"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)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

No Alternative to Stagnation

It will take at least another decade to get it back

EXTRACT: Now it is a different story, of course. Osborne wants to have his cake and eat it. Far from being a sign of economic failure, an indication that there might be a flaw in the plan, Osborne is making out that losing the triple-A status - previously the unimaginable - only proves that the government must stick to its guns. Not in denial, but rather a man who just enjoys a drink now and again, Osborne said Moody’s decision was a “stark reminder” of the debt problems facing the country and that, “far from weakening” his resolve, it actually “redoubles” his determination to follow the same plan. There is no alternative to austerity and stagnation. Quite the opposite. What is required is more cuts and sooner cuts. Time for plan A+. As Simon Jenkins put it in The Guardian, Osborne - just like his European counterparts he so disparages - is akin to an Aztec priest at an altar: “If the blood sacrifice fails to deliver rain, there must be more blood” (February 27).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Vatican Elections: Keeping up with Modern World

Too bad there'll be another one
EXTRACT: When John Paul II died in 2005 to near universal mourning, the brainless Bono rhapsodised about him being the “first funky pope”. Well, he was not and neither was Ratzinger - the former head of the congregation of the doctrine of the faith: ie, boss of the inquisition.

Rather, Ratzinger represented a continuation of John Paul II and his noxious legacy - the Joseph and Karol double act. John Paul II doggedly pursued a reactionary, counterrevolutionary, pro-American and pro-imperialist agenda. Prior to his reign, particularly with Vatican II (1962-65), sections of the church hierarchy had decided that peaceful coexistence with the ‘socialist world’ was the only option - after all, the Soviet Union was clearly here to stay. No need to rock the boat. But, hailing from ‘socialist Poland’, John Paul II knew better than most that bureaucratic socialism was doomed. Hence he played his part in the downfall of ‘official communism’ - channelling CIA money into Solidarność, going on the ideological offensive, and so on. In that way, he was god’s cold-war warrior, and played his hand well.

Friday, February 15, 2013

SWP and the Internet: Let a Thousand Blogs Bloom!

EXTRACT: Plain fact of the matter, at least for Marxists, is that no means of communication - or technology - in and of itself can be backward or reactionary. An utterly irrational notion that leads to madness. Remember the Unabomber? How any technology is used, or abused - whether it liberates or oppresses - is determined by the level of class struggle in a given, historically concrete, society. Gas ovens can be used to cook nice food or burn the bodies of those you have murdered. The internet can be used to Tweet inane slanders about your drinking partner last night or to expose the dirty secrets of the ruling class or the government.

One thing communists cannot deny though is that the SWP leadership is absolutely right to be deeply nervous about the ‘threat’ the internet poses to its police regime. Spot on, comrades. Without resorting to cyber-utopianism or libertarianism, as some do, here is a medium/technology which undermines the CC’s hold on power - a universal acid dissolving its grip over the membership, no longer cowed. It is the bureaucrat’s worst nightmare come true. As blogger ‘Soviet Goon Boy’ puts it, “ideally” the CC would like to retain a “monopoly of information in the party”; however, this is just not “humanly possible” any more - “Charlie Kimber may not recognise the internet, but the internet recognises him”. You can purge and expel, SWP CC, but you can’t hide.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cameron: From Hero to Renegade

EXTRACT: Such objections to gay marriage are based on nothing more than good, old-fashioned homophobia - whether sanctified by god or not. Whilst David Cameron may be a new man who likes gays and the environment, the Tory Party he just happens to lead is still the “nasty party” that Theresa May described and warned about in 2002 - still “unrepentant, just plain unattractive”. And the gay marriage vote gruesomely showed that not much has changed over the last 10 years. No wonder Tory modernisers and reformers were horrified by the speeches given by anti-gay marriage MPs - one unnamed minister telling The Guardian that “with the help of four or five speeches we have been taken back more than 50 years to the horrors of the 1950s” (February 6).

Curiously, good Christian MPs, yes like Roger Gale, made the repeated assertion that marriage is the “union between one man and one woman” - simple as that. Look it up in the Bible. But, according to that book, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines - the only wife mentioned by name is Naamah, who apparently was the mother of Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:1-3). And, for the record, king David also had many wives, though the exact number is contested. Other such examples abound in the Bible. This led Edward Gibbon in The history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire to waggishly note that Mohammed, by comparison to Solomon, was extremely modest - he only had 14 wives. Nor does the New testament, for that matter, explicitly say anywhere that marriage has to be a union between “one man and one woman”, or for life.

Not only are Christian Tory opponents of gay marriage obnoxious bigots: theologically speaking, they are up a gum tree too.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

EXTRACT: Frankly, the left in Britain has a dismal record when it comes to Europe. Yes, the International Socialist tradition which spawned the Socialist Workers Party briefly flirted with the idea of a united Europe. ‘Official communism’, on the other hand, can do little better when it comes to ‘theory’ than cite Lenin’s 1916 polemic against Karl Kautsky’s ‘united states of Europe’ slogan. Not unreasonably, viewing the horrors of imperialist carnage, Lenin argued that to advance such a slogan at that time was either ridiculous or utopian. But it is worth reminding ourselves that the Communist International had no problems adopting Trotsky’s slogan of a ‘united socialist states of Europe’ in 1921 - only abandoned by the Soviet bureaucracy as it increasingly embraced national socialism.

The bulk of the British left notionally reject the ‘Stalinist’ doctrine of socialism in one country, but actually advocate it on an operative level. Therefore most left groups, Trotskyist or otherwise, look around the world and think the solution is to be found in a left or workers’ government coming to power in one country or another - whether through elections or a spontaneous upsurge by the masses - and implementing a left Keynesian programme. One idiotic expression of this left nationalist outlook is the slogan, ‘Take the power!’ - directed towards Syriza in Greece. Luckily, Syriza did not win the election.

For orthodox Marxists, as opposed to ‘official communists’ and many supposed followers of Leon Trotsky, the problem remains the same - capital exists on a global level and has to be superseded at its most advanced point. Meaning that we need a revolutionary strategy that takes into account history, political consciousness and also the reality of material/economic wealth. Without such a perspective, we are doomed to failure.