Saturday, 30 November 2019

Madness - Bullingdon Boys

The legendary British ska group Madness have returned with their first new music since 2016. As was always the case back in their heyday talking about cultural and social issues at the time, they were  not afraid to get political, and  now have placed Boris Johnson and his Eton cohorts firmly in the firing line with their new song Bullingdon Boys which is marked by a decidedly anti-Tory Rhetoric.
The snap release is a “barbed swipe at the charlatans, rotters and chancers at the top of the tree who have done their best to take the shine off 2019,” according to a press release. Inspired  and puzzled over the fact of how was it possible that in Great Britain with 24,000 Schools 19 of the 54 Prime Ministers all came from Eton... How Remarkable! Apparently a famous statistician from Bern in Switzerland crunched the numbers.. He concluded that the chances of 19 Prime Ministers coming from one and the same class were very close to.... ZERO! "More f*cking chance of being hit by lightning in a nuclear bunker" he said. And yet here we are with 19 (of 54) Prime Ministers coming from Eton. Not even to mention other cabinet ministers. David Cameron for example had 13 classmates in his front bench team! The Bern professor said he had difficulty collating this phenomena within the definition of 'fair play'19 of the 54 UK Prime Ministers have come from Eton.
The cover of the single also mocks the Bullingdon Club and Prime Minister Johnson, featuring the infamous image of the group posing languidly on college steps in Oxford, that summed up privilege and disconnect between society's haves and have nots. Dressed in tailcoated finery, members of Oxford University's exclusive male-only dining club, posed for a picture that became so notorious the copyright owner withdrew permission for it to be republished. Madness however have made changes to the photo adding devil horns and  putting the image of a pig's face over that of Johnson, they've also included the tagline: “Don’t get bullied by the Bully Boys.”
The  exclusive invitation only club that is the Bullingdon Club was founded  in 1780 as a hunting and cricket club,and has been running amok for over two hundred years holding a reputation and a history of excess, sexism, bullying and  elitism, known for the appalling, drunken, destructive and self indulgent tendencies of its members, with rumors they would trash restaurants then casually drop checks covering the damage.David Cameron, George Osborne, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson all of whom were members. In an attempt to stymie the reputational damage, the  Oxford University Conservative Association  listed the Bullingdon Club as a proscribed organization at the end of last year.. The hangover remains, however, with  the Conservative  party as a whole still  being seen by many as being riven with privilege and ostentatious wealth.
The  music video from Madness which accompanies the new song, that you can see below,  features scenes from Clockwork Orange, the Batman TV series and The Riot Club. It's a great timely song, share it and its message, it's Madness , well  voting  for the  Conservatives in the upcoming General Election is.
Madness unlike the Conservatives are still a star attraction and return to London's Roundhouse in December, performing three shows of past, present and future material. They also headline the inaugural  York Festival  next summer.

Its not a pretty sight
The lads are out tonight
They long to give there all
With backs against the wall

The games one upmanship
Be sure they’ll let it rip
We’ll have to have a go
In our comedy horror show

Its not a pantomime
In life one needs to climb
Things can only get much better
Bitter Better Butter Mutter

We are the bully boys
Move late at night don’t make much noise
Up the stairs from the den 
Followed by our Batmen

We's are the chosen few
And we’s are coming thru
And we know’s just what to do
It's Robbin’ to the rescue

The Eton Boys are undefiled
The Bullingdon Boys, running wild
And England slides into the mist
No hope they’ll cease nor desist

We are the chancers brigade
and we’ll have you flogged and flayed
Sadly no room left at the top
Move along back to your sweatshops

Well we's are the chosen few
And we’s are coming thru
And we know’s just what to do
It's Robbin’ to the rescue

Well We worked our fingers to the bone
It's not as if we was alone
There’s people needing to be paid
And there’s booty boys to be made
            ......    All hands on deck

The Eton Boys are undefiled
The Bullingdon Boys, running wild
And England slides into the mist 
No hope they’ll cease nor desist

They're making England Great Again
But make way for the bagmen
When everything’s been sold and bought
We'll soon be off the life support.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Silent Deities

Every silent god, hears and sees nothing
A drifting emptiness that cannot connect,
Darkly malingering in idleness and deep abyss
Many though still hear their voices calling,
In times of despair, keep on seeking
Open their hearts, give prayers of thanks,
But humanity's prison delivers no light
Hate keeps spreading, walls built to divide,
Blood keeps spilling on streets of torment
Yearning cries screaming to cease,
Invoking daily horror, in places of  captivity
The agony of existence embedded deep,
Across the globe  innocent people hurt
Living in fear, deprived of freedom,
Heartbreak keeps delivering  tears,
Like spears from the thunder-clouds,
People frightened by the news
With  resilience muster up some strength,
While the clap of doom keeps on releasing
Our silent gods carry on sleeping,
On the brink of death and vulnerability
In painful days undawned, give thanks,
As dead leaves blow in in the wind
With our breaths, we whisper amen.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Loose Change of Defiance

Where are we?
In my mind I still see stars,
New worlds, rippling beyond current stone
Towards another possibility,

Here lies, some food for thought
Released  from the fabric of conscience,
While Government breath drags us down
Leaving many with scornful mindsets.

Emerging out of emptiness.
Restless purpose beyond control
Drifting in winter chill,
No longer fearless, unlocked.

Tomorrow's twilight nourishing minds.
Endless drumbeats, echoing masses enraged,
As Grenfell 's tears continue to fall
A hungry quest embraces unity.

Tom with Spina Bifida, incontinent, homeless
Condition precluding a sheltered abode,
Where's the hope left in this bloody land
Time to get off our knees and make a stand.

Let our voices knot together, find some loose change
Untamed, uncorrected, undivided, undiluted.
Beyond the lies of politicians, bankrupt ideas.
Heads held high, people defiant and rising.

With playfulness and imagination
We can rearrange their schemes,
One day soon, fallacies will fall
The present system that fails to satisfy.

Ebbing and flowing, tides of united breath
Inhaling the delicious opium of dreams,
Unafraid to release our truth
Haunting those hiding above.
The mighty spirit of resistance
Rejecting those that seek to control us,
Nurturing the changes
Sustaining our empowerment.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Be Like Alan Moore

I know a  lots of my friends and comrades don't like voting,  and have valid reasons not to, but this election I believe is different,  and we have to get those bloody thieving bastard Tories out now. 66-year-old  counter culture legend Alan Moore  who is considered to be one of the most prominent anarchists in Britain, has decided to cast his ballot on 12 December for the first time in nearly 40 years for the Labour Party, The comic book writer, novelist, screenwriter, actor, broadcaster, publisher, songwriter, magician, singer and activist,who is known for his meditations on totalitarianism in the graphic novels Watchmen and Batman. V for Vendetta depicted a Britain in the grip of a fascist dictatorship that treated ordinary people as a commodity to be exploited and subjected people from ethnic and social minorities, the sick and disabled to medical experimentation that most commonly resulted in their deaths.Some may see terrifying similarities with the current Conservative government in such a situation. 
Moore has previously come out in support of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, but has consistently declined to vote in elections because he believes in "direct political action." However, the upcoming General Election has forced him to change his position. He explained why in ,a Twitter statement posted by his daughter Leah Moore.
“Here’s something you don’t see every day, an internet-averse anarchist announcing on social media that he’ll be voting Labour in the December elections. But these are unprecedented times. I’ve voted only once in my life, more than 40 years ago, being convinced that leaders are mostly of benefit to no one save themselves. That said, some leaders are so unbelievably malevolent and catastrophic that they must be strenuously opposed by any means available."
He acknowledged that his vote “ principally against the Tories rather than for Labour”, but described Corbyn’s manifesto as “the most encouraging set of proposals that I’ve ever seen from any major British party. Though these are immensely complicated times and we are all uncertain as to which course we should take, I’d say the one that steers us furthest from the glaringly apparent iceberg is the safest bet…" 
Moore concluded by imploring his fans to vote, as well. "If my work has meant anything to you over the years, if the way that modern life is going makes you fear for all the things you value, then please get out there on polling day and make your voice heard with a vote against this heartless trampling of everybody's safety, dignity and dreams. A world we love is counting on us. If we’d prefer a future that we can call home, then we must stop supporting – even passively – this ravenous, insatiable Conservative agenda before it devours us with our kids as a dessert.”
Yes, it’s a radical political decision not to vote. but times are literally crazy. The situation is dire. In the U.K. we're on the precipice of something truly disasterous and if you have to compromise principles to try to avoid falling of the cliff, then you should do it. If an old anarchist like Alan Moore can see the danger in not voting to keep Boris Johnson and his clique of hard-right ghouls out of power, what excuse has anyone else got? We have so much to lose if the Tories get in again, so put away your aversion please, be like Alan Moore, for the many not the few we can make a difference. 
The deadline for registering to vote in the general election is tomorrow, Tuesday 26 November at 5pm.  If you haven’t yet registered please please make sure you do. It takes just five minutes. 

Go to

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Ancient Refuge

Gors Fawr, Mynachlog-ddu , Wales

Throughout human history
Woman and man has sought,
Places to harbour sadness
To offer comfort and protection,
Solid alters of ingrained sanctuary
Magic power rich in potency,
Rooted energies to help heal world
In the cycle of transcending seasons,
Casting mystery, delivering focus
On sacred paths of consciousness,
Our temples releasing surrender
Forever in our reach,
Under every setting sun
Forces of good,
Resonating, vibrating
With necessary power,
Windows of time
Releasing yearnings of our being,
Confidence and sustenance
To all that set their minds free,
Before hatred was planted
And man delivered shame,
Divisions  became bathed
Between light and darkness.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Men of Gwent - President of Wales

Woke up this morning to find  the second release from Jon Langford's the Men of Gwent had arrived through my letter box,  and very good it is too. Four years on from their warmly received debut, “The Legend of LL”the new one  is called the President of Wales  and it's a looking like a serious contender for my annual end of year musical  highlights.
Born in Wales, now resident in Chicago, Langford has had a long and illustrious musical journey with the likes of The Mekons, Three Johns and the Waco Brothers.  A true living legend with such a prolific output  summarizing Jon Langford’s contributions to punk rock and all of its permutations, as well as his career-long obsession with American roots music, is liable to overwhelm anyone. Langford has grit in his voice and melody in his soul. A punk-rock pioneer, a troubadour for our times,, a singer-songwriter who writes with the authority of having lived a life rather than imagined it, who was once dubbed by one critic as “the spiritual brother-in-arms of Dylan Thomas  and Johnny Cash”
The new album continues with themes around the bands home city of Newport and across Wales, in what could be described as psycho-geography, tapping into the veins of our unknown  rich history. Album opener  "Grave Alexandra" documents the 1909 Docks Disaster that killed 46 workers.

Men of Gwent - Grave Alexander

"Bulmore Lido" covers the closure of an open air swimming pool in Caerleon where Jon Langford "nearly  drowned" and "Home of the Vote"  outlines the recent new developments in the city centre while referring back to the legacy of the Chartists. The song "London to Llanelli Line" records a chance meeting with the late Deke Leonard of the band Man, The sadly departed local crooner has a song where he is mentioned alongside the legendary Alan Vega (singer of the American Band Suicide). The album includes a wonderful cover of Joe Strummer’s ‘X-Ray Style’ which more than honours the memory of one of Newport’s most prestigious former residents.Elsewhere Joe  is found digging  graves in "Bassaleg Road Earthquake" while the title track "President of Wales" gives Jon the opportunity to let the world know"he can never go home"...
All in all fine quality stuff, awash with fine musicianship, I strongly recommend, Jon Langford delivers the goods once again, sadly his  Men of Gwent are yet to receive the recognition they truly deserve,  hope this changes soon, get their new record  here :- Country Mile Records

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Removing the Stains

In days splintered playgrounds
Whether poor or filthy rich
Find happy spaces
Draw the curtains
Turn off the lights
In this numbing age
Whether meandering alone
The jiggles of life's libation
Keep on chanting
Beyond the darkness
Let the dawn soak you
Allow you to hurl a punch or two
Chasing shadows in the dark
Let the light in, learn to be free
Spinning wildly,treading cautiously
Super souls live in our hearts
Allow your enemy to be afraid
No bargaining,weaken them with spirit
Fists are useful, but bullies are blind
Despite their poison, try and be kind.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Boris Johnson - Commoners Choir

Johnson  has been defending the Duke of York,  showing that he's really got his finger on the public mood, knowing what to say to appeal to ordinary people.

Besides this,  it has long been clear that Johnson is unfit for any kind of public office, let alone the nation's highest.

As Heathcote Williams put it, “there’s a German word for people like Johnson: Backpfeifengesicht.

It means ‘a face that needs to be punched’."

Written  by Boff Whalley and performed by Commoners Choir.

A radical choir that combines political activism with singing – and hope, and my goodness we need  a barrel loads in days like these.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Operation:West Wales Tory Free Zone

Click image to enlarge

There is currently  a campaign in Pembrokeshire to oust the sitting Tory MP Stephen Crabb, which is part of a wider campaign which  theme is, Operation:West Wales Tory Free Zone, where the aim is to oust  two local Conservative MP's in the upcoming General Election.
Over the past 6 years the campaign has been building a hugely effective activist network  comprising of a powerful  collaboration between activists of all parties and campaigns. Working closely with Momentum where progressives have joined forces, across Party Lines and have been effective in reducing both Stephen Crabb's and Simon Hart's vote shares in the 2017 General Election.
Operation, West Wales Tory Free Zone aims to finish the job and unseat Crabb and Hart for good. Crabb's current majority is just 314 meagre votes so we know we can take him down on December 12th and take Hart with him. Pembrokeshire's Peoples Assembly hve been working tirelessly for years towards achieving this objective and are appealing to all Pembrokeshire citizens to support in this final push. Years of Tory Austerity have decimated or society causing huge rises in homelessness and child poverty. Two million (often working) families forced to use foodbanks. With many public services already privatised, underfunded or destroyed, the Tories now want to shred our human rights, workers rights and sell our NHS to Trump under a hard right and racist'Tory Brexit. Whether people voted leave or remain a Tory style Brexit of this type would be a devastation for Britain. It's make or break time for a Corbyn Government is unthinkable.Unseating Crabb and Hart puts us tow seats closer to a Corbyn led Government. Please join us for the mass rally on Sat 16th and help us put an end to years of vicious Tory rule.

Crabb by the way has doggedly supported policies that are designed to make poorer people poorer, against support systems for Britain's most vulnerable people, he has consistently backed welfare cuts, tax breaks for the rich, and a trade union crackdown, who despite carping on about  his Christian values, and being  the son of a single parent, who was bought up on a council estate, is no friend of the working class or disadvantaged communities, whilst finding time to sex text a married woman half his age on Whatsapp..
At the end of the day a typical Tory, a hypocrite of the first order, who simply does not care a toss about the lives of ordinary people, it is more than time that the good people of West Wales, wipe the inane smile of his face, unseat him for good and show him the door.
I will add that if the Tories do manage to get in again, aided by their tight wing media, they will continue their relentless attacks on those that least deserve it. We owe it to our children, our grandchildren and ourselves to confine the rotten Tories to the dustbins of history. They are a party of the elite only serving a few, whilst making the rest of us suffer. We can not afford another five years for them to savage us with their cruel policies.It is time for a fundamental change in society. Tories out for Christmas, for the many not the few.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

As fragile calm is reached in Gaza, Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Am writing this after hearing  heartbreaking accounts from friends in Gaza following latest round of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.Reminding  me yet again, that nowhere is safe for the Palestinians.
Currently a fragile cease-fire is holding out  after two days of aerial bombardment on the citizens of the heaviest escalation of violence for months  .
It is important to emphasize that Israel's recurring attacks on the Gaza Strip are part of its daily violence against Palestinians everywhere.This systematic  violence includes the theft of Palestinian land and resources, mass incarcernation ,and the apartheid system that tears through all their lives. Over eleven years of blockade and conflict has seriously damaged Gaza’s infrastructure.Gaza’s chronic energy crisis has left essential services in Gaza barely able to function, and approximately two million inhabitants with power cuts of up to 20 hours per day, and limited access to electricity, clean water and medicine that.has pushed this this tiny territory to the brink of collapse,Conditions have become so extreme that the United Nations has stated that by 2020 the Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 34 people in Gaza, including civilians and children have been killed by Israeli strikes. At least 69 have been injured according to the Gaza based health ministry. All of them are said to be civilians, innocent people not militants with nothing to do with politics. Palestinian civilians across the occupied Palestinian territory are subject to threats to their lives and physical safety from conflict related violence, and from policies and practices related to the Israeli occupation, including settler violence on a daily basis.  These  recent deaths and injuries are in addition to those resulting from  the Great March of Return demonstrations at the Gaza Strip. These weekly demonstrations have led to many deaths and thousands of injuries.
Israel’s renewal of bombing follows the extrajudicial assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Commander Baha Abu Al Ata at his home in Gaza, in which his wife was also killed, and the targeting of a home belonging to another PIJ official in Damascus. This clearly premeditated killing is in violation of international law. In carrying out the killing the IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi made Israel’s attentions clear in a televised address, stating “we are preparing for escalation from the ground, air and sea.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to justify the extra judicial killing and the bombing campaign as acts of self defence. 
These attacks also come in a week where Israeli soldiers have been filmed shooting dead a 22 year old Palestinian from Hebron, a killing condemned by Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special coordinator for The Middle East Peace Process, who called for an investigation given that the victim, Omar A Badawi, was clearly posing no threat when he was shot. An occupying force is using advanced weaponry against two million besieged people in Gaza in what amounts to collective punishment. 
The violence has drawn international calls for calm.Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “The failure of the international community, including the UK government, to hold Israel to account results in Israel believing it can carry out extra judicial killings and bombing assaults with impunity. Whilst the UK continues to arm Israel despite its violations of human rights and contraventions of international law, we are made complicit in these acts. We call upon all UK citizens committed to respect for human rights and the rule of law to join us in our campaigns to pressure the UK government and companies to end this complicity.”
Palestine Solidarity Campaign is calling on the UK Government to: 
Condemn Israel’s latest escalation, including its policy of targeted assassinations, and to demand that Israel ends its bombing campaign.Call on Israel to end the siege of Gaza which amounts to collective punishment, illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.Fulfill its duties under international law to hold Israel to account for its ongoing illegal occupation that it is only able to sustain through such acts of illegitimate violence, In this regard PSC reiterates its call for an end to the UK's sale of weapons to Israel that are used to violate Palestinian human rights and for the UK to ban the import of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements.
As yet another brutal assault on the Gaza strip happens, we must continue, to show our solidarity and keep demanding justice for the Palestinian people against their systems of oppression and support their struggle for liberation. My thoughts go out the people of Gaza, the need for solidarity with its their struggle against Israeli militarism, apartheid and occupation, has never been greater. As a result of the latests attacks on gaza, the already overburderned and fragile health system faces an even deper crisis. Even before Tuesday, almost 50 %  of  medicines were already running at zero stock with less than one months supply on the shelf, now hospitals are at a risk of running out completely. Please consider contributing to the following emergency appea.l.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Commemorating the Haymarket Martyrs

November 11th is another a day of remembrance, for it was on November 11, 1887 that four anarchists were executed in Chicago, wrongly convicted of throwing a bomb at a demonstration against police violence. The Haymarket Square demonstration  took place on May 4, 1886. A day after police had killed four striking workers,injuring several others protestors. This was a time of violent repression by the police. The demonstrators were calling for greater power and economic security, standing against capitalism, calling for an eight hour day and to protest about the increased brutality of the police.
At the May 4th meeting  a number of radical and anarchist speakers addressed a crowd of over 3,000 people. The meeting  was peaceful but the mood became  more confrontational when the police tried to disperse the crowd. As  scuffles broke out, someone who has never been positively identified threw a bomb at police lines. (some have since claimed was an agent provocateur in the pay of the authorities to try and stoke up division.) The bomb landed and exploded unleashing shrapnel. One officer was killed and several were wounded. The police responded by drawing their weapons and firing into the panicked crowd.  Seven  policemen  were killed, most likely from police bullets fired in the chaos, not from the bomb itself. Four  civilians were also killed and more than hundred persons injured.
The aftermath created  widespread hysteria, further repression and a national wave of xenophobia, as hundreds of foreign born radicals and labor leaders were rounded up in Chicago and elsewhere in what  is seen as the first great political witch hunt and frame up trial, used as an excuse to  crack gown on  the entire labor movement. Inevitably anarchists were rounded up, and treated to what today would be termed rough justice,
A grand jury eventually indicted 31 suspected  labor radicals in connection with the bombing, and eight anarchist leaders from the revolutionary syndicalist tradition were convicted of instigating violence and conspiring to commit murder. in a controversial trial, despite lack of evidence and no connection to the actual bomb. The judge, Judge Gary, gave one of the most shameful performances that this country has ever seen, and it has  seen plenty from its judges. He helped choose the jury,to make sure it would convict. He questioned men who stated they had already formed an opinion about the case, and had definite prejudices against Anarchists, Socialists and all radicals.
He imposed the death sentence on seven of the men, and the eighth was sentenced to 15 years in prison.In what is seen as a racist show trial,   which like all kangaroo courts was a travesty of justice. Many of the accused not even present when the incident took place.
These men have since  become known as the Haymarket Martyrs, Albert Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer and George Engel who were  tried and convicted and executed  for their political beliefs, not for their actions  on May 3th.
When their time came Engels, Parsons and Spies were taken to the gallows in white robes and hood. They sang the Marsellaise then the anthem of the international  movement. According to witnesses, in the moments before the men were hanged, Albert Spies shouted," The time will come when our silence, will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!"
They did not immediately die when they dropped, but strangled to deathsowly,  slowly. a sight which left many visibly shaken.
The Haymarket affair is now generally considered significant as the origin of the International May Day observances for workers,  when in July 1889, a delegate from the American Federation of Labor recommended at a Labor conference in Paris that May 1  be set aside as International Labour Day in memory of the Haymarket martyrs and the injustice metered out to them, and has become a powerful reminder of the international struggle for workers rights, that I for one try not to forget.
Rather than suppressing labor and radical movements the events of 1886 and the execution of the Chicago Anarchists,  actually mobilised and galvanised a new generation of radicals and revolutionaries. Emma Goldman a young immigrant at the time later pointed to the Haymarket affair as her political birth. Lucy Parsons widow of Albert Parsons , called up on the poor to direct their anger at those responsible - the rich. In 1938 , fifty-two years after the Haymarket riot , workdays in the United States were legally made eight hours by the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is up to us to keep the memory of the  Haymarket martyrs alive. to learn the lessons of their struggle so that they did not die in vain, acting as enduring symbols of labors struggles for justice.
 Following the Haymarket affair, trial and executions, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Lous Lingg and Albert Parsons were buried at the German Waldheim Cemetery (later merged with Forest Home Cemetery).The Pioneer Aid and Support Association organized a subscription for a funeral monument. In 1893, the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument by sculptor Albert Weinhert was raised at Waldheim. It consists of a 16-foot-high granite shaft capped by a carved triangular stone. There is a two step base, which also supports a monumental figure of a woman standing over the body of a fallen worker, both in bronze. It was dedicated on June 25, 1893, after a march from Chicago. The inscription on the steps read, "1887," the year of the executions. Also, there is  the quote attributed to Spies, recorded just before his execution by hanging" On the back of the monument are listed the names of the men. On the top of the monument, a bronze plaque contains text of the pardon later issued by Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld.

The dedication ceremony was attended by 8000, with union flags and the American flag draped on the monument. European unions and American organizations sent flowers to be placed, As an important political monument it represents  a symbol of resistance for all those concerned with radical politics  in general and the history of the working class in particular. Buried  near and around the monument are an impressive list of historical personages., including Lucy Parsons, Elizabeth Gurley Fllynn an Emma Goldman to name only afew.
For decades after, anarchists the world over held tributes for the Haymarket Martyrs every November 11th. One of the most eloquent commemorators of the Haymarket Martyrs was the American  poet and anarchist Voltarine de Cleyre,
 She  herself is buried near their graves in Waldheim. In the excerpts below, from a speech she gave on November 11, 1899, de Cleyre evokes with vivid and powerful imagery the ideas for which the Haymarket Martyrs paid with their lives. For anarchists, it is not the red or the white poppy which symbolizes the sacrifices people have made for freedom and justice, but the Black rose, allusions to which are made by de Cleyre at the end of her speech..

 Chicago, November 11, 1899:

"Greater love hath no man known than this, that he give up his life for his friend.
We are they to whom was given that utterest of love — we, into whose ears there came a crying through the wilderness of poverty and shame and pain, a wind through the desert from the Land of Promise; voices that said: ‘It is not right that you should hunger, it is not just that you should be denied one of the glories of this earth. The world is wide: it is not reason that you should bury yourselves in a narrow den and see the earth from behind a cave mouth, while a bird that you could grasp in your hand, so, is free to cross the continent and pick its food where it lists. It is not fairness that the thing you have made should be taken from you by the hand that did not make it, and you be left with nothing but the smut and smell and memory of the torture of its making. It is insane that men should rot for want of things and things for want of men; insane that millions of creatures should huddle together till they choke while millions of acres of land lie desolate; insane that one should pour down his throat the labor of hundreds in a single night, and those hundreds always near the gateway of famine. It is criminal to believe that the mass of us are to be dumb animals, with nothing before us all our lives but eating, sleeping and toiling at the best, with all the light and loveliness of nature and of art an unknown realm of delight to us to which we may look only as the outcast at Eden. It is stupid to allege, still more stupid to believe, that you who are able to do all the hard things of this world, to burrow and dig and hammer and build, to be cramped and choked and beaten and killed for others, are not able to win all for yourselves.
‘You are not helpless if you do not will to be, you workers who labor and do not share; you need not be the ever-tricked dupes of politicians, who promise what it is not in their power to perform, and perform what their buyers order them to; you have only to learn your own power to help yourselves, only to learn the solidarity of the interests of all those who work, only to learn to trust yourselves to take your rights, by no indirection, through no intermediary, but openly on the spot where they are denied from the one who denies them — and having taken, keep. The wealth and the love and the beauty of this earth are yours, when you are ready to take them; you are no beggars at your brothers’ table: children of one plenteous board, there is enough for all and none need want.
‘Do they tell you to look to the kingdom of God? We tell you to look to the kingdom of this world; for, verily, men have looked long enough to post mortem justice, and thereby only supported another injustice, the trade in salvation, and buying and selling of heaven. They tell you there have always been rich and poor, and that what has always been always must be. It is not true that there have always been rich and poor; neither is it true that what has always been must always be. Men and the societies of men are creatures of their conditions, responsive to the pressure upon them from without, like all other things, and not only liable to change but bound to change. Every age finds its own adjustment. There have been times and places wherein all men were poor, as we should think them now, yet no injustice done, for all shared alike. There have been whole races of men with indefinite history behind them, who never knew mine and thine. They have passed away, people and system together, with the method of making a living. And Property, with all its varying forms of attendant slavery, has come into existence in response to the irresistible demand for a change to suit new methods of production — and as it had to come so it will have to go.

The  Spirit of Anarchy
The Spirit of Anarchy

It is impossible it should continue; for under this plethora of products turned out by the newer methods, Property has lost its power to balance Man and the Thing. Shoved out by the tireless, flying steel hands, piled in great masses, products accumulate; the toiler at the base is flattened under the weight which Property makes it impossible to distribute. The mountain of riches crushes its creator; men and things alike waste. It cannot go on. The dead weight cannot forever press down the living energy: in the end distribution must come. Out from its burrow comes writhing a distorted, mangled, bruised, and bleeding figure —misshapen, ugly, black, covered with hell-light: suffocated, gasping, it struggles on to its feet at last, wipes the blood and sweat out of its eyes, gives a wild stare at this mountain of gold and glass and glitter it has made, catches a brief vision of the dwellers on the mountain, and with a mad cry leaps upon the thing to destroy it. He is a giant still: has he not, down there in the underground, been through the blows that temper and fires that try? Maimed and lamed, there is brawn in him yet; seared and numbed he can yet feel for a white throat. The hand that hammered the bolts has a wild grasp in it still, that lays hold and wrenches apart more desperately than it put together. The mountain is levelled, and — he begins again.
He is the Revolution, and he is a fool. For he will need to make and destroy, make and destroy, until he destroys the institution which makes accumulation possible. He! Why ‘he’? You, working people, you are that fool. You are he who scoops the sea and dies in the desert for a cup of water. You are he who piles that mountain of wealth, and finds nothing better to do with it when it crushes him thereafter than to set fire to it.
‘But listen, Fool, there is something better for you. This thing, Property, is not the final word of the human intellect with regard to the distribution of wealth. Beyond the smoke-edge of this frightful battle of Man and Machine, what lies? The ideal of Communism: perpetual freedom of access to natural sources of wealth, never to be denied by Man to his brother Man. Perpetual claim on the common wealth of the ages, never to be denied to the living by the dead. Perpetual claim upon the satisfactions of all common needs of the human body, never to be denied to the living by the living. Beyond the smoke wreath of the battle, what lies? Days of labor that are sweet, men and women doing the work that nature calls them to, that in which they delight — laboring at a chosen service, not one into which they have been forced; working and resting at reasonable hours, sleeping when the earth sleeps, not driven out into the darkness, like an unloved child, to turn night into day, and cripple the overdriven body by unnatural hours of pleasure stolen from sleep. Chosen toil, room, recreation, sleep — these, poor outcast animal, Man, are to be yours! Beyond the smoke-rim of the battle, what lies? The death of cities, the people resurgent upon the land, the desert blossoming into homes, the air and light of nature once more sending their strength through nerve and vein, and with it the lost power to feel the joy of existence, the realization that one is something more than flesh to feed and sleep — a creature of colors and sounds and lights, with as keen an ear for a bird’s song, as ready an eye for a tint of cloud, as any woodsman in the older days; a creature with as fine a taste for pictures and books and statuary and music, ay, and with a hand to execute them too, as any man who lives today upon your sweat, buys his library with your dribbled blood, and condenses the flesh that has vanished from your bones into the marble which adorns his alcoves.
‘Beyond the smoke-haze of the battle, what lies? Life, life! Not existence — life, that has been denied to you, life that has ever been reserved to your masters, the broad world and all its pleasant places, and all its pleasant things.’
This was the cry that came to us, and we listened and heard. We followed the crying voices through these wildernesses of brick and stone; for it was a fair hope, and who would not wish to dream it true? None but the masters, and they were afraid; they clamored for suppression of the voices; ‘Let not these work-cattle of ours get this vision of Man,’ they said, ‘else they will cease to be beasts, and we…?’
Of all the political trials that ever outraged the forms even of legal justice to say nothing of the spirit, it has remained to republics to give the worst. If the Czar of Russia wishes an example of despotism, let him look to America. Here it is that we shoot men for marching on the highway and hang them for preaching ideas.
Yes, it is all fresh in our memories — fresh as that bitter November day twelve years ago when Parsons, Fischer, Engel, Spies waited within for the signal of doom, while without a helpless mother and wife plead for the keeping of a broken promise to the heartless cordon of the ‘law’ around the sullen hole of death; plead for the last clasp of the hand that in an hour could clasp no more, the last look from the eyes that would die and never know whose promise it was that had been broken; fresh as the memory of the singing voice that went up in the night and gloom calling sweetly, ‘she’s a’ the world to me’; fresh as the memory of the lifted hand and the voice repeating,

This hand is as steady
As when, in the old days,
It plucked the already
Ripe fruit from Life’s tree;
fresh as the memory of the deathless words:

Haymarket Siporin 

The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.
Long live Anarchy: this is the happiest moment of my life.
Will I be allowed to speak, O men of America? Let me speak, Sheriff Matson! Let the voice of the people be heard! O — ;

fresh as the memory of the gallows and trap and the swinging, dying bodies; fresh as the memory of him, the beautiful one, the brave, defiant one [Louis Lingg] who took his death not waiting for your hangman and from his poor mangled dying throat whispered hoarsely at the end, ‘Long live Anarchy!’
Fresh and fresh, and forever fresh, O rulers of the world, the memory of the deed you did that day! Green in our hearts as the holly at Yule — doubt not ye shall be remembered, doubt not ye shall be paid! With what measure ye mete unto others it shall be meted back unto you again. No item of the record shall escape. Shall we not recall the tricks that were done to turn the tide of sympathy which welled up, when terror and cowardice were abating, and decent human nature began to assert itself? Have we not before our eyes the picture of petition-tables overturned in the streets? In our ears the edict of Mayor Roach, ‘No public discussion of the Anarchist case, no singing of the Marseillaise’? Do we not remember the four ‘bombs’ found in Lingg’s cell conjured through the stone walls and deposited there by Anarchist magic! It is all remembered: we know you are our creditors still! Perhaps you would have interest: it is one of your institutions!
And what did you accomplish? You struck a welding blow that beat the hearts of the working people of the world together. You lifted out of the obscurity of the common man five names, and set them as beacons upon a hill. You sent the word Anarchy ringing through every workshop. You gave us a manifold crucifixion, and dignified what had been a speculative theory with the sacrificial cast of a religion. In the heart of this black slag heap of grime and crime you have made a sacred place, for in it you lopped off an arm from the Cross and gave us the Gallows.
And if it were given us to see tonight the thoughts of men made visible, we should behold the grave at Waldheim in the heart of a star whose rays shot inward from the uttermost earth. Ay, they are streaming over many waters, and out of strange lands where the English tongue is never spoken — they, the invisible phantoms that pass in the darkness, less of substance than the wind that floats the November leaf, but mightier than all the powers that ever mowed the human grass when governments went reaping! They are pouring in tonight, the intangible dreams that bind masses of men together in the bond of the ideal — a bond that ties tighter than all bonds of flesh; for it makes that one shall look into a stranger’s eye and know him for his own; shall hear a word from the antipodes, and hold it for a brother’s voice; shall ask no name nor station nor race nor country nor religion, but put himself beside his fellow-worker, needing no question since he knows that other’s labors and would be free. A surge of comradeship sweeping over the earth this night, the chant of rebellious voices singing the storm-song of the peoples, an earth-circle of reverberations from those lips that are dead — ‘Long live Anarchy’, rung out this hour from platforms in every great city in the United States, England, France, Australia; talked low in Italy and Spain and Germany; whispered in the cellars of Russia, the cells of Siberia! And murmured on the lonely islands where our prisoned comrades rot away, the words, ‘Twelve years ago today they hanged our comrades in Chicago, and the debt is yet unpaid’.
Ay, it is growing, growing — your fear-word, our fire-word, Anarchy.
Lean your ear to the wind and you will hear it, the never-dying, never finished speech, denied, choked by you that shameless day.
A warmer sanguine glows on the world’s communal flag, stamped out, stamped in, by you — the blood of the Rose of Death. "

Voltairine de Cleyre

Published in Free Society, November 26, 1899

The Anarchist Black Rose

The Anarchist Black Rose

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Let us alI remember

Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11th November, Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918. It is to "commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women".
As we remember  lets not forget that  more than 500 civilians were killed in Coventry in a single night of bombing in 1940. Five years later, at least 100,000 German women were raped in Berlin by advancing Soviet Army soldiers. in Russia, civilian deaths in World War Two are counted by the millions. In our own time, well over 10,000 civilians have been  killed in Yemen, since the outbreak of civil war in 2015. All these civilians have been excluded from most aspects of Remembrance Sunday in the UK.
Until this year the Royal British Legion insisted that their red poppies represent  remembrance only for British and allied armed forces.The Peace Pledge Union's white poppies on the other hand symbolise remembrance for all victims of war. They also represent a commitment to peace.
But things changed in October. The British Legion altered their website to say that they acknowledge innocent civilians who have lost their lies in conflict and acts of terrorism. This is a significant change, since as recently as last year their website was declaring : The Legion advocates a specific type of Remembrance connected to the British armed forces. 
I recognise fully why people find this day significant and  choose to wear poppies, I totally respect everyone's right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict, but  let us also all remember what we do not seem to learn, that it is Politicians that send men and women to die, to go to war,so  that they are forced to try and win unwinnable battles for them. We should remember  to never be intimidated by the media which sees the wearing of a red poppy as a test and definition of loyalty.  Let us acknowledge all those people looking for alternative ways of marking and remembering the  dead, working for peace, day by day.
Let us remind ourselves how the wearing or not wearing of the poppy has been used to shame people who make the conscious decision not to wear one, or how to criticise, is to be bandied a traitor, as we are told  told time and again  that soldiers died for our freedoms.
Lets not forget  either the families of the wounded or dead who are left abandoned, and the many ex servicemen who are left homeless to fend for themselves. It's time to expose the hypocrites who sanction wars, arms sales and state repression while wearing a red poppy and uttering platitudes on Remembrance Day.
Let us remember that the red poppy is tainted by the hypocrisy of warmongers. Lets remember the ties between the Poppy Appeal and the global arms trade. Lets not forget that both Lockheed Martin and BAE systems, two massive manufacturers of weapons used to commit human rights abuses and fuel destructive wars, sponsor national Poppy fundraisers and British Legion events with the effort of glorifying military conflicts and legitimising war profiteering.
Let us remember the conscientious objectors who refused to serve in the army and all those within groupings that remain implacably opposed to wars, orchestrating and attending anti-war demonstrations and producing anti-war propaganda. Lets remember those that represent a struggle to end war by challenging the rulers and the system that cause it.Let us fall silent to mourn the loss of ordinary men  and women who have died when they need not have .
'Lets remember the words of Harry Patch, the last  surviving WW1' veteran who died  in 2009, who said "Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better  than legalised  mass murder."
As a healthy compassionate society let us fall silent  in  the hope that remembering  will prevent the tragedies of war and  the injustice and  the unnecessary human tragedy of loss that is caused and work together to prevent such occurrences from  happening again. Let us fall silent to remember victims on all sides of conflict,  broaden our focus to remember civilians of all nationalities who have been killed  and suffered in London, Hiroshima, Dresden, Baghdad, Belfast, Syria,Yemen, Afghanistan, Gaza and countless other places. across the world. Let us reclaim the poppy as a symbol of peace not as a symbol of war. Let us all become messengers of peace.

" Peace cannot be kept  by force, it can only be achieved by understanding. You cannot subjugate a nation forcibly unless you wipe out every man, woman and child. Unless you wish to use drastic measures, you must find a way of settling your disputes without resort to arms."

- Albert Einstein ( from Militant Pacifist, 1931)

A few links to  previous thoughts:-

Why I choose to wear a White Poppy

Shot at Dawn in the First World War and the Welsh opposition that seems to have been forgotten

Contribution to letter to Unknown Soldier Project

A Persistent Peace

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

The Gunpowder Plot - The Case for the Defence

November 5 is a date when Britons commemorate events that nearly changed the course of the nation's history when a plot by a gang of Roman Catholic activists  ended in failure.
.Catholics in the 1600's had to practice their religion in secret. There were even fines for people who didn't attend the Protestant church on Sunday or on holy days. James lst passed more laws against the Catholics when he became king.
Guido Fawkes was born Guy Fawkes on the 13th April 1570 in York. It is recorded that Fawkes lost his father at the age of eight; his mother then remarried a Catholic man, with Fawkes later converting to Catholicism in a country increasingly abhorrent of his new faith. For about 10 years, Fawkes fought abroad for the Catholic cause in Europe in the Eighty Years’War and it is here that Fawkes adopted the Italian name Guido for the remainder of his life
Fawkes returned to England with fellow English Catholic Thomas Wintour, who introduced him to Robert Catesby. There were 13 conspirators all together, with Robert Catesby being the true ringleader. Along with  other disaffected Catholics  they came up with a plot to overthrow the Protestant King and Parliament while they sat in November. Fawkes,  became the most well known since he was the one who was found with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellar underneath of House of Lords, caught after a tip off from an anonymous letter.
Upon his capture the government declared that ‘bonfires be lit’ to celebrate the King’s escape from death and for this to be repeated every year. It is from here onward perhaps, that the legacy of Guy Fawkes truly stems from. Defiant when captured, Fawkes remained resolute and unrepentant for his actions. He endured three days of torture, from the 6th to the 9th, until he fully revealed the names of his co-conspirators and their plan – by this time around half of his colleagues managed to evade capture. Fawkes, along with the other conspirators, were sentenced to be hung on the 31st January 1606 and quartered thereafter for high treason. Fawkes though was able to escape his full sentence. On the day of execution, he jumped from the gallows, breaking his own neck in the fall. Nonetheless, his corpse was quartered and sent to “the four corners of the kingdom.” The other men received the full measure of their sentences as a warning to other potential rebels.
 Fawkes at the time said his only regret was that the plot was foiled. When he was asked why he was found with so much gunpowder he said “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains.”
 Despite attempting to kill the new king of England, James I apparently praised Fawkes for being dedicated to his cause and for having a ' Roman resolution.'
 His capture has since been illustrated in countless schoolbooks, novels, popular works of history, and movies: a tall, bearded figure in boots, dark cloak, and dark, wide-brimmed hat. It is his figure that is still burned in effigy on bonfires around England every year on November 5.  A  much  maligned individual , but due to a deep undertow of popular discontentment has become a symbol of resistance. Possibly down to Alan Moore and his brilliant comic creation in V for Vendettas, the main character ‘V’ wears the ‘Guy Fawkes mask’ to hide his identity and instead promotes the idea of anarchy and freedom. The film concludes with him –successfully- blowing up Parliament. Across the world protestors started  wearing the stylised masks of Fawkes, some wore his mask as a symbol of their contempt for authority and government, reclaiming Guido as a symbol of hope and resistance.serving both a symbolic purpose as the spirit of rebellion, and a practical one in helping to hide the faces and identities of protesters from police. In this context, Guy Fawkes is a hero who fought, and won, against overwhelming odds..
Still though his effigy will be burned across  many place in Britain today, because of  his failure along with other Catholic conspirators to blow up the English parliament in 1605. They were viewed as  traitorous, treasonous terrorists, and treated accordingly.Largely secular now, the annual celebrations became a focus of anti-Catholic feeling.
They might have failed but their  memory still has a heavy resonance, and people are now finding other effigies to use instead.
Their is a well known phrase ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ The  act can be perceived as mindless violence or just necessity, depending on the attitude of those perceiving it. The changing perceptions of Guy Fawkes proves this. I am in no way condoning the way that some people choose to resort to extreme violence in order to make their point, but I do think we should be aware of the complex and subjective nature of the term ‘terrorist’, and should use it accordingly.
In the end Fawkes and his friends paid the ultimate price, and  although unhappy with the state of Catholicism in Europe, Fawkes would have happily seen a return of an autocratic Catholic monarch to Britain. Hero or Villain; it really depends on your interpretation of their legacy and your level of dissatisfaction with the world we live in today, to many a freedom fighter who in his time  stood up for the people of England, and against the oppression of the government, who still resonates deeply with the world we live in today. In the meantime carry on resisting, and if you must play with fire, please be careful out there, and don't get caught.

Remember, Remember the 5th of November,
Gunpowder , Treason and Plot
I know no reason why the gunpowder plot should ever be

Monday, 4 November 2019

Under the Influence

Smelt the sea
Tasted whisky
Under moon fall
The realms of ecstasy
Feeling magic, lots of love
The dawn of enlightenment
Releasing treasure
Leaving  me grateful
In blissful servitude
Every woman and man a star
With loves devotion life is victory
All of us equal, we can be free
In floating dreams awakening
The gift of prophesy
Where wild mushrooms grow
Let's forever dance in unity

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Deadly Depths - Cheryl Ann Jones

The solemn night, still and sunless
Grey myriads pervade  my doleful domain,
My springlike step, slow and downtrodden
Rendering my rainbow empty and futile,
Drifting directionless in the stony sky
Void of colour, grace and vitality.
Clouds of darkness, disperse their despondency
Swept along by surging currents,
Tight in the grip of an aphotic octopus
Sucking my soul down the serpentine route,
As droplets of joy drain from my being
Depressions dark enema delivers its shot.