Tuesday, 29 January 2019

No to outside influence in Venezuela

Since 15 January, the situation in Venezuela has escalated dramatically when the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared that Maduro had usurped power. Opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president on 23 January. The United States and other countries swiftly recognised him as the country's leader. This US-Venezuelan gambit is the latest attempt by the Washington “swamp” to fully re-enter its historical role in Latin America as congenital genocidals.
You have to ask yourself , why would the US and UK governments, states where millions rely on food banks, care about starving Venezuelans when they have proven they don't care about people starving in their own countries. They care because Venezuala  has the  largest oil reserves on the planet, and would take this time to take the opportunity of grabbing it for themselves. This together with the Bank of England refusing to  return £900 million in gold bullion smacks at another attempt at regime change.
Currently  President Trump faces  his own crisis situation at home, with his cave-in over the shutdown that has led to government workers, 700,000 of them, facing day after day without pay. What better way to divert attention from the domestic crisis than a military intervention in Venezuela.  Of course, there’s more to this than that, as the USA has always regarded Latin America as its backyard and regularly intervenes in the region- the military coup against Allende in Chile, the invasion of Grenada and Panama, the support for every murderous military dictatorship from Somoza in Nicaragua to the overthrow of Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic to enthusiastic support for the bloody regime of Videla in Argentina.
Some backgroud  to the current cisis in Venezuela  is needed ,during the early 2000s, when oil prices were high, socialist President Hugo Chávez used oil profits to reduce inequality and poverty, building over two million homes and capping the price of basic goods such as flour, cooking oil and toiletries.When oil prices dropped in 2014, the government suddenly had to make lots of cutbacks. This led many people to begin buying goods on the black market, causing inflation to rise and unemployment, which  is set to rise above 44% by 2020.  There are now chronic food shortages. This has brought forth protests around the country, protests that were answered with severe repression by the regime, which responded violently to strikes and demonstrations, and reported cases of human rights abuses.There is currently a very real social crisis in Venezuela. This crisis  which is very complicated manifests itself in real hunger, shortage of basic household commodities, medicine and  mass migration to Colombia, and the US.
Now the old bourgeoisie, organised around Guaido and his party, is attempting to overthrow the Maduro regime of the state bourgeoisie, with the backing of the USA. The Americans are eying up the rich resources of Venezuela, not just oil but other raw materials, diamonds, gold, natural gas, gold, bauxite, iron ore, and hydroelectric power.
Neither Maduro nor Guaido have an answer to the severe economic  and humanitarian crisis hitting Venezuela. The masses there have to begin to organise against both these wings of the ruling class. This will be a difficult task but is one worth engaging with and seeking to understand..We should  remind ourselves for now  though that the Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro, who I do not view uncritically is  the twice democratically elected legitimate president of the country. He was sworn in after being elected by the popular vote, on January 10, 2019, and is legally entitled to serve a six-year term as president. Juan Guaidó is the head of the legitimately elected National Assembly. He is an Opposition leader, though he has declared himself “interim president of Venezuela”. This situation is complex and fraught with possibility of further political and social breakdown, and requires skilful and good-faith diplomacy. Cynical political chicanery and bluster from  outside forces are unwarranted at this moment in time.
Currently the Venezualan military aims to protect its privileged  position and stand with rhe Maduro system. While Maduro aims to hold onto power it is at same time going to be very difficult for him to solve the Veneuala's economic crisis. He has it must be said  lost confidence among  huge swathes of the population. Yet for now holds the backing of the military and the majority of the populace. .
In the meantime President Maduro,  has called opposition leader Juan Guaido a US "puppet" and accused Washington of attempting to organise a coup in Venezuela and declared his intent to cut off diplomatic ties.
Addressing  Donald Trump in English to demand that Washington keep its “hands off” the country, after the US imposed sanctions on its state oil company in recognition of Juan Guaido as president.
“Donald Trump, do not get involved with Venezuela! Hands off Venezuela! Donald Trump, hands off Venezuela!” Maduro said, blaming Washington for the political conflict that is causing tremors in the country.
Maduro’s words came shortly after US imposed sanctions on the country’s state-owned oil company PDVSA in order to “help prevent the further diversion“ of assets by the country’s government. Venezuela’s president called Washington’s actions an attempt “to steal” the company, and promised to take countermeasures “to protect the interests of Venezuela.”
The US, imposing leaders, as it did earlier in the 20th century, is another phase of its gunboat diplomacy that has been seen  time and time again and they ought to keep their bloody hands off. They and their European counterparts in France, Britain and Germany should  not interfere,  and stay at home to solve their own chronic political and economic crises. This is a time for negotiation and compromise not a winner takes all showdown that could lead to civil war costing many lives. A peaceful solution is what is urgently  needed, however .the planet is dividing into distinct blocks in a period of post economic  collapse, each one with  their own spurious agendas,  whether it be China, Russia and Iran  or the USA, UK and other western  nations and Israel on the other. We are living in truly dangerous times.
In connection with all this I would urge  people here in the UK to get their MP's to sign the following EDM (Early Day Motion) 2022 https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/52512/outside-interference-in-venezuela

Outside influence in Venezuela

'  That this House express its opposition to outside interference in Venezuela, whether from the US or elsewhere; believes that the future governance of Venezuela is a matter for Venezuelans alone to determine; rejects the US President Donald Trump's approach to regime change, which violates international law; express its disappointment at the UK Government's decision to fall in behind the US Administration's actions towards Venezuela; and urges the Government to constructively engage with the existing Government of Venezuela and other political forces to support a dialogue and a negotiated peaceful settlement that can overcome the crisis in Venezuela.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Question Authority

Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening
terrorising fact that we do not know who we are, 
or where we are going in this ocean of chaos,it has been the authorities - the political, the religious, the educational authorities -
who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules regulations, informing and forming our minds to view their reality.
To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable  open-mindedness, chaotic confused vulnerability to inform yourself ".

- Timothy Leary. 

The definition of "authority" is the power to make orders or make decisions ; the power or right to durect or control" someone or something" https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/authority
To question authority is to call into question the power or right of that authority to direct or control people or events. Questioning authority asks "Why do I have to do what you tell me I should do? Why can't I do as I plase instead of as you instruct me to?"
The human world is in ruins. It does not seem to be getting any better, with the rise of division, sexism, religious extremism, racism, forces of fascism, xenophobia, homophobia and general intolerance.Then we have the mess that is Brexit, which was supposed to give us an element of control but in effect has left us all powerless, fighting amongst ourselves. The sooner we can withdraw from it all the better. Timothy Leary was right when he urged young people to "drop out " in 1966. His message all the more profoundly true today, in the awful times we live in.
Life in modern society seems to offer us no future. The modern world has failed on all levels. Capitalism and industrialism that is fuelling catastrophic climate change cannot be reformed for the benefit of mankind. 
Have you ever wondered  how a sickening atrocity like the Holocaust could happen. People being blindly compliant and obedient with unadulterated evil. The mantra "think for yourself and question authority" speaks a universal simple truth, which is  that society isn't right, and we have to trust our own hearts and minds at end of the day, no matter what anyone tells us to do. 
It's not easy to stand up for something when it seems everyone else is sitting quietly in blind complacency, and turning ther heads away. But it's up to all of us to continue to question authority, when the needs be, because if we don't, who else will? No species can evolve new features or behaviours if there is no change in their environment and similarly society cannot become more equal and just unless every aspect of it is questioned. Societal progress can only be achieved by those willing to seek out what is wrong and challenge it without swaying to power nor denying reason.
People worldwide are beginning to question their leaders in government and wonder if they are to blame for the mess the world finds itself in. Standing up against injustice. Ultimately the questioning of authority is not only a good thing, it is a necessary thing. It is the ever so precious backbone of freedom, that is essential to all.
Cherish the right to protest . Cherish the right to be different. Cherish the right to question authority.   Or as our Governments carry out policies that ae grotesquely cruel and immoral, just simply relax and keep your heads down and move along with your normal consensus lives, because after all your Government will continue to take care of you, and keep listening to the authoritarians  and everything will be fine. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today marks Holocaust Memorial Day, on the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz Birkenau,the largest Nazi death camp in occupied Poland. where 1.6 million men, women children were killed in the holocaust.
The day aims to remind people of the crimes and loss of life and encourage remembrance in a world scarred by genocide  and prevent it ever being forgotten.
Alongside the six million Jewish victims of Nazi persecution, hundreds of thousands of others were targeted by Hitler's regime - including trade unionists, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transpeople, (LGBT) gypsies, disabled people and the mentally ill, and others attacked for their race or simply being different. At Belsen, Chelmno, Revensbrul to name a few more among hundreds where the inhumanity of man to man was endorseded by the Nazi regime.
The theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is ‘Torn from Home’ and encourages people to reflect on how the enforced loss of a safe place to call ‘home’ is part of the trauma faced by anyone experiencing persecution and genocide. ‘Home’ usually means a place of safety, comfort and security. On Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 we will reflect on what happens when individuals, families and communities are driven out of, or wrenched from their homes, because of persecution or the threat of genocide, alongside the continuing difficulties survivors face as they try to find and build new homes when the genocide is over.
Shockingly  more than  2.6 million British people think that the Holocaust is a myth a poll  has found. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/holocaust-memorial-day-poll-uk-jews-murdered-nazi-germany-hope-not-hate-a8746741.html?fbclid=IwAR0IWwpY3BB_EMp9pRlMMDZzmM1GvcjQxDVAqoec7hlNbLu7jjemZkcCLuc
HMDT chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said: "The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation and has implications for us all. Such widespread ignorance and even denial is shocking.
"Without a basic understanding of this recent history, we are in danger of failing to learn where a lack of respect for difference and hostility to others can ultimately lead.
"With a rise in reported hate crime in the UK and ongoing international conflicts with a risk of genocide, our world can feel fragile and vulnerable. We cannot be complacent."
 Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "We know that education is vital in the fight against ignorance and hate.
"Whatever the statistics, one person questioning the truth of the Holocaust is one too many and so it is up to us to redouble our efforts to ensure future generations know that it did happen and become witnesses to one of the darkest episodes in our history."
HMD is for everyone. Each year across the UK, thousands of people come together to learn more about the past and take action to create a safer future. We know they learn more, empathise more and do more.Together we bear witness for those who endured genocide, and honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.
It is important that we do not forget,  but  if we look at history this is not the only time that genocide has occurred, and history repeats. Humanity continues to turn against itself.Yesterday for instance was Australia day or for many others Invasion Day, when people remembered the terrible wrongs and crimes against the aboriginal people, then there is Colombus Day on the 8th  of October, you see the list is endless.
Somehow  human beings around the world are capable of so much hate, we should work together to prevent this. Remember those who have resisted, shown bravery and courage. We should remember them all. Sadly we seem to forget from past pain and experience. There is still so much to lean, we should stand united against genocide wherever it occurs. We should never forget where hatred and bigotry can lead. There can never be anytime for passivity, and we must  stand strong against dark forces  of intolerance, bigotry and division that create them. .
Some other  places  and people that the world sometimes forgets.









the ethnic cleansing of indigeneous Palestinians,

The Indigeneous Peoples of  America,




and the genocide of slavery

and on and on and on.

We are all human, and we should never forget, where hate and division is fostered we should
strive for equality , peace and justice for the whole of mankind.

First They Came - Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the Trade Unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade Unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left To speak out for me.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Conscious Consumer

( a poem released last night at local monthly poetry meet the Cellar Bards)

Strolling down the supermarkets aisles
my wavering willpower in temptations path
special offers buy one, get one free
rows of ready meals, beer and crisps
on spur of moment, shopping list changes
as I walk on by must try to stay focussed
find some sustainable coffee, organic chocolate
candles and bubble bath that ease the mind
to help distract from capitalists obsessions
with greed and unmitigated  power.

Advertisements  release hunger
suppress the inner need for control
misconcieving  and wetting appetite
subliminally like others forget to think
act like a sheep and buy another drink
a trick that  makes  me  angry
when environmental degradation
and human rights abuse continue  to grow
stuck among endless rows of plastic
processed food, that  looks and tastes like shit.

Shopping can be a political act
what we choose to boycott, buy or consume
in the meantime will grab a notepad and pen
sip milk of human kindness that never ends
cancel out all walls of oppression
seek outsretched arms of  affiliation
avoid goods stolen from Palestinian land
find free keys of love, for heart to rest
rekindle the gift of friendship
places to ditch superfluouos crap

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Eurovision Artwashing Apartheid : Israel 2019

Israel is expected to host the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2019, following Netta Barzilai’s win at the 2018 edition. Israel is shamelessly using Eurovision as part of its official Brand Israel Strategy which presents  “Israel’s prettier face” to whitewash and distract attention from its war crimes against Palestinians.
Israel massacred 62 Palestinians in Gaza, including six children just two days after its 2018 Eurovision win. That same evening, Netta Barzilai performed a celebratory concert in Tel Aviv, hosted by the mayor, and said, “We have a reason to be happy.”
And Shortly after her win, Barzilai said she looked forward to the world seeing “the Israeli carnival” when Jerusalem hosts the contest next year. People will see “how wonderful we are, what a vibe we have. Best people… the best place in the world.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Barzilai “the best ambassador of Israel,” underlining his far-right government’s art-washing agenda.
Inspired by conscientious artists who shunned Sun City in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, Palestinian artists and cultural organizations have called for nonviolent pressure in the form of boycotts on Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law.
Last year alone Israel killed 290 Palestinians and injured more than 20,000, including thousads shot with live sniper fire. Most of these fatalites and injuries took place in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have been demonstratng for the end of Israel's criminal siege and for the right to return to the homes that they have been expelled from since 1947.
Israel effectively declared itself an apartheid state by adopting the "Jewish Nation-State Law." last year, Palestinian citizens are now constitutionally denied equal rights, further enshrining racist discrimination aginst Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. Against this backdrop of escalating brutality and entrenched apartheid. Israel is desperate for new ways to whitewash its violations of Palestinian human rights.  
Straight out of apartheid South Africa’s propaganda playbook, Israel uses the arts to explicitly deflect growing condemnations of its violations of Palestinian human rights. Israel is using Eurovision to art-wash its egregious crimes against the Palestinian people..
Watched by 186  million people last  year Eurovision is a hugely popular televised event. But already, hundreds of prominent artists including former finalists and one winner, legendary artists, trade unions and political parties. have supported the Palestinians call to boycott the contest, if hosted by Israel regardless of its location.
In September, about 140 artists, including musicians, writers, actors, directors, novelists, and poets,  including six Israeli artists, signed a letter calling for the boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest
The letter  demanded the song contest should be boycotted if it is “hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights.”
“Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights," the letter said.
And tens of thousands of people have signed petitions urging  broadcasters and participants to refuse to go.
 The European Broadcasting Union has since written to the Israeli prime minister requesting that "visitors to Israel be allowed to travel anywhere without restrictions regardless of their political opinions or sexual orientation, and that [Israeli public broadcaster] Kan have complete freedom in editing the broadcast".
However, some have dubbed this a pointless demand given that it is a request that concerns itself only with the contest, and not on lifting the systematic repression placed upon Palestinians and vocal supporters of their liberation all year round.
Even if Netanyahu agrees, the contest would be taking place in a country that continues to colonise Palestinians through an illegal occupation, regular house demolitions, discriminatory laws, and its deadly blockade.
How can an event like the Eurovision Song Contest, despite its slogan of “Dare to Dream,” not be deemed complicit with the subjugation of Palestine by allowing Israel to play host?
This year will be the fifty-second year of the occupation of Palestine, and is unlikely to be the last. Let us do more than just dare to dream of a free Palestine but work towards it and support it in whatever way we can. The normalisation of Israeli Apartheid is part of a broader structure of erasure and violence.. We must refuse to be complicit. Until Palestine is free.
Join more than 35,000 people and sign the petition to boycott Eurovision hosted by Israel!
In Solidarity.

We, the undersigned residents of Europe and beyond, call on members of the European Broadcasting Union -- our public broadcasters -- to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, to avoid being complicit in Israel's ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights. 
We support the many prominent artists, including former contestants, who have endorsed the appeal of Palestinian artists and journalists to turn their backs on Eurovision 2019.
We urge songwriters and performers to boycott the 2019 contest hosted by Israel just as they once boycotted the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Ursula K. Le Guin (21/10/1929 - 22/1/2018) - A Slow Burning Fury

Celebrated beloved author, American literary legend and visionary Ursula K. Le Guin who wrote science fiction, fantasy, essays and poetry, who we lost a year ago today. A quote of hers is pemanently embedded on this blog. Have written about her before, this is a vastly updated post based on previous ones.
Her body of work encompasses novels, including the famous and beloved Earthsea novels, a series of epic fantasy novels that set the blueprint for the genre. novellas, short stories, poetry, criticism and more (including speculative anthropology). She published her first short story at thirty-two, and while perhaps the chief characteristic of her early work was, as she says, an "open romanticism," Le Guin's work gradually became, again in her own words, "something harder, stronger, and more complex." It also became the site of radical emancipatory visions, courageous and profound reimaginings of the way life is, and a beautiful yet clear-eyed utopianism. It became, in other words, extraordinary.
She was a giant of 20th century literature. On her shoulders stand not just classics of genre fiction but everything from Salman Rushdie’s postcolonial magical realism to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter mega-franchise.
Le Guin used science fiction and fantasy not as a genre but a “method”. Future societies, distant planets and magical realms provided “a safe, sterile laboratory for trying out ideas”. 
 Ursula K. Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley California, on October 21, 1929.
Le Guin’s parents were anthropologists, their summer home “a gathering place for scientists, writers, students and California Indians”. Their interactions with Native Americans seem to have laid the basis for much of her “Hainish cycle” of novels, which explore a variety of planets through the culture shock of the ambassadors sent to meet them.
One of the visitors was Robert Oppenheimer.  Le Guin would later use Oppenheimer as the model for her protagonist in The Dispossessed.
Ursula had three older brothers,Karl, Theodore, and Clifton.The family had a large book collection, and the siblings all became interested in reading while they were young
She might be best-known nowadays for the groundbreaking book ' The Left Hand of Darkness' a science fiction novel published in 1969 set in the Hainish universe, Le Guin often used science fiction to transgress normalised conceptions of gender and sexuality.Not content to limit her incisive examinations of society to fiction and allegory, Le Guin spoke and wrote frequently about contemporary politics. She often described fantasy and fiction as a tool for social change, a way of imagining the world not as it  but as it should be. Her criticisms in both fiction and beyond it , often focused on social inequality and the unsustainability of capitalism .
Her novel  ' The Dispossessed' was a thought experiment on how an anarchist society would work. The novel  begins with the journey of the physicist Shevek from the planet Anarres, which was settled by anarchists a century and a half previously, to the planet Urras, a caricature of our own world in the 1970's.

In alternating chapters, it tells the story of Shevek's life on Anarres and its discontents, leading up to his decision to leave, and his adventures on Urras and how grotesque a society based on  power and profit seems in his eyes.
A truly mesmerising read, given us an idea of how a possible anarchist society could function and, more importantly, the moral foundations of such  a society. Anarres is flawed and falls short of its ideas of individual freedom, mutual aid and voluntary coperation, but is still infinitely preferable to the money- hungry, power-hungry nation of Urreas. 
In short my sort of Utopia. It is a society without government, laws, police, courts, corporations,.money, salaries, profit, organised religion or private property. Its  people speak an artificial language, a kind of benign Orwellian Newspeak, which lacks words for concepts such as 'debt or 'winner,'

 “We have nothing but our freedom. We have nothing to give you but your own freedom. We have no law but the single principle of mutual aid between individuals. We have no government but the single principle of free association. We have no states, no nations, no presidents, no premiers, no chiefs, no generals, no bosses, no bankers, no landlords, no wages, no charity, no police, no soldiers, no wars. Nor do we have much else. We are sharers, not owners. We are not prosperous. None of us is rich. None of us is powerful. If it is Anarres you want, it is the future you seek, then I tell you that you must come to it with epty hands. You must come to it alone, and naked, as the child comes into the world, into his future, without any past, without any property, wholly dependent on other people for his life. You canot take what you have not bee given, and you must give yourself. You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere,"

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
Le Guin would write more than 20 novels, 100 short stories, seven essay collections and more than a dozen books of poetry. Despite many of her protaganists  being men, she always considered herself a feminist, but was always confident in questioning societal conditioning and how it impacted the human perspective on gender and sexuality. 
Le Guin used a 1986 speech to young women that today sounds made for the #MeToo movement. She said, “In this barbaric society, when women speak truly they speak subversively. They can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want — to hear you erupting.”
In 2010 at the age of 81 she arrived in the digital age and started a blog


and in December  2017 published a collection of essays based on her posts called ' No time to spare.' 


It included everything from moving reflections on her cat to wry observations about coming to terms with her advancing age, " If I'm ninety and believe I'm forty five, I'm headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub."
Le Guin combined hostility to all oppression and war with extreme scepticism towards collective action, tinged with both anarchism and Taoism. Le Guin was closely aligned with anarchist politics. In the 1960s, she was involved in activism, including opposition to the Vietnam War, and began to identify with pacifism and anarchism. She immersed herself in a broad range of writing, including work by Gandhi, Martin Luther King and even Peter Kropotkin.
While her work often celebrates anarchism, Le Guin dodged labeling herself as such in a 2016 interview, somewhat halfheartedly describing herself as a "bourgeois housewife." Regardless of how she viewed her own politics, she was certainly sympathetic toward anarchism as a set of ideals and practices.
For her, freedom is a responsibility of the individual, not a battle between classes. But if that makes her writings hardly a roadmap to the revolution, as a reminder to look up to that horizon they are irreplaceable.
 Le Guin's appreciation for the natural world, her interest in environmental issues, and her questioning of capitalist exploitation are evident throughout her work. One can find in most of Le Guin’s fiction and nonfiction hard-won wisdom about living a balanced life.
 Published in 1975, "The New Atlantis" offers an early, short-story-length warning about climate change. In a near future of climatic and geological upheaval, a man on a bus announces to the narrator, Belle, that a new continent is rising from the depths of the sea. “Manhattan Island is now under 11 feet of water at low tide, and there are oyster beds in Ghirardelli Square,” she confirms. The oceans are rising due to polar melt, and Antarctica may soon be habitable, because of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, a polluted Portland, Oregon, has no electric power in the wake of earthquakes.The story not only presents a vision of environmental decline and authoritarian dystopia, but it also offers a glimpse of utopia. Belle, Simon, and their compatriots still have enough spirit to imagine a better day, when humankind might exist in harmony with what rises up out of the transformed ocean.
The breadth and imagination of her work earned her six Neebulas, seven Hugos and SFWA'S Grand Master, along  with the PEN/Malamud and many other awards.
Author and Marxist China Mieville observed that Le Guin had a "slow-burning fury at injustices" and" a very sharp and unremitting diagnosis of things in the social world."
This slow burning fury was on display in 2014 when Le Guin was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation.This is one of literature's most prestigious honors, recognizing individuals who have made an exceptional impact on the United States' literary heritage. http://www.nationalbook.org/amerletters_2014_uleguin.html#.Wmfeh6hl_IU 
Her speech quickly went viral and was turned into memes on social media:

 “Books aren’t just commodities,” she said in that speech. “The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable—but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words."

The National Book Award speech wasn't the first or last time Le Guin used her voice and position to challenge those in power. She refused to support sci-fi/fantasy anthologies that only published male authors.
After the 2016 election, she wrote about the despair and frustration felt by so many in that moment. She defended Standing Rock protesters, comparing that struggle to the civil rights struggle in Selma, Alabama.
As we braced ourselves for the beginning of the Trump presidency, Le Guin wrote, "I know what I want. I want to live with courage, with compassion, in patience, in peace." And she did.
The story that sums up her philosophy borrows a thought experiment from Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Henry James. The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas imagines a society peaceful, happy, equal and free — except for one child, condemned to perpetual torment as the price of Utopia.
For some, not even Utopia justifies that oppression. “They walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going.”
Like the people at the end of this story the people who make the revolution will decide that a better world is possible and set out to find it.
Her legacy is clear, it's for us, as writers and readers, to think deeply, work with love and discipline, and to have the courage to believe in the transformative power of fiction, and of imagining other realities, free of capitalism another world can be possible. She was simply brilliant: as a writer, as a thinker, and as a human being. She is greaty missed. Thank you Ursula K. Le Guin

How It Seems To Me - Ursula K. Le Guin

In the vast abyss before time, self
is not, and soul commingles
with mist, and rock, and light. In time,
soul brings the misty self to be.
Then slow time hardens self to stone
while ever lightening the soul,
till soul can loose its hold of self
and both are free and can return
to vastness and dissolve in light,
the long light after time.

From So Far So Good: Final Poems 2014-2018Courtesy of Copper Canyon Press. Copyright 2018 by the Ursula K. LeGuin Estate.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Martin Luther King Day

Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King is honored with a holiday in his memory today. Martin Luther King Day is commemorated on the third Monday in January each year. This year’s official holiday is Monday, Jan. 21, a week after King’s actual birthday on Jan. 15.
King was born Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta. He rose to national prominence when he led the boycott of the Montgomery’s transit system after Rosa Parks, an African-American, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus. King later helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and went on to lead protests throughout the South and, in 1963, was a central figure in the March on Washington. King was killed by an assassin on April 4, 1968 in Memphis.
MLK Day is a federal holiday, though it was not made official until 18 years after his assassination.
Efforts to honor King with a federal holiday began just months after his April 4, 1968 death. Those efforts failed, as did a 1979 vote by Congress that came after King's widow, Coretta Scott King, spoke out in favor of the day. Momentum for the holiday grew in 1980 when entertainer Stevie Wonder released "Happy Birthday" in King's honor, leading to a petition calling for MLK Day and, in 1983, House passage of a holiday bill.
Though Martin Luther King Day is an American holiday, the man himself was thoroughly international. His political thoughts traverses all borders.Like so many strugglers in the long fight against racism, King appreciated that it was, at it's heart a global project. 
 Many years later  despite some victory's and gains, the march for equality is unfinished, and for some his dream is unrealised, take for instance the case of the Palestinians who are daily imprisoned.
We cannot  let go of Dr King's dream, because, surely it is everybody's dream, we must continuously try to change the world, remember those in the U.S.A fighting for jobs and freedom, a land  still lanquishing to find itself, while perpetrating injustice, discrimination and inequality. A country that imprisons more  of their citizens than any other country in the world. African Americans in particular, though they are 12% of the population, make up 38% of the state prison population, despite their crimes being no different from their white and hispanic counterparts.
Sadly King's legacy is gravely dishonoured every day that Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office, but in the Trump era. However Dr King's words can still be  be both sobering and inspring, his words are a timeless representation of the struggles that disenfranchised people face..Lets continue to honor him and continue to live his legacy through our  actions. In the face of cruelty and injustice, speak out, and speak up, for surely history will judge us all for our silence. we can still find the courage to stand up and say enough.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor … it must be demanded by the oppressed!” King determined. Reminding  us that “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at during times of challenge and controversy,” He also warned us that “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools,” 
 Here is an old poem of mine in his honour

Strength to Love

Martin Luther King had a dream
That still today stirs our conscience,
He rejected violence to oppose racial injustice
Spread a message of peace, love and understanding,
His only weapons were his words and faith
As he marched in protest with his fellow man,
A force for good, but radical with intention
Pursued civil disobedience was not afraid
                                            of confrontation,
We are all born equal under skin
This noble struggle never stops within,
The causes of poverty must still be eradicated
There is so much more room for change,
As fresh iniquities call, lets keep hope alive
Standing firm let our voices ring out,
Keep sharing deeds of deep principle
In the name of pride and in the name of love,
We are all still citizens of the world
As Martin Luther carries on reminding,
“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.
The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”
We must continue to resist and overcome,
One day soon, all our dreams will be realised.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Theresa May considering scrapping Human Rights Act following Brexit

The prime minister is to consider repealing the Human Rights Act after Brexit, despite promising she is “committed” to its protections, a minister has revealed.The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has exchanged correspondence with the Government about clarifying the wording of the Political Declaration regarding the European Convention on Human Rights. 
 The government will decide on the future of the landmark legislation once “the process of leaving the EU concludes”, a letter to a parliamentary inquiry says. The wording was described as “troubling” by the Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee, which warned the letter casts doubt on repeated pledges to protect the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
“Is the government sincere in its commitment to the ECHR?”, asked Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, the committee’s chair.
“If so, why has it failed to give assurances that it will not repeal or reform the Human Rights Act, which in essence incorporates the rights set out in the ECHR into domestic British law?”
The idea for the creation of the ECHR was proposed in the early 1940s while the Second World War was still raging across Europe. It was developed to ensure that governments would never again be allowed to dehumanise and abuse people’s rights with impunity, and to help fulfil the promise of ‘never again’.
The ECHRwas formally drafted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg during the summer of 1949. Over 100 members of parliament from across Europe assembled to draft the charter. The United Kingdom was the very first nation to ratify the convention in March of 1951.
The Convention came into full effect on the 3rd September 1953. It was intended to be a simple, flexible roundup of universal rights, whose meaning could grow and adapt to society’s changing needs over time. Not only were ordinary people to be protected from abuse by the state, but duties were to be placed on those states to protect individuals. It has been hugely important in raising standards and increasing awareness of human rights across CoE member states, and beyond.
Until 1998, the only way UK citizens could bring a legal challenge relying on their rights under the ECHR was to go the European Court of Human Rights, and this process could be lengthy and expensive. The Human Rights Act (HRA) allows the rights guaranteed by the ECHR to be enforced in UK courts – increasing everyone’s access to justice in this country.
The Human Rights Act  bought the ECHR into British Law, meaning that judicial decisions on human rights cases could be reached within the domestic legal system, building up a body of specifically domestic case law to refer to in the future. 
There is no justification for editing or repealing the Human Rights Act itself, that would make Britain the first European country to regress in the level and degree of our human rights protection. It is through times of recession and times of affluence alike that our rights ought to be the foundation of our society, upon which the Magna Carta, the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act were built – protecting the most vulnerable citizens from the powerful and ensuring those who govern are accountable to the rule of law.
We should not allow politicians to take away our universal privileges for the benefit  of a chosen few and repeal legislation that has been crucial to lifes of so many ordinary people.But the  state has shown time and time again  it's every interest in preventing light from being shone into dark corners.
The Human Rights Act was created to protect us all as individuals from abuses by the state and state bodies, allows UK nationals access to rights contained in the ECHR which allows us over 2,000 protections, ensuring all authorities treat people with fairness , dignity and respect,that together  helps us hold authorities to account when things go wrong.
Worrying though  gradually piece by piece the Tory's have tried to take away our basic freedoms and rights and want to overturn recognised principles that  we should all be proud of. despite this many remain fervent in their support for this Act because of its positive contribution to society and the message that it serves globally that we have enshrined an international human rights convention into UK law. The Human Rights Act is ours, scrapping it will take away the rights of everyone, and it is the most vulnerable that will suffer the most.
A useful reminder of whether the Act needs to change, or should remain is to look at the list of rights protected by the Act and ask yourself ,"Which one would I give away? Which one would I not want for myself or for members of my family?"the right to life? the right not to be tortured? the right to a fair trial? http:/legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1  
Sometimes we can't appreciate the value of something until it is taken away.We have to continue to  stand up for the Act. A few years ago Theresa pointed out that the Tories were seen as the nasty party. Most thought it was a lament. It is looking more and more like a boast.Theresa May simply can't be trusted .I  for one would not put anything past her. Whether you voted to leave or remain in the European Union, you did not vote for fewer rights.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Beloved Pulitzer-winning poet Mary Oliver has died at 83 (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019)

Sad to hear that the prolific poet Mary Oliver, died on Thursday aged  83 from lymphoma cancer at her home in Hobe Sound, Florida.
Mary won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for her collection of poems American Primitive. Her works included White Pine, West Wind and the 2017 anthology Devotions.Among the other accolades she received during the course of her illustrious career, she was also awarded the National Book Award for New and Selected Poems in 1992, as well as the Lannan Literary Award for lifetime achievement in 1998.
She was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio, where she often found escape from a difficult childhood walking in the woods.She attended Ohio State University and Vassar College, but did not graduate from either institution. In 1953, at the age of 17, she visited Steepletop, the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay. She would eventually become friends with the poet’s sister and lived there for several years, organizing Millay’s papers; it was there in the late 1950s that she met photographer, Molly Malone Cook,who became her life partner and literary agent for over 40 years until she died in 2005.She dedicated much of her work to Molly over the years.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

One of Oliver’s most famous poems was “Wild Geese,” which I post below. and include a video of her reading it. In it, Oliver offers reassurance and gives us permission to be ourselves.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver was a hugely influential and urgently necessary poet  including countless readers to whom poetry as an institution was often inaccessible or opaque. I will end this post with the followng poem from her pen, which acts as  a kind of epitaph. R.I.P Mary Oliver, your words  live on and will continue to bring comfort, joy and respite to many.

When death comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Theresa May's Brexit shambles

As the clock ticks down over Brexit, and the deal offered by Theresa May is rejected, and she clings desperately on to power while claiming to be reaching out to other parties but at same time wont budge one inch.,it is clear to many that she simply can't be trusted.
Her sudden repositioning of herelf as a kindly consensus builder is an extraorfdinary illustration of her utter delusion and her seemingly endless willingness to completely reverse her political stance in order to preserve her own personal self interest.
Lets not forget that the 21-month period initially agreed was  from the beginning never, ever going to be sufficient to negotiate something as complex as a new trading relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
By saying that the door is suddenly open to the opposition parties to help her find a solution to the Brexit shambles she has created, she's brazenly  demonstrating her incompetance too, by hastily attempting to do the consesus building that she actually needed to do at the very beginning of the Brexit process.
After  suffering the worst parliamentary defeat by a British Prime Minister in history and refusing to stand down, Jeremy Corbyn mocked how unreliable her confidence and supply agreement was for maintaining her minority government: “Last week they lost a vote on the Finance bill, that’s what called supply. Yesterday they lost by the biggest margin ever, that’s what’s regarded as confidence.
“By any convention of this House, by any precedence, loss of both confidence and supply should mean they do the right thing and resign.”
 The SNP’s Pete Wishart added: “She’s lost a quarter of her Cabinet, 170 members of her backbench want her gone, she’s experienced the biggest defeat in parliamentary history, what shred of credibility has her Government got left? For goodness sake, Prime Minister won’t you just go?”
But though the diminished government limped through to fight another day in parliament, it looks weaker than ever, Theresa May is certainly not looking strong and stable.
Yet the rancid Daily Mail reverts back to type, in such a horrible misrepresentation of reality. It is so typical of Tory MPS and the Tory press to now blame Jeereny Corbyn for the Brexit chaos. The bloody Daily Mail has been calling for a no-deal Brexit for months.

Lets be prepared for another round of hateful Tory smear campaigns against the Labour leader, this time over Brexit.What is clear is that after the historic and humiliating defeat for the Prime Minister, there is absolutely no confidence in her Brexit‘deal.
The Prime Minister must not come back and try to pass her deal again in an attempt to continue to run down the clock. It is as dead as a Monty Python parrot. It has ceased to exist. Polls  actually show public opinion has steadily turned against Brexit.the whole mess has highlighted serious flaws in our political system . Whatever side uou are, leave or remain, the system is clearly not working for this country.
How can anyone seriously now put their faith in Theresa May after all her blatantly self serving reversals is absolutely baffling, many now  believing  it's time to let the people decide and call a General election immediately.Because without trust you simply cannot lead, it's  time for Theresa May to do the decent thing and go.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Remembering Rosa Luxemburg

Today marks the anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg,Marxist theorist, agitator, internationalist, philosopher, economist being shot and  murdered when her body was thrown into the Landwehr Canal in Berlin, by right wing troops  opposed to the revolutionary movement that swept through Germany in the wake of the First World War. Long has she continued to inspire..
Rosa Luxemburg was born on March 5, 1871, in the city of Zamosc, Poland, then under control of czarist Russia. Her father, Eliasz Luxemburg, was a prosperous timber trader, who had inherited his business from his father, Abraham. of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen. Rosa’s mother was Lina Loewenstein, the daughter of a traditional rabbi and sister of a Reform rabbi. Rosa, who grew up speaking German, Polish and Yiddish, was the youngest of the couple’s five children. As a young child, she suffered from a hip ailment, which left her permanently afflicted with a limp.
During Poland’s 1863 uprising against Russian rule, Eliasz supplied the independence movement with weapons, so that for several years after the revolt’s failure, he had to remain in hiding from czarist authorities. In 1873, the family moved with him to Warsaw, where Rosa attended the gymnasium.
Even during high school, Rosa was drawn to politics, becoming active in the Proletariat party, a forerunner to the Polish Socialist party. After several of her comrades in the party were arrested and executed, she decided to pursue her higher education in Switzerland.
Luxemburg began at the University of Zurich as a student of zoology but ended up focusing on economics, philosophy and law. Throughout her political career, Luxemburg consistently opposed Polish nationalism, believing that socialist action had to take place on the international level, and that a separate revolution in Poland would be self-defeating.
Similarly, she was opposed to Jewish nationalism or separatism. Though she was sensitive to the problem of anti-Semitism, she was sure it would disappear with the overthrow of capitalism. since 1899,she became an important figure in the world socialist movement, and became involved in the international organisation of workers overcoming physical infirmity and the prejudice she faced as a Jew to become an active revolutionary whoe philosophy enriched every corner of an incredibly productive and creative life.
After finishing her studies, Luxemburg moved to Germany, gaining citizenship via a marriage of convenience and  became a member of the Social Democrat Party of Germany (SPD), becoming a  leader  of the radical wing of the Party , however  she broke with the SPD  after it supported the imperialist drive towards war, she believed in the build up to the First World War that ' workers blood should not be shed in defence of the capitalist system'.
Though Luxemburg was militant about the idea of proletarian revolution, she was anti-militarist. She believed in democracy and was an outspoken opponent of the Bolsheviks’ belief that a small cadre of bureaucrats should made political decisions on behalf of the proletariat: Revolution had to be political as well as economic, she felt.
Because of  her socialist agitation during this terrible war , she was imprisoned for it's duration, but after Germany's defeat she was released, and with her friend Karl Liebnecht,  formed the anti war Spartacist league, and  she assumed the leadership of the radical independent socialists. Her will and her desire was to see an end to all exploitation and oppression.
Her faith was a socialist idea  that  combined the powerful passion of both mind and heart. She devoted herself to the cause of revolution,and its preparation. She lived and breathed its fire, with selflessness and devotion, in every waking moment she dedicated herself to its cause.  Standing bravely up for freedom with a  strong powerful intellect. An individualist, she formulated her own ideas, using her own words to energise and radicalise the people and bring about a socialist revolution.  She argued that " The mass strike is the first natural, impulsive form of every great revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and the more highly developed the antagonism is between capital and labour, the more effective and decisive must mass strikes become. The chief form of bourgeois revolutions, the fight at the barricades, the open conflict with the armed poor of the state, is in the revolution today only the culminating point, only a moment on the process of the proletarian mass struggle."
She followed no leader, was no ones puppet and when  she criticised Lenin,  it was in relation to dictatorial aspects. She said " Terror has not crushed us. How can you put your trust in terror."
She quoted Leon Trotsky saying "As Marxists we have never been idol worshippers of formal democracy." She went on "All that really means is: We have always distinquished the social kernal of social inequality and lack of freedom hidden under the sweet shell of formal equality and freedom - not in order to reject the latter but to spur the working class into being satisfied with the shell, but rather, by conquering political power, to create a socialist democracy to replace bourgeois democracy - not to eliminate democracy altogether....... but socialist democracy is not something which begins only in the promised land, after the foundations of socialist economy are created, it does not come as some sort of Christmas present for the worthy people who, in the interim, have loyally supported a handful of socialist dictators. Socialist democracy begins simultaneously with the beginnings of the destruction of class rule and the construction of socialism. It begins at the very moment of the seizure of power by the Socialist party. It is the same thing as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Yes, dictatorship! But this dictatorship consists in the manner of applying democracy, not in its elimination, but in energetic, resolute attacks upon the well-entrenched rights and economic relationships of bourgeois society, without which a socialist transformation cannot be accomplished. But this dictatorship must be the work of the class and not of a little leading minority in the name of the class - that is, it must proceed step by step out of the active participation of the masses, it must be under their direct influence, subjected to the control of complete public activity; it must arise out of the political training of the mass of the people."
Possibly her  believe in democracy is what failed her philosophically, nevertheless the questions she posed still worth looking at today. She also wrote " the revolution is the sole form of war, and this is also its most vital law - in which the final victory can be prepared only by a sense of defeat.".
She had determination by the buckets and a steely willful commitment.She herself took part  in  revolutionary events , recognising the need of a revolutionary party, which could unite and give a lead in a revolutionary situation, seeing  socialism as a movement of the proletarian masses that should emphasise unity and equality rather than highlight the oppression of any particular group, with an undogmatic commitment to an unfinished notion of freedom that still appeals to many people today.
In November 1918 after four years of war, German society crumbled both at the front at home, and a revolutionary fervour swept the land, the working class took to the streets in a series of strikes and the navy mutinied., though critical with some demands of the revolutionary movement, Rosa threw in her lot with her comrades, believing that she could not simply wait on the sidelines. Subsequently on the night of January 15, 1919 she  and  Liebnecht were abducted, tortured in the luxury Hotel Eden, and then driven seperately to the nearby Tiergarten Park and murdered, Liebknecht was delivered to the  city morgue while Lixemburg was dumped into a canal. They were both 47.
Her body was only recovered five months later after the winter ice had thawed. She was buried next to Liebknecht in the Friedrichstelde Cemetery.
Famously on the evening of her murder almost certainly knowing that her fate was sealed she wrote.
'"The leadership has failed. Even o, the leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decicive element, they are the rock on which the final victors of the revolution will be built. Order reigns in Berlin! Your 'order' is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will already raise  itself with a rattle and announce with fanfare, to tour terror; I was, I am, I shall be!"
Today her ideas can be pressed into many meanings. There is a feminist Rosa, an anarchist Rosa, then there is a red Rosa, but she remains an icon in the truest sense of the word.She has become part of Germany's cultural memory, immortalised in art, poetry, an award winning biopic , a musical and a graphic novel. And in her own words too, a well as being a brilliant Marxist theorist. Luxemburg was a prolific writer of letters, and her emotive lyrical writing has seen her emerge as a literary figure in her own right.Here's to Red Rosa, lets hope her spirit is not forgotten. Peace, bread, roses,Her revolutionary socialist politics endure because the struggle against barbarism remain as relevant as ever.
Here is poem written by Bertolt Brecht in 1920 about Rosa.

About the drowned girl - Bertolt Brecht

As she drowned, she swam downwards and was borne,
From the smaller streams to the larger rivers,
In wonder the opal of the heavens shone,
As  if wishing to placate the body that was hers.

Catching hold of her were the seaweed , the algae,
Slowly she became heavy as downwards she went,
Cool fish swam around her legs, freely,
Animals and plants weight to her body lent.

Dark light smoke in the evenings the heavens grew,
But early in the morning the stars dangled, there was light,
So that for her, there remained too,
Morning and evening, day and night.

Her cold body rotted in the waters there,
Slowly, step by step, god too forgot,
First her face, then her hands, and finally her hair
She became carrion of which the rivers have a lot.

Luxemburg and Liebknecht are commemorated  every tear on the sexond Sunday of January when red flowers are scattered on their graves.

She was also much admired by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893 -1978), a muicologit, composer, poet and novelist, who gained little recognition for her poetry during her own lifetime, who once joked, ' I intend to be a posthumous poet!
Like Rosa Luxemburg, she was appalled by the militarim of the First World War. Here is her tribute to Rosa Luxemburg , first published in her 1925 collection The Espalier.

I Bring Her a Flower

Sweet faith
Such looks of quiet hath
That those on whom she’s smiled
Lie down to sleep as easy as a child.

No night,
However dark, can fright
Them, no, nor day
To come, however bleak and fell, dismay.

But sound
Sleep they in prison-bound
As when at liberty
And if they wake, they wake in charity;

Like her,
Who rousing at the jar
Of weary foot in the rain
Pitied the wakeful sentry for his pain.


Further Reading

Rosa Luxemburg: A reapraisal - Lelio Besco
Andre Deutsch, 1975.

Rosa Luxemburg: A life
- Elizvieta Ettinga , Beacon Press 1987.

The letters of Rosa Luxemburg, Verso

The essential Rosa Luxemburg :Reform or Revolution and the Mass Strike

Red Rosa;a Graphic  biography of Rosa Luxemburg - Kate Evans. Verso

"either capitalism will continue, with fresh wars and a rapid plunge intp chaos and anarchy, or else capitalist exploitation will be abolished." Rosa Luxemburg 14/12/18 Rote Fahne

"Revolutionary idealism .... can be maintained over any period of time only through the intensely active life of the masses themselves under conditions of unlimited freedom." Rosa Luxemburg

" Being human means throwing  your whole life on the scales of destiny when need be."Rosa Luxemburg

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Tomorrows Waiting Room

Among the implaceable infinitude'
flowing  thoughts  uncompromising
to swiftly past grey faces laughing,
lingering thoughts never fading
following earth, moon and sky
watching trees grow, love blossom;
in the treasure trove of lifes duration
we are all floating numbers on the dice,
so touch the flames, and feel your fingers burn
every space contains echoes that implode,
between the contours of life
that will never be  recaptured,
though the cuckoo keeps on calling
nothing stays the same;
tears will form ripples
flooding over points of view
nature  releases shades of answer
in the blurry mists of time,
expanding spirits onwards
new dawns approaching,
rivulets of imagination  unfolding
after rain or shine, nettles will always sting.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Thomas Paine (9/2/1737 -8/6/1809) - Common Sense

Thomas Paine was an English/American political activist, author and political theorist and revolutionary who emigrated to America in 1774. On  January 10 1776, his pamphlet Common Sense  was published for the first time ( though anonymously,because of its treasonous content.). Here he delivered his uncompronising message to the common people, which set the seeds for the American  Revolution.In this important document, he passionately urged the American to create a new form of government - a modern republic, based entirely on popular consent. He believed all men were born equal, so saw no need for Kings and Queens, he also distinguished  between governments and society, at the root of all governments is evil but the root of society lay good. The pamphlet called for the end of British tyranny in the American colonies and a break with a country ruled by kings. Common Sense made its appearance at a crucial moment as the debate for American independence reached a tipping point.
He became a champion of equality and liberty and went on to support struggles in Britain and France, going on to critisise organised religion and the role of the Church. Inspired by Paine, radicalism reached a new audience in the early 1790s, a mass expansion into 'members unlimited' which soon prompted the moderate reformers, the patrician 'Friends of the People', to draw away and apart from the democratic radicals, the plebeian 'Friends of Liberty'.
In Common Sense Paine came  forth with a document so powerful that the Revolution became inevitable. It was sold and distributed widely and read aloud at taverns and meeting places. In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history. As of 2006, it remains the all-time best selling American title, and is still  in print today.With the publication of this pamphlet, Paine not only galvanized Americans, bu  gave them a voice. His pamphlet changed the American outlook on the war. Although Paine denounced the many British injustices in the pamphlet, the English constitution was the issue that he primarily wrote about in Common Sense. This was not enough on its own to bring about the radical thoughts to the people, so he continued to argue that the people ought to blame the King. Paine stated, “it is simple common sense to break away from such a corrupt and brutal government,” which gives support to his claims that the only solution left is that of independence.
Returning to Europe in 1787, and in response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, he published his most famous work, The Rights of Man, 1791-2, which advocated the constitutional guarantee of the civil rights of individuals. Paine fled to France and was briefly elected to the French National Convention. Imprisoned for opposing the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, he returned to America in 1802. His promotion of the concept of human rights influenced the American Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Sadly  Paine  died in miserable circumstances in New York in 1809, having spent his last years in America often depressed, drunk and diseased. Ten years later  William Cobbett dug up the bones and brought them to England - they have since disappeared - for a national memorial which, alas, has never materialised.

Extracts :-

Of the Origin and Design of Government in General. With Concise Remarks on the English Constitution.

' Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; wheras they are not  only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other law giver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part  of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least.'

Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession

' MANKIND being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance, the distinctions of rich and poor may in a great measure be accounted for, and that without having recourse to the harsh ill-sounding names of oppression and avarice. Oppression is often the consequence, but seldom or never the Means of riches, and tho' avarice will preserve a man from being necessitiously poor, it generally makes him too timorous to be wealthy.
But there is another and great distinction for which  no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into kings and subjects. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.'

On the legitimacy of the English Monarchy

'  England, since the conquest, has known some few good monarchs, but groaned beneath as much larger number of bad ones, yet no man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honorable one. A French bastard, landing with an armed banditti, and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly hath no divinity in it. However, it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right, if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the ass and lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion.'

On the Cause of Revolution

O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her.—Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.'


Wednesday, 9 January 2019

End The Hostile Environment.

Doing my best to reboot after Christmas, still adjusting , feeling rather exhausted at moment, please be patient, normal service hopefully will be resumed shortly, as forces of division reappear ,the atmosphere still unconfortable, on the steps of uncertainty.
Some thoughts  though  as right wing elements like Tommy Robinson acolyte James Goddard make a nuisance of themselves outside Westminster,  and  "UK Yellow Vests," who have started donning high-vis jackets at their standard anti-immigration protests around the country hoping to gain some form of  credibility by aligning themselves with a mass movement that has nothing to do with  them.
Let's remember they are they aren't the Gilet Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement of  France, who over the last 2 months has  grown from being an anti-tax protest to a generalised revolt against Macron and in some places, capitalism itself. They are though the same  bunch of yellow vest fascists. who  last Saturday saw  them attacking  striking transport workers  from the RMT union , who had been campaigning over cuts to safety-important train guard roles, attacked for being leftist and part of the organised working class. An Asian picket was abused and called a sex offender, paedophile and nonce.One fascist took a video in a vest with Tommy Robinson news written on it, there were people there wearing DFLA and EDL t-shirts, and ex-BNP Liverpool 2012 mayoral candidate Mike Whitby was there abusing pickets.
We have to continue to oppose the far right and fascists in Britain in their attempts to claim the mantle of the "yellow vest " movement here in Britain to stir up racism and Islamphobia, with their racist and divisive policies that combined  with bizarre conspiracy theories and language , that  is so far removed from what has so far been shown in France.
All this happening  at a time when  we have the Tories and the right wing  media  ratcheting up racist scapegoating of refugees and migrants, trying to whip a frenzy about scores of people crossing the Channel and coming to Britain. This hostility is part of the wider hostile environment  against migrants and refugees fleeing poverty and war.  Punitive immigration policies that  mean families are routinely torn apart for not having enough money, and people are criminalized simply for seeking safety, or a better life. In Britain alone, over 30,000 people are locked up in immigration detention centres each year.
We should reflect on the fact  that many of these people left their homes because of reasons outside their control, whether that was conflict, poverty, economic injustice or climate change. The UN’s Refugee Agency estimates that 20 people are forced to flee their homes every second. With global inequality at unprecedented levels,  modern borders have become a form of global apartheid: segregating who can and can’t access resources and opportunity, in Britain there is even an explicit policy aiming to create a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants – launched by the current prime minister, Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary.
Bank managers, NHS staff and landlords are routinely required to perform the role of immigration officers, monitoring people’s immigration status, as borders increasingly become part of everyday life and the government forces undocumented migrants further underground.
The related policy of mass deportation means even those who make it  are often sent back to the very violence and hardship they fled from in the first place. Deadly deportation schemes means people are returned to countries where they risk persecution, torture and even death.  No borders are necessary. Refugees and migrants welcome.  Time  now to untangle these forces  of division and unreason, keep saying no and not giving in  to racist rhetoric, end this hostile envronment now.