Friday, 25 February 2011

EastEnders must fight back

Writers block comes like a theft in the night, all of a sudden my mind and thoughts are paralysed, powerless and unable to function  like I did say just a day or two before. It may be the depressing London weather that seems to drag on winter’s bitter bite, or it could just be me, and I suspect the latter.

The condition (writers block) amongst writers is said to vary widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some "blocked" writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their calling. It can manifest as the affected writer viewing their work as inferior or even unsuitable, when in fact it could be the opposite.

Well I don’t really know about any of that, being just an unskilled very amateur contributor to this blog, but I don’t think that it will have any permanency, just one of those things that I find happens now and again.

Whilst walking the other day from Canning Town Tube Station, and along down the Barking Road. I could not help myself from detecting and feeling the uncertainty written but well hidden on the faces of people that I passed by, and in the metaphorical sense on that globe-trot home. Now at this moment in time, Canning Town is rather like a massive building site; work has now begun on Phase One of the redevelopment of Rathbone Market, and all that which is a part of what the council says is regeneration. Now I know nothing lasts for eternally, and often change comes sometimes at a pace that is beyond the control of ordinary people, the council may call it in this case regeneration, but in fact it is anything but; regeneration for whom and who I have constantly been asking myself.        

In the last few years we have seen the decanting and demolition of about 600 homes, and many that were left empty awaiting the bulldozer and contractors, were taken over by homeless (squatting) Eastern Europeans, however just before Christmas the council evicted them, so they either moved on, found new squats or slept out on the streets, but worst still the council rendered the houses which are still standing, uninhabitable; ripping out all pluming and electrics, smashing toilets and bathrooms, then fixing great steel fittings over windows and doors like armoured plated protection, only this was to keep homeless people out.

Before anyone asks, this part of Newham like the rest of the borough is a Labour Party fortress which has never seen a Tory on the Council, but that may change in the not so distant and far-flung passage of time.

For years and until recent times this part of the East End was just another rundown working class area, whose children before its demise supplied and were the labour to the docks and supporting industries; long before my time here, there was a real community who lived, worked and fought together. It really is all too easy to turn that page in class history and forget what working class East Enders had to put up with down through their own unique and unparalleled history. A little reminder has always been the scars of the Blitz that were still visible in the East End, two decades on, and I always think of this when workers uncover and discover an unexploded WW2 bomb one of many that rained and were rammed down during those dark day’s of war, and of course not forgetting the many thousands of ordinary working class East Enders who lost their lives defending and working on the docks or living nearby during the war.

People in poverty from the 1960s

Then there is the history of the Labour Movement entrenched, but not so dug in as it once was. On the other side of the A13 that runs through the hart and divides Canning Town is a council estate, or I should say a former council estate, most of the housing sold off by Thatcher and the Tories during their last innings at the stump; however a little run-down but with a clue to a past time, retaining the name of the Keir Hardie estate you feel and sense the history of past battles, which I think should be a general conscious and awareness to all, but sadly its not, and I'm going to get on to that latter now that the writers block is evaporating as the sun shines on a pool of rainwater left by a summers downpour.

We should never forget our history; history leads us to our future, and what we are and what we have now here in the present.

The East End grew rapidly during the 19th century. In the first place it was an area characterised by villages bundled together around the City walls or along the main roads, surrounded by farmland, with marshes and small communities by the River, serving the needs of shipping and the Royal Navy. Until the arrival of formal docks, shipping was required to land its goods in the Pool of London, but industries related to construction, repair, and victualling of ships flourished in the area from Tudor times. The area attracted large numbers of rural people looking for employment. Successive waves of foreign immigration began with Huguenot refugees creating a new extramural suburb in Spitalfields in the 17th century. They were followed by Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews and, in the 20th century, Bangladeshis. Many of these immigrants worked in the clothing industry. The abundance of semi- and unskilled labour led to low wages and poor conditions throughout the East End. This brought the attentions of social reformers during the mid-18th century and led to the formation of unions and workers associations at the end of the century. The radicalism of the East End contributed to the formation of the Labour Party and demands for the enfranchisement of women.

So from the above condensed critique; I hope that I’m able to put across the history the contribution that working class East Enders made to the emerging Labour and Trade Union Movement, and I must say a history that lies in the dust of time, but with a few indications that provide us with a clue; telling something about a past. And it’s at this very time when our class is being attack by the Rottweiler’s of capitalism that we should learn from our history both good and bad and then organise the fight back. I have much more to say about Newham, Canning Town and what I think I will be doing and urging others to do in my locality in the time to come.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Free Edward Woollard

Hot on the heals as they say, of our last post, in regard to British Police brutality and the 2009 G20 demonstration held here in London. We bring you further news and information about young Edward Woollard who you will recall was incarcerated, that’s put behind bars and at ‘Her Majesties’ pleasure, following the November students demonstration and the Millbank invasion.

Thanks very much to fellow blogger 'Socialist' for sending us the latest news about Edward and a new website that’s been set-up by his family and friends giving much comforting support to Edward who never expected in his wildest dreams to find himself today doing "penal servitude" for a moment of madness, which being well documented, reported and relayed, he sincerely regrets. More about that latter but first we have copied and pasted underneath a report carried by the ‘Counterfire’ website and you can read the full article with full information by hitting on continue.         

Edward Woollard

Edward Woollard’s family and friends have today launched a website, Support 4 Ed Woollard after receiving an “overwhelming” number of messages of support for the 18-year-old student serving a “disproportionate” 32-month sentence for violent disorder.

“We hope that by setting up this website we can keep everyone up-to-date with how Ed is doing, provide a space for people to leave a message of support and a way of contacting him,” said Tania Garwood, Edward’s mum...CONTINUE

Now as it happened, and also yesterday our blog received a comment to a post which we did about Edward a while back and you can read it HERE.

It is our policy to publish all comments sent to us, whether we agree or disagree, and providing they are of course not homophobic, racist or in anyway abusive. We are not in the business of forcing our views and ideas on anyone, we merely and nothing more, wish to stimulate and propagate the case for socialism and as we see it. And in times of struggle afford whatever support we can to our fellow workers, which by the bye, all students are in persona albeit in training.

Anyway coming back to the comment, it was sent by an anonymous individual, who for obvious reasons wishes to hide behind anonymity, which under normal circumstances we don’t have a problem with usually. However in this case you may agree with us after reading the comment, that anonymity really is a cowardly enactment?” 
“The sentence was not harsh enough, the thug and that is all he is, should have been charged with attempted murder and banged up for 5 years at least. Students are the foundation of our society, the makings of Woollard would see those foundations crack, he deserves all he gets and more!” 
Finally; and yes we have given this commenter some prominence, even though his excrescence merits no real repetition or duplicate, but only by doing so can we expose the sad bigotry and sick dogmatism that has a grip on some poor unfortunates, they are not somebodies but rather nobodies and nonentities.

Decent caring human beings, understand that we all make mistakes, particularly when we are younger, and who hasn’t, still no-one was hurt and this 18-year-old student is serving a “disproportionate” 32-month sentence.

“Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.”  Oscar Wilde 

Monday, 14 February 2011

Scotland Yard pay out £117,000 to G20 demonstrators

Tonight’s London Evening (free) Standard reported that Scotland Yard has paid out more than £100,000 in compensation to protesters who they manhandle, beat-up and generally used violence on; brutal acts as of thugs, when policing the G20 demonstrations held in London two years ago.

The police victims have claimed that they were assaulted, falsely (kettled) imprisoned by Metropolitan Police Officers. The largest payout was awarded to photographer David Hoffman, 64, who was violently smashed in the face with a shield, resulting in four fractured teeth.

This was the demonstration you will remember in which innocent bystander Ian Tomlinson was killed after Pc Simon Harwood hit him with a baton.

In an interview Mr Hoffman told the Daily Mirror: “the police can just toss cash to people who complain but officers who caused this have walked free.”

A Met spokesman said: “The decision to settle does not imply that the officers involved have done (joke) wrong. Each case is considered on its merits”.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Art of Shoplifting

Whenever, I go on demonstrations, the last one being the Jan 29 students march in London. Invariably I am always on the lookout for ‘reading matter’ and anything that’s new, in fact, those of you who attended these events on a regular bases will know that it can be sometimes like running the gauntlet of versus newspaper sellers, but glad to say not a form of punishment in which a person is forced to run between two lines of men facing each other and armed with clubs or whips to beat their many victims.

Just stopping to pause for a moment; my first demonstration was all of 37 years ago, and I will always remember it; organised by the Labour Party Young Socialist (LPYS), then a real force in the party. I went on to become the Vice Chairman of the East Midlands LPYS; anyhow it was my first trip to London on my own, for on the other occasions it had been with the school on a day trip to our great capital and seat of government. So I arrived in Hide Park and was immediately taken back by the banners, the red flags flying upon high, the atmosphere, the ambiance of the experience, and I just knew I had arrived; there is a story in here somewhere but that will have to be for another time as I must awaken from this nostalgic day dreaming.

So as I am trying to say, like a magpie, I collect things that have been discarded by others, it saves money and it’s sort of recycling. Marx, and as I was explaining to comrade Brian Hopper the other night, spent a great deal of time going through the rubbish bins of London business and the Stock Exchange gathering his information and evidence on capital.

Well the point is I always come home with a mountain of reading; newspapers, flyers, handbills advertising this and that meeting activity or event, last time I found a pile of discarded Socialist Worker newspapers which came in handy for my ferrets litter try, no disrespect to SWP comrades – honestly!”

However on this occasion I found a new broadsheet called ‘The Paper’ edition minus 1 February. This on first glance seemed really interesting, however some pages are missing and I only have the front and backside of the publication and would love to have the complete edition, if anyone can help please drop us a line comrades.

I intend to find out more about ‘The Paper’ and report further in time, for the present we have painstakingly copied an article that the broadsheet itself reproduced on shoplifting ‘DIY Guide No 1 The Art of Shoplifting’.

Now given the very hard and for many, times in which we live, running away inflating food prices in the shops, on the up all the time utility bills and stinging us all, we thought without really saying anymore, to reproduce the full article as it may be of some help to those who are finding it hard to survive and come through or endure these the stormy times.

The original article by the way was produced by Australian students in a newsletter called ‘Rabelais’ in 1995. The four editors’ were prosecuted for publishing the following article. Despite threats of legal action, seven other student newspapers re-printed the article at the time. The case made it all the way to the High Court of Australia, but in 1998 the charges against the editor were dropped.

And finally comrades we would just like to apologise for the article length, but we don’t feel right about editing it shorter, particularly as its giving out sound advice.

The Art of Shoplifting

Shoplifting is a topic that is practically relevant to many and it should therefore not become an exclusive craft confined to a small shoplifting elite. On the contrary, shoplifting is an art that deserves the widest possible dissemination. For your convenience we have printed below a step by step guide to shoplifting. Good luck.

Within capitalism, most of us are either (1) alienated from our labour and hence dependent on the ruling classes for commodities as basic as food and clothing, (2) excluded from the division of labour, in which case we are likewise dependant on the State, or (3) performing unpaid and/or unrecognised labour and hence dependant on patriarchal relations for food, clothing, etcetera. In any case, our access to resources is severely limited by contemporary relations of domination. One partial solution to this problem may be to STEAL.
Sadly, however, many people living precariously on low incomes tend to either: (1) avoid shoplifting for anachronistic moral and/or ethical reasons; or (2) remain ignorant of the better methods and techniques of shoplifting, thus failing to maximise their lifting potential.

From the onset, the golden rule of theft should be enunciated: NEVER STEAL FROM SOMEBODY WHO COULD CONCEIVABLY BE A COMRADE. Hence kicking into a house on Bell Street with a beaten up old Mazda in the yard is irresponsible and counter-revolutionary!

Be careful, too, about taking stuff from small 'corner store' type shops -- you could be ripping off someone in a situation not dissimilar to your own. On the whole, it is best to play it safe and go straight for the big corporate fuckers.

Some people will suggest that shoplifters are a selfish breed, since 'we all pay for it in the end' through inflated prices to cover losses and so forth. However, comrades, this and closely analogous arguments are used to just ify lowering wages, breaking unions, lowering corporate taxation and taxation on the rich and corporate sector we may as well sell ourselves into bonded slavery now, or join the Liberal Party.

No, the injunction against stealing from capitalism is itself a capitalist ideology and should be spurned as such. Although we have been taught that 'thou shalt not steal', an order historically backed by threats of divine retribution, this should not for one minute stop us from taking the redistribution of wealth into our own hands. Believe me, no-one is likely to do it for us.

What follows is a list of effective methods and observations that may prove useful.

Preparing oneself for the big haul:

1. If possible, you should always have some money on you when intending to shoplift, because if you've got none, it's rather hard to argue that to steal the item was a spontaneous decision. As a result, if you've got no money and are caught shoplifting you are more than likely to be charged for burglary as well as theft.
2. Buying something at the same time that you steal stuff doesn't necessarily ensure success. Approaching staff for items you are absolutely sure they don't have is just as good. Think of something that you know they don't have (i.e. a doona cover with a specific pattern on it or something equally obscure) and pretend that you are looking for this, so that you have an excuse for being there. If staff are ever suspicious of you or ask if they can help you, ask them if they've got the thing you are sure they don't have. Never screw this up -- if you do you will have to buy the item or they may realise that you are there to steal.

3. It is always a good idea to carry a bag although you should never stash anything in it -- if security/sales staff are suss on you the first place that they'll check is your bag and it may just get you off the hook if they can't find anything suspicious inside of it.

4. Remember that there is no such thing as a standard store detective -- there is no qualifying dress code, age, race, gender or class. Grandma will bust you this week and next week it'll be a 5 year old kid.

5. Just as there is no typical store detective nor is there a standard shoplifter. Security do not go looking for the poorly dressed people. They may pick on you out of boredom, but remember, only an unsuccessful store detective picks on poorly dressed people. By the same token don't believe the stale myth that suits + dresses = more successes; security anticipate that professional shoplifters will dress up a bit. Wear whatever you want.

On entering the maze:

1. As soon as you enter the store, suss out the sales people. First impressions often count here. You could find a valuable blind-eye turning ally in younger or less-affluent employees. Alternatively, an employee can often stand out as a more wishy-washy gullible individual -- so even if they see you they are likely to be too gutless to mention it, either to you or to security.
2. Don't be put off by signs such as 'shoplifters will be prosecuted' or 'security police patrol this store'. Often this is just bluff anyway, and in any case there is no security measure that cannot be undone by a clever shoplifter or a quick talker. Do, however, keep your eye on security and be on the lookout for video surveillance cameras.

3. Try to find where the video surveillance monitors are and who is watching them; often they are not even looking at them. See if you can get a glance at their monitor. Often it is one monitor hooked up to 20 cameras which changes sequentially (every 30 seconds or so). Other times it's one guy in a room looking at 50 screens while reading the paper or glued to the box. These monitors are usually pretty small and have a wide aperture, showing more of the room but not enough detail to adequately see what you are up to.

4. It is a good idea to keep your back to the camera as much as possible without looking suspicious. Check out cameras (hold-up cameras) are often set up to check on employees, so they are not hard to keep your back turned to.

Blind-spots and other lifting techniques:

1. A blind-spot is a section of the store where you are barely visible and can thus feel free to both dump and collect stuff, without fear of being seen. Display units can make perfect blind-spots -- they ensure security is confident they have their eye on you, when in fact they can only see your top half -- at the same time they enable you to keep your eye on security. For these reasons, the best blind-spots are usually below the chest -- around waist high. Blind-spots are good for loading into the lip of your jeans or into a jacket.
2. Make sure your blind-spot is not under surveillance. Never hang around your blind-spot for too long. Most of all, be careful to never lead security to your blind-spot.

3. A good method is to take everything you want to your blind-spot and collect it all later in one go, or better still get someone else to collect it for you. Getting someone else to collect for you can be a great system, particularly with exchanges -- which I'll come to later. If you are really pedantic, or you think that they are watching you, then load up, go to the toilets and pass the stuff under the wall/partition of the cubicle to a waiting friend in an adjoining cubicle and get them to leave with it.

4. Speaking of dunnies and change-rooms, one of the oldest tricks in the book is to put more than one garment on a hanger (works particularly well with women's underwear), go to the change-rooms and put the garment underneath what you are wearing. Alternatively, if you are a woman, you can slip your old bra on a hanger and put on the new one. Don't be put off by the staff as you enter the change-rooms -- they are usually quite disinterested and so long as the number of hangers you exit with matches the little plastic number they've given you they'll be satisfied.

5. On the subject of women's underwear, the lingerie department is ideally suited to male shoplifters -- not only is it the perfect excuse for looking embarrassed or suspicious (they have come to expect this), but staff are less likely to harass you by trying to help you and will be more sympathetic generally.

Exchanging crap for more crap

Exchanging things -- that is, taking the redistribution of wealth into your own hands by refunding yourself for an item you never paid for, or swapping something you stole that you don't want for something you do want, or swapping something that you don't want that is unstealable and therefore refundable -- is a whole new ball game.

1. If you plan to steal something and then make an exchange always take stuff that people are likely to take back like sheets, or other obscure household items. If questioned you can say to them "as if I'm gonna keep the receipt, I didn't plan to bring it back". Books and other small but expensive items such as computer software are also great exchangeables.

2. Stealing women's underwear and cosmetics are the perfect alibi for male shoplifters who specialise in exchanges. Male customers always fuck up buying stuff for their girlfriends/wives/mothers and when it comes to lingerie, it's just too easy for a guy to look goofy, have sales staff sympathise and all too quickly agree to exchange or refund the items. This works particularly well around Xmas time when you can tell them you bought it for your mother but she already had that one.

3. Never take an exchange item to the store you stole it from and make sure the other store (e.g. Myers in Doncaster as opposed to Northland) has the same item before you take it back.

4. Make sure you have chosen your item before you approach anyone for an exchange. Also, tell the people in the first department that you want an exchange without mentioning receipts -- they should send you down to the appropriate department for your other item and then ring up this department providing a referral, which if you are lucky will mean you do not have to provide a receipt given that everything appears legitimate.

5. The first time you exchange a stolen item for another product make sure you get something unstealable in return, like a video, watch, or something else kept behind a counter, so that the second time you do it, even if you don't get an exchange receipt they will not suspect that it is stolen.

6. Exchange receipts are a pain in the arse. Sometimes smart arse sales people will write a cross the original docket 'no original receipt' which is a problem, so if you have a bit of money on you, it is a good idea to exchange for something that costs a little bit more so that they have to give you a cash receipt.

7. Don't freak out if they call security while you are acting out an exchange -- as returns will often require security's signature this is quite standard procedure and nothing to worry about.

8. If you're having problems getting an exchange, big department stores normally have consumer rights people located upstairs somewhere -- they can usually be contacted by information telephones. These are people with big egos who like to wield power and the sales staff, who are much lower down the hierarchy, are usually pretty freaked out by this power. If you do get the ego from upstairs on side, they will organise a sales person to look after you and after the egomaniac goes up upstairs again, they sure will -- because the sales person does not want to reprimanded by the same person from upstairs more than once, you will be practically able to get them to do anything that you want them to. A good technique is to tell the person upstairs a different story to the one that you tell the sales person. You can get angry at this stage and tell them that they fucked you around, that you don't want an exchange any more and that you want a refund now and they will usually comply.

9. Be wary of the long term employee -- you've got to know when to stop. Be particularly wary of the head of sales or middle management who have been working there for a long time (sometimes 20 years or more) and are not as scared of the big guys from upstairs as are the newer employees. You can often convince some of the younger staff that they are allowed to do refunds if you tell them that you used to work there.

10. Another commonly used technique is to take an empty bag from the same store with a receipt in it for previously paid for items and then nick the same stuff, which gives you the perfect alibi.

11. Better still, if you've got some money, find two things that are worth however much you've got, take them out of the store and stash them somewhere, then go back in and buy the exact same items. While leaving the checkout, make a big deal about it. "Am I doing the right thing? Will she like it? Will it fit him? etcetera" and then "what the heck!" (Make sure you don't go overboard and push them to mention keeping the receipt or worst of all mention it yourself!) Pay for it. About half an hour to a couple of hours later (not too long) take the stuff back to the same sales people and they'll usually give you cash without a receipt because they remember selling it to you. If you pull it off you've got a cash receipt and your stolen goods which you can exchange at another store.

Leaving the store safely:

1. Always double back just as you are about to leave the store so that you can check if anyone is following you (99.9% of the time they will follow you out of the store before they approach you). Alternatively, go up and down an escalator or in a lift and press every button in the lift and it will be obvious if anyone is following you.
2. If people are watching you, whatever you do, do not try to discreetly dump stuff unless you are absolutely sure that you can get away with it. If caught dumping stuff they usually won't charge you but they may fuck you around for a few hours.

3. If you are caught dumping stuff never let a store detective know it was because of them. Always make out it was a result of a sudden guilty conscience. Never let a store detective know that you know that they are on to you, because they won't put them on you the next time. That way you get to know store security and are able to keep your eye on them as much as you can.

4. If you want to have a bit of fun and don't plan to continue shoplifting that day, or ever, or you just don't give a shit, go up to a store detective and treat them like a sales person, asking them for help etcetera. It is just as embarrassing for them to be caught as it is for you. It is always a good thing to break their spirits or at least bring them down every now and again. Alternatively, use reverse psychology on them. Say "I'm going down to such and such department. I'll see you down there". Often they'll be too embarrassed that they've been busted and think that you won't do it now that you're being watched and you will have the run of the mill.

5. NEVER GET TOO CONFIDENT or you will start to make silly mistakes.

The end:

Finally, if you get caught -- lie your teeth out! Never admit to premeditation. Always say that the opportunity arose, so you took it. Don't act tough or be a smart arse. Cry. Bawl. Admit a guilty conscience. Beg them not to call the cops. Tell them that CSV will take your kids off you and then weep.
Even though some stores say they have a policy to call the police it is not necessarily true and they may, after lots of tears and admissions of guilt, just get you to sign a statement which says you'll never enter that store again. If the cops do arrive, it's a good idea to act scared shitless because they may assume you're a first offender and not bother to check your record. Don't antagonise the filth -- it is their personal discretion as to how bad you get busted.

You are most likely to be charged with 'theft' if caught shoplifting, but you can be charged with 'burglary' as well if you don't have any money on you. 'Equipped to steal' is what you will be charged with if, for example, you have a slit in the lining of your jacket for concealing stolen goods. 'Obtaining financial advantage' and 'deception' are what you are likely to be charged with as well as 'theft', if caught exchanging stolen items.    

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The amassing people of Egypt

There is much warranted rejoicing on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities today, as millions of Egyptians savour the sweet taste of an important historic victory.

These extraordinary events are a turning point of such importance not only for Egypt, but for the entire world, for indeed the social power of the working classes has been shown.

The triumphant gallantry of the masses of the Egyptian people in the face of torture, arrests and repression are an inspiration for us all and wherever we live on the Earth.

Mubarak’s resignation was a humiliating about-face from his speech, delivered less than 24 hours earlier. It was also a blow to the military establishment and we should remember that they issued a statement on Friday morning supporting the transfer of authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman, the long-time friend of both the US and Israel and who headed the Egyptian intelligence agency.

The departure of Mubarak is a devastating setback for the Arab bourgeoisie or upper classes, who must now fear with trepidation the spread of revolution beyond Egypt; for the Israeli state, whose policies of repression and military terror depend on the suppression of working class struggle both in the Arab countries and in Israel itself; and above all for US imperialism, which for 31 years was the main financier and backer of the Mubarak dictatorship. Washington, the US having complete and utter complicity, involved with crimes and many offences of the regime, including the widespread use of torture against political opponents.

As we pointed out yesterday, the revolutionary upheavals now gripping North Africa are the first major response of the world working class to the conditions created by the global economic crisis of capitalism. In bringing down Mubarak, in Egypt, is but the first volley in a world struggle against economic exploitation, the suppression of democratic rights, and social inequality defended by governments not only in Egypt, but around the world and here in Britain the birthplace of world capitalism.

As significant as the resignation of Mubarak is, however, it is only the beginning of this struggle. Mubarak may be gone, with power now in the hands of the officer corps that has been the anchor of the capitalist dictatorship in Egypt for decades.

The Egyptian people know they have only begun to settle accounts with their exploiters - the secret police, the bribable Egyptian generals, and Mubarak himself.

We will be looking at what happens next, the grab for power, the role of the army and the emerging players both in Egypt and on the so-called world stage. But for the time being today and this weekend belongs to the amazing and amassing people of Egypt - we solute you!

Friday, 11 February 2011


To celebrate the victory of the Egyptian people we offer this lovely song by street buskers from around the world who re-enforce the message that when people stand together another world really is possible.

Awe-inspiring people of Egypt

Today, in the midst of a global crisis of the capitalist system, profoundly impacting on all capitalist countries, and like a flour-mill grinding the living standards of many into a fine powder whilst a world-wide offensive is underway against all working classes. What we see or read about Egypt and the fight for freedom and democracy is a class action and a reaction to that world crisis. We are living through some very extraordinary times, beyond what is ordinary or usual.

No one would have forecast or predicted, what is now being played out in the cities and major towns of Egypt at this time last year; in fact it would be fair to say the unimaginable nightmare of Revolution has taken the Egyptian ruling class by the back side of the neck, and after years of fear and repression now demanding more than just the mere crumbs of existence and an end to the containment and servant's existence forced upon the multitude of the great unwashed and pure of hart.

Egypt always conjures up in my mind the many biblical tales of long a go, the great pyramids built by slave labour, camels, an endless sea of deserts and that film ‘Riders of the lost Ark’ which I remember I did enjoy so much when it first came out, call me a schoolboy and a wazzock if you like.

The recent events still unfolding in Egypt have taken away my breath, and yesterday was no exception, and what a nail biting day it was. Tuning in to Al Jazeera whenever I could I was astounded at the bombastic and rhetorical attitude of the regime. For three weeks the people have been demanding change and with each passing day the numbers on the streets have been swelling like an incoming tidal wave showing no preindication of receding or drawing back, and still Mubarak intends to cling on to power, quite unbelievable really.

In a state-televised address, relayed to hundreds of thousands of enraged protesters in the capital's Tahrir Square, the embattled dictator signalled his intent to cling to power. His announcement sparked scenes of fury among the Egyptian people last night, with protesters in central Cairo waving their shoes in contempt and shouting: "Leave, leave, leave."

So today Friday the protesters have called for the biggest assembly of people yet 20 million. In this somewhat quick post we pray and send our solidarity to you the people of Egypt you are absolutely awe-inspiring!” 

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

All roads lead to Rome

“Democracy is the road to socialism.” Karl Marx 
Following this and other blogs daily, and reading of the many dreadful, frightening and terrible troubles that ordinary people in the Middle East face day-after-day, does not help me at all in the capricious notion that the world is becoming a better place under capitalism, more so is this fact, when you see fellow Egyptians fighting each other.

History has taught us that they the Egyptians (ordinary people) have an intelligent caring culture, which has evolved and existed long before there was a western dominating world. I suppose, the truth of the matter is really that the world has become a much smaller place over the past hundred years, and over the million or so years it has taken for the human race to acquire and evolved into what we call civilisation. One word is becoming  more prominent in all languages, either anti or pro-democracy.

Not being a new idea, history again tells us that around 550BC the Greeks built their civilisation around what is believed and exalted to have been the first true Democracy, although with some limitations, nevertheless a citizens' assembly (the Ecclesia), for the discussion of city policy, all citizens were permitted to attend after the reforms of Solon (early 6th century), but the poorest citizens could not address the assembly or run for office. With the establishment of the democracy, the assembly became the de jure mechanism of government; all citizens had equal privileges in the assembly. However, non-citizens, such as outlanders (non-citizens living in Athens) or slaves, had no political rights at all.

Today, democracy is a word that is used by politicians and World leaders when problems appear on the horizon for them or when General Elections are just around the corner, then it is thrown around like Maundy Money, You get a sniff of it for just the one day and that's your lot. I read somewhere; democracy gives you the chance to select your next Dictator, my thoughts entirely.

The dictionaries define the word in slightly different ways, but clarification comes about generally with the words, by the people, this of course not being the case.
When in present day politics does, by the people for the people apply, not at all, but it should. And I never worked out how we live in a democracy and yet we are the Queens subjects and ruled by a monarchy.

A long time ago and in my youth, I embarked on a sociology course; and so it came about that the tutor asked me to define the word culture, I came up with an answer right off the top of my head, I said: ‘the best of thoughts, words and deeds given by man, creed or nation.  I was quite proud of myself, but he shot me down in flames in front of everybody saying I was wrong and the answer was, survival. Over the next few days analysing and re analysing I realised this was correct, and from analysing that question I also clarified lots of other questions mulling around in my head, it was like the saying… All roads lead to Rome. 
“One conception of democracy has it that a democratic society is one in which the public has the means to participate in some meaningful way in the management of their own affairs and the means of information are open and free. An alternative conception of democracy is that the public must be barred from managing their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. That may sound like an odd conception of democracy, but it’s important to understand that it is the prevailing conception.” Noam Chomsky 
Almost everything, that we humans come into contact with, be that by thought, word, or deed, only steers us in one direction including the word and capitalist definition of democracy, towards control!”  

Post By: Brian Hopper or In the Box

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Where does the army stand between pro-democracy protesters and government?

Not being an Egyptian means that the picture, the image that I see of unfolding events are those that I gather from western news outlet and it’s media coverage in general, which I’m sure many will agree, that they are to say, and at the very least much limited in content. Restrained for all the obvious reasons, and what coverage they do disseminate are either half a story or half the truth with the substance, the heart and soul edited out, of course there will be dramatic photographs and images for they the press love the power of action and violence, but never do they give a true and full account.

Having said that I must admit that I very rarely read or even buy a British newspaper these days, but I do read them over the Internet. I find that real news reporting is at an all time low, most newspapers are really boring and uninteresting, not really the place to learn about the world around me or find out what’s accruing and occurring.  

Now it seems that I have blogged quite a lot about the Egyptian Revolution, which is in day 15 of its historical and momentous struggle of an Egyptian people determined to stand and fight for freedom and true democracy, free from authoritarianism and the despotism of Mubarak and his regime.

During the course of the last two weeks and now running into its third, we have seen the Revolution played and fought-out in the major cities around the country, millions have taken to the streets, tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into those streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities.  Police radios crackling with panic the day (Jan 25) President Hosni Mubarak's adhesive grasp on the nation was broken, and then the following two days of sporadic clashes between security forces and mobile young men; reinforcements didn't arrive, tear gas ran out. Arms grew weary from swinging batons. And so it was with a rush and a push on that last Friday in January that tens of thousands of protesters advanced and the momentum, like a tide pulled unexpectedly in another direction, change began to look a possibility as the people lost their fear of this repressive Arabic state.

Tahrir Square became and still is the centre home and symbolic hold of the peoples Revolution, now a tent city surrounded at times by army tanks and concrete barriers or roadblocks that the army fabricated. No need for me to go into the finer detail of events that this Square has seen such as the battles to hold it, the intense and fierce fighting with the Mubarak thugs who came in when the army fell behind or should I really say withdrew; the thing is was it deliberate?”

Ever since the army turned up on the streets of Cairo I could not help but wonder what their real role was in the great scheme of things. We know that the army were and are held with great veneration and profound respect by the people, and there was much rejoicing when they appeared. But still something didn’t seem right somehow, as comrade Brian Hopper fellow blogger described the situation makes more common sense to me; he said: they are being used to contain and control the situation or if you like kettle in the people and the demonstration in and around Tahrir Square.

As one day rolls into the next this really does appear to be a plausible tactic employed by the regime, no marches don’t happen to the presidential palace and so on for the obvious reasons being they the pro-democracy demonstrators were worried of losing Tahrir Square. So consequently, we think that this is a giant kettle containing the Revolution.

The initial impression was that the military sided with the demonstrators, on this blog we now have our doubts and think that they are possibly part of the counter revolution being prepared inside the country ready to end the people Revolution, along with the trap that is being set by the regime which includes the mistake of holding talks, the illusion of concessions won by demonstrates. We hope and pray that the pro-democracy movement wakes up to the dangers now assembling, the military can’t be trusted they have and always were the backbone of Mubarak’s bloody dictatorship.

Last week 28 Egyptian human rights activists, three foreign journalists and two human rights researchers’ were arrested from Human Rights Watch and Said Haddadi from Amnesty International by the army, they were subjected to 36 hours of fear, confusion and brutality. They said after their release that their journey provided some insight into one of the key question of Egypt’s revolt: where does the army stand in the struggle between pro-democracy protesters and government forces?   

Human Rights Watch operating from a centre in Cairo had supported the anti-Mubarak demonstrations; for years, it had done pioneering work on torture and justice. The army raided their centre, smashing windows, trashing furniture, confiscating files and detaining everyone at the office.

Here human rights worker Daniel Williams tells of the terrifying time he spent in military detention in Cairo last week, having been arrested by Egyptian soldiers. 
When we finally arrived at what we later learned was Camp 75, a military headquarters in far northeast Cairo, we were marched inside, put in a walled outdoor courtyard and told to sit. The handcuffs came off and blindfolds were put on instead. I don’t think the Egyptian captives were in the same area, and I didn’t see the well-known human rights activist Ahmed Seif again. 
And the irony of all this was of course, while Washington is still a good friend and ally, an associate who provides cooperation and assistance was expressing its indignation over the arrests and intimidation of US and other foreign journalists covering the events in Egypt, it took no action against its client Mubarak as his regime arrested, tortured and “disappeared” journalists over the years, including for such offenses as “misquoting” his ministers, raising questions about his own health or writing derogatory reports about his son and chosen successor, Gamal.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Will the ‘Great Satan’ get the elbow he deserves?”

The pace of political movement in Egypt seems to have stepped up a gear or two, in the last day or so it’s been reported and made known that talks or rather meetings have taken place between Vice President Suleiman and opposition groups. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the chosen spokesman of opposition anti-Mubarak groups, refused to attend. However this morning (Sunday) that changed, seemingly the Brotherhood have backtracked and met with Suleiman, it also seems that the US are actively involved in behind the scenes brokering and seeking to break the Revolution with a favourable outcome that suites their agenda and political interests in the region, which truth be told comes as no surprise.

Now 13 days into solid, substantial mass protests by thousands or pro-democracy supporters in Egypt, the question is, are we now beginning to see the opposition group’s climb-down and flirt with this repressive regime whom have run the country with a rod of iron for the last 30 years.

The big story on Saturday was the mass resignations of Mubarak and others from the ruling party NDP leadership including Mubarak’s hated and despised son. The role of the army is increasingly coming into question now and whilst it’s been strongly rumoured of meetings and dialog with US officials have taken place, and when you consider that the reality on the ground is the US remain the military’s pay masters, they the military are in recite of billions and billions worth of dollars, and would the top Generals be willing to give up a very comfortable lucrative way of life many of whom own hotels and other business that have made them some of the richest military leaders in the world.  

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a defence conference in Munich, urged opposition leaders not to reject talks out of hand and warned that the alternative could be a takeover by radicals; this is a typical scare tactic that has been increasingly employed by the west just as they say they are fighting a war against terrorism in other ports of the Middle East.

And what about the US envoy who said that the only way forward in transition was to keep Mubarak in place as the president. This was no accident or a personal statement but a position that we think the US are working out with the regime. Think about it, they would not get away with moving Suleiman sideways into the presidency or even anyone else to fill the grandiose and powerful post. They would like to keep much of the constitution as possible, but maybe with a few changes here and there a few conscienceless concessions to give the appended appearance of democracy to the pro-democracy protesters.

Some opposition figures interpreted Clinton’s comments as a step back from President Obama's call Tuesday for Mubarak to begin a transition from power "now."

"If the message coming now from Washington is that Mubarak can continue and his head of intelligence will lead the change, this may send the completely wrong message to the Egyptian people hence the meetings," ElBaradei said in an interview on Saturday night: 

Suleiman served as Mubarak's intelligence chief for two decades before being named vice president as the crisis unfolded last week.

The exchange illustrated the delicacy of the U.S. position in the crisis. It was also the latest indication of the difficulty the administration has encountered in trying to guide the fast-moving events in Egypt towards a resolution that meets what Obama has called the legitimate reform demands of the protesters while not appearing to abruptly jettison a long-standing ally, but will their own position and aims in the region become exposed by the opposition or are they pushing to hard and will this backfire on them, will the ‘Great Satan’ get the elbow he deserves?” 

‘The Wright Way’

Well as they say and now for something completely different; well not exactly, but we do bring you something new and exciting in the class struggle being wage here on the Internet and in Cyberspace.

It is the duty of all socialists to use every opportunity given to promote the case and propagate to those amongst our own kind. The making of new socialists is far more important than running around shoving flyer's through letter boxes at times of ruling class and bourgeoisie elections.

It is a sad fact of life that many workers and ordinary people still buy into the concept that you can change society slowly, using a cautious slow strategy to wear down opposition; avoiding direct confrontation with the ruling class and the owners of the means of production.

The problem with this strategy is that nothing changes in favour of the working masses and the common people generally. Oh yes, there have been some gains only to be recouped and deducted latter on. I suppose the NHS service is one such example currently being raided and plundered into by the current government who if you remember told us it was safe in their hands; pull the other leg its got bells on it!” 

Well before I know it I’ll be on my soapbox and that’s not my intention in this early Sunday morning post, far from it comrades and dear friends or first time visitors. No instead I bring you news of a new exciting and informative 'Podcast' folks!”

Comrade Mark Wright who I’ve had the good fortune and great pleasure of following on Twitter from I think sometime last year, has gone to the great trouble of producing his very own 'Podcast'. Now until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know what a ‘Podcast’ was, but Mark put me right, and as he does on most things these days I find, and how out of touch am I with the advancing march of technology then?”

Anyhow Mark’s 'Podcast' really is a great contribution to socialist activity here on the Internet. Mark is quite a modest type of guy and he will tell you that these are early days of trial-and-error and with a few dummy runs now under his belt we expect great things to come from his ‘Podcast’.

Mark is a very regular blogger and his blog 'the way I see things' along with his activities on Twitter has given us the impression of a voyage, a journey of political discovery by a young man eager as mustard to change the world for the betterment of all, and in doing so he really makes a worthwhile contribution to Socialism.

So we say well done to '''Mark''' and thank you for helping to propagate the socialist case through your fantabulous 'Podcast' which I realise I haven’t announced the name of it as yet, its called 'The Wright Way' and you can visit it here for yourselves just by simply hitting on or rather clicking on to any of the texts highlighted in red…go on what are you waiting for.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Egypt Music Poetry and Revolution

Thanks to Al Jazeera and for many things. I think especially the superb coverage of unfolding events in Egypt, which I am sure you know that their news bureau in Cairo has been shutdown and journalists have been arrested, beaten-up and equipment confiscated and stolen by the Mubarak police.

And yet they still manage to bring the world news that the Mubarak regime would rather us the world not see or hear, so let’s give credit where credit is due.

Now watching Al Jazeera for the last two or so weeks has given me a better picture and characterisation of the Egyptian people, and what comes across very vividly and strong is this is a people who love life and celebrate it in many different ways, they have and enjoy humour, this was reflected in something I read the other day, and it also says a great deal about the unity of Egyptians when a protester said “we don’t mind poverty so long as we endure it together”.

I am also discovering that Egyptians are poetic and that music flows from the arteries of their soul’s full of feeling and emotion. Just to prove a point I recently stumbled across these two wonderful YouTube videos, although truth be told thanks really to Al Jazeera.

The first video gives you a feel of yesterday’s festive atmosphere in Tahrir Square during ‘the day of departure demonstration’. It shows protesters, led by a guitar and an unknown singer leading the crowd in song along the lines “All of us…One demand: Leave, leave, leave…Down with Hosni Mubarak …The people want to topple…He leaves, we’re not leaving”.  

And the second, well the energy of youth and especially when you are only 5 years old and leading a million strong demonstration in El Iskandriyah or better know to us as Alexandria.


Friday, 4 February 2011

Egypt and Revolution in the Air!"

There was nothing spontaneous about the pro-Mubarak attacks upon the peaceful protesters gathered and occupying now for over ten days Tahrir Square the heartbeat of the Egyptian Revolution which is demanding the end of Hosni Mubarak’s repressive, draconian and authoritarian regime.

I expect that many people all around the world were horrified at the violent scene's of peaceful protesters being attacked by what we now know were thugs, state police and prisoners released from prison on condition that they participate in these crimes, of course there were others recruited or lured by the terrible temptation of doing it for money, people were offered 50 Egyptian pounds to carry pro-Mubarak placards.  

Many public sector workers were reportedly instructed (forced) to join in. CNN reporters were told by workers from the national petrochemical company that they had been ordered onto the streets. Some who joined the mob were bussed into Cairo from the countryside. I watched attentively but impotently, hopelessly unable to help-out as I watched in frustration the violent coverage on the live stream provided by Al Jazeera. And every night for the last few days as I snuggled up into a warm bed here in London and thousands of miles away from Egypt. I had great difficulty drifting off to sleep, just thinking how cold it was in Cairo the national capital, and how these pro-democracy demonstrators camped out in Tahrir Square faced the new danger of death for what they truly beloved and believed, a free and democratic Egypt that should unfeignedly belong to them.

During the past two days 13 Egyptians have been killed and over 1,500 injured defending but nonetheless, respectfully of them I say holding Tahrir Square; our thoughts and prayers should be with their families and friends; their unselfish sacrifice and forfeit should never be forgotten and the rallying call to take the Revolution onto ultimate victory. That is a very easy, even a comfortable statement to articulate from someone looking in form another part of the world, but we on this blog consider their Revolution to be the start of an axial motion by people all over the globe including in Europe. For if anything what now is being magnified and hyperbolised beyond the bounds of truth is the reality, the role of governments as agents of world capitalism in the ordering of all our lives, whether we live in Egypt, the US or even here in the UK.

What is in fact happening and occurring not just in Egypt, for let’s not forget the catalyst for this Revolution was indeed the Tunisian uprising, but the world has also seen activists in Yemen, Jordan, Algeria and even Albania take to the streets demanding democratic reforms in their countries. Now most countries in the Middle East and Africa are vulnerable including Nigeria, so, is revolution in the air?

Do you remember President George W Bush and our own now very ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, if you recall and not so long ago, they told us that the ultimate aim in invading places like Iraq and Afghanistan was the conversion of these and similar nations to democracy. Because making the world democratic was, supposedly, the only way in the end to make them friendly towards us and therefore keep us all safe and secure. The problem, of course, is that even if democracy is a good thing, which we will argue that capitalist democracy is not, thrusting it down somebody's throat at gun and bomb-point is highly likely to make them choke - simply because someone is shoving it down their throat, and the world becomes that much more of an unsafe place than before.

We believe that the only peace that counts, is the peace that can be brought about by workers and the multitude of billions of ordinary people who together inhabit this world, and only by sharing its precious resources and doing things completely differently to what they are now, will there-ever be peace, an absence of war and a civilised world society. There are many who mock such ideas, they may even call them Utopian or aspiring to impracticable perfection in order to put them down, what we say to them is this - Don’t worry it's hard to get the big picture when you have such a small screen.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

We Are All Egyptian Now!"

The centre of the Egyptian people’s revolution Tahrir Square, was rammed packed and overflowing miles back into the feeding and fertilising streets of Cairo capital of Egypt, with up to and over 2 million people responding to yesterdays (Tuesday) call for a mach of a million people. I think that the original intention was to March on to the presidential palace of Hosni Mubarak, the situation on the streets being fluid means that plans inevitably change as of necessity; we also see a consistent process of rational inference at play which has become the toolmaker of this revolution. The scenes in Egypt have been dramatic, and what an understatement that is. The country has exploded and burst open with a release of energy that is fuelling and constantly refuelling the people’s desire and determination to end the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

In desperation and I would say growing despair not only for Mubarak but western influences and blackjacks; a number of offers have been made to the masses, these have included the replacement of the cabinet and he discharged the detested interior minister for the first time. However, other key ministers are retaining their posts.

In another move, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on Monday afternoon the Egyptian president appointed him to hold immediate talks with the opposition, but they have now refused to participate after conceding to pressure from the people. I have something to say about these would be leaders latter in this post.  

But the crowds sneered at the moves, saying they don't want old faces in the new government because they are not chosen by the Egyptian people. They're demanding a new government with no links to President Hosni Mubarak. And of course Mubarak appeared on national TV last night to announce that he would not be standing for re-election, a long boring rambling speech which on refection I now suspect the hand of the US State Department at play and very much behind his latest move to placate the protesters; western capital and their governments must now be having some sleepless nights worrying about the effects this whole situation is having and will have on their fragile economies.

So it is very telling, and of course interesting that Obama fed the New York Times the story and hours before the Mubarak announcement, that he told him (Mubarak) not to seek re-election. My guess is that the US and Mubarak have been talking behind the canopy of cover and with a special US envoy said to be in Egypt it certainly makes you wonder. However with his announcement that he will not step down now and intends to serve out his term until September, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has thrown down the gauntlet before the millions opposing his regime. Mubarak’s promise not to contest the next election is meaningless. Its only intention is to provide Washington and the Egyptian military with the necessary time to disorientate, break up and muffle the mass opposition to the regime. During the past 24 hours, even as tens of thousands of protesters occupied Tahrir Square, Mubarak, the military and their US  advisor's have been huddled in intense scheming sessions on how best to formulate a political response to the outpouring of opposition that will ensure the survival of the regime and western interests in the region. And today the military have appeared on state TV calling on the people to return life back to a semblance of normality, in addition Mubarak supporters are holding counter demonstrations in the capital, clearly Mubarak is mobilising his supporters which could turn things very nasty.          

In the last few day’s it is obvious that western governments led by the US are not only nervous but are increasingly resorting to scare tactics, look at what Tony Blair (Middle East Peace Envoy) said on Monday:

“You don’t just have a government and a movement for democracy. You also have others, notably the Muslim Brotherhood, who would take this in a different direction. We need to be anxious to meet the aspirations of the people, but do it in away that produces something better.”

Many are drawing wrongly for devious and circuitous ends, comparisons with the Islamists who took power in Iran 30 years ago by seizing control of a revolution originally backed by many different groups, including Communists and secular democrats. But the situation in Egypt is not comparable.

At this time the control of the Revolution is very much in the hands of the people down on the streets, despite what we hear about an opposition grouping of versus factions, they are not running the show which has been said time and time again by the protesters. The real beauty is that the Revolution is organic, spontaneous, self-generated and without a visible leadership of any kind. This must be seen as a new development although it will of course be disappointing to those vanguards, centrists and others who think that they can impose a leadership on the working classes; this is all part of an evolution that is catching a hold, which we on this blog very much support.

Mohamed ElBardei has become the most familiar of those known amongst the figures of the so-called opposition. The Nobel peace laureate; he is the former head of the Atomic Energy Agency and recently returned to Egypt after the revolt was started. ElBaradei’s diplomacy with Mubarak began in the months leading up to the 2003 Iraq war, when the Nobel-prize winner stepped out of his role as chief of the United Nations atomic agency to have “candid talks in Cairo about the importance of starting democratic reform in Egypt. ElBaradei “looks like the sort of transitional figure that emerges at the beginning of a revolution and that will, having performed his function of bringing about political transition and stability, and must add that favours the west, will then disappear from the scene.

Many of the protesters interviewed by Al Jazeera have reacted angrily at the mere mention of ElBardei or any of the so-called opposition leaders having any say in the directions or the form the Revolution takes, yesterday whilst millions were tasking and taking to the streets Elbardei was at home giving interviews to the world media and in talks with the US Ambassador to Egypt.

As I conclude this post the peaceful protesters of Tahrir Square are being attacked by thousands of Mubarak supporters, violence has now once more entered the equation the Revolution is now under attack the next few days could be Egypt’s most crucial and all-important, our hopes and prayers remain and will always be with the people and the Revolution!”

The Socialist Way

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