Music

The Artists Saying ‘Nope’ to the Arms Industry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 6:17am in

This is another great little video from Novara media, posted on YouTube on the 17th October 2018, about a group of artists, who withdrew their work from the Design Museum and exhibited elsewhere. This is the Nopetoarms collective, a group of radical artists protesting against the arms industry.

They made the decision to withdraw their works following the announcement that the museum would be hosting a reception for Leonardo, the 9th largest arms company in the world. Novara’s Ash Sarkar tweeted that it was a case of the British art establishment coopting radical artists to stay relevant, and ‘facilitating the social calendar of slaughterers to stay wealthy’. They also told her it was a private event, and she had to use other entrances and exits. One of the artists, Glen Orton, states that the movement contained work by Syrian artists, the Hong Kong movement, and other protest groups, who’d been teargassed, beaten, bombed. He was ‘gobsmacked’ that they even considered hosting the company. The Museum stated that they could not immediately commit to refusing money from the arms, oil and tobacco industries.

Another artist, Jess Worth, states that when the time came to move their works, there were forty people in the collective, which now comprised a third of the exhibition. The artists then decided to exhibit their work themselves, on their own terms. Charlie Waterhouse, another artist with the group, states that once the decision was made to remove their work, the Museum’s PR machine attacked them by claiming they were trying to shut down free speech and stop people seeing the exhibition. This made them think that putting the show back on would be a good thing. The exhibition is now being held in the basement of a leisure centre in Brixton, where it is curated and controlled by the artists themselves.

Worth explains that they wanted their exhibition to be free, unlike the Design Museum, which charged 12 pounds, the artists would write the labels themselves, so that it would present the work in the way they wanted. They wanted it grounded in community. They also wanted to make it accessible to people, who wouldn’t normally go to an art gallery.

Waterhouse also explains why the art is hung on clothes pegs from fences. It’s so that people say, ‘Oh, I can do that. Then, ‘I can do that’, and go and do it.

The video explains that oil and arms funding in the arts industry is a massive problem. Worth explains that being in a museum space conveys the impression that a company’s work is legitimate, because otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to be there. This is immensely valuable to the companies involved.

Waterhouse goes on to say that this has got to stop. On the one hand, they’re taking money from the arms industry. On the other, they’re levering cachet from the artists’ work without paying them. It’s a scam, he concludes.

The video also explains that the collective would like to do more. Worth says that what they’d really like to see is museums and other cultural bodies having a code of fundraising ethics, determining who they will and won’t take money from, that’s really clear on their website that everyone can see.

Waterhouse says that it’s time for artists to mobilise, to realise that their ethics, morals and feelings are valid, and they don’t just have to kowtow to the money.

Orton ends the video by saying that the Design Museum doesn’t know what it’s done.

The video shows the works of art as they’re displayed in the leisure. They not only comment explicitly on the arms industry, corruption and other issues, but also on the exploitation of the poor and working class through zero hours contracts. And among the iconic figures used in the works there’s David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.

I think it’s really great that these artists have stood up for their beliefs against the arms industry, and that they’re encouraging their public to get involved and create their own pieces as well. I wish them all the best for their exhibition.

RCA Quadraphonic - Flew like a lead zeppelin.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/10/2018 - 11:19pm in

Tags 

audio, Music

Gather round, children, and listen to a story of hope and disappointment.
In 1970, RCA wanted everyone to buy a new audio system for the new four-channel (which came to be known as "quadraphonic" or "quad") music system. At that time, consumer-level stereophonic (two-channel) systems were still sort of new. Anyone with a stereo "hi-fi" system would have been considered an early adopter.
This RCA ad wanted you to drop everything and rush straight out and buy a new quad system. Now, stereo systems have twice as many components as mono. Two amplifiers, twice the speakers, twice the everything, pretty much. As a result, they cost about twice the money that a monophonic system did.
Along comes quadraphonic, and they cost roughly twice as much as stereo, with four times the components as a mono system, of course. How much was that? Well, the system pictured in the RCA ad sold for $250. Run off to the CPI inflation calculator page and we can see that $250 was about $1300 in today's money.  Yowza.
Having just bought a stereo hi-fi a few years previously, would you be prepared to jump to a quad system already? To the well-heeled douchebag subscribers of Esquire, it may have been a no brainer. It was also 1970, so, amazingly bad decisions on the part of pop culture were coming fast and furious. Maybe a $1300 bookshelf music system (look at the size of the speakers in comparison to the cassette slot) seemed like a solid decision? Maybe you would have looked forward to throwing this in the trash when hexaphonic sound systems came out a few years in the future? I mean, why wouldn't you assume that was on the way, right? Spoiler alert: that didn't happen.
Time would show us that not many people were into quad. Not very many albums were recorded in quad, and before too long, Dolby Labs would figure out how to make a stereo signal feed four or more speakers through clever phase detection. Stereo was pretty good enough, it seemed. Five-channel and seven-channel surround systems, which extracted multichannel audio from a two-channel encoded audio signal, would embarrass your lame-ass quad system by simply being more cleverer with less hardware. If you haven't listened to music on a surround system, you're missing out. It's pretty cool.
Of course, we are now looking at an entire generation raised on hyper-compressed music played through twenty-dollar computer speakers or came-free-with-my-iPhone craptacular earbuds, so, hi-fi, or "high fidelity" is sort of a dead thing for now. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the superpopular bass-is-all-I-care-about Beats brand of headphones, which are as close to high-fidelity as the squeaky earbuds they, in many cases replaced, to be honest. People love those too, because they're expensive.
Come to think of it, hi-fi early adopters at least cared about accurate sound reproduction. Maybe those douchebags weren't so silly after all. Is the idea of four speakers more ridiculous than choosing a pair of headphones because you like the color, or headphones that are engineered with permanent bass-all-the-way-up circuitry? The last time I tried to buy a pair of headphones in a store, the clerk looked at me like I was nuts when I told him I wanted to hear them before buying them. Apparently, caring about how accurately a music system reproduces sound makes you an eccentric outlier.

Maybe the douchebags weren't so silly.

Sleep and reading – Australia bound

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/10/2018 - 1:18am in

Tags 

Music, Sport

Today’s blog post is about sleep and reading. I am travelling from London to Sydney today via Hong Kong so I will not write anything more than a few lines. I will be back in writing mode on Tuesday I should think. For the next 24 hours I have a lot of reading to do. I also provide some advice for those who pack running shoes when travelling.

It has been a really busy, if not torrid speaking tour this time around – lots of in and out of my least favourite airport London Heathrow and a lot of talk.

I now get a more measured period of writing.

Thomas Fazi and I met in Germany over the weekend just gone and are now fully working on our followup book to – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017).

I will provide a rough guide to what we are up to soon – I might have said ‘when we know’ – but it is more accurate to say when the approach is more fully articulated.

I think it will be a little of a surprise and as a clue we are going to provide a comprehensive critique of ‘Western’ concepts of democracy and economy to allow us to break out of the usual frames that bind, even our thinking.

It might not work but it will be fun finding out.

More on that later.

Over the next 24 hours or so, if you are worried about comments that are held in the moderation queue it is because I am some kms in the sky and refuse to pay the ridiculous fees that airlines demand for wi-fi connection.

For those who pack running shoes when travelling …

More important than learning or writing about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is finding good running routes when travelling.

Here are some of the routes I have been traversing over the last few weeks in New York City and then in Europe.

NYC – Hudson River Park

I was staying in Jane Street, adjacient to the Hudson River. The choice of Hotel was deliberate because I had only one crossing before I was on the fabulous running track along the river.

You can go south for further than I run – I went around 5 kms down and 5kms back. There are various piers that you can run out and around if you like.

Surface is excellent (paving mostly).

There are a lot of runners but it is not crowded.

Highly recommended.

The route in the map is not my turnaround point on the days I ran it – I just couldn’t fit it all on the screen and make it meaningful.

On another day, I ran north along the River Park and the route is less preferred to going south.

An attraction on the Chelsea Pier is you run out and around a golf driving range and there were stacks of golfers trying to groove their swings early in the morning.

I turned around at the 4 kms mark on that day.

Dublin, Ireland

I was staying at the Wynns Hotel in Abbey Street, just off the famous O’Connell Street.

This run takes you over the river, past Trinity College, up Grafton Street to the corner of St Stephen’s Green (1 km exactly).

Then I did 8 laps of St. Stephen’s Green – each on nearly exactly 1 km around.

Then back to the city.

Perfect symmetry really – 1km, loops of 1 km, then 1 km.

St Stephen’s Green is beautiful and in the early morning the wind was blowing the Autumn leaves into my face, which was nice.

Surface excellent.

Hassle: getting out to the Green – lots of intersections. Grafton Street though is closed to traffic.

Out the back of Galway, Ireland

This was a fabulous run. I was staying in a rural house with friends (near Aphouleen) and this run wound down little farm tracks (surface okay) to one of the bays, along through Ballymanagh, and out to Knockayncarragh near the sea.

Then I came back.

Early morning – cool, atmospheric and any of the routes around this area are great.

London – Russell Square

On several days while I was in London I ran my Russell Square route.

I prefer to stay up around the Brunswick Centre and I can get to the Square quickly. Then I do about 20 laps – sometimes 18. It is not as good as going out to Regent’s Park but it avoids all the traffic.

Each lap is just over 540 metres. You might get dizzy if you run fast! Surface is excellent and while the thought of running continuous laps might deter you, the reality of no traffic and nice trees should attract.

I have spent many an early morning making myself dizzy at the Square.

Lisbon – Portugal

I ran two routes in Lisbon. I was staying down in the Baixa district, chosen to be close to the water edge and easy to get to running routes.

The first route goes out to the historic port of Belém on the Tagus River. This is where Vasco de Gama set off in 1497 and was the first to find the sea route to India.

The run takes you down to the main square (Praça do Comércio), turn right and run along the river path.

In the early morning it is not crowded but later it would be unbearable.

The surface is small paving stones and not great for feet (constantly adjusting).

There are some beautiful sights and some really seedy parts – ephemeral population, some ‘dealers’ and homeless.

Belém is a nice place to run around.

The second route turned left at the Praça do Comércio and goes past the Cruise ship terminal and along the port area. After some kms you come to a major overpass and under the road there is a tent city of homeless people. A large population it seems.

The surface is better this way but the views are less attractive.

Lisbon, in general is not my favourite place to run. But the route to Belém is okay.

Würzburg, Germany

For the last two days of this speaking tour I have been in Würzburg, Germany. This run is exceptional. The city has a ring road and on the eastern side you can access the RingPark, which is a beautiful route through parkland (with occasional road crossing) with soft gravel surfaces.

It goes up and down gently and when you get down to the Main River, I turned left and ran along the quay for some distance (off the map shown) and turned around at the 5 kms mark and traced my route back.

There are lots of variations but this was my favourite run of this tour.

Virtually no-one around in the early morning and not much traffic to impede crossing roads without having to stop.

Travel Sounds

Here is some lovely music from one of my favourite post-minimalist composers Max Richter.

It is off the re-released album (May 2018)- The Blue Notebooks – which was originally released on February 26, 2004 on Fat Cat Records.

It was originally recorded as a protest by Max Richter to the Iraq invasion in 2003.

This track On the Nature of Daylight was re-recorded for the new release, with different musicians. The new album is called The Blue Notebooks – 15 Years Edition.

It still resonates after first hearing it in 2004.

So Bill, put your feet up boy, open a novel, and in about a day you will be back on the ground in warm, springtime Australia.

And with that I may resurface tomorrow.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

The Iron Maiden Cover that Offended the Tories

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/10/2018 - 1:32am in

Here’s a lesson for Tweezer and for any other politico who fancies prancing onto the stage to a rock or pop hit: popular music, like any other musical genre, comes from a variety of viewpoints. It can be simple, apolitical fun. But it can also be sharply, aggressively anti-establishment. And in 1980 Iron Maiden managed to upset the Tory party with the sleeve illustration to one of their singles, which showed Maggie Thatcher being struck with an axe.

The incident is described by Ian Christe in his book, Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal (London: Allison & Busby 2004). He writes

Touching the larger issues instigated by Punk, the NWOBHM bands also took a streetwise yet oblique approach to politics. The picture sleeves of “Sanctuary”, a single from Iron Maiden, depicted Prime Minister Thatcher being axed in an alleyway as she attempted to tear down an Iron Maiden flyer. The British government responded to the record’s popularity with an official censure, requiring that future editions place a black bar over the face of the tormented leader. For her troubles, Thatcher, who cut social programs, sold off government agencies and fought organized labour, was later nicknamed “the Iron Maiden” by the mainstream press. (p. 36).

Well, he’s wrong about Thatcher being called ‘the Iron Maiden’ by the press, She wasn’t. She was called ‘the Iron Lady’. But it shows how touchy the Tories were even then about anyone daring to malign or blaspheme against the Prime Minister. And their decision to censor the cover art so as to obscure Thatcher’s face is an extraordinary piece of censorship. It does recall the outcry the Republicans raised over the other side of the Atlantic, which ended the career of the comedienne who was shot holding the bloody, severed head of Donald Trump. And returning to this side of the Pond, they also vociferously denounced Hilary Mantel when she published her short story, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, on the grounds that it might encourage terrorism.

Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden’s front man, left the band in 1992 to be with his family. However, he was still active with an satirical slant. He made a novelty single for the election that year with Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean. And he wrote two books about a transvestite English aristo, Lord Iffy Boatrace. Here’s the covers from Christe’s book, p. 212.

For some reason the character’s name reminds me of that other Tory grandee, Jacob Rees-Mogg, though otherwise I’m sure the character bears no similarity to him whatsoever.

Vox Political on the Racist, Islamophobic Booklets at the Tory Conference

Mike also raised further questions about the prevalence of racism in the Tory party in an article he put up about a report by Vice that they had discovered far-right literature at a meeting of the Bruges group, a Thatcherite anti-EU group within the Tories. The book in question was Moralitis: A Cultural Virus. This was a long, racist rant against ‘Cultural Marxism’ using the metaphor of bacteriology. It stated that

The body politic has become infected. Like the growth of bacteria in a petri dish, the subversive tenets of cultural Marxism have spread as a pinking of the public discourse.

Mike goes on to explain that ‘Cultural Marxism’

refers to a far-right conspiracy theory with its origins in anti-Semitic beliefs that Jews – as a culture – want to undermine traditional Western values.

In its modern variant it seems to be a product of the Republicans in America. Right-wing organisations like Prager U and Paul Joseph Watson, formerly Alex Jones’ Brit sidekick on Infowars, rant about it. It seems to be based on a confused and garbled understanding of the German Frankfurt School and Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was a Marxist, who turned Marxism on its head by discussing and analyzing how culture helped perpetuate capitalism. In orthodox Marxism, it’s the other way round: the economic basis of society determines the culture. Scholars from the Marxist Frankfurt School sought refuge in America when the Nazis took power. In the form the Republicans and their followers over here are retailing, there’s no explicit reference to Jews, and I think many of those who have adopted this view may also believe the lie that anti-Semitism is also something unique to the Left.

But critics of the idea have also pointed out that the idea of ‘Cultural Marxism’ actually goes all the way back to the Nazis and their idea of Kulturbolschevismus – Cultural Bolshevism. This was the idea that the supposed Jewish plot to enslave White Aryans, and particularly Germans, included the destruction of German culture. Jews were members of many of the modernist movements in art, music and literature the Nazis despised, such as 12 note Serialism in music and Expressionism. And so the Nazis and anti-Semitic mobs angrily denounced anything dangerously modern as ‘Jewish’.

Mike goes on to quote the Vice article on the contents of this nasty booklet.

The Vice article states: “The booklet blames immigration for “relentless population growth” and suggests that the growth of Britain’s Muslim population was “a deliberate policy to replace one set of voters with another”. It also notes that it is absurd for progressives to favour immigration, “considering the very conservative cultures that they bring” – for instance, “the growth of fundamentalist Islam”.” It goes on to suggest that such “progressives” are like turkeys voting for Christmas.

He explains that

This refers to a far-right conspiracy theory called “The Great Replacement”, that believes Western culture is being systematically “replaced” by the culture of immigrants from third-world continents who are allegedly “pawns for the revolutionary zeal of cultural Marxism”.

This idea is merely a modern version of the old conspiracy theory that the Jews are encouraging racial mixing in order to destroy the White race. You may remember that the Nazis and Klansmen marching through Charlottesville last year chanted ‘You will not replace us!’ and ‘Jews will not replace us!’ It also seems to be partly based on the fact that some parts of the radical American Left in the early part of this century did look forward to immigrants from Latin America and elsewhere revitalizing American radicalism. You also hear regularly on this side of the Atlantic the claim that Blair deliberately allowed in greater numbers of immigrants because he wanted to create a multicultural society that the Tories would be unable to undo or appeal to. This claim was first made by a former civil servant under Blair, who remains its only source. And the positive attitude of the American Left towards immigration, and its alleged deliberate increase by Blair are far from being the racist plot the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory claims.

As for the book’s title, Moralitis is ominously similar to the Nazis’ explicit rejection, common to Fascism generally, of humanitarianism.

As for the claim that Muslim immigration presents a particular danger because of the conservative nature of those societies, there is indeed a problem with the very hardline, intolerant form of Islam promoted by the Saudis. And I can remember one moderate Muslim imam complaining in the Financial Times back in the 1990s that the lack of properly trained Muslim clergy in Britain meant that dangerous fanatics and bigots were able to come here from Pakistan unchecked in order to meet this spiritual need. However, this was before 9/11 and I doubt very much the same type of clergy find it quite so easy to get into this country or others in the EU. Furthermore, many, if not the majority of the Islamic terrorists so far caught are second or third generation Brits, coming from integrated, westernized homes. Anjem Chaudhury, the raving bigot behind a whole host of Islamist organisations in Britain and Europe, like Sharia4UK, is an example of this. Before he converted to hardline Islam and became an ardent, vocal supporter of terrorism, Chaudhury was a law student at Oxbridge. He managed to fail his degree, largely due to drink and drugs. While many people reach out to religion and God during personal crises like that, they don’t all of them by any means decide that the way to the divine is by the destruction of their surrounding society and the murder of its people. It looks to me very much like Chaudhury and those like him turned to nihilistic, destructive Islamism because of their own personal failings and destructive tendencies. They aren’t representative of wider British Islamic culture.

Mike’s article concludes

The meeting of the Bruges Group was said to be well attended this year, with a cabinet whip keeping watch over hard-Brexiteer MPs – that’s right, Conservative members of Parliament have been swallowing this tripe.

The title of his article asks ‘Are these far-right, racist booklets influencing Conservative MPs?’

It’s a good question. Even if they aren’t, they show that people elsewhere in the Tory party are reading them, and are being influenced. Which in turn shows that vehement racism is still a powerful force amongst the ‘Nasty Party’.

Vox Political: Why Is the Media Silent about Tory Anti-Semitism?

A few days ago Mike over at Vox Political put up a piece commenting on the lamestream media’s reaction, or lack of it, to the photos published in the Mirror of a group of Tory students at Plymouth University wearing some very offensive messages on their T-Shirts. These idiots had all thought it would be jolly japes to scrawl slogans like ‘F**K the NHS’ on their shirts. One of these clowns was wearing a Hitler moustache, and had drawn a Star of David and the word Jude. This was not the name Jude, as in the Beatles’ song ‘Hey, Jude’, or that of the actor, Jude Law. Or the Christian saint, St. Jude. No, this was the German Jude, meaning ‘Jew’. And the two together were a disgusting parody of the identifying marks Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, before they were deported and murdered wholesale under the Final Solution.

Mike in his article mentioned how the Beatles opened a fashion shop in the 1960s, only to find it physically attacked because of suspected anti-Semitism. They called it ‘Hey, Jude’, after their song. Unfortunately, some people thought that this was some kind of anti-Semitic message, as it brought back memories of Kristallnacht, the night when the Nazis systematically attacked Jewish shops and businesses, scrawling the word Jude on them. The night got its name, which means ‘Crystal Night’ in English, after the shards of broken glass when the Nazis smashed the shop windows. Now Macca and the Fab Four were and are anything but Nazis, but you can see how some people could make that mistake. And a decade later in the ’70s, some of the punks really did wear Nazi regalia in order to provoke that kind of outrage. Sid Vicious apparently went all the way through the Jewish section of Paris dressed as stormtrooper in a gratuitously tasteless and offensive display.

But while the media has gleefully seized upon and played up the entirely invented claims of anti-Semitism within the Labour party, they are very, very quiet about any such incidents in the Tories. The Mirror reported that the both the Tories and Plymouth University were planning to hold inquiries into the behaviour of these toff idiots and punish them. But that’s it. I think it was only the Mirror and possible one other newspaper that reported the incident. If it had been young members of the Labour party, there’d have been no end of outrage and denunciations in the media, by politicians and the public. And further calls for Corbyn to resign as he would be held responsible. But as it was the Tories all you could hear was a deafening silence.

Not only does the media not want to report Tory anti-Semitism, but the Jewish establishment wishes to deny that such a thing even exists. Marie van der Zyle (below) stated in one of her attacks on the Labour party that, in contrast to them, the Tories had always been ‘good friends of the Jews’.

You know I’m not going to get tired of this joke!

Van der Zyle’s bizarre claim whitewashes a very long history of anti-Semitism in the Tory party. One of the left-wing Jewish blogs was so upset by it, that they put up a list of some of the more notorious of incidents in the Tory party. This went, I seem to recall, from the British Brothers’ League and the passage of the Aliens Act by the Tory government at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th to ban Jewish immigration, to the comment by one Tory about the number of Jews in Thatcher’s government. He remarked that there were far Estonians there than Etonians. Apart from being anti-Semitic, it also shows the very distinct class prejudice and sense of entitlement in the Tory party. Etonians were expected to make up a good proportion of cabinet ministers, not the children of eastern European Jews.

In the 1930s a fair number of Tories sympathized with Nazi Germany and supported Oswald Mosley’s infamous British Union of Fascists. Amongst the various pro-Nazi outfits, like the Anglo-German Fellowship, was one specifically dedicated to purging Jews from the Tory party. By the 1970s certain sections of the Tory party had become so notorious for their anti-Semitism, that they had to take steps to assure the Jewish community that they were anything but. Thus the Monday Club, which has long been infamous for its racism and opposition to non-White immigration, opened its membership books to the Board of Deputies of British Jews to show that they didn’t have any Nazis among them.

David Cameron at the beginning of this century made gestures to expel and ban Nazis from the party during his modernization campaign. The party severed links with the Monday Club, and those with links to BNP and racist right were thrown out. But the Tories are still a very racist party, no matter how many BAME people they may make ministers or make MPs. Zac Goldsmith ran an islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan for mayor of London, smearing him as a supporter of terrorism. They put up posters and sent round vans calling on illegal immigrants to hand themselves in. And Tweezer herself was responsible for drafting the legislation that allowed them to deport the Windrush generation, who were British citizens and had every right to remain in this country. And I can remember when some branches of the Tory party, including the Union of Conservative Students, were debating adopting ‘racial nationalism’ as their official policy. That’s the doctrine of the BNP and NF: only those who are British by race, which here means ‘White’, are really citizens. Everyone else should be repatriated, voluntarily or involuntarily.

And you can bet that it isn’t just non-Whites that certain sections of the Tories loathe and despise. Somewhere there’s going to be real, anti-Semitism, no matter what Cameron, Tweezer and van der Zyle may say.

But the lamestream media aren’t going to poke their noses into this question. The press is almost wholly dominated by the Tory party, especially now that the Guardian and Observer have decided to throw in their lot with them. And just about all the papers seem to want to see Corbyn thrown out of power because of the threat he poses to Thatcherite neoliberalism.

And so the media is going to continue the lie, that on the one hand the Labour party is a party of anti-Semites, led by an anti-Semite, and on the other hand that the Tories are completely innocent of such ugly racism. No wonder people are choosing to get their information instead from the Net.

Theresa May’s Tory Dancing: Alternative Songs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/10/2018 - 3:35am in

Tweezer’s entrance dancing at the Conservative party conference set me thinking about alternative tracks, which would be far more appropriate to the revolting spectacle. I was able to come up with quite a few. Here they are:

The Sex Pistols: Pretty Vacant.
Iggy Pop: The Idiot
Alice Cooper: Hey, Stoopid!
Poison.
Rubber City Rebels: I pierced My Brain.
Talking Heads: Psycho Killer.

For what she’s been doing to the people of this country.

The Dead Kennedys: Kill the Poor
PIL: Order of Death.

As a comment on what she was doing when she decided to spoil that Abba hit for much of the country:

The Sex Pistols again, The Great Rock and Roll Swindle.

Band Names that Are a Suitable Comment in Themselves

Primal Scream
Pop Will Eat Itself.
Venom

The Tory Audience

David Bowie: Scary Monsters

Everybody Else’s Reaction

Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills.
Twisted Sister: We’re Not Going to Take It.

I’m sure the great people of this blog have a few ideas of their own about what would make a better track for Tweezer’s dad-dancing. Let me know in the comments below!

James O’Brien’s Reaction to Tweezer Prancing at Tory Conference

Yesterday Tweezer took it upon herself to enter the stage at the Tory party dancing, coming in shaking her booty to Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’. I think this was supposed to maker her appear upbeat and confident, showing how little she was worried about Brexit, challenges from BoJo and other rivals and Jeremy Corbyn’s revitalized Labour party. And presumably her, or her advisers, thought the choice of the Abba song would stress how regal she was.

The opposite has been the case. With a few notable exceptions, the prevalent mood across the country seems to have been a mixture of mirth and acute, vicarious embarrassment. The left-wing, disabled issues vlogger, Gordon Dimmack, put up a video yesterday about it, describing her as ‘dad-dancing’. Which is quite accurate. She did come across very much as that middle-aged relative, very often someone’s father, who proceeds to embarrass their offspring by dancing at family parties. Mike has put up a very good piece about Tweezer’s cringe-inducing display over at his blog, where he quotes the good folks on Twitter on this weird spectacle.

They’re all worth reading, but my favourites are the Tweet from Wandering Aeonghus, who said “Abba have condemned the use of their music by extreme right wing political groups. Do keep up!” and James Melville, who suggested new, more appropriates for the Abba song to fit with the Tory conference. They were

“You are the Brexit queen
Two left feet, dance like Mr Bean
Brexit queen
Feel the heat from the EU team, oh yeah
Plead with France, you don’t stand a chance
Having the worst time of your life
Ooh, see no deal, watch us scream
Digging the Brexit queen”.

Wirral In It Together, on the other hand, made a serious point about Tweezer and her racism and victimization of the poor and disabled:

“Theresa May dancing?! Are there graves of poor, homeless, abused, disabled, black, Asian, Hispanic people under the #CPC18 stage?”

Some people in the media, amazingly, appear to have been impressed. The I has glowing headlines today about her performance. And Laura Kuenssberg tweeted “That was one of best speech entrances ever from the person the public might least expect it from”.

This got angry replies pointing out how poor her assessment of it was and how out of touch Kuenssberg herself was from Michael Stewart and Fiona Nouri. While Matt Thomas tweeted that “Presumably Fred West could’ve come out doing Gangnam Style and Laura would’ve put a positive twist on it.”

LBC’s James O’Brien spoke for so many in this video showing his reaction to it all on YouTube.

‘Oh no! This is awful!’ he cries, before he facepalms.

You can hear the spirit of the late comedy legend, Frankie Howerd, saying ‘Titter ye not! Ooooooh noooo! It’s rude to mock the afflicted’.

But there’s a serious aspect to May’s weird cavortings. She’s dancing ’cause she’s trying to stay in power, and she’s proud that her party has reduced the working people of this country to abject poverty. Proud that they’re deporting people of colour, who have every right to be here. Proud that they’re privatizing the NHS and introducing charges for services that should be free. Proud that sanctions and the work capability tests means that the unemployed and disabled are dying of starvation. Proud that there are nearly a quarter of a million people using food banks. And the poverty for ordinary people will get worse, thanks to their partisan and utterly inept handling of Brexit.

The last word should really go to Mrs Gee, who said

“Young people – take a long hard look. Then register to vote and #voteLabour like your fucking lives depend on it. Because actually they do.”

Mike concludes his article with this

Every word of that is true. The lives of the young – their quality, everything that makes a life worth living – are in danger every moment the Conservatives are in power because the Conservatives want to take everything that makes life worth living away from working people.

And yes, that will probably extend to the right to reproduce, at some point in the future. Which is odd, because if there’s one thing Mrs May’s performance showed, it’s that it is the Tories who really shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/10/03/theresa-mays-dancing-queen-routine-plumbs-new-depths-of-tory-self-parody/

I hope the Italian government holds its nerve against Brussels

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/10/2018 - 7:16am in

Tags 

Eurozone, Music

Only a short blog post today as I am travelling for a fair part of the day on my way from New York City to Dublin for my next speaking engagement. Tomorrow’s blog post will cover some reflections on the 3-day Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) conference that finished yesterday in New York. There are several things I thought about the event, some of which I will share in public, the others, in private, with the organisers. But, today’s post, is a brief reflection on the latest crisis that is about to engulf the Eurozone. I am referring to the announcement by the Italian government that it will target a fiscal deficit of 2.4 per cent of GDP. The elites are up in arms. I hope that Italy holds its nerve.

Italy’s fiscal position

I will have more to say about this topic in the coming week or so but I thought the reaction by the press to the Italian governments release of its new fiscal plans was crazy.

Essentially, the new Italian coalition government (Five Star/Lega) announced that it would deliver a fiscal deficit of the order of 2.4 per cent of GDP in the coming year.

With Italy in a downward social spiral and degenerating infrastructure after years of austerity, the new government announced modest increases in spending.

The outgoing government had committed to a fiscal position of 0.8 per cent of GDP this year (that is, more austerity) and a surplus by 2020.

The first graph shows GDP growth indexes (March-quarter 2000 = 100) for the major Eurozone nations.

Italy was more or less growing proportionately with the Eurozone aggregate up until the GFC. Thereafter, it has falling into stagnation and is only 4.7 per cent larger than it was at the time the common currency became law.

Since the peak before the GFC, Italy’s economy has slumped by 5.3 per cent. The Eurozone overall has only grown by 6.7 per cent since the GFC onset (March-quarter 2008), Germany by 12.7 per cent, France by 8.3 per cent, and Spain by 3.3 per cent.

So wherever we take the assessment from, the Eurozone has been a disaster for Italy.

The next graph shows unemployment rates for the same nations since the March-quarter 2000. Germany is the outlier.

The other major Eurozone nations have failed to reduce their unemployment rates by any significant degree relative to where they were before the crisis began.

Italy still has 10.6 per cent of its active labour force without work (and it is worse when we consider broader concepts of labour underutilisation.

So what would a responsible government do in this situation?

Answer: totally unambiguously, increase its fiscal deficit to stimulate new growth, particularly in employment rich sectors.

The Financial Times editorial (October 1, 2018) – Italy’s political leaders are playing a dangerous game – is representative of the hysteria that has accompanied last week’s announcement by the Italian government that it was increasing the fiscal deficit target to 2.4 per cent of GDP.

It carried a sub-heading “Fiscal irresponsibility and defiance could deepen Rome’s troubles”.

We read that:

There are real and serious risks, stemming as much from Rome’s attitude and behaviour as from the actual economic targets. Italy’s previous government committed last year to bring down its fiscal deficit to 0.8 per cent of gross domestic product by next year and gradually turn it into a surplus in the two years after that.

While few thought this target was credible, the 2.4 per cent deficit the government signalled late on Thursday is way above the kind of figure the EU or the markets could reasonably live with. That ratio, moreover, would be sustained, not decreased, over the two following years. Rather than helping reduce Italy’s public debt — the eurozone’s largest, as a percentage of GDP, after Greece — the draft budget calls for potentially unsustainable spending. By the time these plans reach Brussels for formal approval, the targets may have grown looser still.

Which makes you wonder what the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) is all about.

The allowable threshold is 3 per cent of GDP. And Italy has been in breach of the 60 per cent debt target for years so it is ridiculous to start imposing sanctions as a result of that on-going departure from the rules.

Once could argue that a 2.4 per cent deficit is way below what is needed. Way below, given the sort of economic performance summarised in the two graphs above.

The Financial Times claims that if the European Commission (and the Finance Ministers) were to accept Italy’s new fiscal plan they:

… would be condoning truculent behaviour and economically misguided objectives.

And that is why the Eurozone is so dysfunctional.

Truculence is now defined in terms of trying to grow an economy that is already around 6 per cent smaller than it was 10 years ago.

While the bond markets were pushing up yields on Italian government debt this morning, the reality facing the Eurozone is that the ECB will have to entere the markets and buy up Italian government debt, just as they did in 2012.

If they don’t then there will be a major financial crisis which will threaten the Eurozone viability.

I hope the Italian government doesn’t buckle under the pressure and pushes their national interests and ignores the pressure from Brussels.

That will force the ECB to intervene and use its currency-issuing capacity to stabilise Italian government yields.

It has the bargaining power here. Whereas Greece was too small and succumbed to the bullying by the Troika, Italy is such a significant part of the Eurozone economy that it can call the shots if only it dares.

As the Financial Times editorial noted, the planned additional spending by the Italian government will:

… undoubtedly be a boon to struggling Italians …

And that says it all really.

The financial markets, aided and abetted by Brussels, want things on their terms, which are clearly detrimental to the interests of the Italian people.

The Italian government has a responsibility to defend the interests of the Italian people.

The Eurozone is structured to advance the aspirations of capital and undermine the responsibility of the elected Member State governments.

That violates democracy and is a recipe for long-term failure.

I will write more about this as the drama unfolds.

I hope the Italian government holds its nerve.

My current UK/European speaking schedule – update

Wednesday, October 3 – Galway – Reclaiming the State Workshop – Harbour Hotel, New Dock St, Galway.

Time: 20:00.

The event will be chaired by Professor Terence McDonough.

Organiser: Desmond Greaves Annual School.

Contact: Kevin McCorry – post@greavesschool.com

Thursday, October 4 – Dublin – Reclaiming the State Workshop – at Wynn’s Hotel, 35-39 Abbey Street Lower, North City, Dublin 1, D01 C9F8.

Time: 20:00.

The event will be chaired by Dr Karen Devine from Dublin City University.

Organiser: Desmond Greaves Annual School.

Contact: Kevin McCorry – post@greavesschool.com

Friday, October 5 – London – Launch of the The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies portal.

Event Time: 12:30 to 19:15

Location: The Diskus Lecture Theatre, Unite the Union, 128 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8TN London.

Registration for the Launch is from 12.30 for a 13.00 start.

Afternoon seminars/workshops:

1. An introduction to Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)

2. The Job Guarantee.

Registration for the workshops is from 1600 onwards for a 1630 start.

There are a limited number of places. The launch is free, seminars have a nominal charge of £7.50. Booking is separate for the two sessions. Refreshments will be available.

At the Launch, I will be joined by Randeep Ramesh, Chief Leader Writer for The Guardian, who will he talking about the role of our media in shaping our economic narrative.

Sunday, October 7 – Lisbon – Details to follow. I will be talking about the Job Guarantee and UBI.

Saturday, October 13 – Wurzburg, Germany. Makroskop event.

I am on a panel at 13:15 with Heiner Flassbeck and Martin Höpner – topic Exchange rate regimes

Location: Tagungszentrum Festung Marienberg, Oberer Burgweg 40, 97082 Wurzburg

The workshop runs from 9:00 to 18:00 with several speakers discussing aspects of currencies.

Contact: rsvp@makroskop.eu for details.

Otus Rush dead

The fantastic US guitar player and singer/songwriter – Otus Rush dies on Saturday (September 29, 2018) at the age of 84.

Here is an NPR report of the death (September 30, 2018) – Otis Rush, Chicago Blues Legend, Dies At 84.

Here he is doing the classic song – All Your Lovin’ – a beautiful minor key blues.

Try to work how he gets so much tremelo with his fingers (and no tremelo bar on his guitar). It is a very difficult skill to master. Otus Rush introduced that sound and many (including yours truly) copied it.

This guy provided the blueprint for many of the great guitarists that came along in the mid- to late-sixties – Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Peter Green, Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana and a bit later still Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Music I have been listening to while travelling today …

While I was out running early this morning along the Hudson River Park and thinking about all the great songs that Otus Rush had given us and his beautiful playing, I saw a sign – Hard Road. I didn’t know what it meant but I took it as a sign.

The auto suggestion that followed had me thinking about the album – A Hard Road – from the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, which came out in 1967.

My original copy from the late 1960s is still on my play list although I have since purchased the digital version.

The record was the first John Mayall released after Eric Clapton left the band and was replaced by Peter Green, just before he also took off to form Fleetwood Mac.

For guitar buffs, this song – The Supernatural – was a D minor piece of reverb magic from the best of the guitar players around then – Peter Green.

Peter Green was strongly influenced by Otus Rush.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2018 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Bad Taste Pop Alert! Die Krupps’ Nazis Auf Speed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 30/09/2018 - 2:53am in

Here’s a little light relief from some of the heavy stuff. It’s a musical interlude with an anti-Nazi message. Die Krupps are a German Metal/Industrial band, who presumably take their name from the big German armaments firm. The video and song’s based on the fact that during the Second World War the Nazis kept the German army, the Wehrmacht, fighting by giving them Privitin – the drug amphetamine, commonly called ‘Speed’.

It begins with a statement by the band that they do not condone Fascism or drug taking, before showing the airmen of the Luftwaffe zooming around the sky snorting the drug like it was going out of fashion. They are then either shot down by the RAF, or collide, and fall to Earth, on which is projected the grotesque face of Hitler himself.

However grotesque the video is, it’s based very solidly on fact. The Nazis did use drugs to keep their pilots in the air. I’ve forgotten precisely what the drug was, but it got into American drug culture as ‘Nazi Crank’, and became a real problem among some Native Americans.

The video also reminds me of one of the transatlantic underground comics, or comix, that was around in the 1980s. This was Hitler’s Dope, the cover of which featured the Fuehrer snorting something highly suspicious while behind him and to his right sat a bare-breasted Eva Braun. As the people, who produced the comix tended to be college-educated Hippies with left-wing political views, I doubt very much that this was a piece of pro-Nazi propaganda.

Just as I don’t believe that the real goose-stepping idiots of the Far Right anywhere in Europe, whether Germany, France, Britain or wherever, would find the video’s depiction of the Nazis and the Luftwaffe remotely attractive.

It would probably send them berserk with rage. Which is a very good reason to show it!

Pages