Benn for Deputy

You know it makes sense.

Are we all Hizbollah?

July 23, 2006

Placard from yesterday's demo

I think not.

That photo was taken by Lenin (no, not the Russian one, a pro-SWP blogger) yesterday at the anti-Isreali protest in Central London, called by the Stop the War Coalition, CND, the Muslim Association of Britain, and I believe, a new outfit called the British Muslim Initative.

It doesn’t surprise me that there are such people from the Muslim community who identify with Hizbollah, but what does irk me greatly is that no-one, speficially from the Socialist Workers Party, ever challenges it. Socialists have nothing in common with groups like Hizbollah.

More needs to be done to break Muslim workers from auto-Islamism, and that means raising a socialist programme.

The Scum: Putting the GREAT in Great BRITAIN

Rebekah Wade wants to put the BIG into BIG BROTHER… but she needs YOUR help.

The linked story above gives The Sun’s helpful hints to obey and serve Furher Blair’s new totalitarianism. Unfortunatly, some sly Sun hack edited down the original article. Here is the (un)original version:

1. Teachers, cops and doctors are battling to do tough jobs against a growing tide of cynicism and abuse.

RESPECT these vital authority figures so they can work effectively. Do not ask questions. WHERE ARE YOUR PAPERS, CITIZEN?

2. Britain is a great country with a history that is the envy of the world.

Have the guts to display PATRIOTISM about living here and speak up in public about our nation’s remarkable qualities. Celebrate our history. Our Empire. Our mandate of Palestine and Messopotania…

3. Yobs routinely spread fear among vulnerable pensioners and young kids.

Yet millions of us turn a blind eye to their thuggery.

Together, we must CONFRONT teenage hoodies if we see them taunting, abusing or spitting at passers-by.

Every troublemaking lout is somebody’s child.

So KEEP TABS on your own kids and make sure you know what they are up to.

Your vigilance will safeguard their welfare as well as strengthening your community.

And, if they misbehave, slap an ASBO on them. And electronic tagging never hurt anyone.

4. Britain is a nation at war — we can no longer worry about being labelled a “grass”.

Don’t hesitate to REPORT suspicious activity or anti-social behaviour.

Call your local police or phone the anti-terror hotline on 0800 789 321 if you have important information or suspicions.

Remember, a tip-off from a member of the public led Spanish police to the Madrid bombers.

We are watching you, citizen. We have cameras everywhere.

5. Ranting clerics are free to spit hatred thanks to the Human Rights Act, which prevents their deportation.

WRITE to your MP demanding that this crazy law is repealed.

Do not resist arrest when you critizise Furher Blair and Furher Murdoch.

6. Many of us no longer know the names of our neighbours, even though we have sometimes lived side by side for years.

Take the trouble to CHAT to those who live close by to revive close-knit communities of the past.

It may also save you from being burgled next week.

Even though your neighbour won’t be as stupid to burgle their neighbour.

7. New York police commissioner Bill Bratton helped to reform the city by highlighting basic crime prevention measures including the “broken window” theory.

This showed that a chain of crimes could be prevented just by repairing a smashed window, foiling an obvious opportunity for a crook who could then be tempted into escalating villainy.

By the same token, we must TACKLE anti-social behaviour such as littering or vandalising.

More ASBOs!

8. Security and police services face a huge challenge in overcoming the alarming new terrorist threat.

Help cops by ensuring you CO-OPERATE fully if you are ever stopped and searched.

Avoid triggering needless security alerts by leaving bags unattended.

Don’t worry about the racist nature of stop & search. If you’re black, tough shit, you’re fair game.

9. Communication while travelling on public transport has almost broken down, fuelled recently by an atmosphere of mutual suspicion.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the climate of fear by making CONVERSATION.

But, if they look either Arabic, Pakistani, or Brazilian, then report them to the police STRAIGHT AWAY. Or, pump them full of lead if you’re on the tube.

Open doors and give up your seat for mums-to-be or the elderly.

Yer tight bastards.

10. Soaring levels of apathy have made voting and neighbourhood initiatives unfashionable.

Don’t be afraid to PARTICIPATE in them — or even launch them.

And report on anyone who’s even shifty looking.

Today has been a bit of a weird day. And it isn’t over yet.

I had two people I needed to call, Amazon, and the HMRC.

As you might remember (or scroll down and read below), I made an order off Amazon.co.uk for some books. I got one (State and Revolution) through the post a while back, but I was still waiting for the rest of the order. Now, it isn’t easy phoning Amazon, you have to submit a phone number, and they call you. Nice.

I spoke to a charming Irish bloke who phoned the couriers to ask where my package was. For some reason, it was dropped off with a neighbour (I’ve been in all day!). But that was sorted.

And then, I had to call the HMRC.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m in the middle of a tax rebate claim. The paperwork was sent to Manchester, and then, for some reason, sent to Devon. So now I’m waiting and waiting, and, quite frankly, I’m rather impatient.

But the woman I spoke to was unrepentent. There was nothing she could (or rather, would) do for me. Even though I’ve done everything that was asked of me. But no, there was no way of speeding things up. They are still dealing with correspondence from the 26th of May.

They are taking the urine. Seriously.

And I got this in my inbox, in response to an ad I placed on Gumtree.com. This was the body of the email. Verbatim.

[email removed]
Hello my new friend! My name Anastasia. I live in Russia. I saw your structure in
agency on which it has been registered today in the morning. Now I have come from my
work and have decided to write to you. I work as the cook. I very well prepare. To
this I was learned by my grandfather when I was still the young girl. To me of 30
years mine birthday on December, 31, in day ” New year ” I hope you know such
holiday.
Well I would like that you have written to me to the answer. And I with impatience
shall wait it.
My mail [email removed]
Write.

Not that I’m laughing at her English (it’s certainly better than my Russian), but she’s 30, and Russian. Either would have been an obsticle to matrimonial bliss, the two combined make it very difficult indeed.

Not my day today, is it?

I was coming home from the Permanent Revolution meeting (more about that later) and I realised: SWT is a weird and wonderful world.

On the way up, I noticed that someone had left an unopened copy of Sugar magazine. A brief look around amongst the suits later, it still remained unclaimed, even with the free Boxfresh bikini that came with it. It somewhat made up for the train being 15 mins late.

But on the way back, I saw the most perculiar thing. I saw a silver bug. No, really. It was SILVER. Like, shiny silver.

I took some photos with my camera phone, and I’ll upload them here.

Anyway, the PR meeting was interesting. I’ve had some of my fear elayed, but I’m still hedging my bets and I’m not joining. Their founding conference is this weekend but I won’t be able to go. But I’ll certainly keep a tab on things.

I’m now bald.

July 8, 2006

And why not?

Birthday money came through today (yay) so I hit Kingston and went on a modest shopping spree. I got one of those tiny black & white tellys from Woolworth (the sort of one you tune like a radio) for £10, a few t-shirts from Primark for £3 each, a new mouse for my Mac for £10 and some clippers for £7. (When I said modest, I meant it.) They were things I needed anyway.

Especially the clippers.

So, I, in usual self-hairdressing style, sat down, put my head between my knees, and started. In the time it alledgidly took for Saddam Hussein to launch his weapons, my hair, or what’s left of it, is a mess. I was on the verge of a very messy hissy fit.

I will not be defeated, though. Never! I will fight them on the fringes, I will fight them behind the ears…

So, it’s finally happened. The two-year factional dispute which had overwhelmed Workers Power, and the League for the Fifth International, came to a somewhat dramatic finale last weekend. The expelled – 30% of the L5I membership – have formed a new grouping with a provisional name of Permanent Revolution.

I won’t go into the inside workings of split, because many other bloggers – including Dave Osler and TWP – have gone into into it fairly well. The main axis of the split was around the “fifth internationalist” turn of the then League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI) in the wake of Seattle, Prague and the World Social Forum.

Instead, I will make a few observations. I was a member of Workers Power (the British section of the L5I) for just under a year (Feb 2005-Jan 2006) and was heavily involved in youth work, being a member of the London Youth Branch (and, for a while, it’s organiser/secretary). I left due to personal circumstances, but I was neither a member of the majority or the minority as they currently stand.

The first thing that strikes me is the highly acrimonious nature. Of course, faction fights inside Trotskyist organisations are not exactly garden parties, but this one appears to be outright vicious. The majority accuse the minority of waging a dishonest struggle, and the majority are presenting internal emails from the minority as proof.

But the minority’s vitriol, as exemplified through the emails of Mark H, a former leading light in WP/B, the League, and in united front work, have a more material basis than the “political degeneration” the majority accuse him of. The majority cannot hold the moral high ground, especially when they denied the minority – which, in reality, made up half of the British section – fair representation on the National Committee (they had roughly five members on the NC) and the Political Committee (zero representation), or on the leadership bodies of the League.

The majority are accusing the minority of political degeneration. Of course they would, this is a split in a Trotskyist group, after all. You’ve got to have some amateur dramatics, otherwise… well, it wouldn’t be fun, now would it?

But I’m told to believe, by the majority, that those expelled – people who I knew quite well – were engaged in bullying and oppressing youth members. They bring up the case of the Manchester branch, which was (unconstitutionally) split, with an “adult” branch and a “youth” branch, with no co-ordination between the two. This is despite a PC enquiry finding no evidence of any bullying or oppression, and suggesting that the matter be dropped, pronto, because it was holding back any chance of building the group in Manchester (which it was). However, those who had made the accusations found themselves suspended by the Manchester branch, and that’s when the branch split took place.

See, none of this makes sense. When I left, the faction fight was in full swing, but it was still done on a democratic and comradely basis. This was only seven months ago, and what you have to realise is that the organisation I left was a highly democratic one. A political degeneration is a process that takes a long time. Not in the space of seven months.

Not that the minority are smelling of roses. Some of the accusations made against them are true – or at least, not being denied. Certainly, the Mark H email isn’t inviting the majority around for tea and crumpets – it calls for a wholescale wrecking of the organisation some of them had been in from the start (in the case of Stuart K) and had built for many, many years.

What’s worth noting about the split is it’s social base. The minority – which called for a return to Labour Pary and trade union work – were mostly workers who had been involved in WP for decades. The majority – which called for participation in the Socialist Party-lead Campaign for a New Workers Party,  the E/WSF and, most importantly, really pushing for the fifth international slogan inside these movements, including calling for the E/WSF to simply become a Fifth International.

Certainly, the majority’s implementation of it’s current ‘perspectives’ and ‘tasks’ is, quite frankly, delusional. This is from a discussion between me and Simon H, a leading member of the post-split WP (my replies are in red):

Quote
Do you think that globalisation is creating new social movements and bringing new forces into the fight against capitalism?

In so far as challening the extreme aspects of globalisation, yes. But the arguments against reformism and critical liberalism are far from won, and we are not on the verge of the WSF/ESF becoming the basis of a fifth international.

Quote
Is the period causing instability for the bosses which has led to an increasing level of attacks on the social gains of workers?

Yes – but in small, isolated cases. Recovery is not rude heath, we are still not on a par with the 1970’s.

Quote
Does the ESF and WSF represent important new formations in the struggle against capitalism and imperialism, even though they have reformist leaderships?

Not to the extent that the majority claim – potential is not reality.

Quote
Is it possible to call for a new workers party in Britain, to propose a united front with the workers and youth outside of Labour to build a new workers party?

Yes, but not through a far-left lead abstract campaign like the CNWP. Workers parties are formed through struggles – not through defeats, like the CNWP.

Quote
Is it possible to build a mass revolutionary, independent youth group?

Yes – but it’s a shame the L5I do not do this in practice.

I suspect, though I hope I’m not proved correct, is that both sides will simply become rumps. PR runs the real risk of becoming “Classic Workers Power” and hanker over the old days of Labour Party fraction work,  and agitation in the trade unions, and simply pretend that Seattle et al. never took place, while the majority will simply dive into youth work, and their TU work – which used to be very effective for a group of WP’s size – will disappear.

As I said on the majority-controlled REVO boards:


Both sides are currently showing lots and lots of venom, an hysterics, and somewhere notions of comradely debate have been lost. That’s not the WP I was a member of, and the majority and the minority are equally as bad as each other.

Like I have said, I will have to put my plans on re-applying for membership on ice. I think that this split has wrecked “fifth internationalism” and the basic body of politics that the pre-split L5I stood for. On one hand, there is the pessimism of the PR tendency, but on the other hand, the over-optimism and inflatory propaganda of the ‘new’ WP. Both are as dangerous as each other.

Certainly, the ‘new’ WP has no trade union and very little labour movement experience. The focus on youth work has left the majority of the majority unarmed with any kind of real trade union experience, which makes an orientation to the working class next to impossible. The loss of theoreticians is repairable, but will take time. The loss of trade unionists is, I think, much more damaging to the ‘new’ WP – more damaging than they want to admit, and especially in the short to mid term.

The expelled, while having plenty of trade unionists, suffer from having only one or two comrades involved in youth work, which, in a period of stunted growth in class struggle, means that they are unarmed in the one area where WP has grown. They will, I fear, end up retreating into the trade unions, and will pick a battle they, with their current forces, have no chance in winning.

“You don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows.” Bob Dylan
Yes, I know the Weathermen used this quote too, but I find it apt in this situation
 

Sorry for the lack of updates, but that’s because there hasn’t been much to write about, really. Work goes on.

It was my birthday yesterday (21 – argh!), and apart from the cash I got from my parents and Grandmother, I got an Amazon.co.uk gift certificate from my sister and brother. This is what I bought:

  “Armed Madhouse: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, The Best Legal Whorehouse in Texas, No Child’s Behind Left and Other Tales of Class Combat in a Dying Regime”

and

“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth About Globalization, Corporate Cons and High Finance Fraudsters”
both by Greg Palast.

Greg Palast was taught economics by arch-neo liberal Milton Friedman, and he’s been dedicated to exposing the true horrors of it ever since. For some bizzare reason, as Greg himself will tell you, secret documents just somehow, mysteriously, land on his desks at the BBC and The Guardian, and he gets right in there. He exposed the Florida votes scandal where thousands of Black Floridians were denied their right to vote by the Republican state administration and a company called DBT, lead by… Republican backers. He exposed the “Lobbygate” scandal, where key Blairite aides gave access to Greg, undercover as an American businessman, to key ministers and MPs high up in the New Labour machine.

“The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” is his old book. The UK launch of his new book, “Armed Madhouse”, was at Ideas for Freedom, a conference organised and hosted by the Alliance for Workers Liberty last weekend. Greg’s a brilliant writer, but to hear him in the flesh is a much better experience. By his own admission, Greg didn’t prepare for his speech, but it was still interesting to hear the hard evidence about the true reasons for the War in Iraq (oil, if you haven’t have guessed) and a bit more about Hugo Chavez. I can’t say I’m a big a fan of Chavez as Greg is, but both books are essential reading.

  “Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About”

by Mil Millington.

I first came across Mil Millington, but I didn’t know it at the time, when I used to have a Commodore Amiga and an avid reader of Amiga Power. Mil has a fantastic way with words, and a highly sarcastic (but not vicious) sense of humour. His ability to take the mundane into the absurd is something I deeply envy, and I am a mailing-lister too.

“Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?: The Encyclopedia of Modern Life”
by Alan McArthur

Alan is a former deputy editor of Solidarity, the AWL’s newspaper, but this book is not so much an acedemic critique of late capitalism, but a cry of dispair at how shit everything has become. Very sarcastic, but also very true, too. And, unlike the Grumpy Old Men, there is a dash of hope there, too.

“The State and Revolution (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics S.)”
and

“Essential Works”
both by Vladimir Lenin.

Essentials that needed to be replaced.

… it ended up as 12.

Today was, quite frankly, a horrible day for me. I had to be in at 8 this morning (already, I know you're thinking "ugh, Kit, that's horrible." I know. I appreciate the sympathy) so, naturally, I thought, "Hmm. Now, if I have to be in an hour before I usually am, that means I have to wake up an hour before I usually do, and therefore logic would dicate that I should also set off an hour before I usually do." I mean, come on people, this is logic. You can't go wrong with logic, surely?

So, it's 6am. A very bedraggled, sleepy, and irratable version of me (same as usual, then, fnar fnar) is walking up the road to the Post Office. This Post Office opens at 6am – huzzah!, you may think, but beware reader – this is just a trap of false security I was lulled into! For, you see, I had to acquire a bus pass. But the Post Office people (who haven't liked me ever since I stopped using a Post Office Card Account to get my benefits paid into and got a proper bank account and being free from the mercy of Post Office opening times) refused to sell me one, on account of it not being half six. 

"It's the law," he said, firmly. "After half six, you can."

Obviously, this is no good. And also utter bollocks, because every other damn person from whom I have had the task of purchasing bus passes or travelcards from have let me buy them from 6am onwards (not to mention the fact that the Tube opens up at well before 6am, and you can buy tickets there, natch). Instead of following my instinct of asking whether this was a Parliamentary law, the law of Transport for London, or his own little spiteful law, I played the Tiny Tim card.

"Oh, please, oh, come on guv, please, I've got to get to work!"

"No."

Time for a different tact.

"Well, can I get some change  then, please?"

"No."

"Not even if I buy something?"

"No, because I don't have the change"

"Gnh."

Defeated, I walk out of the one place where they will pritty much have change. All the time. I mean, it's a Post Office. If they don't have change, how do all of the pensioners get their pensions? (If you think I'm exagerating on this, just wait in line behind three pensioners getting their pension out while you just need a tenner so you can buy some damn food. See for yourself.) And, because it's 6am, there is no other place open. So, armed with a twenty, I try to use it on the bus. I really should have seen this one coming, really.

"You must be joking, mate!"

"Look, I just went to that Post Office, up there. See it? [points] Right over there. He wouldn't sell me a bus pass.  He wouldn't even give me any change or buy anything."

"Well, I can't take it."

Out comes the stressed Tiny Tim card. The stress was totally genuine. 
"Oh, please, oh, come on guv, please, I've got to get to work!"

Begrudingly, the complete and utter jobsworth held onto my twenty, and when we passed an open shop, stopped the bus, and made me get the change. I felt like a naughty schoolboy. 

Soon after I arrived in Hownslow, I couldn't find a single retailer that was open. Oh, the time by the way, is 6.30am – I am way too early. For, you see, my infallable logic was knocked over by the simple fact that at 6am, there is no traffic, so the journey takes a shill 25 mins. Honestly, it's a wonder I don't smack myself in the fact whenever I peel a banana, really.
Still, a fruitless search of Hounslow failed to produce a single ticket seller that was open. Not one. In Hownslow. Which is not just a row of three shops – it's a fairly big shopping centre place type effort, if you've never been to Hownslow (and I wouldn't say there is anything to recommend of the place, either).  

So I have to pay to get on the bus to Osterley. I buy my ticket, and take a seat. I must have dropped it, but then again, when have you ever seen a ticket inspector on the bus?

Err… me. This morning.

Several pleas and driver's interventions later, I end up with a £20 fine. I mean, when I woke up, I just knew this was going to be a shit day. Just knew it. The glass isn't even half empty.

So, I get to work, and it's seven bastarding A bastarding M. I'm an hour early. Literally. I checked the time that I swiped in at, and it was 7.04am, and I have only the Internet orders guy for company.  The lines open at 8am. It's pandemonium.

You may feel, dear reader, than you fully understand the capability of otherwise normal-looking people to be utter fuckwits, but unless you've ever worked in a call centre, you don't. You, it seems, are both God and the dogsbody, just without the respect of either. Oh, and throw into the mix a sale catalouge.

Thankfully, a sympathetic line manager let me go on break early (a paltry 15 minuites) before I committed the Great Massacre of Osterley. One cigerette later, I come back, and until 6pm, the day goes like any other. As I was looking forward to knocking off (not one out) for the day, the call centre manager asks if people can stay on for an extra hour's overtime. 

You may all now be thinking "Oh, Kit, surely this must be end!" but through my own stupidity, I was an hour early. Do you really think that, given my crap day, that my stupidity would like the side down?

My arm thrust up.

To be honest, the last hour flew anyway. Until 7pm, when about three calls came through. And never in my life has my own name sent such a shiver down my spine.

"Kiiiiiit…. can you stay on and take two more calls?"

Gnhhhhhhh…

By the time I swiped out, it was 7.22 pm. Which meant I missed the bus to Hownslow. 

I need a hug.