"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"
(Leonard Cohen)
"Ignore all proffered rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say"
(Michael Moorcock)
"Look for your own. Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings."
(Andre Gide)
"I want my place, my own place, my true place in the world, my proper sphere, my thing which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my life-time."
(Nathaniel Hawthorne)
"Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached."
(Franz Kafka)
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated"
(John Donne)
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
(Robert J. Hanlon)
"Life is beautiful, but the world is hell"
(Harold Pinter)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chancellor's book of doom

George Osborne: endless age of austerity
EXTRACTLooking at the autumn statement in the light of the OBR report, BBC commentator Norman Smith described it as an “utterly terrifying” book of doom - a “hulking great mountain of pain” that will take Britain “back to the land of Road to Wigan Pier” (a reference, of course, to George Orwell’s 1937 depiction of the extreme economic hardship endured by the working class in Lancashire and Yorkshire). Osborne immediately hit back, accusing the BBC and other critics of being “totally hyperbolic”. Unfortunately for the chancellor, however, the Institute for Fiscal Studies added weight to Smith’s fears - pointing out that only £35 billion of cuts had already happened, meaning there was at least £55 billion yet to come. In which case, seeing that education, health and international aid is ring-fenced, many government departments could suffer budget reductions amounting to more than 40% - “colossal” cuts that could force a “fundamental re-imagining” of the state, to use the words of the IFS.
Whether cuts of such a magnitude are sustainable, politically or economically, is a different question. But if you are a teacher, nurse, local government worker or civil servant, the chances are that your living standards will keep going down. Osborne, after all, plans to slice billions off the tax credits bill paid as a top-up to five million families on low incomes - which could reduce the income of a working-poor family with one child by £350 a year, while a lone parent with two children could see a £500 drop (the precise picture is complicated by the phasing out of tax credits and their replacement by universal credit).

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Anti-Migrant Snake Oil

People should be free to come and go
EXTRACTIn fact, nothing the SWP says about Ukip or immigration makes any logical sense. We also read in the aforementioned articles about the urgency of resisting racism “from Ukip and the mainstream parties”. In which case, why set up an organisation (ie, Stand Up To Ukip) that implies we should vote for anybody except Ukip? On the other hand, we find out that the SWP has “always argued that it’s impossible to have immigration controls that aren’t racist - we have to oppose all of them”. Very praiseworthy. Hang on though. The comrades support the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which is only opposed to “racist” immigration controls: ie, presumably Tusc (like No2EU) is in favour of non-racist immigration controls, which are “impossible”. We look forward to the next SWP central committee missive on this issue.
However, what is qualitatively different about Ukip concerns what you actually do about migration. If you genuinely think migration is a problem, for whatever reason, then there is only one logical solution - you have to pull out of the EU. No ifs, no buts. As Cameron ruefully noted, the fact of the matter is that there are treaty obligations concerning the free movement of labour that will not magically go away - Berlin, for one, will make sure of that. Therefore Ukip is quite right when it says if Cameron was sincere in his previous pledge to get migration down to the “tens of thousands” by 2015, then obviously you have to do precisely what Ukip calls for - come out of Europe, erect border controls and take the consequences, which will be considerable. But, as we all know, Cameron’s pledge was a foolish and idiotic bit of posturing - he never had a hope in hell of getting migration down to such levels, and everyone knew it (including him).

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Fragmentation Shrinks the Mainstream

Branding Ukip 'racist' is obviously misplaced
EXTRACTWe go on to read that, unless there is a “serious campaign” against Ukip, a “racist populist party” is going to establish itself as a “serious player” in parliament that could even form part of a coalition government - the Tories and Labour “prepared the ground” for Ukip’s rise by targeting immigrants, Labour leaders “seem to believe that the way to defeat Ukip is to match their vileness” and the Tories want to “end the right of free movement of workers” inside the European Union in order to “clear the way for yet harsher anti-immigration laws”. Such moves, thinks the SWP, “only gives credence to Ukip’s racism”. For all these reasons, naturally, the SWP will continue to “back initiatives” by Stand Up To Ukip - like leafleting that “exposes” Ukip’s “anti-working class agenda” and “its racism”.
Same old SWP nonsense. We in the CPGB reject the notion that Ukip’s aim of severely restricting European migration to the UK through some sort of points-based system means that it is racist. Reactionary - yes, but racist? In any case, how is this essentially any different from the schemes cooked up by the Tories or Labour? Rachel Reeves, the shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, wants to limit legal EU migrants access to tax credits and prevent them claiming out-of-work benefits for two years. What about Cameron’s drafted and redrafted speech on immigration, which will obviously be yet another attempt to match Ukip? Yet the implication of the SWP’s Sutu campaign is that we should vote for almost anybody except Ukip - which presumably must include the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour, whose anti-migrant consensus must also be ‘racist’. Where is the joined-up thinking from the comrades?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bourgeois swine

Immigration Controls Kill

Banksy on immigration: no human should be illegal
EXTRACT; As Cooper and Reeves remind us, immigration is a toxic issue for the working class movement - meaning that support for any form of immigration controls (firm, fair or otherwise) is to succumb to British nationalism and divide the global working class into competing national units. Communists therefore call for the abolition of immigration controls and utterly reject the ‘socialist’ justification that restrictions are needed because mass migration is used to drive wages down, and hence we must retreat into our national shells to defend the rights and conditions of the ‘indigenous’ workforce. If you are an internationalist, as opposed to a left nationalist, the answer is to incorporate migrants into the trade union and labour movement and in turn learn from them about their struggles and experiences.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Coup That Never Was

Seems legit
EXTRACTHere we come to the heart of the matter. The rightwing press is terrified that ‘Red’ Ed will somehow win the next general election - which is a bit strange if you think, like some on the left do, that the Labour Party is a bourgeois party just like the Tories and the Lib Dems. But, of course, it is not - though currently the left within it is in a truly wretched state. The Mail and all the rest of them demonstrate that the rightwing media will go to almost any lengths to discredit and demonise any Labour leader who is perceived to be deviating even in the slightest degree from the neoliberal and ‘common sense’ consensus.
Meaning, needless to say, that the recent attacks on Miliband are part of a long tradition - a standard feature of British political history. Michael Foot was ceaselessly derided for his supposedly loony left views and for ‘inappropriately’ wearing a donkey jacket to the Cenotaph. Neil Kinnock was mercilessly mocked and abused as the “Welsh windbag”, culminating in the legendary Sun front page in which his head was superimposed on a light bulb: “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”. Lest we forget, Gordon Brown was lampooned as a ditherer who could not even sign his own name. The only Labour leader not to be vilified in this manner was Tony Blair - telling you all you need to know about Blair: the press recognised him as someone they could do a lot of business with.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

End the War On Drugs

Adriaen Brouwer's The Smokers , circa 1636
EXTRACTBut one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that if there has been a fall in use or addiction levels amongst some sections of the population it has nothing to do with the government’s policy of prohibition - it happened despite the drugs laws. Yet there is a much broader point to be made, at least for communists. Human beings have always taken drugs for stimulation or relaxation, whether for positive or negative reasons - whether to feel happy or dull the pain. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Therefore from the larger historical perspective, drug-taking of various sorts is not some abnormal or deviant activity - quite the opposite. To one degree or another, psychoactive substances have always held an appeal. There is absolutely no reason to believe that human nature will fundamentally change in the foreseeable future, including the communist future.
In which case, the only logical conclusion is to call for the legalisation of all drugs - not just marijuana. Not because we naively believe that legalisation is some sort of universal panacea that will immediately create a perfect society of happy, well-adjusted, non-alienated individuals. Communists fully recognise the potential danger of drugs, including those that are presently legal. After all, why do some people drink so much booze that it threatens their health? It has something to do with the grossly unequal and profoundly alienated society we live in, a set-up that generates misery and escapism. Hence our call for legalisation is principally motivated by the desire not to make a bad situation worse, not starry-eyed hippy idealism. For us it is unacceptable, rationally and morally, that swathes of the population are criminalised by the current prohibitive laws. All serious evidence and research, strongly hinted at in the home office report, shows us that the legalisation of drugs would be far less harmful than the present regime.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Adding Insult to Injury

Lady Fiona: hardly an outsider
EXTRACTLady Woolf protests, perhaps a bit too much, that she is not a member of the establishment. No, Fiona, of course you are not - merely a commercial lawyer, member of the Competition Commission, alderman for the ward of Candlewick, the lord mayor of the City of London, non-executive director of Affinity Water Ltd, senior adviser to London Economics International, honorary bencher of Middle Temple, and also a former sheriff of London and president of the Law Society (not to mention a member of the Parochial Church Council of St Clement Eastcheap). Still, maybe in the circles she moves in, that is considered slumming it.
However, the real problem was caused by the fact that she has social connections with Lord Brittan and his wife, having gone to dinner parties with them on five occasions. For those with a taste for dark humour, we discover that the home office had to inform Woolf of the exact dates and times of these parties - meaning that the secret state were keeping a close watch on someone you really would have to strain your imagination to picture as the enemy within.