Dragnet Goldsmiths

Another Dragnet tonight, this time directly outside Goldsmiths’ award winning Library (lovingly captured in its Lewisham Way facing facade here by my trusty SPV mobile device…)

Transcribed below are brief conversations with the Police, asking the obvious questions, before the dragnet operation ended (they were wrapping their ‘operation’ up when I came by, so there was a sense of ‘shows over, on your way sir’ – which of course I took as an invitation to linger. After all, I am an Oyster Card carrying member of the great London public, innit).


Me: what’s all this then?
Cop A: we are looking for people without tickets, you’d be surprised how many we can arrest in a day.
Me: hmmm, why do you need so many police, isn’t this overpolicing?
Cop A: Most people around here welcome this.
Me: no, no, no, we all think its outrageous. You don’t need to do this, you should go catch some real crooks (corporate types, politicians, the Speaker of the House of Representatives….)


Me: why do you need so many Police to check tickets on one bus?
Cop A: This is a message to people, we are being noticed. You noticed.
Me: Even when just one ticket inspector gets on the bus we notice.

Stand around a bit, watch the slow process of a lad get a caution for riding his bicycle on the footpath:

Cop B: why are you riding on the footpath, its against the law.
Bikeboy: Its getting dark and my light is broken
… [some meaningless blather, bikeboy rides off]
Cop C to Cop B: They’ll make up anything round here.

I asked another cop who was in charge:

Me: who is the ranking officer?
Cop D: why, do you need something?
Me: I want to make a complaint?
Cop D: Why?
Me: I think this is overpolicing
Cop D: People think this is the free bus (the 436 aka the free bus).

Next to him, a female cop:

Cop E: You could talk to the sergeant.
Me: Him there?
Cop E: Yes, but he is busy now.
[time passes]
Me: He’s not that busy now?
Cope E: Just tap him on the shoulder.
Me: Surely that’s more your style than mine.

I meet the ranking officer:

Me: This is over-policing, how do I make a complaint?
Cop F: Where do you live?
Me: Why do you want to know?
Cop F: You can complain to the duty officer at your local station,
Me: Don’t you think this is overpolicing?
Cop F: Most people don’t think so.
Me: I disagree. Most people here probably don’t think this is a good thing.
Cop F: You are entitled to disagree.
Me: Not for long it seems [gesturing to the 25 uniformed cops hovering around the bus]

And so yet another micro moment of the creeping fascism of contemporary Englan’ passes at 6.05PM on a monday night on Lewisham Way. The University is filled with people who have a keen sense of history, but the putrid stench of 1933 was in the air.

Yup, again and again.


35 thoughts on “Dragnet Goldsmiths

  1. Years ago, when I was a trendy Anarchist squatter in Brixton, a mounted plod used to parade down the front line almost every day. A similar otherwise pointless show of authority, it seemed.


  2. I saw that yesterday as well.

    You’re lucky they didn’t see you take the photograph. I took some photos of a vast police operation in Hackney last year (they were actually carrying machine guns) and a policeman told me that it wasn’t allowed, asked me for ID, then did a radio check on me. Like any good goldsmiths student, I told him I was doing an ‘art project about the police’. He told me he would arrest me if I continued.


  3. 1933? For fk’s sake, you’re overreacting just a tad. It’s not exactly Kristallnacht is it? Jesus.


  4. ok, 1932.

    and your use of “fk” suggests the newspeak editing brigade is already at work inside your head eh?

    These dragnets are also a sweep for ‘illegals’… it starts thus, ends in the camps…



  5. Cop E: Just tap him on the shoulder.
    Me: Surely that’s more your style than mine.

    LOL! Reading Damien Echols’autobio right now, it’s filled to the brim with description of police morons.



  6. Did you have problems with how your father manifested his love for you as a child John?

    Was Daddy somewhat absent? Is your unresolved malice towards authority a latent homosexual cathexis manifesting itself as tragic humour, somewhat akin to Thomas Hardy?


  7. Isn’t the point of Orwellian Doublespeak to highlight the need for civility? Becasue to type FUCK straight out, whilst somewhat seemingly trangressive, again doubles back to the small rush of excitement one may feel in breaking your Daddies rules. The underlying psychodymanic to alleviate the ennui of bourgeouis Marxists?

    Indeed, consider the scene in the novel where Winston Smith sits on the grammar committee after being rehabilitated by Big Brother. In that they are mannerably debating the judacious use of commas etc. wouldn’t Orwell’s point be that we all, with absurd tragic irony, have to submit to the Law. Becuase if we don’t, we go psychotic, and then start thinking that all sorts of weird stuff is happening at bus stops, when it actually isn’t.

    Have you considered treatment? There is an excellent not for profit Lacanian group of analysts called LACAP who charge on a sliding basis. Although on a Professorial salary of £54 000 per annum, well, you may have to pay top whack!


  8. In Jacques Lacan’s account, paranoid psychosis is brought on when paternal law (or the “name-of-the-Father”) fails to cover over the hole in meaning brought on for the subject by a traumatic encounter with the “real.” This hole therefore “sets off the cascade of reshapings of the signifier from which the increasing disaster of the imaginary proceeds, to the point at which … the signifier and signified are stabilized in the delusional metaphor.”


  9. Point taken. Luckily I just bought the new translation of Lacan’s “Ecrits” so I will go reread that and I’ll be all sorted.
    Thanks muchly.

    (there will be a slight pause in posts for a while, for fk’s sake)


  10. Not if you get stabbed on the 436 you won’t.

    God forbid, you might crawl off that bus and shout for a copper!

    Or even worse than that, blown limb from limb in terrorist attack or left with a leg or arm missing and burn marks all over your face. If you could ever type after something like that you might think twice about what you put on your blog. Prole bus drivers might be a little offended.

    Terrorists on the 436 from Lewisham to Paddington. Pah!


  11. Surely you can read them in French? Becuase then you could sort out the malicious boutades of the flaneur from the puns – Lacan referred to them as a ‘poubellecation’ – and sonorous poetics from the actual psychoanalytic theory istelf.

    And don’t you need to know Set Theory, Knot Theory and Topological Mathematics before you can get a hold on 50% of the book? The type of thing economists get taught so that people’s wages can get paid into their bank accounts? Or keep buses running on time in a bustling metropolis? And perhaps even then critique it for yourself?

    Marxists adding the sums correctly? Pah!


  12. Seriously though, John, your in no condition whatsoever to be trying to read a book let alone an obtruse French psychoananalyst. I mean you openly offer your support to psychotic historical revisionists who gloss over the graves of 25 million dead Russians and 60 million dead Ching Chong Chinamen. And Irish (Catholic) terrorist organisations!!! In the name of the father, John, you have issues!!!

    Leave Lacan to the clinicians. You’ll be in safe hands then. Surely as a professor you could even afford Darian Leader three times a week?


  13. Mao = 65 Million Dead, children’s stomachs exploding from eating red clay dirt in the North China rural plains becuase they couldn’t add up the agricultural numbers properly after the failure of the second five year plan.

    Stalin = 25 Million Dead

    Random acts of wanton killing based on the whim of psyhcotic power hungry maniac. Some people whose family member’s lost their feet fighting Russians in WW2 might think you’re a tad insensitive seeing as you live under the freedom they fought for.

    But why not Hitler John? Where are your links to Nazi propagandists and Holocaust revisionists? Is the death of 10 million people not enough? Are you frightened that you might get sued and put in prison? Becuase that never happens to academics who gloss over the deaths of millions.

    I just found a poppy on the floor. Shall I spit on it for you? Or send the charity worker to the Gulags?


  14. I’m being (very) gentle…

    Some of us can destroy the lives works of several world famous professors in two paragraphs… given a couple of pages, heaven knows what could happen?

    Maybe some sort of completely seperate blog entry retracting grossly offensive and insensitive sentiments?

    It couldn’t hurt anymore than being blown up on a London bus, could it John? Some students use that bus to get to work to pay tuition fees (your wages) at the same time when terrorist attacks are blowing them up.


  15. Dear Anon

    Seems you have more spare time than I have. And possibly more regular and reliable medication… So I’m leaving these comments in place and thanking you for them because they illustrate so well many of the points I have been making, even despite the somewhat ill-chosen references to ‘ching chong Chinamen’, keeping the transport system running to order, and paranoid psychosis about bombs on buses.

    Its my view that this chit chat stalls incredulously at some quite predictable points, but rather than reach for some sort of therapeutic out (since I don’t think there is one), I’ll leave it with a guarded plug for an upcoming talk that might manage to complicate some of our all too easy answers:


    Ending the Russian Revolution: Reflections on Soviet History and its Interpreters

    Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick
    Bernadotte E. Schmitt Distinguished Service Professor, The University of Chicago

    Tuesday, 8 April 2008
    5.30pm – 6.30pm, followed by a drinks reception
    The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace,
    London, SW1Y 5AH

    Free Admittance

    ‘Ending the revolution’, meaning essentially how to stop the Terror is a familiar problem in discussion of the French Revolution. In the case of the Russian Revolution, it is less familiar but equally intriguing. Ending the revolution is a problem for revolutionaries, who need to find a way of effecting the transition from political and social upheaval to a more settled state without losing revolutionary credibility. It is also a problem for historians, whose decisions about when to end the narrative of revolution are bound up with their interpretations of its historical significance. In the aftermath of the Cold War and the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, these two problems are the starting point for reflection on the long, politically-charged debate on the meaning of the Russian Revolution and the course of Soviet history.

    Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick is a historian of modern Russia (the Soviet Union). Her recent work has focused on Soviet social and cultural history in the Stalin period, particularly everyday practices. Her current research deals mainly with social and cultural change in Russia in the 1950s and 1960s.


  16. Irony seems to have gone out of fashion in Little Britain.

    No medication, just someone who thinks that mangling history to sound ‘hip’, and making light of the fact that people actually DO get blown up on buses in London is about as funny as, well, Stalin.


  17. An no more comments either, my spare time has run out.

    I have to get back to working with people who have managed to escape from present day Stalinesque leaders and help them get therapy and medciation. You only really have the time or wherewithal to do that when you don’t need either.

    And my Ching-Chong Chinaman colleague thought it was hilarious light-hearted reading as well. His mother brought him here when she managed to escape from Mao. She has some interesting stories to tell. Fortunately she can do so freely.


  18. Prof Hutnyk,

    I am student in the Politics Department and come here from Kong.

    My mother is Chinese and my father is British. I agree with Anon that you make comments without thinking about how they make people feel. My father has to pay £10 000 in tuitions fees for me every year and he and my mother can not go on holiday for me to get my degree at Goldsmiths. If it weren’t for all us ‘ching chong chinamen’ you would have to shut down the university.

    I think Anon was right about you having problems with your father. I think you treat us like we are stupid kids with you Mao and Stalin crap. How dare you? They still drown babies in the rice fields and force abortions for female babies. I know I am lucky to be here and not China. I also think it terrible that you joke about Kristallnacht and get the dates wrong. How can you get to be Professor and not know the correct date?

    I think Anon was right in calling you up. You should apologise. A lot of lecturers and tutors think so too but won’t say anything. I am a degree representative and a lot of my asian friends think you just try to make you sound cool to us with all that Mao crap. Mao and Stalin are dead.



  19. Hello John,

    I used to work with you in Anthropology and I know the student above and taught the j’accuse guy when he was here a few years ago, and they both have a point.

    My family were involved in Kristallnacht. My grandmother is still alive and one of her cousins got trapped in the DDR and then sent to the Gulags.

    I didn’t want to get involved in this, but I think your comments are appalling (for fks sake). The Chicago Professor was also wrong (the daily working practices were under Kruschev with the whole America no.2? thing which Brezhnev screwed up).

    I also do voluntary translation work for Amnesty International think you should explain why you go on abuot Mao Tse-Tung and Stalin.


  20. Happy to be reminded of this old discussion.

    Dear Li

    It not me who said anything about kristallnacht or ‘ching chong’ – these are anonymous posts by other people. Please read more carefully. Including on Stalin. Where do you find me commenting on Stalin? As for Mao, perhaps the relevance of Mao for cultural studies might be illustrated by a glance at coverage of the Olympics this week – and have a look at Michael Dutton’s book “Streetlife China” for reasons to consider the uses of Mao now, or, if political, consider the situation in Nepal – Prachanda for PM etc…

    Dear Anon,

    Re the comments of my anonymous former colleague. Again – not my reference to Kristallnacht, and my consistent anti-fascist position is pretty clear if you read anything I’ve written (on ANL, Bataille etc).. On Mao, see above re Dutton etc. On Stalin – what are you prattling on about? But, why bother – your anonymity reminds me why people say comments pages are just to encourage asteroid-dwelling three-toed sloths to vent (and it seems here without distinguishing what I write from sloth comments).

    So I guess that’s cleared all that up then, eh?
    John-For fks sake!



    Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda

    Nepali Congress candidate Deuba, who had become the Prime Minister three times earlier, garnered only 113 votes in his favour with 438 votes in favour of Prachanda. Out of 25 political parties, 20 voted for Prachanda.

    Nepal’s Maoists have made history. With great ideological clarity and profound political maturity, capable of flexible moving from one field of struggle to another, between armed struggle and parliamentary politics, Nepal’s creative Maoist communists have drawn appropriate lessons from the past experiences of the International Communist Movement and have developed a new dimension in communist ideology and politics.

    No doubt the Maoist victory in Nepal will have great significance for the revolutionary struggles of South Asia, where Maoists are already winning major battles. The example and experiences of Nepal’s Maoists should inspire us here in Britain and Europe to prepare ourselves for, and to fight back against, the capitalist onslaught, which is coming with the economic recession of capitalism in the immediate future.


    Prachanda and Baburam, CPN(Maoist)

    with revolutionary greetings,



  22. Dear All Who Read this Blog,

    Hi there, my name is Gordon Mclean and I read this blog from time to time as I, like John, do not believe in facism and also love the subject of Cultural Studies and hence am generally interested in blogs on the subject.

    It is I who posted the remainder comments of Anon as distinguished from the first one, and it was meant entirely in good, sardonic humour. I am not the person who posted the comment re Kristallnacht.

    I have made neither of the above entries.

    After speaking at length with Prof Hutnyk after my last entries, which I did not realise would be so drastically misconstrued, I not only apologoised, but have said that I will not make any more.

    I was also a student (and now friend) of the Anthroplogy PhD student who posted the second comment. She, simiarly to me, has expressed frustration at the dogmatically leftist bent within the college and cultural theory in general. It was also she who alerted me to the Dragnet Goldsmiths post in the first instance.

    Prof Hutnyk, I do not have anything against you. I am sorry that we came to loggerheads over this.

    I agree with nearly everything you say on most of your blog.

    I think your commitment to anti-facism is admirable.

    However, like an AWFUL lot of students, I just tend to think that Communism and Maoism are no longer much to do with anything.

    That’s it from my end.



  23. Tibet under The People’s Republic of China

    With the invasion of Tibet in 1950 and the subsequent Seventeen Point Agreement, the PRC asserted control over Tibet.

    A rebellion against the Chinese occupation was led by noblemen and monasteries and broke out in Amdo and eastern Kham in June 1956. The insurrection, supported by the American CIA, eventually spread to Lhasa. It was crushed by 1959. During this campaign, tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed and the 14th Dalai Lama and other government principals fled to exile in India.[50]

    Chinese sources claim rapid progress for prosperous, free, and happy Tibetans participating in democratic reforms, although nothing like a free and open election has ever occurred in Tibet under Chinese rule. Tibetans, on the other hand, write of Chinese genocide in Tibet, comparing the Chinese to the Nazis.[51] Independent scholar Warren Smith, whose work became focused on Tibetan history and politics after spending five months in Tibet in 1982, portrays the Chinese as chauvinists who believe they are superior to the Tibetans, and claims that the Chinese use torture, coercion and starvation to control the Tibetans.[52]

    The Central Tibetan Administration states that the number that have died in the Great Leap Forward, of violence, or other indirect causes since 1950 is approximately 1.2 million,[53] which the Chinese Communist Party denies. The Chinese Communist Party(CCP)’s official toll of deaths recorded for the whole of China for the years of the Great Leap Forward is 14 million[ citation needed ], but scholars have estimated the number of the famine victims to be between 20 and 43 million[54]. According to Patrick French, the estimate of 1.2 million in Tibet is not reliable because Tibetans were not able to process the data well enough to produce a credible total. There were, however, many casualties, with a figure of 400,000 extrapolated from a calculation Warren W. Smith made from census reports of Tibet which show 200,000 “missing” from Tibet.[55][56]

    The following Cultural Revolution and the damage it wrought upon Tibet and, indeed, the entire PRC is generally condemned as a nationwide catastrophe. In the PRC government’s view, the main instigators were the Gang of Four, who have since been brought to justice. Large numbers of Tibetans died violent deaths due to the Cultural Revolution, and the number of intact monasteries in Tibet was reduced from thousands, to less than ten. Tibetan resentment towards the Chinese deepened.[57] Tibetans participated in the destruction, but it is not clear how many of them actually embraced Chinese ideology, and how many participated out of fear of becoming targets themselves.[58]

    Projects that the PRC government claims to have benefited Tibet as part of the China Western Development economic plan, such as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, have roused fears of facilitating military mobilisation and Han migration.[59] There is still ethnic imbalance in appointments and promotions to the civil and judicial services in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, with disproportionately few ethnic Tibetans appointed to these posts.[60]

    The PRC government claims that its rule over Tibet is an unalloyed improvement, and that the China Western Development plan is a massive, benevolent, and patriotic undertaking by the wealthier eastern coast to help the western parts of China, including Tibet, catch up in prosperity and living standards. But foreign governments continue to make occasional protests about aspects of CCP rule in Tibet because of frequent reports of human rights violation in Tibet by groups such as Human Rights Watch. The government of the PRC maintains that the Tibetan Government did almost nothing to improve the Tibetans’ material and political standard of life during its rule from 1913–59, and that they opposed any reforms proposed by the Chinese government. According to the Chinese government, this is the reason for the tension that grew between some central government officials and the local Tibetan government in 1959.[61]

    The government of the PRC also rejects claims that the lives of Tibetans have deteriorated, and states that the lives of Tibetans have been improved immensely compared to self rule before 1950.[62] Belying these claims, some 3,000 Tibetans brave hardship and danger to flee into exile every year.[63]
    The Tibetan Parliament in Exile in Dharamsala, India.
    The Tibetan Parliament in Exile in Dharamsala, India.

    These claims are, however, disputed by many Tibetans. In 1989, the Panchen Lama,finally allowed to return to Shigatse, addressed a crowd of 30,000 and described what he saw as the suffering of Tibet and the harm being done to his country in the name of socialist reform under the rule of the PRC in terms reminiscent of the petition he had presented to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1962.[64]
    Gedhun Choekyi Nyima 11th Panchen Lama claimed by exiled Tibetan
    Gedhun Choekyi Nyima 11th Panchen Lama claimed by exiled Tibetan

    In 1995 the Dalai Lama named 6 year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama without Chinese approval, while the PRC named another child, Gyancain Norbu in conflict. Gyancain Norbu was raised in Beijing and has appeared occasionally on state media. The PRC-selected Panchen Lama is rejected by exiled Tibetans and anti-China groups who commonly refer to him as the “Panchen Zuma” (literally “fake Panchen Lama”). Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family have gone missing — believed by some to be imprisoned by China — and under a hidden identity for protection and privacy according to the PRC.[65]

    The Dalai Lama has stated his willingness to negotiate with the PRC government for genuine autonomy, but according to the government in exile and Tibetan independence groups, most Tibetans still call for full Tibetan independence. The Dalai Lama sees the millions of government-imported Han immigrants[ citation needed ] and preferential socioeconomic policies, as presenting an urgent threat to the Tibetan nation and culture. Tibetan exile groups say that despite recent attempts to restore the appearance of original Tibetan culture to attract tourism, the traditional Tibetan way of life is now irrevocably changed. Tashi Wangdi, the Representative of the Dalai Lama, stated in an interview that China’s Western China Development program “is providing facilities for the resettlement of Han Chinese in Tibet.”[66]

    In 2001 representatives of Tibet succeeded in gaining accreditation at a United Nations-sponsored meeting of non-governmental organizations. On August 29 Jampal Chosang, the head of the Tibetan coalition, stated that China had introduced “a new form of apartheid” in Tibet because “Tibetan culture, religion, and national identity are considered a threat” to China.[67]

    In 2005, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s offered to hold talks with the 14th Dalai Lama on the Tibet issue, provided he dropped the demand for independence. The Dalai Lama said in an interview with the South China Morning Post “We are willing to be part of the People’s Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment.” This statement was seen as a renewed diplomatic initiative by the Tibetan government-in-exile. He had already said he would accept Chinese sovereignty over Tibet but insisted on real autonomy over its religious and cultural life. The Tibetan government-in-exile called on the Chinese government to respond.[68] The move was unpopular with many Tibetans.

    In January 2007 the Dalai Lama, in an interview on a private television channel, said, “what we demand from the Chinese authority is more autonomy for Tibetans to protect their culture.” He added that he had told the Tibetan people not to think in terms of history and to accept Tibet as a part of China.[69]

    Talks between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government began again in May 2008 and again in July, but with little results. The two sides agreed to meet again in October.[70]


  24. “Everyone hates the Chinese”, on The Stephen Nolan Show, BBC Radio 5Live debate, with Madame Miaow

    11.20PM, SATURDAY 23rd August

    The subject is how have the Chinese Olympics changed people’s views on China? For better or worse? And how?

    Hosted by Tony Livesey, sitting in for Stephen Nolan.

    Email: 5livesport@bbc.co.uk and Livesey@bbc.co.uk
    You can listen online for seven days

    listen to the show for seven days online

    click on “Listen again — Saturday” and slide up to 1hr and 43 mins.


  25. from:


    Why White, Middle Class Soft-Lefts Don’t Like Red China

    So we have discussed the stance of the present workers
    leadership to the PRC but what about the workers themselves
    and what about the middle class. Before answering that
    question it is important to point out that people’s
    attitude to Red China varies according to where in the
    world they live. In many Third World countries, especially
    in Africa, there is quite some sympathy for the PRC. China
    is looked up to as a country that has freed itself from the
    subjugation by colonial powers that people in these
    countries still suffer under. And the PRC is respected as a
    state that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of
    terrible poverty. But in imperialist Australia, it is true
    that public opinion can be quite anti-China. Such feelings
    are of course not uniform. Many Australians, who are able
    to afford to travel to China, find that despite all the
    prejudices that they went with, the real China does not
    quite match the negative picture painted by the mainstream
    media. And local tertiary students who have friends that
    are overseas Chinese students, find that their Chinese
    friends do not at all act like they are ground down victims
    of the supposedly bleak, totalitarian society that Falun
    Gong would have you believe exists in the PRC. However,
    attitudes to China in Australia are haunted by that big
    evil spirit that hangs over this country: White Australia
    fears of big Asian countries. Sometimes these fears are
    openly racist. At other times they take on a “nice”,
    liberal-version of white supremacy, under which the
    non-white Asian masses are to be loved … as long as they
    are not organised in a powerful and successful country like
    the PRC, in which case they are a threat to Australian
    values. In this worldview, it is the mission of Australian
    “democracy” (which is really only a democracy for the
    capitalists) to save the Asian masses from the morally
    inferior regimes in their own countries.

    Workers in Australia are of course influenced by the
    anti-PRC stance of the current pro-ALP leadership of the
    workers movement. The strongest anti-PRC views in this
    country however come from embittered descendants of
    expatriate Chinese capitalists/landlords, from right-wing
    conservatives and also from the left-liberal sections of
    the middle class. It is worth examining in greater detail
    here the latter category of people. Typically, they are
    well educated, potentially upwardly mobile, of Anglo-Celtic
    background and are Greens or Democrats voting. To
    understand where these people are coming from in their
    anti-China, anti-communist hostility, one needs to
    understand the nature of the middle class in wealthy
    imperialist Australia. The middle class or as Marxists
    define it, the petit bourgeoisie, are a very broad layer
    (including the self-employed and non-boss professionals)
    who are neither exploiters of labour nor are they people
    whose labour is directly exploited by capitalists. The
    left-leaning layers of the middle class are people rightly
    angered by the injustices and irrationality of capitalism.
    But the problem with this section of the population is that
    because they do not directly experience exploitation of
    their labour by business owners in the way that workers do,
    they tend to downplay the centrality of the question of
    which class owns the means of production and the question
    of which class rules. Instead they become obsessed with
    questions of form; like questions of constitution, legal
    rights and the issue of how democratic the organisation of
    the state is. Those questions are of course important. But
    they are subordinate to the question of which class the
    laws and any “democracy” serves. That is lost on the middle
    class. They see a big train whizzing close past and that
    scares them. They keenly observe the shape of the
    locomotive but forget to notice what the train was actually
    carrying … or which direction it was headed in. When the
    liberal petit bourgeois looks at the PRC they see only the
    suppression of “rights,” unable to distinguish between
    harmful bureaucratism on the one hand and the necessary
    suppression of capitalist “free” holding of property
    “rights.” They are not able to understand that the PRC
    state, in a rather deformed way to be sure, still defends
    an ownership system that favours working class people.

    The above explanation actually puts the best possible face
    on Aussie middle class hostility to Red China. But there is
    another very different side to it. Many in the Australian
    middle class dream of making it into the upper class, if
    not as direct capitalist owners, then as henchmen for the
    capitalists, like managers and high-level bureaucrats. And
    many a middle-class leftist who has not sufficiently gone
    over to the side of the working class, quietly prepares a
    Plan B course to becoming a ruling class high flier. While
    at a leftist demonstration they sneak a quick peek at their
    watch and wonder if they should have been spending all that
    time they were at the rally instead pursuing their own
    capitalist ambitions. At the same time, more affluent
    middle class people sometimes have a relative or friend who
    is part of the capitalist class. For all these reasons, the
    liberal petit bourgeois don’t like it when a workers state
    (even a healthy one) takes measures to suppress the
    capitalists’ freedom to operate. In the case of China, they
    scream with indignation for example at the PRC’s attempts
    to squeeze capitalist Taiwan, that base for
    counterrevolution that was created when the former
    exploiting class took over the island after being kicked
    out of power in the rest of China in 1949.

    Of course, middle class liberals like it when a government
    helps the poor. However, stronger than this feeling is
    their dislike of suppression of the attempts of
    capitalists, and capitalists’ allies, to gain political
    power. But without such measures, especially in a world
    dominated by powerful capitalists, it is cruel joke to talk
    about building a power of the poor. The middle class
    left-liberals hostility to the PRC can be compared to their
    attitude to struggles at home. They are all for workers
    demanding more from their greedy bosses. Except that when
    striking workers start to take moves that can really win
    them concessions, like setting up strong picket lines to
    stop scabs, the middle class liberal bleats that “no harm
    should come to anyone.” No matter that failure to take such
    decisive measures will see a lot of harm coming to workers!
    Similarly, white middle class progressives are all for
    Aboriginal rights. But when the black anti-racist struggle
    becomes really powerful, like during the February 2004
    Redfern resistance, the soft-left whines, that “there
    should be no violence”!

    The middle class liberal is also prejudiced against the PRC
    because he or she is in general skeptical that communism is
    possible. In part this is a wilful cynicism. Someone who
    wants to become an exploiter likes to soothe their
    conscience with the thought that there can be no other
    system but capitalism. But sometimes middle class doubts
    about communism are genuinely felt. Someone who has not
    known anything but the cutthroat arena of small-business
    competition and the back stabbing world of ladder-climbing
    professionals is of course skeptical about a system that
    seeks to unite people’s labour in service for the common
    good. But working-class people, especially those who are
    part of a well-unionised workplace, have a different
    experience. When workers sacrifice their own career
    prospects to collectively defend from the boss a victimised
    worker or when they risk the sack to go on strike for the
    common good of workers they are in a way unwittingly
    rehearsing for the future grand act of communism. To be
    sure, workers today are themselves influenced by the
    prejudices of the middle class and by the overall values of
    capitalist society. But their own experiences make them
    open to being eventually won to supporting the struggle for
    a communist future. And of course, unlike the better-off
    sections of the middle class in imperialist Australia,
    workers ultimately have no choice but to fight for
    socialism. That is why the main base in the fight for
    communism and the main foundation of support in the West
    for the Chinese and Cuban workers states must be built
    within the working class. And when the working class acts
    as a powerful pro-socialist force they will draw behind it
    not only the other sections of the oppressed but a chunk of
    the middle classes as well.


  26. Tallying the human cost of the Beijing Games

    August 25, 2008

    BEIJING — If there was an alternative Olympic medal list for human-rights violations, it would contain numbers like these: 53 detained pro-Tibet activists, 77 rejected protest applications, at least 15 Chinese citizens arrested for seeking to protest, about 10 dissidents jailed and at least 30 websites blocked.

    These were a few of the numbers that emerged yesterday as rights advocates did their final tally of the human cost of the Beijing Olympics.

    China promised to allow protests at three designated zones in Beijing during the Olympics, but it refused to accept any of the 77 protest applications from 149 individuals. Instead, it arrested at least 15 people who asked for permission to protest in the official zones, according to a count by a Paris-based press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders.

    Among those arrested were two frail pensioners, 77 and 79 years old, who were interrogated for 10 hours and then sentenced to a year of “re-education through labour.” They were permitted to serve their one-year sentences at home, but their movements were restricted and they were warned that they could be sent to a labour camp if they violate any rules.

    Print Edition – Section Front
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    At least 50 human-rights activists were expelled from Beijing, harassed or placed under house arrest during the Olympics, according to Reporters Without Borders. It also estimated that 30 websites were blocked in China during the Beijing Games, including human-rights sites and news sites.

    “This repression will be remembered as one of the defining characteristics of the Beijing Games,” said the group’s secretary-general, Robert Ménard, in a report this weekend.

    The Foreign Correspondents Club of China, based in Beijing, kept count of the number of foreign journalists who were hindered or roughed up by the Chinese authorities during the Games. It found more than 30 cases of government interference in the reporting work of foreign media since the opening of the Olympic Media Centre on July 25. It is investigating another 20 reported incidents.

    The interference included 10 cases of journalists being beaten or roughed up by police who sometimes smashed their cameras, the association said. It said it was “alarmed” at the use of violence and intimidation against journalists. “The host government has not lived up to its Olympic promise that the media will be completely free to report on all aspects of China,” it said.

    Students for a Free Tibet, which organized a series of protests in Beijing during the Olympics, says a total of 53 pro-Tibet activists have been detained and deported from China since Aug. 6 after participating in protests or observing or supporting them. The activists were from Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia and Japan, as well as three Tibetans with foreign passports.

    In addition, two pro-Tibet activists are still in jail in Beijing after being arrested last Thursday. Eight activists were deported from China yesterday after being detained for several days.

    None of their brief protests were shown on China’s state-controlled television channels.

    China used the Olympic ceremonies to try to legitimize its control of Tibet, the student group said. Tibetans were portrayed “singing and dancing” among groups of other happy ethnic minorities at the ceremonies, it noted.


  27. its a comments page folks – so go post long articles on your own blogs, and spare me the effort of having to read you trying to have the last word on my blog – where, in any case, and by the credo pf the blogosphere, I actually get to have the last word!
    John- fer fucks sake.


  28. Dear All Who Read This Blog,

    It is Gordon Mclean here again, the guy who put all the long comments above before the second wave and seems in a roundabout way to have led to more and using up Prof Hutnyk’s time.

    I am now publicly apologizing for ever having made any of these comments and retract them. What seems to be have been missed is that my comments were entirely and utterly ironic and meant in good humour. (Some people thought I was making a death threat when I merely alluding to knife crime).

    I have worked for Professors before and they are extremely busy people. This has now become banal and pointless and I regret having had any part in what is now an annoyance and waste of Prof Hutnyks valuable time.



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