Writings, photos, politics and rants... *Original content - may not be reproduced without my consent.*

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Thanks for all the fish...

See you soon!

Remove the Lady from Thatcher

Remove "Lady" from Thatcher Petition | GoPetition My contribution to the petition is this: "Thatcher created the"underclass" and swathes of communities without hope. She wrecked industry & production & destroyed a UK with a working class that produced useful things-with pride & with living wages as recompense. In place of an industrious,well provided for population, she gave us bosses who stole from us by taking our rights & paying people low wages. She caused the current world economic crisis by legislating that greed is good. In years to come, people will wonder why we didnt jail her and her cronies."

Monday, 28 November 2011

NanoWriMo 2012 - present chapter...

At present, I am 8000 words off completing the NaNoWriMo challenge... I'm reasonably happy with what i have written, but it needs a lot of editing and restructuring.  This is a chapter I wrote tonight.

Un-posted letter, France 1917


I am well. 

It is strange to think how keen we were to reach the front a few weeks ago.  On arrival in Armentieres (have you ever heard of a place in Britain that is ‘Proud to be poor?’  That is their motto here!), we were in a small bistro.  We drank the local cheap white wine and met up with officers who had come from the front.  they were a good crew, but the alarm bells should have rang when they were saying things like, “You’ll be looking forward to leaving,” and “the sane ones are shot for desertion.”

I live with lice.  How horrified would I have been but a few months back to think I would not care about lice wandering over my body!  but Lice wash off.  There are things I have seen I will never wash away.

One day, I was asked to lead a firing squad.  “What is the charge?”  I asked. 


When I first arrived I would have been horrified at British men leaving their comrades to battle.  But now I am not so horrified.  These men are dying for Britian.  dying for something not quite tangible.  Something they will not benefit from in the way the owners of the armament factories or other war necessities will benefit.  Most of these men are poor men, come to lose their minds.  Or lose their lives for no profit; only the desperate experience of this hell.

This is one duty we are allowed to refuse.  I refused, knowing those who run are the bravest of souls.  the people who are sensitive and human enough to know this is hell on earth and should not be part of living.  Some; other brave men, place a part of their body above the line of the trench to be shot.  Hand wounds, feet and some who are braver, legs are raised for the poor german soldier to shoot.

Now, mother, I know you will find it strange that I have an empathy with the bosche, but these men are as poor as our men.  they are men.  they are scared, just like us and they have been sent to fight in a war they will not profit from.  A war they will be wounded or die in for nothing that will make their material lives any better. 

Father was oh so wrong to make the women of Tullylish grieve.  He was wrong to send these brave sons of Ulster marching to their deaths or to losing their minds.

I met a man who is from Banbridge.  A Silas Gibney.  He was a good man.  He speaks well of my father and the other men of the Bann who have been encouraging the young to come sacrifice themselves.  He speaks of Ferguslie as a man of goodness, a man who implored, through propaganda and Minister, that all fit men in the factory should go to war.  Although Gibney was too old and could refuse, he is here because his son died here.  He is here to avenge the death of his only son, sent here by Ferguslie and my father, who died at the hand of the germans who were sent here by their rich men of the Rhine.  Men who place their hands above the trench line for our brave men to shoot.  It is almost like a game of, “you do this for me, and it will be your turn when you are brave enough.”  He will be happy when more German men are dead, he say’s to me half-heartedly, more and more healf heartedly as days procede because he is perhaps coming to the realisation of just who the enemy of the poor men really are.

Although this war is not how we read about war as boys, we do come face to face with our enemy at times.  Sending shells and rifle bullets into their trenches is not the height of it.  Sometimes their are pushes forward through the mud, blood, shit, bones and vermin.  a whistle blows and this is the cue for both the dancing ragdolls to push into the rain of lead sent on cue the other way.  Heads down against the storm, we push.  If we are lucky we stumble into a crater and wait until a lull and make our way, slowly back, through the mud, on our faces, as low as we can go.   If we are unlucky we meet our German cousins face to face and gaze into their eyes as they writhe and scream at the end of our bayonetts.  My stomach hurts when I remember the first young man I killed.  He looked as if he had just walked from the church turn  to the bridge and had been chatting happily to Scott or Wilson and was on his way for eggs at Dawson’s farm.  He was like any lad from Tullylish, with his life extinguished before it started and he like the boys from tullylish fell into the mud, mouth foaming, gasping for his mother...

The men enjoy only one thing when in the trench, and that is the rum.  I make sure they have two ladles full.  I think this ration is given to them to keep them brave, but I watch as it makes them settle and sometimes snatch sleep, sitting on the muddy wooden walkway.

Sometimes, believe it or believe it not, we have a sing-song with the Germans.  One German used to sing English songs and we would join in.  he knew the words by heart, we thought.  We used to send requests over the line, shouting, “Mademoiselle from Armentières”  or “Memories” went the call, and he knew them all word perfect! 

When I was in the hospital and I read the press reports of the war and when you came to visit me and I couldn’t speak, well, I wanted to say that what you all believed about this war was rubbish.  This wasn’t a game of chase.  this wasn’t colourfully dressed soldiers marching in formation like cockerels, waving flags and tally-hoing.  Father and you have no idea of the strain.  the stress of seeing people torn to pieces by a rain of metal from the sky or from below (the tunnels full of explosive are the other problem).  I don’t think England nor Germany will win this war.  the winners are far away from the war, making money from every boy torn apart or incapacitated.  I needed the break.  i needed the time to recuperate and think.  I needed the time away from the real world of death, blasts and whistles.  You can’t imagine as you sat with me, perhaps looking serene, that all I could see was death and destruction.  all I could see was waste, and the faces of the men who I stabbed in the guts or shot in the face. 

The raiding party that day had been as voluntary as any, I walked along the ranks and said, “you, you and you.”  I had watched nearly fifteen of my men die in that day, sitting on the toilet or casually lighting a cigarette and ping! their eyes would cross as the bullet entered their skullor their face would disintigrate as they spoke.  We used our mirrors to find the sniper’s nest.  We crawled under the wire and slowly, oh so slowly across the darkess of no mans land and then down into the trench, stabbing as we went.  He stood in front of me.  “Kamerad!” He said and he put his hands on his head.  His sniper’s rifle beside him.  No-one was in the trench but us. 

Fifteen men. 


I gritted my teeth and ran for him, his face registering horror, his hands out in front to try to stop my blade cracking his chest.  I missed his heart and he writhed and screamed.  I withdrew the bayonett and stabbed at his open mouth and counted fifteen blows into his crown for every man who had fallen at his hand that day. 

I sat beside him.  I spoke to him.  I told him it was over for him.  I told him he was lucky.  We were the unlucky ones left in this hell.  His pockets revealed his life.  He was from Kiel.  He loved to sail with his young son and wife.  She was very beautiful.  He was an Officer, but he was a teacher of young boys.  A photo of his school was folded in a pocket.  A teacher of boys who shot boys through the skull.  He had letters in his pocket, that smelled of perfumes which were tied up in little pastel coloured ribbons.  His mother and father looked very distinguished.  they would be proud of this boy who was over here to parade up and down on a charger with white plumes in his hat, chasing the Britisher up and down the green fields of France.  Like every mother in the world, thinking their son will be careful and their son is having the experience of a lifetime. 

The gas would clear the rats.  But the birds would fall from the sky.  If we found any struggling for life, we tried to save them.  some would nestle in your pocket until they were ready to leave, singing.  Beauty in the beast.  A break from reality.  One day when we were on R&R in the barn of a french farm about five miles from the front, the King arrived and we ordered the men to cheer.  I didn’t cheer, and few of them did.  Perhaps the King’s cousin in Russia should have visited his men more often.  Some of the Russian men who deserted came to us and asked for directions away from the battle, but wanting to get back to Moscow.  how long after this hell would the Tommy’s put up with a king in a car, parading past them expecting some kind of thanks?  some kind of worship?  I am firmly of the belief what is happening in Russia will happen in Germany and then France and then England.  Tullylish will no longer be an island apart, I feel. the Russian soldiers are doing what our men, I fear, will do and that is what their new political leader, Lenin says, “Convert the imperialist war into civil war.”

I grabbed the detris of his life and stuffed it into my pocket.

I felt oh so guilty sitting in that hospital while men in the real world were scrambling for life.  I had to return to hell.  Back to reality.  For them.  And i did, and here i am. 

I crawled through the shit and mud and rotting men and mules and fell into the trench.  none of the raiding party returned.  The bullets that had shot my arm in shreds were many.  I had got a return to blighty.  I thought if that ever happened I would be happy but the guilt was too much.  But this was not my biggest injury.  My injury in my mind was greater as you must have sensed in the hospital.  I remember you unclenching my fist and taking the sheets of music from me.  We would not hear his voice sing again.  Song had been slashed from his gullet and his smashed jawbone.  I remember you cleaning away my tears as you read the words through yours,

“Round me at twilight come stealing
Shadows of days that are gone
Dreams of the old days revealing
Mem’ries of love’s golden dawn

Memories, memories
Dreams of love so true
O’er the sea of memory
I’m drifting back to you

Childhood days, wild wood days
Among the birds and bees
You left me alone, but still you’re my own
In my beautiful memories

Sunlight may teach me forgetting
Noonlight brings thoughts that are new
Twilight brings sighs and regretting
Moonlight means sweet dreams of you

Memories, memories
Dreams of love so true
O’er the sea of memory
I’m drifting back to you

Childhood days, wild wood days
Among the birds and bees
You left me alone, but still you’re my own
In my beautiful memories”

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

My first book on Kindle...

Download my book to Kindle/ a kindle reader - HERE

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Factory - Chapter 1

I've joined in with the NaNoWriMo this year... I have wanted to do it for a few years, but have never had the time (I started last year and had to stop!)  So, this is my second attempt.  And this is Chapter 1!


I know I'm dying.  I've had a good, long, interesting life, I suppose.  I'll be sad not to see my great grand children all grown up.  I would love to hear their dreams and politics as young men and women.  I hope their struggles bring a fair world closer.

I'll be sad not to see my ex-President arrested and imprisoned for what he did to the young people in Afghanistan and Iraq.  For what he did to the young poor people he sent from here to kill their young poor people.  But then the people who sent my family to war were never arrested, and our victories were few.  We did scare them, though.  Our world of scrambling and scraping to live was allowed to change for a while.  But then their greed brought us to ruin again.  Obama gives us hope.  The hope she gave us way back then.

When I first let America know my views on war and hatred, I thought I was old!  Way back in the 1960's.  I had grown children, and little grandchildren.  And my children were not surprised I couldn’t stay quiet.  When I got up onto those podiums to speak to those crowds, well, I felt kind of dumb to begin with.  But my writing and my letters to the newspapers and my going along to those peacenik rallies to hear those eloquent, angry or serene young men urge peace meant that some of them pushed me up there.  Going on fifth or sixth after those brilliant young black leaders and those women who knew what it was like to be second class citizens was, perhaps a bit of a lull in the proceedings.  I couldn't rant, I couldn’t shout.  I just told them to stand together.  I told them that they would be split from without if they didn’t hold their wit.  I told them about Ally.  I told them about Davie and my da'.  I told them that none of them came back from war to riches and neither would the boys out in the east.  I told them that the rich man’s war only bred more hate and spawned a second war.  I told them that the people who had stoked this war would never go to jail.  The people who profited from it would never be hurt.  And the ties between the two were many.  I told them the people who had driven me from my country to find liberty in the United States were the self same people who profited from war, and they were never brought to justice.  In fact those who died and the families who suffered the pain and the hardship were only too glad to send other generations of young men and women out to die or to be maimed in order for these rich "patriots" to profit, again and again.  And I told them America was smarter than that.  And then I sat down.  And I remembered her, because she brought me to these podiums, even though I hadn’t seen her in many years.  But she did.

I stare out of the huge window at the autumn colours.  I took some of the American accent over the years, but some of my Ulster accent is there.  And the words.  "Fall."  I'm told it was a word that came from the old country and that my use of Autumn is more recent.  But I dont know.  We really called it the turn.  The time when the spuds were dug, the fields full of the withered stick like top of the stuff that would sustain us over the winter.  There was nothing like a mound of spuds after working all day in that factory.  Steaming on the plate; big, oval, steaming balls of flour, my da called them.  As a young man I liked autumn.  Ma would make Black currant or black berry bread pudding and we had shelves of jam from the summer fruits.  Spuds and tea.  And blackberry pudding.  That's what I was brought up on.  My ma would say, "just be glad you weren’t reared in our day.  When we were glad of pinead!"  I knew the hunger that made people live on pinead.  I had friends whose houses served it still, and when da was still alive, well, there were days the whisky bottle or Mollies Bar, or the greyhounds got the spuds and we got the pinead.  Pinead was, in our better off house, a meal of bread soaked in tea.  In the not so fortunate, it was bread soaked in hot water.  A warm meal. 

The carpet of golden and brown leaves in the garden before me brings me back to the autumn day at the Halt.

I remember thinking about Davie on the day I met her again. 

Davie was a wild man.  He'd joined the army, like a lot of men his age in 1914.  Him and uncle Ally and my da'.  Davie was the only one of the three of them to come out the other side.  Ally was killed in action.  That was the day my granny became an old woman, when the singing was wrung out of her.  She never got official letters so as soon as it arrived the thoughts were, "which one?"  Ally was the youngest.  The one who had been at her apron strings only a few years before.  I remember him going, along with my da and Davie and the others from the factory.  The drums and the fifes played at Church Halt and the red white and blue filled everyone’s hearts full of hate for the hun.  The minister praised the boys for their patriotism and for standing up for democracy - a democracy most of them couldnt take part in.  Howarth, the factory owner told the lads to go do their duty.  And the minister and Howarth thanked each other.  Hankies waved and the big men blew kisses to wives and childer'.

Tommy, my da' came home.  So did Davie.  Tommy was full of the drink and he stayed that way until he was found dead in our chair by the hearth in 1920.  My ma' in someway was relieved, but it was only the goodness of the Howarths in the big house that meant we could stay in the cold, damp, house.  They gave her a job cleaning the stairs and their fancy bathrooms and hallways and she paid them the rent from what they gave her.  I learned to hide the axe from Tommy when he hit the bottle, because he was for killing Howarth and the minister for sending them all to war. 

"The aristocracy killed the young men," he would rant.  "We had no business blowing German teenagers to bits.  Our business is spuds and linen and whisky!"  And then he would go for the axe to kill the top-hatted factory owner who had sent them all to fight for God, Ireland, democracy and Protestantism. 

Davie came back, wilder than before, full of plans to go to Canada and make a fortune, but his time was spent in "The Bunch O'Grapes" drinking stout and sitting at "The Welcome" smoking his pipe and, as my ma would say, "fraternising with the catholics like he was one of them," until he got one of them in the family way.  He told her he would marry her, but she found out he was going to leave and she went to Banbridge station on the day, but he left by Portadown.

My granny had letters from "the disgrace" from Dublin, Southhampton and Toronto, but she never opened them.  And Ally became the Virgin Mary I suppose.

As I thought, I heard the train stop at the Halt.  I was to wait here for a guest, Howarth had said, and i was to take it directly to him.  I had no idea the guest was his daughter.  

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Parable of the Water-Tank

Equality by Edward Bellamy
The Parable of the Water Tank

There was a certain very dry land, the people whereof were in sore need of water. And they did nothing but seek after water from morning until night, and many perished because they could not find it.
Howbeit, there were certain men in that land who were more crafty and diligent than the rest, and these had gathered stores of water where others could find none, and these men were called capitalists. And it came to pass that the people of the land came unto the capitalists and prayed them that they would give them of the water they had gathered that they might drink, for their need was sore. But the capitalists answered them and said:
"Go to, ye silly people! Why should we give you of the water we have gathered, for then should we become as ye are, and perish with you. But behold what we will do unto you. Be ye our servants, and ye shall have water."
And the people said, "Only give us to drink, and we will be your servants, we and our children." And it was so.
Wages and Prices
Now, the capitalists were men of understanding, and wise in their generation. They ordered the people who were their servants in bands, with captains and officers, and some they put at the springs to dip, and others did they make to carry the water, and others did they cause to seek for new springs. And all the water was brought together in one place, and there did the capitalists make a great tank for to hold it, and the tank was called the Market, for it was there that the people, even the servants of the capitalists, came to get water. And the capitalists said unto the people:
"For every bucket of water that ye bring to us, that we may pour it into the tank, which is the Market, behold we will give you a penny; but for every bucket that we shall draw forth to give unto you that you may drink of it, ye and your wives and your children, ye shall give to us two pennies, and the difference shall be our profit, seeing that if it were not for this profit we would not do this thing for you, but ye should all perish."
And it was good in the people's eyes for they were dull of understanding, and they diligently brought water unto the tank for many days, and for every bucket which they did bring, the capitalists gave them every man a penny; but for every bucket that the capitalists drew forth from the tank to give again unto the people, behold, the people rendered to the capitalists two pennies.
And after many days the water-tank, which was the Market, overflowed at the top, seeing that for every bucket the people poured in they received only so much as would buy again half-a-bucket. And because of the excess that was left to every bucket, did the tank overflow, for the people were many, but the capitalists were few, and could drink no more than others. Therefore did the tank overflow.
And when the capitalists saw that the water overflowed, they said to the people "See ye not the tank, which is the Market, doth overflow? Sit ye down, therefore, and be patient, for ye shall bring us no more water till the tank be empty."
But when the people no more received the pennies of the capitalists for the water they brought, they could buy no more water from the capitalists, having naught wherewith to buy. And when the capitalist saw that they had no more profit because no man bought water of them, they were troubled. And they sent forth men into the highways, the byways, and the hedges, crying, "If any thirst let him come to the tank and buy water of us, for it doth overflow." For they said among themselves, "Behold, the times are dull; we must advertise."
But the people answered, saying, "How can we buy unless ye hire us, for how else shall we have wherewithal to buy? Hire ye us, therefore, as before, and we will gladly buy water, for we thirst, and ye will have no need to advertise." But the capitalists said to the people: "Shall we hire you to bring water when the tank, which is the Market, doth already overflow? Buy ye, therefore, first water, and when the tank is empty through your buying, we will hire you again."
And so it was because the capitalists hired them no more to bring water that the people could not buy the water they had brought already, and because the people could not buy the water they had brought already, the capitalists no more hired them to bring water.
And the saying went abroad, "It is a crisis."
And the thirst of the people was great, for it was not now as it had been in the days of their fathers, when the land was open before them for everyone to seek water for himself, seeing that the capitalists had taken all the springs, and the wells, and the water-wheels, and the vessels, and the buckets, so that no man might come by water save from the tank, which was the Market. And the people murmured against the capitalists and said: "Behold, the tank runneth over, and we die of thirst. Give us therefore of the water, that we perish not."
But the capitalists answered, "Not so. The water is ours. Ye shall not drink thereof unless ye buy it of us with pennies." And they confirmed it with an oath, saying, after their manner,"Business is business."
But the capitalists were disquieted that the people bought no more water, whereby they had no more profits, and they spake to one another saying, "It seemeth that our profits have stopped our profits, and by reason of the profits we have made we can make no more profits. How is it that our profits are become unprofitable to us, and our gains do make us poor? Let us therefore send for the soothsayers, that they may interpret this thing unto us." And they sent for them.
Now the soothsayers were men learned in dark sayings, who joined themselves to the capitalists by reason of the water of the capitalists, that they might have thereof and live, they and their children. And they spake for the capitalists unto the people, and did their embassies for them, seeing that the capitalists were not a folk quick of understanding, neither ready of speech.
And the capitalists demanded of the soothsayers that they should interpret this thing unto them, wherefore it was that the people bought no more water of them, although the tank was full. And certain of the soothsayers answered and said, "It is by reason of overproduction." And some said, "It is glut." But the signification of the two words is the same. And others said, "Nay, but this thing is by reason of of the spots on the sun." And yet others answered, saying, "It is neither by reason of glut, nor yet of spots on the sun, that the evil hath come to pass, but because of lack of confidence."
And while the soothsayers contended among themselves according to their manner, the men of profit did slumber and sleep, and when they awoke they said to the soothsayers, "It is enough. Ye have spoken comfortably unto us. Now go forth and speak comfortably unto the people, so that they be at rest and leave us also in peace."
But the soothsayers, even the men of the dismal science - for so they were named by some - were loath to go forth to the people lest they should be stoned, for the people loved them not. And they said to the capitalists:
"Masters, it is a mystery of our craft that if men be full and thirst not, but be at rest, then shall they find comfort in our speech, even as ye. Yet if they thirst and be empty, find they no comfort therein, but rather mock at us, for it seemeth that unless a man be full, our wisdom appeareth unto him but emptiness."
But the capitalists said, "Go ye forth. Are ye not our men to do our embassies?"
Starvation because of Abundance
And the soothsayers went forth to the people and expounded to them the mystery of over production, and how it was that they needs must perish of thirst because there was overmuch water, and how there could not be enough because there was too much. And likewise spoke they unto the people concerning the sun-spots, and also wherefore it was that these things had come upon them them by reason of lack of confidence. And it was even as the soothsayers had said, for to the people their wisdom seemed emptiness. And the people reviled them saying, "Go up, ye bald-heads! Will ye mock us? Doth plenty breed famine? Doth nothing come out of much?" And they took up stones to stone them.
And when the capitalists saw that the people still murmured, and would not give ear to the soothsayers, and because also they feared lest they should come upon the tank and take of the water by force, they brought forth to them certain holy men (but they were false priests), who spake unto the people that they should be quiet and trouble not the capitalists because they thirsted. And these holy men, who were false priests, testified to the people that this affliction was sent to them of God for the healing of their souls, and if they should bear it in patience and lust not after the water, neither trouble the capitalists, it would come to pass that after they had given up the ghost they would come to a country where there should be no capitalists, but an abundance of water. Howbeit, there were certain true prophets of God also, and would not prophesy for the capitalists, but rather spake constantly against them.
Now, when the capitalists saw that the people still murmured and would not be still, neither for the words of the soothsayers nor of the false priests, they came forth themselves unto them, and put the ends of their fingers in the water that overflowed in the tank and wet the tips thereof, and they scattered the drops from the tips of their fingers abroad upon the people who thronged the tank, and the name of the drops of water was charity, and they were exceeding bitter.
The Forces
And when the capitalists saw yet again that neither for the words of the soothsayers, nor of the holy men who were false priests, nor yet for the drops that were called charity, would the people be still, but raged the more, and crowded upon the tank as if they would take it by force, then they took council together and sent men privily forth among the people and all who had skill in war, and took them apart and spake craftily with them saying:
"Come, now, why cast ye not your lot in with the capitalists? If ye will be their men and serve them against the people, that they break not in upon the tank, then shall ye have abundance of water, that ye perish not, ye and your children."
And the mighty men and they who were skilled in war hearkened unto this speech, and suffered themselves to be persuaded, for their thirst constrained them, and they went within unto the capitalists, and became their men, and staves and swords were put into their hands, and they became a defense unto the capitalists, and smote the people when they thronged upon the tank.
Luxury and Waste
And after many days the water was low in the tank, for the capitalists did make fountains and fishponds of the water thereof, and did bathe therein, they and their wives and their children, and did waste the water for their pleasure.
And when the capitalists saw that the tank was empty, they said, "The crisis is ended": and they sent forth and hired the people that they should bring water and fill it again. And for the water that the people brought to the tank they received for every bucket a penny, but for the water which the capitalists drew forth from the tank to give again to the people they received two pennies, that they might have their profit. And after a time did the tank again overflow even as before.
The Agitators
And now, when many times the people had filled the tank until it overflowed, and had thirsted till the water therein had been wasted by the capitalists, it came to pass that there arose in the land certain men who were called agitators for that they did stir up the people. And they spake unto the people, saying that they should associate, and then they would have no need to be servants of the capitalists, and should thirst no more for water. And in the eyes of the capitalists were the agitators pestilent fellows, and they would fain have crucified them, but durst not for fear of the people.
Their Message
And the words of the agitators which they spake to the people were on this wise:
"Ye foolish people, how long will ye deceived by a lie, and believe to your hurt that which is not? For behold, all these things which have been said unto you, by the capitalists and the soothsayers are cunningly devised fables. And likewise the holy men, who say that it is the will of God that you should always be poor and miserable and athirst, behold, they do blaspheme God and are liars, whom He will bitterly judge, though He forgive all others. How cometh it that ye may not come by the water in the tank? Is it not because you have no money? And why have ye no money? Is it not because ye receive but one penny for every bucket that ye bring to the tank, which is the Market, but must render two pennies for every bucket ye take out, so that the capitalists may have their profit? See ye not how by this means the tank must overflow, being filled by that ye lack and made to abound out of your emptiness? See ye not also that the harder ye toil and the more diligently ye seek and bring the water, the worse and not the better it shall be for you by reason of the profit, and that forever?"
The Evil Recognized
After this manner spake the agitators for many days unto the people and none heeded them, but it was so that after a time the people hearkened. And they answered and said unto the agitators:
"Ye say truth. It is because of the capitalists and of their profits we may by no means come by the fruits of our labour, so that our labour is in vain, and the more we toil to fill the tank the sooner doth it overflow, and we may receive nothing because there is too much, according to the words of the soothsayers. But behold the capitalists are hard men, and their tender mercies are cruel. Tell us if ye know any way whereby we may deliver ourselves out of our bondage unto them. But if you know of no certain way of deliverance, we beseech you to hold your peace, and let us alone, that we may forget our misery."
And the agitators answered and said "We know a way."
And the people said: "Deceive us not, for this thing hath been from the beginning, and none hath found a way of deliverance till now, though many have sought it carefully with tears. But if ye know a way, speak unto us quickly."
The Remedy
Then the agitators spake unto the people of the way. And they said:
"Behold, what need have ye at all of these capitalists, that you should yield them profits upon your labor? What great things do they wherefore ye render them this tribute? Lo! it is only because they do order you in bands and lead you out and in and set you tasks, and afterwards give you a little of the water yourselves have brought and not they. Now, behold the way out of this bondage! Do ye for yourselves that which is done by the capitalists - namely, the ordering of your labor and the marshaling of your bands, and the dividing of your tasks. So shall ye have no need at all of the capitalists, and no more yield them any profit, but all the fruit of your labor shall ye share as brethren, everyone having the same; and so shall the tank never overflow until every man is full, and would not wag the tongue for more, and afterwards shall ye with the overflow make pleasant fountains and fishponds to delight yourselves withal, even as did the capitalists: but these shall be for the delight of all."
How to Apply It
And the people answered: "How shall we go about to do this thing, for it seemeth good to us?" And the agitators answered:
"Choose ye discreet men to go in and out before you and marshal your bands and order your labor, and these men shall be as capitalists were; but behold they shall not be your masters as the capitalists are, but your brethren and officers who will do your will, and they shall not take any profits, but every man his share like the others, and there may be no more masters and servants among you, but brethren only. And from time to time, as ye see fit, ye shall choose other discreet men in place of the first to order the labour."
And the people hearkened, and said the thing was very good to them. Likewise it seemed not a hard thing. And with one voice they cried out, "So let it be as ye have said, for we will do it!"
"The End of All Things"
And the capitalists heard the noise of shouting, and what the people said, and the soothsayers heard it also, and likewise the false priests and the mighty men of war, who were a defense unto the capitalists; and when they heard they trembled exceedingly, so that their knees smote together, and they said one to another, "It is the end of us!"
Howbeit, there were certain true priests of the living God who would not prophesy for the capitalists, but had compassion on the people; and when they heard the shouting of the people and what they said, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy, and gave thanks to God because of the deliverance.
And the people went and did all the things that were told them of the agitators to do. And it came to pass as the agitators had said, even according to all their words. And there was no more any thirst in that land, neither any that was a-hungered, not naked, nor cold, nor in any manner of want; and every man said unto his fellow, "My brother," and every woman said unto her companion, "My sister," for so were they with one another as brethren and sisters which do dwell together in unity. And the blessing of God rested upon that land for ever.
The End

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Not a review. Reviews are Bourgeois

My Latest Huffpost submission:

One positive thing the current Tory/LibDem coalition is doing here in the UK is boosting protest rock and pop. To look at the charts you wouldn't think it- but unlike back in the eighties when for example, The Clash, Paul Weller and The Specials could make it in to the charts with anti- government songs, nowadays the charts themselves (and what music is deemed fit to be part of them) are controlled by the music corporations through the Entertainment Retailers Association and The British Recorded Music Industry ran "Official Charts Company." Those who control the corporations are unlikely to allow mass dissemination of something that nowadays truly "shouts to the top," especially in an epoch of squeezing the last drop of exploited profit from chanteuses' and boy bands with a shelf life of a couple of years. Most of the protest music is outside the charts...

For this reason we are unlikely to see "Thee Faction's" second album, "Up the Workers" in the UK charts - the other reason being that this group do not see themselves as a group in the sense Echo and the Bunnymen or JLS are groups. Thee Faction see themselves as a guild - a collective who create, market and sell the fruits of their members labours for a fair price. A fair trade, socialist guild. A group unlike some of the groups of my youth who promised much, but have disintegrated or ossified without delivering. Or worse still, have taken the money , thanked the fans and now lie beside their Californian pools, calcifying their arteries with the stolen spoils from disaffected, optimistic youth. I sound bitter, and perhaps I am. Ian McCullough nor Jim Reid have led the revolution and Morrissey has become as establishment as spam and The Big Yin's bum joke.

You see, I was a political indie kid back in the eighties. Unlike the Goths and the desperate, dispirited youth of today, the indie kids of the eighties, us Thatcher hating, angry young people, had hope. We had groups and singers who even if they didn't sing political lyrics, the movements they seemed to be part of seemed to challenge the status quo. Even Spandau Ballet not only had a name influenced by the most infamous political prisoner in history, but they released an album influenced by the Troubles in Ireland.

Thee Faction was a group in those days who along with the more famous Red Wedge collective, spat and shouted at the conservative mayhem meted out on the population of the UK. The Beat sang, "Stand Down Margaret." Elvis Costello, "Shipbuilding" and "Tramp the Dirt Down." Billy Bragg promised us a "Great Leap Forward," Dammers "Specials" warned the world of the Ghost Towns created by the monster that was last ditch capitalism and the Smiths wanted to chop Thatchers head off in "Margaret on the Guillotine." Thee Faction implored people to join a union and railed against the capitalists manufacturing consent through keeping us ignorant. (See HERE for a review of their first album "At Ebbw Vale.")

Alexis Petridis, rock music critic for the Guardian said of the 1980s, "Britain was turning, in a really dramatic way from the liberal, post-war consensus. Thatcher was far right enough that the National Front vote collapsed. [Thatcher] was a very easy figure to demonise." But then Petridis also said, when asked if a similar wave of anti-government sentiment would ever stir the music scene again, "People are pretty much contented with their lives now." To be fair that was a few years back when New Labour was giving the people just enough to keep them from rioting. Now we have a vicious Tory Government who is seemingly unafraid to throw more and more people into the clutches of poverty in order to feed profit.

And we have a re-awakening of interrogatory culture. As Thee Faction say on their sleeve notes, "Bourgeouis "Lyrics" will always lead up a cul-de-sac... [we] strive for a pure aesthetic with meaningful communication and a sense of beauty."

Thee Faction are a lesson - an independent spirit, who cannot be identified with Thatcherism in the way the independent labels back in the eighties could be. They own their means of production. They Rock for enjoyment, and they rock to share an interpretation of the world that we need nowadays - one that also shows an alternative path. Real alternative music that sings, "Capitalism is good for corporations; that's why you've been told socialism is bad all your life."

Guthrie and Seeger, Lennon and Baez, Dylan and Crass changed views through song. Thee Faction do just that through sheer force of polemic, joy de vivre; fun. 366, their opening track, shouts at us that we have to be unafraid to speak out. Be a nonstop agitator, 366 days of the year - shout to power - until we have a competent economic system right here! Deft Left tells those who may have thought we had gone away to look again - we are still here regardless of the onslaught by the capitalist press and media. It opens with the lines, "what happened to the anger, when we were fighting Mrs Thatcher ... we are going to make a new start..." and now is the time to do that.

The Left are coalescing in the fight against the cuts in local "Save Our Community Centre" type organisations, through to the UK wide, Coalition of Resistance and the strengthening unions (lets not forget that Unions are the biggest working class organisations we have, even after the Thatcher/Major/Blair years of attack and anti-union legislation). And Lefties can still coalesce around music.

Music is dangerous - as the frequent banning of records and bands through the eighties and nineties should illustrate. Bands challenging the ideas of the ruling class like Crass or even Frankie Goes to Hollywood were kicked off the middle class Radio One airways. The Sex Pistols could not be seen to be the number one rock group of 1977 as they were challenging the accepted hegemony - that of "we the British People LOVE our Queen!" Frankie was holding one defiant finger up to Mary Whitehouse and the middle class ideas of hidden sex - wrong sex - outlawed sex. Our country is very much a country dominated by the ideas and sensibilities of the class that control all. In fact this can be said of the Neo-Liberal, globalised capitalist world we live in. Conservative ideas rule supreme, and Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and Richard Desmond ensure, to paraphrase Marx, the rest of us who have no way to disseminate ideas to the masses are subject to the ideas of the rich and powerful. Cameron et al are recognising this hegemony is under threat, and already calls for social networks to be closed down during times of civil unrest are becoming the thoughts that are being promoted as the ideas of society. This is a plain lie. Society wants and needs a more democratic media - and it is creating one. Society is bigger than Cameron, Murdoch and the marketplace. Thee Faction have recognised this and sing about our state of being - "you are just a Customer, you consume..." consuming all, we are told is what we need. The illusion of choice. 25 different but the same washing powders sold by the same two companies. More anti-union laws. More anti-young people legislation. More censorship. More Cowellesque pop nasties. They only rule supreme because our legislation protects property first and profit is the new god.

Thee Faction warn the Tories not to make us Angry - we are not going to be fooled any more that we are "all middle class." Fewer and fewer people are fooled as more and more people realise they are paying for the bankers crisis. £700bn of our hard earned taxes bailed them out. They have paid us back only £2bn, yet still ensure they get hold of bonuses that most of us won't accumulate from our main salary/ wage in twenty years of buckling down and accepting the guff that "we are all in this together."

What's the solution? Well, Thee Faction has one. They are not wallowing in the now. They don't sing of the current dystopia and leave it at that. They believe industry should be controlled by the unions - or guilds - worker collectives. They believe we should challenge the current hegemony and they believe we should be coming together in socialist political parties to do that. Their songs are permeated with references to the Socialist theorist, historian, economist and writer of detective novels, GDH Cole, a man whose ideas are worthy of promotion. A man who once said, "I became a Socialist because, as soon as the case for a society of equals, set free from the twin evils of riches and poverty, mastership and subjection, was put to me, I knew that to be the only kind of society that could be consistent with human decency and fellowship and that in no other society could I have the right to be content." A man who so hated capitalism, he would not accept interest on his money from the bank. A man who wanted the capitalist system smashed. A man who said socialists should not give up being levellers. Something the current Labour Party seems to have forgotten (amongst a few other founding principles).

One of my favourite songs on the album is "Only," sung by Kassandra Krossing. "Voting on its own wont set you free. Smashing Starbucks windows wont set you free..." timely lyrics in the time of the coalition Government made up of the Tories and the party people voted for so they could protest against the Torification of the Labour party. A time when people are totally dismayed by the capitulation of the Liberal Democrats to the vicious austerity the Tories are imposing on working class people. A time of continued unrest from student riots through to the police violence sparked/ consumer/customer themed riots a couple of weeks ago. "I want to wake up in a world where no one has too much... voting alone won't set you free, nor will singing this little song along with me..."

Perhaps the kudos of Mike Reid or Mike Smith banning a record won't set us free either.

Thee Faction URGE you to do something - whether it be joining the party or agitating 366 days of the year or dumping your Conservative, UKIP friend. "What you have here is anti-capitalist music... Wage Labour? Their idea. Boom and Bust? Their idea. The waste, the inefficiency, the boring illusion of choice, ALL THEIR IDEA. You want Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Join our party." I agree. "Up the Workers."

This record is a joyous celebration of socialism a definite five red stars from this reviewer... or are reviews bourgeois?

I disagree on one political point on the record only, and that is, feedback is NOT bourgeois.

The Jesus and Mary Chain were banned by the BBC twice, comrades.