Rich People Don’t Go To Jail They Go To Inquiries

The Pussy Riot Trial

Madonna in Moscow supporting Pussy Riot

I never thought I’d say this, but massive respect to Madonna¬†for her stunt supporting Pussy Riot. People like Yoko Ono and Sting have made statements in support of the band and stuff, but only Madonna went to Russia personally and performed in front of a crowd of thousands of people with their name scrawled across her fucking back! I know she’s a master of cynically using controversy for her own publicity and everything, but fair play to her for this one – I just hope it makes sufficient impact. The fact that sentencing has been delayed may indicate that they are wavering under growing public support for Pussy Riot’s plight.

Madonna’s performance certainly seems to have offended the right people, with a Russian deputy Prime Minister (and former ambassador to NATO) tweeting “With age, every former slut tries to lecture everyone on morality” and a priest from the Russian Orthodox church urging believers to call in bomb threats to disrupt the gig! It sounds like they are clutching at straws to me. You can read more on this in The Guardian.

Pussy Riot’s closing statements yesterday took the form of a rousing speech against the authoritarian regime in Russia, leaving no doubt in my mind that these women are true freedom fighters and intelligent artists who have been demonized as part of a wider crackdown on dissent in the country.

Pussy Riot - Illegally held in custody

The closing statements from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in trial. 8 august 2012:

“Yesterday (on the 7th of August according to the website lenta.ru) Madonna’s performance took place. Madonna performed with the inscription “Pussy Riot” on her back. More and more people see that we are kept in pre-trial prison illegally and because of an absolutely false accusation. I am astounded by it. I am astounded by the fact that truth really triumphs over lies though we are physically here, in the cage. We are freer than all the people sitting opposite us on the side of the prosecution because we can say everything we want and we do it. As for the people from the side of the prosecution, they say only words passed by a political censor. They can’t say such words as “punk-prayer” and “Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin!” They can’t say the lines from our punk-prayer that are related to the political system. They probably think that another reason why we are to be put into prison is our rebellion against Putin and his system. But they can’t say it because they are prohibited to do it. Their mouths are sewn. Unfortunately, they are just puppets at this trial. I hope they will realize it and will also head for freedom, truth and sincerity because all this is more important than static nature, affected decency and hypocrisy.

Because we don’t really have religious hatred, and never had it, our accusers have no choice but to resort to using a false witnesses. One of them – Motilda Ivashchenko -got ashamed and did not appear in court. And there is no more evidence of our hatred and enmity, in addition to this so-called expertise. Therefore, the court, if it would be honest and fair, must admit inadmissible evidence, due to the fact that this is not a rigorous scientific and objective text, rather dirty and mendacious piece of paper times of medieval inquisition.

Prosecution is ashamed to voice excerpts from lyrics by PussyRiot, because they are in fact the evidence of the lack of motive. I’ll present you this excerpt here, I think it’s very valuable. It’s from the interview for the “Russian Reporter” magazine, that was given on the next day after the performance in the Chuch of Jesus The Savior: “We feel great respect to any religion and to orthodoxy in particular, that’s why we’re so distressed about that, so great and so positive as it is, Christian Philosophy is being used in such a filthy way. Our brain is getting blown out by that all this beauty is being now used from the back. All of this is quite painful to observe.

14:47 In the end I’d like to quote one of the Pussy Riot’s songs, as if curiously enough all of them turned to be fateful. Including the one which says: “Head of the KGB, their major saint, guides the protesters to detention under escort”.

15:06 And what I’m going to quote right now is this very line: “Open all doors, take off your shoulder straps, feel the air of freedom with us”.”

Good luck Pussy Riot, you have our love and respect.

Free Pussy Riot Now!

Digital Amnesty

That bruise-coloured ceiling of floating misery

“Apologies for swearing in an opening sentence, but have you seen the shitbastard sky we’ve been having lately? In case you don’t recognise it at first glance, it’s that bruise-coloured ceiling of floating misery that has been remorselessly flinging cold water over everyone and everything in the nation for weeks now. There’s moss growing on the inside of clouds up there. The British summer has long been a work of bleak fiction but this year it morphed into full-blown dystopian satire…”

Charlie Brooker is back to full form with a miserablist masterpiece on the shitty british summer. Cheered me up anyway!

Have a goose

Rap News 13

Orwellian Doublespeak Queen speech

Another great rant from Chunky Mark ūüôā

The Means to Inform

egyptian-internet-revolution-through-pictures

The crucial opposing factor in informing the general populace of “the truth” has always been the ownership and control of the means of dissemination by a very limited class with very different interests and motives than the bulk of the population in any given country. And this means that it would be universally extremely unlikely to be allowed access via any form of Mass Media (to socialists in a capitalist society for example). And, in the same way the bureaucracies in the so-called ‘socialist countries’ such as the Soviet Union and China, were in a similar position, and thus determined exactly what was allowed to be delivered to their populations at large.

Read more on the SHAPE Blog

NHS Carve-up… the Spending of Public Money. A Couple of Well-Worded Links!


This¬†succinct¬†map and the article that goes with it is to be found on this blog, a terrifying¬†indication of the rapid onset of privatisation of our NHS… important if very depressing information…

I thought I would include this guy too- expresses his anger at the spending of public money better then I could muster without quite blowing a fuse…

 

Black March is coming…

black march

I’m a musician and DJ, I help to run a record label and have been involved in running live music events, promoting independent music and writing about it online for many years – I love music and the people that make it, but I don’t have much love for the music ‘industry’. Like most big business entertainment, the music biz leeches off the hard working and the talented, makes huge profits and routinely fucks over both the artist and the consumer.

Have a look at this link if you are still in any doubt about who this parasitic behemoth really benefits. It aint the musician.

These are the people that are lobbying governments worldwide to monitor online content, censor and remove websites they don’t like, and they support the introduction of draconian litigation such as the now infamous SOPA, PIPA and PCIPA bills, to defend their industry.

While I completely support the musician’s right to earn a living from their craft, clamping down on internet freedom is not the way to defend it. A free internet is vital for a free world. If governments and corporations have increased powers over internet content that freedom is threatened. The web is the most powerful tool we have for self-expression, inducing social change and for the dissemination of great art and music. We cannot allow these people to take that away from us.

This is why I support the Black March campaign.

Content Blocked

From the 1st of March 2012 to the 31st, we ask you not to buy any music, DVDs, computer games or books – don’t even torrent a song! Wait till the 1st of April and buy it then. No one will actually lose any money, but the visible dent in their profit margins for the first quarter will send a powerful message to the corporations and organisations that wish to push these online censorship measures. We can stop this going through. Wikipedia and others going dark last month, and the attacks by Anonymous have already made policy makers hesitate. If music consumers join the fray, they will have another powerful enemy. Vote with your wallet and support Black March – boycott the music industry next month.

Some of my friends have expressed concerns that this campaign will somehow hurt small labels and record stores, who of course have nothing to do with lobbying for increased control of internet content. My answer to this dilemma is very straightforward. Buy the music you would have bought in March now. And spend more again in April. Of course you should support the small businesses and record labels you respect. This isn’t about them. This about sending a message to the industry as a whole, the big distributors, the fat cats and to governments around the world. We will not tolerate internet censorship in any form.

If you care about online freedom, please get involved in this campaign. If you wish to see a fairer music industry, buy music directly from the artists and from small record shops. Fuck Universal. Fuck Disney. Fuck News Corporation. Fuck Sony Music Entertainment. Support freedom and creativity.

Sorry for the rant peeps! If you’ve read this far I salute you. Peace out.

26 copies of The King’s Speech

Michelle-Obama-and-Samant-008

Charlie Brooker on how British cinema needs to go about getting more commercial hits, why Fish Tank doesn’t have any 200ft robots in it, and why David Cameron has 26 copies of The Kings Speech in his DVD collection…

Time to think inside the box, dumb down and make some pennies for the tories’ car crash economy.

A golden opportunity for the cream of British filmmakers, I think you’ll agree!

Read it all here

Happy New Year from Charlie

The Facebook Illusion

A few months ago, I made the decision to leave the popular social networking site. I gave no explanation, or warning to my facebook ‘friends’, I just deleted my profile. It was quite a spontaneous decision, but left me with an immediate feeling of relief. Since then, I have contemplated about why I made that snap choice, and why I have a continuing feeling it was a very wise decision. This has led me to thinking about the very concept of facebook, the purpose intended by its designers and its global domination. It has brought me to consider the personal, social, and psychological effects it was having on me, my friends and the world at large. The more deeply I unravel its framework and the social processes it has unleashed; the more unnerved I find myself. The more I see people glued to their screens for a facebook fix; the more concern I have for people’s mental health and general social evolution.

Yes, yes… here harps on the technophobe hippy, full of conspiracy and with a failure to see how facebook is really connecting people. Actually no; I was as hooked to the website as everyone else for many years. I used it to keep in touch with old friends, promote music and community events, encourage political debate and thought, share photos of fun memories with friends. What I failed to see is the illusion facebook creates, and the damage it was doing to my own mind and my relationships with others, until a few online events and arguments caused me to open my eyes.

I could probably write a book on facebook, but sadly I do not have the time, or patience, so instead I will give a few snippets of what revelations caused me to be so against the website, and provide food for thought with a few links.

It seems pretty obvious to me how a tool such as facebook has warped the reality of social reaction. Your facebook profile is not you. It‚Äôs a representation of certain parts of your character and that includes what you write on facebook in statuses or to others. They are not things you’d just drop into conversation, they are snippets of your life and thoughts that you think are going to provoke a reaction from others in the facebook unreality. The very nature of facebook determines how you express your thoughts and ideas; you consider not just how you come across to others before you type, but how you come across to the unreal facebook community at large (the entirety of your friends). These are all very different people; who on a face to face basis you would talk to differently, depending on who it was and who was around. You cannot alter your language and communication to personally speak to 300 friends. In reality, you would be very unlikely to speak to that many people at once – so a strange facebook personality begins to emerge, perhaps without you even realising, and this virtual facebook you, does not react or communicate in the same way as the real you.

I find this pretty unnatural and also it has an effect on how we perceive others in reality based on the facebook unreality. For example, the idea of the facebook wall. We communicate to one another in personal messages and yet these are public to all the friends we mutually share. This includes people we both don’t know that well in reality, maybe we met them once at another mutual friend‚Äôs house, or they work in the next office, or they frequent the same club night. This is material that would not in reality be public knowledge and allows others to form opinions or prejudices based on this interaction. It is so easy for such information to be misinterpreted, especially as this is just disembodied text. These words never left your mouth, yet hundreds of people will be judging you on an interaction that wasn’t even intended for them. Or was it, the very fact that you know that this interaction is public will consciously or subconsciously affect the very nature of the way you speak to your friends through facebook. The special connections we share with our real friends are lost in translation with the very fact that it is all so public. This leads to feeling of social isolation, as special bond with friends seem less significant when they are public property. We can make sure our responses to people are witty and quirky, we could spend an hour getting funny quotes off the internet to make ourselves look more interesting; but that‚Äôs not the real you, is it?

This facebook unreality has slowly been taking over from real interaction with friends – there is less need to make the effort to see friends when you can chat online. It is all made too easy and this exacerbates social laziness, also as social interaction is always a click of a button away, it prevents us from spending as much quality time alone; thinking, creating, reading or whatever else. Time alone is important for reflection and learning and social networking discourages this activity. Why use your brain when you can spend some time blankly looking at your news feed and feeling closer to people who are physically further away. Or in the next room in some cases!

Facebook encourages prejudice. We judge others on their profile, their ‘likes’ and unreal facebook interactions instead of how they come across in reality, because we have much more contact with them through facebook, so of course it will colour our perceptions of people. Yet this is the unreality.

Facebook encourages narcissism, as each time we are logged in we come across the unreal projection of¬†ourselves. We begin to see this projection as the reality. What our profile picture is becomes important and how this will make us come across to others. We start discussing trivial facts about our day¬†because¬†if it gets some ‘likes’ from your friends then it must be worth saying. But some people will ‚Äėlike‚Äô anything. Because the very action of ‚Äėliking‚Äô something makes them feel connected as they have had some input in an unreal social interaction. It also makes us judge others for the stuff they post in status that is of no interest to ourselves. How dare they clog up my news feed with such trivia…. this in itself is another form of self-importance. We are essentially often projecting to others look at my beautiful holiday, look at my perfect loved up relationship, look how many friends I have and how often they post on my wall. I must let everyone else see how perfect my life is. I must prove to myself how perfect my life is by representing it in the best possible way on facebook. Deleting the unflattering photos. Being all slushy with your other half on their wall when in reality, you are both on facebook in the same room and not interacting properly with the person that is under your nose!

I’ll give you an analogy I thought of:

My screen tells me you had a sausage sandwich today and it was tasty. I think – god – so what? That’s well boring. That person is dull. Why do they need to tell everyone about a sandwich – they must really love themselves to think all their facebook friends need this useless information. However let‚Äôs transfer this interaction to reality. We meet for a coffee. It‚Äôs nice to see you – it‚Äôs been ages. We smile and hug. You tell me about your sausage sandwich. I say “right, fair play, cheers for that” (this info still isn’t¬†fascinating) but I laugh in a joking way and you smile too at the lameness of your sandwich story. It actually turns out to be a funny moment. We share a little laugh and now the sandwich story is almost endearing rather than leaving me wondering why I am friends with you.

I am trying to highlight the differences between real interaction and facebook interaction – obviously not all sandwich stories would play out like this ūüôā

Then of course the facebook addict. I have my theory on facebook addiction. I think it comes from a cycle of feeling alienated or isolated so therefore needing the constant flow of social interaction, this in turn makes you more isolated because you spend all your time alone on the computer, so look to facebook to allow it’s perceived social fix. There are also laziness cycles in place. It is so much easier to log into facebook and chat or spy or post than to put your efforts into things that require more patience, concentration or effort. Facebook decreases your attention span because it‚Äôs all there on a plate… and the more you do it, the less arsed you can be to put this time into things that require more effort. This could include creative outlets, or going and seeing friends in person. Why go out when you can chat in bed? Facebook also because of its unreal nature makes people more comfortable with this false interaction than real interaction. It makes people more fearful or ill at ease with real interaction.

It can be argued that facebook allows free flow of ideas to lots of people at the click of a button. But using politics as an example, don’t you ever feel like your preaching to the converted? The ‘likes’ are always from the same people and those that don’t agree will use the opportunity to troll, to argue, to vent how they are right and you are wrong. Is that really a positive force or does it just further cause social divides. People don’t listen on facebook. They rant, they show off, they express what media they like or dislike, but they certainly don’t listen in the same way you would to a person you are talking to in reality. You can argue, be mean, be pig-headed to a disembodied profile – it takes a lot less courage than arguing to someone‚Äôs face. And it is easier to forget compassion when all you have is some text and a cheesy profile picture of that person in front of you. That sense of ‚Äėunreality‚Äô again stopping your tact and preventing the usual censorship you would normally use to spare people‚Äôs feelings. ¬†You are almost ranting to yourself not the individual(s) in question.

Facebook is changing the way we interact as people. That’s certain. But why do the creators want to manipulate the way we interact; to control, to mediocritize and ultimately to create unthinking, unquestioning consumers. If you learn about the background behind facebook they will tell you themselves; facebook is used as an advertising tool and to sell and spread consumer information. Of course you’re being manipulated, even if you like to think it’s not affecting you; it will be, especially if you have this stuff in your face for several hours a day. John Smith likes Smarties and X Factor. Lucy Jones likes Pirates of the Caribbean and Primark. Every day. In your face. Personalised adverts.

You could convince yourself that as long as you still have lots of facebook interactions you have a relationship with those people. They might be just as bored and unfulfilled as you, and you happened to post something that caught their attention for a second so they commented. Does that equal a lifelong friendship? With real friendships you don’t need facebook. Remember phones, and going to see people, even email? Leaving facebook will only destroy your social life if it was all an unreality in the first place. And I don’t know about you but I’d rather know who my real friends are and be free from a fake social circle that leaves me feeling paranoid about true intentions and allows me to be manipulated by the Facebook Corporation and their business contacts.

Technology can be shared in person. Get off your arse and watch those funny videos at your friend‚Äôs house. You’ll enjoy it more. I’m not preaching here, and if people want to continue using ‘the book’ that’s their choice. But from what I’ve seen facebook users aren’t any happier or more life enriched. I care about people; and long for a society with improved links and bonds between people. Social gatherings, community groups, artistic workshops and real life social interactions a plenty. I miss those archaic, outdated times of yore before facebook. I certainly feel like I did more in those days. Or maybe I’m just living in the past?

Some links (some questionable – but I read them.)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b017ywty/Mark_Zuckerberg_Inside_Facebook/

http://rield.com/faq/why-is-facebook-bad

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2010-05-03/tech/29974530_1_zuckerberg-open-graph-facebook-s-ceo

http://socialmediacollective.org/2011/11/28/in-defense-of-friction/

http://www.doncrowther.com/facebook/is-facebook-ruining-your-life

http://www.thecrowned.org/how-facebook-is-killing-real-relationships

If capitalism has failed, how the hell do we pay for our Shreddies?

Charlie Brooker

I’ve just noticed this bleakly joyous article written by Red Eye favourite Charlie Brooker, and it’s a couple of months old now, revealing the shameful truth that we haven’t been devouring with relish, our recommended five portions of satire and pessimism a day. This will be remedied, mark our words… If attack is the best form of defence, then humour is our weapon of choice. And Brooker can be our chosen arms dealer!

I might be an economic dunce, but if our failing currencies are replaced by a medieval bartering system, what will we have to do to get our favourite breakfast cereals?

Will we still have checkouts? Or Shreddies themselves? Even if we do, I bet we won’t have the “Frosted” and “Coco” varieties any more. Just plain standard Shreddies, eaten from a bowl fashioned from a dented hubcap, purchased in exchange¬†for a hand job during a¬†massive global war.

Now, that’s a vision of the future we can all enjoy!

Read more

Support the Strike

N30 Festival of Resistance

This isn’t just about Public Sector Pensions, this is about the survival of the Public Sector. You know, the people who look after your kids, who look after you when you’re ill, who clean your streets, who care for you when you’re old, who work hard to try and improve our communities. This is about supporting the people we rely on.

This is about standing up to the Government of the 1%, Big Business and the Financial elite, to tell them people are more important than profit margins and balancing the books. Don’t let them practice their “divide and¬†conquer” tactics and influence your opinion against this action. If you are a Private Sector worker, don’t let envy stand in the way of what you know is right. We support your struggle for a fair deal too. Some Unions and strikers may well be taking action only for fear of their own future (which is still a legitimate reason), but most are worried about everyone – about the way our¬†economy¬†works in general, about a culture that doesn’t value what we value.

The Tories blame New Labour for borrowing too much, and for bailing out the banks – but they’d have done the same! This isn’t about partisan politics and blame, they’re all the same anyway. This is about fighting for a people’s right to a decent standard of living. About fighting for the pensions people were promised. About fighting Privatisation and the dark side of Capitalism.

The Resistance starts on the 30th of November when an estimated 3 million UK workers will refuse to work¬†¬†– please support the strike, and help fight for a fairer Britain. Let’s bring down this ridiculous government that has done nothing but harm since it came to power.

I Am Not A Number

THX 1138

I feel the need to put into words some of the mental ramblings that have been preoccupying me of late. I apologise for any lack of coherence herein, please bear in mind that in some respects I am just thinking aloud.

Big changes are happening to the political landscape. Could this be the beginning of the end for Democracy in Europe? Are we being ushered into the new age of the Technate as a last-ditch attempt at saving free market Capitalism? It is far too early to tell, and I am certainly no expert in the subject, but I feel this is something we must strive to understand, and quickly, before it is too late to stop what may have been already set in motion.

Italy and Greece have now had their democratically elected governments removed, and in their place Technocratic administrations have been imposed, to make the “unpopular” decisions required to rescue their respective economies. Milanese students took to the streets yesterday to protest against this unelected “bankers’ government”. Police responded by charging the students with batons. In Athens too, violence broke out in protest against the new unity government, as thousands of demonstrators and anarchists met with thousands of police officers armed with “stun grenades”.¬†“Down with the government of socialists, conservatives and fascists,” a protester’s banner said.¬†Greece’s third largest party, the Communists, and the smaller leftist Syriza party have pledged to fight to bring down the government to prevent further cuts, in a country mired in a deep recession since 2008.

When I imagine a world run by Technocrats enforcing strict economic restraints, I am reminded of George Lucas’s Kafkaesque debut feature, THX 1138 – a dystopian nightmare vision in which human emotion is controlled through government-administered narcotics, where names are replaced by codes, people become numbers and every aspect of life is run to a stringent budget. The film is extremely cogent and leaves a lasting impression, akin to that of Huxley’s Brave New World or Terry Gilliam’s outstanding feature film, Brazil. It highlights the inhumanity, latent within bureaucratic systems of control, the dangers of totalitarianism and the fragility of freedom. But surely the fledgling Technocracies of Italy and Greece will be very different from this bleak cinematic experience? Surely this sort of dark fantasy could not be actualized in 21st Century Europe? What happens when you forcibly remove Democracy, does freedom vanish overnight? Are we on the brink of something sinister?

While THX 1138 certainly raises important issues and warns us of the potential dangers of such systems, it could just as easily be seen to be an overly simplistic and overtly sensationalist critique of Soviet Communism – and while this agenda may do nothing to undermine the legitimacy of its harrowing message, because of this bias we cannot rely on it, in any way, to tell us about the true nature of Technocracy.

So what the hell is Technocracy? It is a concept few people understand.

According to the fountain of knowledge that is Wikipedia,  Technocracy is a form of government where important decisions are made by scientists and experts, rather than elected politicians.

Technocracy is a form of government where technical experts are in control of decision making in their respective fields. Engineers, scientists, health professionals, and those who have knowledge, expertise or skills would compose the governing body. In a technocracy, decision makers would be selected based upon how knowledgeable and skillful they are in their field.

Technical and leadership skills would be selected through¬†bureaucratic¬†processes on the basis of specialized knowledge and performance, rather than¬†democratic¬†election by those without such knowledge or skill deemed necessary. Some forms of technocracy are envisioned as a form of¬†meritocracy, a system where the “most qualified” and those who decide the validity of qualifications are the same people. Other forms have been described as not being an oligarchic human group of controllers, but rather administration by discipline-specific science, ostensibly without the influence of special interest groups.[1]

As of 2011, Italy has a technocratic goverment Рsee Monti Cabinet.

Politics is supposedly about ideals and morals as much as it is about systems’ management, but this aspect seems missing from the Technocratic vision. The primary problem with this sort of government must be to do with accountability. How can you be sure the experts placed in charge are working in the best interests of the people, and not merely serving their own interests or those of a wealthy ruling elite? In a Democratic system, at least the people can supposedly vote-out a government that is not working for them – although you often hit upon the problem that none of the electable parties are working for the people!

What may come as a surprise to some, is that many of the trailblazers of Technocracy, were some of the great thinkers on the historic Left, such as Henri de Saint-Simon and Friedrich Engels, who believed an authoritarian, State-controlled economy, was the only way of creating and preserving an egalitarian society. A scientific socialist theorist, Engels envisaged that the state would eventually die out and cease to be a state, when the government of people and interference in social affairs was replaced by an administration of things and technical processes Рa sort of anarchic Technocracy. But surely this sort of system can only exist in a positive state if the people have given their consent to this sort of economic management Рotherwise ruthless control of those people is needed to keep that system in place Рand you are back to totalitarianism, THX 1138, Huxley et al. I doubt this is what Engels had in mind. Unchecked rule by bureaucrats has become a trademark of totalitarian regimes, such as those that existed in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. George Orwell described Technocracy as a precursor to Fascism. What was Adolf Eichmann if not a Technocrat? How can this be reconciled with Socialism?

More “wisdom” from Wikipedia:

In the economy of the Soviet Union, state ownership of the means of production was combined with central planning, in relation to which goods and services were to be provided, how they were to be produced, the quantities, and the sale prices. Soviet economic planning was an alternative to allowing the market (supply and demand) to determine prices for producer and consumer goods. The Soviet economy utilized material balance accounting in order to balance the supply of available inputs with output targets, although this never totally replaced financial accounting. Although the Soviet economy was nominally a centrally-planned economy, in practice the plan was formulated on-the-go as information was collected and relayed from enterprises to planning ministries.

Socialist economists and political theorists have criticised the notion that the Soviet-style planned economies were socialist economies. They argue that the Soviet economy was structured upon the accumulation of capital and the extraction of surplus value from the working class by the planning agency in order to reinvest this surplus in new production ‚Äď or to distribute to managers and senior officials, indicating the Soviet Union (and other Soviet-style economies) were state capitalist economies. Other socialists have focused on the lack of self-management, the existence of financial calculation and a bureaucratic elite based on hierarchical and centralized powers of authority in the Soviet model, leading them to conclude that they were not socialist but either bureaucratic collectivism, state capitalism or deformed workers’states.

Or indeed Technocracies. Certainly my own political awakening and evolution has been marred by these past failings by supposed Marxists, trying to impose a “fair” economic system through extreme authoritarian control, the so-called Thermidorian phase – and while I can see why such a conservative period, post-revolution, may be necessary to establish a new system, my gut reaction to an all-powerful state is simply to fight it. How can a Technocracy ever be considered socialist if the people have no say in how it is being run? It simply becomes another system of control, where a ruling elite of “experts” is in charge and the masses do as they are told.

I very much doubt that these new Technocratic governments in Europe will begin to resemble Stalin’s bureaucrats – they are all working for the bankers and the existing financial elite after all, a system which relies on the free market. But this opens up a bigger debate for anyone left on the Left, for all those involved in the Occupy movement worldwide, and for all those who wish to end predatory capitalism. It reveals a dichotomy in my own thinking that just won’t go away. How do you create a fairer society without destroying people’s freedom?

I sometimes feel I have the head of a Marxist and the body of an Anarchist, and although they are fighting for the same thing, they are also fighting with each other and differ very much in how to go about it. When I take the Political Compass test, I come out as extreme Left Liberal – or Anarchist.

My Political Compass

This is how you’d expect a Lefty with an aversion to all authority to come out! Freedom is the embodiment of Anarchism. The act of fighting for freedom is Revolution. All revolutionaries in the act of revolution are therefore Anarchists!

But that is not the end of the story. I sometimes think that being a Left Libertarian may actually be a contradiction in terms. I have read papers on the subject which have made me think a little differently about what Liberalism actually means. That Left and Right are divergences towards state-control from either side of a Liberal centre-ground, that resembles Laissez-faire capitalism – commerce without government intervention – or “freedom to trade”. I am also very aware that the importance placed in Individual Freedom is often at the expense of the collective good. People re-branded in their own minds as consumers place their own choices and freedoms above all else – and this props up and encourages free market capitalism, begging the “devils-advocate” question: is capitalism the natural outcome of Anarchy? I’m not so sure about this, but there are many who think so.

Many Neo-liberalists, individualists, mutualists, economists and advocates of the free market consider themselves Anarchists to some degree – people such as Friedman, Murray Rothbard and even Ayn Rand believed in freedom of the individual and reduction or elimination of the state.¬†Murray Rothbard maintains that Anarcho-Capitalism is the only true form of Anarchism. I’m not saying that I agree with this at all, or that I cannot conceive of an Anarchist society being fair and egalitarian – but it does flag up an important question. Would people be any safer from exploitation without the state? And now I feel like a Socialist again!

I have no answers to any of these questions, I’ll be the first to admit. But I am, at least, asking them!

One of the problems with the current resistance movements across the world (fighting corporate greed and for the rights of the 99%) is that by and large they aren’t asking these questions. They reject all prior political movements and “-isms” without proffering any alternatives. The lack of any solid theory behind the movement, and knowledge of prior political ideas, may be its undoing. If you reject Communism, Socialism, Corporatism, Free-Market Capitalism and Technocracy as systems that have failed, what do you accept? What, indeed, are you fighting for?

I can understand why the Occupy movement and Anonymous, and others, reject being pigeonholed politically – all these old political philosophies have their pitfalls and problems. But I do oppose the idea that a new system will emerge out of nowhere, with no reference to, or study of, systems and ideas that have come before. Without a deep historical understanding of these things, we may be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

It really does feel like the movement is in its infancy in this respect. There is a naivety at its core which belies its noble intent. My chief concern is that while the movement is working out what it is, trying to answer crucial questions like: Can you have real Freedom and real Fairness? What replaces Capitalism if it falls? How will we fight all those that oppose us? While we are all still finding our feet, Technocracy may well sneak in and take over by the backdoor, supplanting democracy, and all our freedoms and hopes for fairness may be usurped. Social engineers and psychologists may be brought-in by the new management team, to deal with these voices of dissent, which are so detrimental to the national credit rating. People’s beliefs and opinions and rights are of no value when there are severe deficits to reduce. They do not compute. The chants from protesters may disappear as the subsequent crackdowns intensify, then triumph, and all that can then be heard, above the gentle hum of myriad machines, is a muffled whisper: “I am not a number”

Where does Occupy go from here?

Sparta

I’m Mad as Hell, and I won’t Take It Anymore!

Network 1976
Television and the media may have changed a lot since 1976, but Network still packs a punch. Profit motivated corporations still control the news, and televised news is still how most people find out what is going on in the world – even in the digital age of free information, the media giants heavily influence public opinion. There are parallels with Murdoch’s empire and its recent controversies. The film is set during a global recession, and feels more relevant than ever. Recommended viewing for all.

More info here:

IMDb / Wiki / PB

I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!

Conspiracy Theorists are the Enemy of the Resistance

Agree with him or not Charlie Veitch has become a legend.
Sadly he is wrapping up his Love Police project 

You can still watch all his previous work on his blog and youtube accounts
Some of it is hilarious, and most of it is bang on the money ūüėČ

Block the Bridge, Block the Bill!

This Sunday,¬†thousands¬†of protesters organised by UK uncut, including everyone from Labour MPs to union members, health service officials, doctors, and the angry public, will join together to block traffic on Westminster Bridge, in a symbolic and powerful effort to show the Governement just how angry we are. I cannot think why the whole country wont turn up, there are free coaches to london, so if you are still umming and ahhing, get on it. This is crucial to¬†the¬†future of our nation’s health. Everyone should be there, no matter what their political leaning. We are all subject to illness, accident, to bad luck. Imagine if the cost of a simple operation left you unable to pay the rent? Doctors in York are already telling patients that they must go private for small operations- and this is just the beginning. See details of the event on the UK uncut website¬†http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/¬†Another excellent article with alot of information about the bill and why this protest is so important is on the excellent website ‘left foot forward’¬†http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/10/tim-holmes-uk-uncut-stop-the-traffic-to-stop-the-nhs-being-run-over/

Perhaps a lot of us don’t¬†realize¬†how lucky we are… ¬†In America, a friend of mine was sent home from hospital with¬†meningitis¬† because she could not afford medical bills. If you check out the tumblr for ‘We Are the 99%‘ , it soon becomes clear that many of those in the states suffering with poverty, illness and debt, are in these situations due to ill-health, where treatment incurs huge costs, where healthcare is for profit. Four years ago my best friend, who contracted cancer in her 20s, was operated on by the NHS, and her life was saved. Though already a massive advocate of free healthcare, I think it was this that solidified my absolute dedication to saving the service. But we all have stories to tell. Anyone who is not panicking about this should think for a moment about all the people they know that might not be around if it weren’t for a free healthcare system. Did you have a problematic birth? Have you ever been to hospital? Even¬†tonsillitis¬†can kill if untreated. Today, I have a broken foot, in need of operation, which has been ignored by my local health service, whose stretched budget does not allow for such ‘unecessary’ operations to take place.

We already have massive corrupt pharmaceutical corporations, and branded drugs, and look what profit has done to that system… Why do we consume so many mind-numbing anti-depressants¬†and¬†tranquilizers¬†these days? They are, of course, heavily marketed. Ever noticed the brand-name on your GPS mouse-mat? Eli Lily perhaps? Seroquel? If the NHS is opened up for profit, then morality goes out the window. It will no longer be a system to care for the nation’s health, but like everything else in this corrupt nightmare of super-capitalism, it will be run for the monetary gain of shareholders. So those expensive¬†chemotherapy¬†drugs you need for your metastatic cancer? Not available, bad for business. As to those unhealthy and¬†unnecessary¬†brain-scans- you will be told you need more, as they can make a huge profit on them. Granted, I see the system of profit as flawed at it’s base. But a healthcare system for profit? The word evil springs to mind. And I take issue with that word.

When the right wing press¬†and the British Medical Association are both disgusted at these changes, with the BMA stating ”the BMA still believes the Bill, as it currently stands, poses an unacceptably high risk to the NHS in England.”¬†we must panic, we must hit the streets. There is so much to protest at the moment, the world is angry, with protests in America, Greece, the Middle East, all over Europe. We must stay strong and show our power, peacefully, but loud as we can, and in unforeseen numbers. We ARE the 99%. 99% of nearly 7 billion people is a crap-load of energy, a mass of voices, a mass of labour, of potential ‘money’, that if withheld will bring down that one percent of¬†amoral¬†cunts who¬†believe¬†they can play with our futures like this. We dd not vote for this. Hell- the majority of this country actually voted for left-leaning parties! Flaws in our democratic system aside- these reforms were NOT in the manifesto of either the LibDems or the vile Tories. In fact, we are happier with our health service then we have ever been. Big business, once again, is proven to own our governments. The conservatives stand to gain from this sell-off, with rich owners of private health services donating to their party. Surprised? I wasn’t. But I am certainly angry.

I will be reporting back on Monday when I return. If you have the time, and you aren’t going yet, get on it. Your lives, the lives of your loved ones, are at stake.

Capitalism: A Hate Crime

Michael Moore

Despite being released in 2009, we’ve only just got around to watching Moore’s latest polemic (Capitalism, A Love Story), which is perhaps his most overtly political film yet. Moore is routinely criticised for over-simplifying issues, not backing up all his points with rigorous research,¬†narcissism and plain old-fashioned partisan politics. While many of these criticisms are often true of his work, that is not why he is routinely criticised. It is because he is a genuine threat to those in power. He speaks emotionally in plain English about important issues and encourages people to stand up for themselves. This is why he receives so much flack. His latest film is hard to criticise on these grounds as it is much more thoroughly researched than previous outings and goes straight for the jugular. Capitalism itself.

There is often¬†something rather jarring about Moore’s documentaries. Unlike much mass-media produced treatise on the structures we call society, Moore’s offerings are ribboned with emotion and dramatic protest that can sometimes seem circus-like, theatrical. ‘Capitalism, A love story’, is in some ways no exception, with Moore playing at performing a citizen’s arrest and draping police tape around major banks. But there is also a simple and hard-hitting breakdown of the facts around global financial crisis, accompanied by archive footage, and a rather predictable yet occasionally effective soundtrack. The call-to-arms here seems a lot more tangible. The disgust you are lead to feel in the plight of families evicted from their homes, at children jailed by a for-profit prison system, is counteracted by pure elation at the footage of strike action at Republic Windows and Doors, and at a community whose peaceful action supported an evicted family squatting their own home.

While I agree that Moore can be a little crass, the accusations of manipulation by the right are utterly laughable. What Moore does (and what the right fears) is to simplify and explain the means by which the super-rich are managing to routinely rob the 95% of the population with little economic power. A good analogy for the way in which the public are usually systematically obfuscated by the financial elite is the formula shown in the documentary for ‘derivatives’. The muddier the explanation for financial catastrophe, the easier it is for those in power to capitalise and exploit the rest of us for their own profit. Moore clears the waters for us, and what strikes me time and time again is how¬†blatant¬†the robbery of the working class has become. This so-called recession amounts to the biggest heist of public money in recorded history, and so far the¬†thieves¬†have gotten away with it.

One point the film makes very well is that we do not live in a democracy, and cannot while the world is still run from Wall Street. Moore talks with Democrat senators who feel that what took place was a “financial coup d’etat”, where power was irrevocably shifted from elected representatives to the CEOs of banks and other financial institutions, by the back door. This is backed up by good evidence. When our governments’ now talk about budget deficits they neglect to mention how much of OUR money they “gave” to the banks. They suggest that these current times of austerity are somehow OUR responsibility, and we must take these CUTS to our vital front line services on the chin, like good loyal citizens to the church of capitalism, and sit by and watch as our most precious institutions are dismantled in the name of efficiency, while private companies rake in the profits.

Yet again we sit in the aftermath of another depressing expose of the system that robs us of our wealth and¬†opportunity. We write in the wake of yet more cuts to services, including¬†proposed¬†cuts to legal aid, a 30% cut for NHS cancer scans, 25% youth unemployment… the list is endless. It is very difficult not to get despondent in the face of all this, difficult not to either block our disgust with distraction- or even give up completely and attempt to suck at the sour teat of the system as if there is no choice or escape. But not so. A point which drove these almost invariably united authors to heated debate was the idea that there is nothing left to do in the face of all this save violent revolution, a forced seizure of what rightly belongs to the people of this planet for the benefit of all. Yet look again… all of the successful protest portrayed within this documentary was peaceful, and a good reminder of the most powerful weapon we have- the right to¬†withhold¬†labour. Without our continued co-operation, this parasitic system can, and WILL fail. Let us not be complacent. We have a responsibility to each other, and the more of us care to remember that, the less powerful that top 1% can be.

Micolagist & Floatfly

Sexism and the City

Mark Kermode declares class war and lays into the vacuous, materialistic world of Sex and the City 2… quite funny, political and kinda feminist. Fair enough. I didn’t know he had it in him!

 

Who are the real thieves?

Enjoy Capitalism

The uniform condemnation of these rampages through the Shopping Malls insisted that the youth involved were criminals. But why did it happen now?

For to ignore this last essential part of the question changes what is meant into a general characterisation of those involved to being always appropriate. ‚ÄúThey are always bad!‚ÄĚ You can‚Äôt do that!¬†The current situation must have precipitated it, and caused some to go and get what they seemingly couldn‚Äôt have, and would never have!

For the Youth are an unusual section of Society to be dispossessed, but that’s what they are today. And even more than that, they are also excluded from access to such things even later, for they are also being deprived of a future too! They have taken away their access to skills that was always their right, and even the chance of an education by the Higher Education fees going through the roof. And even those who have managed to get through to what they thought would be an assured future, now find themselves unemployed. And all this while the boys at Eton can still go exploring in Arctic Svalbard, while others can holiday in the Canadian Rockies, and call for tax cuts for the rich.

When you cut off all possible progress, the ideas of the lumpen proletariat (the thieves and bullies) seem the only way out.

And remember, the legal thieves who normally get away with ‚Äútaking away‚ÄĚ, do it on a vastly more massive scale.¬†Why has no-one called the PPI scheme (Payment Protection Insurance) exactly what it was ‚Äď thieving ‚Äď ‚ÄúYou pay us to protect you when in financial difficulties (and then in the fine print) and we wont do it!‚ÄĚ

Some of the Big Banks not only caused the catastrophe of 2008, and were bailed out by US, but within a couple of years they were pulling this new scam to get something for nothing ‚Äď and one particular bank had to pay 1 billion pounds back in a single year.

Meanwhile large numbers of MPs were stealing by fiddling their parliamentary expenses. And at the same time the pensioner who had saved all his life to get an income from the interest on his savings was getting 0.5%, while inflation was romping along at 4.5 %. He was getting poorer by the day and the interest would not even cover his gas bills. And if he (as he is constantly urged) were to switch his savings to shares, in the present climate, he risks losing the LOT!

Come on! Don’t let these people tell YOU how to behave!

For those who run things steal, one way or another, as their modus operandi. When you are at work and make things ‚Äď who thereafter owns them, sells them and makes a profit from them? Is it YOU ‚Äď the maker?¬†You know the answer!

Just listen to the politicians talking about the riots. Ed Milliband says the same as David Cameron, who says the same as the Police Chiefs. And while these kids are rampaging (yes, KIDS!), the elderly wealthy are pressing for water cannon and rubber bullets and even the bringing of the military onto the streets.

Come on! Turn the clock back to when we fought back: when Scargill has a hero.

Remember those who run the show are all TORIES ‚Äď whatever they call themselves! They were in power in the 50s, the 70s and the 80s, and precipitated riots then too.

Do you subscribe to the Big Society, where you do things for nothing, and they continue to sit on top?

Do you remember Socialism? Or have they removed your politics too?

Burning the Bridge to Nowhere

Doug Stanhope Burning the Bridge to Nowhere
Doug Stanhope does not give a fuck what you think. There’s no sugar with his pill. No lubricant with his dildo. Nothing is sacred during his acerbic assaults on the state of the modern world and all myths must be destroyed, however positive they may seem.

I think it goes without saying that his comedy is not for the easily offended, and if you consider porn and drugs to be society’s sickness you probably won’t like him. He may even make you physically ill. If this sounds like you, you can stop reading this now and save yourself an aneurysm.

But he isn’t provocative for the sake of it (a criticism that could easily be leveled at Frankie Boyle for example). There is a ruthless logic at work, to the point where anyone with a questioning intelligence will find it hard to disagree with him – even when he’s advocating fun with pedophiles, pissed and leering on stage, or vehemently blaming people that have children for climate change – the arguments are watertight. Even the most liberal-minded comedy-lovers may flinch, but his rants make sense, and expose us for our own hypocrisy as a society. And I, for one, find that shit hilarious.

No Refunds is my favourite. The first time I watched it I was pissing myself for hours afterwards. It’s anger and energy is infectious. It came as quite a shock, as I had previously only seen his rather downbeat contributions to Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe. Although they were intelligent and witty they didn’t quite prepare me for the genius of his on-stage performances, which have been compared (incorrectly in my view) to those of Bill Hicks. Anyway, don’t take my word for it, watch this shit:

I was ecstatic when I heard Doug had a new DVD out. But Burning the Bridge to Nowhere is an odd one. Filmed in Oslo with only 36 hours notice, you can see why both the time constraints and the language barrier may have contributed to the slightly stilted delivery of his new material. Maybe it was the lack of alcohol or maybe he was just pissed off – his comic timing doesn’t seem to be up to his usual standard. I don’t want to seem overly-critical though as some of it is really good (parts of it are up there with No Refunds) and he has set himself a very high bar with previous shows. What I would say, is that if you like Stanhope, watch it, and if you don’t yet, watch the others first – you’ll be more forgiving of the bits of it that don’t work quite so well.

Buy it from Amazon

Into The Fire – Review

Into The Fire by Steven Davies, Bryan Law, and Dan Dicks is a documentary about the Toronto G20 summit in 2010, the massive crackdown that imposed martial law across the whole city and the unusual style of policing that allowed the Black Bloc to run riot while greeting peaceful protesters with a baton to the face. It is without a doubt the most terrifying thing I have seen this year leaving me quivering with a mixture of fear and rage that no fictional film can come close to instilling.

As far as made for internet ‘truth’ documentaries go this one stands out from the crowd like a sore thumb of pure quality. It shines as a documentation of the events surrounding the G20,¬†relying on the footage of various people on the ground to ¬†tell the story, as opposed to much of the found footage that goes into online documentaries. At 2 hours it’s a slog, but a well paced one that draws you further and further into the events of the week that¬†continually¬†unfold from pre G20 Toronto to the aftermath displaying all the curiosities in between.

The creators have put themselves on the line to try get the views of protesters, the public and the police leading to shady stories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, meetings with¬†provocative¬†activist Charlie Veitch (who quickly gets dragged off and thrown in a cage for being too cocky) and encounter with one of¬†Toronto’s¬†friendliest police officer who’s upholding the law when all her co workers are abusing it.

It offers a window¬†into the police state that keeps on popping up when the big wigs are in town and the treatment that you can expect when you say things like “good luck on Saturday” to the¬†authorities.

If you take anything from this film don’t let it be a¬†foreboding¬†sense of fear but a useful chunk of knowledge of what happens when Mr Fancy Pants comes to your town.

-Paz

Facebook Censorship- A Frightening Development

Big-Brother-Facebook
This week, during the royal wedding, 50 facebook groups have been shut down, all of them left-wing and anti-cuts groups. Perhaps not surprising, but certainly very frightening, this is one of many actions the current government has taken to repress its enemies and whistle-blowers. Facebook, it seems right to conclude, is no longer safe for activists. Perhaps it never really was.

I was suspicious of facebook initially. Reluctant to create an internet alter-ego, and wary of the information already present even in more traditional free email websites such as hotmail. I am the kind of person who deletes all her emails as she goes, and also the kind of person who is faced with sudden bouts of internet paranoia, especially when intoxicated- What if they are tracking me? What if they ‘know’. Of course, when I sober up, I remind myself I am neither a terrorist or a trafficker- and so not of enough¬†interest¬†to warrent that kind of financial investment… But even in the cold light of day, I am uneasy of a website through which any random¬†acquaintance¬†(or any random person if you are one of those incomprehensible people who feel no need for privacy settings) can see where I am going, who I am in a relationship with, and what I am into.

Still, despite my reservations, eventually I too was dragged into this weird world, this hazy extraneous self, my profile created by an insistent friend. She was appalled that I had not joined, and seemingly obsessed with this website. Her and her house-mates would sit in their separate rooms, not talking, but facebooking each other. I was actually astounded by this at the time, but now think nothing of doing it myself. More then any other website, facebook has begun to reflect and extend my conciousness. It serves as a map of my personality and opinions, my main method of communication, and an occasional massage for my self esteem.  I still worry about privacy and do all I can to keep it exclusive, but Facebook, I have since argued, is primarily a Good Thing. In an age when many feel a loss of the sense of community, Facebook allows you to see the village within the urban sprawl, connecting you with people and allowing you to map your relationships with others. I am hooked, and many others are with me, to the sense of community, the sharing of information, and the platform it gives for discussion. It politicizes people, it allows you to form groups and raise awareness, to express what you care about- and even to start or spread a movement. It used to be that I would tell a few friends about a protest I was attending, now I tell everyone I know, in the hope that as many as possible will be inspired to attend.

The power of the social network to turn these unstructured public debates into real, positive action was illustrated¬†poignantly by the recent revolution in Egypt. Even the most apolitical of us could not fail to be moved by such an event. What a show of¬†humanity’s unbreakable will, a blow for the downtrodden. A beacon of hope for those giving up on change. The megalomaniac ruling right, who had of course supported this repressive and, for them, economically viable regime, struggled in their tangles of lies, exposed as unarguably¬†amoral¬†and self-serving for anybody still unconvinced. This motivating event has changed the psychology of a generation for whom revolution resided mainly in the history books. The first televised revolution, the first true revolution of the new¬†millennium, and it would have been far more difficult without social networking sites such as facebook and twitter. Arguably sparked when the first of many activists, a 26 year-old woman, named Asmaa Mahfouz, wrote on Facebook: “People, I am going to Tahrir Square”, this was truly an uprising facilitated by the modern age. The message was to promote a movement which eventually led to the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Groups such as ‘We are All Kaled Said’, ‘Operation Egypt’, and others led the rallying cries that were crucial to the revolution, mobilising huge amounts of people, reaching unprecedented amounts of protesters in an intelligent way, with discussion and pictures, and calls to contact those without internet by mobile and word of mouth. During the period of unrest, the regime cut off the internet connection for the entire country in an attempt to counteract the uprising.

The slow, queasy, shameful reaction of our own western repressive regimes was enraging to say the least. But they were taking notice. And they are now set to prevent anything akin to this from happening in the west.

The 50 facebook groups blocked included many anti-cuts protest groups, such as Bristol Uk uncut, No Cuts, chesterfield Stopthecuts, BigSociety Leeds and No quater Cutthewar, ArtsAgainst Cuts, and also socialist and anarchist groups such as Socialist Unity, Ecosocialists Unite, Firstof Mayband, Don’t Break Britain United, SWP Cork, York Anarchists (according to http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2011/04/mass-facebook-purge-of-activist-groups/) All groups promoting activism, and planning protests against the current government. That they were taken down at all is sinister, that they were taken down under this government and at a time when the high-profile royal wedding was angering dissidents and free thinkers across the uk, is altogether petrifying.

This was not all our current regime was¬†doing¬†to¬†suppress¬†free thought at the time of this national embarrassment. Police were given a ‘Shoot to kill’ order for protesters, whose banners were confiscated if considered to be ‘offensive’, squats were raided across the country, and we all ‘celebrated’ to the sounds of sirens day and night. Many arrests were made. Several activist groups were shut down. (see this link for an article about some of the squats which were raided in London, Bristol and Brighton http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/guy-aitchison/political-policing-in-britain-ahead-of-big-day). All the major newspapers featured leading articles praising the event and even the headlines in the Guardian and¬†Independent¬†for the day of the wedding, were, quite frankly, laughable- if not horrifying.¬†It would seem that the government, partly in¬†lieu¬†of the upcoming loss of over 10,000 police officers, partly in¬†lieu¬†of further crackdowns, decided to see what they could get away with. David Cameron’s announcement to the people to party with abandon was really an attempt to cause a¬†ruckus- so that they were able to test a limited police force, and so crimes against free speech such as the deleting of facebook groups and the¬†blatant¬†censoring of the left-wing media could take place without criticism.

When questioned about the shut-down of these groups, facebook has stated that the groups were ¬†‘technically in violation of Facebook‚Äôs terms of agreement, which state that participants in social media must not make use of a “fake name”.’ Fair enough. But it seems highly unlikely that these are the only groups for which this is true. Are all extremist right-wing groups, for example, without pseudonyms? Why, if this small¬†violation¬†of terms was the reason for the clampdown, were the only groups¬†targeted¬†those involved with left-wing, anti-capitalist activity? Even more sinister, this has happened before. ‘We Are All Kaled Said’ was also removed from facebook in november last year. (follow this link to a report from the time on the ‘We are all Khaled Said’ website about the closing of their facebook group) According to a pro-facebook article in ¬†mashable.com ”The Page mysteriously disappeared as activists prepared to substantiate what would likely be rigged elections in November of last year. It turned out someone had likely notified Facebook that the Page administrator was using a pseudonym, a violation of Facebook‚Äôs terms of service.” The question is, who did such a thing?

At best, the groups were systematically reported by the authorities. ¬†But this seems too convenient, it must take rather a while for the site to research and prove such a violation, let alone 50 of these types of groups on one day, the day of the royal wedding. It just doesn’t make sense. The government, the global corporate machine, has seen fit to silence voices of dissent. Not in China, Not in Egypt, but here, in the UK. And it is not just these activist groups that are being watched. This blogger has herself fallen victim to the facebook censorship machine. Am I on a list? I doubt it. I am, if anything, a prolific ranter, and peaceful protester. I am not worth police time. But I have had posts deleted- posts critical of the policing planned for the royal wedding, and I am not the only one. As the weekend went by, I saw more and more status updates from my more outspoken friends, about their debates being removed from their walls. I reposted mine 3 times. Third time lucky, I removed the word ‘shot’ from my post. Bingo.

I have encountered this before. I remember in the heyday of MSN messenger, I discovered that you could not update your MSN status to ‘I hate MSN’. This and swearing was automatically censored by msn back in the early noughties- I don’t use it now so I am unsure as to whether or not this ¬†is still as obvious… but my point is that it is really not difficult to write software that does this kind of editing automatically. And, of course, simultaneously searches for keywords and builds a database of people who use such words, ready to investigate when they reach a certain quota. People whose profiles are then readily available for investigating authorities to peruse at their leisure- the same investivating authorities that obviously have enough power to shut down activist groups. Just as dangerous as the obviously planned and pointed destruction of fifty¬†dissident groups, this kind of software can make it impossible for the individual¬†to express… to share and promote their¬†views- even to a select group of friends. Facebook has become a reflection of my mind- and I am apparently guilty of thoughtcrime.¬†¬†It is nothing else but the worst kind of censorship, and a sudden threat to the internet revolution which is a movement away from the biased, corporate-led drivel of mass media.

We must fight this with all that we have. My initial reaction, which was to consider deleting my account, has quickly become resolve to defend my views more ardently, to be more outspoken than ever, and to encourage others to do the same. The fact remains that, with sheer volume, we can make it unfeasible for this type of thing to continue. It is still logistically impossible to police the internet efficiently. I shall remain on facebook, and if they do choose to investigate me, they will find me with my middle fingers pointed straight up, defiant. But let us also remember that this is symptomatic of a growing policy of repression- and let us be increasingly vigilant of our enemies.

Floatfly.

Why 10 O’Clock Live is Important

10 O'Clock Left

Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live has been the subject of much criticism, some of it justifable, some of it not. I’m not writing this to defend the show because I think it is perfect, I’m defending it because I think it is sorely needed.

Christopher Hooton of the Metro has commented that the show is “as overtly partisan as Fox News.” I wonder which party Hooton believes the show is Partisan to? It is heavily critical of all the major¬†political parties as far as I can see. I suspect he is deriding the show for being overtly left-wing – a horrible sin as that may be, comparing the show in any way to Fox News is obscene bullshit.

It pisses me off when people equate a bias for the left with a bias for the right. These are not equal, comparable opposite ends of a single political continuum as some would like to have us believe. The right serves to protect the status quo, the hidden agenda is exploitation. Extreme right wing views are often moral perversions born of fear. Fear of change, fear of outsiders, fear of losing material possessions or status. They come from self-interest, patriotism and nostalgia. People who harbour right-wing views tend to want to preserve privilege and protect the inequality of capitalism.

People who sympathise with left-wing idealogies are not immune from self-interest, they are not saints and they certainly aren’t always right. But their ideas come from a desire to make the world fairer – their hearts are in a more altruistic place. So when someone says that something has a left-wing bias as some sort of a criticism, I can only assume that they are a cunt. Balance in this case is an illusion – and frankly impossible. The news is biased to the right, most newspapers are biased to the right, most political parties are biased to the right, and are there to preserve the status quo… so when something comes along that isn’t, I say, well, good. About fucking time, in fact.

10 O’Clock live is biased to the left. Great.

The program has also been criticised from the left – for not being left enough, for being too soft on certain issues, and missing opportunities to give people who deserve it, a good grilling. For example, the interview with Alastair Campbell in Episode 2 of the first series was painful to watch, as David Mitchell was obviously in awe¬†of him, and seemed unable to take command of the situation, ask any pertinant questions, or hold him to account in any way. This isn’t that surprising though. David Mitchell is a comedian (albeit a politicially astute one), and Campbell was the UK’s Spin Doctor in Chief – not a fair fight.

To those on the left who criticise this show, I say, give it chance. Hopefully it will get a second series and continue to mature into a quality vehicle for political satire. In Tory Britian (sorry, Coalition Britain… pfft), we need a mainstream left-wing voice that is actually heard by people in their living rooms. People saying these important things in an inclusive, funny way that is accessible and entertaining – and this show does just that. If you want to keep your left wing views undiluted and pure in your little middle class left-wing clique, you may as well surrender this country to the fuckers who want to carve it up, and sell it off in bits, to their friends, for a tidy profit.

Most importantly 10 O’Clock Live is hilarious. David Mitchell is in his element – self-indulgent ranting that is cheered because it is heart-felt – often you can’t even be arsed to listen, the guy is so verbose, but you know it was probably fucking excellent. Charlie Brooker has shit hair, but who cares, the man is a miserablist genius. Jimmy Car is much funnier than I ever thought he could be and even Lauren Lavern is getting better.

So long may it continue. We need it in these dark times.