"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)
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
(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)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Brazil: Half Riot, Half Carnival

Protesting against everything from to fares and football
EXTRACT: Not so long ago, large sections of the left were promoting Brazil as a model to emulate. Here was a country, we were told, which had defied the neoliberal consensus and developed an alternative economic strategy - leading to an economic boom. You see, Keynesianism does work. Just as enthusiastically, the Workers Party of Brazil - along with Communist Refoundation in Italy - was promoted as the model for a ‘broad’ and ‘non-dogmatic’ party of the left. Evidence for this, it was claimed, was the way it hosted and organised the World Social Forum - allowing for ‘consensual’ and ‘non-hierarchical’ decision-making.

Nonsense on sticks, of course. At the WSF, the WP leadership and its allies precisely used the ‘consensual’ but non-democratic and non-accountable mechanisms to bureaucratically manipulate the whole thing from beginning to end - it got all the results it wanted. The same goes naturally for WP’s much lauded ‘non-dogmatism’, which in practice meant the rejection of every working class principle. Hence it has steadily drifted to the right, now committed to running capitalism instead of challenging it. WP has held the presidency for 10 years and is part of the 11-party ‘For Brazil to keep on changing’ coalition, which after the 2010 parliamentary elections gained 352 of the 513 seats in the chamber of deputies, as well as 54 of the 81 seats in the federal senate - granting Rousseff a comfortable majority in both houses. She has used this to attack the working class, not empower it. Communists, on the other hand, argue that you should never form a government or enter a coalition unless you have a realistic chance of implementing the minimum programme - based on working class power and beginning the transition to socialism.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Two Eds
EXTRACT: Indeed, Balls went on to argue, the cuts may need to continue “beyond” the end of the current parliament. In fact Labour could not and would not make “any commitments” before the next election to reverse the coalition government’s austerity policies. Why? Because, apparently, “we don’t know how bad things will be on jobs, growth and the deficit”. Hang on: is that not the kind of argument George Osborne made on becoming chancellor - once he realised just how bad the public finances really were, he had no choice but to inflict greater cuts than originally planned? In other words, if capitalism took another downward dive Balls would wield the knife. The incumbent government’s austerity has produced a double dip recession and expectations of long term stagnation, in the process decimating public revenue and the tax base. Therefore, reasons Balls, Labour should commit itself to … continued austerity. Economics of the madhouse.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Turkey: Battle for Secularism

Many viewpoints
EXTRACT: Yet it is the barracks scheme, far more than the mall, that has infuriated millions of Turks, because it is symbolic of the creeping Islamisation of society by the AKP - even if it is still formally committed to secularism, albeit within the confines of “conservative democracy”. Hardly surprising, however, given that the core of the party was formed from the ‘reformist’ faction of the Virtue Party, banned in 2001, and dissident members of the highly conservative (but legal) Motherland Party. This salami-style Islamisation has manifested itself in various ways. Most visibly, of course, are the huge number of mosques - which are everywhere, thanks to a decade-long building programme, generously backed by Saudi Arabia. Indeed, Turkey now has 82,693 mosques - 3,113 of which are in Istanbul alone.

Almost inevitably, women have been increasingly lectured about the importance of ‘traditional’ values - how they should have more children, dress in a certain way, not flaunt themselves too much, etc. Perhaps most upsetting of all the very many secularist Turks are the increasing restrictions on alcohol - regarded as Sharia law through the back door. One of the latest edicts bans the sale of alcohol within 100 metres of any mosque or school and on June 11 the president, Abdullah Gül - also an AKP member - finally approved a bill declaring that retailers will no longer be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between 10pm and 6am. Therefore a very large number of drinking places will have to close down and nightclub life was severely curtailed.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fraying at the Edges

David Cameron: right, right, right

EXTRACT: However, there is yet another nightmarish scenario to contend with - losing next year’s European elections to Ukip. A not impossible outcome, given the elections are conducted under a form of proportional representation. The latest Com Res/Open Europe opinion poll, for example, has Ukip ahead on 27%, with Labour on 23%, the Tories on 21% and the Lib Dems (not trailing nearly so badly when it comes to projections for the Euro PR elections) on 18%.2

It is fair to say that coming third in such a way would be catastrophic for the Tories. It would undermine the morale of the grassroots activists - already alienated from the party hierarchy - and further diminish any hope of forming an outright Conservative government in 2015. The fact of the matter is that Ukip supporters/activists will be far more motivated to vote on the day and, more importantly still, Ukip will be able to scoop up the ‘anti-politics’ protest vote - its message being far more simple, directly linking immigration with the European Union. While those ‘politically correct’ metropolitan leaders are out of touch, Ukip speaks plain common sense - the Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, etc are taking our jobs and depriving us of our housing. A simple explanation that requires a simple solution - getting out of Europe and asserting our own destiny as a nation again. Totally false and reactionary, of course, but a potentially very powerful message that could bring success for Ukip - something the Tories know only too well.