A cruel trick

September 30, 2007 at 9:45 pm (Jim D, trivia, whisky)

I’m presently reading Zachary Leader’s “The Life Of Kingley Amis“, which contains many laugh-out-loud incidents. But I particularly like this one, involving Amis’s two best mates, Robert Conquest and Philip Larkin:

“…in June 1956, Amis recieved an official-looking envelope addressed to ‘Lieut. K. W. Amis, R. Signals, Class “B” Reserve Call-up (Malaya)…two years later…Larkin, a devoted fan of girlie magazines, recieved, as Amis recounts it, ‘a letter on government paper, as from the Vice Squad, Scotland Yard …the heading ‘Regina v. Art Studies Ltd.” Proceedings were being taken in the matter of the above, said the writer, under the Obscene  Publications Act 1921, also Regina v. Abse (1952) and Regina v. Logue (1957). Larkin’s attendance as a witness ‘might be required’. Larkin spent a terrified afternoon at his solicitor’s office before realising the letter was a joke. When the solicitor presented him with a bill for £10, he sent it on to Conquest in a letter of 15 March 1958. The letter begins:

“‘You sodding fool. I hope you get a laugh out of the enclosed, wch arrived (at my request) this morning. It isn’t a cod; i.e. someone’s got to pay it. You can guess whom I have in mind. Why can’t you play your japes on David Wright or Christopher Logue or some bastard who wd benefit from a cold sweat or two? Instead of plaguing yr. old pals’.

“Conquest was uncontrite – Larkin’s solicitor should have seen through the joke right away, the Act and the cases were ficticious – but he paid up and Larkin soon forgave him”.

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September 30, 2007 at 9:49 am (SWP, trivia, voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSorry not to have been blogging at my usual prolific rate folks, but I’ve been in the process of moving from Coventry back to the throbbing metropolitan heart of the West Midlands that is Birmingham. You’d be amazed just how much shite you accumulate over the years; I discarded around eight bin bags full of left wing papers alone. Although I did find one gem… remember that MAB newspaper with the interesting article about what should be done to apostates, the one that SWP members will demand you produce on the spot, and call you a lying racist Islamophobe if you don’t happen to have it in your back pocket? Found one.

Anyways, normal service shall be resumed shortly!

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Jukebox Sunday mornin’

September 30, 2007 at 12:55 am (jazz, Jim D, truth, Uncategorized, whisky, wine)

Just to lighten everybody’s day, here is Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five: a half-way house between swing and rock’n roll. They were very popular on black juke-boxes in the late 1940’s, which just goes to show that popular taste has not improved in the intervening years:

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From the grave, James P. Cannon warns the left

September 30, 2007 at 12:27 am (Jim D, political groups, politics, sectarianism, socialism, trotskyism)

James P. Cannon was a leader of the US Trotskyist movement from its very beginning. He was expelled from the US Communist Party because of his support of Trotsky, but he always hated being in a small group: his background was as a syndicalist trade union militant, and he never forgot it. Cannon had many faults, but he always remained true to the working class and the labour movement. Here he describes the time in the early 1930’s when the US Trotskyists were isolated and had little contact with the working class. A bit like the British left at the moment (so we should harken unto Cannon):

“In those dog days of the movement we were shut off from all contact. We had no friends, no sympathizers, no periphery around our movement. We had no chance whatsoever to participate in the mass movement. Whenever we tried to get into a workers organization we would be expelled as counterrevolutionary Trotskyists. We tried to send delegations to the unemployed meetings. our credentials would be rejected on the ground that we were enemies of the working class. We were utterly isolated, forced in upon ourselves. Our recruitment dropped to almost nothing. The Communist Party and its vast periphery seemed to be hermetically sealed against us.  

“Then, as is always the case with new political movements, we began to recruit from sources none too healthy. If you are ever reduced again to a small handfull, as well the Marxists may be in the mutations of the class struggle; if things go badly once more and you have to begin over again, then I can tell you in advance some of the headaches you are going to have. Every new movement attracts certain elements which might properly be called the lunatic fringe. Freaks always looking for the most extreme expression of radicalism, misfits, windbags, chronic oppositionists who have been thrown out of half a dozen organizations-such people began to come to us in our isolation, shouting, “Hello Comrades.” I was always against admitting such people, but the tide was too strong. I waged a bitter fight in the New York branch of the Communist League against admitting a man to membership on the sole grounds of his appearance and dress.

“They asked ‘What have you against him?’

“I said, ‘He wears a corduroy suit up and down Greenwich Village, with a trick mustache and long hair. There is something wrong with this guy.”

“I wasn’t making a joke, either. I said, people of this type are not going to be suitable for approaching the ordinary American worker. They are going to mark our organisation as something freakish, abnormal, exotic: something that has nothing to do with the normal life of the American worker. I was dead right in general, and in this mentioned case case in particular. Our corduroy-suit lad, after making all kinds of trouble in the organization, eventually became an Oehlerite”.

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Saturday Search of the Week

September 29, 2007 at 4:21 pm (trivia, voltairespriest)

Just so you all know, some enterprising fellow found our site last week via a Google search that says things about his politics and possibly about his emotional state as well:

labour bunch of fascist cunts

George, I’ve told you to stop following me.

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As bad as it gets: “Al Quds day”

September 29, 2007 at 12:11 am (anonymous, anti-semitism, Civil liberties, elections, environment, Galloway, Jim D, political groups, politics, Respect)

There was a time when the left would argue about our degree of support for, or criticism of, regimes like Cuba, Nicaragua, etc…even now, some leftists argue that we should hero-worship Hugo Chavez:  but even these misguided fools surely don’t have any illusions about the clerical fascist regime in Iran. Surely not? Well, maybe they do, given Chavez’s chumminess with Ahmadinejad.. but they (the Chavez cheer-leaders) don’t seem to either understand or care.

According to the present ‘Solidarity‘:

“On 7 October, supporters of the Iranian regime are organising as ‘Al Quds Day’ demonstration in London (assembling 12:30 at Marble Arch).

“This year, the march is backed not only by the Muslim Association of Britain, George Galloway, Yvonne Ridley, Hizb-ut Tahir, etc; but also by Respect and the 1990 Trust (in which Ken Livingstone’s adviser Lee Jasper is prominent).

“Below is an abridged text from the committee which has organised counter-demonstrations against similar events in Berlin:

“‘In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini called for an annual event  on the last friday of the Islamic fast month of Ramadan  to demonstrate for the “liberation” of Jerusalem and the destruction of Israel. Since then, the so-called Al Quds day, a state-organised propaganda demonstration, has been held annually in Tehran, a Hezbollah military parade has been held in in Beirut and demonstrations have been held worldwide…

“We the undersigned have different opinions on the ongoing conflict betweeen Israel and the Palestinians. But we join in rejecting all attacks on the right of Israel to exist and we stand up for a peaceful, two-state solution acceptable to both sides. The Iranian regime is doing everything it can to prevent such a solution. It not only verbally calls for the destruction of Israel but supports and finances suicide attacks against  Israelis and arms Hezbollah with rockets.  the Iranian regime shamelessly instrumentalises the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the backs of the Palestinian people, in order to stabilise its own dictatorship and build an international basis of power.

“We stand with those Iranians who long for democracy and human rights and who want to live in peace with the world community.

“We also oppose all discrimination against people of Muslim belief or immigrant background…”‘

For a taste of how the supporters of clerical fascism are publicising this event, click here.

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Pete Seeger changes his tune – finger removed from ear.

September 28, 2007 at 8:37 pm (Jim D, left, music, stalinism)

I’ve never particularly liked folk music, with its whining three-chord “tunes”, its anachronistic and lachrymose lyrics and the sheer musical incompetence of most of its performers – including the famous ones like Bob Dylan.

Having said that, I have to admit that most of the folkies I’ve met over the years have been thoroughly decent people, often stalwarts of left-wing campaigns, strike-support activity and international solidarity. But for some unexplained reason, these admirable people almost invariably turn out to be Stalinists of one variety or another: what is it about the music or the “scene” that brings this about? Delightful, sandle-wearing,  hirsute do-gooders turn out to be apologists for some of the most monstrous regimes and genocidal crimes in human history!

Pete “If I Had a Hammer” Seeger always struck me as the spritual progenitor of the finger-in-the-ear school of folkie Stalinism (the finger being in the ear to prevent the truth about Uncle Joe’s crimes ever being heard): he was (and is) a very good and brave human being, so far as I can judge. Certainly, he had the courage to defy the House Committee on Un-American Activities, rather than betray his friends and comrades, and spent a year in jail as a result. On a less serious note, I’ve also always harboured a sneaking admiration for his legendary attempt to take an axe to Bob Dylan’s microphone cable at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. But still, this admirable figure remained an unremitting, unreconstructed Stalinist…

…Until now. According to Nicholoas Wapshott in the New Statesman, the 88 year-old Seeger says he has “‘been thinking what Woody (Guthrie – JD) might have written had he been around” to see the end of the Soviet Union. In a letter responding to (a) complaint that he had repeatedly sung about the Nazi Holocaust but failed to acknowledge the millions killed in Stalin’s death camps, he (Seeger) wrote: “I think you’re right – I should have asked to see the gulags when I was in (the) USSR”.

So now Pete has written a new song, ‘The Big Joe Blues’, which goes: “I’m singing about old Joe, cruel Joe./He ruled with an iron hand./He put an end to the dreams/Of so manyin every land./He had a chance to make/A brand new start for the human race./Instead he set it back/Right in the same nasty place./I got the Big Joe Blues./(Keepyour mouth shut or you will die fast.)/I got the Big Joe Blues./(Do this job, no questions asked.)/I got the Big Joe Blues”.

According to Wapshott, Pete now acknowledges that, “if by some freak of history communism (I think he really means Stalinism – JD) had caught up with this country, I would have been one of the first people thrown in jail”. So the finger’s well and truly out of the ear. At long last.

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Israel boycott: an extraordinary admission

September 28, 2007 at 1:03 am (Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, Jim D, left, Racism, SWP, unions)

In an extraordinary admission, the (British) Socialist Workers Party, leading champions of the campaign for a boycott of all things Israeli, have acknowleged that, given a free vote, rank and file union members would reject a boycott.

The SWP’s supple-spined intellektshul-for-hire Alex Callinicos, says:

The left faces two problems here (with regard to a membership ballot in UCU -JD). The first is that the boycott is an issue that divides critics of Israel. Even as sterling an anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist as Noam Chomsky opposes it.

The second is that any ballot would be dominated by a well-funded Zionist campaign that would enjoy the overwhelming support of the mass media….

”…The left should refuse to walk into Hunt’s (Sally Hunt, Gen Sec of the UCU – JD) trap. We should make it clear now that we do not intend to propose an actual boycott of any Israeli academic institutions at the next union congress”.

A few straightforward questions to “Comrade” Callinicos;

1/ If even “as sterling an anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist as Noam Chomsky”  opposes the boycott, how come your organisation and its friends have spent the last decade denouncing opponents of the boycott as “well-funded Zionists”, “pro-imperialists” and various other varieties of foul reactionary?

2/ If you fear losing a membership ballot in UCU, then what has happened to your organisation’s much-vaunted tradition of championing “rank-and-file” democracy within the trade union movement?

3/ If, as you say, comrade, “We should make it clear now that we do not intend to propose an actual boycott of any Israeli academic institutions at the next union congress”, then we who oppose the boycott have a right to ask you: is that self-denying ordinance simply because you’ve calculated that you’ll lose? If so, we presume that your intention is to come back later, once you’ve calculated that you’ll win. So much for the SWP’s and Mr Hickey’s disingenous protestations of ‘we only want a debate’: what they mean is, “we only want a debate that we can win”.

4/ Do you, on mature consideration,  stand by your claim that “…any ballot would be dominated by a well-funded Zionist campaign that would enjoy the overwhelming support of the mass media”? 

 The forces that defeated the previous boycott policy within the old AUT (now part of the UCU), were “Engage” and the Alliance for Workers Liberty: are you suggestiong that either of them are “well-funded Zionist” campiagns, with the “overwhelming support of the media”? You should know that by recycling such utter bollocks, you are recycling anti-semitic stereotypes, and the “socialism of fools”.

Shame on you, Callinicos!

But at least we now have, in writing, your admission that your anti-Israeli “boycott” campaign does not have the support of the likes of Noam Chomsky, nor of most rank and file trade unionists in Britain…and that you fear the result of a rank-and-file ballot…and have had to resort to anti-semitic conspiracy theories in order to defend your position.

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Solidarity with the people of Burma, Friday 28 September!

September 27, 2007 at 6:00 pm (Civil liberties, Free Speech, Human rights, Jim D, liberation, thuggery, unions)

Yes, I know it’s short notice, but readers in London should do their damnest tomorrow, to attend the TUC’s demonstration outside the ‘Embassy of the Union of Myanmar’, 12noon to 1pm. If you can’t make it tomorrow, there should be continuing demos every lunchtime outside the embassy, at the behest of the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma and the Movement for Freedom and Democracy.

There are some signs that the murderous, torturing bastards who rule Burma are quite concerned about what the outside world thinks, so it’s just possible that our actions could make a real difference.

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Bollinger Takes Ahmadinejad to Task

September 27, 2007 at 1:42 pm (anti-semitism, Free Speech, Human rights, insanity, Iran, TWP, United States)

h/t ModernityBlog

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