YEARLY ARCHIVE: 2015
Making History by Stephen Fry
Fry thus poses the question: what if Hitler had never been born? This raises a much broader historical question; what role the individual in history? Fry deals with this intelligently and for me comes out on the right side of this intriguing dialectical dilemma.
Podemos, Syriza, the SNP and the Corbynistas – The fightback gathers Momentum
Capital is transnational and has been for some time. If national parties are going to have even the remotest chance of challenging the hegemony of the global corporates then a pan continental alliance is the bare minimum required.
New Government Sports Strategy: Eighty-four pages of fine sounding platitudes.
Once a culture of poverty has taken hold it too can work to further entrench a material poverty, but we should not allow ourselves be lulled into the mistaken belief that cultural poverty is at the root of the problem.
David Cameron – No if’s No Buts
Somewhere along the line, national democracies, limited as they were in both scope and ambition, were quietly but comprehensively supplanted by global corporations. At current estimates, the largest five hundred of these wholly undemocratic and unaccountable monoliths have taken control of the planet, its governance, its economy, its infrastructure and its culture.
Religion – Keep it out of schools
The other day I walked into one of my schools and what was I confronted by? A hall half full of kids being drilled into the wonders and joys of the perennial Christmas Carol. Hark the herald angel sings, glory to the new born king. I recognised the words because I’d had them drilled into me during my own school days some fifty years ago.
Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
Given the current state of play with respect to drones and jihadists, the three photos selected by Stanton of young Muslim women, is a wonderful antidote to all that Islamophobic fear and loathing that is currently swirling around. The subjects seem to just want what we all want, to be allowed to get on and just be.
Syria – Puppets and warmongers exposed
Corbyn’s great success has been his quiet ability to expose those in the Labour Party machinery that are indeed cowardly in their convictions and sycophantic in their attitudes to both big business and the corporate media.
Why Jeremy Corbyn’s election could spell disaster for the Labour Party
It’s not the electability of the Labour party as a whole that is going to be the issue for Jeremy Corbyn. It’s the prospect of various individual members of the Labour Parliamentary party losing their own seats that will cause all of the problems. And those problems are of the present, not 2020.
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
In an age of relentless atomisation and the accompanying alienation, this little tale of football tribalism and personal obsession, is perhaps more apposite than ever. Families, local communities and entire national, class and religious affiliations are crumbling in front of our very eyes. So it is little surprising that fanatical sporting allegiance should step forward to fill the void.
ISIS – Mirror image of western neo-colonialism
To my logic, dropping yet more bombs on the countries of Middle East has to be the most insane idea since Langley thought that arming, training and financing the Afghan mujahedeen would bring peace and harmony to that war weary nation.
Paris terror – The blowback continues
Amidst the outpouring of grief and anger that is the legitimate response to the latest wave of terror in Paris we would be well advised to see the whole picture. After five hundred years of brutal European colonial rule, the West still takes it upon itself to declare regime change whenever it suits its geo-political ambitions.
Don’t Buy The Idea That Heathrow Expansion is Good For The Nation. Simon Jenkins
In his latest opinion piece on airport expansion, despite his trademark pro- capitalist sentiment, Jenkins makes some very salient points. The essence of his argument can be summed up by his concluding paragraph which unambiguously asserts that the only real motivation for Heathrow expansion is one of corporate profit.
Suffragette: Confronting The Patriarchal State
The film, Suffragette, although not a particularly great piece of cinema, is definitely worth seeing, if for no other reason than to be reminded of the essentially reactionary nature of the British State and the special bodies of armed me that are there to protect it.
The New Enlightenment
We’re living through a second brutal dark age, With renewed bigotry, superstition and terror. And if you thought we’re on a preordained, exponential path of progress, Then I suspect you might be making a fundamental error.
London Fields by Martin Amis
This is a black hole of a novel. Dark matter for sure. Even the humour, of which there is aplenty, is of the dark variety. All the basest human instincts are on show here; lies, deceit, betrayal, violence, and ultimately murder. Yet every now and then some light shines through and when it does the whole bleak world that Amis so brilliantly creates comes to vibrant life.
The New Enlightenment
We’re living through a second brutal dark age With renewed bigotry, superstition and terror. And if you thought we’re on a preordained, exponential path of progress Then I suspect you might be making a fundamental…
The Corbynista Revolution- Women On Top
Corbyn was lambasted for having a male dominated top table. But what the Tory press and Corbyn’s own detractors within the Labour Party did not pick up on was the highly competent female academics that have been invited onto John McDonnell’s economic advisory committee.
British Labour Party – Who’s Abusing Who?
I would dare to suggest that ninety-nine point nine percent of alleged anti-semitism by Labour Party members and supporters is in fact wholly legitimate criticism of Israel’s colonial project in the Middle East. The Zionist project is a colonial project without doubt and every progressive person should have both the courage and the right to say so.
Jeremy Corbyn The Criminal
Blair and Bush led the West to an illegal war against Iraq, And a quarter of a million Iraqis directly perished in the inferno. Yet Jeremy Corbyn is deemed to be the criminal, And their attacks on him continue, both direct and subliminal.
Nuclear Contamination – Another Atrocity Hidden In the Small Print
Jeremy Corbyn was defeated in his effort to ban nuclear trident weapons. Because unions say it will threaten jobs. No-one wants to lose their job, particularly in the midst of an on going global recession. But when your job is building nuclear weapons, common sense and the greater good must prevail.
Jeremy Corbyn The Criminal
Blair and Bush led the West to an illegal war against Iraq
And a quarter of a million Iraqis directly perished in the inferno.
Yet Jeremy Corbyn is deemed to be the criminal
And their attacks on him continue, both direct and subliminal.
Mr Corbyn, Watch Your Back
Jeremy Corbyn is obviously doing something right! Just marvel at how the establishment tremble when someone even dares to suggest that politics might serve the common people as opposed to big business. A few words of warning for you Mr Corbyn. Be aware! This is just the first throw of the dice from the establishment.
All Hail The Bearded One, Chris Mullin, The Guardian
Chris Mullin is at it again. Having imagined the fate of a radical left-wing Prime Minister way back in 1982 in his novel, ‘A Very British Coup’, Mullin now dares to imagine the first 100 days of a Jeremy Corbyn Government.
The distinction between refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants Is as repulsive as racism itself. The very essence of humanity is migration Nobody wants to be left on the shelf.
Corbyn and Contradictions
The dialectic between the private ownership of socially produced wealth has been around for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking that this is the natural order of things. It permeates everything and seems to forever frustrate any qualitative advance in how we humans organise ourselves. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory will very likely drag this contradiction into the full light of day.
The distinction between refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants, Is as repulsive as racism itself. The very essence of humanity is migration, Nobody wants to be left on the shelf.
Mayoral Candidates, Where’s the Big Ideas
Livingston and Johnston had something of a big idea. But the current crop of Mayoral hopefuls really are a sorry lot. A chance to lead one of the planet’s leading metropolises and not one of them can come up with an inspiring policy.
Corbynomics – TRWNBT
There’s a man going round who’d rather jaw jaw, than carelessly set off a nuclear war war. But they call him a threat to national security. There’s a man who’s opposed to austerity, whose alternative shows a great deal of dexterity. But they say he’s a threat to the nation.
There’s a man going round who’d rather jaw jaw than carelessly set off a nuclear war war. But they call him a threat to national security.
A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin
Both book and TV series are compulsory tools in exploring just how the ruling establishment, on both sides of the Atlantic, seamlessly come together to rid themselves of any threatening left wing upstarts.
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
Released at a different moment and perhaps Watchman might not have created such a ripple. But coming in the wake of the current spate of police violence against America’s Black communities and the subsequent rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and suddenly Watchman is the book of the moment.
Kids Company – Scene of a Triple Crime
Whatever financial and other administrative failings there may or may not have been, to withhold government grants is a spiteful act that harms some of the most vulnerable children in the capital at the very moment when they were finally receiving some much needed support and TLC
Jeremy Corbyn, The Boy Is Doing Good
With the likes of the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Channel 4’s Michael Crick, and the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee all pouring out bucket loads of venom against the democratically elected Mr Corbyn, not to mention the usual bile from the Tory tabloids, it’s a wonder that JC has remained so upbeat and energetic.
Postcapitalism by Paul Mason
I found Mr Mason’s latest offering both inspiring and unsettling in equal measure. Not only does he paint a picture of a gathering storm; environmental, economic, political and technological, he turns this perfect storm on its head and creates a future scenario of unimaginable possibilities.
Dear Jeremy Corbyn
Now there are those that would argue that Social Democracy is hardwired for betrayal and that even if a leftist leadership should emerge in the British Labour Party or any other social democratic party for that matter, sooner or later it would succumb, either willingly or otherwise, to the political and financial muscle of global capital.
Orange is the New Black, Netflix, Series 1-3
It was billed as the new ‘Wire’ but I think it only lived up to that exalted rating in a most patchy and superficial sort of way. The Wire was dark and cutting edge throughout. ‘Orange Is The New Black’, despite a number of poignant moments, is most definitely not in that rarefied atmosphere.
Moses Ascending by Sam Selvon
Couldn’t be absolutely certain that I haven’t read this one a few decades back, but either way, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable read. Certainly not politically correct by today’s standards but since when has satirical humour worried about such niceties as political correctness.
The British Labour Party – What is it For?
Of the three great issues facing people everywhere, nowhere can the British Labour Party claim in any sense to be in the lead. Nowhere can it claim to be in the vanguard against environmental destruction, against growing inequality and against corrupt centralised governance.
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
There is one thing you can say with some degree of certainty about Mantel. She understands class, she understands sex and she understands human frailties. What better tools can novelist possibly need?
The Lebedevs: Schizophrenic Oligarchs
Tax evasion and social provision just don’t go hand in hand. Either a government subsidises the corporates, the landlords and the employer class or it subsidises affordable housing, the social environment and a living wage. It’s impossible to do both.
Greek Negotiations – Podemos is the Elephant in the Room
The policies of neoliberalism as practised across Europe are creating ever greater levels of inequality and making global recessionary pressures even worse. Just ask the Greeks. Any high school economics student will tell you: spend your way out of recession and then trim the deficits during the boom years. It’s basic Keynesianism.
Womans World Cup
Women may be formally free but the dead weight of centuries, nay millennia of slavery and feudal oppression still asserts itself. Violence against women is endemic, and the law, such as it is, seems powerless to protect. The situation in the west seems at first glance to be an improving one, but dig a little deeper and violence against women is still at epidemic proportions.
English Table Tennis Snuggles up to Dirty Oil
A new sponsor by the name of Heritage Oil is now sponsoring one of ESTTA’s premier events. Table Tennis England, the governing body of table tennis, is also in bed with Heritage Oil. I couldn’t help but wonder at the wisdom of such a move.
Magna Carta – Please stop this nonsense
The favourite narrative of Britain’s establishment is that England is the birthplace of democracy and the English parliament is the mother of that democracy. Try telling that to the billions who suffered under the brutality and humiliation of the British Empire.
Heroes are people we know nothing about, I should know, I’ve followed a few in my time, Heroes are substitutes for I’m not quite sure what, And we follow them without reason or rhyme. The usual suspects have been up on my wall, John Lennon, and Lenin and Mao, Up on the pedestal was Marley of course, With Karl Marx as the sacred old cow.
Heretic by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Ali’s journey to date can be described as nothing short of heroic. In some ways her journey reminds me of that taken by Malcolm X, a journey that was cruelly if predictably cut down by America’s forces of reaction. Ayaan Ali also faces, on a daily basis, such a fate, but she is far from cowed.
FIFA: Corruption is in its DNA
We have just learnt that FIFA has suspended the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup while they sort out the mess of the previous bidding circuses. But even with a revamped executive and a revamped transparent voting process, aren’t we doomed to reproduce all of the old muck and dirt of previous decades?
FC United revel in their rebel blueprint, David Conn, The Guardian
A few years back I blogged on the creation of FC United of Manchester, musing on the revolutionary potential of such an audacious development. A few years hence and I’m proud to announce that that potential is starting to materialise.
Heroes are people we know nothing about I should know, I’ve followed a few in my time Heroes are substitutes for I’m not quite sure what And we follow them without reason or rhyme.
Money and greed has ruined the beautiful game, Justin Cartwright, Evening Standard
There are billions of corporate dollars sloshing around the so called ‘beautiful game’, so it should surprise nobody that FIFA, the governing body of the game is mired in systemic corruption.
Black and Blue by Paul Canoville
There are so many powerfully tragic angles to pursue in Paul Canoville’s autobiographical, Black and Blue, it is hard to know where to start. The racism he experienced and eventually overcame as a professional footballer at Chelsea, the career ending injury he received at Reading, his addiction to crack-cocaine…
After the Circus left Town
After the trials and tribulations that the leaders of the three main political parties have had to endure over the last few months, there are some who are worried about their immediate future. There is no need to worry, I think they will be ok.
This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein
There is hardly a single line that doesn’t deserve to be highlighted, underlined and generally broadcast across the planet. Klein is telling us that our planet is dying. Right in front of our eyes. Not in one hundred years time. Not even in twenty years time but right now.
Ode to the NHS
We are told that Churchill was our greatest all-time leader, Inspiring the nation to combat the marauding Nazi hoards, But the post war British voters soon sent Churchill packing, And put the Labour Party in charge of the Westminster board.
UK Elections: No ones talking about Britain’s chronic housing crisis
In five years time when the next election bandwagon rolls into town Britain will be still be faced with a chronic housing crisis, private corporations will still be trying to get their greedy claws into the National Health Service, Britain’s foreign policy will still be in hock to the US military-industrial complex, and the widening gap between the one per cent and the rest of us will continue apace.
Ode to the NHS
We are told that Churchill was our greatest all-time leader Inspiring the nation to combat the marauding Nazi hoards But the post war British voters soon sent Churchill packing And put the Labour Party in…
That Damned Dialectic
From the humblest sub-atomic particle, To the entirety of the Universe itself, A remorseless struggle of opposites, Creating unity by infinite stealth. Centripetal and centrifugal forces, Struggling through the eons of time, Stability just a momentary illusion, Perfection just an illusionary crime.
That Damned Dialectic
From the humblest sub-atomic particle To the entirety of the Universe itself A remorseless struggle of opposites Creating unity by infinite stealth.
In The Light Of What We Know by Zia H Rahman
Did I enjoy this book? I’m still not sure. The two central characters are the two narrators who offer over five hundred pages of polemical wisdom. The trouble is, there is only so much wisdom a reader can genuinely absorb in any one novel without starting to switch off.
The NHS: Labour and Tories both get it wrong
Nearly everything the Tories say and do is a reflection of the needs of global capital. Even national capital now plays second fiddle. Labour in government has proved to be equally compliant and even in opposition we struggle to find a radical edge to their policies. No more so than in respect to the NHS.
This Bleeding City by Alex Preston
The first half of Preston’s story, tells the exhilarating story of an ordinary sort of bloke making it good in the City of London until, you guessed it, the big crash of 2008. After the crash come the bankruptcies, the suicides and the disillusionment.
Amnesia by Peter Carey
Anyone today who genuinely believes that the sacking of the Whitlam Government was anything but a carefully orchestrated CIA coup is clearly in ideological denial. I had hoped that Carey’s book was going to throw new light on all of this. It didn’t. All it really did was to state the bare and basic facts as they are already known.
Table Tennis – A Love Letter
Tennis on a nine by five table, Ping pong by its colloquial name, The second most played sport in the world, The Victorians would be amazed by its fame. It began as an aristocratic English pastime, Now the Chinese totally dominate the game. It is as physically demanding as tennis, But cerebral like chess all the same.
Table Tennis: A Love Letter
Tennis on a nine by five table Ping pong by its colloquial name The second most played sport in the world The Victorians would be amazed by its fame.
HSBC – Beacon of Capitalist Amorality
The managers and apologists for capital incessantly plead for a caring, compassionate, regulated capitalism as opposed to a nasty, uncaring, unregulated capitalism. But capitalism is neither inherently good nor inherently evil. It simply does what it is hard-wired to do.
Heathrow and Harmondsworth
This is something of a David and Goliath story, But it’s certainly not as simple as say Labour versus Tory, This is a cross party story for every season, It’s a classic tale of corporate greed versus civic reason. We start our story in the village of Harmondsworth, A pretty Doomsday parish built on medieval earth,
Heathrow and Harmondsworth
This is something of a David and Goliath story But it’s certainly not as simple as say Labour versus Tory This is a cross party story for every season It’s a classic tale of corporate…
Ode to Austerity
Most born into poverty, a few born into wealth. Bizarrely the wealthy get wealthier through cunning and through stealth. Rich kids flying high, backed up by daddy and mummy, Everybody knows that money goes to…
Ode to Austerity
Most born into poverty, a few born into wealth. Bizarrely the wealthy get wealthier through cunning and through stealth. Rich kids flying high, backed up by daddy and mummy, Everybody knows that money goes to money.
Dear Ed Miliband
Despite the best efforts of the Tory tabloid press to paint you as a demonic Red Ed, try as I might, I am having great difficulty distinguishing current Labour Party policies from those of the present coalition government.
Olympic Legacy – Going, Going, Gone – part 2
They said it would inspire a generation, To run and to jump and to swim. They promised it would motivate our youngsters, And the fight against obesity would begin. But the statistics tell a very different story, Of a nation getting fatter by the day. Gove abolished the school-sports partnerships. And now the children have nowhere to play.
Olympic Legacy – Going, Going, Gone (Part 2)
They said it would inspire a generation To run and to jump and to swim. They promised it would motivate our youngsters And the fight against obesity would begin.
Charlie Hebdo massacre – Colonial blowback
Wwe too easily get side-tracked into believing that the jihadist terrorist outrages are the main event. Sickening and barbaric as they are, they are really just a blow back from a rampaging US empire seeking to maintain its global hegemony.
Revolution by Russell Brand
This is a damn good book. In fact a great book. Great in the sense that it is a great read, and great also in that it is of great importance. It is an intelligent book and in places touches the sublime, almost poetic level. Not bad for a recovering junkie.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
There is a consistent historical materialism running throughout Harari’s Sapiens, and for that he should be congratulated and his eminently readable book widely recommended. There is no pandering to imaginary gods or other supernatural forces, just a down to earth account of the human story…
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I suspect Sylvia Plath’s poetry anthology and her one single novel have been examined and analysed ad infinitum, and I’m damn certain I can offer nothing remotely new. But having just reread The Bell Jar some fifty years after its publication, it seems there is still much of relevance for our contemporary times.