Category: Uncategorized

Corbyn needs you to fight Labour

Walter-Wolfgang-removed-f-008 It’s hard to think of a better parliamentary member than Jeremy Corbyn to rally behind. That he has polled so well and campaigned so inclusively has turned many a head, and for good reason. Those of us used to disappointment are hard to instil hope in, especially in a country as trapped by finance as Britain is. But Corbyn is now one of the strongest rallying points of the left in my generation.

For those who are joining Labour to vote for him, something I cannot bring myself to do, it is important to consider your action as being a long-term commitment. In order for Corbyn to hold power and for the party to be rebuilt, a mass mobilisation is required. There is no way the establishment want Corbyn leading the country’s opposition party, especially if momentum continues to build. In simply holding his position, he sheds light on the continued credibility of the radical alternative that has been cloaked in Labour’s basement.

Corbyn entered parliament as Labour were obliterated in an election presenting the radical alternative to Thatcherism. Labour bitterly fought amongst itself, as much as with the Tories, before yielding to the onslaught of neo-liberalism as a consequence. That election determined both Corbyn’s trajectory and the Labour Party’s leadership. They cut radically different paths. Whereas for Labour the 1983 manifesto was the “longest suicide note in history,” necessitating Blairism, for Corbyn it was his mandate.

Over 30 years of time as an MP and Corbyn has campaigned consistently as an internationalist and a socialist. He has supported the rights of workers against finance and capital, been one of Labour’s most rebellious MPs and taken admirable positions on Palestine, Iraq, Venezuela, Mexico and Ireland (to name just a few). If Labour were filled with Corbyns, I’d be a paid up member already. However, the reality is that since 1983 the likes of Corbyn would never have been selected to hold a parliamentary seat.

Labour are no longer a left-wing party. Since scrapping clause IV (committing Labour “to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”), Labour have given up on the idea of piece-meal reform towards socialism. Labour are a party ensnared by the City of London, they are beholden to their whims and play by their rules. This, we are told, is a political reality that must be acknowledged. To modernise is to continue to push through reforms that destroy the welfare-state, to create the market state. A state where, as Arun Kundnani puts it,

“The well-being of social groups is no longer the responsibility of the state; its responsibility is to maximise the choices available to individuals. Market-states engage in a Dutch auction for foreign investment, offering ever-worsening protections for their populations in the name of ‘competitiveness’. Public services shift from welfare provision to a focus on ‘enabling’ individuals to re-enter the labour market, through ‘welfare to work’ programmes, such as those pioneered by Bill Clinton and imported to Britain in the mid-1990s. Welfare rights are diminished while the responsibiiity of welfare recipients to adapt themselves to market demands is increased. And if markets cannot find a use for an individual, then neither can society.” (2007, 57)  

We are living in this political moment. We like to think of history as repeating, hence the references to neo-Victorianism, but things are very different now. For economies such as Britain, it is services (particularly financial) that predominate. Industry is offshored – globalised – and the political reality is shaped by the processes of financialisation. A reversal of these processes takes a hell of a lot. And yet, the struggle gets deeper. Labour are not just a party that implemented neo-liberal economic policies, they are a party that was on the front-line of modern imperialism, engaging in the warfare that is now ripping West Asia (the Middle East in colonial terminology) to pieces. Labour institutionalised Islamophobia. Corbyn was a rebellious MP amongst this, but to believe the politicians that fill Labour’s ranks will simply switch their allegiances is not just naïve, it is dangerous.

A Corbyn victory for Labour requires a radical move from below. If pressure is not applied in all areas, the fist of socialism will become a limp hand. Merely joining for the vote is not enough. Getting the voice of the radical alternative into the mainstream is hard. For the last two years, Britain’s populist leftism has found Russell Brand the centre piece; his inconsistency and embarrassingly naïve positions on key issues pushed him to the point of ridicule. Corbyn could be the real deal, but his party are not behind him. For Corbyn to achieve the ideal, a lot more is required than an online vote.

The position of Corbyn is not the position of Labour. The key unions back Corbyn, as, it seems, do the majority of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). The mood of the nation is ripe for a leftist push. Yet, with UKIP polling at 12.7% in the General Election, there is no time for complacency. The battle of finance against the interests of the nation favours the populist right, especially with the powerlessness felt as TTIP is implemented.

Corbyn’s power will be determined not only by the mobilisation of social movements in Britain, but across the continent. A push against neo-liberalism can only be made if an economic alternative can be practiced and implemented. The struggle is how to achieve social goals without driving the boot into the neck of the systematically underdeveloped countries. Freeing them is part of freeing ourselves. Corbyn knows this. To convince his electorate of it takes far more than £3 and an active social media account. If Labour be the vessel, it needs to be stripped, internationalised and re-energised. If that doesn’t happen, a split in the ranks will undermine Corbyn or a challenge from below will put another dent in the fight for a more egalitarian existence in Babylon. If this is seriously our greatest push, let us not engage in faith-based politics. If social justice can be realised in Britain, without mass exploitation domestically or in its periphery, wholly new political realities are needed and no one man can conjure them.

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The far-right are rising but have no vision

Our enemies are rising far too fast. The arguments of challenge are platitudinous for the most part and seldom have the sweeping narrative that the far-right can provide. The thing is though, there is compelling narrative to our histories. Europe is full of multiplicities and differences. Its professed homogeneity is false, as is its conception of race. There is not a point, an area or a type of argument in which I think it is necessary to concede ground to the right.

These bastards are beatable, it just requires an honesty about the world we live in. How the world economy was structured, how our governments capitalised upon the gulfs created by the empires and processes of underdevelopment and how globalisation made the underdeveloped economies the proletariat of the world and restructured the economies of the metropole to the benefit of the few. This devastated internal industry and changed class dynamics radically.

The easiest scapegoat are migrants. They are not the reason the factories, shipyards and mines closed though. They do not work in the phantom shells of industry. Industry was off-shored.

The times we are living through reflect the globalised system being challenged by the rising economies of the non-European powerhouses, like China. So, the forces of the West are restructuring labour conditions within the West, processes of proletarianisation. Migrants play a key role in that, in that they exist in precarious conditions and therefore have lower wage demands. This is not the reason for hate, it is the reason for solidarity and connected struggle.

The thinking of the right does not address the globalised systems that dominate us. Their analysis provides no vision other than a return to the great, white imperial projects of the past. Not only are these visions redundant, they are hopeless.

We must win.

Draft letter to MPs to vote for Palestine recognition

When parliament returns from recess on October 13th, you are faced with a vote of conscience: symbolic recognition of the statehood of Palestine. I ask that for this vote, you ignore vested interest and vote based upon reason, compassion and a sense of historic responsibility. As a backbench debate, this is a free vote and therefore how you vote will be taken account of as you seek re-election.

I am not going to condescend you. I assume you know of the inept administration of Palestine when it was mandated to Britain following the fall of the Ottomans. The mandate was hamstrung by the Balfour declaration; a promise to make Palestine a Jewish homeland that was made before WWI was even won. The long and short of Britain’s role in the historic land of Palestine is that it made incommensurable promises and in so doing stoked tensions that burn at this very moment. As Ernest Bevin acknowledged, the mandate of Palestine was the worst error of British de-colonisation as he foresaw the apartheid state-system that now determines the lives of Palestinians, whom Britain had a sacred vow to better under the mandate. 

Over the summer, we witnessed the devastating human consequences: over 2,100 Palestinians killed, even Israeli data acknowledges the vast amount of those were civilians. Out of the 72 people killed on the Israeli side, 66 were soldiers – meaning 91 percent of Israeli fatalities came in the battlefield. The disparity of this conflict is stark. The Palestinian people must have a voice on the international stage and the occupation of their lands must come to an end. A huge step towards this is recognition of Palestinian statehood. Given Britain’s role in the conflict, the symbolic importance of recognition cannot be overstated.

The basis for statehood is no longer the partition agreement of 1947, but the pre-1967 borders. This represents a huge concession to the state of Israel that speaks volumes of the Palestinian will for peace. Israel refuse to return to their borders under international law and continue to seize further land, with 988 acres of land taken to global disapproval in August.

Britain is a minority within the global community in not recognising Palestine, with 134 out of 193 UN member states already conferring recognition. Britain have many times affirmed the inalienable right of Palestinians to self-determination, the time to back our words with deeds is now.

Recognition is the first step to ending the cycle of violence and the first rung of the ladder to end the occupation, militarisation and oppression of Palestine by Israeli forces. A failure to use your free vote towards peace will be interpreted as a violent act. The sun has now set on the British Empire, but the blood has yet to dry. I trust that you will take the necessary action to redress the grave historical wrongs of the past.

Why Frank left and has now returned

writers blockFor years now, I have been unable to write. With many of the older posts on here, I was communicating the ideas of others. I was a young man coming to understand politics when I met the crew in London that guided me towards an anti-imperialist understanding of the world. With their help, I developed a cannon to fire. What I fired was loaded with their knowledge and understanding, I merely filtered their words and pegged on theoretical and philosophical overtones.

The arsenal I developed meant I felt I had made worthy interventions, but as particular issues manifested – particularly the ‘Arab spring’ – divisions emerged within my political group and I departed from the position I held. I dissolved Frank and withdrew from politics. I completely disengaged and threw myself instead at community work.

After two years, I had extinguished myself there. I ran into issues I had not even contemplated. I applied my theory, only for it to be taken as naïve. My kindness and will to understand was a weakness in the eyes of those I was helping and I was a perpetual outsider, easily manipulated and forever guilty. My conception of human-nature brutalized, the remnants of my idealism were trampled over.

So, I have now re-engaged with the political world and am once again feeling the need to communicate my ideas. What motivates me to write is lacking in so much of what I read.

At a time of universal deceit and co-option, the greatest act is that of refusal. All we have is refusal, the ability to negate. We must maintain the lens that shows us that what we are being sold is a product; a projection and not a reality. In the words of Theodor Adorno “wrong life cannot be lived rightly” – we must embody that negation and hold out for something better. If our generation are not going to be trail-blazers, we can at least be a ratchet that prevents power from enveloping us all.

We must slowly start to push back. For that, we need those with the ability to write, to intervene and to argue to play their role. So, Frank is back – with a slightly new angle. I have no consistency and am writing through a form of muzzle.  But, these are the early stages of re-engagement. In time, there will be growth from this. A more refined web-domain, run by myself and other minds that think alike is in the pipeline, as with a few greater projects that will emerge if I am disciplined enough.

The challenge of being a writer in our age is to learn and apply the lessons of history to our discourse. Being aware of the modern realities and historical legacies of prejudice and discrimination. Living and writing by a code that stops age-old privileges from emerging and asserting dominance within spheres of influence. The most important thing being a self-drawn boundary, which shows awareness of what is and is not my struggle.

Like Martin Luther King and Karl Liebknect, I recognize that the war is at home and not abroad. My beef is with Britain and the global system it operates within.  My cannon shall never point at any other than power of our time; the multi-nationals, the military industrial complex, NATO and the rest of the new global empire, run by the United States – but maintained by Europe and its settler colonies.

Whilst this moment of history predominates, the role of a writer is to deconstruct this. In the amazing words of Arundhati Roy: “To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

Oh dear! What are the British people thinking of?

Michael Roberts Blog

The British people are not stupid.  They know that neoliberal, neoclassical ‘free market’ economics does not work, even if they don’t use those terms.  In a survey by YouGov, the leading public opinion pollsters in the UK, more than two-thirds of those asked wanted the railways, the energy companies (gas, electricity) and the postal service (Royal Mail was recently privatised for a peppercorn price and is now controlled by American offshore hedge funds) renationalised.

Support for nationalisation

The questions were: “Do you think the government should have the power to control prices of the following things, or should prices be left to those selling the goods or service to decide?”; and “Do you think the following should be nationalised and run in the public sector, or privatised and run by private companies?”. 84% wanted to continue the taxpayer funded National Health Service and did not want to move to a private insurance system as…

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FREE DOWNLOAD – DJ Mutiny’s ill summer beat tape

The DJ Mutiny Summer 2010 Beat Tape contains 18 original unreleased hip-hop beats by DJ Mutiny. The irrepressible Terry Hooligan provides scratches, cuts and acappellas, and rising star Wordplay is the host with the most.

DJ Mutiny beatmix artwork

Simply follow this link to cop this ish: http://blog.djmutiny.com/2010/07/25/dj-mutiny-summer-beat-tape-2010-mixed-by-terry-hooligan-and-hosted-by-wordplay/

Tracklist:

  1. Payback, 80s Style
  2. L.O.V.E with The Pharcyde – Passing Me By
  3. Must Be Real with The Pharcyde – Passing Me By (continued)
  4. Hard Times with The Pharcyde – Passing Me By (continued)
  5. Reflections
  6. Township with Mos Def – Mathematics
  7. Keep on Trying
  8. Concept with Nas – I Can
  9. Aggression with Mobb Deep – Quiet Storm
  10. Recession
  11. Strangers with Jay Z – Lucifer
  12. Delta with Jay Z – Lucifer (continued)
  13. Penitent with Dead Prez – Police State
  14. All Make Mistakes
  15. Even More with Outkast – B.O.B.
  16. Hip-hop fi Peach with Nas – Made You Look
  17. Understand with Nas – Made You Look (continued)
  18. That Feeling

Why there is no justice for Ian Tomlinson

Rough draft, please comment on any mistakes:

At the height of the Police’s “beat them till they leave” strategy to protest, an inevitable tragedy occurred. Ian Tomlinson, a man merely walking past the protest, was hit from behind so hard he fell instantly to the ground. Helped up by a member of the public, Ian walked a further 100 metres or so before collapsing to ground a second time, where he died.

The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) claimed that the charge of Manslaughter cannot be made as there is no way of proving a “causal link” between the assault[1] and the death. This is due to the conflicting post-mortem reports, one citing a heart attack as the cause of death, the other Internal bleeding caused by the baton strike. With such a conflict, there is no way to circumvent the inevitability of “reasonable doubt”. Therefore, no charges should be pressed.

The CPS made a compelling case for the public to resign themselves to the impunity of the police force and provided the blueprint for further miscarriages of justice to perpetuate. The formula is simple: whenever you commit a crime, engage in a blatant cover-up. Then, if/when the truth is revealed, the primacy of the disinformation reduces it to a mere “conflicting narrative”. If public fury is ignited, launch public inquiry or report which defers proceedings long enough to ensure no justice or recompense can emerge.

In the climate of the ever- growing list of police pardons we are asking why it is that crimes committed when in uniform are not crimes? We heard that Britain does not view its infantry as humans when in battle, so maybe Britain’s twisted logic says that law enforcers when practicing the law are not bound to be law abiding? The police seem to have been given the mandate Nixon demanded: when they do something it is no longer illegal.  The actions of the police at the Gaza Demonstrations or at the G20 exhibit that the police genuinely feel empowered to commit brutal offences knowing the people have no clear route to justice afforded to them.

The problem with prosecuting “Officer A”, the assailant responsible for the death of Ian Tomlinson, is establishing what his actual crime was. The basic action was echoed throughout 2009 in protests and is common-place treatment of ethnic minorities in this country. Protestors from all around the country can attest that the police were militant in their approach to democracy; swinging batons at their own will with very little accountability (removing the lapels carrying their officer numbers, or merely covering them up). The actual act itself, hitting a harmless civilian was done en masse in the early part of 2009. In this context, it is safe to say officer A’s intention was clearly not to kill Ian, his act was dangerous yet the probability of death amounting from a strike of that nature is minimal (as the scores of other people who received similar blows without such tragic consequences supports). It is wrong for us to think Ian Tomlinson’s legacy and his family deserve justice simply in virtue of death. Even if Ian were still alive, he would still deserve justice for a dangerous assault with a potentially deadly weapon.

Since Ian’s death, the atmospheric difference at protest has been palpable. There has been a de-escalation from the police and their attitude of impunity seems to have been diluted. I take this as an implicit acknowledgment that they knew they were breaking the law and could not continue to do so without mass public outrage. We are now in a period of hiatus induced by the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson. Yet, the framework that allowed the police to act in such unaccountable ways remains as strong as ever. The courts  have not safeguarded the public from further deadly assaults by the police as there is no disincentive for the police to act as they wish.

Until we feel safe practising our basic rights (which demands that the police are never above the law and will be punished for transgressing legal boundaries) tensions between the people and the police will only greaten.


[1] A charge, they admit, “officer A” is open to in theory, though such a charge has to be made within 6 months, which has obviously elapsed.