Saturday, 30 July 2011

Who needs them Leaders?"

Most workers, most people consider that leaders, if rightly chosen, can serve their interests. Then there are those  in that sceptical minority, who think that leaders are self-serving, and are cynical about their efforts, and remain somewhat - shall we say apathetic. But virtually all members of the working class, with the exception of some 'socialists' who like myself are freethinkers, accept without question that leaders are necessary and essential; they cannot envisage a society without them.

I find that when I explain this concept of opposition to leadership, I frequently receive either an incredulous reaction and rejection on the grounds that I am postulating the absurd and impossible, or an accusation that I am indulging in semantics and that people who would otherwise be delegates are in effect leaders. 

It is very important that we realise the misconceptions, which is an erroneous belief on this very subject, because until this subservient and humble political posture is discarded, we will continue to be exploited, impoverished, and massacred in wars, because of the very conditions upheld by our so-called leaders, who exist only through the support and encouragement given them by their misguided followers.

Historically leaders have existed since the advent of private property and class society. The inequities that befall a subjected class as a result of the economics of a class divided system, which is tolerated a politically unknowledgeable majority, creates a social void in which the propertyless seek their solution either through prayer, or in the endless quest from a modern day Moses or political Messiahs, supposedly endowed with superior ability and foresight, to lead them out of the morass of their poverty and problems into the land of  "solved situations". And of course this never happens.

The correctness of the socialist attitude to leaders and leadership is evidenced by an appraisal of present day society. For centuries there have been so-called leaders and Great Men. Capitalism has produced an abundance of renowned leaders who have been both revered and reviled. But notwithstanding all these appointed saviours not one of the social evils of capitalism has been removed. Poverty, insecurity, unemployment, dictatorial regimes and war, has never been greater than it is today.

Socialists are therefore justified in stating that workers past support and hopes of salvation through the leadership philosophy has been ineffective and erroneous. capitalism, in conjunction with the leaders and the led, has brought mankind to a precipitous stage of development that in itself disqualifies the concepts of leadership from logical consideration as a method for solving social problems.

The capitalist ideology of leadership, together with all its entrapment's, should be rejected by the working class. In its place workers must achieve their own emancipation through socialist education. By doing so they will acquire the knowledge necessary to elevate themselves into a position of controlling their own destinies. No one can, or will, do it for them. modern day messiahs and demagogues are political careerists who represent solely the interests of the ruling class, and their own personal ambitions.

The function of leader, as the name implies, is to attempt to lead. Whether he or she really accomplishes this or not is open to debate dependent upon the given circumstances. In the majority of instances the leader reflects the attitudes of his following and in this sense the term"leader" is a misnomer. He is leader from the standpoint that those that give him the support acknowledge his position of leadership, but all time he must be careful that his political positions are acceptable to those responsible for his initial election. Members of the working class democratically and legally appoint their professed leaders, who then proceed to operate the system in the only manner possible - in the interests of the capitalist class, and the leader may or may not be aware of this. He possesses certain attributes that the workers mistakenly find attractive, and naively think that he will be representing them and not the system - or himself. And it goes without saying, the leader, will either consciously or otherwise, must, indulge in this misrepresentation and deceit .

The cult of leadership is not essential to the preservation of capitalism but provides a never ending excuse for its perpetuation. This is accomplished by the devious means of aspiring, competing leaders blaming their counterparts for current troubles, and in the process the capitalist system itself remains untarnished. Never is the accusing finger pointed at the system as the cause of all the social evils. It is always the dishonest, inept, or unaggressive leadership that is to blame. You are advised and cajoled to appoint honest leaders, those that never tell a lie"; more capable leaders, those that have more superior qualities than their predecessors; and more dynamic leaders, those that "know how to get the job done, and the economy moving". This type of trivia and tripe is purveyed by unscrupulous politicians, and some perhaps may genuinely believe their own brand of nonsense. Unfortunately, to date, these notions have of course been accepted by the voters.

The concept of leadership therefore enables the reformism of capitalism to continue because it supplies excuses for failure of reforms by faulting the various leaders who have failed in their tasks, but would have succeeded if they had been better qualified - or so we are told. Capitalism always manages to get off scot-free and unscathed - and it always will until such times as workers see through the hoax of leaderships myth. workers as yet have not realized that when they take for granted concepts of leadership they are at the same time condoning capitalism and accepting a status quo condition.

Socialists of course are not concerned with the personalities one iota. You could have men and women with the brains of an Einstein, the ethics and compassion's of Jesus, and if you will the knowledge and economic genius of Marx, and if they were given the running capitalism, try as they may, they could never get it to operate in the interests of the working class.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

PCS statement to members on public sector pensions

The government has today (Thursday 28 July) made further announcements regarding their attacks on public sector pensions – confirming what we have said all along: they want you to pay more and work longer for a smaller pension.

All of this despite the evidence clearly demonstrating that changes are not required.

They argue that there is protection for low paid workers. But this only applies to those earning less than £15,000 (only 4% of PCS members). Those who earn between £15,000 and £21,000 will pay 1.5% more and those above £21,000 will pay anything between 3% and 6%.

All of this at a time of a pay freeze, rising prices and no certainty about the future pension. Nearly all members will have to pay more, to work longer, and get a pension not as good as their current scheme.
The talks to date have been about public sector pensions in general. Now the government wants to move to talks about individual schemes. We are considering our approach to these talks and are discussing this with the other civil service unions. We need to be sure that these talks are real negotiations not just about implementing predetermined plans.

On 30 June members took strike action alongside members of three education unions. Other unions have already indicated that they are looking to join us in any further action. Unless the government engages in serious and honest negotiations, more public sector workers will be striking in the autumn. This will be critical to ensure the so-called consultation is taken seriously by government.

We know that our pensions are affordable and sustainable – indeed earlier in the week a senior cabinet minister, Andrew Lansley, said that the government’s proposals were wrong.
The government says this is about paying to tackle the deficit, but there is an alternative way that would prevent the need for the government to impose what is effectively an extra tax on working in the public sector.

Instead of targeting public servants, pensioners, students, disabled people and those entitled to welfare payments, the government should invest in jobs and public services to help our economy to grow and tackle seriously the £120 billion in taxes lost each year through tax evasion, avoidance and a lack of resources in Revenue and Customs.

Mark Serwotka          Janice Godrich
General secretary      President

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"standard of Living" is a misnomer - it is really a "standard of poverty."

There are those amongst us and I am sad and sorry to say, who take the position that life is getting progressively better, that only a minority experience poverty, and that the standard of living for the majority, while being far from perfect, is nevertheless improving all the time, even tho' they may see with their own eyes the hardships experienced and encountered by many around them. 

From a socialist standpoint poverty can be defined as the economic, and living conditions of the working class as compared to the capitalist class. It is the contrast between the environment experienced by the working class who, in order to live, have to work for wages, because they are propertyless, and they are not only grievously blue-collar and wage-earning, if you sell your labour, whatever you do, then you are a member of the working classes. The contrast of that environment of workers in comparison, is completely different to the economic circumstances and environment of a small section of society, the capitalist class, who live on rent, interest, and profits, and are the owners of the means of life.

Just how hard is it to believe that a quarter of a million children in Greater Manchester alone, are living in poverty.

Shocking is it not that 150,000 kids live below the breadline - representing 24 per cent of families, and local charities say the government's programme of cuts will only make the problem much worse.

Hoarded wealth and affluence has become more and more centralize, big corporations, multi-nationals and them bloody banks command altogether. The awesome advancements made in technology, and thanks to the globalization of our economic system, the people with all the money don't have to engage as many workers anymore. They can hire and fire all the labour the want at a fraction of the cost from abroad . So the rich don't have that much use for the working class in Britain anymore. The only thing of value that the working class had to offer (labour power) has been devalued. 

Factories closed jobs shipped overseas, and what's more they aren't coming back. The corporations are thriving while millions of ordinary people in Britain are profoundly enduring such suffering, a dull and steady pain. Almost all the wealth being produced is going to a very centralized group of people at the very top of the economic food chain. The rich are getting richer whist the working class are systematically getting much, much the poorer. 

So the fact that we are now confronting rampant long term unemployment should not be any real surprise should it? If we take the governments 'official' unemployment rate as it stands at 7.7 per, which has been contended and contested on this blog as being not trustworthy, it still stands as a substitutional and unacceptably high level in this the age of excessively propagandised and in your face consumerism, as if that's all that matters. But to those of us on benefits it's no piece of cake' managing to live and make ends meet on the crumbs, a very small quantity of nothing that passes for the benefits system. Poor people are to be found in all societies and in all countries. Declaring to be a "developed" country does not mean that the poor have some sort of dignified life or they are cared for. Being poor is a real affliction; burdened by three things - powerlessness, helplessness and very voiceless.

So it is an absolute crime that the tiny minority who run the show are able to witch-hunt and set-about the most vulnerable in our society; this week they used almost every media spanner and hand tool, used to hold  twist and nut the truth about the sick and disabled who are forced and not through any choice or alternative, but have to rely on benefits for subsistence and survival. This is the 'Big Society' in all it's glory - promoting the survival of the fittest!"

In actuality the term "standard of Living" is a misnomer - it is really a "standard of poverty."   

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Russell Brand Tribute to Amy Winehouse and my own

Russell Brand Tribute to Amy Winehouse; Comedian Laments "Disease of Addiction"

May Amy Winehouse, now find peace, and with understanding these words from Mother Teresa, may we now all learn and gain knowledge:

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

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Sick-note Britain

The company Atos, will not be a familiar household name with the great unwashed or indeed the enlightened amongst us, but anyone who has had to apply for sickness benefits may have had the unfortunate experience of coming in to contact with the Paris-based IT company, currently and abhorrently, being paid a staggering £100 million a year to carry out work capability assessments (WCAs), in other words try to throw, befuddle and bedevil the sick, the disabled and genuinely poorly souls in our assemblage. In other words a brief to get as many off sickness benefits and returned to the labour pool of the local dole office, thereafter being made to jump through hoops until they take up low paid employment. The ultimate goal, allowing the government to phase out incapacity benefit and replace it with the new named employment and support allowance (ESA). 

The government has already started to reassess the circumstances of 1.5 million on long-term incapacity benefits to see if they are fit enough to return to the labour market. But it also wants to reduce the flow of new claimants, Cameron has said in the past:
" Half the people who end up on employment and and support allowance each year start by being signed off sick from work." The review of sickness absence will recommend what can be done "to end the sick-note culture and improve health and wellbeing at work."
On Tuesday, which is today, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee will publish would you believe, its sixth report of the school term. The role of incapacity benefits reassessment in helping claimants into employment. The report is expected to be critical of the way in which the Department for Work and Pensions has implemented changes, and in particular focusing on the role of Atos and the way it has carried out its contract to assess claimants. 

Thus far, more than 400,000 have lodged appeals against decisions not to grant the benefit since it was launched by New Labour in October 2008, and 39% have met with success. The tribunals have been forced to double the number of staff accommodating the flood of appeals, there really has been a huge volume of complaints and the cost has been in excess of well over £30 million a year.

Moving sick, disabled and unemployed people (through unfair reassessments) is not the same as 'helping' them into employment. This government of millionaires and friends of millionaires only want to increase the competition in the labour market to make and force down wages and working conditions - for their own economic interests, that of the god profit.

Under modern capitalism if you don't have a penny in your pocket the chances are you are either royalty, super-rich, or what they call in America a bum - or are you?"

In a truly socialist society, people would not be put through the wringer and the mangle, passing them between two heavy heated rollers as this government is hell-bent on and doing. In a socialist society money  will be non-existent. For money is a means of exchange, but within a worldwide community in which goods and services will be produced and distributed solely for use there would be no buying or selling, barter or exchange. Money would have no function to perform - except perhaps to serve as historic exhibits in the museums. Common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by and in the interests of the whole of society would convey to all human beings the automatic right of free access to all that is needed to satisfy material requirements. Money, coupons, vouchers and similar restrictive economic tokens would not be requisites needed to gain access to the necessities and amenities of life.                       
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Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Big Issue Joins Cameron's Big Society

Although I really didn't know it at the time; but resigning as an outreach worker form The Big Issue all of six years ago now, was one of the best moves I have ever contemplated and acted upon. Some, including its soul owner John Bird MBE will inarguably, and from a deliberate defencive position, find disagreement with this post, of that I am in no uncertainty, whatsoever!"

The Big Issue, and as I am sure everyone will know, is supposedly a street newspaper that's written by professional journalists and sold for the last 20 years on the pavements and streets of our major cities and towns up and down the country by homeless individuals, although this has now changed to include the legions of unemployed. It was founded by John Bird and his businessman friend Gordon Roddick in September 1991, and has travelled to eight countries where it has reciprocally been pitched and sold to the homeless who in turn sell it on to the general public, and there is no argument, the paper helps some of the most vulnerable people in our so-called society and civilization.

However, bringing it quickly into prospective here, we have to recognise the simple fact that The Big Issue is privately owned and controlled by one individual A John Bird, although having said that Scotland, Northern England, Wales and England's South West Region have their own additions which to my understanding Bird, hasn't any control over, but that doesn't make them any better. The paper has always been at the centre of much controversy among publishers of street newspapers who say that The big Issue is much too business like in operations, overly "commercial" and bearing flashy if not audacious designs, one fine example will be the so-called Royal Special.

The vendors, even when they administer themselves, they really have a hard job to preform selling their stock which they have to pre-purchase beforehand, no sale or return here comrades. The perils and dangers of this job are many and before you start you must find the money to buy your copy's, and then there is always the problem of finding a good pitch not to mention the dangers that many face everyday, many vendors have been attack even in some cases killed simply for being homeless, I will never forget some of the abusive remarks hurled forcefully at some like: get a proper job'.

As I said at the beginning of this post I was an outreach worker for a time working in London's West End, not only that but I have campaigned for the best part of twenty years against the horrendous horrors of being homeless, of which there are many, far to many to mention in this post. I would not tell anyone to stop buying The Big Issue, not even this weeks copy that happens to be guest edited by non-other, than David Cameron, our wonderful Prime Minister and the designer and architect of the big society, which The Big Issue has seemingly and from appearances alone singed up to excessively, or at least John Bird has done. This comes as no grate surprise to me knowing, and have had the misfortune of working with John over the years, not so much as a strange man as a class traitor and double-crosser, would you believe he started out as a member of the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), must have been in the Gerry Healy faction.

It is sometimes argued that the kind of destitution and abject poverty that existed in the 1930s and earlier is no longer to be found in developed capitalist countries like the UK. Nowadays, the argument goes, workers take holidays abroad, have homes with several TVs and computers, and can spend large parts of their leisure time on shopping expeditions. It is fair to respond to these observations by making two main kinds of point. Firstly, that workers are in fact by no means as well off as such a sketch implies. In England alone, for instance, there are a hundred thousand homeless families, few of whom take holidays abroad.  

Many migrant workers, here for fruit-picking, earn £70 for a six-day week when various deductions are taken into account. They cannot even afford to buy the strawberries they pick, and many are homeless. 

Secondly, how well off workers are in terms of wages is not the whole picture. The insecurity caused by redundancies and the fear of redundancies, the short-term contracts now so widely used, the boring dead-end 'McJobs', the ever-present fear of production being moved to other countries with lower wage rates - all these undermine workers' sense of well-being. Nearly one person in six in Britain is described as depressed, while over a million are mentally ill and receiving incapacity benefit which the government wants to cut . Such is the stress and hassle of living under capitalism. At the same time hospitals close and trained medical staff are made unemployed, while overall levels of sickness show no sign of decreasing. The amount of debt is also an indication of how badly off workers really are. Eight million people have over £10,000 of unsecured debt (that is, excluding a mortgage); a third of these say that their debt situation has had an adverse effect on their health or relationships. This year perhaps as many as 100,000 people will declare themselves bankrupt as a means of escaping from their financial problems. 
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Amy Winehouse - Love Is A Losing Game

Amy Winehouse, was said to be one of the most gifted and talented singers of her generation, whose hit song “Rehab” summed up a personal struggle with drug and alcohol addictions, and as we all now know she tragically died and by all accounts, alone in her London home on Saturday at the tender and very all to young age of 27.

Any death at such a young age is a real tragedy for family, friends, acquaintances and in Amy's case her many fans.

I must be terribly honest and declare that I have never really listened to any of Amy's work, don't know why that is, probably something very much to do with the generation thing and that her brand of music never held that appeal for me, which evidently won her legions of fans and from across the age divide. Just been speaking with my 75 year old mother who says her voice was just amazing, beginning to think maybe it's me who is out of touch.

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Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Market (what a dirty word)

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)Image via Wikipedia
This morning (yesterday) it was being recited in the world capitalist press, that Europe, was pulled back from the brink of financial meltdown after its leaders came delicately  agreeing a £96 billion bailing out  for Greece. Interestingly, the Eouozone leaders put forward a new plan for Greece which included lower interest rates and gave more time to pay it off. These much softer lending conditions will also be applied to the multi - billions loaned to Ireland and Portugal as the leaders of Europe battle to forestall the debt contagious disease spreading deeper across Europe and ultimately the possibly of it growing legs and going global.

Always, there is but one saying that comes rebounding around in my head, and into my mind when I read of these economic woes:

'In its quest for higher profits and new markets, capitalism will inevitably sow the seeds of its own destruction.'
Today we live in a world that is completely dominated by capitalist production for sale on a market (very dirty) with a view to profit. Writing in the middle of the 19th century, Karl Marx was able even back then, to see that this globalization would happen, as his study and analysis of capitalism had identified it, as an inherently globalizing system. And as in the Communist Manifesto it was chucked up like this - "the cheap price of commodities...compels all nations on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production". 

In August 2007, soon to be a forth anniversary, a new term came into the English speaking world vocabulary - "credit crunch". However, to describe an old phenomenon: the sort of credit crisis that used to occur at regular intervals in the 19th century. This also took place in more recent times in both 1907 and 1929. It's all there in Marx's description and analysis of them in Volume III of Capital. There is the same panic-struck, the same  bank collapses, the same dash for cash, and the same government to make cash available by breaking its own rules. And the same downturn in economic activity. 

In short global capitalism has engendered for the vast majority of the world's population is neither Global Keynesian nor regulation as both these would still leave intact the basic structures and mechanisms of capitalism.

And in trying to repave and repair its own damage; capitalism has built institution's globally to deal with it, such as the International International Fund (IMF). Now you may or may not be aware that this noble organisation not to dissimilar to adhesive tape, recently had prescribed a new boss. Christine Lagarde who took over the reigns will earn $467,940 per year plus a $83,760 allowance. Notably it has been pointed-out, this salary is up almost 6 percent from the $441,980 per year that former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Knhn used to make - and significantly more than the $4000,000 salary earned by the US President.

The irony is, the IMF justified Lagarde's raise as "reflecting the rise in the cost of living." Yet workers in countries 'bailed out' by the IMF have experienced vastly greater  increases in their cost of living without any form of wage recompense . I don't know if this is humorously sarcastic, mocking or both.

Indeed, living standards are rapidly plummeting, which you may well have noticed, whilst the cost of living continues to rise, and yet the IMF calls on countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland to cut public sector wages.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but in contrast, the average Greek worker if fortunate to be in work, say like, a waiter in a restaurant, made some 727 euros net per month in 2008 on an average work week of 47+ hours, and which is said to be much less today, yet Lagarde makes over 53 times that amount. I suppose all in all this situation reveals a painful truth about our world today. It amply reveals the enormity of the chasm between the technocratic elites' in charge of economic policy and the ordinary people affected by their decisions.  
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Thursday, 21 July 2011

All three political parties remain deeply and irretrievably embroiled in corrupt and criminal practices

The appearance of Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of News Corporation, and his son James Murdoch, its deputy chief operating officer, before the British Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee was a piece of well-engineered political theatre on their part, and if ever there were such an embodiment of well executed real exhibitionism, every bit intended as a mild and accomplished, attention-getting behaviour, intended to attract attention, helping to discombobulate' and cast a more favourably endearing family image of 'Murdoch's the family business, then this was it.    

As with Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, News Corp’s UK arm, who was questioned afterwards, the Murdochs knew beforehand that there was no danger of them being asked probing questions, let alone suffering any legal consequences from their testimony.

Far from it in anyway being the reassertion, of the authority of Parliament and the bringing of Murdoch to account, the event took on the character of a PR exercise for News Corp.

And I think now looking back on it all, the Murdoch's played it very well indeed, an old man making the most  of it and playing upon his age, whilst a loyal helpful and accommodating son in James, is what  struck me as the whole event started to rock and roll  -"It is our intention to put these things right, to make sure they don't happen again, vocalised young James, as his dad timely delivered - "This is the most humble day of my life."

Then the whole sham, the deceitful and counterfeit pretence of it all. One would never have known by the committee's complaisance, that the three luminaries accompanied by wife's friends' and supporters, were appearing to answer questions relating not only to the News of the World's phone hacking, but to commercial bribery, corruption and blackmail of police officers, public officials and leading politicians by the Murdoch's media empire. I think that the serious-mindedness of the situation was provided when the pre-arranged clown was able to preform his party piece!"

For the British ruling elite, Prime Minister Cameron's speech to a specially convened session of parliament was a critical moment. The decision to hold the special session was dictated by demands that Cameron respond to Tuesday's appearance of the uninformative three-ring circus. 

On the same day another select committee questioned former Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson and his deputy, John Yates. The two having resigned over ties to employees of News International, and in particular their failure to properly investigate phone hacking and police corruption since it broke in 2005.

The evidence at hand or rather in the public domain points to the fundamental reason why the two select committees are nothing more than a cover for the refusal to conduct a serious investigation that would bring the guilty to book. This will never happen whilst it simply remains that all three political parties remain deeply and irretrievably embroiled in the corrupt and criminal practices of News International. Seumas Milne's article in the Guardian raises some good points and tells it how it really is I recommend it. Murdoch: This scandal has exposed the scale of elite corruption 
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Monday, 18 July 2011

The Keyboard is mightier than the Pen

Two quotes, come to mind whilst writing this post, the first 'The pen is mightier than the sword', and with a little Internet research which informs me that this now famous saying which I am sure we have all heard at one time or other was coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, 1839:

True, This! -
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! - itself a nothing! -
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Caesars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! - Take away the sword - States can be saved without it!

The pen may remain mightier than the sword, but what is mightier than the pen - the keyboard?

My second quote is 'don't believe everything you read in newspapers', not as famous as the first but possibly it now finds more resonance with more people than ever before.

Language and the spoken word existed before writing, which eventually emerging with the ability to apply knowledge to experience, and understanding or at least in theory, common sense and insight derived and descended. This was the path taken by mankind the rudimentary oral and now written communication that replaced the hoots and gestures used by our lower primate ancestors from whom we are descended.

As long as 25,000 - 30,000 years ago, we humans were painting beautiful pictures on the walls of caves, and whether these pictures were telling a 'story' or not we will never really know. However they were a part of the early stages on the road to modern communication's. 

It is a striking fact, that the letters which we take for granted today in the printed book, derived from the most part from handwriting in the last centuries of the Roman empire. Indeed found in the fragments of Latin messages, written by members of the garrison stationed on Hadrian's Wall in about AD 100, and visibly identical to the letters taught in Western European languages today.

Cherokee Indians

The magic of writing is then encapsulated in the achievement of the Cherokee Indians in early 19th century, seeing the many advantages that writing brings to the white Americans, they embrace it with a passion, only still to be fleeced by the white man.

Well I could go on more about the wondrous human innovation which is our ability to communicate with one another, both through speech and the written composition. However let us fast track through time and space and arrive back home in the 21st century. Where in the Western world newspapers carry and disseminate and broadcast the news to millions, but only just. Over the past decade, whilst newspaper circulation rose globally by between 6% help on by strong demand in developing places like India, in stark contrast we in the West have started to bin our tabloids. 

Throughout the Western heliosphere, people are giving up on newspapers and TV news, and now are keeping up with events in  profoundly different ways. Most strikingly demonstrated has been charge of ordinary people getting involved in compiling, sharing, filtering, discussing and distributing news. Blogs, shared on-line journals where people can post daily entries about their personal experiences, hobbies and the news have taken off big time. People everywhere are Twittering reporting and expressing news and views, the part this has played in the Arab uprisings must strike a raw nerve with the world ruling classes.

Social-networking on the Internet now helps people, find, discuss and share news, even make it. It is indeed a revolution in the making, a conduit that is now challenging the media elite. Not only is it challenging the old owners of print, but the establishment political parties of government can expect to feel the heat as like minded people start to find one another and organise, as indeed we have seen with the students and the new massive movement still building against the cuts.

The world of politics is being turned up-side down, a new movement is building over the Internet; and this new movement will not be dominated by any-one self-propeled celestial star, but by the majority in participation with one another. I also don't think that any one party on the left as currently engaged in garbing as many new members as they possibly can will dominate, for the new dynamics, the forces that cause motions of bodies to change and challenge the system have now themselves changed, there will be no room for the old sectarian makeovers and bowel movements of the past - I hope that comrades learn to give, take and work together, time will only tell but one thing we can be certain about, never again will it be 'the Sun that won it!" 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Tainted love and the rats that jump the Murdoch Ship

The resignation of Les Hinton, and following on from Rebekah Brooks is only the latest in the ever-widening crisis facing Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

Brooks stepped down as chief executive officer of the News International UK, the publisher of the now-defunct News of the World, which she once edited. But whatever damage limitation was intended will be small in lower-case letters.  She is still expected to appear, along with Murdoch and his son, James, before a parliamentary select committee on Tuesday next to discuss and give evidence on the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World.

Hinton, who was head of News International (NI) from 1995 to 2007, stood down as chief executive officer of News Corporation's Dow Jones & Co. unit. His resignation statement gives the very impression that the rats are deserting the sinking ship.

"That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of News of the world."

And so in the run-up to the select committee, Murdoch has broken his silence, chocking on his wards in an interview with is own Wall Street Journal, he centred his remarks on the denunciation of Gordon Brown - made in response to the former prime minister's damning speech on July 13. Murdoch said that some MPs' comments were "total lies".

Well whatever old man Murdoch thinks of Gordon Brown and Parliamentarians in general is not worth the paper its writ-on. In his speech Brown accused News International of "lawbreaking often on an industrial scale, at its worst dependent on links with the British underworld." Murdoch's media "marched in step" with "members of the criminal underworld" and functioned as a "criminal-media nexus". 

I think it is very obvious that Brown has his own double-bitted axe to grind. Patrick Winter in the Guardian July 11 is more enlightened. He notes that two months before The Sun switched support to the Tories, and after revelations in the Guardian about phone hacking and mounting evidence of a News International cover-up, Brown started to agitate for a judicial inquiry. For at least a fortnight he was in discussion with the home secretary, Alan Johnson. Brown and Lord Mandelson held discussions with Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, to get clearer understanding of the scandal." 

One other very important point we should not overlook is that Murdock was very much a supporter of Blair in the warring escapades of  Brown's fractional fight for ownership of New Labour. In more more felicitous days Brown had no problem with Murdock and his vast empire. Brown has never forgot that it was the Sun that won it!"

As we head into the summer parliamentary holidays, and the silly season falls upon us, we can expect this to run on for some time to come, and let us be clear but not surprised that British journalism is reeking along with politicians and especially our police.

This now is the sorry tale of tantalizing tainted love; the sewer stinks as the rats turn on each other looking for an escape route, of course dealing with "Murdoch" means something entirely diffident than it does for the working class. And it is the responsibility of working people to put an end to the destructive anti-social activities of Murdock and his ilk. We cannot rely on anyone to do it for us, especially Ed Miliband and New Labour or blue if you prefer. And a newly re-invigorated Brown guided by personal hard feelings rather than opposition to the social forces represented by the likes of Murdoch, won't do a thing to rid us of these oligarchs.
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Friday, 15 July 2011

A Question for Mr Johnson | Shelter

One in four London children are living in overcrowded homes, new figures have revealed in a new survey.

English Housing shows 391,000 children (24 per cent) in London are overcrowded – an 18 per cent rise since 2008.

Here is a very powerful film from Shelter of London children talking about the devastating impact overcrowding is having on their education. They're calling on the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to do more to help.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Remember Wapping for its persistent and unrelenting attack on workers.

An article which I read on the Counterfire website, bought it all back home to me and, what News International Corporation, is really all about. Lindsey German, put into positivist prospective the life work of media mongrel (mogul's) Rupert Murdoch. Lindsey, reminds us that 25 years ago Wapping was the scene and  backdrop where overnight Murdoch, moved his newspaper groups operations sacking over 5,5000 of his workers in the process.

The Wapping dispute took place during a period of persistent and unrelenting attack on workers, unions and communities throughout the 1980s by Margret Thatcher and her admires who attempted to murder for all time the democratic organisations of working people, and the Wapping dispute developed in the print industry where for some time the owners and bosses had been trying to undermine jobs, conditions and intensifying the concentration of the press and media ownership into fewer hands.

The resulting dispute at Wapping lasted for almost a year and changed the face of the media industry for ever and the bitterness unleashed during the dispute was fuelled by the deception Murdoch used in the run-up to the move. The new plant was said to be for a new evening paper. But it became clear that the plan was to move the existing titles there all along. And a rogue union had been enlisted to help. 

Eric Hammond's electricians union the EETPU had held secret talks with Murdoch and offered to supply a workforce to run the new plant. These talks were in progress even while the print unions negotiated with Murdoch over using the advanced technology at the new plant.

Safe in the knowledge that he had a replacement workforce at the ready, Murdoch was happy to let the print unions vote to strike on 21 January 1986. He made his move and at the same time also exploited the bad blood that sadly existed between some sections of the print and editorial workforce.

Murdoch fan-danced up Stories of 'Spanish practices' which he ensured were among the print workforce embodied and rife, resulting in a resentment among some journalists that the printers controlled the distribution of the work they produced. Most went to work at the new plant, convinced they were now at the top of the food chain. However some 100 did not.

Now remembering Wapping brings back many memory's to me personally, and I do suppose for many others who were about and involved in the dispute either as a print-worker or local resident. I fell into the latter category and was also a member of both the then Tower Hamlets Trades Council and a delegate to the Greater London Association of Trades Councils. So right from the beginning I was involved in the dispute  becoming a founding member of Tower Hamlets Print Workers Support Group, which became very active on the picket line and organising support within the community, we even organised our own march around the streets of Wapping, and I well remember hundreds of us marching around the streets in the dead of the night singing ‘when you walk through a storm’, it was great and something that will be forever etched, cut and impressed into a surface of my memory until the I die.

I would like just to record and recall on this my blog, some of the interesting people that I met and become good friends with during that most eventful year. I met local resident and very active support group member Lee Hurst,  perhaps best known as a panellist on the comedy sports quiz They Think It's All Over, where he was a regular from 1995 to 1998. And then there was the brother of Liam Brady, footballer (who won 72 caps for the Republic of Ireland and so I am told) and his wife who were active members of the group. It’s in disputes that I suppose you really do find-out who your friends and comrades truly are then. I have mentioned on this blog before now, that one Charles Wheelan was also a member of the local trades council, that’s of course before he became political director of Unite and rose to prominence as spokesman for Gordon Brown. And the less said about the latters performance yesterday in the commons the better, but the point I wish to make is that his spokesman Wheelan never gave support.    

Just one other thing I would like to recall and that’s many residents were in fact targeted and arrested during the course of the dispute at Wapping. I myself was arrested three times, twice for obstruction of the highway and fined, and once for misappropriating hundreds of copy's of the Sun newspaper from outside Mile-End Tube Station. I was eventually arrested along with my accomplice and sent to trail at Southwark Crown Court, and I am very pleased to say that after a week we were both acquitted, maybe sometime I will give you more details of that trail and the circumstances that led up to it, what I do remember is that the support group were very supportive and people like Lee Hurst came often to Court.

Well I will end this post with what I posted yesterday on the excellent Conterfire website: events have helped change the world we now live in, but it is never over the fight, we've taken some knocks and bad blows over the years since both the Miners Strike and Wapping. But most recently a new generation has stood on the line and are now saying enough is a enough, first those magnificent students and now public sector workers. The tide can now turn if we all stand together and not waste thoughtlessly a single day in the class struggle to come!"

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Andy Hayman?"

For the life of me I just could not resist putting up this YouTube clip of retired police officer Andy Hayman giving evidence at today's Home Affairs Select Committee; a very questionable copper is Andy in my considered opinion, of course first opinions don’t amount to anything really, but in regard to this ex-assistant commissioner for specialist operations there is most definitely a question mark and beyond doubt.

I like the way Simon Hoggart, in the Guardian described Hayman’s performance today: “The star of the marathon committee session on phone hacking was undoubtedly Andy Hayman, the then top copper who was in charge of the first inquiry that led nowhere.

He must be given his own sitcom, a blend of Life On Mars and Minder, starring Hayman as Del Boy. One of the MPs called him "a dodgy geezer" to his face. Put it this way: I wouldn't let him sell me a cheap Rolex, if I wanted to know the time.”

Hayman was in charge of the inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking affair originally. In April 2010 he left the Metropolitan police to work for can you believe it News International as a columnist. Along with former Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, Hayman was criticised by the press and the Independent Police Complaints Commission over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Underground station on the 22 July 2005.

Transparent fraud

The ongoing revelation of systematic hacking of thousands of phones and computers by employees of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World lifts the lid on the uncontrolled criminality of the corporate and political elite, here in Britain. At least 7,000 people have had their phones hacked and their privacy invaded. The trawl (repulsively ) for personal information has homed in on a wide range of victims, from politicians and members of the royal family to the families of murder victims and soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

The scandal is revealing the thorough-going decay of democracy and all of the official institutions in Britain, including the major parties, Parliament, the judiciary and the media. The most powerful media corporation in Britain, which constantly trumpets the need for “law and order,” has presided over serious violations of the law, including hacking on what one MP called “an industrial scale.” It has done so year-on-year with virtual impunity.

Both of the major parties, Conservative and Labour, are implicated in these crimes, not only because of their refusal to call to account News International, the parent firm of Murdoch’s British media outlets, but because of their intimate relations with Murdoch’s media empire. They never challenged the Metropolitan Police for accepting the patently absurd claim that these illegal practices were the actions of one rogue reporter and a private investigator, even as it surfaced that police officers had received tens of thousands of pounds in bribes from News of the World.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday was forced to acknowledge official collusion with the Murdoch press, stating, “The truth is, we have all been in this together—the press, politicians and leaders of all parties—and yes, that includes me.”

Murdoch is forever associated with the Conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and above all with Thatcher’s brutal assault on the working class. He cheered on her deregulation of the City of London, privatisations and tax cuts for corporations and the rich from which he benefited more than most. News of the World’s parent company, News International, carried out an infamous union-busting operation, sacking 6,000 print workers and transferring production to Wapping  here in London’s East End in 1986. 

Then, after Murdoch decided that the Tories had exhausted their usefulness as a vehicle for attacking the working class and enriching the ruling elite, he switched support to Labour—which was more than ready to do his bidding. Murdoch dictated government policy to such a degree that Lance Price, a media advisor to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, called Murdoch “the 24th member of the Cabinet.” Price added, “His presence was always felt.”

Current Labour leader Ed Miliband is now posing as a critic of News of the World, seeking to make political capital out of Cameron’s relations with Coulson and Murdoch press executive Rebakah Brooks. This is should be seen for what it really is a 'transparent fraud' on the part of a Labour leader who twelve days ago refused to support thousands of public sector workers striking in defence of pensions, working conditions and services.    

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Them dry old economics

Most people consider economics a dry subject that generates more boredom than interest;  yet if we can explain the method in which legalised robbery takes place under capitalism surely those who are being victimized should find the information most pertinent.

In addition, if it can be demonstrated that all the existing values that have been created in capitalist society are due to the efforts of the working class alone, then the process of legal economic thievery adds a further ironic indignity to the exploitation of the majority by a minority.

Capitalism distinguishes itself from all prior systems because, as Karl Marx explains at the commencement of Capital, Volume 1, it takes the form of a vast accumulation of commodities. These commodities result from social production, effected by the working class, based upon large scale manufacture and distribution, wage-labour and capital.

The commodity,  under capitalism, is the economic unit around which the whole of society revolves. It is a product or service possessing a use value and an exchange value: an item marketed for sale or profit. This commodity process pervades all social life under capitalist society.

So once we have resolved the meaning of value and how it is determined the other side of the coin is ready for examination.

How exactly are the workers exploited, and how are profits derived? Here we come across yet another area purposely surrounded with misconceptions and misrepresentations, aided by so-called professional economists who would jeopardize their livelihood if they presented the truth.

Capital is wealth used to create more wealth with a view to profit. Karl Marx divided the capital used in the production process into two parts. One part comprised of buildings, machinery, and raw materials, and is referred to as constant capital because its value undergoes no change in the production process, but is transferred proportionately to the commodity being produced. The other part is called variable capital because it comprises of labour power, which is the commodity owned by the workers and sold by them to the capitalist for wages. In the productive process this labour power has the unique ability to produce a far greater value than that contained within itself.

This quality, possessed by labour power alone, of being able to create values in excess of what it needs for its own maintenance and reproduction, results in the production of surplus controversialists which constitutes all values produced by the working class over and above the values of their own labour power. It is beyond refutation, and must be accepted as glaringly obvious, that the working class must produce values beyond what they receive as wages for otherwise their employment by the capitalist class would be without economic purpose. In this regard we may safely assume that the charity of the ruling class does have its limitations.

The socialist dose not accept the poppycock that it is the “brains” of the capitalist class that are instrumental and vital in helping in the productive process. Neither do we cherish the nonsense that the capitalist provides?” The answer to this is of course, “yes, but whose efforts produced the capital in the first place?” 

The merchant calls it profit
and he winks the other eye;
The banker calls it interest
And heaves a cheerful sigh.
The landlord calls it rent,
As he tucks it in his bag.
But the honest old burglar,
He calls it swag.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Hundreds spend the night in Cairo's Tahrir Square

Cities across Egypt saw the largest demonstrations yesterday since the revolutionary struggles that forced the resignation of US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak on February 11. Protests, including indefinite sit-ins in public squares like those that forced Mubarak from power, showed the rising opposition to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) military junta that replaced Mubarak
Among those joining the protests were striking workers from several critical industrial facilities in Egypt, including the Suez Canal and the Mahalla textile plants.

A key cause of public anger is the SCAF’s defense of Mubarak regime officials, and police who imprisoned or killed protesters. In contrast, the SCAF has passed a law banning strikes and protests that hurt the economy, trying and convicting an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 civilians in military tribunals.

This is indeed a far cry from before Mubarak's full when the people were chanting 'the people and the army are one'.

The triangle of hunger

Experts are predicting the number of obese children is set to increase, with a severe risk to their health, and with 500,000 children who may be at risk of developing life-threatening liver disease because they are or will become overweight.

As the saying goes; ‘we are what we eat’. 

I therefore thought it a good idea to reconsider in the light of new concerns about our children's health, and in particular the modern diet, to probe once more this subject of which I have blogged about in the past. 

A third of  all our children, it is now laid claim are overweight or obese, and despite the many stark warnings from professionals about the effect on their health, the numbers continue to rise. 

I have a habit on this blog of often simply saying; that if you want to know what’s around the corner, what’s coming our way, then look towards the land of the free, or rather is it the land of the fat?” Well I suppose that is somewhat discourteous to our American cousins, but its not meant to be. However in many respects it is seen to be true and lets just hope that when it comes to the incidence of obesity that it doesn't take a hold as it has over there, where a fifth of the population in all but one state, are now obese. America has become dramatically fatter in the last six years alone - in 2005 just one state had an obesity rate of more than 30 per cent, today there is a dozen or so.

In today’s age of convenience, fast food needs no introduction, every high street has its own McDonald's, Burger King or Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. Everyone, sadly from a 2-year-old toddler to your 60-year-old granny, seems to enjoy it and at every given chance they get. And why not? After all its very seductive and I must say very addictive, so much so that some people that I know live on it. They live life in the fast lane in London, they work and, the food is for them at least affordable, readily available just at any time of the day, a drive through or a phone call away. what more could you ask for then?” 

Well, plenty,” “for fast food is not all that good really, it has no nutritional value and is not balanced and, therefore, very unhealthy in the long run if consumed on a regular basis. The fast food that looks so mouthwatering and tempting is loaded with calories from refined sugar and fats  (especially, the artery-clogging saturated and hydrogenated fats, which are repeatedly reheated to high temperatures for frying purposes). To make matters worse for the consumer, the food is also high in sodium, coming from common salt and other additives. Recent scientific studies have shown that high-calorie foods rich in fats, refined sugar and salt could reconfigure the hormones in the body in such a way that you end-up craving for such food. 

The situation is worse in the case of children who from a very young age are enticed and get hooked and, such children grow up to be obese adults who may never have felt the advantages of being a healthy weight, not to mention that life may end prematurely and untimely for many. 

Food is something everyone needs, every day as we know, how it is produced and who controls it, are important issues. The way it is marketed has big effects on our health and economics too. In some parts of the world, absence of access to food is the real tragedy, while in the US, what I like to call the power house of world  consumerism, unhealthy eating is cited as the second biggest biggest killer after smoking.. In an age of ‘convenience’, people in the West are eating more processed and fast food than ever, and 60% of the population is considered obese. 

We should consider, what the market does to our food, and what it does to us. We can start by understanding that no one anywhere on this planet has to starve of die from the lack of it, and yet there are thousands of families as I write walking and have been walking for days in search of food, in what is called the triangle of hunger where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia meet. It’s all to easy for me to sit here and talk about children so skinny, malnourished and dieing which is becoming commonplace in this corner of Africa. Half a million of those children are facing imminent life-threatening conditions, with long lasting consequences to their physical and mental development.  

What can I do, what can we do is a question I often ask myself, but truthful, there is very little that can be done other than to donate in kind to some sort of relief or charity. But the problem is that this never seems to bring about the solution and resolution to theses 'repetitious' humanitarian disasters; catastrophes that should not be happening, if only the world was not the place it is. I don’t consider it extreme in the least to say that there is something seriously wrong in and with our world, when millions and trillion's are wasted on wars and weapons of such terror and destruction, on these very needless wars in far off places, whilst our governments at home allow large multi-nationals to poison the populace.

When I think upon these problems that we face, I for one understand that capitalism is a system which sentences the majority of its people to poverty, it is a restrictive system; and no more so than in the food we consume immoderately or from the absence of it. Its economy is economically inefficient and politically anarchic. It is a destructive system. That is a massive indictment. But it is supported and proven by the massive evidence provided by the everyday workings of capitalism itself.

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