Thursday, 20 February 2020

The Glanrhyd bus stop in the rain in February.. musings and reflections



The Glanrhyd bus stop in the rain in February.. musings and reflections..as news of a far right attack comes from Germany. We hear that the attacker posted a video and had a hunting licence and attacked two Kurdish bars frequented by guest workers. We hear that the German state took away resources from observing the far right to observation of Isis terrorism. Like the UK the far right flexes and stretches it's muscles and few see the symbiotic relationship between the far right and Isis. Each has a similar world view, each share one another's social media tweeting and retweeting one another's efforts and each left behind in a globalised world.

My mind turns to the nature of Februay and I reflect the on the tide of misery, illness and mortality around me. I am Sissyphus pushing the stone of my will and optimism up the hill each day and each morning it has rolled down to the bottom so I begin the process again each day The same inanities echo around social media each day on Port Talbot arseholes and dispair the same unthinking prejudice babbled on ....



As Pritti Patel brings in a points-based immigration system we discover that her own parents would not have been granted entrance to the UK what us it about newsagents and the Tory Party? Is it the prejudice of the tabloids entering into their souls by osmosis? Is it the grubiness of selling cigarettes and booze to under age kids in the 70s? Is it the crassness of the top shelf ? Or the inflated prices charged to poor and desperate people?



This is February as three storms have merged into days of rain and wind that never seem to end. I glance up around the bus there are six of us as we move through Trebanos and onwards towards Pontaradawe ...where are we going what are our stories? I dreamt last night of a train journey Freud would have speculated on mortality perhaps this bus is a metaphor for the train. Sissyphus within all of us heading on the X6 to pick up our individual rocks?

On Radio 4 I hear of the floods in Wales and throughout the country. The reality of climate change comes down to us all. Yet denial is everywhere...

But the days are lengthening and the light grows daily. In the USA Sanders goes on the attack and lays into the racist Israeli Government and the theocracy of Saudi Arabia. As Bloomberg stutters and staggers awkwardly into the Presidential election. The potential for change is there and the small acorns and bulbs of hope burst with energy. Spring is coming steadily as we all Sissyphus like battle through existence . There is only one God and his name is death and all we can say to him is not today. There are many Goddesses with multiple views and perspectives and the rocks we push up the hill can become tools of change and weapons of resistance ....but dare we rebel that us the question.
Meanwhile the ex Pats in Spain rail against migrants and call for the economically inactive with the UK to pick fruit and wipe a

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

"Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows"..

...it's very quiet the cafes, the shops and the businesses. Yes it's half term, but as I write I notice that the bus I am on is emptier than usual. It's almost as if the paradise of Brexit and the government of Boris Johnson exists in a way that is yet to be perceived or understood. I feel as if the pages of Hannah Arendts book on totalitarianism and fascism is being acted out. As Kier Starmer bores the Labour into submission with a stream of visionless words and Lisa Nandy has conversations with socially conservative ex Labour voters who are concerned with "anti western" policies and hung up on immigration and the threat of diversity . Yet in the conversation she has she never states what values she has or indeed those she supports. Her history is constantly revised, adapted and reinterpreted .Anti Semetism as Corbyns sin is woven into her narrative tapestry and coloured by ambition as great as Lucifers and as cold as a Lizard she weeps tears for the blue Labour values that she so sadly mourns.

The Left wrestles with the false binary choice between the electable centrism option and the purity and relevance of Socialism. Late capitalism is here and we cannot go back to Blair. 2008 destroyed for ever that world has gone for ever. Neoliberalism has been replaced by benefit capitalism in which large corporations and banks are the recipients . The system has gone and only it's shell remains. The superstructure of the state persuades many that we can go back yet automation, climate change and the change of commodities and their opportunity costs slips by their awareness.

The Left must keep its nerve and battle on. Whatever happens on April 4th is yet another state in a Hegelian process. Blair led Labour to the arms of Bush and war where so would the centrist pragmatists lead us now? Which right wing populist would serve that role? There is no way other than to campaign, educate and empower. Socialism is the only way now. Rosa Luxembourg long ago said the choice was either Socialism or Barbarism. Never has the first three chapters of volume of Das Kapital been more relevant, prophetic and valid. The centre is dead but does not yet know it, the right off Labour has no relevance or value to post industrial society. All that is solid is melting into air and all that was holy is now profane. Socialism calls to us as a faith to those who have lost a faith..keep your nerve ...the dialectic runs on as thesis and antithesis battles it out. Free movement becomes essential as the crisis of late capitalism nears.....it will come in an event, moment or episode that is yet unforseen, unknown and shocking...:to all my architects let me be traitor to those I cannot obey.."

The Old Revolution
I finally broke into the prison,
I found my place in the chain.
Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows,
All the brave young men
They're waiting now to see a signal
Which some killer will be lighting for pay.
Into this furnace I ask you now to venture,
You whom I cannot betray.
I fought in the old revolution
On the side of the ghost and the King.
Of course I was very young
And I thought that we were winning;
I can't pretend I still feel very much like singing
As they carry the bodies away.
Into this furnace I ask you now to venture
Lately you've started to stutter
As though you had nothing to say.
To all of my architects let me be traitor.
Now let me say I myself gave the order
To sleep and to search
Source: LyricFind


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

I am a Socialist......


I  am a 1970s socialist because of 2010s 'liberals" austerity and policies of privatisation . I am a 1970s socialist because of New Labour and it's tinkering with capiralism They adjusted income but did nothing about the distribution of wealth. They promoted Public Finance Iniatives and fought a hideous war killing millions. I have always been a socialist from the 1970s because it was the only analysis that made sense and offered an alternative. I am a 1970s socialist because it was a criticism of the austerity and semi monetarism of the Callaghan years. I hold it up as a badge of honour because I want to solve the problem of those who work but do not own and those who own but do not work. I want people to own the place they work at and that they are the first responsibility of the business and not the shareholders. I am a 1970s socialist because the health service and education system is a service and not a business. I am a 1970s socialist because I support an education system that is about critical thinking and not about serving our corporate master. I am a 1970s socialist becaus I believe that we must sweep away the Public Schools, the House of Lords and the whole Honours system. I am a 1970s socialist because I want a written constitution and a citizens income. I am a 1970s socialist because I support the right of numerous ethnic, sexual and gender identities. I am a 1970s socialist because of your austerity Jo Swinson because while you are a woman you are not a sister. Your friends will call me misogynist because I criticise you. Yet you were the misogynist supporting welfare cuts, privatisation and the bedroom tax. It was your policies Jo Swinson that through austerity killed 120,000 people. That's misogyny Jo, robbing families of mothers, suppressing income and slashing services. I am a 1970s socialist because I have sat with the victims of your policies Jo Swinson in DWP offices and tribunals . And you have the fucking nerve to dismiss those like me on an equivalence scale with the old Etonians bully boys of the Bullingdon?.
I am a 1970s socialist because I don't believe that my attitude to Brexit is a litmus test of everything that matters. I am a 1970s socialist because I don't excuse homophobes and bigots because of ambition and of being remainers.

I am a 1970s socialist because I don't believe that someone like yourself who is a parody of the head prefect of a private school from a novel of the 1920s or 1930s. I am a 1970s socialist because I believe in self determinism of the people's of these islands. I do not look the other way Jo because I deny the Scottish people a second referendum but want to deny the reality of the UK European referendum of 2016.



I am a feminist and a peace maker and a supporter of the identity of all enabled to discover who they are and to be able set out on a journey of self discovery I am a 1970s socialist because I don't believe that moderation is a virtue and is rather a statistical average of unthinking and prejudice. There are no moderate positions when confronting fascism and racism, poverty and injustice. I am a 1970s socialist because of the Blairs, Swinsons and moderates that I meet.

Since 2008 the economic system gas been cracking and breaking . We have had years of Corporate Welfare with pay outs for the rest, we have bailed out the bankers and the plutocrats. I am a 1970s socialist because we can't go back to the way things were prior to 2008. The tragedy is that Jo and her friends don't even realise what has happened or indeed have the tools to analyse it. You don't even realise that your actions are what caused Brexit and the rejection of neoliberalism. So I raise the Red Banner and stand below it.. That's why I am a 1970s socialist...

And you Jo are simply a means by which the ruling class can keep on ruling. You are the means by which the structure of the existing system would be preserved. You are Jo with your party hooked into grandiosity and narcissism and you are completely unaware of reality.

At a Dwp tribunal in Swansea a day in the life of Martyn J Shrewsnury

  I have a very rewarding career, in addition to being a Psychotherapist I represrnt people at benefit Tribunals. I love my job and I win about 90% of the cases. I am disanled myself and partially sighted. I have a whire stick and have a deep understanding of both mental health issues and persobality disotder.  Some ten to twelve years ago i went through a dramatic personal crisis in my life. Those who often dismiss me as a trouble maler use the events of tjhis time to apply ad hominen methods. So today I am going yo share with you a typical case from last year. I think its easy to dismiss all nebefit claimants as lazy and idle. I might have once but now I have experience of  the reality ofbreadline Britain. I will call this blog post `Doctor Bashton`s Tale; The Grand Inquisitor and other tales of the Benefit Tribuna` the names have been vhanged and other facts obscutred.

If you turn into the Fabian Way and head past Sainsbury's as you approach Swansea you will notice on your right Swansea Civil Justice Centre. I have been representing people there in benefit appeals for well over ten years. A few weeks ago I was representing a particular client there let's call her Eunice.

Eunice is in remission after reaching stage 3c or 4 bowel cancer. Back in 2016 the DWP had taken away her DLA when it became PIPS. Eunice is incontinent in all ways. She is anxious depressed and prone to severe psychological issues. She can't cope with authority fears that they are out to get her and needs constant support. I have been working with her since she had her first diagnosis.

As we walked into her second appeal I felt a gnawing anxiety as I glance at the Tribunal Member and recognise all the members if the panel. I have seen the Doctor and the Judge before.. Let's call them Dr Bashron and Judge Yardarm. The third member I recognise from my own appeal . That appeal ruled that I was too eloquent to gain a Pips award for my visual impairment and they once asked another client who had dyed her hair. I guess she felt that those who suffer from depression and a bipolar diagnosis somehow can't dye their hair without it having a psychological significance.

I glance at Dr Bashton as he questions Eunice. The good Doctor thinks he is a prosecuting attorney from a 50s film. He interrogates Eunice his voice rising all the time. He tells her to speak up. Her voice drops and she becomes paler and more afraid. Her voice goes quieter and he shouts at her to speak up as he rants at her claiming that he is deaf.

Within me a voice begins to rise up. And I want to shout out GET A FUCKING HEARING aid..My poker face breaks and he turns to me telling me to show him respect. My voice hidden within says *I will when you show behaviour worthy of it" and I think of the Hippocratic Oath that Doctors swear. The words are to do no harm. AND YET THAT IS ALL HE DOES.

Inquisitor Bashton continues to interrogate and my client begins to cry. Dr Bashton rants once more at me and as I glance at the DWP representative he looks worried and we suggest an adjournment. During the adjournment they agree with me a set of descriptors that they will accept for Eunice.

When we return we tell Judge Yardarm of our recommendations. S he snaps at us that it's not our job to do that and that she won't accept it. It's not your role she says and glares at the alliance of the Psychotherapist and the DWP official. We are less than worms her cold eyes tell us. We go for an adjournment and as we leave as the clerk records the final words of the appeal I tell them in a calm voice that have damaged my client and ask them what psychological training they have.
Eunice is distraught.. Bashton and Yardarm have put back my work with her by nearly a year. They have wrecked Eunice. A few days later I get a letter saying that this particular trio have ruled themselves out of all future appeals dealing with Eunice.

A few days later on still I run into Dr Bashton while walking around the supermarket. He looks at me and remembers. I look through him in contempt and walk away. If you have ever had an appeal at the Swansea Civic Justice Centre and been treated by Doctor Bashton in this way you have my compassion and sympathy..

What does it take for the Bashtons of this world to gain empathy, understanding and a hearing aid.? I saw in the eyes of Yardarm and Bashton a contempt for the appellant and with it the assumption that as they had had it tough then so should all others. They were the inquisitors of the sick and ill and would root out the shirkers and the lazy.
Be afraid very afraid if you run into these pair of Grand Inquisitors of course any similarity to anyone living or dead is entirely coincidental. You might think that but I could not possibly comment. By the way Eunice went on to win the third appeal..I like happy endings

If you turn into the Fabian Way and head past Sainsbury's as you approach Swansea you will notice on your right Swansea Civil Justice Centre. I have been representing people there in benefit appeals for well over ten years. A few weeks ago I was representing a particular client there let's call her Eunice.

Eunice is in remission after reaching stage 3c or 4 bowel cancer. Back in 2016 the DWP had taken away her DLA when it became PIPS. Eunice is incontinent in all ways. She is anxious depressed and prone to severe psychological issues. She can't cope with authority fears that they are out to get her and needs constant support. I have been working with her since she had her first diagnosis.

As we walked into her second appeal I felt a gnawing anxiety as I glance at the Tribunal Member and recognise all the members if the panel. I have seen the Doctor and the Judge before.. Let's call them Dr Bashron and Judge Yardarm. The third member I recognise from my own appeal . That appeal ruled that I was too eloquent to gain a Pips award for my visual impairment and they once asked another client who had dyed her hair. I guess she felt that those who suffer from depression and a bipolar diagnosis somehow can't dye their hair without it having a psychological significance.

I glance at Dr Bashton as he questions Eunice. The good Doctor thinks he is a prosecuting attorney from a 50s film. He interrogates Eunice his voice rising all the time. He tells her to speak up. Her voice drops and she becomes paler and more afraid. Her voice goes quieter and he shouts at her to speak up as he rants at her claiming that he is deaf.

Within me a voice begins to rise up. And I want to shout out GET A FUCKING HEARING aid..My poker face breaks and he turns to me telling me to show him respect. My voice hidden within says *I will when you show behaviour worthy of it" and I think of the Hippocratic Oath that Doctors swear. The words are to do no harm. AND YET THAT IS ALL HE DOES.

Inquisitor Bashton continues to interrogate and my client begins to cry. Dr Bashton rants once more at me and as I glance at the DWP representative he looks worried and we suggest an adjournment. During the adjournment they agree with me a set of descriptors that they will accept for Eunice.

When we return we tell Judge Yardarm of our recommendations. S he snaps at us that it's not our job to do that and that she won't accept it. It's not your role she says and glares at the alliance of the Psychotherapist and the DWP official. We are less than worms her cold eyes tell us. We go for an adjournment and as we leave as the clerk records the final words of the appeal I tell them in a calm voice that have damaged my client and ask them what psychological training they have.
Eunice is distraught.. Bashton and Yardarm have put back my work with her by nearly a year. They have wrecked Eunice. A few days later I get a letter saying that this particular trio have ruled themselves out of all future appeals dealing with Eunice.

A few days later on still I run into Dr Bashton while walking around the supermarket. He looks at me and remembers. I look through him in contempt and walk away. If you have ever had an appeal at the Swansea Civic Justice Centre and been treated by Doctor Bashton in this way you have my compassion and sympathy..

What does it take for the Bashtons of this world to gain empathy, understanding and a hearing aid.? I saw in the eyes of Yardarm and Bashton a contempt for the appellant and with it the assumption that as they had had it tough then so should all others. They were the inquisitors of the sick and ill and would root out the shirkers and the lazy.Be afraid very afraid if you run into these pair of Grand Inquisitors of course any similarity to anyone living or dead is entirely coincidental. You might think that but I could not possibly comment. By the way Eunice went on to win the third appeal..I like happy endings

Monday, 17 February 2020

The Rage the viscious circle of Islamist and Far Right extremism by Julia Ebner

The early twenty-first century has been defined by a rise in Islamist radicalisation and a concurrent rise in far right extremism. This book explores the interaction between the 'new' far right and Islamist extremists and considers the consequences for the global terror threat. Julia Ebner argues that far right and Islamist extremist narratives '" 'The West is at war with Islam' and 'Muslims are at war with the West' - complement each other perfectly, making the two extremes rhetorical allies and building a spiralling torrent of hatred - 'The Rage'. By looking at extremist movements both online and offline, she shows how far right and Islamist extremists have succeeded in penetrating each other's echo chambers as a result of their mutually useful messages. Based on first-hand interviews, this book introduces readers to the world of reciprocal radicalisation and the hotbeds of extremism that have developed '" with potentially disastrous consequences - in the UK, Europe and the US.

  `Julia Ebner shows how Islamist and right-wing extremism are two sides of the same coin. Her analysis is compelling, insightful, and highly readable.' - Peter R. Neumann, author of Radicalized, 'The Rage reads like a novel but unfortunately its story is non-fiction: Islamist hotheads and those on the far-right polarise our societies and the moderates in the middle lose ground to populists who play politics with extremism.' - Alex P. Schmid, Editor-in-Chief Perspectives on Terrorism, 'This book brings alive the causes and consequences of far-right extremism and Islamist radicalism in our midst. These two forms of rising bigotry threaten to tear our societies apart -- Ebner exposes them both and powerfully calls on us to defend liberal tolerance. The Rage is an excellent master course for those seeking to understand the growth of fanaticism.' - Ed Husain, author of The Islamist, `Julia Ebner has written a fine book, approaching the vexing topic of `reciprocal radicalisation' with admirable ethnographic empathy. Crisply written, The Rage journeys through the leading and often intertwined forms of extremism today: jihadi Islamists and the far-right. The mirroring of these violent narratives is striking, and is revealed here through both eye-opening vignettes and wide-ranging empirical data. Without doubt, The Rage is the most important contribution to this burgeoning subject to date, and surely will be of use to scholars, policy-makers and the wider public alike.' - Matthew Feldman, Professor of Contemporary History, Teesside University, `An original and highly informative book on one of the core security issues of our time. The Rage demonstrates powerfully how apparently opposite strands of extremism feed so readily off each other and, in doing so, it illuminates the extent of the problems facing us. Essential reading.' - Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies, Bradford University and author of Irregular War, `An excellent debut: informed, well-researched and thoughtful. Ebner traces the increasingly important interdependency of far-right and Islamist movements, and offers humane, smart ways through the impasse.' - Jamie Bartlett, author of Radicals, `Julia Ebner draws on the very latest evidence to deliver important new analysis of two seemingly opposing forms of extremism and their mutually reinforcing worldviews. The perpetrators of most terrorist and violent extremist acts committed in recent years have followed some form of radicalisation process; Ebner's book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the circumstances in which such radicalisation can take place.' - Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, `There couldn't be a more appropriately timed book than The Rage by Julia Ebner. With an up close personal view of two sides of the extremist coin, Ebner lays out the nearly identical narratives between the extreme right wing and Islamists who align with Al Qaida and ISIS. Locked at the hip, these two groups are in a perpetual battle to destroy anyone who gets in the way of their ideology. Both groups use remarkably similar techniques to radicalize recruits preying up a need for identity, belonging, and purpose. The personal narrative breathes life into the voices of those who believe they are on a just cause even as that cause ends in terror for others. The Rage is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the interconnected nature of extremism.' - Chris Sampson, co-Author of Hacking ISIS




Everybody knows........




Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows


Everyone knows that the plague is ciming....and so as the virus from the far East detracts and spreads fear. I hear anecdotal stories of a fall in demand for Chinese food and abuse from people shouted and screamed at those deemed to look Chinese. The reality is that more die from pneumonia that the present death rate from the corona virus. A moral panic i s created and the fog obscures the reality of political events and motivations here of the Johnson government. As a Tory advisor flirts with eugenics and racism we see what lurks beneath. As Dominic Cummings concentrates power in a decreasing number of hands and we find austerity booming again, while the north and the left behind glimpse reality. As Lisa Nandy stands up for corporations and criticises the right to strike we know that the deal is rotten and every body knows...and on Radio 4 I hear Alistair Campbell accuse Dominic Cummings of being a bully and of having an obsession with power and on Port Talbot delusion and arseholes Adam Makowski who promotes conspiracy theories of Rothchillds proportions tells me that I am full of hatred...oh well..


Everybody Knows

Leonard Cohen


Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it's now or never
Everybody knows that it's me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you've done a line or two

Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows

And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past

Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows


And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows


Friday, 14 February 2020

Thanks for the Dance...Leonard Cohen



Thanks for the Dance...Leonard Cohen's last or posthumous album stands so powerfully for so much in my life. I first discovered Cohen as an 18 year old in the Summer of 1976 and this last album touches me as much at the advanced age of nearly 62. In 1976 I was 'meeting Christ and reading Marx" and now in 2020 I ask the "young messiah what happens to the heart?". Cohen has always run about 24 years ahead of me. He was born in 1934 and myself in 1958. Long ago in that summer of 1976 the words of the first album burst into my mind and my psyche as a whole. I have known my own Marrianne and Suzanne and I have run through the crises and dramas of my life mediated by Cohen's lyrics. Through bankruptcy and break up and high drama through shame and elation and through the lens of his albums I have measured out the years and tears of so much of my life. There have been many "Nights of Santiago" in those years surprisingly from the last few years and particularly since 2010. Though I must point out since meeting my partner in that year I have realised just what " our steps will always rhyme" means. The challenge of fatherhood and it's complexities too are so powerfully dealt with .



I have long asked what happens to the heart? . I have been through the horrors of modern politics and the age of Trump and fake news. I know now that " the angels have a fiddle, the Devil's got a harp, every soul is like a minnow, every mind is like a shark" Cohen sings of the vastness, baseless and basenesss nature of post modern fascism and populism. His song "Puppets" sums up Brexit, Trump, Farage and others so perfectly. While ":in the prison of the gifted I was friendly with the guards" . Yet Cohen always brings me back to my own shadow and actions and forces me to confront my personas and false selves. I am at times as corrupt and shallow as the rest "I was selling Holy Trinkets, I was dressing kinda sharp, I had a pussy in the Kitchen and a panther in the yard"



Thanks for the dance Leonard you are further down the road than I, your last album touches me far more deeply than your first. Perhaps this is because of time, maturity and insight .
I may have forgotten half my life but I always remember this.. your album is a great one, a worthy farewell and a path to understanding . Thanks to Andrew Evans for introducing me to Cohen and to John Wallen and others with whom I have discussed his words endlessly . Sorry to those I may have bored with my ravings and ceaseless quotings of his words. Yet I too have I introduced many to his brutal and insightful wisdom. "here's to the few who don't mind what you do, and the fewer who don't even care m" Thanks for the Dance Leonard i hope to dance with the ruffian on the stairs through the mortality of the portal of existence one day.. you are further down the road Leonard I long to meet you. After all I could only believe in a goddess/god who could dance..



Happens to the Heart




I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I got my shit together
Meeting Christ reading Marx
Sure it failed my little fire
But it's bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart

There's a mist of summer kisses
Where I tried to double-park
The rivalry was vicious
And the women were in charge
It was nothing, it was business
But it left an ugly mark
So I've come here to revisit
What happens to the heart

I was selling holy trinkets
I was dressing kind of sharp
Had a pussy in the kitchen
And a panther in the yard
In the prison of the gifted
I was friendly with the guard
So I never had to witness
What happens to the heart

I should have seen it coming
You could say I wrote the chart
Just to look at her was trouble
It was trouble from the start
Sure we played a stunning couple
But I never liked the part
It ain't pretty, it ain't subtle
What happens to the heart

Now the angel's got a fiddle
And the devil's got a harp
Every soul is like a minnow
Every mind is like a shark
I've opened every window
But the house, the house is dark
Just say Uncle, then it's simple
What happens to the heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
The slaves were there already
The singers chained and charred
Now the arc of justice bending
And the injured soon to march
I lost my job defending
What happens to the heart

I studied with this beggar
He was filthy he was scarred
By the claws of many women
He had failed to disregard
No fable here no lesson
No singing meadowlark
Just a filthy beggar blessing
What happens to the heart

I was always working steady
But I never called it art
I could lift, but nothing heavy
Almost lost my union card
I was handy with a rifle
My father's .303
We fought for something final
Not the right to disagree

Sure it failed my little fire
But it's bright the dying spark
Go tell the young messiah
What happens to the heart




The Night of Santiago

Leonard Cohen



She said she was a maiden
That wasn't what I heard
For the sake of conversation
I took her at her word
The lights went out behind us
The fireflies undressed
The broken sidewalk ended
I touched her sleeping breasts
They opened to me urgently
Like lilies from the dead
Behind a fine embroidery
Her nipples rose like bread

Then I took off my necktie
And she took off her dress
My belt and pistol set aside
We tore away the rest


The night of Santiago
And I was passing through
So I took her to the river
As any man would do

Her thighs they slipped away from me
Like schools of startled fish

Though I've forgotten half my life
I still remember this
Now, as a man I won't repeat
The things she said aloud
Except for this, my lips are sealed forever

And for now
And soon there's sand in every kiss
And soon the dawn is ready
And soon the night surrenders
To a daffodil machete
I gave her something pretty
And I waited till she laughed
I wasn't born a gypsy
To make a woman sad

The night of Santiago
And I was passing through
I took her to the river
As any man would do
The night of Santiago
And I was passing through
I took her to the river
As any man would do

I didn't fall in love of course
It's never up to you
But she was walking back and forth
And I was passing through
When I took her to the river
In her virginal apparel
When I took her to the river
On that night of Santiago
And yes she lied about it all
Her children and her husband
You were born to judge the world
Forgive me but I wasn't

The night of Santiago
And I was passing through
I took her to the river
As any man would do

The night of Santiago
And I was passing through
I took her to the river
As any man would do

The night of Santiago
And I was passing through
So I took her to the river
As any man would do

The night of Santiago
And I was passing through
So I took her to the river
As any man would do


Leonard Cohen Lyrics

"Puppets"

German puppets burned the Jews
Jewish puppets did not choose
Puppet vultures eat the dead
Puppet corpses they are fed
Puppet winds and puppet waves
Puppet sailors in their graves
Puppet flower, puppet stem
Puppet time dismantles them
Puppet me and puppet you
Puppet German
Puppet Jew

Puppet Presidents command
Puppet troops to burn the land
Puppet fire, puppet flames
Feed on all the puppet names
Puppet lovers in their bliss
Turn away from all of this
Puppet reader shakes his head
Takes his puppet wife to bed
Puppet me and puppet you
Puppet German, puppet Jew

Puppet Presidents command
Puppet troops to burn the land
Puppet fire, puppet flames
Feed on all the puppet names
Puppet night comes down to play
The after act to puppet day

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Far right demo at the BBC in Cardiff . a damp squib.....



 The latest news from the people at Far Right Watch Wales on  antics of Dave of torfaen and his mates....

https://www.facebook.com/FRWWales/?__xts__[0]=68.ARC6QUbhL4l1ZLQiYN6CvC36dY0rRBRR547rUrJK-y8QG226i7T1rkfS-2tB89607T8bO5zHVZCNudsWkFMdmVbCluuKM1JP9Q06HjFXAg5h2C6A1A4grSHczMKILvTaIsdGcGfmFMCpKR4bhgR_YmvTMA2C0c6HDcZyyEA_UzIaNWbvtc6lEsRwinVz7jNvWGbkMJEKhmCuikqtm615WRhodeuNA0GscaBDF4uLuzos0_OdVGF6Sk-hwu5d6OmtC1HCkRAmdgK2YxeGA7JSnLbNhO_EifeGIMO2TJGrZO6JizTq0Sg6vL53g_pLQN975MxkmUBleIpzS-O3EwI9WFM&__tn__=k*F&tn-str=k*F

"It didnt escape our attention that a certain Tracy Blackwell was in Cardiff earlier this week. For those who might not know too much about Tracy Blackwell her son was killed in a drink drive incident two years ago. Now of course for this to happen to anyone is terrible but rather than accept her son was the victim of a mindless drunk driver - who was convicted and received a hefty jail sentence - Tracey Blackwell was convinced by the likes of Tommy Robinson that he was murdered in a 'jihadist terror' incident which 'the establishment covered up' (important to stress the individual convicted had no connection whatsoever with Islam). And since then she's worked closely with the likes of Robinson, the convicted 'yellow vest' thug James Goddard and others on the British far right.
Certainly no one could ever accuse the sun newspaper of writing 'left wing propaganda' so it's very striking they published the following damning aticle article about Tracy Blackwell last year https://www.thesun.co.uk/…/how-britains-far-right…/Certainly
No question the British far right have exploited Tracy Blackwell's grief - but she's allowed herself to become a willing dupe of british neo fascists and racists. So much so she even includes the crosstika - the international symbol of the Alt Right - on her twitter account (see photo). And in the tweet we've featured it's revealing Tracy Blackwell makes an appalling attack on Doreen Lawrence - mother of Steven who was brutally murdered in a racist attack.
Thankfully the 'demo' outside the BBC Wales centre in Cardiff that she was invited to attend by far right activists in south wales Paul Candlin and Dave Simpson was an utter flop, with only a handful of the usual south wales based far right suspects and their cronies in attendance (see photo). South Wales DFLA activist Paul Candlin and the Torfaen based convicted thug Dave Simpson organised the event in conjunction with midlands based DFLA organiser Kyle Breecher. We wrote about Breecher and his links with far right activists in south wales in a post last year https://www.facebook.com/FRWWales/posts/562482454266706
Laughably even in the face of a mountain of evidence documenting members members far right links and convictions for racist violence DFLA foot soldiers like Breecher still try and maintain they are not far right or racist https://resistinghate.org/dflacriminalmembers/
The other 'keynote' speaker at the far right flop in Cardiff was Tim Scott - Scott is another far right activist to have emerged in recent years from the same far right sewer as the likes of James Goddard. Tim Scott was involved in a disastrous attempt to launch a Pegida movement in the uk https://www.independent.co.uk/…/uk-pegida-leader-tim-scott-…
Scott is is now involved in the recently launched Oswald Moseley-esque 'British Union' party. https://thebup.uk/
Another speaker was Phillip Watkins (see photo) - one look at Watkins' facebook timeline shows what a far right racist bigot he is https://www.facebook.com/phillip.watkins.5?
Demo organiser - Bridgend's Paul Candlin - now styles himself on facebook as 'Paul Hunter Candlin' https://www.facebook.com/dwain.masters? - tho its evident from the pic he posted on his page after the cardiff demo, and its direct reference to the role played by the far right in the demo, that he's given up trying to deny his far right beliefs (see photo). Not that he had much choice after we published damning reports like this showing his dfla and far right links https://www.facebook.com/…/following-repor…/598395147342103/
Now of course everybody wants to protect children from abuse but let's be clear here - the british far right have no genuine interest in protecting children from abuse or helping adults who were abused as children. Their growing and alarming involvement in vigilante groups and online paedophile hunters is motivated purely by a desperate effort to recruit and to push their bigoted far right agenda.
We reported how British neo fascists attempts to ape france's yellow vest movement in the uk fooled nobody and was a dismal failure https://www.facebook.com/…/in-a-follow-up-…/545043836010568/ And they are now trying to hijack public concerns about child protection in the same way they tried to hijack the problem of homelessness in the uk to make false and racist attacks on migrants and asylum seekers. And we covered their scurrilous atempts to do this in Wales in this post last year https://www.facebook.com/FRWWales/posts/561228861058732
Thus the DFLA's Kyle breecher operates the so called 'Against Abuse and Corruption' facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/460055981542644/permalink/472326773648898/ and he is currently cordinating with other far right activists across the UK to establish so called 'Alpha Teams' - like the one in south wales operated by Paul Candlin (see photo). They've even adopted the DFLA's slogan 'TWAS' - Together We Are Stronger https://www.opendemocracy.net/…/dfla-nother-new-uk-far-rig…/
Readers should check out these other earlier posts on far right activities in Wales - it's noticeable how the same names keep cropping up time and time again :
https://www.facebook.com/…/following-repor…/598395147342103/
https://www.facebook.com/…/update-on-the-c…/562482454266706/

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

The Trouble with Tribe


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Invite your students to investigate the history and hidden meanings of the word "tribe."
For many people in Western countries, the subject of Africa immediately calls up the word "tribe." Few readers question a news story describing an African individual as a "tribesman" or "tribeswoman," or the depiction of an African's motives as "tribal." Many Africans themselves use the word "tribe" when speaking or writing in English about community, ethnicity or identity in African states.
Yet today most scholars -- both African and non-African -- who study African states and societies agree that "tribe" promotes misleading stereotypes. The term "tribe" has no consistent meaning. It carries misleading historical and cultural assumptions. It blocks accurate views of African realities.
At best, any interpretation of African events that relies on the idea of tribe contributes no understanding of specific issues in specific countries. At worst, it obscures the reality that African identities and conflicts are as diverse, ambiguous, complex, modern and dynamic as those found anywhere else in the world.

What's wrong with "tribe"?

"Tribe" promotes a myth of primitive African timelessness.
The general sense of tribe as most people understand it is associated with primitiveness. To be in a tribal state is to live in an uncomplicated, traditional condition.
Most African countries are economically poor and often described as less developed or underdeveloped. Westerners often conclude that these societies have not changed much over the centuries and that African poverty mainly reflects cultural and social conservatism. Interpreting present-day Africa through the lens of tribes reinforces the image of timelessness.
The truth is that Africa has as much history as anywhere else in the world. It has undergone momentous changes time and again, especially in the 20th century. While African poverty is partly a product of internal dynamics of African societies, it has also been caused by the histories of external slave trades and colonial rule.

In the West, "tribal" often implies "savage."

When the general image of tribal timelessness is applied to situations of social conflict between Africans, a particularly destructive myth results. Stereotypes of primitiveness and conservative backwardness are also linked to images of irrationality and superstition. The combination leads to portrayal of violence and conflict in Africa as primordial, savage and unchanging. This image resonates with traditional Western racist ideas and can suggest that irrational violence is inherent and natural to Africans. Just as particular conflicts elsewhere in the world have both rational and irrational components, so do those in Africa.
The vast majority of African ethnic conflicts could not have happened a century ago in the ways that they do now. Pick almost any place where ethnic conflict occurs in modern Africa. Investigate carefully the issues over which it occurs, the forms it takes, and the means by which it is organized and carried out. Recent economic developments and political rivalries will loom much larger than allegedly ancient and traditional hostilities.
Ironically, some African ethnic identities and divisions now portrayed as ancient and unchanging actually were created in the colonial period. In other cases, earlier distinctions took new, more rigid and conflictual forms over the last century. The changes came out of communities' interactions within a colonial or post-colonial context, as well as movement of people to cities to work and live. The identities thus created resemble modern ethnicities in other countries, which are also shaped by cities, markets and national states.

 

If "tribe" is so flawed, why is it so common?

"Tribe" reflects widespread but outdated 19th-century social theory.
As Europeans expanded their trade, settlement and military domination around the world, they began trying to understand the different forms of society and culture they encountered. Social scientists in the 19th century viewed societies as "evolving" along a sequence of organizational stages. One widespread theory saw a progression from hunting to herding to agriculture to mechanical industry. By this account, city-building -- the root of "civilization" -- arose from agriculture, and all forms of social organization and government that "preceded" this stage were considered tribal.
Over the course of the 20th century, scholars learned that such images tried to make messy reality neater than it really is. While markets and technology may be said to develop, they have no simple correspondence with specific forms of politics, social organization or culture. Moreover, human beings have proven remarkably capable of changing older identities to fit new conditions, or inventing new identities (often stoutly insisting that the changed or new identities are eternal). Examples close to home include new hyphenated American identities, new social identities (for example, gay/lesbian), and new religious identities (for example, New Age).

Social theories of tribes resonated with classical and biblical education.

Of course, most ordinary Western people were not social theorists. But theories of social evolution spread through schools, newspapers, sermons and other media. The term "tribe," which comes from the Latin tribus, was tied to classical and biblical images. The ancient Romans used tribus to denote segments of their own population, as well as the Celtic and Germanic societies with which many 19th- and early-20th-century Europeans and Americans identified. Latin and English Bibles adopted the term for the 12 lineages of Hebrews who settled the Promised Land. This link of tribes to prestigious earlier periods of Western culture contributed to the view that tribe had universal validity in social evolution.

The concept of tribe became a cornerstone for European colonial rule in Africa.

This background of belief, while mistaken in many respects, might have been relatively benign. However, emerging during the age of scientific rationalism, the theories of social evolution became intertwined with racial theories. These were used to justify, first, the latter stages of the Atlantic slave trade (originally justified on religious grounds) and, later, European colonial rule.
Some people who believed that Africans were a primitive, lower order of humanity saw this as a permanent condition that justified Europeans in enslaving and dominating them. Others held that Africans could develop but needed to be civilized by Europeans -- which often meant in "exchange" for their freedom, labor, land and resources.
This reasoning was used to support the colonization of the whole continent of Africa after 1880, which otherwise might more accurately have been seen as a naked exercise of power. Thus, all Africans were said to live in tribes, whether their ancestors built large trading empires and Muslim universities on the Niger River, densely settled and cultivated kingdoms around the great lakes in east-central Africa, or lived in much smaller-scale communities between the larger political units of the continent.
Calling nearly all African social groups "tribes" and African identities "tribal" in the era of scientific racism turned the idea of tribe from a social science category into a racial stereotype. By definition Africans were supposed to live in tribes, preferably with chiefs. The colonizers proposed to govern cheaply by adapting tribal and chiefship institutions into European-style bureaucratic states. If they didn't find tribes and chiefs, they encouraged people to identify as tribes and appointed chiefs.
In some places, like Rwanda or Nigeria, colonial racial theory led to favoring one ethnic group over another because of supposed racial superiority (meaning White ancestry). In other places, emphasis on tribes was simply a tool of divide-and-rule strategies. The idea of tribe we have today cannot escape these roots.

Common Arguments Reconsidered

In the United States no one objects to referring to Native American "tribes."
Under U.S. law, "tribe" is a bureaucratic term. For a community of Native Americans to gain access to programs, and to enforce rights due to them under treaties and laws, they must be recognized as a tribe. This is comparable to unincorporated areas' applying for municipal status under state laws. Away from the law, Native Americans often prefer the words "nation" or "people" over "tribe."
Historically, the U.S. government treats all Native American groups as tribes because of the same outdated cultural evolutionary theories and colonial viewpoints that led European colonialists to treat all African groups as tribes. As in Africa, the term obscures wide historical differences in way of life, political and social organization, and culture among Native Americans. When we see that the same term is applied indiscriminately to Native American groups and African groups, the problem of primitive savagery as the implied common denominator only becomes more pronounced.

Africans themselves talk about tribes.

When Africans learn English, they are often taught that "tribe" is the term that English-speakers will recognize. But what underlying meaning in their own languages are Africans translating when they say "tribe"? In English, writers often refer to the Zulu tribe, whereas in Zulu the word for the Zulu as a group is isizwe. Zulu linguists translate isizwe as "nation" or "people." Isizwe refers both to the multi-ethnic South African nation and to ethno-national peoples that form a part of the multi-ethnic nation. When Africans use the word "tribe" in general conversation, they do not draw on the negative connotations of primitivism the word has in Western countries.

Avoiding the term "tribe" is just political correctness.

To the contrary, avoiding the term "tribe" is saying that ideas matter. If the term "tribe" accurately conveyed and clarified truths better than other words, even if they were hard and unpleasant truths, we should use it. But "tribe" is vague, contradictory and confusing, not clarifying. For the most part it does not convey truths but myths, stereotypes and prejudices. When it does express truths, there are other words that express the same truths more clearly, without the additional distortions.
Given a choice between words that express truths clearly and precisely, and words that convey partial truths murkily and distortedly, we should choose the former over the latter. That means choosing "ethnic group," "nation," "people," "community," "chiefdom," "kin-group," "village" or another appropriate word over "tribe," when writing or talking about Africa. The question is not political correctness but empirical accuracy and intellectual honesty.
Most scholars already prefer other terms to "tribe." So, among the media, does the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). But "tribal" and "African" are still virtually synonyms in most media, among policy-makers and among Western publics. Clearing away this stereotype is an essential step for beginning to understand the diversity and richness of African realities.
This essay was adapted with permission from "Talking About 'Tribe': Moving From Stereotypes to Analysis," originally published by the Africa Policy Information Center in 1997. The principal author was Chris Lowe, a historian of Africa who lives in Portland, Ore. Additional research was provided by Tunde Brimah, Pearl-Alice Marsh, William Minter and Monde Muyangwa.

One Zambia, One Nation

Zambia is slightly larger than Texas. The country has approximately 10 million inhabitants and a rich cultural diversity. English is the official language, but Zambia also boasts 73 different indigenous languages. While there are many indigenous Zambian words that translate into "nation," "people," "clan," "language," "foreigner," "village" or "community," there are none that easily translate into "tribe."

Sorting Zambians into a fixed number of "tribes" was a byproduct of British colonial rule over Northern Rhodesia (as Zambia was known prior to independence in 1964). The British also applied stereotypes to the different groups. Thus the Bemba, Ngoni and the Lozi were characterized in various colonial records as "strong." The Bemba and the Ngoni were "warlike," although the Bemba were considered the much "finer race" because the Ngoni had intertwined with "inferior tribes and have been spoiled by civilization." The Lamba were labelled "lazy and indolent" and the Lunda considered to have "an inborn distaste for work in a regular way." These stereotypes in turn often determined access to jobs.

After Zambia gained its independence in 1964, the challenge was how to forge these disparate ethnic groups into a nation-state whose citizens would identify as Zambians. The country's first president, Kenneth Kaunda, made a point of establishing policies and using tools that would promote nation-building, as reflected in the popular slogan "One Zambia, One Nation." Several factors reinforced the common national experience across the cultural spectrum.

First, the Kaunda administration attempted to achieve an ethnic balance in appointments to the cabinet and other key government positions. The intent was to provide Zambia's various ethnic groups with representation and hence a stake in the new nation that was being forged.

Second, with an economy focused on copper mining, the urban areas and mines became a magnet for Zambians from across the country and all ethnic groups seeking employment. By the 1990s almost half of all Zambians lived in urban areas. Despite ethnic stereotypes, no group had an overwhelming advantage in urban employment.

Third, Zambia adopted a boarding school system for grades 7-12. This system brought together children from all ethnic groups to live and learn together for nine months of the year. Along with English, social studies and several Zambian languages also became major components of school curricula, enabling Zambians to learn about and to communicate with each other. As a result of living together, interacting in the towns and cities, and going to school together, the average Zambian speaks at least three languages.

Fourth, after independence, the marriage rate among people of different ethnic identities increased. In the same way that one should not immediately assume that an American called Syzmanski speaks or understands Polish, neither should one necessarily expect a Zambian with the last name of Chimuka to speak or understand Tonga. As in America, names in Zambia are often unreliable indicators of ethnic heritage.

Many Zambians do use the word "tribe." Its meaning, however, is probably closer to that of an "ethnic group" in a Western country than what Westerners understand by "tribe." The word refers to one's mother tongue and, to lesser extent, specific cultural traits. For example, in the same way that Jewish Americans celebrate Bar Mitzvah as a rite of passage into adulthood, various Zambian ethnic groups have similar rites of passage ceremonies, such as Siyomboka among the Lozi and Mukanda for the Luvale. An urban family may or may not celebrate a particular rite and may need to decide which branch of the family's older generation they should follow.

To a large extent, the effort to forge "One Zambia, One Nation" has succeeded. Zambians identify with the nation as well as with individual ethnic groups. Many trace their own family heritage to more than one Zambian group. Most Zambians live within but also beyond their ethnic boundaries. Identities at different levels coexist and change.
Adapted with permission from "Talking About 'Tribe,'" Africa Policy Information Center.

She wore blue velvet.....the social conservatism and foreign policy of Blue Labour



She wore blue velvet...https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/blue-labour-what-twitter-party-group-culturally-conservative-policies-explained-1342190

Lisa Nandy calls for Labour to become patriotic rather than use the placard and there simply you have it. It tells us the truth about Maurice Glaserman and his faction or tendency called Blue Labour You quickly understand from it with its traditional discourse of community that it speaks to a male white past that never was it says nothing to women, to ethnic minorities or to post industrial society. It's a myth of the a white working make in manufacturing industries that are no more. It says nothing to post industrial society. And there you have it a simple appeal to a patriotic working class that knows it's place and sustains an attitude in foreign policy that is colonialist egocentric and basted in the legacy of Empire and monarchy. Now it's been regrowth on the petite dish of New Labour, stirred by Farage, blended by Brexit ready to be reintroduced into the Nandy faction in the battle for Labour's soul+



It doesn't matter any more that British foreign policy is conducted by special services and drone obscured by the thirty year rule the myth of patriotism pretends empire and commonwealth as it's twin pillars. The reason that so many if the PLP hated Corbyn and Macdonnel was that they understood the illusion of Blue Labour and sought to build new way. Both recognised the multiplicity and diverse nature of Labour in terms of ethnicity, identity and ontology. Ian Austin and John Whitelegg and others like John Mann knew that Corbyn and Mcdonnel would have created a Labour foreign policy that was pro Palestinian, anti American and post European. This was why Corbyn had to be destroyed in the Brexit election of December 2019.
As the leadership election runs on we see the Lisa Mandy transfers running to the Starmer camp as attempts are made to create a revenant of New Labour yet the resurrection Wi not work as the neo liberal assumptions and practice died in the crash if 2008. The centre is dead only exusting in the attic picture of Tony Blair kept in Nandys home. Patriots according to Walpole grow like mushrooms and is simply a cover for the remnants of colonialism that labels the world outside Europe and America as funny foreign places full of people speaking odd languages. It denies a united Ireland and fails to understand that the British Isles ate made up of many nation's not one. You can no longer read foe Wales see England and Nancy's ignorance on Catalonia and Scotland beggars belief. While I hope that Lisa Nandy is merely unaware of the plague her discourse and message carries I have little doubt that Maurice Glaserman and his blue Labour carry colonialism and the legacy of Empire as skidmarks in the Y Fronts they wear. Blue Labour is fundamentally reactionary and wants to take Labour back to a mythical 1950s where men were men, women knew their place and identity and sexuality was perfectly binary. Like the Trumpeteers of the Rust Belt and the Bluekippers blue Labour are different cheeks of the same arse.




Nandy should realise tbat many of her supporters from this tradition belong to a world that never was and belong to the 1970s comedy shows "Love the Neighbour" or " Are you being served? " There is a clash coming as social conservatism takes on the heirs of Corbyn. This clash is mirrored in Britain as a whole and as the British state cracks apart those who lead Labour next must understand that Labour has changed for good and that Blairism can never be again. As Sinn Fein surge in Ireland and Sanders in New Hampshire the principles and policies of Corbynism are applied outside the managed decline if the UK. Scotland is going. Northern Ireland approaches a border poll and inn Wales support for independence approaches 30% the genii will not go back into the bottle and all that is left is the go up smell of Blue Labour wrapped up to quote Diane Abbot in a Hovis loaf ..wake up and face the future Maurice Glaserman and Lisa Nandy before it's too late...2019 was not 1931wake up please..
NB with thanks to Navarre Media and Aaron Bastani for providing the germ of my thoughts today. The song Blue Velvet sums up the mythical 50s it appeals to my post modern and Hegelian mood on this cold February morning. Is it pastiche or parody you will have to decide.