Monthly Archives: September 2007

Mary and the Boy virus

I am supposed to be preparing a talk, but some tunes – na na na, na na, na nan na – you just cannot get out of your head. Having seen “Mary and the Boy” play their cover of the ‘Kellis’ Milkshake track live the other week (well sort of live, the track is slowed down to a death dirge, and there was a rabbit hole aspect where the rabbit was called k-), I’ve just not been able to get this ditty displaced from my frontals. I am not the only one afflicted I know, but even humming Beethoven’s pastoral symphony didn’t help as we are so adept at mixing these days that both tunes could merge into each other in a kind of perfect syncopation, and who knows what people thought as we walked down a street making noises that would bug most people (as they do me).

If anyone knew the lyrics of any of the other M&tB tracks, such as the one about that Laura trauma moment that Zizek speaks about, they’d have been fairly justified in crossing to t’other side of the road.

So listen to this aural virus. We saw Mary and the Boy at the Stimulus Respond ‘launch’. The third track here is Milkshake, the first is well rude.

Global Teaching Factories

First day of the new term, enthused students trying to work out the convoluted enrollment process, queues of people waiting to hand over their fees, or wandering round looking for where to sign up for ever-shifting class times, while bushy-eyed-bright-tailed student unionists recruit for funding and welfare campaigns, as we all try to squeeze into a cramped scruffy room (and I just checked my allocated room for next week and there are not enough chairs). So then…

I read this ad from the Times Higher Education Supplement for a conference to REAL-ISE the global university. Check the metaphoric code for its subtle neo-colonial/propertied/mining exploration/teaching factory tropology. Sheesh. And we thought the ‘migrating university’ was an unBEARable pun. These folks wanna rule the world, by drill-though, ground-breaking, charting, course line-ups. The Global University as the agent of change… stop and admire!

[click on the image to enlarge]

armed struggle

Reading Hari Kunzru’s novel ‘My Revolutions’ and hearing him at Migrating University at Goldsmiths this weekend, tempts me to try and work out how I want to talk about struggles today (its not the 60s anymore). This is with the aim to offer a critique of how armed struggle in various theatres of the world is currently represented in the media, in the press, in books (like Hari’s, but assessing other novelistic imaginings as well) and in academic discussion, which so often seems to lose its way. Some first steps here might open up something, but I am not sure. More when I get back from the Maoism in India soiree in Preston no doubt.

Or maybe I shouldn’t even try. I see clearly that the trouble with academic discussions about revolutionary politics (aside from promoting the Open Book project insufficiently well) is not so much that any comment can only be part of a discussion, a talking shop, a glorified coffee chat, but rather that there is a necessary level of abstraction to anything that might be said by anyone at all. Involvement would suggest a certain reticence to discuss, discussion would suggest a requisite lack of involvement, or a recklessness from which everyone should steer well clear.

The first step of this is not some twisted version of William James’ problems of getting at the idea of a mystical state, but it is close to that where he says: ‘One must have musical ears to know the value of a symphony; one must have been in love one’s self to understand a lover’s state of mind. Lacking the heart or ear, we cannot interpret the musician or the lover justly’ (‘Varieties of Rel Exp’ Vol 16). I remember Marx swapping bibles for brandy (the word of the spirit for the spirit of life) such that I think its not too mischievous to think of the Angry Brigade type of provocation in these terms – a mystical violence which is strangely silent. Caught in a propaganda war of spin and censorship. If you can’t do, you can chit chat away to no avail. If you do, then I do not know you. This is the abstraction bound and gagged.

But I think there is another way to open up the question of armed struggle and that is in terms of adequacy, since without being able to discuss the practical requirements of violence we cannot comprehend the struggles in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, or even Ireland in any relevant way. Sure, there are so many cautions and prevarications to be routinised first. Yes, its terrible, or no its not. Its all good, its all bad – positions that Mao already demolished in ‘”It’s Terrible!” or “It’s Fine”‘ (Selected Works Vol 1 p 26). But I want to find a way to restart a discussion in terms of adequacy of opposition to state power (tanks, helicopter gunships, cluster bombs, nuclear arsenals) and the question of what would be required to defeat an organised violence that might mean enacting a counter violence that is anathema to many – anathema to those caught in exactly that comfort zone that allows, even requires, complicity with state violence unleashed elsewhere and denied.

OK, that’s a tangle already, and so far I’ve said nothing – but I have just seen the section on ‘Riff Raff’ in Selected Works and so have decided I better reread all that first. Thus yet again the televised bit is delayed…

Dangerous times demand courageous voices. Bob Avakian.

The following statement is from Engage! A Committee to Project and Protect the Voice of Bob Avakian…

Dangerous times demand courageous voices.

Bob Avakian is such a voice.

Bob Avakian combines an unsparing critique of the history and current direction of American society with a sweeping view of world history and the potential for humanity. He has brought forth a fresh, relevant and compelling approach to Marxism, deeply analyzing the history of the Communist movement and the socialist revolutions and upholds their achievements. At the same time, he honestly confronts and criticizes what he views as their shortcomings, opening up new paths of inquiry in the process and initiating dialogue with people who hold a wide range of views. He’s addressing the burning problems before society from a unique vantage point, and we consider his revolutionary analysis and solutions to be an important and necessary part of the ferment and discourse required in this society and the world in this dark time. While those of us signing this statement do not necessarily agree with all of his views, we have come away from encounters with Avakian provoked and enriched in our own thinking, and we invite others to hear and engage that voice.
Bob Avakian is also the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; as such he not only theorizes about the world, but plays a special role in organizing and leading that change. He’s been called a “long-distance runner in the freedom struggle against imperialism, racism and capitalism” and he draws on deep connections and engagement with people from all walks of life and all corners of the earth. All this informs and animates his work.

Unfortunately, such voices in this country are, and have been, all too frequently the objects of suppression and repression. This repressive edge in American society has been particularly brought to bear against those who advocate revolution and especially those who do so effectively. Surveillance, harassment, suppression, political trials, prison terms, exile and even assassination have been the fates of many revolutionaries throughout U.S. history and many of those measures have, in fact, been visited upon Avakian. The current administration has instituted serious repressive measures like the Patriot Act, instituted the use of preventive detention and isolation of those whom the president deems to be “terrorist”, and has created a climate where, for example, radical or even liberal professors find their reputations and even their livelihoods under assault; all this makes the ability of Bob Avakian to freely function even more of a concern. The statement by the German pastor Martin Niemoller – which begins “first they came for the communists, and I did nothing because I was not a communist” and which goes on to describe how Niemoller did nothing while Hitler peeled away the victims of the Nazi regime one at a time, until there was no one left to defend Niemoller when his time came – sounds with particular resonance today.

Thus, in addition to calling on people to engage with the thoughts of Bob Avakian and bring them into what needs to be a rich and diverse dialogue, we are also serving notice to this government that we intend to defend his right to freely advocate and organize for his views, and to engage broadly with people about those views

engagewbobavakian@yahoo.com
http://www.engagewithbobavakian.org

‘Dangerous times demand courageous voices. Bob Avakian is such a voice’ has been signed by many – See Here.

Migrating University and Facebook Data Mining

A flurry of activity. A frisson of excitement. And even though I am deeply suspicious of the format, facebook has been a good place to gauge the degree of interest in the Migrating University Project we are putting on through the Centre for Cultural Studies. Its no surprise that there are a half dozen large groups of Goldsmiths/New Cross facebookerists, but the best of them perhaps is the outfit that has produced the spin off badge that is in the picture in this post (itself a response to the rebranding of Goldsmiths that emerged from the Brand consultancy – those ‘radical’ badges now vastly improved dontchya think?).

Now, Facebook as data mining may produce various farragos of anxiety about the distributed nature of auto-panoptica that this format really is – you are watched, my friend, or you are not, but there will always be a trace. One of the better discussions of Facebook-paranoia-surveilance stems from Confused of Calcutta, but generally I am wary of the feedback loop of facebook or other format discussions. Blog comments on the nature of blogging seemed particularly viral a few years back. The point though is, by doing exactly this I get to both repost the So Fucking Goldsmiths pic, which is a must-have trinket, and mention some other education posts from earlier (here, here, here and here). It also gives me a chance to mention that the reason I’ve been on facebook this week is to promote the Migrating University event at Goldsmiths this friday and satuday – and to announce the program is updated here. All are welcome. You should come.

No Detentions, No Deportations, No Borders in Education, Freedom of Movement for All.

And there is a Migrating University group on Facebook as well, simple search should find it.

Image is from So Fucking Goldsmiths (oops, copyright theft, but if you search them on Facebook and join they will forgive me, right).

Gatwick No Border Camp 2007

http://no-racism.net/article/2244

[ 27. Aug 2007 ]

Gatwick No Border Camp 2007

From 19th to 24th of September 2007 a noborder camp will take place at Gatwick Airport near London.

As the government started to build a :: new immigration prison (Brook House at Gatwick Airport, near Crawley), the :: No Border Camp is getting :: closer: Sept 19-24. Among the :: various actions announced, Saturday, the 22nd, will see a :: demonstration from Crawley to Tinsley House, the already existing immigration prison at Gatwick, next to the planned site of the new centre. There will be workshops both :: at the camp and at :: Goldsmith University the week before, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the :: Battle of Lewisham.

Days after the Home Office :: told refugees “We’ll do everything we can to send you home”, 26 migrant prisoners :: escaped from Campsfield, Oxfordshire, following days of protests. The riot was the latest episode in the migrants struggle inside detention after the :: Harmondsworth riots last November.

Relentless protests, both inside adn outside detention, have managed to put many detention and deportation profiteers on the map. On 17 August, activists :: occupied the office of XL Airways in Crawley to protest against the charter airline’s role in forecul deportations on behalf of the Home Office. Several :: demonstrations have been announced for August 28th to protest against a planned charter flight to :: deport a number of rejected asylum seekers to DR Congo.

See also indymedia

Background info on the Gatwick No Border Camp 2007
No Borders & Migration Struggles
from various sources, 30 Aug 2007: From 19th to 24th of September 2007 a noborder camp will take place at Gatwick Airport near London.

As the government started to build a new immigration prison (Brook House at Gatwick Airport, near Crawley), the No Border Camp is getting closer: Sept 19-24. Among the various actions announced, Saturday, the 22nd, will see a demonstration from Crawley to Tinsley House, the already existing immigration prison at Gatwick, next to the planned site of the new centre. There will be workshops both at the camp and at Goldsmith University the week before, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham.

Days after the Home Office told refugees “We’ll do everything we can to send you home”, 26 migrant prisoners escaped from Campsfield, Oxfordshire, following days of protests. The riot was the latest episode in the migrants struggle inside detention after the Harmondsworth riots last November.

Relentless protests, both inside and outside detention, have managed to put many detention and deportation profiteers on the map. On 17 August, activists occupied the office of XL Airways in Crawley to protest against the charter airline’s role in forecul deportations on behalf of the Home Office. Several demonstrations have been announced for August 28th to protest against a planned charter flight to deport a number of rejected asylum seekers to DR Congo.

Two years of No Borders UK
It was before the G8 2005 in Scotland that initiatives started to network around the issues of Freedom Of Movement in the UK again. A Make Borders History demo took place in Glasgow during the 2005 G8 summit in Scotland, calling at several institutions and companies involved in the Border Regime. Shortly after the G8, actvists forced the YMCA to withdraw from an “ayslum slavery Scheme”.

During the following year, No Borders groups were set up all over the country, in London, Brighton, Cardiff, Nottingham, Leeds and other cities. Regular demonstrations targeted immigration reporting centres and as well as detention centres.

The year 2006 saw the first UK-wide No Borders Gathering in London (on 11-12 March) at the Square Social Centre. Exactly one year later, another gathering was held in Glasgow at the Unity centre.

The initiatives naturally had different focal points, from fighting against dawn raids [1 2 3 4 5 6], anti-deportation actions (e.g. in Leeds ), campaigning against the point-based system, to solidarity with migrant workers (e.g. justice for cleaners) and, of course, demonstrations at immigration prisons.

In Glasgow, people started Unity, a union of by and for asylum seekers. In London, Harmondsworth became another focus of protests as well as building up practical support for detainees.

The October 7th Network organised a demonstration in London as part of the Transnational Day Of Action for migrants’ rights. However, when the Home Office disclosed plans to build a new immigration prison at Gatwick, the new Brook House became a focus for the whole network.

The upcoming No Border Camp is organised by No Borders groups from Birmingham, Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Nottingham, Sheffield and Cardiff and supported by Barbed Wire Britain, Unity, Feminist Against Borders, West Midlands Antifa, Sex Workers Union, Vapaa Liikkuvuus (freedom of movement-group in Finland), Campaign to Close Campsfield, No One Is Illegal, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and many more.

The next Camp public meeting will take place on September 2nd in Brighton.

There will be a meeting on Monday 3rd September in London to discuss the Tinsley House demonstration.

Events During The No Border Camp:
Thursday, 20th September

Welcome Demonstration – Crawley Town Centre, 5pm-7pm. To inform people about and invite them to participate in the No Border Camp.

Friday, 21st September:

Gathering at Lunar House, the Home Office reporting centre in East Croydon, 10am-2pm. A convergeance between those who have papers and those who don’t; information-sharing, exchanging stories, food and music.

Saturday 22nd September

Transnational Demonstration at Tinsley House detention dentre at Gatwick, 12pm-2pm. Tinsley House, which has a capacity of 146, was the first purpose-built detention centre in the UK. The new planned Gatwick detention centre is to be built close by.

Later that day, groups will present their work and experiences in a Transnational Forum at the camp.

Workshops

Announced workshops so far include ones with migration controls, ID Cards, practical support of people in detention, the political situation in the Middle East, alternative media, experiences from campaigns against companies and much more.

Migrating University

Migrating University is a set of workshops at Goldsmith University in the week before the No Border Camp.

Indymedia at the No Border Camp

As usual, IMC UK will be present at the No Border Camp. There will a public access tent, help with publishing and image processing, as well as workshops about alternative media.

http://www.wombles.org.uk/article2007081224.php

Horror Movie Patriot

Today’s top five reasons for being a patriotic Aussie in London:

- Bushwackers need a new poodle. Prime Minister Howard stands by George W(surge) Bush and declares now is not the time to pull Australian troops out of Iraq. Stop and stare. Bow wow. The Blair-pup had to be put down, so our Johhny tries out for the role as lap-dog-in-chief. Even Paris Hilton had a more robust pooch.

- Intervention. I still don’t know what is behind the Police-troop deployment into Aboriginal homelands, but it does seem that Howard has discovered Al Kaeida training camps operating not far outside of Darwin, or something (see here).

- International Culture. The pub chain ‘Walkabout’, so charmingly named after Nicolas Roeg’s film where the white guy shoots himself dead in the desert, leaving his 2 blond kids to be saved by David Gulpilil, is so my favourite. And now sporting, in its Covent Garden London branch, a full wall mural of an Aboriginal man (generic), carrying his kid off into one of those love-a-sunburnt-country sunsets. Aside the fact that walkabout is also a derogatory white folks reference to the laziness of black employees (and at least Roeg had some sense of irony in his use, it was the white dad that went troppo), the charm of Walkabout pubs, Kangaroo steak sandwich aside, cannot be denied as expats and tourists compete to be the first to hurl on their neighbours.

- Speaking of which. Neighbours. Please forgive me for this, and all things Melbournesque, but I used to share a house with the fashion consultant on this long-running TV-soap, so I know a thing or two. Set in Nunawading, but totally unaffected by the ethnic demographic of that fair suburb. When I arrived here the first pub I went into was screening a four hour daily ‘omnibus’ edition of the show. Thankfully now pubs are turning into fruit machine venues, gastro-bars or ‘walkabouts’ – which is, sad to say, an improvement on Kylie and Jason regurgitations.

- Cultural Cringe. That old favourite of expats. TNT Magazine asking me about how outdated I thought the British view of Australia was; as I said elsewhere already, I think the TNT ‘journalist’ wanted me to trash the old routines of cork hats and bbqs in favour of the new sophistication on show at, the then upcoming, Australian Film Festival in London. Happy to oblige. Yes, the British view of ‘Oz’ is outdated, since people have not yet got into the habit of referring to the place as the new apartheid, there are not organised protests outside the High Commission, there are no sanctions and boycotts, the rugby tour of France is going ahead without incident, the troubles (civil war by any other name) are barely reported, Shane Warne is a hero in Hampshire, Clive James book is on the shelf at LRB shop. I’m starting to miss Germaine Greer (oops, no I’m not, she is still everywhere over here).

I think I could do five more here, but really, why? Better we just acknowledge that nostalgia ain’t what it used to be and get out that old guitar…

Pilgrims, let us all sing together:

Our Andy’s – gone – with cattle now –
across the Queens-land – border,
he’s left us – in dejec-tion now –
our hearts – are out – of – order…..

ack, I can’t even do that properly, warbling along like Slim Dusty, and what on earth is the next line?

I suddenly have this vision of a boxing transvestite on a Harley Davidson:

“Where the bloody hell are you”, Aunty Jack.

Kolkata-Melbourne

Reading The Telegraph from Kolkata, I guess we have to see this below as good news – coming from Melbourne to work in the capital of West Bengal, I always thought there was a major similarity between both cities. Not obviously, but it was something to do with the same architects working for the East India Company and the big old merchant banking firms of Victoria. These two affable guys (pic) I spent part of New Years Eve 2005 with might not be ‘youth’ or ‘students’ but they had very positive views about the livability of Cal. I agree, place just needs a little less exhaust, and reparation payments for hundreds of years of colonial theft… (Ah yes, city links are also a reminder of the Tram Jatra – another good reasonfor twinning these two places – see here and – for the Karachi linkage – here)

From The Telegraph
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Students pitch for more liveable city

A STAFF REPORTER

The youth of Calcutta dream of making the city like Melbourne — recently judged the world’s most liveable city by an international agency — by 2020. Riding high on history and the information technology boom, the students of various city colleges also have the blueprint to achieve the goal.

The plans, to make Calcutta the “best living city” were presented at Youthcon 07, a convention organised by Concern for Calcutta at St Xavier’s College auditorium, which saw participation by several colleges and management institutes. The “best living city” is not just comfortable to live in but also full of life, according to the organisers.

The convention on September 1 and 2 was inaugurated by mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya and attended by the Union minister for youth affairs Mani Shankar Aiyar.

The minister lauded the students for their enthusiasm and faith but pointed out that any plan for the city should not leave out the economically backward. “You need to be more practical in your approach and include the less fortunate in your plans,” said Aiyar.

Concern for Calcutta, an autonomous, non-profit organisation formed in 1948, launched its youth cell last year to involve the younger generation in the mainstream of development.

“There are some who dream of making Calcutta the queen among cities but there are also those who don’t care,” said Bhattacharyya, who was the chief guest.

The mayor called for the participation of young people can help in maintaining the underground drainage system for reducing waterlogging in the city. “Youngsters can help spread awareness about how plastic bags clog up drains,” said Bhattacharyya.

Release Jose-Maria Sison!

CoRIM received the following urgent message:

Release Jose-Maria Sison!

The Committee of the Revolutionary
Internationalist Movement learned with anger and
outrage of the arrest in the Netherlands of
Jose-Maria Sison by the Dutch authorities.
Comrade Sison was the founding Chairman of the
Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968 and
has remained a life-long opponent of imperialism
and reaction and leader of the Filipino people’s
struggles. It is for these reasons and no other
that comrade Sison has been hounded by successive
reactionary governments in the Philippines. US
imperialism and the European Union have also
tried to stick the “terrorist” label on comrade
Sison, despite the fact that the struggle he has
been associated with in the Philippines is widely
known, even by the reactionary news media, to
have the support of millions of Filipinos from
all walks of life.

The arrest of comrade Sison is not only a major
blow to the struggle of the Filipino people, it
is also an attack on the thousands of
revolutionaries and other political activists
from around the world who have settled in Europe
because of severe political persecution in their
home countries. If the Dutch authorities succeed
in bringing comrade Sison to trial, it will have
ominous, more widespread implications.

The CoRIM, on behalf of the entire Revolutionary
Internationalist Movement, calls upon all
communist, revolutionary and progressive forces
and individuals to raise their voices in protest
to demand that the Dutch authorities release
Jose-Maria Sison, drop all charges, and cease
their political persecution of him.

Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist
Movement
30 August 2007

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