Mark Fisher exits ‘Vampire Castle’

November 27, 2013 at 1:38 am (anarchism, class, left, posted by JD, reblogged, sexism, socialism, solidarity)

Is this the same Mark Fis(c)her who was until quite recently, a leading light of the CPGB/Weekly Worker group? A BTL commenter (below) thinks not.  I wouldn’t necessarily agree with everything Fisher  writes here (I think he’s excessively enthusiastic about Russell Brand, for instance), but it’s an interesting piece, well worth serious consideration and discussion. Fisher’s comments on the rise of self-righteous identity politics and the concomitant decline of class politics, certainly ring true:

The article first appeared on the North Star website:


Exiting the Vampire Castle
By Mark Fisher

This summer, I seriously considered withdrawing from any involvement in politics. Exhausted through overwork, incapable of productive activity, I found myself drifting through social networks, feeling my depression and exhaustion increasing.

‘Left-wing’ Twitter can often be a miserable, dispiriting zone. Earlier this year, there were some high-profile twitterstorms, in which particular left-identifying figures were ‘called out’ and condemned. What these figures had said was sometimes objectionable; but nevertheless, the way in which they were personally vilified and hounded left a horrible residue: the stench of bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism. The reason I didn’t speak out on any of these incidents, I’m ashamed to say, was fear. The bullies were in another part of the playground. I didn’t want to attract their attention to me.

The open savagery of these exchanges was accompanied by something more pervasive, and for that reason perhaps more debilitating: an atmosphere of snarky resentment. The most frequent object of this resentment is Owen Jones, and the attacks on Jones – the person most responsible for raising class consciousness in the UK in the last few years – were one of the reasons I was so dejected. If this is what happens to a left-winger who is actually succeeding in taking the struggle to the centre ground of British life, why would anyone want to follow him into the mainstream? Is the only way to avoid this drip-feed of abuse to remain in a position of impotent marginality?

One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live. The People’s Assembly had been greeted with the usual sneers and snarks. This was, we were told, a useless stunt, in which media leftists, including Jones, were aggrandising themselves in yet another display of top-down celebrity culture. What actually happened at the Assembly in Ipswich was very different to this caricature. The first half of the evening – culminating in a rousing speech by Owen Jones – was certainly led by the top-table speakers. But the second half of the meeting saw working class activists from all over Suffolk talking to each other, supporting one another, sharing experiences and strategies. Far from being another example of hierarchical leftism, the People’s Assembly was an example of how the vertical can be combined with the horizontal: media power and charisma could draw people who hadn’t previously been to a political meeting into the room, where they could talk and strategise with seasoned activists. The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog.

Then there was Russell Brand. I’ve long been an admirer of Brand – one of the few big-name comedians on the current scene to come from a working class background. Over the last few years, there has been a gradual but remorseless embourgeoisement of television comedy, with preposterous ultra-posh nincompoop Michael McIntyre and a dreary drizzle of bland graduate chancers dominating the stage.

The day before Brand’s now famous interview with Jeremy Paxman was broadcast on Newsnight, I had seen Brand’s stand-up show the Messiah Complex in Ipswich. The show was defiantly pro-immigrant, pro-communist, anti-homophobic, saturated with working class intelligence and not afraid to show it, and queer in the way that popular culture used to be (i.e. nothing to do with the sour-faced identitarian piety foisted upon us by moralisers on the post-structuralist ‘left’). Malcolm X, Che, politics as a psychedelic dismantling of existing reality: this was communism as something cool, sexy and proletarian, instead of a finger-wagging sermon.

The next night, it was clear that Brand’s appearance had produced a moment of splitting. For some of us, Brand’s forensic take-down of Paxman was intensely moving, miraculous; I couldn’t remember the last time a person from a working class background had been given the space to so consummately destroy a class ‘superior’ using intelligence and reason. This wasn’t Johnny Rotten swearing at Bill Grundy – an act of antagonism which confirmed rather than challenged class stereotypes. Brand had outwitted Paxman – and the use of humour was what separated Brand from the dourness of so much ‘leftism’. Brand makes people feel good about themselves; whereas the moralising left specialises in making people feed bad, and is not happy until their heads are bent in guilt and self-loathing.

The moralising left quickly ensured that the story was not about Brand’s extraordinary breach of the bland conventions of mainstream media ‘debate’, nor about his claim that revolution was going to happen. (This last claim could only be heard by the cloth-eared petit-bourgeois narcissistic ‘left’ as Brand saying that he wanted to lead the revolution – something that they responded to with typical resentment: ‘I don’t need a jumped-up celebrity to lead me‘.) For the moralisers, the dominant story was to be about Brand’s personal conduct – specifically his sexism. In the febrile McCarthyite atmosphere fermented by the moralising left, remarks that could be construed as sexist mean that Brand is a sexist, which also meant that he is a misogynist. Cut and dried, finished, condemned.

It is right that Brand, like any of us, should answer for his behaviour and the language that he uses. But such questioning should take place in an atmosphere of comradeship and solidarity, and probably not in public in the first instance – although when Brand was questioned about sexism by Mehdi Hasan, he displayed exactly the kind of good-humoured humility that was entirely lacking in the stony faces of those who had judged him. “I don’t think I’m sexist, But I remember my grandmother, the loveliest person I‘ve ever known, but she was racist, but I don’t think she knew. I don’t know if I have some cultural hangover, I know that I have a great love of proletariat linguistics, like ‘darling’ and ‘bird’, so if women think I’m sexist they’re in a better position to judge than I am, so I’ll work on that.”

Brand’s intervention was not a bid for leadership; it was an inspiration, a call to arms. And I for one was inspired. Where a few months before, I would have stayed silent as the PoshLeft moralisers subjected Brand to their kangaroo courts and character assassinations – with ‘evidence’ usually gleaned from the right-wing press, always available to lend a hand – this time I was prepared to take them on. The response to Brand quickly became as significant as the Paxman exchange itself. As Laura Oldfield Ford pointed out, this was a clarifying moment. And one of the things that was clarified for me was the way in which, in recent years, so much of the self-styled ‘left’ has suppressed the question of class.

Class consciousness is fragile and fleeting. The petit bourgeoisie which dominates the academy and the culture industry has all kinds of subtle deflections and pre-emptions which prevent the topic even coming up, and then, if it does come up, they make one think it is a terrible impertinence, a breach of etiquette, to raise it. I’ve been speaking now at left-wing, anti-capitalist events for years, but I’ve rarely talked – or been asked to talk – about class in public.

But, once class had re-appeared, it was impossible not to see it everywhere in the response to the Brand affair. Brand was quickly judged and-or questioned by at least three ex-private school people on the left. Others told us that Brand couldn’t really be working class, because he was a millionaire. It’s alarming how many ‘leftists’ seemed to fundamentally agree with the drift behind Paxman’s question: ‘What gives this working class person the authority to speak?’ It’s also alarming, actually distressing, that they seem to think that working class people should remain in poverty, obscurity and impotence lest they lose their ‘authenticity’.

Someone passed me a post written about Brand on Facebook. I don’t know the individual who wrote it, and I wouldn’t wish to name them. What’s important is that the post was symptomatic of a set of snobbish and condescending attitudes that it is apparently alright to exhibit while still classifying oneself as left wing. The whole tone was horrifyingly high-handed, as if they were a schoolteacher marking a child’s work, or a psychiatrist assessing a patient. Brand, apparently, is ‘clearly extremely unstable … one bad relationship or career knockback away from collapsing back into drug addiction or worse.’ Although the person claims that they ‘really quite like [Brand]‘, it perhaps never occurs to them that one of the reasons that Brand might be ‘unstable’ is just this sort of patronising faux-transcendent ‘assessment’ from the ‘left’ bourgeoisie. There’s also a shocking but revealing aside where the individual casually refers to Brand’s ‘patchy education [and] the often wince-inducing vocab slips characteristic of the auto-didact’ – which, this individual generously says, ‘I have no problem with at all’ – how very good of them! This isn’t some colonial bureaucrat writing about his attempts to teach some ‘natives’ the English language in the nineteenth century, or a Victorian schoolmaster at some private institution describing a scholarship boy, it’s a ‘leftist’ writing a few weeks ago.

Where to go from here? It is first of all necessary to identify the features of the discourses and the desires which have led us to this grim and demoralising pass, where class has disappeared, but moralism is everywhere, where solidarity is impossible, but guilt and fear are omnipresent – and not because we are terrorised by the right, but because we have allowed bourgeois modes of subjectivity to contaminate our movement. I think there are two libidinal-discursive configurations which have brought this situation about. They call themselves left wing, but – as the Brand episode has made clear – they are many ways a sign that the left – defined as an agent in a class struggle – has all but disappeared. Read the rest of this entry »

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Russell Brand: poseur, prat…or person of principle?

October 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm (anarchism, BBC, celebrity, Jim D, libertarianism, middle class, New Statesman, revolution, strange situations, television, wild man)

Having watched, pondered and re-watched Paxman’s interview with comedian Russell Brand on last night’s Newsnight, I’m still not sure what to make of it. My initial response was that Brand is a pretentious, incoherent idiot, spouting a lot of pseudo-revolutionary hot air and half-digested anarchistic platitudes. But several people I’ve spoken to today told me they were impressed by him. So I’ve watched it again and have to admit that, after a facetious start, he becomes more sympathetic as he gets angrier. But I still think he’s a prat – and a banal prat at that – and wonder what the hell the New Statesman is playing at, hiring him as a guest editor this week.

Judge for yourself…

…and feel free to let us know what you think.

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Tom Sharpe vs Apartheid

June 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm (africa, anarchism, Anti-Racism, civil rights, comedy, culture, good people, humanism, Jim D, literature)

Tom Sharpe

Tom Sharpe, comic novelist, born March 30 1928, died June 6 2013

Tom “PG Wodehouse on Acid” Sharpe, who died today, was the laugh-out-loud author of farce-cum-satire, probably best known for his ‘Wilt’ books about further education and ‘Porterhouse Blue’ set in an Cambridge College. But he was also a savagely witty critic of apartheid in South Africa, where he lived and was politically active in a low-key sort of way (as a social worker) between 1951 and 1961, when he was deported.

He excoriated white South African racism, arrogance and stupidity in two wonderful books, ‘Riotous Assembly’ (1971) and ‘Indecent Exposure’ (1973). Here’s a little taster for you:

Riotous Assembly (excerpt from Chapter 2)

Miss Hazelstone was telephoning to report that she had just shot her Zulu cook. Konstabel Els was perfectly capable of handling the matter. He had in his time as a police officer shot any number of Zulu cooks. Besides there was a regular procedure for dealing with such reports. Konstabel Els went into the routine.

‘You wish to report the death of a kaffir,’ he began.

‘I have just murdered my Zulu cook,’ snapped Miss Hazelstone.

Els was placatory. ‘That’s what I said. You wish to report the death of a coon.’

‘I wish to do nothing of the sort. I told you I have just murdered Fivepence.’

Els tried again. ‘The loss of a few coins doesn’t count as murder.’

‘Fivepence was my cook.’

‘Killing a cook doesn’t count as murder either.’

‘What does it count as, then?’ Miss Hazelstone’s confidence in her own guilt was beginning to wilt under Konstabel Els’ favourable diagnosis of the situation.

‘Killing a white cook can be murder. It’s unlikely but it can be. Killing a black cook can’t. Not under any circumstances. Killing a black cook comes under self-defence, justifiable homicide or garbage disposal.’ Els permitted himself a giggle. ‘Have you tried the Health Department?’ he inquired.

It was obvious to the Kommandant that Els had lost what little sense of social deference he had ever possessed. He pushed Els aside and took the call himself.

‘Kommandant van Heerden here,’ he said. ‘I understand that there has been a slight accident with your cook.’

Miss Hazelstone was adamant. ‘I have just murdered my Zulu cook.’

Kommandant van Heerden ignored the self-accusation. ‘The body is in the house?’ he inquired.

‘The body is on the lawn,’ said Miss Hazelstone. The Kommandant sighed. It was always the same. Why couldn’t people shoot blacks inside their houses where they were supposed to shoot them?

‘I will be up at Jacaranda House in forty minutes,’ he said, ‘and when I arrive I will find the body in the house.’

‘You won’t,’ Miss Hazelstone insisted, ‘you’ll find it on the back lawn.’

Kommandant van Heerden tried again.

‘When I arrive the body will be in the house.’ He said it very slowly this time.

Miss Hazelstone was not impressed. ‘Are you suggesting that I move the body?’ she asked angrily.

The Kommandant was appalled at the suggestion. ‘Certainly not,’ he said. ‘I have no wish to put you to any inconvenience and besides there might be fingerprints. You can get the servants to move it for you.’

There was a pause while Miss Hazelstone considered the implications of this remark. ‘It sounds to me as though you are suggesting that I should tamper with the evidence of a crime,’ she said slowly and menacingly. ‘It sounds to me as though you are trying to get me to interfere with the course of justice.’

‘Madam,’ interrupted the Kommandant, ‘I am merely trying to help you to obey the law.’ He paused, groping for words. ‘The law says that it is a crime to shoot kaffirs outside your house. But the law also says it is perfectly permissible and proper to shoot them inside your house if they have entered illegally.’

‘Fivepence was my cook and had every legal right to enter the house.’

‘I’m afraid you’re wrong there,’ Kommandant van Heerden went on. ‘Your house is a white area and no kaffir is entitled to enter a white area without permission. By shooting your cook you were refusing him permission to enter your house. I think it is safe to assume that.’

There was a silence at the other end of the line. Miss Hazelstone was evidently convinced.

‘I’ll be up in forty minutes,’ continued van Heerden, adding hopefully, ‘and I trust the body-‘

‘You’ll be up here in five minutes and Fivepence will be on the lawn where I shot him,’ snarled Miss Hazelstone and slammed down the phone.

The Kommandant looked at the receiver and sighed. He put it down wearily and turning to Konstabel Els he ordered his car.

As they drove up the hill to Jacaranda Park, Kommandant van Heerden knew he was faced with a difficult case. He studied the back of Konstabel Els’ head and found some consolation in its shape and colour.

If the worst came to the worst he could always make use of Els’ great gift of incompetence and if in spite of all his efforts to prevent it. Miss Hazelstone insisted on being tried for murder, she would have as the chief prosecution witness against her, befuddled and besotted, Konstabel Els. If nothing else could save her, if she pleaded guilty in open court, if she signed confession after confession, Konstabel Els under cross-examination by no matter how half-witted a defence attorney would convince the most biased jury or the most inflexible judge that she was the innocent victim of police incompetence and unbridled perjury. The State Attorney was known to have referred to Konstabel Els in the witness box as the Instant Alibi.


Telegraph obit here …

and the Graun‘s here

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Pussy Riot are being worked to death in prison

February 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm (anarchism, Civil liberties, Free Speech, Human rights, Russia, women, youth)

Above: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

The prisons in Perm and Mordovia are some of the harshest camps in all Russia, known for severely unhealthy conditions, a complete absence of privacy and a brutal social hierarchy where convicts are subject to abuse and sexual violence by both prison guards.

This summer, Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,  22, began two-year prison sentences there for daring to stand against Vladimir Putin. Now Nadezhda has been hospitalized after toiling in prison yards around the clock — and sources say her life is in danger.

Media attention this summer already caused Putin’s puppets to stop pushing for the maximum penalty and pardon one member of the group. Don’t let Nadezhda become a martyr for dissent: call for Pussy Riot to be transferred to a Moscow facility now!

PETITION TO VLADIMIR PUTIN AND RUSSIAN PENAL AUTHORITIES: There is no reason to deny Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova the right to serve their two-year prison terms in Moscow to be closer to their children. The world is watching: Transfer Maria and Nadezhda now!

Click here to sign — it just takes a second.

Thanks,     — The folks at

P.S. If the other links aren’t working for you, please go here to sign:

H/T: Rosie H

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Support Pussy Riot Gig

September 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm (anarchism, atheism, comedy, Feminism, Free Speech, Human rights, music, Russia, solidarity)

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Charlie Hebdo and their Mohammed cartoons

September 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm (anarchism, democracy, France, Free Speech, Islam, islamism, reblogged, religion, secularism, terror)

Re-blogged (with very minor changes) from Tendance Coatsey

Charlie Hebdo has published some new Mohammed cartoons.

Middle East onLine reports,

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Wednesday anyone offended by cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo could take the matter to the courts.

But he emphasised France’s tradition of free speech. “We are in a country where freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature,” he said on RTL radio.

You can see some of the cartoons (including the most controversial one) on this video-clip here.

The Editor of Charlie Hebdo, Charb, (Stéphane Charbonnier) is a supporter of the Front de Gauche and the French Communist Party (PCF).

Charlie itself is one of the last living representatives of ’68′ gauchisme.

There are many, including not a few on the French left, who will accuse it of ‘provocation’.

This is like complaining that chilis are hot.

A minority on the French left, like the Les Indigènes de la République,* self-appointed enforcers against Islamophobia, will be up in arms about the cartoons.

Indigènes de la République excelled themselves this weekend by physically threatening gay secularist Caroline Fourest at the La fête de l’Huma and preventing her from speaking (you can see a video of their violence here).

Emboldened by their menaces against a lesbian feminist, and, according to those who were at the fête, a North African woman steward, they will no doubt rage against Charlie.

As will many, many, others.

This is Charb’s response,

More extensive interview with Charb in Libèration (in French), «Pas plus de provocation avec l’islam qu’avec d’autres sujets».

The leader of the French Communist Party (PCF), Pierre Laurent, is cited in the same paper,

Charlie Hebdo fait partie d’une certaine tradition. A ce que je sache, le délit de blasphème n’existe pas dans notre pays. Après, il y a des gens qui aiment et des gens qui n’aiment pas Charlie Hebdo.

Il n’y a en France qu’une dizaine de salafistes. Il ne faut pas exagérer la situation et ne pas faire de la publication de ces caricatures un drame qui n’en est pas un”

Charlie Hebdo comes from a specific tradition. As far as I know blasphemy is not a crime in our country. There are, following that, those who like and those who dislike Charlie Hebdo.

In France there are only a dozen Salafists. We should not exaggerate the situation, and not create a drama out of these caricatures when none exists.


Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Parti de gauche) has just said on his Facebook page,

La caricature est un droit dans ce pays, et la protestation tout autant : le tout dans le respect de la loi.

Indigènes de la République‘s  particular interpretation of “anti-Zionism” (sic) has led them to support Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Wikipedia.

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Remembering Cliff ‘Ukelele Ike’ Edwards

August 24, 2012 at 3:56 am (anarchism, jazz, music, song, United States, whisky, wild man)

By Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham

I first heard ‘Ukelele Ike’ when I was 8!

I was ukelele mad and my father searched far and wide for any ‘uke’ records to satisfy my addiction. Little did I know that an ‘Ike’ record would set me on a career in vintage jazz.

‘Ukelele Ike’ (or to give him his real name, Cliff Edwards), has been almost totally forgotten in the history of jazz, cabaret, film singing, etc. But he did it all! Space doesn’t permit me to list his achievements, but the only well-known and commercial aspect of his career was that he was the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the Walt Disney cartoon version of Pinnochio. This brought him great success and money, but, as always with Cliff, it never quite worked out.

Edwards had made lots of money over the years (a reputed four thousand dollars a week in 1925!!), but he seemingly got divorced more times than he got married.

He didn’t really understand the tax laws and was partial to a drink or two. It’s easy to see him as a tragic character, but I don’t think he was — he loved life and lived it to the full.

While on tour of in the USA years ago I met a chap who’d been a pal of Edwards’; I of course asked the question, “What was he like?” The old gent replied, “Every day with Cliff was like New Years’s Eve!”

This Upbeat CD of Edwards is a gem. The balance of the content is superb — early vaudeville hits, hot jazz recordings, sentimental ballads, Howaiian exotica, British recordings, and a few naughty ‘party’ recordings. Using original records, the sound quality is warm and clear. Some radio transcriptions give us a chance to hear the man in a different setting. I have never previously heard the title track, I Did It With My Little Ukelele, so hats off for finding this beauty.

Mike Pointon’s research for this album is incredible; the sleeve notes alone are worth buying, but this is the studious, caring approach that we have all come to expect from the Pointon pen.

I know I’m biased as I’ve spent the last 30 years championing Edwards, but I can wholly recommend this release. It’s all here, and I defy anyone not to find all of it charming. In fact, when I listen to Edwards sing Just like A Melody From Out Of The Sky, it’s not just charming, it’s class that we just don’t hear these days.

Three cheers for Cliff!

This is a slightly edited version of Spats’ review of the Upbeat CD I Did It With My Little Ukelele  that appeared in Just Jazz magazine, February 2012.

It is my intention to have an arts, TV, cinema or music article every Friday: if you’d like to contribute, please let me know, via the comments box, or to -Jim D.

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Assange: bleating fantasist, groveller, hypocrite and charlatan

August 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm (anarchism, anti-semitism, apologists and collaborators, Asshole, conspiracy theories, Free Speech, Jim D, libertarianism, London, media, populism, United States)

“But, now that we are all at last preparing to act, a new form of social organisation is essential. In order to avoid further uncertainty, I propose my own system of world-organisation. Here it is.” He tapped the notebook. “I wanted to expound my views to the meeting in the most concise form possible, but I see that I should need to add a great many verbal explanations, and so the whole exposition would occupy at least ten evenings, one for each of my chapters.” (There was the sound of laughter.) “I must add, besides, that my system is not yet complete.” (Laughter again.) “I am perplexed by my own data and my conclusion is a direct contradiction of the original idea with which I start. Starting from unlimited freedom, I arrive at unlimited despotism. I will add, however, that there can be no solution of the social problem but mine”  – Shigalev, a character in Dostoyevsky’s The Possessed.

Anyone foolish enough (in the light of his pompous bleatings today) to take the self-important charlatan Assange at his own, inflated, estimation, should ponder the man’s willingness to grovel before autocrats and denounce their opponents to them, his evident belief that he should be above any law, his support for, and employment of, a notorious anti-semite and neo-Nazi, his crude sexism (whether or not he’s actually a rapist)…but most of all, this (from the Daily Tech):

David Leigh of England’s Guardian newspaper has leveled a shocking accusation against Mr. Assange in the special.

He recalls a meeting he was invited to about the publication of the war memos. He remembers pleading with Assange to redact the names of tribal elders and U.S. informants who were exposed cooperating with the U.S. and could be the subject of deadly retribution. He comments, “Julian was very reluctant to delete those names, to redact them. And we said: ‘Julian, we’ve got to do something about these redactions. We really have got to.'”

“And he said: ‘These people were collaborators, informants. They deserve to die.’ And a silence fell around the table.”

Mr. Assange seemingly denied the allegation calling it “absolutely false… completely false.”

But he qualifies, “We don’t want innocent people with a decent chance of being hurt to be hurt.”

The possibility is left open that Mr. Assange views U.S. allies (such as cooperating tribal leaders) as culpable accomplices, and is obfuscating the fact that he indeed wishes them ill.

It is unknown whether the publications have caused any deaths, but Newsweek reported last year that the Taliban, a violent Jihadist fundamentalist insurgency in Afghanistan, were using the war memos as a rally cry. Allegedly they brutally murdered a tribal elder, whom they claimed the leaked documents exposed, and promised more executions.

PS: just a few things the reptillian attention-seeker had to say in the course of his bleating from the balcony today, are true – that Bradley Manning, Pussy Riot and the jailed Bahraini dissident Nabeel Rajab must be supported. They’re genuine heroes and victims. But as Bob points out, Assange’s attempt to identify himself with these honourable dissidents, may be yet another example of the man’s overweening cynicism.

PPS: it goes without saying that the UK government’s ludicrous and empty semi-threat to withdraw diplomatic immunity from the Ecuadorian embassy has only aided Assange’s claim to be some kind of “victim,” and provided grist to the mill of the the populist demagogue Correa’s “anti-imperialist” posturing.

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Lol Coxhill: top geezer

July 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm (anarchism, Champagne Charlie, good people, jazz, music)

 George W. Lowen Coxhill (19 September 1932 – 10 July 2012), generally known as Lol Coxhill, was an English free improvising saxophonist and raconteur. He played the soprano or sopranino saxophone
Lol and Veryan Weston   Lol and Lu Edmonds, 2002 - photo by Maddie

Lol Coxhill and Lu Edmunds met whilst both playing with The Damned.
Shriekback interview with Lu:
Is there any kind of music you have yet to make or anybody (live or dead) you really want to work with?
How long is a piece of string? I want to play lots. Top of the list is with ex-Damned saxophonist Lol Coxhill. Making music with dead people sounds kinda cool though. Do you need an MP3 ouija board or something?

Lol Coxhill [has] total openness to explore radically new directions as and when they present themselves… Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic Magazine
Soprano, sopranino and other saxophones, voice, composition, minimal electronics

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the death of Lol Coxhill, who died on 10th July in London. There have been many wonderful tributes and obituaries for him, including this one from The Guardian. His funeral is taking place on TUESDAY 24TH JULY at 1.15 – everyone welcome:

South Chapel, City of London Cemetary and Crematorium, Aldersbrook Road, London E12 and afterwards (2.30 – 7.00) on HMS President, Victoria Embankment EC4 YOHJ – near Blackfriar’s station.


Lol with sopraninoPhoto: Bid Jones

“There are very few versatile artists that hold the importance Lol Coxhill has in European improvised music. His highly personal style on soprano and tenor saxophone (fluent, lyrical yet capable of shrieking outbursts), his ability to perform with everyone and in every style, from jazz standards to the weirdest electro-acoustic improv, backed by his enduring sense of humor, all draw the figure of a maverick musician.” – François Couture, All Music Guide

“Soprano sax maverick Coxhill is a musician who’s touched on nearly every area of music over the past half century. In the ’60s he jacked in his day job to accompany soul singers like Rufus Thomas. He’d sit in with bluesmen like Alexis Korner and Champion Jack Dupree. He was signed to John Peel’s label Dandelion and played bebop with the likes of Bobby Wellins and Stan Tracey, prog rock with Steve Miller and Kevin Ayers, and dabbled in ska and rocksteady with Rico Rodriquez and Jazz Jamaica. In 1977 he even toured with the Damned.

In the last decade I’ve seen him play with assorted avant jazzers, drone rockers and electronic mavericks. I’ve seen him busking near the Thames, and seen his old LPs selling for $100 in New York record shops. And I’ve also heard him playing beautiful, straight versions of standards….

A true national treasure and a top geezer.’ – John Lewis, Time Out

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Tottenham riots: Dave gets it right

August 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm (anarchism, Jim D, the cops, youth)

Dave says:

THE last time Tottenham burned, the local Labour Party was quick to takes sides. ‘The police were to blame for what happened,’ announced council leader and later MP Bernie Grant. ‘And what they got was a bloody good hiding’.

By contrast, current Westminster representative David Lammy has been quick to distance himself not only from last night’s disturbances, but from the events of 1985 as well. The comparison between the two stances illustrates just how far Labour has travelled over the last 26 years.

Over the next few days, condemnation will be heard from across the mainstream political spectrum. So it is worth asking such basic questions as ‘why did this happen?’

For the stupid right, it was an outbreak of thuggery, plain and simple. For Telegraph blogger Nile Gardiner – a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst, no less – the underlying problem is that the Coalition has ‘not gone far enough in reining in the deficit, and has not been forceful enough on issues like crime’.

Let me run that past you again. The proximate cause of the unrest was the action of the Metropolitan Police in shooting a man dead. Just how ‘forceful’ does Gardiner want the cops to be?

At the other extreme, past experience shows that sections of the far left regard riots as good things in and of themselves. ‘FANTASTIC TOTTENHAM – BRUTAL MURDERING MET COPS GET WHAT WAS COMING TO THEM’, proclaims obviously breathless Ian Bone.

‘Have not seen a riot like this with so much hatred, property damage and lasting into daylight since Toxteth 1981 … At last the working class have re-entered the arena. BIGTIME. THE REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IN TORY BRITAIN HAS BEGUN!’

You just can’t beat a bit of good old fashioned property damage, can you? The insurance industry will of course reimburse the chain retailers for the looted plasma televisions. Let’s hope the burnt out small shopkeepers were similarly well covered. But the impact of the riot on an already depressed local economy is hardly going to be positive.

I am not a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst, or one of Britain’s best-known anarchists, come to that. My home in N16 is about two miles down the road from N17, in a broadly similar area, and I have lived in inner city north London for most of my life.

I can see the poverty and the dereliction from the window of the room in which I am typing this. I can see the racist policing, the homeless alkies, the untreated schizophrenics, the wheelchair-bound beggars, the street violence and the gang culture on an average trip to the shopping centre.

All of this goes on just a short bus ride away from the fabulous wealth of the City, which is where I work, and where million pound bonuses continue to be dished out with the same regularity as P45s are handed to low-paid shopworkers. I’m all in favour of beginning the redistribution of wealth in Tory Britain, but I’d rather start it with the hedge fund boys than the local Asian convenience store.

The argument will go that the way to change this state of affairs is through the democratic process rather than the petrol bomb. But such is the degree of disconnect between all the major parties and the street that the chances of positive engagement are next to zero. There is instead the recourse of riot.

The depressing thing is that nothing has changed since the violence in Brixton, Toxteth, Handsworth and, of course, Tottenham, that scarred the Thatcher years. New Labour had 13 years in which to address the multiple problems of areas that consistently return Labour MPs. Despite some useful initiatives, its essential commitment  to neoliberalism meant that it was unable to do so effectively.

Now we are back with a Tory-led Coalition determined to enact policies that will make matters worse. As a result, the Met last night got yet another bloody good hiding. Isn’t that enough to bring about a serious rethink? Maybe we should phrase it more diplomatically than Bernie did, but the least Labour could do is to make the case.

NB: Dave lives in neighbouring  N16

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