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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Be eaten first!


for HPL myspace page

Feeding 5000 arty wankers

The owl of Minerva flies at dusk…you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone.

In a Comment on the Jamie Reid in Croydon exhibition - blogged below - noisy sphinx said...

More than a decade later in 1989, Jamie Reid, the so called Situationist artist at the finale of the opening night of the exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris turned on the picket outside the exhibition protesting at this shameless recuperation with a snarling: “Fuck off you arty wankers”. The truth must always be inverted. After all aren’t Vermorel, Mclaren and Reid the arty wankers?

But was the Steve Ignorant/ Feeding 5000 event a similar spectacular recuperation of punk ? If…. "One more word about giving instruction as to what the world ought to be. Philosophy in any case always comes on the scene too late to give it... When philosophy paints its grey in grey, then has a shape of life grown old. By philosophy's grey in grey it cannot be rejuvenated but only understood. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk." -- Hegel. Then … here is an adventure in cut-ups - which cut right through the pages of any book or webpage... lengthwise, for example, and shuffle the columns of text. Put them together at hazard and read the newly constituted message. Do it for yourself. Use any system which suggests itself to you. Take your own words or the words said to be "the very own words" of anyone else living or dead. You'll soon see that words don't belong to anyone. Words have a vitality of their own and you or anybody else can make them gush into action. Sources cut -up : Miltant Esthetics, Conflict forum, Crass forum and Revolt against Plenty.

Debord talks of radical subjectivity, but never addresses the impact of music. It wasn't just its American provenance that made Debord ignore Hendrix and Coltrane, it was also his failure to admit impulses below the level of verbal communication, his Lukácsian rationalism. What is missing in Debord is any understanding of the social subjectivity of abstract art, a subjectivity whose last refuge is music. The 60s established music as the preeminent pre-echo of a potential new society. Going on about anti-art is a waste of time. To talk about pleasure and vandalism in 1956 without mentioning Elvis is just the sort of blindspot that invites the penetrating insight of a spiv like Malcolm McLaren.

Steve Ignorant and friends, and all of the people who assembled to be a part of what was a celebration of the music and everything it has meant and continues to mean were all magnificent. In the words of the man himself: it wasn't about a revival or about nostalgia - it was a celebration! It was exciting, it was heart warming, and it was beautiful.

I have mixed feelings not just about the gig but about the anarcho/politico movement in general. What is more important at the end of the day - the price of a T-shirt or another slaughtered animal, another dead family in Iraq, another ecological catastrophe? If there was as much feeling put into issues that actually mattered maybe we could actually be something more than a club for purist record collectors or a hiding place for people who refuse to examine their own beliefs or a haven for moaners who parasitize off the efforts of others in order to hide their own shortcomings?

Quite quickly the nascent King Mob began to gather a fair amount of attention and individuals started appearing from nowhere to contact a group that didn’t basically exist. If anything it was a kind of personalised, magnetic force of attraction immediately sending waves out over then coming back to source. This arena that was to become King Mob was the first revolt in Britain against the total colonisation of everyday life by capitalism. Therefore any corner of this totality was deemed a fit place for spreading subversion…

it would be great to raise the debate beyond the rather crass (ha ha, see what I did there??) level of "it's all a rip off!" My unease is on a feel a deeper level - as I said it was great rock and roll and an entertaining show, even if I did get the feeling that I was at some historical re-enactment society event at times to me Crass weren't about that (and said as much), they were about ideas, communication and doing something radical, revolutionary even, which that gig wasn't. Just things like that fundamental disconnection between 'performers' and 'audience', which never existed at Crass gigs, there was never any seperation. At the end I went down to the front as I wanted to say hi to the brass section, who I know through the Southend jazz club, but there was no way of reaching them, just a load of bouncers who didn't give a fuck and no way they were letting me go backstage. Back in the day we'd all be drinking tea and sweeping up together.

Debord talks of radical subjectivity, but never addresses the impact of music. It wasn't just its American provenance that made Debord ignore Hendrix and Coltrane, it was also his failure to admit impulses below the level of verbal communication, his Lukácsian rationalism. What is missing in Debord is any understanding of the social subjectivity of abstract art, a subjectivity whose last refuge is music. The 60s established music as the preeminent pre-echo of a potential new society. Going on about anti-art is a waste of time. To talk about pleasure and vandalism in 1956 without mentioning Elvis is just the sort of blindspot that invites the penetrating insight of a spiv like Malcolm McLaren.

I look at the weekend as nothing more than a celebration to what CRASS achieved. A lot of people are saying it should never have happened, I disagree. I think it SHOULD have happened. “Anarcho punk” has all but been erased form any history of punk. 5000 must surely have gone gold by now so if we, the people involved, cannot celebrate all that was achieved, who will? Would you have preferred it if the whole thing was just brushed under the carpet and forgotten about?

Because he was blind to the class conflict that flaws consumer culture - seeing only the monolith of the Spectacle - Debord missed rock'n'roll. However, it was precisely rock'n'roll that solved technical problems encountered by the Parisian avantgarde: the retreat of poetic discourse into the actuality of the speaking voice, the replacement of individualistic, bourgeois expression by collective play, a confrontation with the spectacle unmediated by class concepts of high culture. Rock'n'roll was a form of urban poetry Debord could only see as an American trick as philosophically vacuous as Coca Cola.

The groups that could be loosely grouped under the term 'Anarchist Punk' produced art which may be located within the extended tradition of 'Protest Music' (in the widest sense): it's very raison-d'etre is as a medium for protest and expression, and this attracted groups who EXPLICITLY founded their position within the flow of Anarchist thought and - by proxy - created a thinking space between themselves and the excesses of 4th and 5th generation Punk bands...In the light of this position, the more recent information that some of the people in the groups wanted to be popstars and make money like entertainers is generally irrelevant (although understandable as they are only human beings, and consequently open to the same pressures and influences as anyone else)...I think that the most disheartening thing about this whole concert is the way in which a vociferous section of those in favour of the concert seem to want to reduce the content of Crass to a couple of contextless shouts of 'Fuck Thatcher' over a beat to be played straight after 'Have You Got 10p?' down at the Punk Revival disco at the Rugby Club...It hapopened 'back then' but it would have been nice to see it had evaporated by now..

There is a disturbing parallel to be drawn between Debord and the Beats: in the early 60s, William Burroughs and Timothy Leary also speculated about the "death of poetry". The Situationists found it hard to counter the Beats, and harder still to critique the hippies, punks and ravers who came later, because they had virtually nothing serious to say about music. Serious application of Situationist ideas must entail looking at all technical forces at the disposal of a critique of capitalism. Only sectarian cretins [ author is an SWP member] could maintain that using punk and reggae gigs as weapons against the National Front was capitulation to the spectacle, or that The KLF are inferior to those who place pamphlets to languish on the shelves of Compendium Books.

But wasn't punk ALWAYS like that? Sex, Seditionaries... the 1977 Zandra Rhodes 'Punk Collection' ? Lots of the original punks came out of that scene and were no more than peacocks; the Leigh Boweries of their day, albeit to a better musical soundtrack. At least some of those original punk clothes looked good, unlike those of the most slavish fashion victims - the worthless crusty/'brew crew' types whose whole ethos seemed to be contriving to look like Stig Of The Dump and acting like Rab C. Nesbitt.

What does DIY, in terms of punk, mean to you? Punk seemed to me, at a young age, to be about living against a system that was wrong, unjust, greedy and oppressive. I was suddenly exposed to a global network of people making music, records, zines, starting up social centres, writing political diatribes that were honest and real, where people shared a set of goals, and many other things to boot. I thought if these people can do it, so can I, so I did. Bands like Crass, Conflict, Chumbawamba, Flux, Subhumans etc etc were all at the forefront of this generation of ‘do it because you believe in it’ people. Principled and honest, but not devoid of humour or willingness to adapt where necessary to keep thing on a positive onward journey. Onwards and upwards….there is no authority but yourself etc etc etc

Those of us who know about black music and its extensions in rock'n'roll know that mass culture is not a monolith, it's a site of class conflict. As long as collective, proletarian art is pursued, it will come into conflict with the mechanisms of capitalist market relations. The very survival of rock bands playing collective improvisations is a blow against the bourgeois idea of creativity as the achievement of the single genius. Futurism, James Joyce, Punk, Free Improvisation, No Wave Jazz, Jungle - all these are avantgardes which want mass involvement without the dead-hand of commodity production. The avantgarde is the vision of a new society struggling to be born along the faultlines of capitalism: to declare it dead is to say that capitalism is uncontradictory, a statement that can only make sense to the rich.

Just changing tack a bit. The thing I liked about the punk scene in the eighties was that it was small and for the most part friendly. I loved the fact that I could visit any town or city in the UK and within a few hours meet up with some like minded people have a few pints and if necessary find a place to crash for the night. If I went on a demo or to a gig it would not be long before the punks had got together. It was great to have the phone numbers of any of the bands and with a few weeks notice be able to put on a gig to raise funds for something or other. That’s the DIY bit that we talk about I guess - no promoters, record companies, publishers and bosses. That part of it is what I do miss a bit. Didn’t like being chased for being different or certain parties trying to smash our gigs though.

You need to learn from the trials of rock'n'roll to realize the violence and degradation wrought by the money-relation on utopian aspirations. We wanted a revolution, and we got capitalism.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Anarchy in Croydon: Jamie Reid Exhibition

Thanks to Ian Bone and 3am mag for this...

Internationally renowned artist returns to Croydon College

In 1964 Jamie Reid enrolled at the Croydon Art School. In 1977 The Sex Pistols released their seminal debut album featuring artwork by Jamie Reid.

Next month sees Jamie Reid make a triumphant return to the College, now called Croydon Higher Education College and forming part of Croydon College. Having commissioned the College to rework several of his now iconic images in new colourways, Jamie will return on November 5th to open an exhibition into his work in the College’s recently refurbished Parfitt Gallery.

Between 1964 and his work for The Sex Pistols, Jamie Reid produced a body of work unparalleled in terms of graphic design practise and its use in questioning the British body politic, town planning, social engineering and the suburban dream.

The exhibition, which will run throughout November, will celebrate his pre-punk work and his time spent working in the Borough on the ‘Suburban Press’ (a radical neo-Situationist printing press) and his personal and political graphic statements. The exhibition will include many of his prints and the new reworked colourways of his now infamous image ‘Leaving the 20th Century’. The new editions are to be titled ‘Leaving the 21st Century’. As part of the exhibition images from the exhibition will also be projected onto the outside of the College’s Barclay Road building.

Croydon Higher Education College has been offering high quality specialist Higher Education courses for over 30 years. The College is the largest provider of Higher Education between London and Brighton and the sole provider of University level education within the London Borough of Croydon. The College continues to have a strong and vibrant Art Department but now also offers University level courses in subjects such as Business and Law.

The exhibition is in association with The Aquarium Gallery, London and will run from November 6th until November 29th. For more information regarding the exhibition including private view invitations, please email century21@croydon.ac.uk.

Bloody revolutionaries? Splitters!

In his review of the Steve Ignorant/ Feeding the 5000 gig ( blogged below) , John Marshall said:

So the band went off and Steve came on alone. He said about this gig being controversial and people saying it was wrong. He said that people from all over the world had come to see it and for him it was well worth it and seeing the reaction he had done the right thing and it meant a lot to him after 30 years that these songs still meant something. Who could argue with that? Well I'm sure some stuck up git could…

Was/is Nigel Fox a ‘stuck up git’? He certainly didn’t think much of Crass when he wrote this slag - off of them/ anarcho-punk for ‘Socialism from Below’ aka the Anarchist Workers Group…The Anarchist Workers Group existed in Britain from 1988 to 1992 when it changed its name to Socialism from Below and then disintegrated. It was born out of a split from the Direct Action Movement, led a controversial existence and when it fell apart a few of its leading members ended up in various Trotskyist groups. It never had more than 20 members. The following is either a searing attack on the ‘militant liberal lifestylism’ of anarcho-punks or a wonderful piece of postmodern ironicism

Bloody revolutionaries. Splitters I call ’em.

[Note : the AWG had it in for Class War, the Direction Action Movement and Black Flag (guilty of ‘supportism’) as well :

Class War- in the final analysis a rainbow coalition of disaffected non-pacifists- was an organisation who's predominant ideas were neither revolutionary nor anarchist but populist, never getting very far beyond generalised anti-rich anti-state rhetoric and betraying a poor understanding of class- politics. It was an organisation in the business not of encouraging working class militancy but of glorifying working class violence. The central problem with the DAM, though was the lack of any unified industrial strategy until the national conference in 1988. This meant it could not until this date, argue with workers as an organisation, what tactics were necessary, in its view, to win struggles - an appalling state of affairs for an anarcho-syndicalist organisation which, by definition, should have its industrial strategy as a central plank in its raison d'etre. Therefore during the Miners Strike and Wapping its role was reduced, in common with Black Flag to one of mere "supportism" where good work was done but anarchist politics were not on the agenda.]


For the first time in years, the start of the decade [1980?1880?1970?1360?] saw a real increase in the number of people referring to themselves as anarchists. This growing movement of mainly young people was in no small way influenced by the rock group 'Crass' and the imitators they spawned. Their "anarchy and peace" agit-prop was in part inspired by the "do-it yourself" ethos of the punk-rock explosion, and in part hankered back to the pacifistic "alternative lifestyle" tradition that had become a major facet of what passed for the British anarchist movement in the previous 20 years.

Anarchism has always had, to varying degrees, its liberal wing. This is partly because terms bandied around by anarchists, such as anti-authoritarian, freedom and justice, are in themselves meaningless and open to a wide range of interpretations when divorced from their specifically anarchist context: the day to day realities of class society, and an understanding of capitalism and why and how it should be smashed.

Going right back to the days of the First International. there were those anarchists who in contrast with Bakunin (1)
"Abandoned the field of struggle of the working class in favour of a particular form of radicalised liberalism."

In Britain in the 1980s anarchism was still tightly in the grip of a rot that set in during the heyday of the l950's peace movement. Many rank and file anti-nuclear activists (7% of the movement during 1958-65(2)) disillusioned with limitations, in terms of politics, leadership and strategy, of the CND adopted anarchism: in part as a reaction to this, and often not fully aware of the political legacy behind their new label, confusing anarchism "with a more militant liberalism" (3). Their confusion was not helped by the sectarianism of the existing - and increasingly isolated - anarchist movement who made little effort to provide a political lead or a class perspective to the new 'anarchists'.
Living in a state of blissful ignorance of class struggle, they promoted their ideas in "Freedom", "Anarchy Magazine" and "Peace News", taking on board and developing the ideas of pacifism, personal liberation and alternative lifestyle.

The "punk anarchy" of Crass and their camp was but a continuation of this: a dressed up version of militant liberalism with electric guitars and a brand new haircut, but the same tired face.
But it did catch on, striking a chord with the disaffected, young rebels - without a cause but on the look out for one. The small groupings of class - struggle anarchists "active" in the early 1980's repeated the mistakes of the l950's by failing to acknowledge - let alone give a lead to - the new generation who were left to their own devices to "reinvent" "anarchy". In this case it meant inventing a loose, anti-statist pacifist "movement" that left the theory question of class conflict to the trots, instead proclaiming that
"Anarchists believe that if each individual can learn to act out of conscience, rather than greed the machinery of power will collapse." (4)

The small groupings that started to spring up around the country responding to Crass's challenge were soon to be seen on CND demos clustered around their ragged black flags and handing out their leaflets and fanzines, telling the world;
"Don't give in to the authorities, make them give in to you" (5) but never quite managing to go so far as to suggest a way that this awesome task might be achieved. In some of the literature of the time, however, the way forward for anarchists was spelled out a bit more clearly.

And reading it, you would be forgiven for believing that the anarchist movement was less a political current, more a bizarre religious cult:
"to give back to life what we have taken from it ... understand the seasons, the weather, the soil .. reject the grey filth and shit" (6). It seems there was quite an obsession with shit. Stripping away the mystical nonsense we are left with naked personal politics: the revolution begins - and ends - within. There are, for those whose imaginations have perhaps been tainted by years of dealing with the "grey filth" some useful practical examples of how this discovery of self can be put into practise. And it's the classic lifestylist romanticism of a small band of worthy converts struggling to build the society within the shell of the old with: "housing co-ops or communes ... gardening groups to squat and farm disused land ... and grow medicinal herbs to cure each others headaches " (7)

All very commendable and laudable stuff, but about as revolutionary and "anarchist" as sharing your 1ast Rolo with someone you love. Of course there is nothing wrong with being nice to your mates and eating a lot of organic garlic, the danger was that this was substituted for the more pressing and difficult task of developing and testing out a coherent and workable revolutionary strategy that could win people over to the struggle against capitalism. Bakunin asserted that: "the serious realisation of liberty, justice and peace will not be possible whilst the majority of the population remains dispossessed. (8)

However, the punk anarchists hadn't cottoned on to this, and busily sought personal solutions to social problems. Therefore, the groups were little more than consciousness-raising rap groups existing in navel gazing isolation from the real world, helping their participants along on the quest for personal purity. The movement in the early eighties displayed the worst kind of elitism - the politics of "if everyone was like me wouldn't the world be a wonderful place."

The concept of working class mass self-activity didn't get a look-in because there was no understanding - or will to understand the class nature of society. In fact the working class categorised as "grey-nobodies", as people who were:
"in their willingness to bow down to authority ... the real fascist threat." (9) So count out the working class in terms of having any positive role to play in fighting. The action to be taken - aside from changing your own life - was to be taken by the anarchists on behalf of the class and amounted to little more than adventurism and propaganda by deed: "jam up the locks of banks and of with superglue or cut down fences around government installations ... sabotage operations at work." (10)

Aside from that, ever living for kicks you'd be more likely to find an anarchist a on a hunt sab than a picket line, at a free festival than a march against deportations, advocating shoplifting than fighting cuts in welfare provisions. After all, we're trying to get away from the grey filth and we mustn't forget that: "boredom is counter-revolutionary militants are people for whom boredom is part of the struggle and being miserable and downtrodden is part of the revolution. (11)

This phase of modern day anarchism had its swan song in the "Stop the City" demonstrations in 1983-4. These were mass demonstrations of anarchists. pacifists and other members of the counterculture that took place in the City of London with the aim of closing it down for the day.
Little attempt was made to broaden them beyond the lifestyle ghetto and although they received national media coverage. They were not much more than adventures of the same type as the beloved super gluing expeditions, albeit on a larger scale. They were a spectacle, and a substitute for the hard work of building and organising the fight back, and there were those in the anarchist movement who were beginning to recognise this:

"If we are to build a meaningful anarchist movement we have to go beyond Stop Business as Usual and be prepared to argue our case in the workplace and the community." (12)


1 "Putting the Record Straight on Michael Bakunin" Libertarian Communist Review 1976
2 R Taylor, C Pritchard "The Protest Makers" Oxford 1980

3 A Meltzer "The Anarchists in London 1935-1955" quoted in P Kane "British Anarchism Surveyed" Virus No 7
4 P Rimbaud "The Last of the Hippies" in "A Series of Shock Slogans and Mindless Token Tantrums" Existence Press 1982
5 "Prisoners of War" No 1 1983 Page 7
6 P Rimbaud ibid
7 R Rimbaud ibid
8 G Maximof "The Political Philosophy of Bakunin" quoted in P Kane "British Anarchism Surveyed" Virus No 7
9 P Rimbaud ibid
10 P Rimbaud ibid
11 The Beano No 3 June 1986
12 Steve T "Anarchosyndicalism?" Virus No 7

Review Crass 100 Club

TEA AND ANARCHY : From Sounds 20 June 1981

Found at http://members.tripod.com/reviews7/gigs/id52.htm

Edwin Pouncy sees Crass In Action plus Poison Girls,Annie Anxiety & Flux Of Pink Indians 100 Club London June 1981

So here we are queued up outside the 100 club, a long line of black leather sprinkled with colour observed with curiosity and feigned amusement by the inhabitants of passing traffic. Here we are a mass of multi coloured hair twisted into spikes with liquid soap or Vaseline, leather jackets spray painted or Humbrol enamelled, many with great artistry, utilising the names of the groups that support the cause that many have written off as being dead. Groups such as 'The Damned', 'Theatre Of Hate', 'The Exploited', 'Killing Joke' and of course 'Crass'.

The Crass emblem which is at one stroke both a symbol of group identity and more importantly a declaration incorporating anarchy and peace has been stencilled out and stamped on to that favourite jacket with obvious loving devotion. The queue moves forward a little, the prospect of witnessing Crass in action grows a little stronger. Around the comer an orange transit van loaded with police bumps along into Oxford Street on patrol, inside the security of their van they were forcing back stifled, nervous laughter and contemptuous disgust, observing the line as a potential threat.

In front of me a pudgy faced Japanese girl is interviewing with caution, select queue people while her male partner is candidly taking photographic studies of spike topped 'curiosities' with an almost guilty enthusiasm. The Japanese girl has found a willing interviewee and is plying him with questions instructing him to talk into the slimline cassette recorder she has clutched in one gloved hand.

"Do you like other groups other than Crass?"
"Uhh yeah, sure."
"Do you like reggae and dub?"
"Have you come here just to see Crass?"
"Well yeah, of course."
"Ahhh that's very good, do you believe in anarchy?"
Now there's a question to ponder on as the queue slowly snakes its way to the entrance of the 100 Club.

The vibrations of loud music could be heard coming through the pavement below us. Then from the front of the queue came the cry that many of the throng were dreading to hear, "ALL THOSE WITH TICKETS TO THE LEFT, THE REST OF YOU CAN GO HOME IT'S SOLD OUT."

The expected friction mounted and subsided, those who held tickets scampered up to the entrance while others not so fortunate sauntered away almost amiably. although certain angered fans apparently felt it necessary to pay for their disappointment by smashing in shop windows situated in Wardour Street causing some grief to the owners. I had now managed to get to the pay desk and was greeted by the demure form of Annie Anxiety (more of whom will be told later) holding a white emulsion painted mask and long ashed cigarette. "It's okay he's a friend of ours" she told the club owner as I explained my story to gain admission.

I finally made my way down the flight of stairs and into the tightly packed surroundings of the club bedecked with huge banners of the Crass symbol and the backdrop inscribed with the motif of The Poison Girls. Banked on either side of the stage are video monitors which flicker an occasional snowstorm pattern into the audience and a film screen, hanging in space. I had, while waiting in the queue outside, missed the main film attraction of the evening, a twenty-five minute extravaganza of film collage by one Mick Duffield who does much of the film work for the Crass organisation.

On stage a group called Flux Of Pink Indians are winding out the last few sweat drenched minutes of their set to full enthusiastic response from those in attendance. Flux Of Pink Indians used to be called The Epileptics and have a single out under that name, a new single 'Neu Smell' is to be issued shortly by Crass records using their new name.

Another new name to many takes the stage, the afore-mentioned Annie Anxiety, carefully pulling on her own personal little backdrop in front of which she will perform. The symbol of Annie's black curtain, a skull and flowers set within a circle came, I am told later, from a book of Japanese house signs. With this simple little prop Annie shrieks out her heartfelt message over a taped backing track of percussion assault, the videos snow scene has gelled together and come into sharp focus displaying the image of Annie??? or perhaps her doppelganger stroking a microphone. Annie's performance was, I found myself feeling, gloriously fulfilling, its simplicity in execution was almost uplifting.

She returns later in the evening just before Crass come on to do another song which surges into a stop start vocal routine hung loosely over a ballroom dancing backbeat, I admit to failing to understand a word that was being sung on stage but I enjoyed it thoroughly. A record from Annie Anxiety entitled 'Barbed Wire Halo' also to be released on the Crass label should go some way to clear up this minor detraction however.

The evening moves into phase three of the big build up that will eventually errupt with the emergence of Crass as The Poison Girls take to the stage, again heralded by a personal banner draped behind them.

What has impressed me most of all about the evening's proceedings has been the organisation of the entire event, the way each performance merges into the next leaving no tiresome time-filling gaps to get bored in between. There's no work here for the devil to put into idle hands so to speak. The News Of The World shock horror expose was conspicuous only in its absence this night, no blood, no vomit, no overflowing toilets and the merest speck of saliva was all that was in evidence on this particular occasion.

The actual sound is another all important factor, instead of the expected blitzkrieg of aural assault that tends to lead up to one big headache, the sound is mixed with care keeping it loud and powerful but not to the extent where it becomes uncomfortable. The Poison Girls sound is totally murk free and the songs, sung with an earthy, broken texture to them by singer/guitarist Vi Subversa are almost corrosive in the way they are lashed out as the system, its bombs and greed are vigorously attacked and sprayed with The Poison Girls particular brand of venom. Before their live attack a film by Mick Duffield was shown called Total Product' made with The Poison Girls and using a song called 'Statement' originally given away as a flexi disc item with their album 'Chappaquiddick Bridge'.

The film's images of consumer gluttony mixed with scenes of death camp, jew-burning chimneys and the like may sound in cold print as being fatally predictable but Duffield's choice of imagery in both sections is coldly intelligent thus creating the chosen effect that both film and soundtrack strive to achieve. Greatly impressed thus far I decided to mingle and take in my surroundings, the crowd heave towards the bar a mixture of punks, skins with monogrammed throat tattoos plus the occasional beer swollen hippy and astonishingly the now legendary Gene October who reeled and wittered in loud tones about the merits of 'Freemans Beer' before being sucked again into the crowd. I manage to strike up a conversation with two loyal Crass fans called Pete Test-tube and Gray but owing to the babble of the surroundings we sound like a replica of the interview conducted by the Japanese correspondent I had overheard in the queue.

Both Pete and Gray are firm believers in the whole Crass ethic, a "they play straight with us so we play straight with them" moral is strictly observed. The point, "which other groups would put on as good a show and only charge you a quid?" is put before me, I can only nod in weak agreement. Pete's favourite Crass song is 'Band From The Roxy', it says a lot about the band's attitude to things, about not selling out, about self respect and respect for the people around you, I am told.

"It was the first song I ever heard that really hit me", admits Pete.
Gray is equally enthusiastic even though his bootlaces, marker pen, dog collar and nearly even his chewing gum were taken into custody.

Crass time ticks several paces further, everything's set to go up real soon. At the invitation of Crass, the stage is momentarily taken over by a young punkette poet with a Mephistopheles-type hair style that brings to mind the creature that appeared in the film 'Night Of The Demon', her head pulled tightly into a nest of quills. Alas the PA offers little assistance in communicating her words to the audience but eventually the spirit and the image she projects is rewarded by scattered applause.

Crass strike up, ignoring any phoney build up or 'tonight's main attraction' psyche, they just take their places and get on with it. The audience blasts into full life as if they have found new energy as Steve Ignorant thrusts the mike and stand into the belly of the crowd like a lance. The rest of Crass churn out sharp metallic rhythm like an amplified lathe.
Already Steve Ignorant's voice is shot to pieces slowly turning into the anguished cry of a wounded animal but heightening in intensity with every throat cracking twist he can pile on to it. Lead vocal chores are shared out equally between Steve Ignorant and Eve Libertine with the occasional addition of Joy De Vivre who accompanies Eve on songs from the new, highly acclaimed 'Penis Envy' album

For me, these songs work best of all, 'Systematic Death', 'Poison In A Pretty Pill', 'Berketex Bribe' and 'Where Next Columbus' have a musical edge over the material performed from the 'Stations Of The Crass', and 'Feeding Of The 5,000' projects.

It's a sign that Crass are beginning to bloom, steadily adopting a new musical alternative to getting the message across rather than that of just heavily-meshed punk thrashing (which they still do in case you're wondering), just seeing them in action made much more sense. The musical side is superbly and disturbingly illustrated with a graphic bombardment of cutting room floor, film montage bludgeoned into your senses with a cruel yet perceptive wit. A butcher assists a triple decker chinned 'modern' mother in the choosing of meat products screened in freeze-frame slow motion to accompany one of the songs from 'Penis Envy.

A taste of the full-blown horror of nuclear war hell is provided with footage showing the treating of victims during the aftermath of the sickening atrocities committed at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it's deathly cold soundtrack is that of 'Nagasaki Nightmare' announced with the cry of "200,000people were killed in Nagaskai, now that's what I call OBSCENE" from B A Nana as he is now titled, his eyes bristling with both rage and horror at the thought of it all.

Equally chilling is the tape recorded selection of 'count down' talk overs calmly and mechanically played out and lacking any feeling. All these effects are fitted together to form a terrifying portrait of what could happen tomorrow should the right madman get it into his head that today's the day.

The crowd is crowing out, demanding to be fed. The result is a searing power charge version of 'So What' with Steve Ignorant again, by now looking as lean and wide eyed as a rabid hyena.

The fans behind me are echoing the songs lyric straight from the heart, passionately mesmerised. A final implosion of video blare and it's all over, the heat dies down, the message, for now, is over.

Afterwards, in the remains of that evening's event I talked to Andy (B A Nana), rhythm guitarist of Crass who is handing out badges and assorted material connected to the doings of the group. Two of the audience approach him and ask about the possibility of obtaining one of the 'CRASS ANTI WAR' banners about to be neatly folded away.

"You can easily make another one" one of them declares, he is told that the banners are needed for the next date on the tour and that they take a lot of time to individually produce, why doesn't he make one for himself? The fan explains that he doesn't know how and a short lesson in DIY silk screen technique is provided acting as a form of compensation. The two of them bustle off eventually, grinning, their heads already filling with ideas.

I hang around to socialise and sip apres-gig cups of tea. Crass have turned the little canteen to the side of the club into a veritable cup of tea factory. The best drink of the day never tasted so good. It felt great to be alive.
(SOUNDS June 20th 1981)

Review Feeding 5000 Sheperds Bush 24 Nov

Here is a review by John Marshall of the Steve Ignorant (not Crass) performance of Crass' first album "Feeding the 5000" at the Sheperd's Bush Empire 24 November 2007

For full review see http://weddingpresent.livejournal.com/96317.html

I've seen Steve ignorant before. He became a member of conflict in the 80s and they did Crass songs for a lot of the set. they were noisier rawer versions of those songs but it was great to get my Crass fix as I'd never seen Crass. This was 20 years ago though and I really wanted to hear Steve do these songs again. I also saw him as part of a band called Schwartzeneggar who were very very good. Steve was nervous about tonight as so many were saying this was wrong and he wanted to prove to people how well it could be done. The band came on to film backdrops of the Crass logo. I felt all tingly inside. They began with DO They Owe Us A Living. You could tell Steve was neverous inside but sang this wonderfully and the band were spot on. it was more like Crass than when conflict did it. Not as hard or thrashy like the music of conflict and the crowd were less aggressive. Steve got more into his stride for End Result singing in his distinctive style with much power and aggression. My god this was good. His backing band consisited of an ex Schwartzeneggar member, the guy who used to be in English Dogs and Prodigy also a guy from Die Toten Hosen and one other. Also a female vocalist to do those parts. They didn't perform Asylum though as steve said it was Eve Libertine's song and should only be done by her. So the set continued. They've got a bomb was true to form but with extra power. this one really got the crowd going. Punk Is Dead got the biggest chant of the night probably confusing security! Reject Of Society and General Bacardi both excellent then Banned form the roxy was always sang as "Banned from The Uk" with Conflict so it was good to hear Steve singing the original words to this. thank god those saying this should never happen didn't get their own way to deprive me of tonight. G's song being the shortest crass song was fast and furious and also brilliant! so then side 2! Fight War Not Wars got the second biggest chant of the night. absolutely excellent as the screeching radio sound and guitars led into Women which the female vocalist Steve got tonight to do it sang. She sounded like she could've been in Crass it was that good. So then the intriguing part of the night, how would steve cope with the songs which Pete Wright sang on the record? Bloody well was the answer if not better than the original versions. give me a live lp of this gig now! Sucks was especially good from this trilogy of songs. Angels was next which some were complaining that it'd sound dated. The title coming from the tv series "Angels" from the 70s and also saying that coronation street is on twice a week! the lyrics wern't changed to suit today which was a good thing so it gave it that Life On Mars kinda nostalgia! The part where steve mentions Kojak he pointed to his head which is now bald! I laughed so much! What A Shame followed this wonderfully and then one of my highlights of the night "So What?" no, not the anti nowhere league one! Steve did this so well his voice probably suited to this anti religion song more than any other. So this was the end of the Feeding of the 5000, ok there was one more track called "Well..do they?" which was a reprise of Do they owe us a living but it didn't appear! instead Steve stood back as the female vocalist came on and sang Shaved Women. this was done so well with all the aggression intact. Big A Little A had a little girl brought onstage to sing the bit at the start with the childs voice! my god she was so good especially infront of all those fat sweaty punks so brave!! steve looked very impressed as he watched her. The song itself was brilliant. One of the best Crass songs proving they were musically creative more so than most punk bands. The fast bit of this song really got the place going wild. Bloody Revolutions was next complete with brass section. A huge surprise to hear this live one of the most musically challenging Crass songs with a lot of changes through out. a Schwartzeneggar song was then done and maybe another to follow. I really should play their albums more! both were excellent proving crass wasn't the only great achievement of Steve's career. So then to end the main set was Rival Tribal Rebel Revel where steve did all the laddish "come on then, I'll have you all bits" very funny to watch he looks like aright lad now with his bald head! Giz from English Dogs did the "tribal Wars are raging..." parts. So the band went off and steve cameon alone. He said about this gig being controversial and people saying it was wrong. He said that people from all over the world had come to see it and for him it was well worth it and seeing the reaction he had done the right thing and it meant a lot to him after 30 years that these songs still meant something. Who could argue with that? well I'm sure some stuck up git could but hopefully for most there this was perfect. He told us the last song is for us and did Do They Owe us a living again, probably because of how it ends Feeidng! this was even better than the first time! such an amazing gig, more again tonight!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

anarchist films online

Just had this via e-mail from Stuart Christie.

Recent titles posted on the ChristieBooks anarchist film website (
http://tinyurl.com/t8sta - [hang on, just checked and that link doesn't work - so try this next one]
http://www.brightcove.com/channel.jsp?channel=219646953&firstVideo=0 )

(For a complete up-to-date hyper-linked listing ­ Word doc - please email
us with ŒFilm List¹ in the subject bar)

7 días de enero (1979 - Juan Antonio Bardem),

Genova Libera (Daniel Hernandez Torrado)

Mujeres del 36 (1999 - Ana Martínez)

La estrategia del caracol (1993 - Sergio Cabrera)

La Ciudad Quemada (1976 ­ Feature)

Las Ilusiones perdidas - La Actividad Guerrillera (E Monesma)

Les Misérables Part 1 (1995 - Claude Lelouch)

Les Misérables Part 2 (1995 - Claude Lelouch)

Los Anarquistas (1983 - Muñoz, Pedroche, Eduardo de Guzman)

O Thiasos ­ Part 1: The Travelling Players (1975 - Theo Angelopoulos)

O Thiasos ­ Part 2: The Travelling Players (1975 - Theo Angelopoulos)

O Thiasos ­ Part 3: The Travelling Players (1975 - Theo Angelopoulos)

Presas de Franco - Del olvido a la memoria (M Vidal A Sangües)

Punishment Park - Introduction (1971 - Peter Watkins)

Punishment Park (1971 - Peter Watkins)

The Forgotten Faces (1961 - Peter Watkins)

The Gladiators (Peter Watkins - 1968)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Situationists at war

"However critical the situation and circumstances in which you find yourself, despair of nothing; it is on the occasions in which everything is to be feared that it is necessary to fear nothing; it is when one is surrounded by all the dangers that it is not necessary to dread any; it is when one is without resources that it is necessary to count on all of them; it is when one is surprised that it is necessary to surprise the enemy himself." Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

These comments are sure to be promptly known by fifty or sixty people; a large number given the times in which we live and the gravity of the matters under discussion. But then, of course, in some circles I am considered to be an authority. It must also be borne in mind that a good half of this elite that will be interested will consist of people who devote themselves to maintaining the spectacular system of domination, and the other half of people who persist in doing quite the opposite. Having, then, to take account of readers who are both attentive and diversely influential, I obviously cannot speak with complete freedom. Above all, I must take care not to instruct just anybody. Guy Debord : Comments on the Society of the Spectacle:1988

The following are extracts from an article "The Art of War " found here


The reading lists of contemporary military institutions include works from around 1968 (with a special emphasis on the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Guy Debord), as well as more contemporary writings on urbanism, psychology, cybernetics, post-colonial and post-Structuralist theory... ‘Imagine it – you’re sitting in your living-room, which you know so well; this is the room where the family watches television together after the evening meal, and suddenly that wall disappears with a deafening roar, the room fills with dust and debris, and through the wall pours one soldier after the other, screaming orders. You have no idea if they’re after you, if they’ve come to take over your home, or if your house just lies on their route to somewhere else.

The children are screaming, panicking. Is it possible to even begin to imagine the horror experienced by a five-year-old child as four, six, eight, 12 soldiers, their faces painted black, sub-machine-guns pointed everywhere, antennas protruding from their backpacks, making them look like giant alien bugs, blast their way through that wall?’

In addition to these theoretical positions, Naveh references such canonical elements of urban theory as the Situationist practices of dérive (a method of drifting through a city based on what the Situationists referred to as ‘psycho-geography’) and détournement (the adaptation of abandoned buildings for purposes other than those they were designed to perform). These ideas were, of course, conceived by Guy Debord and other members of the Situationist International to challenge the built hierarchy of the capitalist city and break down distinctions between private and public, inside and outside, use and function, replacing private space with a ‘borderless’ public surface.

The Art of War by Eyal Weizman

The Israeli Defence Forces have been heavily influenced by contemporary philosophy, highlighting the fact that there is considerable overlap among theoretical texts deemed essential by military academies and architectural schools. The attack conducted by units of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on the city of Nablus in April 2002 was described by its commander, Brigadier-General Aviv Kokhavi, as ‘inverse geometry’, which he explained as ‘the reorganization of the urban syntax by means of a series of micro-tactical actions’.

During the battle soldiers moved within the city across hundreds of metres of ‘overground tunnels’ carved out through a dense and contiguous urban structure. Although several thousand soldiers and Palestinian guerrillas were manoeuvring simultaneously in the city, they were so ‘saturated’ into the urban fabric that very few would have been visible from the air. Furthermore, they used none of the city’s streets, roads, alleys or courtyards, or any of the external doors, internal stairwells and windows, but moved horizontally through walls and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors. This form of movement, described by the military as ‘infestation’, seeks to redefine inside as outside, and domestic interiors as thoroughfares. The IDF’s strategy of ‘walking through walls’ involves a conception of the city as not just the site but also the very medium of warfare – a flexible, almost liquid medium that is forever contingent and in flux.

There is a considerable overlap among the theoretical texts considered essential by military academies and architectural schools. Indeed, the reading lists of contemporary military institutions include works from around 1968 (with a special emphasis on the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Guy Debord), as well as more contemporary writings on urbanism, psychology, cybernetics, post-colonial and post-Structuralist theory. If, as some writers claim, the space for criticality has withered away in late 20th-century capitalist culture, it seems now to have found a place to flourish in the military.

If you still believe, as the IDF would like you to, that moving through walls is a relatively gentle form of warfare, the following description of the sequence of events might change your mind. To begin with, soldiers assemble behind the wall and then, using explosives, drills or hammers, they break a hole large enough to pass through. Stun grenades are then sometimes thrown, or a few random shots fired into what is usually a private living-room occupied by unsuspecting civilians. When the soldiers have passed through the wall, the occupants are locked inside one of the rooms, where they are made to remain – sometimes for several days – until the operation is concluded, often without water, toilet, food or medicine. Civilians in Palestine, as in Iraq, have experienced the unexpected penetration of war into the private domain of the home as the most profound form of trauma and humiliation.

A Palestinian woman identified only as Aisha, interviewed by a journalist for the Palestine Monitor, described the experience: ‘Imagine it – you’re sitting in your living-room, which you know so well; this is the room where the family watches television together after the evening meal, and suddenly that wall disappears with a deafening roar, the room fills with dust and debris, and through the wall pours one soldier after the other, screaming orders. You have no idea if they’re after you, if they’ve come to take over your home, or if your house just lies on their route to somewhere else. The children are screaming, panicking. Is it possible to even begin to imagine the horror experienced by a five-year-old child as four, six, eight, 12 soldiers, their faces painted black, sub-machine-guns pointed everywhere, antennas protruding from their backpacks, making them look like giant alien bugs, blast their way through that wall?’

In addition to these theoretical positions, Naveh references such canonical elements of urban theory as the Situationist practices of dérive (a method of drifting through a city based on what the Situationists referred to as ‘psycho-geography’) and détournement (the adaptation of abandoned buildings for purposes other than those they were designed to perform). These ideas were, of course, conceived by Guy Debord and other members of the Situationist International to challenge the built hierarchy of the capitalist city and break down distinctions between private and public, inside and outside, use and function, replacing private space with a ‘borderless’ public surface.

References to the work of Georges Bataille, either directly or as cited in the writings of Tschumi, also speak of a desire to attack architecture and to dismantle the rigid rationalism of a postwar order, to escape ‘the architectural strait-jacket’ and to liberate repressed human desires. In no uncertain terms, education in the humanities – often believed to be the most powerful weapon against imperialism – is being appropriated as a powerful vehicle for imperialism. The military’s use of theory is, of course, nothing new – a long line extends all the way from Marcus Aurelius to General Patton.

In discursive terms, war – if it is not a total war of annihilation – constitutes a form of discourse between enemies. Every military action is meant to communicate something to the enemy. Talk of ‘swarming’, ‘targeted killings’ and ‘smart destruction’ help the military communicate to its enemies that it has the capacity to effect far greater destruction. Raids can thus be projected as the more moderate alternative to the devastating capacity that the military actually possesses and will unleash if the enemy exceeds the ‘acceptable’ level of violence or breaches some unspoken agreement. In terms of military operational theory it is essential never to use one’s full destructive capacity but rather to maintain the potential to escalate the level of atrocity. Otherwise threats become meaningless.

When the military talks theory to itself, it seems to be about changing its organizational structure and hierarchies. When it invokes theory in communications with the public – in lectures, broadcasts and publications – it seems to be about projecting an image of a civilized and sophisticated military. And when the military ‘talks’ (as every military does) to the enemy, theory could be understood as a particularly intimidating weapon of ‘shock and awe’, the message being: ‘You will never even understand that which kills you.’

Eyal Weizman is an architect, writer and Director of Goldsmith’s College Centre for Research Architecture. His work deals with issues of conflict territories and human rights.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Chaos Marxist aphorisms


Here is a random selection from above

YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO. If you want to be something else, do something else.

Politics, magick, psychology, advertising, propaganda are ALL THE SAME THING – attempts to describe and alter consciousness.

History will prove you right.

Marxist revolutionary politics seek the coming to consciousness of the vast majority of people in the world – the goal of magick, the tools of politics.

The central goal of Chaos Marxism is to integrate chaos magick and dialectical materialism.

Consumer culture is the opium of the 21st century masses.

The Real World of Horrible Jobs is everything that the Corporate Egregore sees as “chthonic” or even the Qlippoth. It’s the dirty underside which you’re not even supposed to look at. Here lies power, for those brave enough to grab it - but only collectively, not individually.

Dialectical materialism is the process of seeing which futures are possible, based on the contradictions of the present, and what kind of pressure on what kind of points right now will bring about which future

Meaning is material.
Ideas are material.
Ideas become real forces when they seize the masses.

The "individuality" you are so proud of is also a mass-produced consumer product.
Once you accept that reality is individual rather than collective, you will never be a threat to the system.

The more I looked at the mystics and the psychonauts, the more I realised that for them "Question everything” meant "Question everything except the idea that individual consciousness is a thing unto itself which can be worked on in isolation".

If you start saying that people are not individuals - that they are created by their upbringing and the role they play in real, nasty, going-to-work-in-traffic society - then you open the door to the idea that only a social revolution can actually solve the real problems with humanity.

Everyone has their own part to play, no matter who or where they are.

Most people do not base their actions on rational thought related to material reality. They base their action on stories which they partly pick up from their culture and partly make up themselves.

Capitalism destroyed all the old myths, but then had to create new myths to continually expand consumption and win our consent to the system.

When corporate capitalism had succeeded in fulfilling the basic physical needs of its workforce, it then had to create new needs and desires in order to perpetuate itself.

Don't blame the media - become the media. Turn readers into writers, consumers into producers, buyers into sellers.