Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fuck the Pope

Thanks to jez for this- when we were chatting about my course and I mentioned that I was studying the french revolution and he assumed that I knew about this already. I didn't- and so I stole it:

Jacques Hébert 1790
The great anger of Père Duchesne against the bishop of Rome, who has just excommunicated all the French and who, with the Cardinals, the Bishops and all the damn priests, cooked up the plot to slaughter the National Assembly, the Jacobin Club and all good citizens. The nomination of a Patriarch to govern the clergy of France.
Who does he take us for, that bastard of an indulgence seller? Does he think that with his toilet paper — his bulls — his cannons without primers, and all the thunder and idiocies with which he put to sleep or scared our fathers, dammit, does he still believe he leads the French of today? We're no longer in the time of King Dagobert, and today we're no longer such dupes as to buy the pardons that priests trafficked in in past centuries, nor to be upset by an interdiction that the bishop of Rome will cast upon the Kingdom. The hell with them; we won’t let ourselves be fooled by those sons-of-bitches of priests. Their confessions, their purgatory, their absolutions, their indulgences are nothing but feed for the foolish. The so-called keys of St. Peter, with which the Pope’s criers once opened the doors to the great salon of the eternal father, now seem to us to be nothing but skeleton keys with which the Latin pontiff wants to pry open our houses and our coffers so as to take what we own.
How does this bastard still have the audacity to use such methods today? It’s said that he has responded to all the mitred Ravaillacs who fired him up against the French nation and he issued a brief of excommunication against us. O lord, what is going to become of us? In order to make a greater impression on people’s spirits, it’s during the fortnight of Easter that the lightning bolts are going to be thrown at us; all the croziered — and to-be-clubbed — priests must, during this holy time, make a last effort to overthrow the constitution. At the head of the devoted, escorted by knights of the dagger, the fuckers are going to lay siege in groups to the house of every deputy to the National Assembly, and those of all the members of the Society of the Friends of the Constitution and kill them during the night, and then fall upon the guards of the Tuileries and take away the King.
These are the peaceful projects of these sons-of-bitches of priests, and they dare flatter themselves that the French will back them in this abominable enterprise; they think that upon hearing their voices brother will arm himself against brother, son against father, and finally, that for the second time, we'll give them the abominable joy of a new St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre.
They've lied, these rascals, and we'll know how to handle them. I can reply for the Parisians, dammit, and our pals from the faubourg Saint Antoine are all disposed to fix them. I pity the bastard who will dare assume his chair to pronounce the excommunication they threaten us with. He can be sure it'll be only one small leap from there to the lamppost. And if the sons-of-bitch priests think they'll do better in the Departments; if they flatter themselves that the same brigands who they armed with daggers in Nimes, Montauban, and Vannes will back up their efforts, then, dammit, 20,000 of us are ready recall them to order.
And so, dammit, all their projects, all their plots will fail miserably, and these bastards of sons-of-bitches would do well to make of necessity a virtue and take the side of the constitution. This is the only choice left to them, and it is in vain that they place their hopes in Capet the Redhead. Despite him, despite the Germans, despite his army of Savoyards, despite his bandits from Spain, we'll accomplish our task, dammit, and we will maintain the constitution ...
So let the old rascal put away his baubles; let him remain peaceably in his Vatican. Let him feast with all the red donkeys of his fucking college, let him sip the good wines of France and Spain every day with the gluttonous de Bernis, or let him amuse himself with tender young thing, but dammit, let him not trouble his old age by messing in politics.
The bishops we'll name, dammit, will be worth as much as those of la Guimard[1], and those who will have benefices granted by the people will deserve their confidence more than all those valets of the court, those schemers, those payers of arrérages who won bishoprics and abbeys and who lived off the patrimony of the poor as once was done. But to ward off the blows that those damn low-lives want to deal us, I make the motion to cut off the living of those conspirators, and to take from them the pensions that the nation still accords them, and that we name a patriarch for France, and that the most virtuous of prelates be chosen for that eminent post, and fuck the court of Rome, its cardinals, its bishops, its abbots, its indulgences, its pardons and the Pope himself.

1. The traffic that dancer carried out in benefices while the bishop of Orleans was among her pursuers is well known. A doctor who, as a price for the exactitude and dexterity with which he rubbed that beauty down during her frequent indispositions asked her to accord him a post. Become a priest, Guimard answered him, I don’t know how to read — what difference is it...But don’t you know that between my legs I have a page of benefices. He became a priest had had a priory worth 20,000 livres.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Adultery Rocks

pigs at the trough

The police have always been happy to jump to their masters needs when breaking strikes and beating up demonstrators. Now in a bizzare twist of irony they are planning to march to demand the right to strike.

If you have found the police to be idle, useless, stupid, bigoted, dishonest, violent or just plain wrong, like us you probably see little point in giving them even more money from the public purse.

If so, now is the time to make your voice heard. We already pay for their tasers, CS gas, guns, extendable batons, surveillance squads and fast cars - now they want us to pay for fat wage increases.

Trot on copper!

We want to see everyone who has ever had a bad experience of the police in central London on Wednesday 23 January.

The police never care about the "rights" of any other workers - why should we care about theirs?

Make your voice heard when the police demonstrate in London.

Class War says give the greedy pigs what they deserve - nothing!

Protest against the Police. January 23rd Central London

further details to follow at

police porn

Flashy dies

There have been a large number of obituaries and tributes to George Macdonald Fraser, the creator of Harry Flashman, who died recently. In the continuing spirit of RSC we have stolen a couple: A poem from Bill on Harry's Place, a pastiche of 19th century mawkishness. and an article from History Today may 2000 reproduced from the Flashman Society

The Burial of Sir Harry Flashman

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corpse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
In the trollop our hero had married.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
When the strumpets were out gallivanting,
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light
At the hour Flashy was lustfully panting.

No useless coffin made up his bier,
Not in sheet nor in shroud was his corse girt;
But he lay like a poltroon quaking in fearHiding,
till the end, ‘neath a lady’s skirt.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we silently thought ‘at least it’s not I who is dead’,
Though we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed –
It was high time he slept alone –
Of the dangers we’d rather pile on his head,
While we lived it up safely at home.

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
I doubt if we'll miss him that much
And little he'll notice, if they let him sleep on
While his girls writhe ‘neath our fresh touch.

But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

Quickly and suddenly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame cold and sterile;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
But we ran far away from all peril.

Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser explains how 'history disguised as fiction' has been his inspiration and is also his aim.
`YOUR EYES ARE blinded by the sight of gold, man!' Thus Sir Daniel Darnley Darnley (or was it Darnby?), the Laughing Pirate, duelling in an Aztec treasure-house, despatching some unfortunate Spanish villain with a lightning rapier 'thrust -- and awakening my interest in history for the first time.
I was about eight years old and until I encountered Sir Daniel in a D.C. Thomson 'tuppenny blood' my acquaintance with the past had been limited to the odd Bible story, Greek and Norse myths, and my first school history book, The World Family. I'm sure it was an excellent primer, but all I remember of it is a couplet about Hannibal crossing the Alps because he wanted the Roman scalps, and a law of King Hammurabi's condemning arsonists to be thrown into the fire they had started, which seemed drastic, though not illogical. I became disenchanted with the book when, asked to read aloud from the last chapter which dealt with the Great War, I was mocked for my mispronunciation of 'the warring navies', which I rendered as though the last word was spelt with two 'v's, thus conjuring a picture of labourers swarming out of the trenches brandishing picks and shovels.
And then I chanced on Sir Daniel, and it dawned on my infant mind that history (in his case Elizabethan or Restoration, I forget which) was not only a sober record of the past, but a wonderland of action and excitement, where gallant adventurers swaggered and fought and intrigued, usually for patriotic but occasionally for mercenary reasons, against sinister enemies, most of them foreign, and life was a series of battles: escapes, ambushes, rescues, conspiracies, duels, and general romantic activity. I knew it was fiction, of course; only later did I discover that true history left fiction far behind.
This began to dawn through the exploits of another true-blue British buccaneer named Morgan, who swung a hearty cutlass and sang a merry jingle about 'the Spaniards who sail the Spanish Main, we hunt their craven souls; We cut off their heads and trim their ears, to make a game of bowls.' (It will be seen that even at the age of eight I was tending towards the Macaulay rather than the Gibbon school of history.)
But Morgan was a turning-point, for I discovered that there really had been a buccaneer of that name, whose real-life exploits were pure Hollywood; he was my bridge from dream history to true history, from the pages of The Skipper to (eventually) Esquemeling, Charles Johnson, Defoe, Dampier and Prescott; from ripping yarns to the great escape from Maracaibo and the epic march on Panama.
My progress along this path was assisted by a writer whom I regard as the best historical novelist since Walter Scott -- and I am well aware that I am giving him priority over a talented host headed by R.L. Stevenson. Rafael Sabatini it was who confirmed for me that history was not only a serious study but a magical entertainment, and showed me how historic fact may be wedded to exciting fiction. At this he was a past master, a historian turned story-teller who excelled in both fields. I should guess that he influenced more writers than any academic teacher.
I first came across Sabatini in a school library, and Captain Blood, that sweeping piratical saga inspired by the life of my old friend Morgan (the real one), held me enthralled. Months later the cinema curtains opened on the film version, with Erich Wolfgang Korngold's majestic overture thundering out, the novice Errol Flynn defying Judge Jeffreys, pinking Basil Rathbone, wooing and winning Olivia de Havilland, and scattering Dons and Frenchmen in all directions... and I was seeing history for the first time, or thought I was, which is much the same thing when you are ten years old.
From that moment I became a sort of history alcoholic, absorbing it from every available source, factual and fictional, but mostly the latter. Treasure Island, Ivanhoe, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Three Musketeers, and the works of Jeffery Farnol, Philip Lindsay, and many others were consumed, but I did not abandon my first mentors, the Wizard, Hotspur, and Rover, who took me through the Napoleonic Wars in The Fighting Temeraire, the '45 Rebellion with an Alan Breck clone named Red Fergie, the Border raids with one Black Musgrave, and the Seven Years' War with The Ten Scarlet Feathers, which dealt with a sacred war bonnet belonging to the celebrated Indian chief, Pontiac. This inspired my own first attempt at historical fiction, a lurid but (I'm proud to say) factually-based account of the massacre of British-American settlers at Fort Venango. I was writing it during a maths lesson when it was confiscated and destroyed by an unsympathetic vandal of a master; the Nazi book-burnings were taking place about this time, and I brooded on the coincidence. I still haven't forgiven that man; as Dr Campbell said of James Boswell: 'When I think of the murdered literature that lies at the door of that drunken little ass ...'
But I digress. By this time I was getting past the 'tuppenny blood' stage (so far as I ever have) and had developed a new enthusiasm, for a work by one Robert Graves, embellished with a stone bust and the title 'I, Clavdivs'. Being unfamiliar with the Roman 'u' at that time, I went about calling it 'I, Klav-divs', but if this was derided I didn't notice, for Graves had me hooked, and I still rate Claudius as one of the four best historical novels I have ever read (Scott always excepted), the three others being Captain Blood, Kenneth Roberts' Northwest Passage, and de Coster's Legend of Ulenspiegel.
I was caught reading Claudius during a Latin class (no wonder my education was erratic), and was rebuked by the teacher: 'You'll never get anywhere, Fraser, reading that sort of thing instead of Kennedy'. (Kennedy's ghastly Primer was the book of the century with Latin teachers). And then he added: 'And yet, who knows?' which was perceptive in its way, for wherever I've got (not, admittedly, very far) it has been as a result of devouring historical fiction.
All this must seem terribly juvenile and trivial -- 'tuppenny bloods', cloak and sword romances, and cinema swashbucklers as a springboard into history. Well, I have now been producing historical fiction of a fairly sensational kind for over thirty years, and I wish I had a pound for every reader's letter I have received saying, in effect: 'Thank you for awakening my interest in history, for telling me what I didn't know, and for pointing me to the sources'. That is the ultimate reward, and I know they mean it, because it happened to me too.
As I've said, it was Sir Daniel Darnley who led me to Esquemeling, and Conan Doyle to Froissart, Graves to Suetonius and Tacitus, Henry to Kinglake, Mayne Reid to Bancroft, the Wolf of Kabul to Kaye and Mallinson, and Sabatini to more than I can count. Yes, and Forever Amber to Macaulay, Pepys and Evelyn, and Gone With the Wind to Bruce Catton and Samuel Eliot Morison. Nor must I omit 1066 And All That, the best introduction to history ever written.
If this proves anything, it is that there is no truer guide to the past than good historical fiction. There is nothing phoney about it; while I tend to distrust approaches to education which suggest that it is an enjoyable game (when we know it is just hard slogging), the good costume novel is telling no more than the truth when it suggests that real history is fun and excitement and glamour and suspense; that it has all the ingredients of a great adventure story. But of course, that is what history is.
It does not matter if the historical novel is pure unashamed fiction, with plot and characters owing nothing to historic fact, so long as it is properly researched and reflects, as faithfully as the writer knows how, the period and its spirit. Better still, of course, to write what a Sabatini reviewer called 'history disguised as fiction' -- that is, to take historic truth and present it as a story, weaving in whatever fictitious incidents and characters are needed to oil the narrative's wheels, but never, never falsifying or distorting the truth on which it is based. Fairness above all, to the best of the writer's ability; it isn't always easy, but history and the reader deserve no less.
It is a rule which the best of them -- Scott, Dumas, Doyle, Graves, Forester, Sabatini, Roberts and the rest -- never broke, and far beyond the entertainment they gave and continue to give to countless millions, they did history good service, and set an impossible standard for those emulators who trudge vainly in their footsteps. I for one owe a lifetime's work to all of them. And to Sir Daniel Darnley.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

how to avoid talking out of your arse

Our old Mucker Gerry has started a new Blog animated by the collapse of Respect.
Taking 'The Gorgeous One's' comments upon the desirability of the derriere of the antipodean chantreuse, and the row it triggered she has titled it the split of kylies arse.
As is our usual practise we have shamelessly stolen this piece from it:

The current collective consciousness on the left around oppression is such a miasma of postmodern, subjective, sentimental, victimised, emotive dreck. I feel a certain responsibility for having added my bit to the heap. Here by way of restitution, I offer the following insights painfully gleaned over a lifetime of politcal twaddle.
1. Membership of an oppressed group does not confer authority. It does not guarantee authenticity. It does not make you right. You should be judged by what you say and do not by what you are. I offer in evidence my Cabinet of the Oppressed: Margaret Thatcher (women’s rights), Robert Mugabe (racial equality), David Blunkett (disability), Osama bin Laden (international relations), Golda Meir (special responsibility for minorities), the entire Gandhi dynasty (democracy and anti-corruption). Feel free to nominate others to strengthen our inclusivity.
2. Being a VICTIM does not make you right. You may be worthy of sympathy, redress, sensitive consideration, but it has no bearing on the quality of your argument. Reality is dialectical: the victim becomes the oppressor, and vice versa.
3. History is not a licence to kill. An atrocity is an atrocity, however badly treated the perpetrators, wwhatever legitimate grievance they may have. I give you Nazi Germany, Dier Yassin, 9/11, Beslan…
4. My enemy’s enemy is not my friend. people and nations change sides; alliances shift. If you base your position on tactical considerations, you will end up incoherent. We endlessly repeat the argument that it was the West who armed Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. The argument applies equally to us. We may lack the fire power, but we give hostages to our future enemies if, for example, we lie about the repressive regime in Iran simply because it is threatened by the US: it will come back and bite us.
5. If you feel it, suspect it. If it feels good… wait a minute. Outrage is the crack of left polemic. There’s that flaming high - oh it feels so good! All too soon, you come down. You regret giving in to the seductive flame. You feel a bit bad, a bit ashamed, a bit depressed. Someone flames back. It feels good to join the fray again - a bigger hit. And so it goes on and on and on..Emotion brings an aura of authenicity. If you feel it, it must be real. Aint necessarily so. The evolutionary point of emotion is to move you to action. Sometimes it’s rash, dangerous to move. Except in a literal emergency, it’s better to think first. Left polemic is full of pseudo-emegencies, where the adrenalin pumping makes it feel like life and death, but nothing is lost by taking time to consider.
6. You have to laugh or else you’ll cry. The situation of the left today is a tragic absurdity, if you lose your sense of humour, you may as well shoot yourself.