31 July 2007
Political chaos looms on the horizon thanks to Iraq
This feud between the warmongers just gets better and better. As we reported on Friday, the apostate Johann Hari was coming under increasing fire from those who still hold to the one true faith. Yesterday he threatened legal action against one blog unless they pulled an article that was critical of him. Basically, the blog had claimed that Hari had made things up and should suffer "career death" for his sin. Actually, his crime in the eyes of the warmongers is that he no longer believes in adventurism - at least when the outcome is as terrible as that of Iraq.
With luck what is still just a fight between second rate minds in the world of blogs will expand into a more generalised civil war within the political class that was responsible for this disaster in the first place. The Tories supported the war against Iraq and still remain an Atlanticist party. They may make the off anti-American noise, but nobody is likely to believe them.
The Liberal Democrats on the other hand have been consistent in their opposition to the war from the start. They and they alone have the opportunity to emerge from the coming mess with their dignity intact.
The question is, have they got the political bottle to seize the moment, and put themselves forward as the patriotic party that will do what is right for Britain? That means telling the Americans to take their hooks.
Rumours are going round of a snap General Election in October. Can the Lib-Dems get their act together in time? The working class is completely disengaged from politics. Can the Lib-Dems not see the opportunity that is awaiting them?
30 July 2007
Iraq wins Asian Cup: Captain calls for America to leave Iraq.
Iraq has defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the Asian Cup Final, the first time that their football team has managed this feat.
Iraqis are now worried that the Chimp will try to claim credit for the victory, as he did in 2004 when the team's Olympic success was hailed by the simian as proof that the aggression was worth it - or something, you can never tell with that ape.
In the meantime, the team captain who scored the only goal,Younis Mahmoud, has decided not to return to Iraq, claiming that one of his closest friends disappeared a year ago, courtesy of the puppet regime. Oh, and he also called on the Americans to leave his country.
Oh, and the team's manager has also resigned.
The Exile doesn't reckon that the Chimp will get many kudos out of this.
28 July 2007
Still struggling to make money
As part of the Exile's ongoing campaign to make some money, I have decided to sign up with an outfit called Blogsvertise. The wheeze is fairly simple: they send me a URL and I post something about that site on my blog in about 60 to 100 words. The advertiser's site has to get three links from this blog in the posting, so I suppose the deal is something to do with upping the link-rate on the Google search engine.
That is not my problem - I am just thinking about getting somewhere between a fiver and a tenner per posting. You know it makes sense, people, you know it makes sense.
27 July 2007
"Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me."
Folks, it's time to play the blame game, and the rules are very simple. Are you a warwanker who is determined to go down with the sinking ship? Then start attacking anyone who wanked with you at the start of the war against Iraq, but who has since recanted. Johann Hari will do nicely, because not only has he recanted, but he has attacked one who still holds to The True Faith. Thus he is doubly damned, once for the sin of apostasy and then for being mouthy about it.
You can claim that the heretic has got his facts wrong, that he is a plagiarist, that is guilty of distorting the facts. You can even pick tiny little holes in the heretic's argument, and then go on to claim that the pretext for war should have been "humanitarian grounds," and wasn't Saddam Hussein a very bad man indeed?
The Exile can understand this type of apostasy - the heretic laying down his friends for his life and all that - but enough people are going to be around to remind both heretics and true believers that the road to Baghdad ran through Belgrade.
What the Exile cannot understand and finds difficult to forgive, is that having waded through all this self-serving shit, and having come across plenty of references to the poor, doomed Iraqis, he did not once see any reference to the 163 British servicemen who have so far died in a doomed adventure that aimed at making the Middle East safe for western capitalism.
Neither, amidst all, the claims of solidarity with the Iraqi trades unionists and working class, did he find any reference to the British working class who have now had to put up with 30 years of neo-liberal shit.
Just think what could have been done with all the time and energy that has been wasted on Iraq. No wonder the working man is indifferent to politics: politics has betrayed him.
26 July 2007
What's with the adverts and Google search function?
Well, the blog now takes adverts. That's them at the top of the page.
I have also installed a Google search bar. If you search on Google and then click on any of the results, yet more pennies flow into my electronic piggie bank.
The reason why I am doing this is two-fold. First because I am very skint and second because nobody has clicked on any of the donate buttons that were so liberally planted after every posting. I received an e-mail from a young fellow in England in which he told me that he liked the blog, read it every week, but couldn't donate anything because he didn't have a credit card. The reason is that he is 22 years old and has never worked, so he lives from fortnightly giro to fortnightly giro. What a life...
25 July 2007
Where is the British Wilhelm Groener?
|In October 1918 General Wilhelm Groener told his emperor that the war was lost and that Germany had to seek an immediate armistice. He also told Emperor Willhelm 11 that the army would march home under its officers, but not under its emperor. Willhelm had to abdicate. There was no other alternative.|
Today British generals tiptoe around the truth in Iraq. General Sir Richard Dannet, in a carefully leaked secret memorandum, announces that almost no troops are available to defend the home island, and the army has "almost no capability to react to the unexpected."
Then the House of Commons defence committee tells the government that British soldiers are being sent out on "nightly suicide missions," which the soldiers believe are only about appeasing the Americans.
While all this is going on, just about the only base that the British have left in Iraq, other than Basra airport, is coming under nightly rocket and mortar attack - and, oh yes, the Danes have announced that they are calling it a day and will withdraw their 480 man contingent next month.
Let us be clear about what Britain's 5,500 troops face. They face disaster the moment that the Iraqis decide to mount one big push against them.
So where is the British General Groener? The man who will go down in history as the officer who told the government what it doesn't want to hear?
The war against Iraq is lost. Save the army and fuck the Americans.
24 July 2007
What will happen to America's collaborators?
|Following on from my last posting, here's an interesting thing from the USA: the American ambassador to Iraq has requested that immigrant visa be immediately granted to all Iraqis who work for the Americans. Obviously the reason for it is to keep the Iraqis at their desks and to stop them fleeing to other countries to escape retribution, but that is only half the story.|
If the American ambassador thought for one moment that his country was going to win the war against Iraq, then this request would not need to be made. The Iraqi collaborators would be only too happy to stay at their posts, receiving American dollars and living off the fat of the occupied land. However, the fact is that this is not what's happening.
What is happening is that the guerrillas are getting stronger and the occupiers are becoming weaker. The question is not if the Americans will cut and run but when.
Those who cast in their lot with the occupiers know this and are afraid - very, very afraid.
23 July 2007
Agitate and organise: video part two
Making a political video is easy: you just get a few boring buggers around a table and then send everyone who watches it to sleep. Let's look at some new ideas for political video...
Probably some of the most effective, subversive video has been produced not by politicos, but by bored out of their skulls night workers employed at the Somerfield chain of supermarkets. The point here is not that these are technically well crafted examples of agitprop video. They are not, and most break all the rules of video shooting - cameras wobble, zoom lenses are overused and the sound quality is atrocious.
That said, they are wildly popular amongst the target audience, which consists of young, bored out of their skulls working class people. They encourage others to treat their employer with the same contempt as these Somerfield people do. That's all...These videos will never encourage the revolution, but if they help to engender a little bit more contempt for the boss class they will have served their purpose.
As you can see, agitprop video doesn't have to be dull and boring. You can be having a laugh and a joke while you are filming - so long as the laugh and the joke is at the enemies' expense.
Let's think about some ideas, shall we? The social work filth make good, easy targets because everyone hates them anyway. Can you grab some footage of one fat ugly social worker walking next to a thin ugly social worker? If you can then stick the Laurel and Hardy theme to it and a mocking title at the end. Bingo - you have a clip that people will watch, will pass around, and which will make your local social work filth feel humiliated.
Ridicule is a potent weapon, so use it as much as you can. We don't have to play by their rules, in fact it is much better for us if we don't. Most people who have crossed swords with social work filth will have received a letter at some point that explains just how "well trained" they are. OK, so find some old woman who can remember going to a chimp's tea party at her local zoo. The chances are that the chimp keeper will have used those very words when explaining how the monkeys were persuaded to sit around the table.
Your video could then go:
1. Shot of a person reading from the letter.
2. He asks the camera what "highly trained" means?
3. Interview with old person.
4. Return to original person, who says that he is still baffled. Are social workers more highly trained than chimps?
A video like that could run less than a minute. If an issue with the council is simmering, a video like that could just help it bubble.
The middle class has a low tolerance for mockery and questions about their status, so let's give them plenty of both. In a previous posting I mentioned the matter of Codie Stott, the Salford schoolgirl who was arrested for asking the wrong questions at school. Reading a little bit more into the case, it now turns out that when young Codie asked her question, she was greeted by a teacher who screamed the refrain: "That's racism! You're going to get done by the police"
Come on people, this is too good to miss. A video recreating that scene, shot in someone's kitchen, would be well worth the effort. The comic possibilities are just endless - and that is the whole point - it is about using mockery to undermine the middle class's fragile sense of self worth.
These are just a few ideas, and I am sure that you can come up with a lot more. Use video as part of your community campaign: you know it makes sense!
We can't turn them away? Wanna fucking bet?
A new blog campaign seems to be starting by various types who feel that we should take in God knows how many Iraqis to save them from the retribution that will follow the collapse of the NuLab dream.
No - fucking - chance.
If you want us to be all cuddly and liberal, then first we want to start enjoying the standard of living that we as working class people had before the neo-liberal lunacy was introduced. Start by restoring our union rights. That will mean that newcomers cannot cut the wages because our unions will not allow it. What are the chances of this happening?
No - fucking - chance.
Then start a crash programme of council house building to ensure that these newcomers do not get houses ahead of us. Will we see this happening?
No - fucking - chance.
Finally, and just to be on the safe side, because jobs are like rocking horse shit these days, let's have a programme of industrial regeneration that will create lots and lots of unskilled and semi-skilled manual jobs - the jobs that our people want to do. Obviously this will mean raising taxes on the middle class, but that is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of these poor, doomed collaborators. Will this happen?
No - fucking -chance.
Why won't the warmongers support these modest proposals? They want us to live in shit forever while they sit around, enjoying all the fruits that capitalism gives to arse-licking scum.
Sorry, lads, but I honestly think that as far as most working class people are concerned, your Harkis can get the chop.
21 July 2007
Agitate and organise: video
People, let's forget about the community newsletter - video is what people watch, either on YouTube or via their mobile 'phone or I-pod. Your videos should run for between 30 seconds and about five minutes. Yes, that's right, because anything much over five minutes runs the risk that the viewer will lose interest. Sorry, folks, today's generation have been brought up on music videos and have the attention span of a lobotomised goldfish.
Assuming that you know very little about video making, let's start with the basics. If you don't have a video camera, you might like to buy one that uses the MiniDV system. They are the most popular cameras on the market so go with the flow has always been The Exile's way of thinking.
If you don't have a camera and are unemployed, then a second hand Digital 8 video camera is fine. The cassettes are bigger than the MiniDV's version - so is the camera come to that - but other than that the two systems are virtually the same.
Another option is to use a digital still camera because many of them will also shoot video. Just check that your camera isn't one that only shoots very short clips. Most Sony cameras allow you to shoot so long as there is space on the memory stick. For instance a one gig stick allows for about 45 minutes of recording time.
The disadvantage of using a still camera's video function is that you cannot usually connect an external microphone to the camera. That said, if your subject is close, you can pick up their voice with the camera's internal microphone. It is just not as good, that's all. However, if you are not videoing someone speaking on a noisy street, or if you decide to add a music soundtrack of your own later, using a still camera is very much an option.
All of the above types of camera will do. However, two types will cause problems and should be avoided. The first is the video camera that uses a DVD disk. Editing those videos is such a pain that they are to be avoided at all costs. The second type to give a body swerve to is the camera that has an internal memory and which records the files in MP4 format. Getting editing programmes for this format is expensive; finding a converter so that you can put your video out in the popular MPG or WMV is just as hard. Just don't use them, OK?
Having got your gear, there are two mistakes that people make when they start to shoot video. The first is they waft the camera about like a fart in a breeze. People, keep the fucker still! Your eyes may dart from place to place, but if you do that with the camera you will make your video unviewable. Shoot clear shots with the camera angle set before you press the record button. Once you have pressed it, don't move the camera and hold it very, very steady.
The second mistake the folk make is using the zoom - "Look, my camera has a zoom," they seem to be saying.
Yes, I know it has a fucking zoom, and I'm telling you not to use it. As with waving the camera around it makes the footage unwatchable.
If you must zoom and pan, then do it very, very slowly and not very often. Far better not to use these techniques at all until you become more expert at film making.
You have finished shooting. Now you need to get the raw footage into your computer for editing. If you used a still camera, then the MPG files will load in the same way that photographs do. If you have a video camera, it is a bit more complicated, but not much.
If your computer runs on Windows XP then you have a programme called Windows Movie Maker. Open it, connect your camera to the computer via the cable that came with it and then switch the camera on. WMM will pretty much do the rest. I advise you to switch off the create clips function - record the footage as one file.
Movie Maker will ask you what the settings are for your recording and will offer you a "best quality for playback on my computer" option. Ignore that and go to "other settings". There you should choose "Video for local playback (2.1 Mbps)" as this is the best quality.
Once the footage is on your computer, then you can use Windows Movie Maker to edit it, add titles, stick in a voice-over or add music. You can also add fades and dissolves to make scene changes easier on the eye. Just play around with the programme until you feel happy at using it.
Windows has a special page devoted to Movie Maker which is well worth studying. You can find it here.
Very well, now you have your finished video - how do you distribute it?
The first way is via YouTube and for that you should convert your WMV file into an MP4. This is easy, just download the Videora Converter, which is a free programme. I would suggest that for YouTube you should set the conversion rate at a high quality - it will make for a big file but once YouTube has it they will convert it to Flash Media and it will look better on the computer monitor if your file has been of a high quality to begin with.
What did you say? You can't download YouTube videos? Well, there are programmes out there that allow you to do that, but the quality is crap. Why not make a version for people to watch on their mobiles and I-Pod Videos? Most of these devices use MP4 as their standard, so just run the file through the Videora Converter again, but this time choose a lower rate that will make for a smaller file. Remember, if they are watching the video on a small screen, you don't need a very high quality video.
What about the people who want to watch your epic on a computer? Run the file through Windows Move Maker one more time and set the capture to about 512 KBS. At that rate the video is just about watchable at full screen, but looks much better at half-screen. Play around until you find the best quality for your needs.
Finally, upload your video files to a server - they are plenty of them about that offer free web space. Besides, how can you call yourselves a community group if you don't have your own web page? Geocities gives you 15 meg and Lycos gives you 20 megs.
Up next - some ideas to think about for videos. Meanwhile I have some videos of my own that you might like to see. In all cases, just click over to the page and follow the link at the bottom to get the video.
The first was shot using a digital still camera, and consists of views of a lake in my area. The second is the ruins of Teotihuacan, and was shot using a video camera. Both videos have music soundtracks that I added.
20 July 2007
Agitate and organise: the press release
Following on from my last posting, if matters do come to a head on a council estate because the social work filth are attacking our children, then any attempt to prescribe action will fail. It will fail because what is likely to happen is that some father, outraged at the way his family is treated will explode in some way or another. The press will get involved, the TV, and any local political group that is involved with the family will only have to play catch-up to an agenda that will be media led.
In a situation like this, a group needs to understand basic media techniques, and the most basic of all is the press release. If written properly a press release will be used by the local newspapers as is - so make sure that you know how to create them.
The basic format of your press release should always be the same. This is mine:
1. At the top of the page you have the name of your group in headline text and below it, in a slightly smaller font, the words "Press Release". You can call it a news release if you want to because sometimes the TV and radio get a bit twitchy if you don't.
2. Below this on the left side you should have, contact, address, telephone, e-mail. Always issue your press releases under one person's name - that way the local hacks can get in touch with an individual with whom they will build up a relationship over time.
3. Put in a horizontal line at this point. That way the journalist knows that the basic information is over and the release is about to begin.
4. Below the line put in the headline. Use a size 14 font.
5. Next comes the text, in a 12 font. Try to write as if you were the jounalist - you want them to use your text verbatim for the story. Keep it simple, keep it sweet, but remember that you are an agitator, so you can use synonyms to alter the readers' perceptions.
Let me give you an example. Back in 1996 Oldham social work filth were trying to get my late father into a nursing home. I decided that a shot across the bows was in order and sent out a press release to the two local newspapers.
The headline read:
"Oldham social work industry seeks to force war veteran into a workhouse."
Now let's look at the language used here. The first thing we note is my use of "industry" instead of "department". That was deliberate and aimed at undercutting the the social workers sense of self importance. If you look back to the previous posting, you will see that I argue that central to the middle class sense of worth is the notion that what they do is morally good - take that away from them and you have hit their morale. Thus whenever a met a piece of social work filth I would always adopt a matey, jocular tone with them. As if I understood that they were just timeservers and jobsworths, leaching off the public purse. That attitude started with this press release.
Secondly we have the war veteran reference: my father was a veteran, and this aimed at putting him on a higher level than a mere "old man". He was an old man, but he was also a war veteran.
Finally the use of the word workhouse should be considered. It still strikes fear into many old people's hearts and conjurs up images of breaking rocks for a night's bed. That was why I used it: I knew that it would provoke an immediate sympathy for him amongst the elderly.
The first paragraph of the release read:
Charles Bell (81) thought that he had seen the last of conflict the day he stood on Lunebourg Heath in 1945 and watched the German army stream in to surrender. However, he had reckoned without the actions of Oldham social work industry, who are determined to force old soldier Charlie into a workhouse.Note how Charles Bell became Charlie? The idea was to make him friendly - good old Charlie, nice old Charlie, decent old Charlie. First I used his formal name because I wanted the notion of soldier Charles Bell to be drummed home, but after that it was all about poor, persecuted Charlie.
Note also how language from the headline is repeated in that first paragraph - ram the message home, people!
My press release caused quite a stir. The Oldham Chronicle telephoned me in Mexico and did an interview. They ran the story in their own words, but the free sheet used my exact press release - so after that I mainly sent stories to them and they always ran them.
It got to the stage where I invented "sources close to Oldham Council," and "a social work source" and the social work filth went wild. They started an internal investigation to find out who was leaking information. Nobody was - I made it all up!
So press releases work and they should form to first line of attack for any group seeking to further agitate the waters.
However, and here is the kicker, they only work if they are about matters of public interest. So find the local issue, whatever it is, and use it to your advantage.
19 July 2007
What's with the Pay Pal buttons?
|You may have noticed that on the right of the page, just below the clock, is a Pay Pal button. You will also see that button at the bottom of my postings for the foreseeable future. So what's going on?|
What's going on is that I can't afford a pot to piss in and the begging bowl - for that is what these buttons really are - is an attempt to raise some cash.
This blog gets between 20 and 70 readers a day, depending on what the theme is and depending on how many other blogs link to us that day. Taking the lower figure as the core readership, it seems to me that you are the people who basically agree with the blog's line: anti-imperialist, anti-globalist and pro-working class.
Can you afford to bung me a fiver? If this blog made just five quid a week then I would be the happiest man around. If it made £25 a month I would be delirious.
OK, this is the button - please click on it.
18 July 2007
It should be the proudest day of any mother's life: the day her baby says "mummie" for the first time. For one British working class mother the day is seared into her memory because it was also the last time she saw her two year old daughter. The child has been seized by social work filth, on spurious charges, as was her sister within an hour of that child's birth. The police tried to find evidence to validate the state-sponsored kidnappings, but even they, long experts at finding grounds to fit-up the innocent, could find nothing in this case. In January of this year they announced that no prosecution would be forthcoming.
The social work filth then responded to this by placing the babies with prospective adopters and the innocent parents received a voicemail message telling them that all visiting rights would cease. They have not seen their babies since. Their lawyers have told them that the chances of recovering their babies are slim. However, they have been told by the social work filth that if they have any further children they "may" be allowed to keep them. How nice it was of this filth to give their permission in that way. And doesn't it just tell you who is in control of working class people in working class districts? The couple may have another child and the social work filth may decide to let them keep that child. Permission has been thus been granted, and thus control over our lives by this new colonial administrative class has been further demonstrated. Instances of class power like this are becoming all the frequent in Britain today.
Living in a working class district in Britain is increasingly similar to living in a colonial territory during the days of empire. The residents are the natives, the kaffirs, the chavs, and the colonial administrators are the teachers, police, social workers and assorted council officials, all of whom parachute into the territory in the morning, and then scuttle out as quickly as possible at day's end. Even the councillors, the men and women who are supposed to legitimise these characters' actions, are increasingly outsiders who do not live in the wards that they ostensibly represent.
To make matters worse, the working class response to a polity that no longer even pretends to do anything other than toss them a few scraps has been to disengage from politics completely. Into the vacuum has stepped a new breed of party member. By and large he is polytechnic (semi) educated and employed in local government as a teacher, social worker or generic manager. He lives in a nearby authority and runs for office in that council. He has more in common both culturally as well as economically with the teachers, social workers and council officers that he is supposed to supervise, than he does with the council tenants who voted for him. As types like this expand their influence, yet more working class people withdraw from politics.
In a strange way, this may turn out to be of benefit to working class activism in the long run. Mobilising our people on the basis of unemployment or economic inequality doesn't work. The reason is that unemployment and underemployment are the default setting for most working people during most of their lifetimes. Almost every generation undergoes at least one recession - those of us who were unemployed in the 1980s were told by our fathers what it was like in the 1930s. Some of us railed against our lot, but most just made their lived tolerable by tightening their belts and reverting to the default position of acceptance.
Put another way, if working class people do become involved in class politics again, then it will not be on the basis of their economic uncertainty alone. They are used to that and accept it as naturally as they accept the spring rains.
What may bring about a change are new factors that are related to the way that working class people are increasingly controlled and managed in their home districts. This brings us back to the notion that parts of Britain are little more than colonial territories, that the people who live there are the natives, and that the council officials are the colonial administrators.
Had these administrators left people alone and just concentrated on collecting their inflated wages, then this argument would not be viable. The fact is that they can't do this because an essential component of lower middle class ideology is the notion that whatever they are doing has to be justified in some moral sense. To this we might add the sheer sense of knicker moistening power that these creatures must feel as they exercise their control over our lives. Middle class self righteousness and the euphoria of power: it's a powerful combination.
The enemy has chosen to use our children to coerce obedience into us and as an example of their power over us. That was there big mistake because this is the one issue that should force the working class to begin its resistance. The number of instances where middle class scum have attacked us via our children is growing, and leads this writer to conclude that virtually all working class districts must have instances that can be used as mobilisation issues.
In Salford, one schoolgirl was arrested for saying something in class that these creatures did not like. Codie Stott, a Salford girl, had the temerity to ask a teacher why she could not be taught in her own language. A week later, no doubt following various discussions between various parasitic polywallahs, all cheerfully getting in on the act to prove how important they are, the girl was arrested and held for an afternoon before being released. The aim was obviously to instil terror and obedience into the wider community. Say what we say, think how we tell you to think, that was the message.
This threat is pretty much guaranteed to fail for the same reason that the teaching trade is not going to provide much of an impetus for a renaissance in working class political activity. Simply put, nobody gives a shit about the teachers. Parents tell their children to ignore them, to get through the school years with as little fuss as possible. They go on to say that teachers have always been that way, and that is a cue for some anecdote from the parents' days that helps put the whole thing into perspective. More importantly, Codie Stott, who will have left school by now, can walk past her old school building every day for the rest of her life and stick two fingers up at the lower middle class scum inside. If she does that then there is absolutely nothing that any of them can do to her, her family or her class.
That cannot be said of the social work industry. As has already been demonstrated, they are taking our children into care on spurious grounds and even when we prove our innocence, we find that they are being put up for adoption. Our women are seen as little more than brood mares, the providers of children for barren women or men who cannot get it up - the middle class in other words.
What we need to do is to start making these actions the focus of our resistance. Community groups need to be formed to defend an estate's children. The resistance needs to be community based, thus to draw on the collectivist tradition that is at the root of working class political action.
We have the issue: the question is do we still have the bottle to use it? In the next essay, we shall look at some ways in which such community groups could grow and the tactics that can be used.
12 July 2007
Mexican guerrillas blow up oil pipeline
A Mexican guerrilla force, the Ejército Popular Revolucionario or Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) has emerged from the shadows and managed to damage one of Mexico's oil pipelines.
This Moaist group was last heard from in 1996 when they staged some photo-ops in various parts of the country, including just down the road from where your friendly Exile happens to live. Then they vanished from the public radar, only to emerge again with this attack. According to their communique, the raid came as part of a demand for the release from custody of three of their people who were arrested back in May.
The group and its political wing have a web site that manages to never use one word when ten will do instead. If you don't believe me, just try plodding through their basic documents section - a guaranteed cure for insomnia.
The sheer quantity of verbiage suggests that this lot are a bunch of former students from some or other state university. If this is the case they will be about as popular as a fart in a lift. Trust me, it isn't just the British working class who treat students with contempt.
That said they are clearly copying the Iraqi tactic of hitting infrastructure. John Robb argues that the returns on investment inherent in this type of attack are "amazing".
Only time will tell if my cynicism is justifies in relation to this group.
09 July 2007
Latest warmonger line: suicide bombs are so Islamic
06 July 2007
Controling capitalism the Venezuelan way.
I doubt if most people in Britain have even heard of Gustavo Cisneros. He is Venezuela's answer to Rupert Murdoch and until a year ago his Venevisión network was as hostile to Hugo Chavez Frias as Murdoch was to the Labour Party in Britain.
However, there the similarity ends. In Britain as soon as a weary Labour Party elected him as its leader, Tony Blair scuttled off to perform the ritual known as the osculum infame on Murdoch's bum hole.
Chavez Frias, by way of contrast, knows how to deal with creatures like this. Government agents were turned loose to crawl all over Cisnero's holdings, making him realise that his multi billion pound fortune was under threat.
So he caved in and today is a good little boy who sees things the Bolivarian way. As such his network did not lose it license to broadcast, as happened to the rival RCTV company.
This is a lesson that Labour should have learned. Chavez Frias faced the combined might of all the Venezuelan media and he came out on top because he offered policies that the bulk of the working class would support. He did not bother his head with social issues: he concentrated on the bread and butter issues that are the only things that working class people are interested in.
Having taken power he basically offered capitalism a deal: support me or die. Offers like that are a once in a lifetime, never to be repeated, take it or leave it deal. Cisneros took the offer and survived.
As socialists we need to learn from this and stop being afraid of the capitalist media. It, along with all of capitalism, can only survive because we allow it. It may be in the interests of a future socialist government in Britain to allow the Murdoch machine to keep on turning. If that is the case, then Murdoch needs to have a lesson in the reality of power such as Chavez gave Cisneros.
05 July 2007
Why more attacks on Britain are likely
Dr Bilal Abdullah, one of the tossers who tried to drive a car bomb into Glasgow Airport last Saturday has emerged as "a religious zealot and a lone wolf whose anger about political developments in Iraq may have driven him to an act of terrorism".
OK, so there is nothing we can do at the moment about religious nuttery, but in the short term there is rather a lot we can do to stop said religious nutters going over the top. What can we do? Well, we can demand an end to the war against Iraq, that's what.
This is not going to happen because the new Gordon Brown regime is just as much a craven poodle of the USA as the Blair government was. Hardly a shock, but it needed to be said.
So, while British troops huddle around Basra airport waiting for the final order to leave, an order that everyone knows will come eventually, people in the UK can get ready for more attacks. The government values its relationship with the USA more than it values the lives of British people.
03 July 2007
The Last Summer
This posting has been inspired by a one over at Neil Clark's blog. There, Neil took issue with a writer who claimed that the pre-Callaghan years were a time of squalor. It occurred to me then, and I commented on this to Neil, that once we are dead, nonsense like this would become the standard text. We need to write our own memoirs of the time before the cataclysm.
It was going to be a very hot summer, that much was obvious by the April of 1976. Spring just didn't arrive that year, as we went from winter to summer without even a pause. My first memory of that time is of how I decided, in about the April, that looking for a job could wait: this weather was something special and I didn't want anything tedious like work getting in the way of my enjoyment of it.
I had been made redundant the month before, but that was not a problem. We had a thing called earnings related benefit that was paid on top of the dole for the first six months of unemployment. The amount of the benefit depended upon the wage earned, hence the name, and since I earned about £25 a week, my ERB was quite high. So there I was, still only 19 years old, with redundancy money jangling in my pocket, and a long hot summer to enjoy. I decided to get a job when either the summer, or my money, ended. Luckily for me they both coincided...
We need to remember that Britain had a social wage in those days. Basically you did your hours at some job or other. As everyone else did the same this meant that council house rents were cheap, buses were frequent and cost coppers to ride, and all manner of services such as gas, electricity and the telephone that today cost an arm and leg, then cost next to nothing.
Of course, for those who wanted to arse-lick their way up the corporate ladder, things were not quite so rosy. The more money you earned the more income tax you paid. Government revenue in those days came mainly from direct taxation, so those creatures ended up paying quite a wack. To make make matters even nicer, inflation was high, but we had strong unions that ensured regular pay rises. The employers' men didn't, but they could console themselves with the fact that they were "staff" and not "workers". As I used to like pointing out, being staff and having 25p in the pocket would get them a pint of bitter. For some reason they never enjoyed my humour as much as my mates did.
Who in his right mind would not have wanted to be a young working man during the summer of 1976? I took my redundancy pay, signed on the dole every two weeks, and spent the summer drinking beer and chasing women.
One of the women I caught was called Lucy, a lovely Zimbabwean girl who worked as a nurse at Park Hospital in Manchester. I met her one night in a disco, and she told me that she was from Rhodesia. "Don't you mean Zimbabwe," I replied? She gave me a lovely kiss there and then and that was me fixed up.
Lucy lived in a nice, subsidised nurses' home, and ate in the nice subsidised canteen that was provided to the hospital's staff. Getting to visit her was easy. I didn't have a car so I caught a bus into Piccadilly, Manchester, and then another one going out to the hospital. If I stayed too long, but wasn't invited to spend the night, then I used the all night buses to get home. They only ran every hour and cost twice as much as the ordinary service, but they got people to their destinations. Today Manchester does not have all-night buses, so getting around is more difficult without a car.
A couple of years later, when the Callaghan government started to cut back on public services and the bus fares went through the roof, I learned to drive and bought a car. However, that was in the future, and in 1976 I travelled everywhere on cheap public transport.
I remember taking Lucy over to York for a few days. We travelled on the British Rail train which left and arrived on time and the fare was cheap - it had to be, I was signing on, remember?
However, most of the summer was spent relaxing in Piccadilly Gardens, just soaking up the sun and chatting to anyone who wanted to help me kill another beautiful day. Today you would go and sit in a pub's garden, but they scarcely existed in 1976. Pubs in Manchester were working men's swill shops that opened their doors at 11.00am and closed them at 3.00pm. Come 5.30pm they opened up again until 10.30pm - except Fridays and Saturdays when they stayed open until 11.00pm.
However, this did not mean that you could not keep on drinking all night - far from it. Oxford Road Station Approach had a well known drinking club that I used to go in a lot. It opened when the pubs closed and stayed serving until the last customer left, usually at dawn. Just across Oxford Road and behind the Palace Theatre was another drinking dive that catered to the all-afternoon brigade. Both these places got full with shift workers like me, policemen, the local hard men and prostitutes. They were great places to meet interesting people and get sloshed out of your brain.
So the summer went on. That never ending summer. Until one day it started to rain and I decided that it was time to go and get another bastard fucking job. So I did. It took me about a week, and that was me done along with the summer.
There will never be a summer like the summer of 1976 because when it ended something ended in Britain. The notion that you could live well as a working class person, in a society that tried to share its resources fairly, and in which you did not have to bust a ball to earn a buttie, has gone from the popular memory. People may tell their children about how you could change jobs on a whim - they do - but the memory of everything else that we enjoyed has gone. We need to bring that memory back and make it a political demand.
Until that happens, we will never have another summer and the winter that has now lasted for over 30 years will remain.