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No, Lord Sugar: It Is Capitalism Stifling Industry and Creativity

Ho ho! Some pre-festive fun yesterday, when Mike put up a piece describing how Alan Sugar, the former head of Amstrad and the host of the British version of The Apprentice, threw a strop when left-wingers on the net were rude to him about his promise to emigrate if Jeremy Corbyn became PM. Instead of being horrified at the potential loss to our great nation, Red Labour instead posted a tweet in reply applauding it and saying it was a good reason to vote Labour. They said

Another good reason to #VoteLabour: @Lord_Sugar confirming he’ll leave the country if @jeremycorbyn becomes PM. All without any argument, of course: just personalised nonsense. What a relief that people like Sugar aren’t given gongs or made ‘Enterprise Tsars’ by @UKLabour anymore.

Unable to countenance the idea that the he wasn’t the idol of millions, whose every word was listened to by the masses in rapt attention, Sugar got angry and started insulting them. He tweeted back

Sour grapes you bunch of jealous anti enterprise anarchist losers. You have not achieved anything in life but like to criticize those who have. I paid a personal tax bill last year of over £50m enough to build a hospital. You find the taxes in future I’m off #corbynout

This ill-tempered comment provoked a wave of criticism from others in its turn. It also revealed Sugar to be a snob as defined by Thackeray: ‘a person who meanly admires mean things.’ He also fits another character type identified by Oscar Wilde – someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. As for his boasting about how much he makes from the size of his tax bill, once upon a time this would have been considered a very poor comment by the long-established rich. Bragging about your wealth marked you out as being nouveau, a parvenu. Which Sugar is. He’s a self-made millionaire, who clearly believes his millions and his celebrity status excuse his poor manners.

The peeps on Twitter therefore lined up and told the brusque TV host that it was the ordinary people of this country – cleaners, bus drivers, firemen and women, carers, factory workers, teachers, nurses and so on, that actually kept this country running, rather than obscenely rich oligarchs like Sugar himself. They also pointed out that they too paid tax, and were determined to stay in this country, and they had also achieved things that could not be assessed in simple monetary turns. Like family and friends. As for the size of his tax bill, one person told Sugar to look at the size of his employees’ tax bills as opposed to the income of his lowest paid employees. They also wished him off on his planned departure from Britain, with comments like ‘Off you pop, send us a postcard, and so forth.

Several of the people tweeting denied being anarchists, with Darkest Angel also adding that he didn’t know what anarchism is. He clearly doesn’t. He obviously thinks that anarchists are just rabble-rousing hooligans, who go around attacking the rich without appreciating that there are genuine reasons for their anger and their criticisms of capitalism.

One of the tweeters, Jon Goulding, made it very clear that it was due to ordinary people that Sugar had made his money. He said

Don’t you dare claim that teachers and nurses and road builders and factory workers and farm labourers haven’t achieved anything in life just because they haven’t made skip loads of money. You wouldn’t have made jack shit if it weren’t for them, you selfish, shallow charlatan.

See https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/12/15/lord-sugar-got-precious-about-his-pledge-to-immigrate-if-corbyn-becomes-pm-and-got-what-he-deserved/

The great anarchist intellectual, Peter Kropotkin, made the same point in his article, Anarchist Communism, first published in The Nineteenth Century, and republished in Anarchist and Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles, ed. by Nicolas Walter (London: Freedom Press 1987). Kropotkin argued that all property should be held in common, as every innovation built upon the work of millions of others, and depended on society for its effectiveness and value.

Our cities, connected by roads and brought into easy communication with all peopled parts of the globe, are the growth of centuries; and each house in these cities, each factory, each shop, derives its value, its very raison d’etre, from the fact that it is situated on a spot of the globe where thousands or millions have gather together. Every smallest part of the immense whole which we call the wealth of civilized nations derives its value precisely from being a part of this whole. What would be the value of an immense London shop or warehouse were it not situated precisely in London, which has become the gathering spot for five millions of human beings? And what the value of our coal-pits, our manufactures, our shipbuilding yards, were it not for the immense traffic which goes on across the seas, for the railways which transport mountains of merchandise, for the cities which number their inhabitants by millions? Who is, then,m the individual who has the right to step forward and, laying his hand on the smallest part of this immense whole, to say, ‘I have produced this; it belongs to me’? And how can we discriminate, in this immense interwoven whole, the part which the isolated individual may appropriate to himself with the slightest approach to justice? Houses and streets, canals and railways, machines and works of art, all these have been created by the combined efforts of generations past and present, of men living on these islands and men living thousands of miles away. (p. 37).

Moreover, Kropotkin also describes how capitalism actively prevents people from producing, in order to keep the prices of their products high. And this system creates monstrous inequalities in which the masses live in poverty, while the labour that could have been used alleviating poverty is spent on creating luxuries for the rich. He writes

But the figures just mentioned, while showing the real increase of production, give only a faint idea of what our production might be under a more reasonable economical organization. We know well that the owners of capital, while trying to produce more wares with fewer ‘hands’, are continually endeavouring at the same time to limit the production, in order to sell at higher prices. When the profits of a concern are going down, the owner of the capital limits the production, or totally suspends it, and prefers to engage his capital in foreign loans or Patagonian gold-mines. Just now there are plenty of pitmen in England who ask for nothing better than to be permitted to extract coal and supply with cheap fuel the households where children are shivering before empty chimneys. There are thousands of weavers who ask for nothing better than to weave stuffs in order to replace the ragged dress of the poor with decent clothing. And so in all branches of industry. How can we talk about a want of means of subsistence when thousands of factories lie idle in Great Britain alone; and when there are, just now, thousands and thousands of unemployed in London alone; thousands of men who would consider themselves happy7 if they were permitted to transform (under the guidance of experienced agriculturists) the clay of Middlesex into a rich soil, and to cover with cornfields and orchards the acres of meadow-land which now yields only a few pounds’ worth of hay? But they are prevented from doing so by the owners of the land, of the weaving factory, and of the coal-mine, because capital finds it more advantageous to supply the Khedive with harems and the Russian Government with ‘strategic railways’ and Krupp guns. Of course the maintenance of harems pays: it gives 10 or 15 per cent on the capital, while the extraction of coal does not pay-that is, it brings 3 or 5 per cent – and that is a sufficient reason for limiting the production and permitting would-be economists to indulge in reproaches to the working classes as to their too rapid multiplication!

Here we have instances of a direct and conscious limitation of production, due to the circumstance that the requisites for production belong to the few, and that these few have the right of disposing of them at their will, without caring about the interests of the community. But there is also the indirect and unconscious limiting of production – that which results from squandering the produce of human labour in luxury, instead of applying it to a further increase of production.

This last cannot even be estimated in figures, but a walk through the rich shops of any city and a glance at the manner in which money is squandered now, can give an approximate idea of this indirect limitation. When a rich man spends a thousand pounds for his stables, he squanders five to six thousand days of human labour, which might be used, under a better social organization, for supplying with comfortable homes those who are compelled to live now in dens. And when a lady spends a hundred pounds for her dress, we cannot but say that she squanders, at least, two years of human labour, which, again under a better organization, might have supplied a hundred women with decent dresses, and much more if applied to a further improvement of the instruments of production. Preachers thunder against luxury, because it is shameful to squander money for feeding and sheltering hounds and horses, when thousands live in the East End on sixpence a day, and other thousands have not even their miserable sixpence every day. But the economist sees more than that in our modern luxury: when millions of days of labour are spent every year for the satisfaction of the stupid vanity of the rich, he says that so many millions of workers have been diverted from the manufacture of those useful instruments which would permit us to decuple and centuple our present production of means of subsistence and of requisites for comfort. (pp. 34-5).

As for The Apprentice, Cassetteboy put up a couple of videos spoofing the show on YouTube a few years ago. They’re a couple of blokes, who edit footage of celebrities and politicians to make them appear ridiculous. And the results can be very, very funny indeed. Here’s what they did to Sugar and his team. Enjoy!

The “Information is Beautiful” Awards and Philosophy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/12/2018 - 5:12am in

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art, philosophy

The Kantar Information is Beautiful Awards aim to recognize “excellence and beauty in data visualizations, infographics, interactives &  information art” in various categories.

No explicitly philosophical entries were among this year’s winners, which have been announced over the past week. However, an interesting interactive visualization of the I Ching, by Peiyuan Tang and Han-wei Shen, did make the longlist. There’s a still image from it at the end of this post, and you can play around with the interactive version here.

Looking over the entrants from the past few years, there have not been very many in philosophy. I’ve posted about some of them (the Evolution of Kant’s Lexicon, the Structure of Philosophy, and a History of Philosophy Timeline), and there have been other visualizations I’ve noted (for example, a Visualization of Influence in the History of Philosophy, a couple of projects on Spinoza’s Ethics, a subway map version of Wittgenstein’s Tractatusand Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, to name a few).

I’m putting up this post, first, as an excuse to ask for more examples of philosophy visualizations, so if you know of any recent ones I may have missed, either post them in the comments or email them to me. But second, I’m posting it to encourage philosophers to be thoughtful and creative with the presentation of their ideas (I haven’t yet picked up this book but I would bet it is very helpful, and there is always this classic), and maybe consider submitting to the Information is Beautiful awards. The next deadline will be in June, 2019.


Still image from an interactive visualization of the I Ching, designed by Peiyuan Tang and Han-wei Shen

 

The post The “Information is Beautiful” Awards and Philosophy appeared first on Daily Nous.

Jon Pertwee ‘Dr. Who’ Strip on the Bronze Age of Blogs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 01/12/2018 - 9:59pm in

The Bronze Age of Blogs is a website dedicated to comics of the 1970s, though sometimes this is stretched to include strips from the late ’60s and ’80s. One of the strips it’s covered recently is a ‘Dr. Who’ strip from the comic Countdown/TV Action, which apparently ran from 1971 to 1973. The strip features the 3rd Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee, and was written and drawn by Barry Haylock. According to the Pete Doree, the site’s author, the comic carried work by a number of great British comics artists, like Frank Bellamy, one of the artists on The Eagle’s Dan Dare, and Ron Embleton, whose name I recognize from 2000 AD.

I can vaguely remember TV 21 from my early childhood, including the Dr. Who strip. I can remember reading one such story, about an alien influence beaming in through a radio telescope and the TARDIS dematerializing just before we had a Hallowe’en party.

The Bronze Age of Blogs reproduces stories from the comics discussed, and so this post duly has one of the Doctor’s from the comic. To enlarge the images so that you can see them more clearly, and read the speech bubbles, simply click on them.

http://bronzeageofblogs.blogspot.com/2018/11/gerry-haylocks-dr-who.html

Orwell's 1984, the Jewess Refugee

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 01/12/2018 - 3:50am in

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art, Politics

The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labour camp. Winston fitted a nib into the penholder and sucked it to get the grease off....To mark the paper was the decisive act. In small clumsy letters he wrote:

April 4th, 1984.

He sat back...For the first time the magnitude of what he had undertaken came home to him. How could you communicate with the future? It was of its nature impossible. Either the future would resemble the present, in which case it would not listen to him: or it would be different from it, and his predicament would be meaningless. For some time he sat gazing stupidly at the paper....His small but childish handwriting straggled up and down the page, shedding first its capital letters and finally even its full stops:

April 4th, 1984.  Last night to the flicks. All war films. One very good one of a ship full of refugees being bombed somewhere in the Mediterranean. Audience much amused by shots of a great huge fat man trying to swim away with a helicopter after him, first you saw him wallowing along in the water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the helicopters gunsights, then he was full of holes and the sea round him turned pink and he sank as suddenly as though the holes had let in the water, audience shouting with laughter when he sank. then you saw a lifeboat full of children with a helicopter hovering over it. There was a middle-aged woman might have been a Jewess sitting up in the bow with a little boy about three years old in her arms. little boy screaming with fright and hiding his head between her breasts as if he was trying to burrow right into her and the woman putting her arms round him and comforting him although she was blue with fright herself. all the time covering him up as much as possible as if she thought her arms could keep the bullets off him. then the helicopter planted a 20 kilo bomb in among them terrific flash and the boat went all to matchwood. then there was a wonderful shot of a child's arm going up up up right up into the air a helicopter with a camera in its nose must have followed it up and there was a lot of applause from the party seats but a woman down in the prole part of the house suddenly started kicking up a fuss and shouting they didnt oughter of showed it not in front of kids they didnt it aint right not in front of kids it aint until the police turned her turned her out i dont suppose anything happened to her nobody cares what the proles say typical prole reaction they

Winston stopped writing, partly because he was suffering from cramp. He did not know what had made him pour out this stream of rubbish.--George Orwell  (1949) 1984, pp. 8-10 [typos and italics in original].

Recently I re-read and taught 1984. I was startled to be reminded that the opening set piece of the novel is the diary entry quoted above. When Orwell wrote the lines, memories of the catastrophic treatment of Jewish refugees were fresh to his audience, even if not Winston's contemporaries. Somehow I had completely suppressed the fact that readers are introduced to the essential lawlessness ("nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws") of Oceania and its inhumanity by way of its undisguised savage treatment of refugees. 

As an aside, this element of 1984 is more widely repressed. The lengthy and interesting wikipedia page devoted to 1984 makes no mention of refugees. And judging by scholar.google this aspect of 1984 is not of much interest.+

In the present (the actual 2018) navies shooting at refugees and killing refugees, or creating circumstances in which they are let to drown, are not uncommon in the Mediterranean (see here; and here). While the main intent is not, perhaps, to kill refugees, it is a foreseeable side-effect from a system of incentives designed to  keep them out of Europe. (In practice, the policy of disincentives is indiscriminate among refugees, asylum seekers, and economic migrants.) 

In one-non-trivial sense present reality is worse than Orwell imagined (for my admiration of his essays, see here and here). European governments are democratic, rule-governed, and, for the most part, their policies have the sanction of law. And while there is a part of the European public that prefers not to really know about such distasteful matters, there can be no doubt that a non-trivial part of the public -- increasingly xenophobic --would cheer these deaths on and reliably vote for parties promising these results.

I call this 'worse' because Oceania is a ruthless tyranny of the few (the elite of the inner party) -- although the few are also gripped by this tyranny --, and so the reader can imagine that the horrific behavior described in Orwell's set-piece is a consequence of the sort of propaganda that can only thrive in a tyranny. This thought is encouraged by Orwell because the set--piece seems to imply, in fact, that while Winston (part of the meritocratic elite, even if in the outer party) cheers on the killing, by contrast the natural sentiments of ordinary people, if left alone (as the 'Proles' are), are not fully corruptible.* But the sober reality, one that needs permanent reminding (as (recall) Judith Shklar correctly insisted), is that democratic politics -- even ones operating in a strong juridical framework  -- are also capable of horrific policies.

There is another sense in which the situation is worse today. Winston's predicament is, in part, that his diary words only can have meaning to his interrogator as means to torture him. (Because of the absence of law their status as evidence is irrelevant.) In other respects his words are utterly futile because (to put Winston's words in my terms) there is no implied audience for which they may be transformative. It is notable (and worth further reflection some other time) that in a future in which Oceania does not exist anymore he expects his predicament not to generate sympathy but to be meaningless.

The Mediterranean killings are happening among a people who pride themselves on free speech and the role of public opinion. Our civic religion, or ideology, is that we are capable of political change in virtue, at least in part, of the availability of public speech. But it's precisely (recall) unfettered (profitable) speech that sustains our inhumane policy. And the false lovers of freedom and democracy feel no shame.

*Before one accuses Orwell of romanticism of the proletariat, it should be noted that the woman does not object to the scene as such, but only to its suitability for children.

+Orwell's attitude toward Jews (recall this post on his essay on antisemitism) in 1984 is -- unsurprising given the prominence of Goldstein -- of considerable interest to scholars.

Maoist Rebel News on Nazi Coup Plot in Germany

I’ve absolutely no respect for Chairman Mao. Far from being a liberator, the former Chinese dictator was a ruthless butcher, who killed and brutalized millions during the ‘Cultural Revolution’. Over 60 million people died in the artificial famine his regime created. He and his comrades were also vandals and barbarians, who tried to destroy China’s millennia old culture by smashing monuments and priceless art treasures, as well as the ruthless persecution of religion, including Buddhism and Taoism, as well as Christianity.

But Jason Unruhe of Maoist Rebel News says some very interesting things and makes some very acute observations of contemporary capitalism. In this piece, he discusses reports, found only in the Mail and RT, that the German authorities discovered a Nazi plot by serving members of the armed forces to overthrow the government. The plot including 14,000 soldiers, who were members of Nazi organisations. It’s a trivial number compared to the vast numbers in the German armed forces, but it’s serious because they were genuine Nazis. In the event of widespread unrest, the plotters in the military planned to leave the civilian government to its fate, and start re-opening concentration camps, in which they would incarcerate leftists and members of ethnic minorities.

Unruhe notes that this story seems to have been comprehensively buried by all of the media, with the exception of the two above, because of its explosive nature. He also states that we don’t know how many people have been arrested. This is a serious threat to democracy and justice in Germany. It means anti-Fascists have to become better organized and equipped, with German antifas now in a dangerous position. This plot means that they are Europe’s first and best line of defence against a real Nazi resurgence.

I can’t say I’m surprised at the high number of real Nazis in Germany’s military. The Baader-Meinhof Gang in the 1970s were spurred on to carry out their terror attacks from the realization that the denazification campaign after the War had only affected a comparatively small number of those serving Hitler’s vile regime. Many others had escaped, and despite their horrific crimes were living peaceful, comfortable lives. The British and Americans recruited Nazi agents and collaborators, including men responsible for vicious pogroms and massacres against Jews, for the intelligence agencies during the Cold War. It thus really wouldn’t surprise me if they let many Nazi members of the armed forces keep their jobs in the Cold War as part of Europe’s defence against Stalin. Just as they set up Gladio, a left-behind resistance network that would fight Communism if the Warsaw Pact successfully invaded and conquered the West. The feared invasion mercifully never happened, but various elements of the Gladio network were involved in far right-wing terrorism. It’s possible something similar could have been behind the persistence of real Nazism in the armed forces. Also, the neo-Nazi papers on sale in the eastern parts of the Federal Republic after the War styled themselves as the newspapers for soldiers and peasants.

Fascism is now a very real threat in Europe, with the election of Far-right wing parties to power in Poland, Hungary and other countries in eastern Europe, Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France, and the Fascist Alternative fuer Deutschland on the rise in Germany. The leaders and senior members of the latter do have Nazi, or neo-Nazi connections. They’ve made speeches denouncing Germany’s Holocaust memorial as a ‘national shame’, and declared that if they got into power they’d open an underground railway to Auschwitz.

But I’m not as pessimistic as Unruhe is here. I got the distinct impression that young Germans are very anti-totalitarian, and that German anarchists, who are very ready to fight Fascism on the streets, are very well organized.

This is, of course, if there’s anything to this story at all. I think it probably is true, but it may be fake news concocted for some strange reason, and released only by those two sources. I also wonder about the figures involved. 14,000 sounds very high. I’m not sure that the National Democrats or the German Republican Party, two of the main neo-Nazi parties before the AfD a few years ago, had anywhere near that number of members. They certainly didn’t have much popular support, as they always came very low down the list in German elections, although the NDP did manage to get something like four members elected to the Reichstag or somewhere in Germany before they were banned.

But if this is true, then it’s a frightening demonstration of how serious a threat Fascism now is. It has to be fought wherever it’s found, right across Europe, before it seizes power again and begins another Holocaust.

Book Review: Five Heads (Tavan Tolgoi): Art, Anthropology and Mongol Futurism edited by Hermione Spriggs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/11/2018 - 1:38am in

In Five Heads (Tavan Tolgoi): Art, Anthropology and Mongol Futurism, editor Hermione Spriggs brings together visual and verbal documentation of five art-anthropology exchange processes alongside further reflections on Mongolian art and culture, deep time and the art-anthropology hybrid. Situating itself within the ‘chaotic forces of transition’ shaping Mongolia, this collaborative effort not only offers insight into contemporary Mongolia, but also future-orientated and hopeful encounters, finds Lilly Markaki

Five Heads (Tavan Tolgoi): Art, Anthropology and Mongol Futurism. Hermione Spriggs (ed.). Sternberg Press. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

What does the future look like, or feel like, from the perspective of a yak in the coal-mining district of Khovd? From the perspective of a Mongolian root extracted, illegally traded and sold internationally as a pharmaceutical product? Or from that of the toolkit of an urban shaman securing economic futures for professional women in Ulaanbaatar? (back cover)

In discussing the criteria of interpretation ‘of things that are in the world’, Umberto Eco once noted that while a table can be perceived to be many things – ‘a desk, a chair, a dining table, a support for a surgical intervention […] a mere ensemble of atoms, and even as a raft in case of shipwreck’ – it can hardly be interpreted as a vehicle for transportation between different places: one simply does not use a table ‘to travel from Athens to Thessaloniki’. It would be interesting to know what the Italian author’s position would have been on the object that is the book, given the difficulty, especially, of separating the latter from its contents. Examined from a material perspective, books, like tables, surely have limits: they are designed for readers, not passengers. Still, somehow, books often exceed this physical boundary, allowing us to be in two places at the same time, transported as we read. It is to this category of magical objects that the little book in question here, Five Heads (Tavan Tolgoi): Art, Anthropology and Mongol Futurism edited by Hermione Spriggs, belongs.

Conceived in parallel with the homonymous exhibition at greengrassi & Corvi-Mora in London, itself part of UCL’s European Research Council-funded project Emerging Subjects of the New Economy, the book presents visual and verbal documentation of five art-anthropology exchange processes. Each with a different focus, these ‘five heads’ are accompanied in the volume by further written contributions on Mongolian art and culture, deep time and the art-anthropology hybrid. Together, the different kinds of thinking and seeing interlaced here assemble a transportation device, enabling the reader to travel not only through different regions of Mongolia, but also backwards and forwards in time, into different moments from the country’s lifetime.

Image Credit: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (Francisco Anzola CC BY 2.0)

In the early 1990s, and following the country’s Democratic Revolution which saw the end of a 70-year-long period of Communist rule, Mongolia transitioned from a single-party political system to a socialist, multi-party one. This transformation was accompanied by both constitutional and market reforms, with the latter leading, gradually, to the development of a free, largely privatised economy. On 1 July 1997 and in order to further accelerate growth, the Mongolian government introduced a number of revised provisions to its Mineral Resources, Foreign Investment and Tax laws, encouraging foreign participation and investment in the country’s mining activities. Having tapped into its mineral resources, by 2011 Mongolia was, as Spriggs and Rebecca Empson note in their introduction to Five Heads, ‘the fastest growing economy in the world’ (6). Yet the sudden boom was followed by an equally dramatic fall, and by 2015 the country found itself dealing not only with increasing external debt, but also with a landscape altered to such a degree that it now threatened the nomadic heritage it once sustained and with which Mongolia is, to this day, associated in global imagination:

Once again delegated to the periphery, and cast as just another story of what could have been, Mongolian people are now trying to put themselves and their country back together and envisage a new kind of future (6).

It is here, ‘in the midst of these chaotic forces of transition’ (6), that the collaborative effort that is Five Heads positions itself, in an attempt to offer not only a comprehensive image of contemporary Mongolia, but also hope. The art-anthropology collaborations and accompanying essays in the book are, thus, future-oriented: they are structured, as Empson and Spriggs tell us in their introduction, around a principle of exchange found in Mongolia, whereby a fragment of something in the process of departing – person, animal or thing – is separated from its root and preserved so that not all is lost, but the departure marks only a new beginning: ‘The fragment that remains generates further fortune and so calls into being new things’ (7).

Exactly how it is that each of the volume’s sections performs this fortune-calling ritual would be impossible to summarise in this instance – something itself astonishing, given the book’s small size. The pages of Five Heads are, furthermore, rich in noteworthy passages and, having read the book, I am also left with the impression that there is something for everyone in it. Some of my own favourite moments come from the diary-like, ethnographic texts in the book – that of Lauren Bonilla, for example, whose entry, ‘Dusty Encounters in Boom-Time Tsogttsetsii’, opens with the lines: ‘It is April 2012 in Tsogttsetsii, and dust is everywhere. There are days when thick dust storms roll across the landscape like an approaching tidal wave coloured in shades of yellow, red and brown…’ (56). Or of Rebekah Plueckhahn when, in ‘Bodies in Between: Free Workers and Urban Possibilities’, she writes (also in present tense):

In Zuun Ail, newer forms of apartment housing rise up overshadowing older, smaller Soviet housing, while other land plots are cleared of inhabitants but the ground is left vacant as developments stall […] On the main street sits a hudaldaany töv, a seller’s ‘‘centre” housing a large number of small scale traders naimaachid, who sell construction supplies. However, the wide, steep, stone steps leading up to this building hold a different purpose. Here, a number of […] chölööt ajilchid, or ‘‘free workers,’’ itinerant day-labourers, gather each day to wait in the hopes of gaining temporary construction work […] They create a ‘‘public’’ space for themselves in between the overlapping, contesting and shifting private boundaries in this landscape in-the-making (15-18).

Indeed, all of the ethnographic entries in Five Heads, supported as they are by their equally significant artistic counterparts, give us not only images, but also a sense of what the sites and people they encounter feel and even sound like – with the Mongolian equivalent of words often given in the text – allowing us to imagine that we, too, are or were once there, experiencing the dust blocking our throats or holding in our hands the Fang Feng root that Amina and her family now illegally gather and sell in order to survive (134-38).

Produced by scholars working in various fields, the other essays in the volume too have much to offer, provoking a great deal of thinking and at moments also an emotional response. An example of this is, for me, Richard D.G. Irvine’s essay, ‘Seeing Environmental Violence in Deep Time: Perspectives from Contemporary Mongolian Literature and Music’. Despite the incongruity between time as humanly experienced and the deep time registered and narrated by geological processes, the two, Irvine argues in this essay, are intimately connected:

Human stories of life, of production and reproduction, are not only situated within wider genealogies which expand the life history in time through kinship, but on an active, constitutive relationship with the resources upon which we depend, whose formation stretches over time-spans which appear to dwarf that of a human life and yet are necessarily present – either recognised or unrecognised – in our economic and social activity (67)

The biographical time of anthropology comes into contact with deep time in and through our relationship with the land that we inhabit, so that deep time, ‘the temporality of the landscape’, is, in the end, ‘made intimate in each life as a home’ (68-69). It should come as no surprise, then, that shifts in land use, such as the ones Mongolia has been witnessing since the early 1990s, raise not only ecological concern, but translate also into fear regarding the very identity of the nation.

This latter anxiety is one that Irvine explores here through its manifestations in lyrical expression, including the 2011 ‘Leave me my homeland’ by Mongolian rapper Gee. ‘I fear that we see the future where Mongolia will be called a desert’ (71), we hear at one point, while the video, Irvine explains, ‘shows Mongolians of the future left wandering through a barren geology trying to piece together a history from what they find buried in the dust’ (73). At the heart of all this, and of the other examples discussed in the essay, is ‘a concern about continuity of descent through time’ (82). Irvine writes:

To quote Gee, ‘‘Our fathers never abandoned us/But we have forgotten our own children.’’ This is what shocks in the image of a future homeland that has become dust; […] It points to the disquieting possibility of a future in which such relationality cannot be read into the landscape, in which nutag [the homeland] cannot be traced. What is left is uncertainty: what kind of life is possible when the deep past and future of life and land is obscured? (82)

The question of what life will or can look like from the perspective of a future determined by ecological devastation – or what Irvine, after Rob Nixon, calls ‘slow violence’ (73) – is of course not specific to Mongolia and, as in so many other moments in this book, the particular connects here to the universal. But if the crisis of the οἶκος concerns us all, so does Irvine’s observation that the future, as precisely that which has not yet happened, can still be saved. ‘Rather than focus on the post-apocalyptic destruction that late capitalism leaves in its wake’, Spriggs and Empson state earlier in their introduction, ‘we have – in the encounters you will experience here – exposed the seeds of possibility for new worlds to come into being’ (9). And this, I think, is why Five Heads deserves our attention.

Lilly Markaki is a PhD researcher in Media Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London.In 2014, she graduated from the University of Glasgow’s Art; Politics; Transgression: 20th Century Avant-Gardes MLitt programme, having previously received a BA in Art History from the same institution. Focusing on the notion of ‘radical art’, her research includes and extends to a variety of topics, incorporating branches of philosophy, political theory, aesthetics, science and technology. Read more by Lilly Markaki.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


Museum outreach and accueil

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 26/11/2018 - 2:56pm in

Tags 

art

Art museums all over are much concerned to broaden their audiences across racial, ethnic, and age cohorts, with innovative programming, better labels and signs, docent tours, more seating in the galleries, and other ways to make visitors, but especially new visitors, feel qualified to attend and welcome.  They have a long way to go, but the trend is in the right direction.

One interface important to a good visit experience is a café or restaurant. This is a little tricky, because food preferences differ across income and education strata, and between kids and grownups. But it’s not that tricky, and not an excuse for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s highlight-reel own goal, the new In Situ restaurant.

The nice ground-floor cafeteria with ordinary art museum food (interesting salads, carrot cake, pesto chicken sandwiches; that sort of thing) has been displaced by an experiment that truly beggars belief.  The museum rented the space to, or hired, a locally famous chef (who has a Michelin three-star place in the city), and together they imagined a sort of international food museum  with a dish each from a couple of dozen restaurants around the world. This is not intrinsically ill-conceived, but it may be a hint of what’s to come that the name of the restaurant exactly contradicts its actuality; all the food, displaced from its origins, is exactly not in situ.

The lunch experience begins with a menu written by someone who doesn’t know the difference between like and as, but museum people are more visual types than verbal, and we didn’t come to eat the menu. The décor is extremely spare and the service at the dangerous border of unctuous and pretentious; in case we didn’t realize how good it was (the food took 40 minutes to arrive) a 20% “charge”, which might be a tip for the staff but then again, might just be a charge, is added to the bill.  What we tried of the food is good upper-end, far from “wow, you have to try this!” but the real distinction of this establishment is the combination of stupefying prices (think of coming to the museum with two kids and lunching here; you do the math) and portions that demand real creativity to describe. Imagine a restaurant run by someone who thinks food is the most expensive input to putting a plate before a diner, so the less of it you use compared to, say, labor, the better.

The carrot soup is served in a shot glass (really). The dadinhos are as follows:

The “Slow cooked farm egg” is just that, one egg, in a little cup, on a bed of crumbs of the other ingredients. (How reassuring, though, to know it wasn’t a gymnasium, coal mine, hospital or some otherwise sourced egg!) How much does an egg cost wholesale, even an actual farm egg?  A carrot?

Naturally, I had to try my namesake’s “Emancipation”.  It is indeed emancipated, for example from any accompanying starch or vegetable, and far from a main “course”,  just a smallish hunk of fish, served over a stingy Franz Kline-esque dribble of soot sauce [actually I like seppie in inchiostro and other ink dishes] on an enormous plate, with some fried potato crumbles on top. Definitely not a side of fries; some crumbles:

We left, poorer, wiser, and starving, to hit the café on the fifth floor  for enough additional actual food to constitute a meal. Altogether at least an hour and a half not looking at art, which is what we mainly came for. Remember, this establishment is listed as “restaurant” on the museum signs and maps; it isn’t an alien presence that happens to rent a shop on the street.

What population’s  can the SFMOMA brass possibly be hoping to embrace on return visits with this arrogant, pretentious, overpriced, disaster? I was pleased to see that on a holiday Saturday, the place was almost empty, this encourages my hope that it will be gone and replaced with a serious enterprise that doesn’t simultaneously insult, starve, and beggar me by my next visit.

The art bubble

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/11/2018 - 3:26am in

Tags 

art, Economics

A David Hockney painting has sold for $90m , and it couldn’t happen* to a nicer guy. Actually I have no idea whether Hockney is nice, but he’s certainly an endlessly interesting, provocative artist with whose work I never tire of engaging.

*In fact it didn’t happen to him: I think he’s doing OK, but this sale was by a speculator/collector and it didn’t put this awesome sum into the artist’s pocket.

What, though, does this event mean? Philip Kennicott reflects on the event in WaPo. He explores two questions, one right and interesting (how can a painting be worth so much money?) and the other partly wrong (is it right to spend so much on a painting when there are homeless and all the other real needs?).

OK, let’s consider the first one. As far as we know, what was sold was the physical chattel; not the copyright for reproductions or web posting, not the right to think about it while writing blog posts, not the right for other artists to riff on it in future work. An asset’s value is the discounted time stream of the economic value it can create put to its best use, and the best use of a physical painting, once it has been photographed to create a high-resolution file for various purposes, is to hang on a wall and be looked at by people. The economic value thereby created is in the heads of that audience.

If we put that Hockney to work like any other asset, a dozen people might practically be engaging with it at once (it’s fairly big).  On exhibition eight hours a day, every day of the year, that’s 12 x 365 x 8 = about 35,000 person-hours of engagement per year. The Mona Lisa maybe gets this level of attention, but it’s an upper bound on our estimate for sure. I have seen Hockneys, including this one, on display in several first-class museums and there are rarely more than a half dozen people looking at any of them.

An asset worth $90m has to return about $4.5m worth of value per year at 5%, so for this painting, the viewers have to think it worth $130 per hour.  Good seats at the opera cost about that, but they aren’t eight hours a day all year. Again, twelve people at a time (however long each stands in front of the work), all day every day, forever.

Obviously this whole story is a fantasy; no-one would spend real money on a proposition like this (and if a museum bought it to display, the trustees and the responsible curators need some remedial reality training).  Prices like this are speculative “bigger fool” bets; someone expects to sell it for more than $90m–but this just moves the question one buyer down the line. If an asset doesn’t eventually create value commensurate with its price, we’re talking about tulip bulbs and the sociology of a chain of fools, not economics and not art.

Kennicott’s second question implicitly compares the sale to different ways the $90m could be spent, but this importantly confuses price and cost. When a rich person (or anyone) sells a painting to someone else, no cost has been incurred; the buyer has just transferred control over a bunch of assets to the seller, and control over the painting went the other way. No economic resource–not human labor, not paint and canvas, not sandwiches–is been used up (as it would  if someone commissioned a new work of art, perhaps an enormous outdoor sculpture, that actually cost $90m to make), and the world is no less able to house the homeless or cure cancer or offer public concerts.

It is true that the buyer could have done all sorts of good work with that money, and then real resources (the staff time of his foundation, or the medicine he might ship to Yemen) would be used up and not available for something else. We might well explore the psychology of someone rich enough to buy this painting who prefers to use his money to show off to his rich friends in this way, but that’s a different issue.  Where Kennicott’s question really does bite is when a museum makes a purchase of this kind, or someone gives it the painting instead of a check for $90m as Kennicott hopes, because to the museum, that’s really a cost. Within its scope of action, there’s $90m less to…to…well, there’s quite a list: conserve the art it already owns, build 90,000 more square feet of gallery to show lots more paintings in, hire educators and curators to increase the value of visitors’ engagement, bring its future visitors (school kids) to the museum to get them addicted to art, put on classes for amateur painters…the mind reels. What we know is that there’s no chance possessing that painting will create $90m of value. Especially $90m of net value, because it will displace some other painting from the wall, out of sight into storage where it will no longer be looked at.

Pierre Bourdieu described a consequential, if not important, function of art: it’s ammunition in a stalemated war between élites of money and of education for social dominance. Today’s art prices are evidence of that exercise running wild in a new gilded age, and the “art market” is a financial bubble in which “success” has almost nothing to do with the art itself, or for that matter engagement with it as art. After all, so much of the art is sitting unseen in Swiss warehouses like gold bricks in Fort Knox , while ignorant, insecure millionaires trade titles to it for fun, like Monopoly houses.

Jai Singh’s Observatory in India: A Great Location for Dr. Who

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 18/11/2018 - 9:13pm in

Maharaja Jai Singh’s observatory in Jaipur, as photographed by the Archaeological Survey of India

Last week on Dr. Who, the Doctor and her friends traveled back seventy years to the partition of India to uncover the secret of Yas’ grandmother’s marriage. Yas is surprised to find that the man her gran, a Muslim married, was a Hindu. And as nationalism and ethnic tensions surged on both sides, her groom was murdered by his own brother as a traitor. Yas’ gran survived, and held on to the watch her husband of only a few hours had given her as a treasured token of their doomed love.

It was a story of family history, doomed romance set against the bloodshed of the Partition, which resulted in 4 million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs being slaughtered in bloody massacres. And its central theme was the inevitability of history, as Yas could do nothing to save her gran’s first husband. It was similar in this respect to the Classic Star Trek episode, ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’. Written by Harlan Ellison, this had Spock, Kirk and McCoy travel back to Depression-era America. There Kirk falls in love with a woman running a soup kitchen. But she’s an opponent of America entering the war in Europe, who dies in car accident. If she lives, America will not enter World War II, and humanity will never go to the stars. Kirk is thus faced with the terrible necessity of letting the woman he loves die in order to preserve history.

It’s a good story, though I would have preferred one with a bit more science in it. The two aliens that appear, who the Doctor first believes are assassins and responsible for the murder of the Hindu holy man, who was to marry the happy couple, turn out instead to have reformed. Returning to find their homeworld had been destroyed, the two now travel through the universe to witness the deaths of those who pass unnoticed. They reminded me of the Soul Hunters in Babylon 5, an alien race, who travel through the universe to extract and preserve the souls of the dying at the moment of death. They are interested in ‘dreamers, poets, thinkers, blessed lunatics’, creative visionaries whose genius they want to preserve against dissolution.

Dr. Who has a tradition of the Doctor going back in time to meet important figures of the past. One such influential figure in India was Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur, who constructed great observatories in Jaipur and Delhi. As you can see from the piccy at the top, the measuring instruments used in astronomy at the time were built out of stone there. To my eyes, the observatories thus have the shape of the weird, alien architecture portrayed by SF artists like Chris Foss, as if they were monuments left by some strange future extraterrestrial civilization.

B.V. Subbarayappa, in his ‘Indian Astronomy: an historical perspective’, in S.K. Biswas, D.C.V. Mallik and C.V. Viveshwara, eds., Cosmic Perspectives: Essays dedicated to the memory of M.K.V. Bappu pp.41-50, writes of the Maharaja

In this respect, special mention needs to be made of Majaraja Sawai Jai Sing II (1688-1743) of Jaipur, who was not only an able king but also a skilled astronomer and patron of learning. He built five observatories in different locations in Northern India. The observatories now standing majestic and serene in Jaipur and Delhi bear testimony to his abiding interest in astronomy and to his efforts for augmenting the astronomical tradition with an open-mindedness. The observatory at Jaipur has a large number of instruments – huge sun-dials, hemispherical dial, meridian circle, a graduated meridianal arc, sextants, zodiacal complex, a circular protractor (which are masonry instruments), as well as huge astrolabes. Sawai Jai Singh II meticulously studied the Hindu, Arabic and the European systems of astronomy. He was well aware of Ptolemy’s Almagest (in its Arabic version), as also the works of Central Asian astronomers – Nasir al-Din at-Tusi, Al-Gurgani, Jamshid Kashi and, more importantly, of Ulugh Bek – the builder of the Samarqand observatory. In fact, it was the Samarqand school of astronomy that appears to have been a great source of inspiration to Jai Singh in his astronomical endeavours.

No less was his interest in European astronomy. In his court was a French Jesuit missionary who was an able astronomer and whom Jai Singh sent to Europe to procure for him some of the important contemporary European works on astronomy. He studied Flansteed’s Historia Coelestis Britannica, La Hire’s Tabula Astronomicae and other works. He was well aware ot he use of telescope in Europe and he spared no efforts in having small telescopes constructed in his own city. In the introduction to his manum opus, Zij Muhammad Shahi, which is preserved both in Persian and Sanskrit, he has recorded that telescopes were being constructed during his lifetime and that he did make use of a telescope for observing the sun-spots, the four moons of Jupiter, phases of Mercury and Venus, etc. However, in the absence of a critical evaluation of his treatise, it is rather difficult to opine whether Jai Singh was able to determine the planetary positions or movements with the help of a telescope and whether he recorded them. No positive evidence has yet been unearthed.

The principal court astronomer of Jai Singh II was Jagganatha who was not only well versed in Arabic and Persian but also a profound scholar of Hindu astronomy. He translated Ptolemy’s Almagest and Euclid’s Elements from their Arabic versions into Sanskrit. The Samrat Siddhanta, the Sanskrit title of the Almagest, is indeed a glorious example of the open-mindedness and generous scientific attitude of Indian astronomers. (pp. 36-8).

It would be brilliant if there was a Dr. Who story using this fascinating, historic location, but as it’s almost certainly a prized national monument, I doubt very much the Beeb would be allowed to film there. Still, perhaps something could be done using CGI and a lot of imagination.

Disgusted by Mike’s Kangroo Court Trial

Yesterday Mike had his hearing before a Labour party tribunal in Wales to decide the charge against him of being an anti-Semite. As is clear to anyone who reads anything Mike has actually written, rather than lies put out by a corrupt, mendacious press and the Israel lobby, an anti-Semite is the very last thing Mike is. He isn’t at all racist or prejudiced, as a gay friend of his tried to make clear to three men, who suspiciously approached him last week wanting to talk to him about the charge. Mike found that encounter extremely suspicious. They knew him by name, though he’d never met them, and claimed that they’d read about him in the papers, although as Mike wrote on his blog, he only featured in them in May last year, 2017. That’s a long time ago. It could all have been perfectly innocuous, but Mike wondered if they weren’t there to intimidate him in the last few days before he defended himself. It’s quite possible. It also wouldn’t have surprised me if they weren’t private detectives hired by someone to see if they couldn’t dig any dirt on him. It’d be odd, but it’s not unknown.

And then there was the trial itself. As Mike has said in detail in his blog, it was a complete kangaroo court. They had no evidence against him whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada, nichts, and nitchevo. But it didn’t matter. They were obviously determined to find him guilty. I have absolutely no doubt Mike defended himself to the very best of his ability, and that, were it a properly constituted court of law, he would have won the case. Either that, or even now his lawyers would be filing objections to a miscarriage of justice. But this is the Labour party witch hunt against Corbynites, so truth didn’t matter.

What apparently did matter was how his comments appeared, especially to the ‘Jewish community’. As the numerous left-wing Jewish bloggers on the internet have said with great clarity, there is no monolithic Jewish community. Judaism has always been a community of different opinions and views, as shown by the old Jewish adage, ‘Two Jews, three opinions’. The group the press have chosen to present as Britain’s Jewish community are the official, Jewish Zionist establishment, the Chief Rabbi and Board of Deputies of British Jews. Which basically represents the United Synagogue and no-one else. They don’t represent the secular Jewish community, nor Orthodox Jews. The Board of Deputies of British Jews is solidly Zionist, as defined by their constitution. So they don’t represent non- or anti-Zionist Jews. Tony Greenstein has also cited proper sociological studies from respected scholars, which show that British Jews are almost wholly upper middle class. This doesn’t mean that British Jews are all Conservatives by any means, but those making the smears of anti-Semitism certainly are, as you can see from the political bias of the Jewish Chronicle. It’s a Conservative, business-oriented, religious establishment using anti-Semitism as a tool for smearing its opponents because they threaten them as Socialists seeking to empower ordinary people – which includes Jews – and support the Palestinians in their desperate search for justice against Israeli oppression. And this Conservative, Zionist Jewish establishment is closely interwoven with the Blairites in the Labour party. Blair’s followers are a minority, and always were. But they control the party bureaucracy, or at least key positions in it.

And in that position, they behave as the Stalinists they revile Corbyn’s supporters of being. Before Stalin came to power, the position of General Secretary in the Communist party was a relatively minor post. The secretary was there basically to make sure that only those of good character were party members. Which is incredible, I know, given the bloody history of the Russian Communist party and its satellites in eastern Europe. They gave it to Stalin, because everybody thought he was thick, and would be satisfied with the post. His job would be to throw out the drunks and seducers. Instead, Stalin used his position to purge the party of his opponents, and cram it with his supporters. As the old butcher said, ‘It’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes.’

And this has been the strategy the Blairites and their allies, the Israel lobby, have adopted in attacking genuine, Socialist Labour party members. They’ve launched a purge of the party, using anti-Semitism and other, equally vague charges as the pretext to get rid of awkward members. And so they have smeared decent, anti-racist men and women. Not just Mike, but also Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker, two people of colour, who have been dedicated anti-racists that have consistently battled bigotry and Fascism. Just like Ken Livingstone, who is also no anti-Semite, as is shown very clearly in his book, Livingstone’s Labour. Like Tony Greenstein, a Jewish member of the party, like Walker, and like her and Wadsworth, also an ardent opponent of Fascism. And there are so many people like them. As I’ve pointed out, ad nauseam, the decent people they’ve smeared as anti-Semites and worse include self-respecting Jews, people who have suffered real anti-Semitism, including assault. People who lost family members in the Shoah, or whose parents were lucky enough to survive the horrors of the camps. People, who should never be insulted with such smears.

And some of the charges are risible. One man was accused of being an anti-Semite, because he posted a photo-shopped image of a jobcentre sign saying, ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’. This was the slogan above the gates of Auschwitz and the other concentration camps. It means roughly ‘Work Makes You Free’. Which is the attitude of the Tory party. One of them even wrote a newspaper article using the phrase, until someone spotted it and realized that quoting Nazi slogans against those they persecuted wasn’t going to go down too well with the British public, and the offending paragraphs were removed. And the concentration camps didn’t just contain Jews. They held others the Nazis considered politically or biologically undesirable, like Socialists, trade unionists, Communists, prostitutes, recidivist criminals, the mentally ill, Russian prisoners of war and other slave workers from the Slav peoples, and Romanies. The charge against this fellow was so weak it could have been blown over in a light wind. But nevertheless, he was accused and convicted by people, who had already decided the answer.

It’s also very clear from Mike’s article that they didn’t like him refuting their attacks on other party members in public. This was bringing the party into disrepute. In fact they did that the moment they made their false accusations. The overwhelming concern here, it seems, was to preserve the reputation of the people further up the party, who made the accusations. It’s a very, very authoritarian attitude. Important people have spoken – don’t contradict them! And, to quote the Japanese proverb, the nail that stands up must be hammered down. Blair and his cronies always were authoritarian, centralizing power around them and making it very clear that dissent from Old Labour would very definitely not be tolerated. And so they were determined not to let their superiors be embarrassed by having the public shown the facts.

And it was clear from their choice of chair that Mike was never going to get a fair hearing. The person is charge was Maggie Cousins, who has form in these matters. From what I gather, this is what she does. She presides over these kangaroo courts as a kind of corporate hatchetwoman.

This was, ultimately, a PR stunt to reassure a Zionist Jewish establishment, that will never tolerate a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn, no matter what concessions are made to it, and a wider, Tory media that is seizing on any and every possible opportunity to misrepresent the Labour party as a threat to society.

I’m very impressed by Mike’s speech to them, citing Stan ‘the Man’ Lee, the creator of Marvel Comic’s superheroes with ‘Jolly’ Jack Kirby. Lee, Kirby and the majority of the creators of America’s comics industry were Jews. Lee’s real name was Stanley Martin Leiber. Kirby’s was Jake Kurzberg. There was little specifically Jewish in the comics, except that occasionally there was the odd Yiddish word or two. But there was a concern for the marginalized, and racially persecuted. This was shown in metaphorical form in the X-Men, an underground of young mutants, feared and persecuted for their special powers by outside society, and in more overt forms when Blaxsploitation emerged in the ’70s, and Marvel gave us heroes like Powerman, alias Luke Cage, hero for hire, the Black Panther, Brother Voodoo and more. And as I’ve described before, the tales did show very clearly how the Nazis regarded and treated Jews, albeit in science fictional form. These strips together preached an anti-racist message, which could sometimes be overt, as when the Black Panther went up against the Klan, or when an Adolf Hitler clone took the guise of the Hatemonger to turn Americans against each other. These were the comics Mike and I read as kids, and which definitely influenced us. They taught racial tolerance, respect and co-operation, and that bigotry, racism and oppression must be fought and defeated, at all times, everywhere. And Stan and his fellow inmates of the merry Marvel madhouse spread that vital message through the medium of popular literature – the comics. They aren’t great literature, although there’s some truly great writing and superb art in a medium that has often been critically reviled and disparaged. But they were read and enjoyed by millions, and in their way helped to make Anglophone society more tolerant. That’s Stan’s legacy to the world, which Mike duly paid tribute to in his speech at the end.

RIP, Stan Lee, a true titan of the four-colour funny papers.

It’s disgusting that Mike, and so many others have been treated this way by a party that should be defending people like him and the others against a predatory, Conservative establishment. Rather than propping up it up with lies, smears and derisory pretence at justice, presided over by faceless bureaucrats and cynical, moral cowards.

Mike’s made it very clear that he will fight on to clear his name and redress this gross injustice. I wish him all the best, as I do everyone else, who has been smeared by these bullying moral vacuities.

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