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

Friday, March 30, 2007

Situationist critique of anarcho-punk

Just found this on Revolt Against Plenty - originally from USA fanzine in late eighties.

Helps to explain why a focus on the 'radical bands' e.g. Ian Glasper's 'The Day the Country Died' misses the point. What made the era interesting was the 'real activity' which took place outside of realm of commodity.

The Spectacle of Dissent

Founded on the essential deceptiveness of pop music’s function within advanced capital, today’s pop revolt can only lie to itself as to its radicality. The terms oppositional pop, rebel music, and radical bands are invented terms. The alternative music press, the widely scattered fanzines produced by misinformed malcontents and aspiring journalists, like to label the bands as the centre of gravity for a movement of negativity against Power and authority. Stripped of the ideological baggage found in a song lyric, an interview, or in the slogans inscribed on record and cassette covers, our music rebels proliferate at every step of their activity the alienating forms of the society they claim to rebel against.

At its outset, the pop music rebellion that only apparently began with the Sex Pistols, was a rebellion aimed at the music industry. The pop music industry, like any other industry, attributes to commodities a mystical ability for the satisfaction of needs and desires – or it creates needs and desires, albeit false needs and desires. Coinciding with post-war reconstruction and the increasingly affluent base attached to that, pop culture became the ideological discourse for the array of commodities available to youth: fast cars (the auto as the sign, in the semiotic sense, of prosperity) being just the most superficial and glaring example. During the 1960’s, pop culture was the reification of the dissent against the Vietnam war, the sexual ‘revolution’, experimentation with psychoactive drugs, and the dismissal of material life – among other things. During the early 70’s, from Bowie to Yes and back to Roxy Music, the fantasy escapism of glam-rock and ‘progressive’ music increasingly separated pop culture, in its ideology, from its social base – youth. Top 40 and Top of the Pops music merely became a larger joke with its endless promotion of the most easily seen through aspects of the dominant culture. Punk emerged as a rebellion to regain control of the culture youth no longer ideologically possessed: creating a crisis that merely assured the updating of the pop spectacle. While punk protagonists heralded the movement as the artistic, cultural, and political avant-garde, it was no more than a recuperative representation of a consciousness already at work.

Including every political ideology available on the market, and marketing every political ideology, the latest phase of pop rebellion has nonetheless been a representation of the most critical forces arrayed against advanced capital: forces that first emerged collectively in France during May of ’68. The punk rebellion offered, as it still does, political criticism on an array of subjects, among them: sexual roles, dead routines, authoritarian structures, work, racism, capitalism, rioting, and the reduction of life to mere survival. Despite the radicality found in such critiques, punk rapidly underwent a reversal of any potential subversive force it had: a characteristic of the whole of advanced capital and its ability to recuperate its opposition. While punk entailed, as does its current offshoots, a partial critique of domination, it failed to critique, as youth continues to be fooled by, the dominant culture’s use of pop culture and the domination inherent in the form of pop. It is perhaps this failure which has led to the mutations in punk – post-punk, hardcore, oi, minimalism, industrial, etc., that all claim to contain the criticality of early punk – and the proliferation of even more obvious forms of domination: fanzines; organizations "by punks and for punks" who mainly organize shows, put out occasional records, etc., and deal with the cash end of the movement that "keeps it in the movement". From here it is with a more detailed analysis of the form of domination in pop culture that, perhaps, a more effective subversion of pop culture can be put to use.

Section Two

The alienation of the spectator to the profit of the contemplated object (which is the result of his own unconscious activity) is expressed in the following way: the more he contemplates the less he lives; the more he accepts recognizing himself in the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own existence and his own desires.
(Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle.)

The radical band, rather than being a component of a rebellious pop culture, is both a process and a product within the pop industry: it is a commodity that creates itself, contrary to its real desire to be solely communication. From the recruitment of members and the formation of the band, to the rehearsal, the stage, and possibly the record or cassette, this process is a production that develops itself as an entertainment commodity. Regardless of the fact that the band attaches a subversive content to the commodity, its methodological flow is that of all commodities and remains constrained within the metaphysical subtleties all commodities contain. The radical band’s essential weakness is not so much that it attempts to attach a subversive content to the commodity which it is, but that it fails to subvert the commodity’s domination.

Respective to the highly paid "straight" wage-slaves-cum-commodities of the entertainment industry, the only real compensation the radical band has for its activity is that of a feeling in the participation of rebellion. It is not important whether or not the band behaves literally as a commodity (i.e. whether or not they, or a club owner, require that their audience pay to see them, or if they have records or cassettes available) but that the form they utilize for their participation is the form of the commodity. It is precisely in the commodity form where the absence of participation can be located. The commodified radical band is the pseudo-fulfilment of both the need and desire for revolt: it is the representation of rebellion, a non-living image that reflects, but does not act upon, the basis of revolt. By its continual pseudo-satisfaction of those needs and desires it sublimates the possibilities for real activities that could fundamentally change lives. The radical band does not participate in rebellion, but reduces it to a frozen frame of passively absorbed images.

To the purpose of profit, the commodity is both the result and the goal of the existing means of production: it aims at nothing other than the reproduction of itself. The reign of the commodity as a pseudo-satisfaction of needs and desires entails the separation of individuals. This separation ensures not only the return of the consumer, due to the pseudo-satisfaction, but that the commodity becomes the focus of those needs and desires. The entertainment spectacle of pop rebellion provides the spectator with a false gratification of desires: no one is challenged to rely upon themselves and their own inner creativity and ‘worth’ and there is no need for real activity.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Everything turned into its opposite

Via John Eden's Uncarved site I have found a King Mob archive.

Who were King Mob? They were a late-sixties part of the brief English section of the Situationist International and had a much argued over influence/ non-influence on punk. However, the site does confirm that Malcolm Maclaren really did take part in the anti-Xmas Oxford Street action - see flyer here. Should work as a 'click to enlarge' one.

The following is a short (but still 3400 words) section taken from the last part of the main King Mob article on the revoltagainstplenty.com website.

If it was not 11pm and if I did not know that I will be woken up at sometime between 5 and 6 am tomorrow (clocks change to British Summer Time tonight) I would comment on it.

But it is and I will. And any way, I am sure that, if you choose to read through the following, you will come to your own conclusions. And post as a Comment.

So here we go now, another sociology lecture, a bit of neurology, a bit psychology, a bit of fuckology... no fun... my babe, no fun...

On the same path as our enemies? Were we then ? Are we now?


Double-reflection. We were necessarily on the same path as our enemies. From recuperation to brutal hi-jacking as everything turned into its opposite.

Looking back on King Mob and its times one is struck by how different the general social situation is between then and now. Superficially everything appears so similar. Temples of consumption are literally everywhere and the Society of the Spectacle is now more omnipresent than ever it was in its more youthful phase in the sixties when the spectacular commodity economy still entertained a certain innocence through which genuine revolt could finally unfold.

Fashion did indeed accelerate as revolution was treading on its tail. Since then all the attributes of this new and terrible phase of capitalist accumulation have intensified to degrees unimaginable over 30 thirty years ago. The grand manufactured lie is now all-encompassing and pervasive invading every detail of daily life. Truth is silenced like never before as the smoke and mirrors of a deadly magicians trick nightmarishly triumphs everywhere. Without our collective web site – Revolt Against an Age of Plenty - numbering merely four individuals, none of our utterances would ever see the light of day. Truly there has never been such a dark time to elaborate the subversive theory of our age; a theory no longer seamlessly bound to the late 1960s.

What we once said in the late 60s cannot be said again as most of it (as has been elaborated here) needs much qualifying and auto-critique if we are to get anywhere. A lot is irrelevant. As Nick Brandt once pointedly said: “We write from the present moving back over” and though at the risk of some repetition, it’s a serious of long querulous backward glances that must conclude this hidden history.

In the 1960s we emphasized the totality alright and that essentially distinguished us from what was to come. The totality of what we trail-blazed was immediately lost in all its roundness as the mood was instantly recuperated and modified by a general ‘new’ culture of hydra-headed, issue politics successfully lobotomizing the general, totalising intent. Thrown back in our faces we hesitantly looked at our uncalled for offspring shaking our heads in bewilderment muttering; “no, no, a thousand times no, that isn’t what we meant” even though we were hard put to explain what we really did mean!

It’s easy enough to say things after the event and one of the constant refrains through this book is an, ‘if only’ especially the ‘if only’ of a more reflective foresight. It unfortunately could be said that King Mob did realize itself in anticipating many tendencies and trends that mainstream society was to take up with a vengeance later on though it did so by essentially disconnecting each from the other as all notion of the totality evaporated to be replaced, at best, by a plethora of inter-disciplinary measures.

As was mooted in Once Upon A Time in Nothing Hill (1988) things were turned into their opposites, or as Vaneigem quipped in the early 1970s; “everything was realized minus the essential”, allowing, with the passage of time, a certain glibness in such an assertion considering this society now has no revolutionary undertow. To be more precise, our take on riot, on never working, on anti-art, on crime, on individual self-expression – and so many other things beside – got more than turned into their opposite as it became impossible to even begin to recognize ourselves in a disastrous outcome we never remotely intended or, even in our most desperate nightmares, we never imagined could happen. Then too if you had a libertarian disposition in everyday life and were especially against racism it was acquainted with an anti-capitalist rebellious perspective. This is no longer the case.

Indeed you can be all these things - and with feminism thrown in for good measure - whilst maintaining a deeply submissive, anti-life identification with present day capitalism. A strange and alarming conjuncture is brought into focus not too different in broad outline, if not in subtlety, to that broadly based, cosmopolitan elite perfecting repression and newspeak in the Oceania of George Orwell’s 1984.

Of course what we meant by the totality in the late sixties was relatively limited in comparison to what now would be considered a totality – if ever that crying need is to reassert itself again. Moreover, the totality as envisaged then was set in an everyday life still containing more than a whiff of genuine freedom. By revealing everyday life we also revealed it to the market that was to make brutal mayhem with the concept as our desires and social space were colonized at the same moment as our authentic self was exterminated.

In its infancy then, it must be remembered that totality was a concept also aimed for rather than immediately grasped – a way of praxis if you like – as obviously we were often woefully short of sufficient knowledge and experience. The fact that we aimed for totality was in itself remarkable. Essentially it was a notion underpinned by commodification spreading everywhere though in terms of discussed content we couldn’t really then have possibly had any thoughts say on neuro-science, astro-physics, genetics, computers or, surprisingly in retrospect, just how serious the ecological crises was going to be. It could be said too that our analysis of the law of value as the corner stone of total critique was rather woefully absent. Nonetheless, it was rather better that that coterie now who eternally emphasizing the law of value in relation to everything under the sun, completely miss out on the totality of alienation.

Seeing our very essence was instantly denied (the counter revolution was quick, very quick to announce itself) our influence, becoming more diffuse by the day, was merely to change surface appearances which inevitably could only end up by making matters worse as we increasingly, were unable to combat changing (for the worse) times. Truly we were on the same path as our enemies as they rested control from us – a control they’ve grimly and powerfully hung onto ever since.

Centrally for us who had so vehemently tried to realize the rich subversive core of modern art saw our efforts over the decades turned into the very artistic commodities we so despised. We, in turn, were destined to be hung on walls as we became nothing more than a missing link in contemporary cultural history. If not that we only altered the shape of the environment our long shadow providing an occasion for new artistic roles most obviously from graffiti to graffiti artists and a step back into the picturesque.

It may seem ironical after emphasizing the totality but perhaps it’s necessary to go into some of the facets of the totality by deploying a kind of compartmentalization – a contradiction in terms if you like – if only to more exactly pinpoint how, from all sides, we’ve been had! Essentially though one underlying truth pervades throughout: a general drift towards monetary psychosis.
We lauded riot as the great truthful expression which would truly purge us of our present day conditioning and socializing, the authentic voice of our anger and essential in the creation of a new world.

Well, we were right as for sure big riots then were impassioned social explosions full of communication and dialogue with strangers about to become friends ever ready to explore all frontiers of liberation. Riots were all-encompassing events and though one could get easily hurt or even killed in them, nevertheless they welcomed allies, were inclusive rather than exclusive. Don’t be afraid - even if shy or timid – join us! And then somehow, bit-by-bit, the whole mood of riot began to almost imperceptibly change as the decades unfolded and the revolutionary impulses waned. Finally riot was either done by militant rote or, as in those spontaneous urban outbursts, began reflecting more and more the hideous fears of the bourgeoisie in seeing an underclass hell bent on the attack and rape of ordinary citizens. This wasn’t what was intended by riot. And for every glorious Seattle or Genoa there were to be all the sickening others providing a venue for a maimed psyche giving more gist to the mill to the lurid fantasies of a sensationalist press seeing (perhaps even wanting) brutal mayhem everywhere.

On our website, Revolt Against an age of Plenty, the introduction to the text on the 1979’80 Winter of Discontent notes the deterioration in the capacity to riot. In an article in the Leeds based Here and now in the early 1990s we noted a similar deterioration in the Newcastle-Upon Tyne riots of 1993. The sociopathic activities in the huge Bradford riot of 2001 where a gang of youths tried to murder drinkers bevying in a nearby cut-price Working Men’s Club by blocking all entrances to it with burning cars, meant that what was liberating in this event got lost by the imprint this dreadful incident was to make upon the minds of local people. The first firebomb lobbed at the club was thrown by a mid 40s businessman which in itself clearly states the overlap between gang activity and capitalism.

This example of pure fuckhead hate-culture only served to reinforce the judiciary in handing out long prison sentences to those well-intentioned rioters who didn’t deserve this judgement and calumny. Now, more than ever, riot, to rewrite Rimbaud, “must be reinvented afresh” by rediscovering its lost innocence.

Closely related to the above we played on the form of the gang more as a two fingers up more than its reality, notably its often repressive and authoritarian hierarchy and most decidedly coloured by the recent experiences of mods, rockers and greasers than more traditional forms of the gang with their baneful lumpen overtones. A gang was a means suggesting violent and vandalistic escape from the strait jacket of a straight (and dull) society as well as something which put a distance to that party structure so enamoured of Social Democrats and Leninists. A gang proclaimed the aura of the urban streetwise at loggerheads with all the new forms of social control spawned by the new era of post war capital.

In retrospect all this other emphasis had some kind of raison d’etre to it if only as a perspective putting some kind of clear blue water between ourselves and orthodox, procedurial leftism In short to bring to things a sense of life and urgency. As we’ve suggested before, unfortunately this positive side was at the expense of a more lucid analysis which should have reminded everybody that the gang unit had to be transcended and that gangs in themselves must acquire the ability to listen to what is going on around them (which necessarily implies their immanent end) as in themselves gangs are also useless and going nowhere.

Unfortunately, much of our gang emphasis, and unforeseen ourselves during the brief moment of King Mob, was as the decades passed by to become the form most perfectly compatible with an absolute finance capital. Times now favoured the racket, the vicious clique, the renewed robber baron tendency, the para-state drug cartel which could run a government. Mirroring this, on the street, the gang, in its most avante garde form, became the non-racist posse colonizing the very essence of a riot having lost its revolutionary innocence utilising a warped, almost psycho-geographical marker, as a means of mapping out its essential stake out, its future market. The dominant feature of the contemporary street gang was to become that of an un-licensed, wildcard, brutal business superceding the image of the old lumpen gang and, more latterly, that of sub-cultures and marginality.

Spontaneous urban riots dominated by gangs thus no longer presaged victory over the machines of permitted consumption but a means of grabbing the commodity within its own term minus the drag of having to pay for them.

Fuckhead culture and its general reflection in Rap is the horrific recuperation of a revolutionary praxis emanating from visceral impulses marking the end of modern art nuanced by the free market and capitalist aggression in everyday life. Ending up with maimed praxis it now means vicious psycho assault proclaimed everywhere. To be sure the revolutionary praxis coming from the fall out of modern art must upset and disturb in its urgency but it mustn’t capsize into a blatant elimination of those people existing all around us (just in case everyone’s forgotten) who are the subject and means of generalized escape from these hellish conditions. Such a process must be infinitely dialectical full of an ever-increasing wisdom and forthright criticism plus more than a dash of seeming madness and imaginative leaps.

Art throughout the early decades of the 20th century had to envelope and develop by fits and starts, revolutionary praxis. There was literally no escaping such realization. It could though be diabolically side-tracked and this has become the very putrid essence of the achievement and tragedy of the epoch we are enduring, hanging on as we are to sanity by our very fingertips.
Again we must reiterate that all these things are inseparable from each other as each flows into the other. The same goes for crime. To put a new or at least revived emphasis on crime regarding the part it plays in social revolutionary acts was, in the late 60s, justified but look how rapidly such emphasis lost its radical cutting edge as the capitalist mode of production itself has since then taken on more than a gangsterish hue.

In fact crime and gangsterism has become its very essence permeating its highest echelons and well mimicked on a street level by a plethora of mugging, petty burglary and never ending assaults on poor neighbours. And we who loved the street; that aura where encounter and liberating potential lay, where the real future would unfold, saw it stolen from beneath our eyes meaning that emphasizing crime as something emancipatory in itself and set against unimaginative and routine ways of a deadening daily life, will never again be at the heart of a liberating social critique. Society isn’t dull so much as just plain frightening and we don’t need to be terrorized anymore.

Terrorism has become the foil, the means by which to seal our fear – a method the authorities have engineered to perfection to suit their own diabolical ends – that chimera and sometimes reality which stalks our everyday life. In this grim reality our terrorist style address which King Mob deployed and which had a certain innovatory dash to it at the time couldn’t be more inapplicable. True, we must still critique forcibly and be unrelenting but we can no longer give the State any leeway on this matter and we cannot supply them with the arms - meant here in the broadest sense of the term - which can assist in our future demise.

While we are mentioning arms we can only be more than careful in proclaiming old shibboleths like the arming of the working class. What resonance can we get from that old maxim with arms proliferating everywhere in the midst of mass paranoia and sociopathic impulses everywhere? As we’ve said before; arm the working class the better to shoot each other and/or as a means of proclaiming gangland ways or securing immediate survival – and perhaps a little bit more – for some small unit of people. Now we have under our belt examples like Albania in 1999 when an armed and seemingly insurrectionary population staged an ‘uprising’ which despite some anarchist eulogies made not the slightest difference in creating any hoped for wider social revolution. Basically Albania was a gun fest reinforcing crime and general gangland activities as the small amount of true subversive actions and tendencies retreated into almost total insignificance.

As for all the youthful zest which is essentially at the core of all genuine social revolt when will we see the likes of it again? Will we ever be able to eulogise youth like we once did now that a huge part are so enmeshed by the specific logic of the commodity they behave according to its inherent table turning mystifications? Once we could readily enthuse over Lautreamont’s maxim; “The storms of youth precede brilliant days” noting (even then!) he cautions with “precede”. We could identify with the sub cultures from Teds, to Mods and Rockers and most obviously, the Hippies (though well noting the Hippies obvious inadequacies) while we, rather masochistically perhaps, lauded far too much, the more violent sub-cultures. Generally though we were thrilled by the better qualities of all of them as truly at the time, they were indeed pointing to something better than passive acquience to spectacular consumption.

Today we are presented with the end of sub-cultures, themselves living on as mere shadows and ghosts of their former glories. Within this lacunae “Fuckhead culture” has been spawned supported by a veritable industry of social workers and agencies empowering a victim syndrome never apportioned to the real sub-cultures of yester year. Thus moulded by an arm of the state their hazy use to capital isn’t like the traditional Marxist “reserve army of labour” as these people simply aren’t “good enough for work” as one of the characters at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs says. Fuckhead culture does equate though with an arditti of out of control community scabs readily attacking all and sundry (ironically a kind of nightmarish pastiche of King Mob provocative intervention) assisting – unbeknown to themselves – the state in curtailing many hard won rights the people forged for themselves over centuries resisting enclosure, limiting the power of landlords, and keeping some social space relatively free of capital.

Worse than that, an outrageous free market finds Fuckhead culture useful, if only be selling its image back to them and the state finds its role useful, even perhaps formidable, in helping suppress authentic protest simply in keeping people locked safely up behind doors during their leisure time. It’s as though spontaneous youth rebellion is more split down the middle than ever before, a stark choice between splendid children’s riots opposing war on Iraq and a form of anarchically driven Fuckhead authoritarianism claiming and maiming the street. No wonder there’s been a hideous revival in its fortunes in the wake of the so-called ‘victory’ in Iraq. We weren’t the only ones aware of the subterranean relationship between these two seemingly disparate phenomena, but then the concept of totality always was a bonus.

Between these two extremes, for a brief period there was the inspiration of marginality. For certain King Mob and the more committed hippies were its harbingers forging “dole culture” as it was once nostalgically called. In the despotism of the free market dole culture could no longer be an option even though this form of resistance was, more often than not, safely recuperated and hedged in exhibiting itself as nothing more than harmless rebellion. (e.g. things like the “Demolition Decorators” of the 1970s). All such different ways of attempted survival, living and outlook were to be completely eclipsed in a brave new world of what American neo-liberalism was to call presenteeism i.e. the worker instead of never working never leaves work.

Thus sub-culture has given way to sociopathic expression and become perfect foil of a sociopathic mode of production and consumption with its nexus located in the image of the crackhead gang. It is also in the light of such developments that we must also put our fascination with the deranged and psychotic in the late 60s. No longer interesting examples of damaged psyches pushed to a limit, the hideous underbelly of a capitalism with necrophiliac tendencies but something tending to more closely dog us personally penetrating into our inner being. Shortly we shall all be mad, utterly depressed or – as a kind of reflex tragic outcome – suicidal exponents of a suicide capitalism.

If all this is over the top nonetheless you cannot be blamed for such a bleak take on things t possibly coming our way soon. Over the last three decades conditions have got worse and for those who’ve lived through it, there’s probably nobody on this planet that would deny it. As for us, the heady, well-intentioned protagonists of total revolution, for certain we weren’t prepared one iota for the long, drawn out, hideous collapse in the offing and still with no end in sight. Everywhere subversive tendencies stalled, even lost sight of going into sharp reverse or turning into their opposite. We played with all kinds of drugs, some light, some heavy only to quickly oppose Class A drugs like heroin and especially – though much later – crack, as once hitting the working class poor, they created mayhem severly hampering open class struggle. We welcomed the breakup of the uptight and impossible nuclear family only to see its disintegration often spawning monsters.

As Henri Lefebvre said sometime in the sixties: “The worst alienation is the blocking up of development”. Instead of changing things, things changed us. Disoriented and in increasing limbo we gradually lost all sense of ourselves and where we’d even come from as memory was consciously assisted in its annihilation by absolute capital. Thus with our own physical space broken into pieces and increasingly hapless we became prone to an easier-by-the-day manipulation.

Let’s as a finale return to the very beginning of this book – to the moment of the depassement of art – and where King Mob stepped in only to come to a quick and abrupt end without hint of intelligent supercession. Isn’t it a horrible though mighty achievement that absolute capital can successfully (seemingly forever?) divert the revolutionary consequences of modern art freezing its essential critique into spectacular effect in the general display of the modern commodity in urbanism, in media, in fashion, in language and performance etc, reproducing modern art’s more innocuous legacy everywhere without even a hint of its explosively revolutionary core? There was more than a hint of that in the late 60s. It has to return.

Dave Wise : 2003

Greenham 25 years on - 31 March 2007

Lindsay Poulton at the Guardian has just sent me this information about a 'Greenham Day' at the Borderline Film Festival.

It includes a showing of 'Carry Greenham Home' . Not sure if it is readable, but in Richard's obit of Pinki, there is a mention of the incident recorded on the film when Pinki was kicked in the stomach by a bailiff.

I have also put in a photo (bottom left hand corner) of Pinki feeding Sky at Greenham. Plus pics of here as punk in 78, on bike at Molesworth in 85 and at Silbury hill in 87.

There is a 'life an death of pinki' archived here - November 2005. Same archive has some 'Stop the City' flyers. Along with Dave Morris (McLibel) , Pinki was one of the 'organisers' of first (Sept 83) and second (March 84) Stop the Cities.

Here is the Greenham Day info:

A special day event at this year’s Borderlines Film Festival marks the 25th
anniversary of the Peace Camp at Greenham Common. More details below.

Tickets for films can be booked online at http://www.courtyard.org.uk or a
£10 day ticket covering the whole event by calling The Courtyard Box Office
on 0870 11 22 330

Please forward this message to anyone who might be interested in attending.
If you’d like a copy of this information in PDF format for printing out
please contact comino@clara.co.uk

Friday 23 March to Sunday 1 April 2007

Saturday 31 March 1.00pm
The Courtyard Hereford
The Borderlines Debate – Greenham 25 Years On
Come and celebrate the 25th anniversary of Greenham Common peace camp!
Look back at some of the films produced, meet the women filmmakers and
protesters and look forward to the new resurgence in peace campaigning at
the Borderlines debate.

11.15am Close to Home
A feminist perspective on life for two Israeli conscripts patrolling the
streets of Jerusalem.

Meet for lunch in the Courtyard café; there will be a display of banners
and other memorabilia.

2.00pm A Common Cause
Director: Jane Jackson, 1983, 50 minutes
Made for ITV this fly-on-the-wall documentary was banned from national
viewing because it showed Peace women as they really were – ordinary,
respectable women with children, who walked from Chester to Greenham to
protest about cruise missiles. Introduced by the filmmaker, Jane Jackson,
four of the Chester women will reflect on their experience.
Chaired by Ursula Atfield (Labour Party councillor and Hereford ex-mayor).

4.30pm Carry Greenham Home
Directors: Beeban Kidron and Amanda Richardson, 1983, 1 hour 6 minutes
Made while the directors were film students, the film gives a fuller
picture of what life at Greenham was like than the fragmented news reports
of the time. It covers the processes underlying the women's decisions, the
influence of outside forces, and the verve and style with which they
developed their own brand of non-violent direct action.

Directors Beeban Kidron and Amanda Richardson will be present for a Q&A
along with Lindsay Poulton from Guardian Films

plus And the Fence Came Tumbling Down
Director: Tim Knock, 2001, 10 minutes
Documents the ultimate success of this unique protest, with the dismantling
of the US air base in 2000 after 20 years of non-violent action.

7.00pm - 8.30pm The Borderlines Debate
An opportunity to explore the legacy of Greenham and to focus on current
peace issues. Speakers include Jean Lambert, Green MEP, whose special
interest is peace, nuclear disarmament and peace, Jenny Maxwell, Chair of
West Midlands CND will address Trident Replacement and Janet Bloomfield,
British Coordinator of Atomic Mirror will talk about how the arts and
culture can contribute to social change movements. Felicity Norman, Green
Party candidate for Leominster, Herefordshire, will introduce the speakers
and chair the discussion

Tickets for films can be booked online at http://www.courtyard.org.uk or a
£10 day ticket covering the whole event by calling The Courtyard Box Office
on 0870 11 22 330

For more information visit http://www.borderlinesfilmfestival.org and

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

immanentize the eschaton -like we did last summer

immanentize the eschaton

Photo of Craigenputtock -see below for details

Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss………….. The sound of steam being released. De-pressurising. I need to unwind from trying to write academic texts in which every statement has to be buttressed and supported by half a dozen references and even then I still get accused of having ‘too many ideas’.

But I like ideas, I like to play around with them, use them as mental cut-ups and collages. But they don‘t move in straight lines, they bounce off each other and circle round merge and fuse or split-off and dance around. Like music based on samples, or stolen riffs … but some themes I keep coming back to - which is more like a big classical music symphony - so if anyone could ever be bothered to read ’em you could trace patterns in the texts.

Right now I have a cluster - it’s the old punk riff, but going green at the edges, mixed in with Hegel :

The life of Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures death and maintains itself in devastation. It wins its truth only when, in utter dismemberment, it finds itself. … Spirit is this power only by looking the negative in the face, and tarrying with it. This tarrying with the negative is the magical power that converts it [ Spirit] into being. (Phenomenology of Spirit:32)

But what got me going was a translator’s footnote to Hegel’s Philosophy of History. Back in 1899, the translator suggested ‘Illuminati’ / Illumination as a possible version of the German ‘Aufklarung‘ , French ‘Eclaircissement’ - rather than the ‘Enlightened’/ ‘Enlightenment’ we would use today. Illuminati? Immanentize the Eschaton! - which I thought was just a made up phrase from Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminati trilogy but turns out to be an actual phrase thrown around in the USA in 1950s/1960s which linked revolutionary political idealism with gnosticism. And got re-cycled in the 1990s by Bill Drummond’s pre-KLF project The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu…Bill himself, as I found out through researching a local placename -the Penkill/ Penkiln/ Pollcill burn, was brought up a few miles from here at Newtown Stewart and has named one of his websites Penkiln see http://www.penkiln-burn.com/ I did a psycho-geography expedition up the Penkiln burn and found a stream which feeds it called ‘The Strand of the Abyss’ and sent Bill a photo of it.

And the Illuminati trilogy along with Kenneth Grant’s gnostic text A. Crowley and the Hidden God was what Tony D. was reading back in 79 when I first met him. Confused enough yet? There is more to come.

The first UK person to read and review German ‘idealists’ like Hegel and translate German poet Goethe was Thomas Carlyle. TC was a local lad. He spent 1826-1834 living on a hill farm called Craigenputtock here. At Craigenputtock he wrote a very weird text called Sartor Resartus [the tailor re-patched] . It is a piss-take parody of German philosophers like Hegel, but the same time ‘he means it ,man’. In its surreality, in places it also reads like Kenneth Grant…. You can check it out yourself here

Carlyle was an influential writer - from Charles Dickens to Karl Marx. He also opposed what he called ‘The Mechanical Age’ [from Sign of the Times: 1829, also online, go search]

Were we required to characterise this age of ours by any single epithet, we should be tempted to call it, not an Heroical, Devotional, Philosophical, or Moral Age, but, above all others, the Mechanical Age. It is the Age of Machinery, in every outward and inward sense of that word; the age which, with its whole undivided might, forwards, teaches and practises the great art of adapting means to ends. Nothing is now done directly, or by hand; all is by rule and calculated contrivance. For the simplest operation, some helps and accompaniments, some cunning abbreviating process is in readiness. Our old modes of exertion are all discredited, and thrown aside. On every hand, the living artisan is driven from his workshop, to make room for a speedier, inanimate one. The shuttle drops from the fingers of the weaver, and falls into iron fingers that ply it faster. The sailor furls his sail, and lays down his oar; and bids a strong, unwearied servant, on vaporous wings, bear him through the waters. Men have crossed oceans by steam; the Birmingham Fire-king has visited the fabulous East; … There is no end to machinery. Even the horse is stripped of his harness, and finds a fleet firehorse yoked in his stead. Nay, we have an artist that hatches chickens by steam; the very brood-hen is to be superseded! For all earthly, and for some unearthly purposes, we have machines and mechanic furtherances; for mincing our cabbages; for casting us into magnetic sleep. We remove mountains, and make seas our smooth highway; nothing can resist us. We war with rude Nature; and, by our resistless engines, come off always victorious, and loaded with spoils.

But from this end of the Mechanical Age, looks like we are losing our ‘war with rude Nature’.

Back to my punk riff… Hell, this is a tricky one. What I have got from trying to read Hegel, after reading a ‘Hegel for Dummies’ text by an Australian Marxist trades unionist, is that to become ‘conscious’ is a struggle. It is a mental process, but it feels physical. What we had to do back then was struggle to become conscious of ourselves as having the ability to actively make history rather than be passively part of it. But what Hegel (sort of) says is that such a struggle creates its own opposition, and that opposition then defeats what has been struggled for. The ‘work’ done vanishes - but the ‘self-consciousness’ created by the struggle survives and moves on to its next struggle/ challenge - but with greater self-confidence and abilities gained from the previous struggle. [Phenomenology of Spirit: 406-409]

Which does make sense. Back then we struggled, through our ‘work’ we created some alternatives - the fanzines, the records, the squats, the Black Sheep Housing Co-op, Stop the City , Stonehenge Free Festival or what ever. But the more we achieved, the more opposition we encountered - with the Beanfield as an obvious example, but there were many more. Ultimately the opposition, the negation, prevailed. But we endured and moved on and are still here now. Still struggling - but our struggles now contain the ‘self-consciousness’ we achieved back then.

But Hegel had a belief which we lack - he saw the historical struggle from a ‘religious’ point of view, he had a certainty of ‘victory’ which is difficult to embrace. Marx tried to re-construct Hegel minus the religious aspect, but still believed in the ‘inevitable’ collapse of capitalism as a logical outcome of its inherent contradictions. Contradictions he and Engels saw in Carlyle’s attack on ‘The Mechanical Age’- that the impoverishment and alienation of the mechanised workers would provoke them into a revolutionary response.

But that didn’t happen. So Debord took Hegel and Marx and cut-up their texts with others to explain why in Society of the Spectacle. This work had its moment of triumph in Paris in 1968, but this work in turn was negated only to have its slight return via punk to again be negated and changed/ recuperated. And so it goes on and on. To repeat Hegel

The life of Spirit is not the life that shrinks from death and keeps itself untouched by devastation, but rather the life that endures death and maintains itself in devastation. It wins its truth only when, in utter dismemberment, it finds itself. … Spirit is this power only by looking the negative in the face, and tarrying with it. This tarrying with the negative is the magical power that converts it [ Spirit] into being. (Phenomenology of Spirit:32)

Utter dismemberment? Magical power? That sounds almost like shamanism. But Hegel is not talking about the /an individual, but rather a process involving collective un-consciousness, his ‘Spirit’[= ‘God’ in his version] achieving self-consciousness through history. Yeah, sure. But then… if we are to take global warming seriously, then it is a process which can be seen to start back in Hegel, Carlyle and Marx’s time with a fossil fuel powered ‘mechanical age’. Even Debord’s society of the spectacle, for all its hi-tech enchantments still needs uninterrupted flows of mechanically derived energy from fossil fuels or nuclear sources. When the power is cut, even the spectacle dies.

The collective struggle right now, the ‘work’ is to find ways beyond the heat death of the mechanical age. To find a way into an Organic Age. Which takes me back to punk.

Our work which was negated required minimal energy inputs. We recycled and reused, reclaimed and restored the wasted ruins of the mechanical age - but not, unlike Carlyle’s vision, by retreating into some medieval vision of a feudal past, but as good anarchists, by creating a new world in our hearts. It was no less flawed, no less imperfect than any other world, as racked with internal contradictions and personal conflicts … but its carbon footprint was tiny. And it was creative, vibrant, exciting, stimulating, liberating, challenging. It was fun. More fun than cheap holidays in the sun. More fun than supermarket shopping. More fun than passive consumption of a spectacular society.

Let the tribe increase. We shall live again. Lets immanentize the eschaton again, like we did last summer…

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Truth only known by guttersnipes

What the hell is wrong with me
I’m not who I want to be
I tried spot cream
And I tried it all
I’m crawling up the wall

What’s my name.. etc

Sir Muir Russell, an experienced former civil servant who oversaw Scotland's uneasy transition to devolution as permanent secretary to the Scottish executive from 1998 to 2003, insists Glasgow is not playing "brinkmanship" with Crichton, nor is the university planning to find the funding internally. Once the current first-year intake graduates in three years, Glasgow's direct relationship with Crichton will finish, he confirms. "That is the take-home message," he says. "I think that just has to be accepted."

From Guardian Education supplement 13 March 2007

And blind acceptance is a sign
Of stupid fools who stand in line

Don't be told what you want
Don't be told what you need
Cause students are money
And our figurehead
Is not what he seems

Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid

There's no future
No future
No future for me / you / anyone

So what? So what? So what?
I realise the truth as I get older.
I get to see what a con it is.

Career opportunities are the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunity, the ones that never knock

This is joe public speaking
I’ m controlled in the body, controlled in the mind

So punk, what have you got to say about all the shit that is going down? Ah, there’s the rub. What the hell has any of this got to do with punk? With the counterculture? What would William Blake or William Burroughs have to say? Why fight to save the poverty of academic life?

Good questions. Shame I have no good answers. I guess it is about how to attack complete control. You can do it through total refusal. To strive for total purity through denial of any links with the spectacle. But from my experience that leads to a kind of monastic existence, to the ideology of survivalists and fundamentalists who cut themselves off from any hint of collaboration with the wickedness of the world. From the evil of original sin. From contamination through participation in everyday life. Which, even if expressed as a political ideology has it roots in the gnostic belief in this world as the creation of a false god. But there is no god - neither true nor false or even just imagined . There is only ourselves out here on the perimeter where there are no spectacular stars. And I'll tell you this - No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn ..

But I love the friends gathered together on this thin raft. Somehow I am sure we know - but what do we know? That the city of light is also the city of night, which is William Blake via Jim Morrison. That the pursuit of purity is the pursuit of an illusion.

So -surrender to the spectacle? No. The spectacle is the illusion which purity pursues, the illusion that society = economy / economy = society. And that economy = rationality = reason so that to dispute the economic decision made by the University of Glasgow to quit their Crichton Campus is to dispute the rationality of the spectacle .

But does the spectacle really depend upon rationality to justify its existence as society as economy?

Logically, yes it does. Or so I argue. And since the SI dissolved itself in 1972, there is no-one left to contradict me.

Thus I defend my defence of the poverty of academic life. Or at least the particular poverty of academic life here - here being Dumfries and Galloway’s Crichton University Campus - on the grounds that ‘the truth is only known by guttersnipes’ .

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Throbbing Gristle 2?

Just got the latest issue of Mogg Morgan's Mandrake http://www.mandrake.uk.net/
occult newsletter and it gives a few Throbbing Gristle performance dates and a link to TG website
and myspace site http://www.myspace.com/throbbinggristle
for more details. New album on 1st April?

Performance dates
Apr 29 DONAU FESTIVAL, Vienna, Austria.
Apr 30 DONAU FESTIVAL, Vienna, Austria.
May 27 TATE MODERN London. UK.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Reclaim the Future 31 March 2007

The Save the Crichton campaign seems to have been adopted by anarchist networks. Followed one of the links and found this this flyer on Reclaim the Streets web site.

Historical note: 140 beats per minute was used to define dance music in 1994 Criminal Justice Act which tried to ban it. I think - time of M11 protest and Claremont Road.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Joe Hill supports campaign

Joe Hill supports campaign

Joe Hill and the International Workers of the World support the Crichton campaign.

Have to say I thought the IWW (Wobblies) were pretty much dead these days - but it would seem not.

I dreamt I saw Joe Hill last night

Alive as you or me

I said to Joe, I thought you died?

I never died, said he...

You can see Joan Baez singing Joe Hill at an anti Iraq war demo here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YR6SMAJQW8Y

Solidarity Request to Help with Crichton Campus Struggle

I'm writing to your organisation as part of a campaign to save the jobs of some workers we represent in Dumfries in the South of Scotland. Their employer, Glasgow University, is pulling out of the campus in the region, which will cause no end of problems. As the IWW, we have some presence amongst workers in the University, and are currently involved in the campaign. Presently we're contacting groups, individuals on the left internationally to request that they circulate the communique below among their members as we are aiming for a really large telephone lobby as we
try and build this campaign.

Central Scotland Organiser, IWW
Fellow workers, Glasgow University IWW Job Branch and the Save Crichton Campus campaign in Glasgow are calling another phone lobby on the success of last week's event, which saw the University implement a telephone protocol for complaints about Crichton and lay on extra staff to deal with the volume of calls.

See: http://iwwscotland.wordpress.com/crichton-struggle/

The campaign is starting to score victories against the decision. The Scottish Executive, previously immovable in claiming Crichton's closure had nothing to do with them (an article in a Dumfries paper alleges they knew about the decision 8 months ago and gave the University the OK) is now pressurising Sir Muir Russell, principal of the university to meet with them to discuss the issue. The campaign is building momentum on campus with flyposting and creative publicity stunts and resistance is planned, however time is very short as the University has accelerated its attempts to shut the facility down in light of the media exposure. Pressure however is starting to tell.

We believe that with a further phone, fax and email lobby we can increase the pressure on the University Administration and the principal in particular. Last time round we caused a major nuisance - this time we want to cause further discomfort and we are advertizing this lobby on every medium available to us. This is going to be big, especially with your participation! The IWW and the campaign believe that we can win this fight with your help.

On Thursday and Friday we are asking people to ring (and ring and ring again if you can!) the university swtichboard, and the principal's office. Send a fax, write an email, but above all phone the principal's office and ask to speak to Sir Muir Russell.

If you're looking for things to say mention that you want to register a complaint about the closure of the Crichton Campus, with the loss of the jobs of staff, the damage done to the Dumfries area at large, the vital role that the campus plays in the education and culture of the area, and that fact that all this damage is being justified on the basis of figures for sums of money which prominent Labour Party MSPs have dismissed as fantasy; this university administration, you might want to remind them, is a university administration which saw fit to award Sir Muir Russell, the Principal, a 15% pay rise a few weeks ago, while attempting to cut Janitors pay by 5 grand a year, and laying off staff at Crichton, on the back of last years job losses. It has pointedly ignored a 2800 signature petition from the people of Dumfries. There is widespread popular anger in the region, and staff and students have been involved in winning the support of the entire community, collecting signatures and donations and talking to people late into the night at local supermarkets. The local council is against the decision. The local paper is publicly backing the campaign. There could not be more support in the area for the campaign against the decision. Ask them how they feel about behaving with such arrogance in the face of such widespread popular opinion. Of course you could also just say what you want to keep the phones tied up. ;o)

This is going to be big - help stick the boot in. Workers jobs and an entire community are resting on us winning this campaign.

Phone, fax or email the following on Thursday 8th March and Friday 9th March during GMT office hours 9AM - 5PM. Let us know how it's going!

Sir Muir Russell
Principal of Glasgow University
Email: principal@gla.ac.uk
Tel: 0141 330 5995
Fax: 0141 330 4947

Mr Alexander J Scrimgeour
Executive Assistant to the Principal

Prof K C Calman
Principal's Office University Chancellor
telephone: 0141 330 5995
email: Chancellor@gla.ac.uk

Also those with more time to contribute can contact the University via the switchboard and try and tie lines up there too:-

0141-330 2000

Sunday, March 04, 2007

punk squat riot shock

COPENHAGEN — Protesters from across northern Europe flocked to the Danish capital Saturday to join riots sparked Thursday by the eviction of squatters from an abandoned building that had been a center for young leftists and punk rockers.

More than 500 people, scores of them foreigners, have been arrested in the riots. Authorities said more than 200 were arrested early Saturday after overnight clashes in which demonstrators pelted police with cobblestones and set fire to cars.

As news of the riots spread, sympathizers around Europe rallied support for the protesters. Police said activists from Sweden, Norway and Germany had joined hundreds of Danish youths in the protests. The Danes warned like-minded foreigners Saturday that the borders were tightening after two nights of clashes had turned the normally quiet streets of Copenhagen into a battle zone.

Sympathy protests were held in Germany, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

A school was vandalized and several buildings damaged by fire early Saturday. One protester was reportedly wounded in the violence, and 25 were injured the night before in what police have called Denmark's worst riots in a decade.

More scuffles were reported in various parts of the city Saturday night. Dozens of police vans patrolled the streets and broke up gatherings of protesters to prevent larger mobs from forming. Police said several of those arrested had Molotov cocktails.

The riots were sparked when an anti-terrorism squad on Thursday evicted the squatters from the red brick building that had been used by squatters since the 1980s. Built in 1897, it was a community theater for the labor movement and a culture and conference center; Vladimir I. Lenin was among its visitors. In recent years, it has hosted concerts with performers including Australian Nick Cave and Icelandic singer Bjork.

The eviction had been planned since last year, when courts ordered the squatters to hand the building over to a Christian congregation that bought it six years ago. The squatters said the city had no right to sell the building, and they demanded another building for free as a replacement.

Copenhagen's famed Little Mermaid statue was covered with pink paint, but police could not say whether it was linked to the riots.