Thursday, December 30, 2004
I have just finished reading 'Welcome to the Machine' by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan. Excelent book with much in it to think about. Heres a sample:
"A high ranking security chief from South Africa's apartheid regime later told an interviewer what had been his greatest fear about the rebel group African National Congress (ANC). He had not so much feared the ANC's acts of sabotage or violence - even when these were costly to the rulers - as he had feared that the ANC would convince too many of the oppressed majority of Africans to disregard 'law and order'. Even the most powerful and highly trained 'security forces' in the world would not, he said, have been able to stem that threat. As soon as we come to see that the edicts of those in power, that they carry no inherent moral or ethical weight, we become the free human beings we were born to be, capable of saying yes and capable of saying no."
Plus the new book from the CrimethInc collective 'Recipes for Disaster' is out. Worth checking out!
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Friday, December 24, 2004
I guess if you have been following the soap opera of BIMC you may well have read a few things. First I have been 'outed' politically – yes anarchist606 is Tom aka imcvol tom from Indymedia. I did not really want my alias to be known. A while back when zaskar was 'outed' too by an anonymous poster I remember thinking that that was not nice at all – a piece of privacy being dragged away from you. Now zaskar has done this to me, I know my feelings on how this would feel are correct. Its not nice at all. As an Indymedia volunteer I could have removed the post from the site within the guidelines as us volunteers are entitled to the degree of privacy if they choose – but if I had I would have been attacked for censoring, so I feel I have no choice but to loose some of my privacy. I am dammed if I do, dammed if I don't.
Second I have been subject to a fair amount of personal abuse by zaskar including compared to the sadistic nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest and been told I am key in the BIMC 'miserable crew', called a liar and a few other things. However, if you search for where I have insulted him, you won't find anything. While I have disagreed with him plenty, on many points, I have never insulted him. When zaskar was subject to some pretty nasty and unwarrended insults, I looked to me like it had affected him. Now, knowing how he felt, I don't plan to insult him. I don’t like being a digital punch bag for insults by somebody who obviously feels that they have the right and justification to portray me in this way – but what can I do? Insult back? Troll? Let the mud stick? I am dammed if I do, dammed if I don’t.
I expect I will be subject to more abuse – especially following this post. What can I say? I don’t agree with how I am being portrayed nor do I agree with his accusations. I could get into a point for point rebuttal and carry the whole thing on. Myself, zaskar and other interested parties could spend months on this – each new posting further feeding the fire. The only way you the reader can know for themselves if to meet the people involved. Zaskar has been very generous in offering to work with people on filmmaking, and I bet it would be worth it, as he has a prolific output. The BIMC meetings are always open – come along and judge for yourself.
Other than that – Happy Christmas.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
The top anarchist online site Infoshop.org has it's 10th Anniversary in January - if you can I suggest donating some cash to them as they are on a fund drive. Worth it as the site is an excellent resource showing how good alternative media can be.
I guess the UK version of this site is Enrager.net, which is also very good. All this reminds me of something Robert Fist said, (i am paraphrasing) that the alternative media needs to stop acting as if we are small and behave like we ARE the mainstream and its the corporate media who have the narrow (i.e. neoliberal) agenda. To right! And these two projects show what we are capable of! Ffs, even the Tories are acknowledging that the best thinking is coming from us; Martin Summers formerly of the Institute of Economic Affairs; "The right in the UK has lost the excitement, creativeness and restlessness that distinguished it in the 1980s. These days, most of the exciting thinking about freedom is on the libertarian left." (Without getting to bogged down in ideological categorising, the libertarian left is basically anarchism).
More power to all.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
In today’s Observer there are a couple of articles that mention Bristol. In one it is noted as the best place to be Green. Which is pretty cool, I was, however disappointed with the 'usual suspects' looks at why our city is so Eco: The article mentions the Soil Association, Sustrans, Recycling Consortium, At-Bristol and Future West. The last two raised my eyebrow; At-Bristol is a tourist attraction sponsored by a multinational that can boast the longest running boycott campaign; Nestle. While the other is an arms company, BAE, currently up to its neck is slush fund allegations. That is neither green nor ethical. And Future West? Apparently they have gone belly up. It is also annoying that such articles always take a top-down approach in trying to imply that it is the organisations that are changing the city. I do not think it is that simple. You also need to factor in the pressure that the many activists and radical political groups in the city put into pushing society towards a greener future.
The next mention was in about to alcohol related violence. This mention is not quite so flattering: Of the ten of the areas with the highest levels of violent offences per 1,000 population: Central Bristol was first with 54 incidents. Nice. I would recommend reading the blistering attack on the Government and the alcohol lobby by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark; "...we are not cosmopolitan as we throw back another breezer. We are under the influence of a rapacious drinks industry and a greedy, spineless government."
Plus: A couple of other things that I find interesting from the papers;
There was an interview with Sir Martin Sorrell, head of WPP, one of the biggest ad firms in the world. He gives in unvarnished capitalist view of something very interesting: communism. He is one of a number of high-powered commentators who offer breathless praise for China's marriage of communism and capitalism; "It's the fastest growing, most interesting, least bureaucratic place around. I'm talking about China and its system of state-directed capitalism. People in the US and UK don't really understand that China is the equivalent to four or five USAs, a place where, for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, they are investing $45bn in infrastructure." He goes on quoting figures and info about market share - never once does he mention the brutal, repressive and undemocratic government there. It seems that many in the elite capitalist class have come clean and are breaking with the PR spin that capitalism needs democracy. Here we see the reality - a state that does not have to even pretend to respond to the people (he calls it 'least bureaucratic') and so can allow the unfettered pursuit of money without boundaries imposed by the environmental concerns or morality. Hurrah!
Also of interest was an article in which the ideas of evolutionary biology are being employed by the Pentagon to help build a system to predict war and terrorism. The irony that evolution, while being forced from schools in the US, can find a home in the same empire's military is not lost on me.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
At the same time Bush was elected, hunters have shot dead the last female brown bear native to the Pyrenees. When those two events occurred to me they seemed ominous. Then this dark feeling came true as I read; "Today, we need senators and congressmen to conclude every speech they give with the exhortation: Fallujah delenda est. Fallujah must be destroyed. I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean for the entire population of the city, every man, woman and child, given 24 hours to leave and be dispersed in resettlement camps, moved in with relatives in another village, wherever, and the town turned into a ghost town. Then the entire city carpet-bombed by B-52s into rubble, the rubble ground into powdered rubble by Abrams tanks, and the powdered rubble sown with salt as the Romans did with Carthage. Fallujah must be physically obliterated from the face of this earth."
Fucking scary. Firstly to think they have the right (I guess as an Empire they must think they do..) to dictate which city stands and falls. Secondly, that they would commit a war crime (as collective punishment is) and kill hundreds and destroy the homes of thousands to avenge the deaths of four American mercenaries - welcome to the reality of Bush and Empire.
To resist this is now more than a moral duty. It is survival. The Pyrenees Brown Bear did not, sadly, make it. I hope we can.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
So I guess there are lots of people who are thinking: Oh. My. God. He fucking won. Four more years. I guess I am one too. While I don’t think that voting changes anything, it still would have been better for the world had Bush lost. But he didn’t and we need to focus on that. Running parallel to his victory march has been the stunning BBC2 documentary, The Power of Nightmares, in which filmmaker Adam Curtis eviscerates the current 'War on Terror' (TM) bullshit. He notes that as politicians found there were unable to deliver a better world, they have instead fallen back on fear as a tool of power. Seeing the pathetic infighting between the local Neo-Labour/Lib Dem/Con councillors over the power to be puppet ruler of the city made me wonder if one of them might use fear and a tool too? I am waiting for the 'Bristol a target of al Qaeda says city councillor' headline. The collapse of mainstream political life locally and the threat of radical fundamentalists (from the US mainly) makes me think that people need to realise that it is time to get off the fence and start acting. Seeing the Daily Mail, our local rags's Big Brother, crowing for Bush and his crusader agenda shows us that, having conquered the US, the same ideology is now on the march here. There can be no compromise with these people and this ideology; for they offer none. Take Britain hanging on to the coat-tails of the US into Iraq and so we were told, influencing its policy – have we got anything e.g. Kyoto Protocol, justice for Palestine, even a sizable share in the loot from Iraq etc. – no. They took and gave nothing back. "There can be no real peace when living with someone who has already declared war, no peace but capitulation. And even that, as we see around us, doesn’t lead to further peace but to further degradation and exploitation..." (from 'A Language Older than Words' by Derrick Jensen)
Well the G8, with Bush in tow, is coming next year and now is the time to start thinking about a response to these people. They say it is a war for freedom. I agree; they are trying to erode what little freedom we have. They say it is about fighting for democracy. I agree; and democracy needs to be fought for at the grass roots at home first.
Your indifference will not save you. Fighting for what you believe in, could - so get off the fence and act:
- BRISTOL G8 DISSENT BENEFIT At the Plough on Thursday 4th november. Live bands and DJs palying a right old mix of rebel tunes! Starts 8pm.
- IRAQ PEACE BENEFIT Southville, Bristol. An eclectic evening of music to raise funds for the people of Iraq. Supported by Stop the War. Featuring 'The Mysterious Wheels' with Andrew Ranken from The Pogues. Plus two other live acts and Disco hits hour plus raffle. Saturday 13th November. 7pm. Holy Cross & Southville Social Club. Dean Lane. Southville. BS3.
- INDYMEDIA FILM NIGHT [UN ELIMINATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN DAY] 25th November. A day of events aimed at bringing awareness to the issue of violence against women. Worldwide, at least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. In the UK alone, on average, two women per week are killed by a male partner or former partner. Nearly half of
all female murder victims are killed by a partner or ex-partner. Join us in solidarity to say 'Enough is enough!' 6.30pm - Candlelight vigil from The M32 Junction 3 Roundabout (aka the Time Tunnel) to the Cube Cinema - chosen because it is the site of violence against women including rape and a death recently - sadly there are many sites in Bristol we could have chosen for the vigil to begin from. Come and light a candle for those who can't due to fear, injury of death. 7.30pm - Cube Cinema Events Begin. Short Films + speakers: Women from Nicaragua speak on their lives and concerns. The films being shown tonight will be a selection of uplifting and inspring shorts chosen by VJ Anakissed (plugincinema.com/toxic dancehall) to finish the night off in style!!
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Greetings from Osaka, Japan.
Thought you might know (and hopefully approve) the fact that a non-profit
micro-webcaster run by a handful of ex-pat volunteers has been including an
occasional program from your web project. Had a few Parasite & 606 shows on
& now have an "Independent Heroin" installment included in our "Sound
Collage" program. If you'd like to know/see/hear more, please go to:
Thanks for the great shows!
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
I am really sad to hear of the death of John Peel. I first encountered his show aged about 15, when I was just discovering the alternative scene (Ned's Atomic Dustbin and so on!) and a mate put the radio onto this show late one night and there was this crazy mix of music blasting out – I was impressed. Especially as I'd written Radio 1 off as a sick-pop puppy with nothing to interest me. I was not a regular listener but did pop in now and then to hear the familiar and comforting tones of Peely. Like the shipping forecast, if you could hear John play a speedmetal track at 45 (rather than 33) then the world still had hope left. About a year ago my connection to his show grew – for two reasons. First the BBC's streamed radio service got much better and so I could catch his show whenever online. I listened a lot more than before and often listened to some shows twice as they had so many good tracks (e.g. the Jawbone live blues show he did.) Secondly, Parasite's record label, Death$ucker, had the Bong Ra 'Riddim Wars' 7" played on the show – this rocked. My mates music was on John Peel, for fucks sake! The world was ours! Since then I noticed that Peely had played lots of stuff on his show from Death$ucker including Gusset, D'Kat as well as other top acts Big Joan and Movietone to name but a few.
It’s a sad day for music. RIP, John.
Friday, October 22, 2004
The vacillation and subservient compliance of the Neo-Labour government of the issue of sending UK troops into the maelstrom, raises a number of interesting points. On the one hand given is a war – that what you do – fight. But the media discourse on the issue seems to revolve around the issue of rules of engagement and the differing approaches of the UK/US forces. Again the media refuse to see the larger issue. To me, what this whole issue shows is just how much of a client state we are. We see the evidence for this again and again – the fact that the decision to go to war was taken a long time before the public discourse, that there was never any question of the UK backing the US and now, UK troops are to be used as a political football by the US.
Neo-Labour ministers have been busy tying to say this is not a political deployment and claiming that it will not be noticed in the US: (e.g. Caroline Flint on Question Time 21/10/04, "I don’t think that people in Boston, Milwaukee or Chicago are going to be particularly affected by what is a military decision.") Bullshit. I checked google news to see what US media outlets have picked up on the deployment – and surprise, surprise – its quite a few: Boston Globe, Kansas City Star, Houston Chronicle, Washington Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, CNN, Voice of America, ABC News, Bloomberg, USA Today - to name but a few. Looks like the editors of the US do think this re-deployment is news.
Time for us to wake up and smell the coffee.
PS. Crimethink have a new poster out...
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Sad news that Dialect has had to stop going for the time being...
Subject: Dialect - taking a break
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2004 03:13:21 -0700
This week will be the last week for dialect for a while - I'm taking some time off because it's become a bit too stressfull.
Hopefully we can go out in style - so if there's any guests or special features you have been planning, do it quick! We will be having a bit of a party each night this week, to say thanks to everyone involved...
You've all been amazing and we hope to be back next year with new funding.
Remember the dialect gig at the Cube Cinema on Saturday & bring all your mates - hope to see you all there!
This is a bit sad as Dialect had built a stable of very talented performers doing shows doing everything from mashup to hip-hop to bootleg to whatever goes. (The Dialect servers also took a hit recently, as the Bristol Indymedia server hosted in the same place, and the traffic went up as the Bristol Indymedia server picked up the slack while the FBI took out the UK IMC sites for a while.)
I think a shout out is due to Mike, who's been pouring his time into the project for a while now. Lets hope that, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, a new, bigger, badder and better Dialect emerges. Mine and Parasite's last show, was (In My Humble Opinion) pretty fucking rocking - witness Sickboy, Pantera, FRX and other gems climaxing in Parasite using 2 copies of Venetian Snares 'Hand Thow' (one on each deck) to finish off the our mega-mashup. It was orgasmic.
And the last track of our last ever show? Marillion. Oh yes.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
\ _ ____ ____ _____ ____ :::::::
_/¯¯ \_ // _ \___/ _/__\ _\_____ __/ \ _________:::::
_______________\__ /__\\ / \ / \ / \ / \ /_/ /:::::
TR.TechnoRulez / \ \ _____/_\___/ \___/ / \\____/_ / /::::::
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯//___/ \____\ _ /_____/ /____/_____/ /______/:::::::
/_______\ ____ _______ _____ \_ \:::::::
_\ \ _____ / /___\__ \_ / /____:::
./ \ \/ / / / / // | _/:::
| / / _ / \_______/_______// /| \::::
| \_____/______/ \_____\__ _______\:::
... because it's about music :::::::::
::::::::::::::........: RELEASE .NFO ::::...... :::::::::
: ____ ____:::: :::::::::
___ _____ / / ______/ /: . :::::::::
__\ \/ /___\ \______ _\ _/ / /:: ,: :::::::::
\ \ \ / _\ \ /____\__ \______/::: .:. .::. :::::::::
/__/ /_____/ // / ___ / _\ :::..·?' '· ·' · :::::::::
\___/ \________/____\ /\___\ · : · :::::::::
/_____/ .: '· :::::::::
artist...: Bong-Ra :::::::::
title....: Old-Skool Armageddon :::::::::
label....: Death$ucker Records :::::::::
cat.nr...: DSR6.0 :::::::::
style....: Jungle :::::::::
quality...: VBRkbps@44,1kHz :::::::::
chan-mode.: Joint-Stereo :::::::::
rls.size.: 14,3 MB source....: Vinyl :::::::::
rls.date.: Jul-02-2004 encoder...: Lame 3.90.3 MMX :::::::::
url/nfo..: http://www.deathsucker.co.uk :::::::::
____________ _______ /¯¯¯ ¯//_________ :::::::::
____/ / /____/ _ / \ \::::::\____/ /¯¯¯¯¯/::
::::::::..: NOTES :../ / / / / /_ /__/___\ \::::::: ___/_____/:::
____________________/____\ /____ / /______/ \ \ :::::::::
\___\ / _/ / // \_ :::::::::
\____/ \__________/ :::::::::
'Old-Skool Armageddon' sees Bong Ra jump in a time machine :::::::::
and teleport us 10 years back to the early 1990's, where :::::::::
rave music was reaching it's peak and jungle music was so :::::::::
popular it was making it into the charts. Here we have two :::::::::
very different tracks of enormous proportions; the first a :::::::::
rave anthem for a new generation, the second a jungle :::::::::
mash-up with bass lines so low you'll be shaking your :::::::::
booty without a care. Hand-sprayed sleeves and limited to :::::::::
500 copies. :::::::::
Note: the record label says 2003, but this baby wasn't :::::::::
released until April 2004. :::::::::
:___ ____ _ ___::/ /_::_
_____ ___ ___ | | / _/// / //__//_///
_/ /__\ \______\ \_____ | |/ /_____\_ \::::::·:
.....:: TRACKLIST :\ / \ \ _ / _/___| / /\ / / \\¯¯¯:'
:·············/ _/ / /___ \ / \ \ \_____/ \\ \¯¯¯·
no : track title ____//___|\ \ \____\___/_____\__| ti:me\________/::::
······:·························\______\·· · · · ·· ··········· ··..··:::::::
A1 : Bong-Ra - Deathsucker Rave (Amphetamine Lollipop Rmx) 03:59 :::::::
B1 : Bong-Ra - Murder You (Ruff Inna Jungle Rmx) 04:31 :::::::
total length: 08:30 min :::::
. ____ ________ ____ ______:::::::
. ____ _\ \ / /_\ \ _____ ________/ :::::::
:: __/ _/__ / \ \ / / / / /_\ \______ \ _/ / /:::::::
:::.\ \_ / / /________/ / / _/ \ /____\__ \______/ :::::::
::::/_____/ \__|\ \ \ \______/ \\_____// / / _\ :::::::
:::::::::/_____/··\_______\....:::: \____\ /____\ /\___\ :::::::
:::: \_____\ ::::::
:::: GROUP NFO :::....................::::::.
Well this is our third year around, and as always we will keep on :::::.
releasing good techno/electronic music to the scene. A lot has ::::::
happened under the three years in TechnoRulez. Some members have ::::::
come and some have passed on, but the fact that we have quality in ::::::
the releases has remained. Will also remain the same in the future. ::::::
We in TechnoRulez are in it for the fun! And we buy our own records ::::::
with hard earned cash! The artists we deal with are not rock stars. ::::::
They don't pretend to be 'the man'. They're not part of the ::::::
establishment or the multi-million dollar music business. So the ::::::
only way our scene can stay alive is through its undying support for ::::::
the artists and labels. *THIS* is the sole reason we release music. ::::::
So for fuck's sake, if you like what your hear, go to your local ::::::
record shop and purchase a copy of your own. It's your duty! Only ::::::
through this process we can all continue to enjoy techno music to ::::::
the fullest. As far as our releases go, if you can get hold of them, ::::::
be happy and treasure them. Don't start posting to public domains ::::::
or sources!! This will eventually result in a more restricted ::::::
distribution of our releases, possibly even only internal... ::::::
The choice is yours... ::::::
/TechnoRulez Crew 2003 :::::..
.........................::::: GREETINGS :::::........................::::::.
1REAL . 313 . AMOK . BOSS . CHR . CMC . CMG . CQi . dh . DOC . DPS :::::.
DRUM . DW2K . EMP . FWYH . gEm . KrbZ . kW . mbs . MGC . MiM . MOD ::::..
MS . MTC . MYCEL . NBD . OMA . PDJ . PsyCZ . radial . RAMPLjUS ::::.
RNS . sb . smc . sour . SQ . tronik . UBE ::::
& all underground electronic music lovers ;) ::.
_____________________________________________________________________ __ _____
> TR.oldschool.nfo.Build.0.63 | Updated 2003/07/20 | © eskoner(t^) // /// /
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯
Monday, September 27, 2004
In the summer 2004 newsletter the local Lib Dems announced that they are putting their weight behind the campaign by St.Werburghs Neighbourhood Association to get rid of the mass of billboard that makes the area look less like housing and more like a mall. No word on support for the spate of direct action that has seen then being toppled by angry residents tired of waiting for politicians to sort things out. These anti-advert vigilantes enjoy considerable support in the local area. I also cant help but wonder how the local support for such activities that are effectively a curb on capitalism will square with the new free-market, pro-privatisation, go-go capitalism Lib Dems we have been seeing emerge as the party moves closer to power. A friend commented that the Lib Dems have always been less controlled from the top of the part to its regional wings; how ever as they move into the position of being player in the grand chessboard, I expect that will begin to change.
Speaking of the Ashley councillor, she really needs to get to a meeting of St.Pauls Unlimited, as there are rumblings of disquiet over the huge list of apologies for not attending meetings that have categorised the councillors involvement with the group for the last year.
Finally a quick note on Venue, who after the Bristle media special, also decided to run a media special. Hmmm. It briefly talks about their owners, Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) and how they own most of the media in Bristol – however concludes that in general the media here offers good choice, relying on Bristle and the Bristolian to illustrate this point: This is a cart before horse argument, as these publications exist because of the media monopoly that the DMGT has over the area. Plus comparing Bristle, That Be Bristle and a few others to a media-behemoth like the DMGT and then concluding choice is to totally miss the point of scale and power – but I guess if you are writing from the belly of the beat, you need to watch for its hunger.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
A few people seemed to be under the impression that serious and positive political change can be gained by voting for the Liberal Democrats – to them I ask what is the difference between them and Neo-Labour? They both get sponsorship from McDonalds (Lib/Lab), they both embrace the free market; indeed the same business-head seem to have infected both parties; "A senior adviser to the Liberal Democrats who quit his role as chairman of its working group on employment claims the party has been "hijacked by a coterie of laissez-faire economists"...."
Sunday, September 19, 2004
I lay in bed chucking for a while listening to Radio 4 as the woman from the Countryside Action Network bleated about how all the violence at the pro-animal curtly demo on Wednesday 15th. She moaned about the rights of the minority and that the violence was all the police's fault. While it is possible that individual members of the pro-hunt lobby have been active on issues like police violence and minority rights for many years, I suspect the vast majority of them, coming from the political right, have, at best sat idly by while the police beat on people from ethnic minorities, or at the worst have supported the establishment as it waged war on those who didn't fit the rule Britannia mould.
What goes around comes around.
All this hypocrisy is obviously part of why the Pro Hunt Ideology is vapid and shallow, but to me there is a bigger reason why this is so. Five protesters, so enraged that the felt the had to use direct action, broke into the House of Commons to confront the lawmakers directly. This was about liberty and livelihood and these people were from a downtrodden rural way of life: so I guess they must have been there to confront the lawmakers about the appalling suicide rate of farmers? No. So, then they must have been there to take a stand against the crushing jackboot of the supermarkets? No. So they were there to strike a blow for the destruction of the traditional British countryside by industrial agriculture? No.
They were there to protest about the right to destroy nature on a whim, to kill for fun. This is a shallow ideology. It is also only a stones throw from an attempted justification of the unending exploitation of the natural world to its and our extinction. It is the remains of a feudal psyche of yesteryear, a belief in a 'natural' hierarchy with white men at the top. A belief that the suffering of others, lower down the hierarchy, counts less that the gratification of those at the top. In summary it is a selfish, short-term, destructive and unsustainable ideology that must be opposed: so a big-up to the Bath and Bristol hunt sabbers who have been using direct action for years to end this abhorrent practice and who, when the law comes into effect, deserve a lie-in on the weekend. However, I suspect that they, as people committed to the natural world and our harmony with it, will take up the struggle elsewhere.
Could the same be said for the pro-hunt lot when the next scandal of police brutality happens? Because chances are it will happen in the inner-city to an black or Muslim teenager and they will sit on their arse and do nothing. Maybe their new campaign slogan should be: Liberty and livelihood for me and the rest of you can just fuck off.
(And they call this a 'sport'?????!!!!)
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Every day I see things that make me realise that the assertions of Derrick Jensen that the dominant culture hates itself and everything to the point where it is dragging us into a mass ecocide; "There can be no real peace when living with someone who has already declared war, no peace but capitulation. And even that, as we see around us, doesn’t lead to further peace but to further degradation and exploitation..." from 'A Language Older than Words' by Derrick Jensen
I read this and then I see: "The British Environment Agency has reported that the anti-depression drug Prozac can now be found in Britain's drinking water. Prozac is being used at such an alarming rate in Britain that it is building up both in river systems and groundwater."
Its fucked. We are fucked unless we act now – so come to the G8 meeting as a suggested starting point. While on the subject of fucked – Iraq. How fucked up can it get?
This fucked up?
I guess so.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Massive Attack! Basement Jaxx! Some other middle-brow artists! "There's only one city in the world I'd live in - f*** Paris, f*** New York - it's Bristol," stated Robert Del Naja to the BBC! Yeah! Except the fiasco of the Cannon’s Marsh gigs demonstrate something more fundamental that the cities influence on music – it betrays the corporate heart of the city that now tries to force us to jump to its beat.
First you get a brand (Grolsch owned by the Coors Brewing Company, who have a history of funding hard right political organizations, environmental damage and homophobia) and then some hip, groovy bands (Massive Attack, Basement Jaxx and so on) and what do you have? A summer sizzler. Now all you need to do is charge £25 and the witless punters will throng into your embrace...
Except that they don’t. The first nights gig was not sold-out, with only 3500 of the 4000 tickets gone. Touts were offering more unwanted tickets for the cut-price of £19. It seemed like Bristol was not willing to spend £25 per night to watch the summer set. The promoters, who had not anticipated the low take up, began bringing in PR people from other beer brands to boost the profile. Those who did attend were not happy to find that not only were you being asked to spend £25 to get in, but security were searching people on entry for alcohol – then sending you into the arena where the only beer was Grolsch at £3 per pint. The most obvious sign of the mess was that by the time Basement Jaxx were playing on the Wednsday, you could get tickets for £12.50.
However, not content with trying to fleece the willing, the promoters then moved to fleecing the unwilling: First they showed the corporate clout they had by closing down the far side of the harbor, oblivious to the fact that many people use this route as a through route. Next they began pressuring the harbour-master to harass the boats so as to prevent them from listening in. On hand were also the cops to hassle those on Prince Street Bridge about drinking in a pubic space (though if you paid £3 for some Grolsch on the other side on the bank you can get as pissed as you want.) The evening post joined in by moaning about the boats who had be allegedly listening in for free.
The arrogance is such that these corporate promoters think they can control the very land and air of the city; the complicity of the local authorities, police and media lends credence to their world-view. But to me, if they choose to have a concert in the middle of a city, they should live with the consequences - which include the reality that some people will be able to hear (whether they want to or not) the music outside their branded space. Grolsch is a guest in our city, and it should behave as such and not like some spoilt child trying to eat all of the pies.
PS. I'm reading Derrick Jensen's 'A Language Older than Words' the book is stunning and so on my thoughts that friends are complaining that at each opportune moment I get the book out to read a passage to them. You can get the book at Greenleaf, I urge you to do so. The book is about the culture of destruction that we find around us, each and every day I see examples of what Dezza is talking about write large. Example of the week the Guardian's total word count from the mainstream media: the genocide in Dafur: 27,660 words while Sven and the football/sex thing: 208,366 words.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Contrasting News - Linked in the Middle
It seems that something very interesting and positive is going on in Bolivia, as the Qhepus Anarchist Collective (posed on the excellent ainfos anarchist newswire) take up the story...
Bolivia is a poor, backward country, turned into a colony of Yankee imperialism, where an insipid bourgeoisie uses this "nation" as its own property, rotating the country's governors between the members of its social class, and opening the doors of the country to imperialism and the transnational companies so that they can pillage the natural resources of the country however they feel fit. And this has already been going on for a long time....To all this must be added that there are a total of 10 municipalities that have expelled the state authorities and got rid of institutions like the police and army, to put into practice, once and for all, the communitarian model that the Aymará people call "ayllu".
This "ayllu", in agreement with the Aymará view of things, is a system where Direct Democracy is put into practice, as the main decisions are made on the basis of open assemblies of the whole population, and where Mutual Aid and Solidarity form part of daily life for these people, who are looking to build a better society through means of these valuable tools. And without doubt they will obtain it, as long as they, together with the inhabitants of the cities, can free themselves from the claws of the State, be it national or supranational (imperialist).
The world's libertarians must salute with raised fists these initiatives by the indigenous communities that inhabit Bolivia, who, without parties or vanguards, support each other in natural organizations, seeking by themselves to construct a future of Freedom....
Well, if it is as you say, I salute you with raised fist.
On the flip side - Seymour Hersh, the multi-award winning journalist who originally broke the My Lai massacre story and who recently broke the Abu Ghraib torture, gave a speech recently in which he shows how deep the hole goes in that prison and Iraq really goes. It's really deep:
"I can tell you it was much worse. There are worse photos, worse events....some of the worse things that happened you don't know about.....The women were passing messages out saying 'please come and kill me' because of what's happened, basically what happened is those women who were arrested with young boys, children, the boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, the worse above all of them is the sound track of the boys shrieking. That your government has...."
You could dismiss this as the ramblings of a conspiracy theorist with a tinfoil-hat if it was not for the fact that the assertions come from somebody who has received the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. How fundamentally wrong can this Iraq enterprise be when we are asked to stand shoulder to shoulder with a corpse-machine that uses the rape of children as a weapon of war? Can you rape your way to a democracy? If you accept (as the evidence points to) that the horrific operations in Abu Ghraib come from the top - there is no other conclusion than it is all wrong. Blair can ask us to rejoice because Iraq is free, well Tony, state sanctioned rape is not freedom. It is all wrong. The enterprise that is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the system that spawned and sustained it must be brought down, person by person, bit by bit. Then we can talk freedom.
And here is the link between the two - I am hopeful that what is happening in Bolivia is part and parcel of building a better world. A world without the corpse-machine of the military industrial complex. A world of direct democracy. Dick Cheney was right, we are entering a state of perpetual war - but for those opposing the corpse machine, the war will not be fought with cruise missiles or Depleted Uranium rounds - it will be fought in hearts and minds, on streets, in lockdowns, insurgencies, petitions, die-ins, demos, by surviving, through non-compliance and a million other ways - until their whole enterprise is stopped dead.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
The Russians might be sending troops to Iraq. The report going around is that in exchange for oil concessions and help in getting Russia into the World Trade Organisation. The report says that it may be as many as 40,000. Money not only talks, it mobilises armies! It circular irony of the few al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq, who cut their teeth fighting the Russians in Afghanistan in the 80s then alongside the US – will now once more be facing the Russians – different decade, different land – but to them, I guess, its all for the same cause.
On a totally unrelated topic – there is a cool picture of Roni Size at Ashton Court here:
Monday, July 19, 2004
Well for anyone who missed it, another year of Ashton Court madness has come and gone. First up I’d like to send a shout-out to the people who made it a great two days – the mentalists! You knows you make it what it is! Guy in all-over body-glove dancing round talking to people who weren’t there – mentalist. Guy who stood on the comedy tent stage with his tackle out singing (badly) the Burt Bacharach cover the Stranglers do, to an audience of around 200 people – mentalist. The people at the disinformation tent – mentalists. The (many) people whos summer tipple of choice was a gallon bottle of skullfuck cider – apple mentalists.
Here is how it went down for me: Saturday I spent quite a while at the Blackout stage and hugely enjoyed Distance/Time (but I’m bias in that opinion). Distance/Time kept the audience pretty rapt with contemporary dance, electro-acoustic music and VJing and is (I guess) the first time contemporary dance has been done with a breakcore soundtrack? Correct me if I’m wrong. I hung around to see Deaf Rave: When I first heard about this event I was thinking Death Rave – which sounded pretty hardcore, in the event it was actually Deaf Rave; but it was really focused, impressive and got the crowd moving. The performers were very confident and full-on, resulting in an event that felt like a kind of top of the pops on acid. I also spend some time in the comedy tent and really enjoyed that too; partly thanks to the mentalist described, but also due to some very funny people giving it some. I ended the evening listening to Goldie Lookin Chain and could not hear a fucking word. All I could see is around 150 people in tracksuits running around on stage trying not to bump into each other. Given that the fun of Goldie Lookin Chain is in the lyrics – this was a bit of a disappointment. The only line I heard was the chorus, "...JLo ain't shit to me, PDiddy ain't shit to me, fuck you Alisha Keys" ….From there I went off to a party, which was a bit of a washout because, given the bridge was shut, by the time people had yomped the 38 miles back home everyone – party organisers included – were knackered and only seemed to have enough energy to make tea, not war.
Incidentally the security were living up to the rep of Bristol bounders, generally driving round at boy-racer speed and busily dismounting their Armoured Personal Carriers to tackle non-existent emergencies each time. They had also taken a lesson from the cops that is familiar to activists – getting a camera stuffed into your face - I saw a gaggle of these body-armoured goons videoing and shunting a trader along like there were pulling protestors from lockdown as Fairford rather than trying to stop some woman selling hash-cake.
So Sunday I got up early (1.30pm) and aimed to get to Ashton Court by 5.15pm to see Five Knuckle Shuffle. I got there and had a place in the sun ready to punk-out and the boys did not disappoint. Full-on-punk! I also noted that the lead singer pledged to do all he could to keep the festival community and cheap to attend. From there I wondered around (aimlessly) for a bit (as you do) and observed the mentalists being mental. In the meantime I saw some of Bug Planet, which was good, but as I could only get space to sit by the speaker – was painful in one ear. The Blackout tent was a top destination for me this year – they had lots of kooky shit on and it was always worth staggering in to check out the sounds. From there I then saw Rebalado, which was a Brazilian-salsa-carnival type thing. The rhythms were pretty funky and I noticed that the audience for the show went from a gender mix of around 50/50 to being 70/30 in favour of males after the carnival dancers in silver bikinis and half the EC glitter mountain on, emerged. That said, they did get the crowd moving and for a while it seemed that the only difference between Bristol and Brazil was the weather. That done I was dragged to see Banghra Fever; the poor guys of whom were having massive technical troubles and ended up doing the gig with only 1 turntable and no CD player, but they had lots energy and enthusiasm and that made up the slack. From there more comedy tent stuff, which was still funny but no naked people (invite the mentalist back next year!) and once that was done it the stage went to Blackout (not the top tent, but a drum'n'bass act). Now, I know Roni and the Stranglers were playing, and I only saw one Roni track in passing, but for me, ending the festival in a tent with full-on grassroots drum'and'bass, a nod to the place where the sound was tempered all those years ago, made a kind of poetic sense. Blackout were pretty fantastic and kept the huge crowd jumping with singers, MCs, guitars, DJ, wired-noise boxes, flute and sax. As the sun set to the thumping bass and banging drum, this, rather than the big names, was where Ashton Court belongs.
Monday, July 05, 2004
Second up was later on: While sitting with some cold lager I was sat down chatting to an enthusiastic council official (she/he will remain nameless) and we had a good chat about plunder. The view of this person (and I'm sure other enthusiastic employees) is that they are making the city a better place. From my point of view they are not. Not because they are evil minions planning our impoverishment - but because they are the administrators of a system that cannot, indeed will not let power go. Ever. We talked about the Broadmead development – which in my world view is not a million miles from what is going on in Iraq: The state facilitated plunder. In both cases the infrastructure of the state (here the council, there the US army) smooth the ground over for the transfer of wealth into private hands (here through London based developers who are looking to make a killing from luxury housing, there as Haliburton et al come in to mop up the oil/tax revenues). State facilitated plunder. In both cases the wishes of those to be effected by this wealth-transfer are an unknown quantity. (People objected to both the Iraq war and the Broadmead development and in both cases it went ahead anyway.) Even if there had been access to a truthful account of what people wanted, how could this be separated from the propaganda of either the developers manipulation (see Bristle #16) or the US empire's psyops to result in anything as valuable as a truth?
This council employee's heart might be in the right place – and I don't doubt that – but while you only glimpse tiny portions of the whole, its easy to miss the truth. Because the truth is that if the council was democratic then the Broadmead development would not consist of luxury housing. Because if there was economic justice then the residents of St.Pauls would have a wealth comparable to that of the slavery-made Merchant Ventures. If there was no state propaganda machine then we would have revolted at the government support for Saddam in the 80s and not arrived at the mess we are at now. I would urge this employee to get radical – and by that I mean the real meaning of the word, which is from the Latin for root.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Bristol saw the first Peak Oil workshop on the Saturday just gone (19th) which was the first organised event by Sally, the woman who had originally been posting the issue on Bristol Indymedia. It was a good event with lots of positive discussion, a testament to Sally’s hard work and the diligent mindset of those who attended. There is an egroup for interested people to join at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bristolpeakoilers
It has been pointed out by a comrade how little the oil issue springs into the mainstream until it is forced there either by economics (when the price of a barrel goes up) or death (of westerners, not Jonnie Foreigner). He cited a report of the destruction of an oil storage depot in Russia – al Qaeda expanding their targeting of the oil infrastructure – knowing it to be a sure-fire way to send a message to the military-industrical complex? Well, IMHO it is time to look at that which is not talked about, so here’s my info sheet from the Peak Oil day:
This excellent site captures news stories about peak oil and related issues from all over the web and deposits them in one helpful place - a good spot to keeping up-to-date on energy developments.
This is the main site of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas. This has lots of facts, figures and graphs plus links to other sites and articles. Not the best site design and organisation - but full of good links.
This site (aka copvcia.com) is run by former LADP Officer Mike Rupert. Some of the stuff can be a little conspiracy-like, but overall it is a good resource with many excellent articles and analysis of oil and geopolitics.
A very depressing site who's name comes from the biological term given for a given species population crash once it exceeds the resources it needs to survive. If you ignore the doom-and-gloom outlook on the site these is some good analysis of oil and population.
(can I suggest you order these from Greenleaf, as an essential component to a future without oil is a strong local economy - this is something you won't help by shopping at Amazon, Borders or Waterstones! Greenleaf can be contacted at 0117 921 1369, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or pop in and see them at 82 Colston St, Bristol, BS1 5BB. Website: http://www.greenleafbookshop.co.uk)
'The End of the Oil Age' by Dale Allen Pfieffer
The End of the Oil Age is an anthology of science and geopolitical articles written by Dale Allen Pfeiffer. This collection contains all of the author's major articles about energy depletion, the confluence of environmental problems set to converge upon the world, and the implications for modern civilization. Understanding the global peak of oil production and the North American natural gas cliff is essential for making sense of what is happening in the world today. The book is a warning about the end of hydrocarbon based technological civilization.
'Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict' by Michael T. Clare
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
From the oilfields of Saudi Arabia to the Nile delta, from the shipping lanes of the South China Sea to the pipelines of Central Asia , Resource Wars looks at the growing impact of resource scarcity on the military policies of nations.
The PARTY'S OVER: Oil, War and the fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg
Publisher: Clairview Books
When Mike Bowlin, Chairman of ARCO, said in 1999 that "We've embarked on the beginning of the last days of the age of oil," he was voicing a truth that many others in the petroleum industry knew but dared not utter. Over the past few years, evidence has mounted that global oil production is nearing its historic peak. Richard Heinberg has distilled complex facts, histories, and events into a readable overview of the energy systems that keep today's mass society running. The result is jarring.
Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability by David Holmgren
Publisher: Holmgren Design Services
This book uses permaculture principles as a framework for an empowering but challenging vision of creative adaptation to a world of energy descent. David Holmgren builds on the extraordinary success of the permaculture concept (which he co-originated with Bill Mollison 25 years ago) and the global permaculture movement, to provide a more cerebral and controversial contribution to the sustainability debate.
Renewables Are Ready: People Creating Renewable Energy Solutions by Nancy Cole and P.J. Skerrett
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Energy use in the world has reached a critical crossroads. To prevent exhaustion of the last of our fossil fuels, we must commit ourselves to two goals: reduction of present levels of energy consumption, and widespread development and implementation of practical, affordable renewable energy technologies. In Renewables Are Ready, authors Nancy Cole and P.J. Skerrett tell the inspirational stories of Americans who have made renewable energy a reality in their own communities.
Wind Energy Basics: A Guide to Small and Micro Wind Systems by Paul Gipe; Foreword by Richard Perez of Home Power Magazine
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
The wind power industry has been transformed in the 1990s by dramatic breakthroughs in efficiency, economy, and adaptability. Wind Energy Basics is the most up-to-date source available of information about small wind systems. The book includes the unique "standard small wind turbine rating" developed by the author, which is designed to help readers wade through conflicting performance claims by manufacturers in the U.S. and overseas. Also included is detailed information on planning, siting, and installing a wind system, and on integrating wind power with solar for more cost-effective and reliable off-the-grid applications.
Monday, May 31, 2004
June 6th 2004 sees the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings - I doubt I'm the first one to point this out to you as most of the media has pretty extensive coverage of this event- in my opinion rightly so - as this was a huge event that has touched the lives of many people. My Grandad was one of those soldiers who made that short crossing over the channel to help end a long and brutal war. He married my Gran before embarking to war as he feared he may never come back; fortunately for our family he did - and they were together from then until when they both died.
The legacy of this event is also still with us in Bristol - Clifton College still has General Omar Bradley's three star general's banner. This banner was presented to the college as a mark of thanks for the use of the buildings as the HQ for the US 1st Army. General Bradley moved in to the college on 16th October 1943 and used it right though till June 1944. The school kids who would have been there had long since been evacuated out of the city.
World War II is seen as the 'good war' (indeed the BBC have dubbed it 'The People's War') and throughout the intervening period, politicians have sought to associate themselves and their actions with this most moral of wars. Most recently Tony Blair and George Bush has sought to swathe themselves in the cloth cut by so much suffering to hide the fact that their war is not only not a good one, but is totally stark naked. These two leaders, neither of whom has seen active service in any war, will be standing tall at a ceremony in Normandy to mark the event. With so many important leaders in one place, and with an ongoing War on Terror (TM) to worry about, the town hosting the event, Arromanches, has been totally sealed off. The Major of Arromanches obviously sees how ill fitting their cloth is, as he told reporters; "The sad thing for us here is that June 6 is almost more important than Bastille Day. Every year our British veterans come and every year we celebrate with them in a wonderful, intimate reunion. This year will be different. There'll be no party, no cocktails on the square. They've stolen our party."
In the run-up to the war there was much discussion of 'appeasement' and how it had failed with Hitler, and so it would fail with Saddam: Rupert Murdoch's New York Post shrieked: "Where are the French now, as Americans prepare to put their soldiers on the line to fight today's Hitler, Saddam Hussein?" I myself, as an opponent of the Iraq war, have been hit with the charge: what would you have done in WWII? Let Hitler take the whole world? My answer then is the same as now - I'd have tried to stop him obtaining power in the first place. The war against fascism did not begin when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939. It did not begin when the anarchists, communists and socialists were battling Franco, Hitler and Mussolini in Spain 1936. It began when corporate interests, fearful of the rise of social movements, sought a vanguard against the loss of profit. This battle has roots that go back beyond the 20th century. Without financial backing and sponsors in the corridors of power - men such as Hitler, Saddam and Osama would still be fanatics, but lacking the power to act would be snakes without venom.
When GW Bush stands before the world to mark the sacrifice of allied soldiers in D-Day I wonder if he'll spare a thought for Prescott Bush, his granddaddy who spent the 1930 and 40s helping Hitler to acquire this venom. Through various trading companies and banks Prescott Bush was part of the 48.5% rise in US corporate investment in German once Hitler came to power. He wasn't alone; Henry Ford was awarded Great Cross of the German Order of the Eagle by Hitler for services to German industry. In the words of John Loftus, a prosecutor with the US Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit, "..they [Prescott Bush and his cronies] should have been tried for treason, because they continued to support Hitler after the US entered the war...I could have made that case."
Instead of standing in a court accused of complicity in war crimes, the corporate villains of the 'good war' will have their figureheads presiding over the service to honor those who cleaned up their mess. Instead of being dismantled, the corporations who cashed-in from fascism, such as Ford, IBM and Nestle - now take pride of place in our consumer driven lifestyles. Instead of being run out of the country, the media who applauded Hitler are given free reign to continue his hateful ideology. In the words of Jose Arevalo, a member of the left-leaning cabinet of President Arbenz of Guatemala prior to its overthrown by a CIA orchestrated coup, who remarked; "The allies may have won the Second World War, but unfortunately the ideology that won was not that of Roosevelt, but that of Hitler."
While Nestle has a cafe in the heart of Bristol selling salve-labour coffee, while the BNP tread the streets of our city peddling the ideology that my grandfather fought against, while the warmongers are lauded and the peace makers slandered as appeasers or terrorists - while all this happens - the war against fascism is not over and it would be an insult to the freedoms that people like my grandfather fought for to do anything else than continue that struggle.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
I was reading Venue before xmas where they had a big article about local Tory politician, Richard Eddy and his war on flyposting. As part of the spin for this campaign, he posed for a photo surrounded by the objects of his displeasure - posters of evil! But is this issue as simple as one of litter and glue? Is there more to it than that? Well I think so....
We live in a democracy (apparently) and one of the privileges we are kindly granted (lol) is the freedom to speak out; to say what we like. Unlike those living in the axis of evil, we can choose write songs about Blair being a lying wanker, rather than be forced to endlessly drone the praises of Kim Il Jong. However, like many of the so-called freedoms we have, it doesn't mean as much in practice it does in theory - how do you use your freedom of speech when there is nowhere free to say anything? Having no platform to speak out from is as effective a form of censorship as a gun to the head. Indeed, you could argue it more effective because it renders a mass of the population unaware they are being censored, at least with the gun you know where you stand.
Where does flyposting fit into this?
Say you wanted to take advantage of the democratic rights you've been offered and stand for election. You need to let voters know that you exist and what you stand for. Assuming you are just an ordinary person like me - what budget promotional options have you got available? You can hope that the local media take an interest, but say your party was the 'End the Evening Post Media Monopoly Party' do you think they would? Your options are pretty much down to leafleting and flyposting and you are now in Richard Eddie's crosshairs. This situation is the same with music - you're trying to build a scene or band that's outside the mainstream or controversial (say Thrash-Folk or Speed-Country) - you have only a few options for publicity. And the most effective and cheapest is gonna get you busted.
Money, Money, Money
All these difficulties of exercising free speech or promoting your unique sound vanish if you are rich. You can buy a flyposting licence, pay for adverts in the papers and so on. So what we're looking at is a system where the freedom of your speech is related to how much cash you've got - and that's where this comes full circle - in the picture of Richard Eddie I mentioned at the start, all the posters he is posing with are local club ones. Eh? Where's the corporate flyposters? I don't know about you, but that's what I see most of when I'm walking around; 'Men Only' soft-porn adverts and international crappy pop tunes. They've got the cash to pay somebody to put us huge A1 glossy posters everywhere and Eddie is helping remove their competition. He is ensuring that is that poorer local bands and groups be at a huge disadvantage while the multinational are let loose to smear their insipid shit all over another media form. Here's a couple of examples of the companies who Eddie has not highlighted in his Venue photo-op; Pink - has lots of posters for a new single on the Laface label (who are owned by Arista, who are owned by BMG, who are owned by Bertelsmann, who are one of the largest media corporations in the world) and there are still a few Kill Bill posters flapping in the wind (a film by Miramax, owned by Disney, another mega-corporation who donated $1.25 million to the Bush campaign.)
The Devil's Wallpaper Paste
I know that flyposting produces litter and mess, and the glue can be toxic and damages buildings - I'm not saying we ignore this - but by licensing it; all that is happening is that big business gets near exclusive access to another promotional method and the local scene is, again, shut out. Which I suppose does fit the overall Tory world-view, but it is not Pink or Disney that makes Bristol a vibrant music and cultural scene, its the many underground scenes with their energy, creativity and enthusiasm and a bucket of wallpaper paste.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
(while on the subject - check out this interesting plan for the development - http://wwguw.geocities.com/fromeriverpark/)
Welcome to the Plunder-dome: The Broadmead Development
The city centre of Bristol is about to get a new development - whether you like it or not - grandiose £500 million scheme providing all the things that Bristol does not need. This masterplan has been bulldozed (metaphorically) though local groups, the democratic process and will shortly (August 2004) begin bulldozing though the affected communities themselves. What is most shocking about this whole affair, is the manner in which the very institutions - the council and the local press - who are supposed to be there to protect us from such destruction, have rolled over and offer Bristol's heart on a platter for the London moneymen to enjoy at their leisure.
The consortiumwho are running the show is composed of Land Securities, Hammerson and Henderson Global Investors (all London based) along with Morley Fund Management (based in Basildon, Essex). Together they go under the misleading title of 'Bristol Alliance'. Once writer on Bristol Indymedia joked, "It is nothing to do with Bristol allying to anyone...This is not development, its plunder. Its the Imperial Alliance." All developers claim to come with good intentions, but it is not surprising that people are sceptical of their real aims. Such scepticism is not unjustified when the property director of another developer working in Bristol, Quintain Estates and Development Plc, writes to the government- sponsored Barker Review of Housing Supply stating why they wish to limit affordable housing; "large numbers of affordable housing tenants, particularly social renters who are predominantly on housing benefit, would not help the economic performance of the restaurants, bars, cafés [and] cinemas in the area....We believe that high levels of affordable housing on mixed- use development are to be avoided and, wherever possible, affordable housing should be targeted at economically active households." Such statements make developers sound more like a profit hungry behemoths, than the selfless architects of community prosperity they like to appear as.
The Fixers are Called In
The developers need to ensure that the PR process of such a major development goes without the potential hitch of, say, the local people not wanting their benign assistance. For this they have turned to London based Opinion Leader Research, who proudly proclaim what they do; "helping to turn audiences into advocates" Officially, Opinion Leader Research are there to consult the communities about what they want. If you read their blurb, you will soon discover that consultation is only one service on offer. Another is persuasion and persuasion is an art they claim to excel at. Opinion Leader Research have detailed methods which involve the use of 'protagonists'. These are, "persuasive people; skilled at encouraging others to adopt their point of view."
Consolation or Social Engendering?
You might reasonably ask, who's point of view are they seeking to really represent? Joe and Jane Public? The effected communities? The answer lies in a section of a report entitled 'Benefits to Business', "We utilise protagonists to provide public and private organisations with research that informs them on the public mood. Protagonists evaluate information and are integral agents in passing on the opinions that spread throughout communities." All these plans and strategies provide a very different perspective from the developers spin that the consolation as a benign and unbiased; "The proposals have been developed following extensive consultation over the past three years involving members of the public from Bristol, the City Council and a robust, representative sample of local people, business and special interest groups." They do not mention that St.Pauls Unlimited, on 25th June 2003 dissolved their sub-group working with the developers, unhappy about the process and where it was going.
The Failure of Local Democracy
All these advanced techniques for engineering opinion would come to nothing if the people, though their elected councillors, said 'no' There was certainly a significant group of local people who opposed the current development plan. One local resident, participating in the democratic process, emailed the local councillors to request a delay the decision, but found a wall of silence, "I'd emailed to ask them to delay the development - I'm not saying I am 100% against it, but I felt this huge scheme was being pushed to fast - we just didn't have time to take it all in." Out of the 4 councillors he emailed only 1 bothered to reply. The vote in favour was almost unanimous with the local Ashley councillor, abstaining (but not having the guts to voting against it!). The Bristolain, the local muckraking news-sheet takes up the story; "Despite some truly excellent and well researched and passionate contributions from St.Pauls residents at tonight's planning meeting the council ignored them all in favour of Land Securities scheme which will bring pollution and traffic chaos to St.Pauls. A packed public gallery listened as opponents of the scheme won all the arguments and Land Securities suited executives could only squirm as the total inadequacy of their much vaunted 'consultation' was revealed for all to see. One Land Securities hot and bothered executive said' the scheme is intended to increase the hierarchy in Bristol' to widespread laughter. It was revealed that only 5% of the housing will be affordable and 95% apartments for yuppies - contrary to all guidelines which recommend 30% affordable housing." Next time politicians are scratching their heads and asking why so many people don't bother to vote - I suggest looking at this pathetic example of democracy in action.
Enter the Plunder-dome
There has been much debate as to, if this development is a good thing - some locals support it in the hope that it will alleviate the crime and drugs problems that afflict the area. However there are also real fears that it will do more damage than good; traffic problems, the new corporate retail giants smashing the lively hood of the local independent shops and the destruction of the local community. Any compensation paid by the developers to the area also runs the real risk of being swallowed by quangos such as the South West Regional Development Agency or squandered on poverty professionals, as has happened with the Community at Heart scheme.
It is a sad reflection of both the bankrupt council policy and the greed of developers that the only solution being offered to St.Pauls is gentrification. Nobody want to live in a crack infested area, but then the strong community that has weathered the storms and upheavals of Bristol's history stands in danger of being swallowed by property speculators as they attempt to cash in on the latest 'evolving' city centre. This type of development, all to often makes the rich, richer. In 2002 the property consultants Frank Knight stated that those who took advantage of Bristol's 'lower' prices (when compared to other 'evolved' cities) were going to be doing very nicely - further proof that those fuelling the yuppie flat bubble are speculators, doing nothing to solve Bristol's housing problems and everything to exacerbate them.
One of the Imperial Alliance, Hammerson, is no stranger to accusations of putting profit over people. They are part of another consortium which has been locked in a 14 year struggle over the development/destruction of Spitalfields Market, London. Opponents of this scheme call it, "..plans of grotesque imagining.." and claim it will destroy a historic and vibrant community. The opposition comes from not just local activists, but church and mosque groups as well as local businesses. On the other hand, the developers claim, "master-planned to accommodate the workplace and lifestyles of the world's most discerning occupiers.." Which begs the question - are you a discerning occupier - can you afford the hundreds of thousands of pounds needed for a roof over your head - or are you just a potential obstacle to the London moneymen and their plans for profit.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
Been a bit too busy to write new stuff, but I've read lots of good stuff on the net of late:
A rant about the war and wars:
In fact, hearing W's smoke and mirrors act makes me strangely long for a day when a U.S. President would proclaim with no shame: 'Yes, that's right, we invaded Canada. We killed millions. We did it because we want their timber and their beaver pelts and we want to make slaves of all their nubile Canuck women.' I don't know about you, but I'd almost be relieved to hear Dick Cheney erupt into the full-on evil laugh you know he's been holding back for the last four years and tell us straight up that he's been planning the Iraq invasion since he was in diapers, he doesn't give a shit about the Iraqi people, and even while the blood of young dead Americans in the streets of Baghdad is still warm his goon friends are busy milking the country dry. At least then it would all be straightforward and clear. At least then we would know who the bad guys are and wouldn't have to endure this schlock about 'liberation'. At least then we would know once and for all that our leader is a deranged warmongering psychopath who needs to be ousted. And then, of course, we could set about planning the revolution accordingly.
Derrick Jensen (author of 'The Culture of Make Believe' and 'A Language Older than Words') gives a speech which is funny, passionate and brutal. His analysis is like a hot knife though the butter of a bloated and decaying culture. I cannot recommend this talk highly enough.
Have a good one.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Ever noticed the weird symmetry in the ideas and phrases used by the two so called sides in the so called clash of civilisation? Many in the neo-con movement see that God is on their side. Witness US Attorney General John Ashcroft on the rights of US, which he says are: "…not the grant of any government or document, but...our endowment from God". So God is backing the US in the war on terror. But, here Osama Bin Laden talking about Spetember 11th: "God Almighty hit the United States at its most vulnerable spot. He destroyed its greatest buildings." So is god playing both sides off against on another? Obviously they can’t both be right – unless god is moving in a mysterious way?
There is also other odd symmetries in their world view. Bush famously referred to his opponents as an; "..an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world." Bin Laden used a similar phrase to define the US and its allies, calling them an; "..international alliance of evil.."
I guess the best view to take is that on the sticker put of by the Anarchist Federation; No God, No Masters, No War.
Sunday, April 04, 2004
I've just read a staggering piece of news, and like most really important news, it was buried in the financial pages of the paper – The Sunday Independent. The article is about the wealth of ordinary people (us!) and has some scary conclusions. I'll quote bits of the article and add comments....
"The average Briton is getting wealthier. But...he or she is short of cash and increasingly reliant on the value of his or her home to shore up creaking finances....These are the conclusions of an extensive study into the British consumer by computer giant IBM, published tomorrow. It paints a picture of a large group of people who are increasingly vulnerable to a property price crash. The IBM study, which was based on data from income tax returns collated by the Inland Revenue, concludes that the average Briton has a net wealth of £82,400."
My first question is why is it that a private corporation gets access to our tax returns, but I guess that another issue. So far it does not sound to bad as the average net wealth (that remaining after all deductions) looks pretty healthy. But reading on it starts to get scary....
"However, IBM discovered that the entire increase is down to higher house prices and that the average amount of 'liquid wealth', cash or investments, has actually fallen and only really represents a quarter of people's net worth."
So we're not actually getting wealthy as all of the £82,400 comes from the house price bubble, which even if it does not burst, is virtual wealth you can't unlock, unless you intend to step off the property ladder or use it to get more debt.
"The rise in house prices is showing no sign of abating. Figures released by the Halifax, the UK's largest mortgage lender, show that prices increased by 2.2 per cent during March, making an annual increase of 18.5 per cent and putting the average cost of a home in Britain at £151,467, the first time it has ever exceeded the £150,000 barrier."
In 2002 the average house price in Bristol was £105,000. A Halifax survey of 2003 put it at £175,996. Are these figures an indicator of a bubble ripe for collapse? The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics defines a financial bubble as; "...a sharp rise in the price of an asset or a range of assets in a continuous process, with the initial rise generating expectations of further rises..." This seems to fit my theory; prices are rising fast because there is an expectation/fear of further rises: i.e. Get on the ladder now, before you are left behind. This fear is justified according to this IBM research:
"...there is a large group of people who are being excluded from all this. It seems that Britons with a net worth of less than £50,000, which covers more than half of the population, many of whom do not own their own homes, are seeing their wealth grow much more slowly than the propertied classes. He sees these people getting increasingly into debt, and because this debt is largely unsecured, they have to pay higher rates."
So the poor are being taxed by capitalism because, well, they are poor. No wonder so many of us are so scared not to get a foot on the property ladder, it is natural for humans to look for stability. But what the report says is that even when on the ladder, you're not safe:
"The conclusions of the report show an asset-rich, cash-poor society that is increasingly having to work longer because people do not have the available income for retirement despite their apparent wealth."
Wow. This was not the way it was supposed to be. The rising tide of capital was supposes to make us float, not drown us. The headline for this article should have been: It's official – Capitalism Isn't Working. But it wasn't. This is serious stuff – our society is drowning in a sea of debt while global warming, accelerated by our debt-creating consumer lifestyles is literally drowning the world. Yet our politicians squabble over trivia and the population is pushed by a media who obsess over celebrity. This is not good.
Things could be done to help – at least in the short term – by the council. An example might be to build lots of affordable housing, so the pressure is taken out the price bubble – and yet here in Bristol the powers-that-be are still pushing for the building of more and more luxury flats that will only further push-up the prices and further exacerbate the problem.
The housing time bomb is still ticking – and we're letting them add more semtex to the pile.
Saturday, March 27, 2004
"I'm quite excited about going and helping the Iraqi people get their country back.." Says a private to ThisIsExeter.co.uk. The private is one of 70 from the west country's Territorial Army units going to Iraq: "We are going there to stabilise the country such that the Iraqi people can take over. From what we have heard the people of Basra are quite welcoming."
The day before this interview, four of the 14 British soldiers injured in Basra during riots were flown to a hospital in Selly Oak, in the Midlands. This riot is an omen of what is to come for these west country lads. Basra is smoldering. The riot began as a peaceful demonstration about jobs, but dramatically changed tone when the news that Israel had assassinated Sheikh Yassin filtered through the city. The angry demonstrators turned on the nearest face of the US Empire to vent their fury - a group of British soldiers.
But this is not just about blood. It's also about money. In July the £3.8 billion Iraq war fund is going to run out, and yet we are still sending more bodies into the grinder. How friendly is Basra if we are still sending troops? Sending the 70 West Country privates and the rest of the troops to Iraq is costing us £125 million per month. To put this in perspective, in the time it will take me to research and write this article, the war will have cost a further £100,000. Coincidently, this is the same amount of money Bristol council is intending to reduce its daycare budget to (down from £800,000).
The anger in the Muslim world is rising. From Iran to Turkey, many Muslims are on the streets and are angry. In Baghdad follows of the Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr are shouting, "No, no to Israel. No, no to occupation." They see no difference between the British troops in Iraq and the occupation of Palestine. They see an empire. An empire they, and we, are paying for in blood, gold and oil.
Friday, March 05, 2004
What is the point? It's not like you can change anything. These are the most common words you hear when talking about the state of the world and its many problems. People who are sympathetic to making the world better: who are interested in righting wrongs, protecting the environment and striving for equality – but faced with the seemingly impassable wall between us and the promised land, are resigned to apathy.
Well, in Bristol there is a lesson in 'making a difference' unfolding. A lesson that will soon become a mass-media storm. The five Bristolians who broke into the US airbase at Fairford to try to stop the bombing are due for trial soon. These five people did not stop the war. They didn't prevent the deaths of thousands by bombing. Thousands more will probably die from unexploded munitions and Depleted Uranium rounds of the next few year: so what is the point? It's not like they changed anything.
But they did. Not in isolation, but they have changed things. You see the system that has invaded Iraq for a variety of geopolitical, economic and oil based reasons wants us to move on. Forget about the war. In this they are backed by a powerful group of media and commercial interests (most notably by the Murdoch press) who want us to focus on debating how fast we want to privatize our social structures while they get on with building the US economic-military base in Iraq. But there is a problem: the war, by all accounts, seems to be illegal. So the plundering of Iraq's oil is...well..nothing more than state sponsored ram-raid. The actions of those five Bristolains have, along side Catherine Gunn and the army of anti-war activists worldwide – held a mirror up to this system.
Now imagine if it was not 5 but 500 or 5000 people who had broken into the airbase?
We are now putting the state on trial: They can't claim to have invaded Iraq for WMDs – because there don't seem to be any and it is looking increasingly apparent they knew this. They can't claim to have invaded Iraq to uphold the law, because it looks like they broke it themselves. They can't claim to have invaded Iraq out of concern for the Iraqi people, because many of the war advocates were the ones to helped Saddam stay in power in the 80s. They are running out of reasons. But they are only running out of reasons because the friction of resistance is wearing each paper-thin excuse away.
So now here is our chance to also do something: support the Fairford Five as they go to trial and beyond. Does it make a difference? Yes. A juror, interviewed after a trial in the US, talked about how people being there helped her to see what was really going on despite the state trying to paint the activist as an extremist: People took time out of their day -- they gave up their income, they were there every day. They were faithful, they were loyal. Who's got friends like that? I've got one or two, but I don't have a hundred and fifty. What does that say about this? That he doesn't have good spirit and good character, to have people such as that? That come every day?
Lets get active. Lets try to support them day after day.
Stay ahead of what is going on here: FairfordPeaceWatch and Bristol Indymedia!
Help support groups such as GWI and Bristol ABC.