Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Friday, June 02, 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

It must be the vitamins that keep him going

indefatigable Renaissance  man Matt Woebot's  sublime yet instructive latest video project here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

You should donate to this.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Guy Called Gerald Escape HD HQ

Never heard this before: samples Negativeland's Escape from noise and Christianity is stupid, eh?

Monday, May 01, 2017


Novara  media have done tirelessly inspiring work for the left over the past five years and if  you can manage it I would encourage you to donate/subscribe.


Audio Resolution

The audio book of Resolution Way gets released in a week or so. It's here. 

Of course I suppose the downside of the impending Labour landslide will be to make this novel seem less relevant. Still you can always think of it as the future we have now happily avoided!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Knots in May

They create chaos because they are weak

We create chaos because we are strong

therefore only we can protect you from the chaos we create

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017


though lee scott claims this was the track that made him want to become a rapper

Robbie Williams - Rudebox

This could be the UR-text here, though. Then again I have always liked it.


We seem to be going through something of a golden age for hyper pop culture literate absurdist lo-fi provincial British hip-hop. With great videos.

and let's not even get into that Strange U album

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Remarkable. So when are these guys getting on the cover of the Wire?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

No point in this not being publicly available is there? Especially as setting it up in Blog format was a bit of a labour of love. Apologies for dead links and inserts. time takes its toll.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

No more miserable Monday mornings

He meant a lot to me and did a lot for me and I'm far from being the only one who owes him a huge debt of gratitude. My thoughts to his family and close friends.
What a horrible loss. What a tremendous influence.

"when I am dead and gone/ my vibrations will live on"

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Platform Capitalism is a very brisk, highly readable (yet detailed!) summary of the last thirty years plus a very cogent and persuasive overview of types and development of platforms, their role in contemporary capitalism, future direction and, briefly, possible responses to their power.

So that's a recommendation, then.

Platform Capitalism (Theory Redux)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Interview with yours truly by working class hero David Lichfield over at his blog The Work Trials. Just in time for Christmas too! Trust me, if you knew how much I rambled you would understand the herculean levels of synthesisng and sculpting the lad has undertaken.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

This is a short and very interesting analysis of the grounding of bitcoin (and related cyberlibertarian tropes) in the discourse of the extreme right.

Golumbia also blogs here

The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism (Forerunners: Ideas First) by [Golumbia, David]

Monday, September 19, 2016

I'll be representing the mighty Repeater Books at this mini-Indy-Lit-fest  next week, reading from Resolution Way I guess.

Also a nice review of the book here.

Anybody else wants to review that book anywhere, just let me or Repeater know and we'll get a copy to you.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The in/estimable Owen Hatherley using Resolution Way to talk about the transformation of South London (among other things).

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

A Begging Letter.

Anybody out there feels well enough disposed toward me or my works, I'd be grateful if you gave me a vote on this.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Still banging on about the same old thing.

In the ongoing attempt to get someone, anyone to pay attention to Resolution Way (it's a crowded scene!) we are having a crack at this....

Anybody who has read it and feels they could nominate it, that would be great, and incur a lifetime's supply of pints owed etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Officially inspirational,

There's a short interview with me here. Dunno what I am doing with my hands in that photo.....

Friday, July 01, 2016

For heaven's sake man, buy!

In piss-poor attempt at promotion I remind you all that this exists. That's just what the reading public needs right now, a political dystopia to escape into.
If anyone has any better ideas re promotion I'd welcome them!
Also if I promised you a copy fear not, they will be dispatched this very weekend. Even if its raining! 
Which it will be

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

in a nutshell.

The defence of Corbyn is not the defence of an individual, even an admirable and, as the present situation shows, extremely brave one, but the defence of a possibility (and at the moment it is only a possibility) that Labour can offer and generate alternative purposes to those given by existing economic, political and social power. To defend Corbyn is also, though, to will and then engage in the thought and practical effort required to resolve the serious problems articulating, defending and finding ways to institutionalise and implement a modern socialist programme

Good blog post from Tom Gann

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Resolution Way extract at the Repeater blog.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

Bank holidAYA.

I chose the name and that image I'll have you know.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Indeterminate Resolutions

Right. well there you go. Though  actually it appears, rather in keeping with the books central theme that Resolution Way both exists and does not yet exist. Perhaps depending on whether or not, or who is looking.

Again I can only beseech anyone  who has read it to leave  a positive  comment on Amazon, should they feel positive  about it of course. Apparently these things matter.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lovely stuff, as Alan Partridge would doubtless affirm.

WordPress code

Thursday, May 05, 2016

An important day for everyone of a left-leaning political disposition in the UK today. 

That's right, it's exactly two weeks until sleeper feel-good dystopian hit of the long, hot 2016 summer rockets to the top of the bestseller list, driven by the wave of radical leftism sweeping through the country.

You can pre-order it on Amazon, but you should probably get it from your local independent bookshop.

And if you do, thanks. I owe you a pint.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Self Possessed

Winter sleeps and dreams of Summer
As does Autumn, as does Spring
but Summer, in its fleeting fullness
dreams it is beyond such things.
I, on the other hand had my first anxiety dream about Resolution Way coming out last night and am strongly tempted to enter into a period of protracted hibernation myself.

AYA, you'll be delighted to discover, is emerging from its winter hibernation.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Brion Gysin - All Those Years

This just appeared out of nowhere as I was listening to youtube, and it's really rather lovely, simple, charming, unexpectedly so. So I thought I'd share it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lee Scott - NVR MND (prod by Chemo) OFFICIAL VIDEO

Lee Scott/Blah Records on a bit of a roll at the moment.....

Great video too.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Slow Tech

No coincidence perhaps that this article

and this appear on the same day!

It's the (gratifyingly slow) partial return of Illbient really, innit? No objections there and much as I think a lot of this stuff is great it still hadn't surpassed Illbient's high point which, for me, must be this,

or maybe this 20 bpm banger.... a return to slow in the offing?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Out soon...

19th of May to be exact. I'll get some author copies no doubt. If you'd like one, email me. All I ask in return is that if you like it you leave a positive review on Amazon. And if you don't, you just quietly bin it.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bass bits 3. The day everything became nothing

Another bass-driven hardcore band that reached their creative peak around the late 80s and early 90s and around whom, mysteriously, no critical consensus as to their excellence has coalesced is of course, No Means No.

The album Wrong remains as good as anything from the time, while the Blast First retinue were lionized partly because the smart, Vorticist-inspired branding and post-industrial/ experimental/no-wave pedigree of many of its bands fit the bill for smart, arty, leftfield attempts to revivify rock(ism) other less readily theorizable but no less exhilarating or experimental bands were relegated to second or third  division as lumpen hardcore, naive or simplistic  aggro music for the dog-on-a-string brigade, moshing music for the unwashed.

No means No were on the unfashionable Alternative Tentacles, Jello Biafra's label and as such, suspect, retrograde, tarred no doubt by association with The Biafran sensibility, (a sensibility that to be fair inflects most anarchism) painful self-righteousness combined with laboured Situationist wackiness (see; Chumbawamba). No means No might on first glance appear to be proponents of The Wacky, technically brilliant musicians “subversively” squandering their gifts as a repudiation to the sad, co-opted straight world of “success”/ the Industry and expecting to be celebrated for such (see; Ween), but any serious engagement with their work, saturated in dread, caustic surrealism and straight romantic yearning along with a dynamically inventive approach to the form that pushed hardcore right up against the limits of funk, prog, jazz and metal without ever spilling over into math-rock or other dry attempts at “complexity” and hybridization should rapidly rebut any such association. They remained fun, funny, powerful, ingenious, surprising, moving, perplexing; ranged widely without ever losing the essential elements of their own unique take on life and their chosen genre. You might call that the very definition of the fully achieved artist.
All bass dance-floor filler from the Phono's hardcore night circa 1988. Killer bass, killer guitar, killer lyrics. ditto non-Wrong bangerz (this list is potentially huge so I content myself with three more.) Worldhood also a strong contender for best NMN album.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Simon observes that there's not that many bands with two bassists. True, but luckily there is also.... Cop Shoot Cop.

Now given that Cop Shoot Cop remain one of my favourite bands of all time I am hard pressed not to just post all their albums up here. Instead I’ll do a rough chronology of best (bass) bits from Piece Man through to Release, from sharp-edged, metallic, primarily percussive Neubautenism to the more slickly produced, propulsive rubberized bounce once they got onto a major. The two-bass, percussion and sampler set up was a deliberate attempt to Smash Retro, to force rock into a different direction, expand the logic of post punk, staying true to their anti-Reaganite political vision and their experience of poverty and exclusion in the New York of the Eighties. Why they aren't celebrated as one of the great bands of the period (or indeed all-time) remains a mystery when also-rans Drive like Jehu are somehow headlining ATP. Off we go.



 A great high-toned hulking beast of a bassline on this bad boy.


 What's a lousy cut of meat/without a stinking crust of bread?

 But can't resist posting this one for the way the bass is used to lunge in, scatter shards and shrapnel around, generate tension.


 50 grand would make me a man!

But could also be used  to produce lovely, elegiac,chrome-plated melodic lines when they needed to get more ballady on us. Even if they were ballads about existential and political deadlock.


 Injustice is never an accident.

And also managed to combine the icily mournful with surges of bracingly cold funk. Plus some of the best lyrics, possibly the only explicitly political lyrics of the era.


Everything was easier when you had your time/ you have taken my innocence and now you want my prime/now what have you given me to remember you by/but hazy excuses and a handful of lies.?

Of course as they launched Project Mersh fully things started to get more conventionally rocky. Ask Questions Later tries to get into RATM and Springsteen territory, (Room 429) (among many other things) at the same time. Fantastically well in both cases, with extra doses of snark and Romanticism.

 Surprise, Surprise! The Government lies!

The below is probably a Natz track. Natz, to be fair, was the less interesting of the two vocalist/bassist both musically and lyrically tending to emphasize the post-Birthday Party/Scratch Acid to Jesus Lizard, skronk and howl. There's a bit too much Johnny Cash and Rockabilly in Natz's track as as opposed to the starker, wry Europeanism in Todd A's stuff, still this is a beauty.


If your lover used to beat you with his anger/if your mother used to tie you to a rock/ observe your former life preserved in amber/ like someone pulled the power on the clock.

The last album, Release goes full on for memorable, bouncy bass lines and is their most Stranglerish (clearly an unacknowledged influence) but still manages to produce some post Neubauten/ Young Gods derived clangoursly driving industrial belters a la.....

 Another Natz track, I suspect.

But the best of this is definitely Todd A ( who went on to found the brilliant Rain Dogs era Waits inspired

 Can't really pick a best track, it's generally superb.

One last track then? Indulge me! A rather beautifully deployed scatter-shot, swelling melodic line from Days Will Pass another of the haunting, cusp-of-defeat semi-lullabies they also plied.


 We write the book/ we take the praise but not the blame.

Ah, so true! Drive like  bloody Jehu, I ask you.......

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bass 1.

So we are doing bass are we? Basstard that I am I am going to get in first with Punk Bass Favourites.

There's a particular kind of charging/frantic bass intro that sort of hurries/propels you into the track and these three are I think particularwinners in setting up the bit-when-the-guitar comes in.

THIS for instance is a bit long/flashy but it's still a great bass intro, innit?

Some people may well claim that The Stranglers have  been written out of Punk history for being to true to its apparent principles. I say this is also true of the Misfits and I also say that this is another rip-snorting intro, It's the tone as much as anything, along with those cheap tumbling drums. Gets me every time, in its numerous versions


And who could  forget of  course The Dwarves' magnificent Fukking Life from the epochal Tooling For a Warm Teabag?*

Hmm. Maybe  I'll stick with Punk/Hardcore for a bit. Just so I can revisit all the songs I listened to from 15-20.

*for those who care Fukking Life starts at 1:56.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Repeater books' first two books out today, That's been a pretty heroic effort from leaving Zero to getting the stuff out there ( a year and a few months I guess). Massive respect to all involved.

Facebook page here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Shintaro Sakamoto -- "You Can Be A Robot, Too (feat Kamome Children's Ch...

I have discovered THE Accelerationist anthem. Of course it's Japanese. Goes the full gamut from the Extropian desire to engineer ourselves away from the horrors of the body to full automation and posits a burgeoning collective of pre-teen Transhumanists hungering for a release from work and the burden of emotions who will oversee the process. No, honestly, it does. Plus it's catchy.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Aya

This should be the perfect start to the year/tonic for your hangover.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I have never paid any attention at all to Nick Cohen to be honest. Not out of any strong (prior!) dislike I’d just presumed my time was better spent reading other things. I am also generally highly resistant to anti-Corbyn clickbait. Nonetheless this morning I did open this article and was, to say the least, surprised by the level of flimsy, delusional bullshit on offer. It’s almost as if we are living in two completely different Universes, Nick and I.

Nick bemoans the fact that the Tories are running over us unchecked by any serious opposition and the implication of course is that this is Corbyn and his supporters fault, after all Tories are going to be Tories, we shouldn't hold them to account for their actions, it’s “in their nature” and the real responsibility for the Government’s actions lies with the Opposition’s failures to counter them. Ultimate responsibility for food banks then lies with the Corbynistas. This is a perverse and self serving, you might even say morally vacuous, position to take ( and I suspect that Nick is nothing if not a moral vacuum).

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't much of the Corbyn surge brought about precisely by the failure of Labour to oppose the Welfare bill and by Burnham and Cooper’s essentially cowardly, opportunistic abstention? Didn't John McDonnell stand up and say he would swim through vomit to oppose it while the majority sat on their hands? Aren't the 48 MPs who did oppose it all the ones likely to do well in the imminent re-shuffle, and rightly so, “ after such knowledge, what forgiveness” and all that? Hasn't there been any effective opposition so far, no problems for the government whatsoever? Nothing around Tax credits? Hasn't McDonnell wisely shifted his position away from aping the Tories terms on the deficit? Hasn't political punditry been proven repeatedly and risibly wrong, around Oldham for example? Wasn't that increased vote a success, or are we just pretending it didn't happen, or doesn't mean what we insisted it would mean now we have been shown to be wrong? Still, of course the lack of integrity and realism is all on the other side, right? Not yours!

Perhaps none of this has happened and I have just imagined it all, no doubt I am so blinded by my atavistic political allegiances that I have some kind of confirmation bias that prevents me from seeing the wider political landscape like Nick. Heaven forbid that he has but this one shabby drum that he’s been beating for decades now every time the Guardian drops a coin in his slot. What pieces like this do is turn in some cod-serious analysis of Labour’s current dire state as true “opposition”, big on po-faced rhetoric and loftily fulminating with blocked compassion, without having the guts, or brains, to run with a convincing counter-factual. Where would we be now if Cooper or Burnham or Kendall had won, or if Benn came roaring in as replacement? Would they be holding the Tories feet to the flames over their cosying up to Murdoch? Would they be too abashed to do it at all if they had to face that dogged champion of the people Tristram Hunt across the floor, or any one of the others who wasn't previously prepared to oppose them on what should be a fundamental issue? Would Food banks have been instantly eliminated under Kendall, the leader we were repeatedly told the Tories most feared because she was somehow dead set on overturning the entire Thatcherite project and running completely counter to the Tories’ class interests by positioning herself to the right of them? Does this position of Nick’s, this implied loss and lack we suffer under, bear any relationship to the actual array of potential options as presented? Can a convincing case be made that any of the other candidates would be doing what is “needed”, can what’s “needed”, beyond a few empty signifiers; “effective opposition”, “electability” “ leadership” even be adequately defined here? The simple answer as far as I can see is: no.
Perhaps I won’t be reading him again, not because I want to bury my muddled head in the sandpit of infantile Leftism, I’ll happily read intelligent and honest Conservatives all day, even smart Neo-liberals, but this is just nothing, isn’t it? A windy, embittered, blustery and blathering nothing.

That’s what Nick’s bringing to the New Year Party.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I had always,somewhere at the back of mind, wanted to write something about Stump, mostly about what a superb lyricist Mick Lynch was, a man who now will mostly be remembered for repeatedly singing “big bottom” on The Tube.

When A Fierce Pancake first came out I was a bit disappointed; the Holger Hiller production was a little too monochrome and unmoored for me, lacked the drive and colour of Quirk Out or the fiercer elements of Mud On a Colon (Ice the Levant is essentially a retread of Release the Bats) Later I appreciated that as an album about depression personal and political in all its shades of grey, about trying to keep body and soul together in the money grubbing  80s, the pressure of poverty and bad habits on relationships, and the flights of  fancy, willful absurdity and gallows  humour  needed to get through, it was something of small, sui generis masterpiece. The  album it reminds me of most, oddly, is the Blue Orchid’s vastly more euphoric and acid-fuelled The Money Mountain. If the Orchids  were still riding the diminishing blast  waves of the Sixties on through to the early Eighties a Fierce Pancake’s ashen, punch-drunk psychedelia was more attuned to the drained, queasy, scattershot state of the counterculture by the end of the decade.

A Fierce Pancake, Wikipedia informs me, was Flann O'Brien's term  for “a  deep conundrum”, the conundrum of how to go about being an artist and an avant-gardist as the 90s arrive, and here’s perhaps the reason why it’s  easy not to look too closely at Stump or Lynch’s lyrics, there’s  a superficial or surface wackiness that has prevented a proper critical appraisal.

As a small personal tribute I have tried to transcribe the lyrics to Heartache, a brilliant, punning conflation of personal and political states .Though I can't quite get the bit where the vocal effects kick in.

Nothing grows in the shadow of heartache
House plants wither, time grows old
Entropy is a lousy friend
When you are in from the cold and at your wit’s end
It’s a leech, it’s a landlord calling for the rent
demanding the loot when you're already spent.

when hunting a headline means walking a breadline
when you're strangled on a shoestring,
blisters on a new thing (?),hooked
by fine line

Nothing grows in the shadow of heartache
House plants wilt, time grows old
Entropy is a lousy friend
When you are in from the cold and at your wit’s end
It’s a leech it’s a landlord calling for the rent
demanding the loot when you're already spent.

meet me and (?) the wound won’t heal
well that’s the rub of the deal
so much for chemistry
you’re just a suppository
for a pile of old memories

It’s a leech, it’s a landlord calling for the rent
demanding the loot when you're already spent.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Repeater celebrates its first anniversary by announcing its releases for the first half of next year. And you  can treat yourself to an early Christmas present (well, Christmas 2016) by pre-ordering the magnificent Resolution Way here, apparently.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

I have a guest post over at the Repeater blog, a playlist of 80's/90s Japanese female pop artists.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Anthony Galluzzo's fascinating ongoing spat with the Prometheans/Accelerationists ongoing here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Smart Cunts.

There seems to be a particular pack of broadly New Labour Leftists whose anger toward Corbyn I have difficulty characterizing as anything other than pathetic. To say that there is no substantive critique of their policy proposals, or a broad alternative analysis of what a post-Crash social and  economic strategy looks like, how Labour might get back into power and what the media-scape is now, would be a generous understatement; it rarely seems to get past the level of “URGGHH, look at his Beard.”+”my principled moral objection”/ “ LOL Trots and Tankies are so Eighties!” I can only conclude that Corbyn has ruined their brand, their image, tarnished the shiny New-Labour self they invested in; they liked that Blairite, business-suit-and-a-neat-haircut kind of Left, a Left comfortable with good food and nice houses, a Left that would go to war for a noble cause and help Britain punch above its weight in the world, a Left that would be taken seriously by Washington and Wall Street, that out of "realism" would do deals with Saudi and China, that was "adult" and had accepted the end of History, yet knew how to party and got why the creative industries (in which they work) were vital to the Nation etc. That's the kind of Left they want to be associated with, the kind of Left that relieved them of the burden of being uncool. Now you have to be associated with a hair-shirt, bearded pacifist Vegan in a tank top who doesn't think the economic argument is won and has all these "outmoded" attitudes. "URGGGH! look at his shirt" You don't want to rub shoulders with the uncool kids, the ones you felt superior to for years. You know a decent shirt when you see one,  you’re clued-up.

The immediate cry of "he's unelectable" also reveals something intellectually and imaginatively stunted in this over-identification with New Labour, an inability to dwell in "negative capability" a panicked desire to foreclose the moment, a movement you no longer understand .Something's  happening, there is a groundswell, the future is open, it may go in numerous directions, one needs to be  alive to  possibilities, more importantly , to seize them, more importantly still, maybe you can learn something from those people you previously dismissed, maybe a bit of humility would be in order, what, after all, did you do for the greater good during the Great Moderation you seem to somehow think New Labour conjured up for you with a slick suit and a bit of spin and which Yvette Cooper would somehow magically restore? Were you paying attention to what was on the horizon, what the foundations of your mini-golden age were built on, the direction of travel. No? None of this has caught you off guard? The Crash, the protests, the SNP, the Corbyn victory, Greece, the housing crisis, austerity. You were paying attention, close attention weren’t you, understood the axiom that the boom was merely the precondition for the nature, depth and severity of the bust? Or were you too busy congratulating yourself on being the  smart guys; all that stuff is over! And now you are wandering lost and  angry in a world you don't understand. And raging at it for being wrong. Or sulking and sniping. But hoping if you front it out long enough somehow your authority or credibility as One-Who-Gets-It will be restored.

So if anyone’s having an ongoing “emotional spasm” it’s this big bunch of petulant New Labour crybabies throwing their toys out of the pram because they don’t get to be THEY_WHO_KNOW anymore. I had a bit of this myself when a whole host of people half my age and much better informed, more highly educated than I am and roaringly articulate turned up on social media with a set of commitments and insights more radical than my own. I felt a bit threatened, I felt a  bit compromised, I adopted a defensive ego-protective approach of  tutting at their naive enthusiasms and wanting to “correct” them before having to admit, Carl, you still have lot to learn even if you are 42, swallow your unearned pride and accept that at best here you can contribute but you are in no position to command. Of course, I don’t have to have an opinion for a living, it doesn't matter much to me if I am wrong or I have to, once again, have my own limitations and shortcomings, my own relative ignorance revealed to me, to all. After all I am just an English teacher with a now very occasional blog. Imagine the discomfort of waking up one morning if you did it for a living and discovering that lots of young people think you're an irrelevance and that Seumas Milne is “a Don” (facebook, 2015). Why would they think that? Historical naivety? Unlikely, because if this generation have done one thing it’s stay in education due to limited work opportunities, and those history, political science and philosophy graduates are the ones most obliged to stay in there. Any analysis of the average level of formal education attained by the new surge of Labour supporters? I am prepared to bet there's plenty of MAs and PHDs in there. Not that that matters because they haven't had your “life experience.” and anyway we all know that degrees today aren’t as difficult as when you got your B.A. at the taxpayer’s expense.

One of the reasons Corbyn, Milne and McDonnell are popular with the young people might be  because when the student protests and Occupy happened a few years back rather than wisley chortling about its stupidity in the pub they went along to the occupation and offered support, turned up at the demos and spoke encouragingly to the confused youngsters who still can’t quite see why the treatment that Xi is getting at the moment, or our support for Saudi or Israel, our  colonial past and present, or the illegal wars we have entered into is all basically fine, “how the world works", but to suggest that Putin may be anything other than the reincarnation of Stalin or that the historical record on Communism has been distorted or that Marx may be worth reading makes you an apologist for fascism or a guileless ideologue, a danger to civilized values, eaten  away at by "liberal guilt". What’s most extraordinary and perplexing about this demographic is the bafflingly unashamed way they can talk about Communism. Remember back in the roaring, brand-new 90s when if you said things like Class or Marx or even the word Capitalism, summoning up thereby some atavistic binary in which there were oppositional ideas and movements that had now been relegated to the  dustbin  of history, you revealed your own sad attachment to a vanished world, your inability to see how times had moved on? Get with the new-speak. “Market democracy”; that was the term to use wasn’t it? “Global Forces”. “Inclusion”. And yet those terms themselves can’t be uttered straight-faced anymore. “Capitalism” is back, with all the antonyms the word invokes. That’s the link up between twenty-somethings and Corbyn’s generation. They speak the same language, use the same terms unashamedly.

Maybe that oh-so-modern, Left-Liberal position, that market-democratic triumphalism, the notion that because for a few years inflation was stable, credit loose, the banks yet to crash and a housing bubble burgeoning, we were in radically new, classless times was just wrong, even though you said it a thousand times! Even though all your clever, successful friends agreed! Who would read Capital at that point, or engage with old fossils like David Harvey, so sad! Well, thousands of young people, it turned out. Still wedded to that particular moment in your art, opinions, practice, daily Pub-patter? Still confident it’s not the 70s anymore (lol) or the 80s, that all that has been superseded. I certainly hope we won’t find you shifting your eternally sceptical realism leftward, always tracking from a wise remove the re-calibrating commonsense of the moment. Yet realists never seem to actually get to grips with the real conditions of the current moment, do they?

Oh well, you had your time at centre-stage, maybe  you made hay, maybe you lost the chances you had, maybe it will all come back again for you, but if not do try and show a bit of dignity as you are wheeled off into the wings, won't you?

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Just click the link. Your life will be instantly improved.
Stage 2 appears to be happening.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Heroic, deeply unexpected and erudite attempt to review all of the Legendary Pink Dots albums here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Really, really good. Quite tempted to set up some kind of micro-label.
Interview on Page three of the F.T. with Corbyn, flagged up as the main headline on page 1 ( amazing triptych of headlines today). Is it me or is their a sense that he is already not just leader of the Labour party, but P.M.? That it’s a fait accompli? The wording is “Corbyn targets “ludicrous pay” and Murdoch’s media empire”. He certainly has the manner of someone who has already won but I think on the part of our overlords there is a sense that they have been rumbled, they got away with it for a while but now, fair enough, it’s time they were taken in hand.This sense of abashed resignation is the flip side of the hysteria that greets even the mildest social democratic suggestions ( Toby Young suggesting Corbyn would turn us into Venezuela, Gove’s wife invoking Stalin in paranoid, anxiety-ridden tweets before the last election.) The Right know that what they are doing is unconscionable, they know they are incapable of stopping and must be stopped and are riddled with guilt and suppressed horror at what their own ideological position forces them into, hence this alternating between hysteria and sense of passivity and inertia, They want to be punished, they also want to be saved and are themselves preparing the grounds for their own absolution/disciplining. No one is keener than the Right for the saintly Corbyn to come along and take the nightmare of their own jouissance away. Amazing scenes,as they say.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I'll be honest, I like Howard Jacobson, but this commits the ongoing error of seeing Corbyn as a cause rather than a symptom. He's popped up, structurally in the right place at the right time allowing for a groundswell of anti-neoliberal/austerian thinking to cohere around his campaign. He seems like a nice bloke I'm sure but I would be very surprised if 90 percent of those voting for him have been seduced by his "authenticity", most likely he is a "vanishing mediator" that allows for new ideas to gain weight, enter consciousness as real opposition, and to shift the balance of power. Rather than Corbyn dazzling the simple-minded of numerous generations with his homoeopathic anti-war avuncularity and comforting, simple truths he has instead been instrumentalized by a range of disparate movements and ideas that are coalescing into a new common-sense. For anyone who has been paying attention ( i.e. virtually no mainstream political commentators) this has been going on for at least the last ten years and accelerated post the crisis of 2008. Corbyn's (anti)-charisma helps but fundamentally he is a flaw in the edifice of  business as usual that is there to be exploited, to get ideas that have gone under the radar into the public domain, to encourage anyone unhappy with current forms of social organization that they are not alone, to persuade us that there are other, coherent. well-formulated alternatives. A channel, a portal, of, affectively, roughly the right dimensions to express the ideas that he will be used to promote. No-one thinks if Corbyn loses that this movement will just all go away do they? It will be blocked for a while, but it will find other cracks, gaps, weak-points through which to assail the given and bring itself into being.

Howard likes a bit of Shakespeare doesn’t he?

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Stage one appears to be complete.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

The nub

"The entire transaction cost problem in neoclassical economic theory is itself an effort to account for economic "externalities"; all that messy political and social stuff that doesn't fit the conventional economic models of isolated individuals competing in a marketplace. In Nelson's computer utopia, as in most such visions, there's little sense of any of the constitutive character of even the most immediate of those "externalities": the expensive educational systems and the massive government funding of science and defense that provided the context for all the computer-oriented experimentation, speculation, and reflection like Nelson's. The fact that computer experts are overwhelmingly well-educated middle and upper class white males working in cozy research campuses of universities and corporations is studiously ignored. The social conditions that formed the background conditions for the computer culture and its accomplishments of the `70s and `80s -- patriarchy, class relations, the wide availability of higher education in the `50s and `60s through government programs like the GI bill -- are rendered invisible. The oft-told story of Bill Gates learning about computers in high school and then dropping out of Harvard to found Microsoft is treated as an example of classic entrepreneurial pluck, as if Gates were some modern day Robinson Crusoe operating in isolation from social support; the profound difference in social power available to the young man from a wealthy family who drops out of Harvard compared to, say, one who drops out of an inner city high school, or to a woman who drops out of college to have a baby, disappears from the computer libertarian scenarios. The expensive computer that Gates learned on in high school is treated like a fact of nature, not the product of the well-funded school system of the type increasingly available only to the privileged."

1 minute long, absolute chooooon.

Friday, August 07, 2015

The  beauty of Socialism is that it allows you to express your desire to care for others in all their distinctively awful, baffling and frustrating particularity without having to directly encounter them.  Communism or socialism offers a way to be alone, to separate from people, to have more private space, solitude, the opportunity to withdraw from the world while at the same time affirming and enacting your love for your fellow man on a generic and unconditional basis. I don’t mean by saying this that I wouldn’t work in a “”caring” profession myself, I partly do anyway (teaching) but I want to throw my arms around the world while simultaneously retreating from it, see less of people, be less obliged to be social in one sense, on a micro level while expressing a commitment to the idea of the social on another more abstract plain. Socialism allows for the possibility of  a truly contented aloneness, aloneness in which you are simultaneously  with everyone, rather than an enforced sociality in which one always feels alone.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

I got to Hayek again.

Resolution Way

The dead she has heard someone say, must die twice, first the physical death, then the death must be recorded, ritualised, through periods of mourning, funerals, the scattering of ashes, acknowledged in stages. And perhaps they must die twice in order to live again. She remembers how for a year, perhaps more, they didn’t speak of Harvey, the father, the husband, for fear of the emotions they would provoke in each other, repressed him, kept him locked away, ghostly, gestating until one day the conversation at the dinner table turned fleetingly to him and Lee remarked how now he could hear certain songs that he associated closely with his Dad and not tear up. A few days later Paula Adonor had a dream that Harvey was sitting in the bedroom, waiting patiently as the kids hoovered up outside and made the place clean, as though in preparation for his return, and that in the dream she was Harvey too, and also the kids, and herself, watching. The room was full of light and there he was, quiet, patient, returned from his exile in death, a figure they could discuss, invoke, enjoy again.
That sublime dream in which she was everyone and all things, both herself and others the observer and what she observed and even in the telling of it language got in the way, broke things up, forced the dream to take on difference and contradiction, separation, when in that beautiful suspended moment, in that light of a life brought back from death there was no time or separation, no words, only the holistic, perfect, uncompromised image and the knowledge, the wisdom to know we are outside life or death, space and time, self and other, except that words, words will divide us up and cage us and condemn us.
Well, what does that mean? Except that Vernon, poor Vernon has not even died once, he still has so far to go before he can be return. Perhaps this interest of Alex Hargreaves’ will help to speed his passage back to the world, let him mingle with us again, silent, contented, reborn.

And as she drifts off she finds herself gently lulled and lifted out of time into a realm where all borders become progressively more porous, dissolve. It all makes sense here on the threshold of sleep, the echo-memory of the bliss of the yet-to-be-born, a mounting babble of soothing nonsense that crowds out her thoughts, language that liquefies into pure tones and dim modulations, a soft flurry of half-forgotten scenes and …..

Monday, August 03, 2015

Jamie Vex'd-end of the day, talented lad.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Just in case you're too busy to click the link below
All kinds of stuff going on over at AYA.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Just seen Corbyn on Marr arguing for the mildest form of social democracy possible, crack down on tax evasion and reinvest in education, infrastructure and an industrial policy, break up monopolies in transport and energy through taking things into public ownership.  

Moderately redistributive Keynesian measures that half the columnists on the FT would agree with. The anti-austerity argument is not a capitalist/anti-capitalist argument it’s about how best to restore growth and spread some of the wealth around to create a virtuous circle of rising wages, investment and greater competitiveness.

Ken Livingstone, in his recent defence of Corbyn promoted a similar economic  agenda suggesting that this is what a “modern Capitalist economy” needs. So here we have the perverse spectacle  two old radicals essentially trying to save Capitalism from itself by offering it a way to re-legitimize itself, just as neoliberalism’s attempt at  offering a  shareholder democracy as a basis for mass participation in and ideological commitment to capital from the 70s onward has clearly failed.

Three things seem bizarre  about the  current hostility/panic A) that nobody in the Labour party thinks this is the centre ground and that some kind of global roll around to revived social democratic models wasn’t more or less inevitable after the  financial crisis anyway and isn’t currently gathering speed and numbers globally, so that by 2020 the world may look very different, B) that not connecting the Labour party up with local and grassroots anti-austerity initiatives, widening participation and opening it up democratically will help to arrest its decline c) that the British public rejected these ideas at x point years ago and therefore it will always do so. Never heard of buyer’s remorse? It might now be waking up to the fact that it was foolish to have done so. It might be even more remorseful in five years time, even in the equity and asset “rich” south if financialization continues apace, house prices stall, interest rates go up, wages stagnate, debt burdens mount. Do Governments never make themselves deeply unpopular with people who have previously voted for them?

The “ideological” blinkers here are all on the neoliberal side, for the Tories it’s a moral mission, undertaken with missionary zeal, to place everything worth having in the hands of those best suited to be custodians of the lower orders, the well-bred, the high-born ( themselves) and to discipline them a) into acceptance of the legitimacy of such an order, b) into moulding them through subjection to “the market” into the model of subjectivity the market demands. This has always been the  agenda but the Crisis/Austerity is the  legitimating narrative for a redoubling of this programme. The desire to discipline is such that they are of course undermining their own programme, but the excitement, the glee is so great that they are libidinally locked in. The Labour party might do all this  with a sad face, at a slower pace, but that’s the agenda with which it colludes, it’s disavowed pleasure is that of the weary parent sighing over its rueful responsibility, bullying its recalcitrant kids into seeing “sense”.

There’s a broader historical argument here about whether the British elite  have ever had much interest in industry and manufacturing and whether these things developed in Britain despite the indifference of elites who have basically only cared about a strong pound and speculating abroad and who never had any interest in maintaining a domestic manufacturing sector, were happy to dump it all in finally the 80s and get on with enjoying our comparative advantage in Finance. In a sense to become a “modern” (Capitalist) economy at this stage we have to start from scratch, fighting the hostility of Finance in the name of the “Real Economy”.

This is broadly where Corbyn is, he is the “modernizer”, in a long tradition of attempts at becoming modern constantly stymied by land-owners and the finance sector. You can say what you want about Jez, but the notion that he isn’t riding in to give us a “proper” “modern” “representative” “democratic” and revived Capitalism, just as neoliberalism promised it would, and instead is some Hard Left Leninist fifth columnist for Militant survivors and assorted Commie fellow travellers is the biggest fairytale of them all. There’s nothing remotely radical or ruthless about Corbyn, he is as surprised as anyone to find himself an expression of a newly coalescing “common sense”.

This IS the equivalent of Blairism at this stage.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

On Zardoz. Before I get on to Hayek (again).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Right then, I am going to be sticking my oar in re Utopia Then and Now at AYA, and predictably enough using it partially as an opportunity to talk about neoliberalism and Film. Again.

Palm tree

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bliss Blood of the Pain Teens has made their entire discography available on Bandcamp. A band I have long meant to write about, maybe I'll get round to it some day, meanwhile here it all is.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

it must be hard to die in a rented room

Monday, July 06, 2015

Joy is the aim (2)

Apparently that Greek referendum was "polarizing". Was it? when 60% voted no, and no single area voted otherwise? Seems more likely to be unifying than polarizing. Perhaps that's the problem. Turns out the consensus is not where you thought it  was.

Any question which asks for yes or no is sort of likely to be “polarizing” anyway, isn’t it?

"Polarizing" in most of these repeated uses means that the mass of people have been asked to consider issues fundamental to their lives: these are difficult questions. It would be better if they didn’t task themselves with them and can’t understand them anyway,  so “polarizing” equals, likely to cause thought, debate, dispute and subject them to the stresses of political agency. How  dare a government go to the people with such pressing and complex questions, when its job is to shield them from the difficulty of thought via technocracy. Polarizing here just means profound questions, questions that touch and demand action on fundamental aspects of social organization.

But to be asked such questions and to debate or dispute them isn’t vexing, harrowing or painful, it’s essential and welcome. Political agency is not a  burden, it’s its absence  which  weighs on you and its apparent “demands” are experienced instead as a euphoria, a lightening of the load, a lifting up. The powerful affective  elements of mass participation are something Jeremy Gilbert gets at well in Common Ground, and the hunger and need for these kinds of intensities is palpable.

In his speech before the vote last night Tsipras observed, at least so the translation ran, “Democracy is joy”.