die for the sake of consistency seems somewhat inhumane, unless the people of Libya are nothing other than faceless individuals playing out a caricature in history…


10. Military aggression in Libya – to give it the righty name – will be used to revive the blood-soaked policy of ‘liberal interventionism’. That beast cannot be allowed to rise from the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan.

A lot of people will die if this does not happen, and if the left wing opposes UN intereference but understands the need for Libya to be liberated where exactly are the ‘International Brigades’ running to their assistance?

this is not the demo I was looking for...


Saturday morning I finished my night shift and caught the bus into the town to join the anti EDL protest.
When I arrived at the meeting point I discovered that, due to the cancellation of the birmingham demo, instead of the 20-30 turn out of Berkshire Division which were expected, some two hundred or so EDLers from all over the South had come to the town.
The 30 or so local activists gathered in the park suddenly seemed somewhat less than adequate! (the grey beards, walking frames and wheelchairs also did not shout 'fighting wedge' either).
Feeeling tired and jaded, I heard a conversation out of the corner of my ear:
"Is there a football match today?" "I do not Know" I turned and said, "We are away this weekend, to Barnsley."
and old fellow, with a long somewhat eccentric grey beard looked at me and said"'We'? who is 'we'?" I replied: "Reading are playing Barnsley this afternoon. at football"
he sniffed and said "anyone who plays football is always 'Them' to me, everyone who supports football is 'They' to me"
As I pondered this, four riot vans parked up outside the court and a pig strolled over.
"we wish to facilitate your 'right to protest'"
the crowd were falling over themselves to be voluntarily kettled even before he had walked away, in their haste voting even before the vote was called.
I decided that this was not the demo I was looking for.
I went home.
And watched the football.