When RCP’ers Attack!

March 11, 2007 at 11:12 pm (voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketClose followers of this blog will be aware that I don’t agree with Andy Newman of the Socialist Unity Blog about very much. He and I come from very different traditions on the left, and as a consequence we disagree about pretty much everything from Ireland to Palestine. Nevertheless, I’m delighted to see that he seems to have wound up some altogether more fearsome people than me, in the shape of those loveable “contrarians”, the Party Formerly Known As The Revolutionary Communist Party.

You see, Andy pointed out in this post that Martin Durkin,  Channel 4 journo, presenter of the “Great Global Warming Swindle”, RCP member and product of one of the most successful “colonisation” operations in Trot history (credit where it’s due, the implantation of RCP members in the media is astounding), was… err… in the RCP. Not only does he remind us of the RCP’s history of indulging in stupid and often offensively provocative wankery, he also points out that there’s a specific issue to do with the RCP’s Lysenkoite attitude to science which seems to demand that the world be bent to fit their political stances, rather than vice-versa. So of course they deny that global warming is a man made phenomenon, because if it were man made, that would mean that there was something wrong with their rightist understanding of economic development. Well, that combined with the perverse pleasure that they seem to take in saying the most contrary thing possible on any given issue – they can explain to our grandchildren why they’re living on a planet in a state of ecological collapse right after they’re done explaining to Bosnians why the RCP denied the Srebrenica massacre.

Andy has rather got their dander up – the RCP propaganda machine has ground into action both with comment-box replies to Andy’s initial and second posts on the subject, and Durkin himself responding to Newman’s initial criticisms in an interview with the RCP magazine, Spiked Online. Quite what possessed Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill to think that it would be a good idea to use the RCP’s press to refute an allegation of being in the RCP, is beyond me. But hey, I’m not a dead cool “contrarian” like him.

Anyway, take a look at the argument. I’m not sure which is funnier, the fact that the RCP are so piqued at Newman saying what most people already know about them, or the fact that C4 still seem deaf to the fact that they’re offering air time to a group of people who should be guesting on Louis Theroux’ Weird Weekends instead of making “documentaries” that mislead the public about science.

Andy: well done. Channel 4 bosses: sort yourselves out. 

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Don’t Let It Bother You (the joys of Fats)

March 11, 2007 at 6:29 pm (jazz, Jim D)

I am sitting here, drinking whisky and listening to Fats Waller: the nearest thing to perfect contentment I can imagine. Fats was an immensely witty man, a brilliant ‘stride’ pianist, and a vocalist who did amazing things with a very limited voice. To me, he is the musical equivalent of comfort food: I grew up with him , and I love everything about him and his music.

When, as sometimes happens to us all, we begin to question why we bother, why believing in anything in particular makes sense, why devoting the best part of your life to any particular cause is justified…why-indeed- we don’t just give way to total despair…I recommend Waller. Everything he does affirms life and hope. It is both his weakness and his strength that he was a master of every musical idiom of the 1920’s, ’30’s and ’40’s, except the blues – which he could technically play, but clearly wasn’t at home with… the reason was that Fats, though a black man who lived through the racism and segregation of the 1920’s and ’30’s, just never had the blues.

That keen listener and observer, Philip Larkin, wrote: 

“I have a weakness for the entertainers of jazz (as opposed to the more sombre characters who suggest by their demeanor that I am lucky to hear them), and so for Fats Waller. Admittedly his humour could be excruciating and his piano-playing a baroque triviality. All the same,  dozens of his airy, inconsequential records still command, twenty years after his death (Larkin was writing in 1963 – JD), a following that stretches from Collectors’ Corner to Housewives’ Choice…

“These are routine Waller performances, both phrasing and facetiousness trembling on the edge of one big cliche. What saves them is the clean, ringing professionalism of the playing, the energy and good humour, and the moments of irresistable charm, as in the lyric of ‘How Can You Face Me’, that somehow manages to be vibrant jazz as well”. 

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A good day for bad jokes?

March 11, 2007 at 5:35 pm (voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAccording to today’s Sunday Mirror, Michael Meacher (left) is claiming to have the backing of 55 Labour MPs who have said they are willing to nominate him for the upcoming Labour leadership contest. Now, lads and ladies, I know it was funny at first but I think it’s gone beyond a joke. Next thing you’ll have the poor old fella believing the 9/11 attacks were faked.

Meanwhile the other campaigns proceed apace, with Derek Simpson of Amicus endorsing Jon Cruddas. Which rather leads one to ask why he did that, given the “left winger” Cruddas’ support for reducing the organised labour movement’s share of the vote at Labour Party conference? Perhaps the merger with the TGWU has left him confused. Or maybe it’s the same phenomenon as those 55 MPs who said they’d back Meacher, and Simpson will soon be seen on TV going “HAAARHAAAR only joking!”. Well, we can but hope…

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Whackjob Saturday

March 10, 2007 at 10:15 am (voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday’s whackjob is the SWP’s favourite anti-semitic jazz musician, Gilad Atzmon. Okay, so he’s an easy target. To be honest there’s a lot to choose from in Gilad’s back-catalogue of vile bollocks, however I just couldn’t resist in light of recent developments.

Atzmon has recently acquired a new admirer in David Duke, who has lavished approval on Atzmon’s article “From Esther to AIPAC”. In that article, amongst other things Atzmon argues that:

“‘Most interestingly, the Holocaust religion is coherent enough to define the new ‘antichrists’ (the Deniers) and it is powerful enough to persecute them (Holocaust denial laws).”

I’m not linking to Duke’s site for obvious reasons, but you can google it if you really feel the need. Either way, the former KKK Grand Wizard evidently thinks Gilad is marvellous, and advises his readers to go and digest the Atzmon article in its totality. As Duke puts it:

“Atzmon’s incredibly insightful article shows us that extremist Jews seek to use the Holocaust as a narcissistic death and redemption theme that essentially denies an external God (he failed to rescue them) and replaces Him with the Jewish people themselves.”

My, what interesting political praise Atzmon’s attracting these days. That’s of course when he’s not writing articles bashing Anti-Zionist Jewish activists, defending Paul Eisen or claiming that a certain “category” of Jew acts as a “global Zionist body shield”. Well, if he wants to continue flushing what traces of his political credibility remain down the plughole, then let him. All I can say is that the SWP might want to play a quick game of Six Degrees of Separation before they consider platforming Atzmon again. It certainly throws a rather different light on the last round of concerts he did for them… which in case you need reminding were called “Jazz, Racism and Resistance”.

(Hat tip for some material: Harry’s Place)

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Super-union on the way

March 9, 2007 at 11:57 pm (Jim D)

As expected, the respective memberships of the T&G and Amicus have voted overwhelmingly in favour of merging, to form a new ‘super-union’. With two million members, it will be the largest union in Britain (and the second-largest in Ireland). It will also command one-third of the trade union vote at Labour Party conference and half the existing Parliamentary Labour Party will be members. Its annual income will be £150 million.

This can -and must- be the opportunity to reverse twenty five years of decline and defeat for the British trade union movement. The decisive factor will be whether the new union uses its power and resources to reach out and organise new sectors. All too often, in the past, union mergers have been a means of staving off the effects of declining membership, rather than addressing the causes. T&G General Secretary Tony Woodley promised the recalled Biennial Delegate Conference that endorsed the merger at the end of last year:

“…It will be an organising union. We have said all along we don’t want to build a bigger union that is also a shrinking union. The big prize is not the merger, but the millions of workers out there who need trade unionism.

“We are starting to see the gains – organising works: it worked at FlyBe, in building services in London, and at TNT. This is the culture and the priorities which we are determined to entrench in the new union.

“That is why we have -IN RULE- a commitment to spend more than £8 million on organising right from the beginning, rising to £15 million in three years, a historic sum of money”.

Woodley’s words are to be welcomed. But, in reality, the commitment to spend 5 per cent , rising to 10 per cent of the new union’s income on organising, is scarcely adequate: it needs to be double that. And the new union needs an effective, accountable industrial structure controlled by genuine, elected workplace representatives – not the ‘committee jockeys’ who all too often predominate in the T&G at present (Amicus has a different set of problems, centred upon Derek Simpson’s authoritarianism and the virtual collapse of its branch and district committee structures).

Corruption is also an issue that must be addressed. A prominant T&G activist (and a firm and consistent supporter of the merger) said to me recently:

“We have an immediate problem with the thieves, parasites and ballot riggers trying to get their money back, and in the process they are wrecking our union. We have another immediate problem of the FTOs (full time officials -JD) digging in to oppose the “Organising Strategy” and the fact that Tony Woodley is demanding that they do the job we pay them for.

“Both the thieves and the shite officers are running disruptive campaigns, and certain Amicus people are joining in to destabilize the T&G and to ensure the new union continues the worst traditions of both the old organisations. I will support Woodley and the ‘bureaucrats’ against the ‘elected lay leadership’ of Region One when Woodley seeks to remove the ballot-riggers.

“There has not for years been any attempt by the left to win the union’s members to left wing politics, and the last serious attempts to do this were campaigns against the ‘Common Market’ and in favour of import controls – both issues where the ‘left’ was objectively reactionary

“There’s been far too much talk, in both unions, about who’s going to be General Secretary and whether Amicus or the T&G will dominate the new union. What we need are effective, accountable industrial structures and a renewed organising drive”.

For some serious proposals for the structure and organisation of the new union, visit www.theworkersunion.org

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“I am the simulacrum of myself”

March 8, 2007 at 11:40 pm (Jim D)

Jean Baudrillard has died. He was the man who seemed to have said that the (1991) Gulf war, had not, in reality, taken place…

the ‘Guardian’ obituary tries to explain:

“…Braudillard was pointing out that the war was conducted as a media spectacle. Rehearsed as war-game or simulation, it was then enacted for the viewing public as a simulation: as a news event, with its paraphernalia of embedded journalists and missile’s-eye-view video cameras, it was a video game. The real violence was thoroughly overwritten by electronic narrative – by simulation”.

He was asked by an audience member in New York in 2005, “What would you like to be said about you?” He replied: “”What am I,  don’t know. I am a simulcrum of myself”. And, IMHO, if anyone was inclined to take Mr Baudrillard seriously prior to hearing those words, then those words should be enough to ensure that s/he never does so again. 

OK: So it’s not really true that Baudrillard denied the war had taken place: but his prose was so inprecise, pretentious and ambigious, that he could not possibly have complained about misrepresentation. Especially when he suggested (according to the Guardian obit):

” …that the Marxian problem (?-JD) of class struggle had been replaced, in the post-industrial era, with the problem of simulation. He thus anticipated, by a decade or two, later arguments about the nature of ‘virtual reality'”.

So this idiot’s only real claims to fame are:

1/That the creators of The Matrix got him wrong

2/That Foucault got him wrong, and John Game, in turn, got Foulcault wrong

3/That, by his own criteria, we cannot be sure he’s actually dead (or that he was ever really alive):

“I would say that I am …transfini. Beyond the end . It was my fateful strategy to go beyond the concept, so as to see what happens beyond”.

(…Like, nothing…man: JD

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International Women’s Day: solidarity with Houzan

March 8, 2007 at 9:19 pm (Jim D)

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day: a day originally proposed by the great socialist Clara Zetkin but now all too often appropriated by bourgeois feminists, business people and New Labour-type careerists.

I know that my colleague the Priest has already commented on this matter, but on this day of all days it is vital that we show support for the Iraqi socialist and women’s rights activist Houzan Mahmoud, representative abroad of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, whose life has been threatened by Islamic fundamentalists.

On February 26 this year, Houzan received an e-mail signed by Ansar al-Islam, a notoriously brutal jihadist group based in Kurdistan/Iraq.

The message read:

“With the permission of Great God, we will kill you either in Iraq or in London by the middle of March, because you are campiagning against Islam. You should be sent to God for punishment”.

Houzan comes from Iraqi Kurdistan, where she recently led a campaign against the imposition of Sharia law in the proposed constitution. This courageous woman says: “I will continue doing what I am doing now, going round the world cultivating support for women in Iraq and Kurdistan as well as exposing the violence and gender apartheid that Islamists are imposing on millions of women in the region”.

Comrade Houzan needs your support. Show solidarity by contacting her at:


P.S: More good stuff for International Women’s Day at LabourStart, where the tireless Eric Lee has special coverage of women workers’ struggles:


…and from the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), who have sent out an e-mail bulletin celebrating “women seeking asylum in the UK…just some of the women NCADC are in contact with. All are either women with children or on their own. There is not enough space to detail all their wonderfully courageous acts. All of them are suffering incredible hardship but none of them have given up the fight to remain in the UK…and a special mention to the ‘Women behind the Wire’ in Yarl’s Wood, Dungavel, Oakington and Tinsley House Immigration Centres, as well as those held in mainstream prisons”.

To obtain NCADC’s Women’s Day e-mail bulletin, and for more information, contact:


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Haloscan Comments

March 7, 2007 at 7:34 am (voltairespriest)

The most recent Haloscan comments on the past few threads have now been pasted in. Bit of a crude way of doing it but at least you can all see what you were talking about.

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Job, anyone?

March 6, 2007 at 7:46 am (voltairespriest)

Who said the job ads in the Society Graun were all made-up posts for politically correct lefties? The emphasis is mine but nevertheless the following is a genuine advertisement that can be found here:

Racist Incidents Co-ordinators

Location: West Sussex
Salary: £24,700 – £26,900
Date posted: 27 Feb 2007
Closing date: 15 Mar 2007

working together as one

£24,700 – £26,900

We are seeking two enthusiastic and committed individuals to lead the West Sussex Racist Incidents Team into its next exciting phase. You will be responsible for co-ordinating racist incidents across West Sussex which will require prompt and consistent responses to both victims and agencies. You will work in partnership with a range of agencies to ensure services respond more effectively to victims, and influence change where necessary, whilst maintaining good working relationships. With proven experience of working with confidential information you will chair case conferences and work with agencies on problem solving activities. As a confident and self-motivated individual you will have a flexible approach to your workload. With experience of working in this field, you will have the ability to prioritise workloads and work in difficult situations whilst under pressure. Good organisation and communication skills are also essential. The post will involve travel across the County and the successful applicant will be subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check. We are also recruiting for an Administrator within the team, details of this post can be found on our website. Interviews: w/c 26 March 2007.Promoting quality through equalitywest sussex county council

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Shiraz Nouveau!

March 4, 2007 at 9:49 pm (voltairespriest)

Welcome all to the new Shiraz Socialist. I think you’ll agree that it looks far better than our old Blogger incarnation. Unfortunately due to quirks with Haloscan, the comments system has had to be changed, but as you can see all of the posts have migrated so please knock yourselves out – we don’t plan any more changes anytime soon.

And to all of our friends who link to us, please update your links to this new address. I’m in the process of adding you all and I’ll have done it in a few days. 

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