Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Post-Brexit, Trump, & War In Europe

I'd be extremely, and happily, surprised if there is not war in Western Europe in the next 5 to 10 years. The EU (previously the EC/EEC) has kept the peace in Europe for over 70 years - that is not normal. I think it is now inevitable that a stable Europe, the only Europe that all but the very oldest of us have ever know, will now fall apart post-Brexit. This is at a time when we have an aggressively nationalistic and expansionist dictatorship in Russia to the east, An emboldened Islamist dictatorship in Turkey to the South (already bordering an actual live war) and now our number one NATO ally is lead by a mentally unstable pro-Putin, isolationist to our West. 

France too in particular appears only another another terrorist outrage or two, if that, from electing a Nation Front president. The images of the Muslim lady being forced to disrobe by armed policemen was truly shocking evoking as it did documentary footage of Jews being dehumanised by NAZI officials in 1930s Germany but what was maybe even worse was the relative lack of empathy and support for this poor woman from her fellow French citizens. So far we in the UK have escaped the worst of it but what will happen if suicide bombings become a regular occurrence here: How will our newspapers react? How will our right-wing politicians act? How will our fellow citizens act? There will be a call to make someone pay, to attack, to punish, to hurt.

I think many us in the West tend to take peace for granted and sometimes think people in war scorched parts of the world such as Eastern Asia in the 60's, Central Africa in the 70s, Central America in the 80's, eastern Europe in the 90's, and the Middle East now, are some how 'different' from 'us'. They aren't. Educated intelligent liberals who believe in live & let live and shun nationalism, xenophobia, religious intolerance etc. have always been the minority in any society - the rest are easily whipped up into hatred of the 'other', whoever the convenient scapegoat of the time and place happens to be when times are tough. 

I feel our time is coming to a large degree for the banal reason that there is now hardly any one left alive who actually remembers first hand the true horrors of war on 'home turf', or where nationalism, scapegoating, intolerance and prejudice inevitably lead... Another important point is that unlike ww2 we now live in a world of nuclear weapons. It has been said that it is nuclear weapons that have insured our peace but maybe future historians will look back and and say 'yes they did, until they didn't'. 

There is nothing inevitable, natural, or normal about a continent being at peace for such an extended, indefinite, period. Mussolini was said to have described peace as simply the pauses between wars. I think our turn is coming soon.

Peace: enjoy it while it lasts, nothing lasts for ever.

London during the Blitz circa-1940/41

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Switch House at Tate Modern by Herzog & de Meuron

I know I'm Late to the party, and I didn't take my camera, but I went to the Tate Modern for the first time since it's Herzog and de Meuron's Switch House extension. I like it from the outside, the brick reflecting the functional aesthetic of the Gilbert Scott's original power station while its quirky 'twist' keeps it contemporary, but the inside is absolutely fantastic. I've not seen concrete deployed so beautifully since the original Southbank centre buildings.
I love how they've largely kept the original Tanks on floor zero untouched, dark and spooky perfect for the video displays they are used for, including a short flight of ghost steps that now start halfway up the space and lead straight into the brick wall.
The smooth and mainly circinate raw concrete stairwells of the new building proper are stunningly beautiful. Don't be lazy and take the lift and less you have too. They also provide the drama on your quest to reach the infamous viewing gallery - a quest that reminded me of the journey through the levels of the Guggenheim in Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle 3.
Once you reach the peak you have a fantastic view of London and are free to make obscene gestures at the tax cheats in the luxury flats opposites, those that are occupied anyway.
The actual galleries are white space functional, they do not try and re-invent the wheel, and are as good the work displayed.

Monday, 3 October 2016

New Funky Cosmic-Disco track out now on Swedish Brandy Productions artists' 4 track 12" vinyl e.p along with tracks by Soultechnic, Harry Light & Limyth.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

My Thoughts On Jeremy Corbyn and The Labour Party

My thoughts on Jeremy Corbyn:
I have been trying to understand why anybody on the left would wish to keep Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party when all recent polling shows he is clearly unelectable and will lead Labour to a crushing defeat at any forthcoming general election unless he is replaced. I have been trying to understand why anyone on the left would want to keep a leader who will only help to increase, solidify, and extend the Tories grip on government. These are nearest thing I found to reasons for keeping Corbyn as leader.
1) 'Labour will lose next general election so it doesn't matter who the leader is.'
While it is true that Corbyn leadership has lead Labour to such a low watermark that any new leader will find it hard to make up all the ground lost by Corbyn general elections are not a zero sum game. A narrow defeat where a credible Labour opposition is poised to take over from a Tory govt as its (relative) popularity fades may be able to keep at least some of its worst excesses in check. A Tory govt without an effective opposition is free to run amok and will move further and further to the right as it has already started to do with the new cabinet positions. A heavy defeat for Labour would ensure Tory govt in power not only for the next few years but for decades.
2) 'All the polls, surveys, and feedback from Labour MPs are wrong, and Corbyn will win the general election (the opposite to point 1)'
While recent polls v actual results have been wrong they have only been wrong by a % few points but always in the way they have overestimated the left wing vote and underestimated the right wing vote. In short: Labour's polling numbers under Corbyn are diabolical but in truth are likely to be EVEN WORSE for Labour than they appear to be.
(if you look hard enough you may be able to find an outlier poll with a small Labour lead but please understand that at this stage of the election cycle an opposition party needs to be streets ahead of the incumbent Govt to stand a chance of forming next govt. As we know Ed Miliband's Labour party failed to win last years election: Corbyn's polling numbers are far worse than they were under Miliband)
3) A right wing Labour govt is just as bad as the Tories so we might as will keep Corbyn even if he is unelectable.
A Labour Govt of the relative left, centre, or right is infinitely better than a Tory govt. The last Labour govt which was the most right wing Labour govt there has ever been still introduced the minimum wage, disability rights, civil partnerships, investment in schools hospitals and public services. The only real 'achievement' of the last Tory was making sure the poorest and most vulnerable paid for a financial crisis caused by the bankers. This went hand in hand with the closure of libraries, women's refuge centres & the cutting of funding for almost all organisations that offered support for the most vulnerable in society.
Since the last Labour Govt Labour's center has moved to the left while the Conservative have moved ever further to the right. Even the last Tory govts relatively socially liberal aspect is now dead. The new PM is against gay marriage and has installed a foreign secretary who is openly racist. I personally would prefer a Labour leader from the center left of the party and that is likely to be were any replacement of Corbyn comes from, but quite frankly things are so serious now that I would welcome a new leader from the left, or right, of the party as long as they were competent and would take the fight to the Tories.
The problem with Corbyn is not the he is 'too left wing' it is that he is incompetent. As Owen Jones a natural Corbyn ally puts it:
"There is little point pretending that I have not frequently been in utter despair, because I believe socialism, on the one hand, and competence and effective communication to the majority of people, on the other, are not mutually exclusive."
"there has always been a lack of direction, clear vision or ability to communicate in a way that resonates with most people. The Tories have repeatedly been let off the hook (...) overall most people are at a loss as to what Labour stands for."
Finally: What some Corbyn supporters offered when asked why they wanted to hang on to a leader that was clearly unelectable was not reason but paranoid accusations that any Labour MP, member, or supporter of the party who wanted to replace Corbyn was part of a 'blairite conspiracy'.
Once someone has gone down the 'conspiracy theory' route it is clear they are no longer interested in listening to reason but to be clear: Some in the PLP are Blairites who were never going to give Corbyn a chance and were out to get him for day one (these idiots have only managed to strengthen Corbyn by engendering a siege mentality among his supporters). Some where ideological Corbyn supporters who were always going to support Corbyn however he performed. Most were somewhere in the middle, many were lukewarm supporters who feared he was not up to the job but hoped to be proved wrong and that they would see him rise to the occasion. It is the support of these MPs, from the left, right, & centre of the party, and from all parts of the country that Corbyn has now lost.
The reason they called on Corbyn to step aside was not just his abysmal polling numbers and loses at council elections, or his abysmal performance in the referendum campaign where it had been hoped he could seize the spotlight and make a real connection with voters (Corbyn is obsessed with attending Jeremy Corbyn rallies where he preaches to the converted but seems to have no interest in convincing non Labour voters to switch - which is what a Labour leader must do to win a general election). It was because they been in regular contact with their constituencies and found that most normal voters had no time for Corbyn, not only was he not convincing voters of other parties to switch to Labour but Labour voters themselves were telling them that they would not vote for Labour as long as Corbyn remained leader. These MPs had previously stuck with Miliband despite negative feedback from constituents and regretted it but the feedback from normal voters about Corbyn was much, much worse.
Corbyn ally Owen Jones again:
"We can’t ignore polling that is below what Ed Miliband achieved at the same stage in the electoral cycle – before going on to lose; Corbyn’s own personal rating is now -41, a catastrophic level, with more Labour voters dissatisfied than satisfied. Call the polls wrong [if you want to but] normally when they are, it’s to Labour’s detriment)"
"Socialism without power is slogans: a mild irritation at worst, a source of bemusement at best to a Conservative government that can do as it wishes. "
The Labour Party can achieve nothing unless it is in power. Not winning means a country led by a far right Tory Govt for decades. Not winning is the ultimate betrayal of middle and working class people.
These are serious times and I am feeling quite emotional (and not in a good way) but I feel that any action intended to keep Labour stuck with a leader that is only helping to increase the power of the Tory party is disgraceful.

ps. You can sign up to vote against Corbyn here:

Friday, 12 February 2016

Junior Doctors Strike: The Iconic Ideological Struggle Of Our Time

I feel that Jeremy Hunt’s decision to unilaterally impose new contracts has turned the Junior Doctors strike into the iconic ideological struggle of our time. The Tories clearly think they can win this and have decided to go for it. They must believe public opinion will eventually turn against the Doctors. With the backing of the Tabloids It was easy for the Tories to go after the sick and disabled, they were the low hanging fruit, but if they can defeat the middle class, highly educated, & articulate YDs they will be confident, probably correctly, that they are are free to go after whoever they want. ‪#‎generalstrike‬ ‪#‎minersstrike‬ ‪#‎JuniorDoctorsStrike‬