Thursday, October 16, 2014

When K-Punk's Capitalist Realism came out X number of  years ago, I found it disappointing, deflating, as I think quite a few people did. Firstly, partly because I was already familiar with a lot of  Mark's observations  and formulations  from his blogging, secondly because, such was my faith in his  powers, I really thought he was going to come  up with an answer to the  question posed in the  sub-title "is there really no alternative?". Which he didn't.

It seems though that Mark essentially then set about trying to answer that question himself, along with collaborator and frequent interlocutor Jeremy Gilbert. What I think is particularly striking about this paper (fingers crossed it's as widely read as Capitalist Realism, to which, really, it is the response) is that aside from a few references to Dr Who and the shiteness of contemporary music culture it isn't at all what you might have expected Mark to come up with/out with several years ago i.e. it's  not very Gothic, nor does it seem to care much about theory. Can it be that Mark is just as interested in the work of Eric Olen Wright or Gar Alperovitz as he is Lacan or the  films of Kubrick?  It seems so.

I find this heartening and politically instructive,  heartening on a human level because I like Mark (I have met him about three times, we have very different personal styles, we exchange a comment on Facebook about once every three years on average just in case you think we are part of some mutually supportive, backslapping, entryist Cabal) and will always be grateful to him for having created the kind of electrifying intellectual excitement that no-one now particularly wants to admit was absolutely vital to their own intellectual development and re/awakening ( not to mention his support being integral, via Zero / the Wire in adding impetus to a few careers) and also heartening and instructive because it demonstrates the necessity of thinking the moment, uncluttered by prior aesthetic and theoretical commitments.

Actually this format also seems to have liberated and helped to coalesce the argument in Jeremy Gilbert's Common Ground too. Liberated, I mean, from the need to painstakingly justify every point with reference to the entire tradition of human thought to which academics are professionally subjected. As usual Gilbert's snappy CiF piece is littered with commonsensical sneering below the line of the Oh really and What about and The author clearly doesn't even seem to know ilk, whereas, you can trust me, I have read his book, he honestly, really has thought of all that stuff and maybe, y'know, even a little bit more.*

Beyond Markets, Beyond Machines. Actually the second of those two beyonds doesn't really get unpacked here, but I hope it will!

PDF here.

* my favourite ever example of this was when Peter Hallward did a bit for CIF after the earthquake in Haiti and someone in the comments box suggested (after a quick read of wikipedia, I assume) that Hallward didn't even seem to know that Aristide had been president twice. I have a strict policy of never leaving comments on anything but even I was tempted to get in there and say, have you read Damming the Flood? Jesus Christ it's the most laboriously researched and minutely detailed 800 page doorstop imaginable.  Naturally I restrained myself, for as we know, that way madness lies. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Two absolutely brilliant mixes by Matt Woebot. Interesting especially in that they bear all the hallmarks of his own work, a gentle, genteel absurdism, a slightly melancholy, whimsical, askew Englishness, cheeky humour, an ear for subtle nonsense and understated beauty. All the more remarkable then that they are reggae mixes. There's a crazy back story to how the mixes came about but no doubt Matt will reveal all himself one day.

Actually this is probably, subliminally, where Matt's love of the Canterbury scene and Reggae meet. Big Pussy Sally no doubt a Jamaican cousin to Caravan's Waterloo Lily.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Self promotion is always horrible. It’s always seemed to me, anyway, antithetical to Leftist political positions. I suppose if you have Leftist or “radical” product to promote you can always tell yourself that you’re engaging in such things in order to get that important message out there, to shift discourse, that you are, perhaps even nobly, prepared to get your hands dirty by fighting on their territory, or there’s the appeal to pure pragmatism, hey I’ve got to eat!

The no-doubt foolhardy false opposition, would you rather be stacking shelves in Socialism or occupying the position of Acclaimed Leftist Writer in Capitalism keeps crossing my mind.  I’d be happier with the former. Partly because there are few things as tiring as being among people who sit around talking cleverly about culture all day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Mazzucato (and others)

Really interesting radio show here with Mazzucato,  Arun Majumdar  and Mark Littlewood the head of the CBI.
What’s especially interesting is both how periperal Littlewood seems to the conversation and  how panic has stripped down the discourse of  a certain type of bluff Business bullshitter. This is the rhetoric distilled and then just repeated ad nauseum, a panicked grasping at the  talismanic. You can’t see Littlewood but you can imagine him quite clearly, a species of Farage,  the blokey pomposity, the lack of preparation, the  entitled assumption that as he is only talking to a couple of academics, not people who have  run an  actual business, he will be able to  just wave it all away,  the deliberate use of sloppy almost childish terminology and phrasing in the repeated use of “stuff”.

This latter feature is reminiscent of the recent attempted controversy over  Piketty’s Capital in which his detractors repeatedly used the  word “sums” to describe the highly complex  collating and  crunching required to elaborate his thesis ( he’s got his  sums wrong). This patronising of other people’s ideas  and  arguments is the default setting in which non neo-liberal worldviews or the efforts  of Governments and  theorists attempting to extend the argument is  automatically characterized as childlike, silly, the  adults not only talking  down to the wilful kids in the naughty corner, but also addressing the dim mass of sheeple, who really don’t and  never will “get it” in all its complexity.  It's a strategy that has proven highly effective  in subordinating dissenting thought  throughout the neo-liberal project,  but here, especially, this discourse seems impotent, drained of affective force, a windy, blustering cycling around that struggles to reclaim its incantatory elan, cut off from any kind of  wellspring of belief, the sound in fact of a discursive  practice being drained of hegemonic power.  Mazucatto is undeniably a smooth operator,  who having made significant inroads into mainstream discourse is starting to gently turn up the pressure, here questioning the use of the term bureaucrat.

Her fellow heterodox economist Ha Joon Chang also seems to be growing bolder. Chang is always worth listening to, but in this lecture, more explicitly than usual, perhaps also a growing sign of the  centre of gravity shifting leftward,  he offers  up a condensed  critique of both neo liberalism  and what he calls the humanist school of developmental theory. The  arguments of  both Mazucatto and  Chang are part of a wider questioning of  neoclassical economics and the elision of production as a site of enquiry, the cognitive  dissonance  that this elision provokes and the discursive dream work that attempts to stitch the  gap closed.


Also rather remarkable to see the immensely canny Richard Wolff on the broadly intolerable Bill Maher’s show. Back when Wolff  started out (well started out in the sens etahthe had just retired and  decided to see how far he  could push his theorising into the public realm) he was cagey  about using the M word (Marxism) or the C word ( Communism, he still prefers the term Economic Democracy) so it is interesting to see him here openly “admitting” to being a Marxist.  And talking of elisions,  as Wollf often points out, he  studied  Economics at  Harvard, Princeton and  Yale without  once being required to read Marx.
No doubt these guys are too liberal or post modern for some, no doubt they are too mainstream or carrerist, but in terms of overall shifts in sentiment, in terms of what’s thinkable, in relations to a widening set of possibilities in which experimentation and change might take hold at a broader grassroots' level they are reasonable barometers of emergent possibilities. Ten years  ago, this stuff was beyond marginal, almost unthinkable, you would have been at best ignored, largely laughed out of town, even five years ago it was eccentric but intriguing as people groped to understand the crisis, now it looks like it’s gathering serious momentum.

Friday, July 18, 2014

This is an excellent interview. I need to think a bit more about both Alex and Rhian's thinking of late but I do have the (rather exciting) sense of something new cohering.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rhian getting it right, as usual.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Daniel with an excellent new post.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Breaking Bad


There's a loose connection between three films I have enjoyed recently, Peter Mullan's deeply perplexing NEDS, Clio Barnard's superb The Arbor, and Steve McQueen's extremely chilly Shame. Essentially they are, all three, films about the overwhelming grip of social and familial forces on individual lives.

In some sense this idea is no news to anyone, in another way though all three go against the grain of most contemporary film making in a way that is quite jolting: the central characters don't really have any choice about what they are doing, or understand why they are doing it. Shame and NEDS may have endings ambiguous enough to be read as vaguely feelgood, a final thaw and breakthrough of repressed emotion in Shame, a moment of atonement and a shift into a different set of social relations in NEDS but in The Arbor, a meta-documentary recast with professional actors, the Rita, Sue and Bob Too playwright Andrea Arnold's' life is overwhelmingly determined by her background, just as the lives of her daughters are. Here there's nothing left at the film's end except the question “what can be done about this”?

The cycle of deprivation, the cycle of abuse aren't terms you hear that much any more. Certainly when I was a kid and then when I was studying Sociology, even at O Level, they were commonly understood, broadly accepted. People came from difficult homes, and whether or not that was any excuse wasn't hugely debated, to claim that it wasn't set you on the side of the moralists and the reactionaries.

Back in the 70s, notions of  "cycles", their cast iron grip on lives and the stories of those who had miraculously escaped were common. Folk heroes of a sort  were made out of seemingly unreformable criminals whose humane treatment or exposure to culture had allowed them to set their lives on a different course, report back on and proselytize for the necessary forms of concerted social intervention required to break the cycle. Jimmy Boyle, one of the most notorious, has his story superbly dramatized in A Sense of Freedom, John McVicar less so in the passable McVicar.

Post the 1980s, post the decline in Sociology and certain types of sociological thinking there has been a broad erosion of the generous “common sense” that one's own life is largely determined by continuums of external forces that need to be patiently analyzed and addressed, usurped by Business studies and the obsessive, endless reiteration of life as series of freely determined consumption choices (and the concomitant thrill of self-righteousness and sense of superiority over those who have “chosen” badly.) 

That's right, I blame neoliberalism.

In interviews Mullan likes to point out that knife crime in Scotland is no aspect of modern decline, loss of values and so forth, but has been going on for hundreds of years, is part of the long, terrifyingly impersonal reach of the pre-modern, and in the film, the central character John's swerve toward violence, precipitated by his expulsion from and rejection by the genteel middle class he seems to identify with and assumes he is due to join, is set against the backdrop of an abusive,alcoholic father, a wayward brother, sets of assumptions about “his sort” from the established authorities, and the broader culture of territorialism, machismo and gang warfare. 


Shame's rather different take, in class terms at least, focuses on the functional, even broadly culturally sanctioned sexual obsessiveness of a man who refuses to look at his own history of abuse despite his more emotionally voluble and vulnerable sisters attempts to get him to face up to what has happened to them. “We are not bad people,” she tells him in one of her numerous answer phone messages “we just come from a bad place”.

In The Arbor the appalling, tragic trajectory of Andrea Dunbar's daughter's life is leavened both by her insight and the extraordinary, unconditional loyalty of some members of her extended family, something predicated on the idea that really, it's all quite understandable: that this is what happens when you are neglected, unwanted by either of your parents, have an alcoholic mother heading for an early grave, are racially abused, sexually assaulted, live in poverty around other desperate people using drugs and booze to fill the days. If anything her aunt and uncle are ashamed that they haven't helped out enough.  

The Arbor, then, is the antithesis of something like Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, which seeks to lull us with the fantasy that the special ones, in this case an entreprenuer-of-the-self, feisty dancer will always find a way out and up, floating like an irrepressible, heart-shaped helium balloon above the estate. No one gets out in The Arbor, partly because of the sense that even if they did, what about everyone else, but almost wholly because, as the successful writer "from the slums" (Daily Mail) Dunbar's troubled life, or  the fictional high flier in Shame and promising young swot in NEDS suggest, it's not so much where you're at, as where you're from.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I like Mariana Mazzucato and her broad project as laid out in the book The Entrepreneurial State and her admittedly rather underfunded Rethinking the State videos. It’s a shame in fact that she hasn’t had the kind of money thrown at her that was available to Milton Friedman and cohort around Free to Choose.
Mazzucato’s work is in essence a riposte to the tiresome right wing shibboleth that only Capitalism could give us the I-phone for all the reasons laid out succinctly below.
In this way Mazzucato is providing one of the “new weapons” the Left seems to be in need of, a heavily researched and comprehensive exposure of what Mirowski calls “the double truth” of neoliberalism, that its utilisation of and dependency on the state must be publicly disavowed, that “market discipline” has nothing to do with business as practiced and everything to do with forging new forms of acquiescent subjectivity. Mazzucato equally points to theories of secular decline and “the declining rate of innovation” by suggesting the problem is that the public research purse is being increasingly squeezed by a set of private sector players who are not repaying, through taxes, sufficient funds for the R and D work that only Government can undertake. In essence our mighty Corporations and Heroic, Visionary CEOs are just freeriding and bullshitting us all.
Not only that but Mazzucato is pugnacious and understands the necessity of building (to again use Mirowski’s term) a “thought collective”, a heterodox and multidisciplinary grouping of those broadly interested in shifting discourse left-ward. What’s also great about Mazzucatto (as the below demonstrates amply) is that she is fighting on enemy territory; calling out neoliberals on what she believes is their misreading or only partial and highly selective reading of Schumpeter. It’s fighting talk, it’s collective in orientation, it’s also accessible, and not even refuted on the right. The Economist grudgingly acknowledged the essential correctness of her thesis.
There is, then, in Mazzucato’s work a kind of immediately comprehensible non or anti neoliberal common sense. These guys have never been interested in “rolling back the state”. They in fact depend on it, they just resent paying taxes and seeing a high proportion of profits go to wages, hence the attacks on Unions and the Welfare state. You may want to argue that the state itself is the problem, the executive arm of the bourgeoisie, the coldest of all cold monsters, but Mazzucato in re-reading Polanyi with Schumpeter opens up space for a certain form of Utopian speculation, exposing both neoliberalism’s Double Truth and the possibility of arresting or tempering Polanyis “double movement”, the state (re)conceived as a collective, radical endeavour, the ground of technological progress itself and business as a useful but essentially secondary and circumscribed enterprise. Stability without stagnation, a world shaped and directed by and toward rational goals.
The specific Utopianism at play here is of a revived social democratic project, or at least its continuation, taking the neoliberal restoration as itself an interregnum, and it asks us to consider, with the advances in technology, especially information technology over the last thirty years, whether it is persuasive to argue any more that no form of planning can ever know more, or produce better outcomes than the “cosmos” of the market. Of course to those for whom the defeat of the organized Left, the removal of stabilizers like wage rises and welfare states is simply the irrationality of Capitalism accelerating the production of its own gravediggers and the necessary preamble to Full Communism, this kind of Fabian, accommodationist approach will be anathema. So the question remains, are we in the depths of defeat and need to claw back all the lost ground, or on the cusp of victory, if only it will all get a little worse?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

You just knew the D word was coming, didn't you?

"Yuk, she can't believe she used that word. That's another term, another cliché she wants to scorch away. Dignity. Who is ever dignified but the defeated, the weak, the abused, the murdered, raped and marginalized when they are silently bearing their suffering, pleading their little case in quiet certainty that it is hopeless.

Fuck dignity, she wants power. She wants revenge. Strength."

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

I wonder how Louise Mensch thinks the cocaine she bravely regrets doing got to her table or gets up the noses of everyone she knows?

Certainly no men with guns involved at any point. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is this strictly an intro? Vine Street is more one of Sam's Cellular songs from a year or so ago innit? Covered of course on the truly horrible Song Cycle by Van Dyke Park's, which is itself an entire album made up of intros, more or less.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top intro, top choon, End of the day, does what it says on the label.

even shorter, even sweeter,

Short but sweet. Actually like this track more and more as years go by.

A blindingly obvious contribution to the Intro thing. But still a winner.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Now that every possible forgotten/neglected gem and genre has been brought to light and compiled/re-released/made available via youtube, raised from the darkness of obscurity, has the canon of great records been fundamentally altered? I mean there may have been some re-appraisal at the margin, but has it turned up anything of the magnitude of Rumours, for example, an album that sold millions of copies?

So we are more-or-less back where we started vis-a-vis the broad critical consensus ( best 100 X albums/tracks ever) but on more secure foundations?

Thursday, December 05, 2013

I have just discovered that Kung Fu Panda 2 contains the line "the only way out is up".

Clearly The  Blue Orchids have been more influential than we could possibly have  imagined.
David Cameron thinks British kids should learn Mandarin.

Wonder how much he's been using on his recent business junkets. Come on David, take the lead, I mean, it's only a foreign language, how difficult can it be?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I found that Owen Jones' lecture rather inspiring actually, and it makes me want to write more about British film and representations of class, specifically trying to build up a reasonable mini-canon of decent working class cinema over the past 20 odd years. I attempted this a bit in Classless, but that whole endeavour was a bit rushed.

Still, good stuff!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Good to see Owen Jones using Mariana Mazzucato's work in the Independent. Further to which....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013

This seems a worthwhile project, so I made a contribution.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Myanmar has a property bubble already.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some mad skillz there, plus cheekbones to die for.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This is a fantastic piece of film making.                                                                                                                                                         

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Excellent stuff! Dan has started a new group blog on TV to which I hope to be contributing at some point.

Contributors welcomed, Dan's address is under the "about" flap.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

Absolutely tremendous.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Basically right, according to the F.T.

Be interesting to see what the way-more ideologically driven The Economist has to say....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Initially that blog was just going to be me thinking about British film of the 60s and 70s but it  woud be  miles more  interesting if  it had a wider historical scope than that, so every era is an option, really.
Right, The Tory Imagination has turned into a collective blog innit,  so  feel free to pile in. Email me or one of the others if you want adding.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Essential reading for countering those "could socialism give us the I-Pad" observations, by basically outlining A that it did and B raising the question, can risk-averse, short termist capitalism actually give us it, really?

The report it's an expansion on is here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tory Imagination up and running with some rehashed posts on Connery from here and the decades' blogs. More original content coming soon.
Ha! How did I miss this post?


Resolution Way.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Just in case you were desperate to know my opinion of  Icona Pop's " I love it", i think it's great. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Resolution Way
New Tricky album is an absolute blinder. Have started posting videos etc over at the Tumblr I don't fully understand how to use yet. There will be a lot of Drum and Bass. But probably not the canonical good stuff. Interesting that both Goldie and now Tricky have sampled Ghosts by Japan, possibly my least favourite record of all time, but clearly a massive influence  on many things ( Mark K-P's follow up to Cap Realism is called Ghosts of my Life, innit?)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Smuggest ever Tory face?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

At some point Owen Jones is just going to punch someone on TV, innee?

Really exasperated by this "could  Socialism give us the Internet meme?" ( Cos after all the USSR was a scientific backwater wasn't it? How we laughed at their pathetic attempts to build weaponry and put people in space!)

Arm yourself dear Blogreader with this quote from Castells' The Internet Galaxy.

"In sum, all the key technological developments that led to the Internet were built around government institutions, major universities and research centres. The Internet did not originate in the business world. It was too daring a technology, too expensive a project, and too risky an initiative to be assumed by profit-oriented institutions."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Resolution way

Resolution way, in case you are wondering, is a street in Deptford that they are trying to gentrify.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Right, this blog seems to crash my and other people's browsers so I am officially retiring it and have set up a new cluster of  blogs accessible via Resolution way/Eminent Domain. I intend to be stupefyingly productive over the next  18 months, I seem, after a long hiatus, to have  got my  ambition back, let's hope a degree of  discipline has also returned!

I am going to be concentrating on fiction which might be  of limited interest to some of  you however this is a novel (or  two actually hence the split title) which seems to be  extremely concerned with popular music and the  1970s so I also have  two other blogs and related projects, one The Tory imagination, in which  will be exploring the films of the Seventies (and onward) and for which I will also be partly filleting earlier posts from this and  the Decades' blogs and Slouching toward Babylon which will look at Utopianism and apocalypticism in British films of the same era for an eventually fully cohered and  integrated book/blog.

There's also a Tumbler that I don't fully know how to use which I am going to use as a separate place to embed Youtube  links (thereby hopefully avoiding browser crashing problems) related to Resolution way/Eminent Domain a kind of soundtrack to the-work-in-progress if you like.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stupidly, I am working on two projects at the moment, a novel, which is  actually two interlinked novels anyway (so in a way three) and a look at British films of the Seventies on into the Eighties, so I am in the process of setting up two blogs where I can dump bits  of my works-in-progress, not so much for your  edification as a way of  forcing myself to take the whole thing seriously.

The first novelistic blog blogpost is here.

Still haven't decided on a title for the film one yet, but I will doubtless cross-post at the Decade's blogs anyway.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Excellent first post from Dan over at Faces, one from me(ish) at Up Close.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Ah that's interesting

A couple of years ago (4?5?6?) at a dubstep/wonky night at the Rhythm Factory in London's fashionable wherever (actually directly after seeing Maria and the Mirrors' like second ever gig, what a hipster bastard about town I used to be, eh?) Rustie did a kind of engaging set of goofy unquantised tomfoolery and eclectic drum and bass shenanigans that was kind of oh yeah, interesting y'know and a few of us had a dance around then the second it was finished the between sets DJ put on "I Luv You" and the previous forty minutes was instantly obliterated.

Monday, May 06, 2013


If I were him I'd write a novel.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Punk Capitalism enters its next phase.

Oh good, so I can protect my wealth from inflation and keep it out of the reach of Government, not have to lose money changing currencies when I jet around the globe meaning I have more to spend on myself and I can buy craft beer, gig tickets and bar snacks just by using my smart phone!

Thank fuck for that. If you have got any friends who are/you yourself are on the dole, drowning in debt, facing a pension short fall or unable to pay the Winter fuel bills, just have a look at this. Don't worry, look, these people's self interest and groovy lifestyle consumption is going to make it all all right. Exactly when we don't know but the revolution is coming and besides they look well fed and  comfy enough so even if it takes years well..... Rome wasn't built in an etc. You know you can trust them, the future is safe in their hands, they are small business owners, stockbrokers and lawyers.

Hmmm.. wonder how many extra hours work I will have to do to get some bit coin now the price has shot up. Should have been one of the smart guys and  got in early. I could be a bitcoin millionaire now like Max Kieser. Still at least we have  created a new raft of bitcoin rich! They need somewhere to spend so the wealth is bound to trickle down! If I had some initiative  instead of  just sitting round festering in the politics of envy I would be setting up Bitcoin friendly services to cater to their needs.

A funky, subversive "punk" bitcoin e-bay maybe. Bitbay! With a cool logo and everything.

Of course what you don't understand about digital currencies Carl is that they are truly unregulated and implicitly anti monopolistic. Just like the internet, the great, earth changing, State subverting, new digital commons about to unfold before us was twenty years ago! But this time, it really is!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I wish this blog was updated a bit more often. Though it does look like they have already done their twice-yearly posts already, so the rest of 2013 could be a bit barren.
More Scottish Oil chat here.

Last line is particularly apt. I live in Japan at the moment, a country that has apparently been in decline for twenty years, nonetheless you would have to say Japan seems to have plenty of potential wriggle room, it could for instance solve its demographic problems by simply allowing mass immigration: highly unlikely, I grant you, but it could. Same goes for numerous other reforms that are politically/culturally contentious (opening to trade, restructuring companies etc) but possible and gains from "innovation" in fuel sources/raw materials etc.

But England? When the oil runs out and finance fucks off to Singapore, what have we got?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gonjasufi, how do I love thee!
If any of the this blog's readers knows of the whereabouts of a copy of the documentary "Wasted Windfall" from back in the early 90s that would be great.

Certainly time it w as re-broadcast/made available.

Considerably ahead of "the return to Sabbath" and on an album with a song entitled "Blue Cheer". Had they been born in Seattle they would no doubt have  had their fifteen minutes, passed into legend and be ready to launch a minor but lucrative re-union tour as we speak.

Oh good, I can make it to this this year.

I have huge respect for the organisers even though I have never met them.

Actually Barrow-in-Furness has always been pretty adventurous musically. There were some really good gigs there during the late 80s, partly local promoters putting on Indy bands (would you believe the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Shamen among may others all played the tiny Bluebird Club prior to getting big/becoming dance-oriented). Then in the later Eighties it was quite plugged into the "Noise" scene primarily via the truly awesome Mel-o-tones/ Walking Seed's connection with Kramer and Shimmy disc. It was also always hospitable to punk and crusty bands as well. And, due to being up North was a reasonably early adopter to House (everyone went on fairly regular pilgrimages to Eastern Block in Manchester, many to worship at the feet of Graham Massey, personally I used to sneak off to Affleck's and try and pluck up the courage to speak to Mark Hoyle.)

Actually I was reflecting the other day just how many now "legendary" post-rock/shoegaze bands I saw during the late eighties/up to mid nineties (basically all of them) and just how amazingly boring most of them were. 

I cant remember how  may times I saw Lush, Swervedriver, The Pale Saints, the Boo Radleys. Even once was one time too many.

Bark Psychosis playing to thirty people in the Duchess of York in 1994 (or somewhen) sounds amazing right? It was dull as dishwater. 

I have a feeling I even saw Disco Inferno. Or was it Ultramarine? Who cares? I sat at the back getting pissed as they droned unexcitingly on to seventeen fidgety hardcore Melody Maker muso-boffins (of which I was admittedly one).

Techno Animal doing "Ghosts" live to an audience of literally five people ?

Nah, actually. That was pretty great.


Of course Thatcher famously slammed down a copy of Hayek's "The Constitution of Liberty" and declared "this is what we believe", significantly not using the first person singular. Thatcher is the Leader, Hayek the Master.

I wonder what book the Left* would slam down now, in an equivalent constitutive act.

*by which I mean of  course the redundant/ fascist/ totalitarian/ Leninst/ social-democratic etc Left.

There's a lot of battling over the meaning of the Seventies and the idea that Thatcher rescued a Britain that was in terminal decline. The book that's instrumental in setting up this dispute is of course Andy Beckett's "When The Lights Went Out", essential reading really. 

Of course I was just a kid in the Seventies and a teenager in the Eighties. My mum and dad aren't formally educated, dad left school at fourteen and became a plumber, mum at sixteen and did various bits of extra work before marriage and after my sister and I had reached the age where we didn't need to be looked after so much.

Now my parents were "aspirational" in a sense, they wanted their kids to go to University. This was a slightly ludicrous ambition for a working class family in the Seventies when it was  still the situation that many, many people could leave  school at sixteen with few or no qualifications and expect to make a living. Fewer people went into higher education than they do these days. On the other hand it was actually financially possible, as far as I recall my dad earned under he  national  average  wage all his working life and they were  certainly careful  with  money, no  car, no  foreign  holidays, they don't  drink or  smoke  (not very  working class of them eh?) so no  expenses there, no H.P. for furnishing and  white goods, not much keeping up with the Joneses. Instead they bought a house  with a garden on the outskirts of  town, saved  for their retirement and  educated their kids ( a bit of an uphill struggle in my case).

Now even by the time I got to University it  would have been virtually impossible  for someone who left school at fourteen no matter how thrifty and diligent to buy a house, retire comfortably and send their kids to tertiary education. This would be despite the bounty of North Sea oil, the wonders of myriad supply side reforms and the impending Great Moderation.

In other words I consider that I was in one sense extraordinarily lucky, that for a while a window opened and then got pretty much slammed shut. This opening was the result of several factors, some world-historical, some cultural and local but if as they say, the nation has been saved, the question is still saved from what, saved for whom?


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ah, I see.

That grandson looks like a promising lad, innit?

"He has previously worked for a Republican-aligned political group that aims to 'educate and empower the Hispanic community with conservative values'." (italics mine)

Timely stuff on The White Ribbon from everyone's favourite uncle, Ben.
Right! No more Thatcher funeral for me!
I hate the bogus universality of death, the suspension of moral judgement, the wiping away of the historical record, the ontological flattening.

"in the midst of life we are in death"*

*but some of us are more in death than others
Ideology at its purest.

Finally, my brethren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having gird your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--"

Could this be framed more as an Atlanticist, intergenerational crusade? Also imporatnt to have the young girl say it too right? Both to soften its extremity but also to relibidinize the message and reaffirm that this is an inclusive battle of the just against the wicked.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I am fairly sure that when I saw him doing this acoustic and solo a few years ago it was " I cried the day I walked you down the aisle."
Fantastically heart warming interview with Richard Thompson by novelist extraordinaire and Zero books head honcho Tariq Goddard, who kindly let me ask R.T. a question by proxy.

Interesting what he says about the 35 to 40 thing, definitely true in my own life, I have to say.

As an inventory of English types and lives Thompson's work is surely up there with the greats.

Sometimes I long for the solitary life
Parents long gone, no kids, no wife
Sister somewhere in Australia
Never did keep in touch
Sex no more than a how-do-ye-do
With a copy of Tit-Bits in the loo
Socially a bit of a failure
Nice not to have to try too much

A Solitary Life
A life of small horizons
Dull as the pewter sky over North West Eleven

A serious hobby in the garden shed
Model trains, or soldiers in lead
Join the suburban boffins of Britain
Experts on trivial things
And holidays in the Yorkshire Dales
Or cycling tours of the North of Wales
Unenvious of those flea-bitten
On continental flings

A Solitary Life
A life of small horizons
Dull as the pewter sky over North West Eleven

Excitement comes by subtle means
The satisfaction of routines
Small revenges at the office
Smug little victories
You work on your pallor, complexion like paste
Like the grey defeat on an inmates face
A life spent adding losses and profits
Resigning by degrees

A Solitary Life
A life of small horizons
Dull as the pewter sky over North West Eleven

And come to the end, sad and alone
A steady reliable tumour you’ve grown
From selfish years, while all your peers
Have stressfully jogged to health
In life you always were quite numb
And foggier now, you soon succumb
In drab St. Barts on the new by-pass
Death overcomes by stealth

A Solitary Life
A life of small horizons
Dull as the pewter sky over North West Eleven

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ah, I see "Footbal Hooliganism" has "returned".

I dealt with that quite a lot in Classless, as I recall. I still reckon I.D. is the best of the Hooligan films, even though, obvioulsy I am also an Alan Clarke fan. In fact a quite remarkable film.

I wish someone would sample this bit for a choon.

One of the best things to come out of the N.Y. Noise scene of the late 80s.
Powerful return from Wayne, continued brilliance from Phil and Paul a great Intro from Bobby (not his real name).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Good to see the North Sea Oil version of Thatcherite success doing the rounds.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Or maybe it's this.
You can keep your Mozzes and Costellos and whatever, the greatest commentary on Thatcherism is this.

and this.

Good lad!
Ahh, Thatcher's dead.

Shame, as that now virtually guarantees a Tory re-election victory in 2015 and the nation is about to enter into a frenzy of competitive grieving. This  time I suspect it is  going to get a lot more thuggish and ugly than it did with Diana. Then, non-participation wasn't deeply politicized (though I remember still almost getting into a fight in  a greengrocers in Ramsgate the morning of the funeral because I had chosen to work that morning). This time it will be. If you are thinking of  having any kind of celebration prepare to be targeted and criminalized.*

My deep condolences to all who will now have to suffer through this 24/7 full-spectrum sanctification campaign. Perhaps most wretched of all will be  watching Labour's attempts to out-eulogize the Tories and vie unsuccessfully to be true inheritors of her legacy. If Blair massively benefited from Diana's death, Cameron has been gifted an aura and a legitimacy now that will be  virtually unassailable, to attack him will be to attack Thatcher. It will be sacrilegious.

And all the  violence that is going to be done to the poor can be justified and will be redoubled by invoking the Blessed Margaret's name.

It is about to get even more fucking lunatic than it has been. I imagine  Louis Mensch is  already weeping in the street, rending her garments with her eyes rolled up to heaven, babbling. If you worried that they were unhinged before, their zealotry is about to hit unbelievable peaks.

Maybe I am wrong, I certainly hope so, but for once I am glad I am out of the country. If I weren't I would be laying low and waiting for the hysteria to blow over. Any chance that can have happened by the end of May?

Maybe you are braver than me, in which case, anyway, be safe.

* Of course I am being a bit South/London-centric in my thinking there. If you live anywhere else, fill your boots!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


My ongoing dystopian novel gets caught up with at a frightening pace.

I have decided to come back to the UK permanently from mid May. I feel guilty living abroad, really.

Oh well. It was a nice extended honeymoon.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Excellent first post from Paul over at the 80s blog.

Anyone else fancies posting, just email.

Friday, March 22, 2013


To be honest I don’t  think I really understand  Federico Campagna’s “Happy Precarity” at all.

Here’s what I understand him to be saying. The  desire for fluid  living in the 70s, the escape from 9 to 5 drudgery into more autonomous forms of “self-employment” have shifted from a liberatory “line of flight” to a generalized state of “precarity”. We must not abandon the commitment to Fluidity and Precarity, i.e re-attach ourselves to discredited institutions such as Labour parties and Unions, the social democratic model of the State etc but instead reclaim the liberatory potential of precarity, the conditions for which are now really, actually present in a way they weren’t before because of (ta-da!) the Internet, or  more specifically the deep-net a kind of Utopian inner space (rather tellingly eroticized, exotisized and orientalised here in Campagna’s representative choices of the Silk Road and platforms for online sex work) putatively permanently beyond the reach of Capitalism. The  medium of exchange being that indisputably revolutionary and  unregulatable new currency, Bitcoin! ( I winced a bit while reading it, just a day after this.)

There are  couple of things I don’t get here, and maybe that’s because I am ignorant about Autonomia, though like any good comrogue I listen to Novara (and, like everyone else presumably, have developed an unseemly crush on James Butler) and did read half of Bifo’s “Precarious Rhapsody” last Summer (though it seemed to be all over the place and not really worth plowing through to the end of. Maybe I should return to it.) Then again. presumably this short essay is also supposed to serve as a persuasive introduction to its importance and relevance.

Basically though I can’t see any huge distinction between this happy precarity of  disintermediated autonomous exchange and alternate “competitive” currencies to the arguments of Randians/ Rothbardian Anarcho-capitalists. They also want a labour market in  which the government doesn’t have monopolistic control over the currency and in which onerous regulations are swept aside in favour of a purer market structure, one in which I and the Employer/Customer encounter each other face to face without the distorting effects of the State.  Campagna’s marketplace of happy precarity seems to be Adam Smith’s invisible hand sweetened with a dash of affectivity, “a union of  egoists” sounding not unlike Smiths butcher, brewer and baker but with added benevolence, because all egoists (here I understand this to mean those not constructed through “terroristic” metanarratives, religion, Marxism etc, “freethinkers” in other designations “bohemians” the “counterculture” etc) must, in recognizing the right to otherness as  constitutive  of their  own  subjectivity, automatically respect that right in others.

In a sense then the pursuit of self interest not only guarantees us the goods and services we demand/require but also the sociality that we yearn for, if only the State would get  out of the way. Thus from the state, that coldest of all cold monsters, we are also affectively destituted. The essay  in no way  question  the assumption  that a certain  kind of “egotistical calculation” is the  problem, the  problem here is (as for many on the anti-statist right) that the state distorts both the affective/social and economic markets from fulfilling their potential. Libertarians wouldn’t care much about the affective dimension, they are too ruggedly individualistic for that, but I’d struggle to see why what’s proposed here is much  different. From a true market exchange all good things will flow, here the true market is a really existing “immanent” Arcadia called the deep-web, a kind of “Autonomia of everyday life” that requires but some skilled midwifery in order to radically alter and de-alienate relations of all kinds among men. Friendship is, after all, just another form of utility maximisation.

The book is available here. It’s a quid!

As an aside, not to get too anti-Utopian and raise practical transitional questions rather than assuming that  immanent tendencies will somehow burgeon and sweep away the existing order in a happily bloodless circumventing of the state and the withering away of its repressive capacity because now we have mesh networking and e-currencies and social media, I am myself a precarious worker here in Japan, a freelance English teacher. And I would consider myself to be in a state of happy precarity for a couple of reasons, but primarily because I can pay my month’s rent and bills in the centre of Fukuoka (considered one of the 20 best cities to live in globally by Monocle magazine, so whatever your tastes, no slouch infrastructure and services-wise) on three hours work plus travelling stipend a week. If I also do a few hours on a Saturday afternoon I can eat for the month and have a bit of leisure (though given that my leisure is basically the internet it’s not a huge expense). That’s right, my rent is low and I am comparatively well paid per hour (and I enjoy my job, lucky me) but even a worker on minimum wage would be able to rent their own place here (Fukuoka), eat and crucially ( for the Japanese), have a mobile, they would also be able to find that work quite easily and quickly. That’s why, right now I am not in London, or Tokyo. My happy precarity is predicated on low rent and the potentially huge looming oversupply in the Japanese housing market outside Tokyo, on the long period of deflation post bubble plus relatively stable wages.Some pretty heavy macro-economic and demographic considerations in other words.

Now I would love to be able to transfer my happy precarity back home. What’s the plan for increasing housing supply/reducing housing costs drastically in the UK, as an affordable and secure, reasonably comfortable dwelling place seems to me the fundamental prerequisite for any kind of happiness, especially a happy precarity. Is the disintermediated deep-web going to get more affordable houses built or radically reduce rents? I have often rented  in London via that traditional form of disintermediation, the dusty precursor to the liberatory depths of deepnet, the Post Office window, me and the landlord one to one!

He still wanted “the going rate”.