Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A New Blog

Hi there,

Readers will have noticed that my updates have dropped off a bit recently. The good news is, I've co-founded a collaborative blog called The Great Unrest with some other writers, including Roe Valley Socialist.

I don't intend to wind up this blog, but most of what I write will now be over at The Great Unrest. So head over and check it out.

Monday, 5 July 2010

I Read Some Marx (And I Liked It)

Hat tip to Everyone's Favourite Comrade, for drawing my attention to this Katy Perry parody. I can't decide whether it's good or terrible.

Monday, 28 June 2010

England players to be evacuated from South Africa by fleet of small ships

A rag-tag fleet of volunteer ships is assembling at Ramsgate for the purposes of evacuating the England football team from South Africa following their 4-1 defeat to Germany in the second round of the World Cup.

A spokesman for the FA said, “Even if Fabio Capello's reign lasts for a thousand years, men will still say that this was his finest hour.”

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Whig Interpretation of Football

Apologies for the continued irregularity of posts. This is because my life, like a Jabulani ball, is incredibly difficult to control.

England's World Cup performance has fallen well below even my ultra-pessimistic expectations. It's not only the results, but every aspect of the performances, that has disappointed. We have been subjected to a sort of school playground shadow-football that Franz Beckenbauer has called “kick and rush.” The hit-and-hope long ball game has bypasses the central midfield and leaves out two of England's three truly world class players, Gerrard and Lampard. The only natural left-winger is the squad hasn't been on the pitch for so much as a minute. Argentina have Champions League winner Diego Milito on the bench. Brazil brought on Dani Alves as a substitute against Ivory Coast. Who do England have warming up on the touchline? Michael Carrick and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

At least all this has done much to dispel what we could call the Whig Interpretation of Football. The idea that the English, as the inventors of football, have a god-given right to win and are on a consistent path towards recapturing the “Spirit of '66” has in the last few days started to disappear from all but the most deluded football-patriots in the media. The four-yearly mantra that this time is our best chance since 1966 is being replaced by the realisation that England's best chance to win since 1966 was, and remains, Mexico 1970.

Nevertheless, the Whig Interpretation of Football clings on. How often do we hear that all England need to do is “warm up” and “get into their stride” to become world-beaters? Or it's the Italian manager playing a rigid formation and not allowing the players to be “creative.” We can expect a football-patriotic backlash to bring back an English manager. The determination to blame foreigners is shown in many of the comments here.

England are not the only team with their problems on the pitch. The response of the French players has been to go on strike at the way their Federation is being run, although this is probably a case of donkeys led by donkeys, as it is with England. This, of course, received far more media attention than the real and much more important strike of security stewards, one of many groups of South Africans for whom the World Cup has been bad news. The Spanish, on the other hand, bounced back by actually playing some football.

We can only hope.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

LEAKED: Niall Ferguson's plans for history curriculum

When the hell of Finals is over I'll write something serious about this, but until then...

Module 1 - How Britain made everything
Candidates will learn about the ingenuity of British entrepreneurs throughout the ages. The invention of the spinning jenny, the railways, motherhood and apple pie will be discussed.

A year of this course will bring children up to man-in-the-pub levels of knowledge, reciting facts like “We Used To Make Stuff In This Country” and “Things Were Better Back Then.”

Don't mention: Children working 16-hour days.

Module 2 - Empire: Good? Or Great?

Was the British Empire merely good, or was it the best thing ever? This is the question taken up in this exciting and challenging module. Empire definitely did not destroy cultures; there was nothing worth speaking of before Europeans got there anyway. It definitely did not create famines by tearing apart social and economic fabrics in short periods of time; they were just coincidences.

Children will be taught how to tell when something, for example the use of arbitrary violence to enforce power over an entire population, was an historical aberration, no matter how consistently it occurred.

The central theme of the module will be the indisputable historical fact that democracy and free commerce go hand in hand. Just ask the people of Chile.

Don't mention: Amritsar, the Opium Wars, the Black and Tans, Surabaja, the Malayan Emergency, etc, etc

Module 3 - From Churchill to Gove: Great men of history
In order to construct a forceful national myth/narrative, it is essential to study the lives of those we wish to emulate. This means people relevant to today, like empire-builders and statesmen, not anachronisms like trouble makers, rebels, trade unionists and the like.

Don't mention: Any of this.

Module 4 - The history of TV history
Candidates will be taught how to sensationalise events and be revisionist for the hell of it. Particular emphasis will be placed on how the 20th century was one long, contiguous conflict which can be conveniently be divided into separate episodes of a TV miniseries.

Other skills will include getting the most out of one's media connections, and learning how to pull off the smug smirk of the self-assured TV historian in front of camera.

Don't mention: Time Team.

Module 5 – Who would win in a fight between Orlando Figes and Robert Service?

This one's just for fun.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Ladsheviks and North Koreans

Once the horrors of finals are over, I will be able to face the horrors of the awful Victorian-Friedmanite Tory-Liberal govt that now reigns supreme over us. Until then, here's a couple of joke items. One inspired by a funny news story, the other by the fact that we all must prepare for disappointment by choosing one non-English team to support at the World Cup.*

New Reality TV Proposal

Following the news of RMT General Secratary Bob Crow's recent behaviour at a football match, an idea for a new TV show has been pitched to the networks. Crow apparently shouted and even swore, behaviour that is totally alien and unacceptable to the vast majority of fans of the People's Game.

The new TV show (working titles include "ComLAD", "LADshevik" and "Bob Crow beats up EVERYBODY") will consist of the militant union leader beating up a new public figure every week, before discussing questions of politics within trade unions, and trade unions within wider politics.

Series One will consist of the following episodes:

1. Wille Walsh
2. Nick Clegg
3. Boris Johnson
4. Sir Alan Sugar
5. Lee Clark

Fourth International (Fifaist) Statement on the Forthcoming World Cup

The Fourth International (Fifaist) announces that in the upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa we will be giving footballing, but not political, support to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It is essential for all socialists to support the degenerated workers' football team inasmuch as they represent a progressive alternative to the market-driven and patriotic "football" which has duped the working class for too long.

While drawn in the so-called "group of death", the DPRK is confedent that the only teams to meet their "death" will be the imperialists of Portugal and their running dogs in Brazil and the Ivory Coast. A victory for the DPRK in the group stages can weaken the strangehold of the bureaucracy and hasten a political revolution in the North.

For every Drogba, Kaka, and Ronaldo there are a million proletarians willing to give their life for the resistance!

* Mine is really the Netherlands, not North Korea.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Some Election Predictions

I feel like it's close enough to the time now to put my non-existent reputation on the line and utter some predicitons for the election. A mixed bag of the positive and negative.

* More people will vote Tory than the polls are saying right now. Final percentages wil be something like Con 36, Lab 29, LibDems 26.

* Labour will beat the LibDems into third in the popular vote.
No-one really likes Clegg, it's all a media shitstorm. Besides, we've been here before in '83. There will be a slight rally back to Labour in the heartlands, might not help them much in terms of seats, but it will ensure a bigger share of the vote than the Liberals.

* Until recently I thought the Tories would get a slim majority. I still think they could, but a more likely outcome might be they fall just short and govern as a minority (perhaps with Democratic Unionist help). Then we have to repeat this whole circus with a second election in a few months time. Cleggy won't get his PR, unfortunately. Not just yet.

* Salma Yaqoob will win Birmingham Hall Green for Respect.
Seems like the campaign is going well, Labour look increasingly desperate. An added bonus that I get £85 if she does. I don't know much about Respect's chances in the East End, but I'm inclined to say they won't win either of their targets there.

* Caroline Lucas will narrowly win for the Greens in Brighton Pavillion, but they won't get any other seats.

* Griffin won't win a seat for the BNP. If they had a shot at winning in more than one constituency, they might sneak in somewhere. But enough anti-fascist resources will be concentrated in Barking to deny him a victory.

* The far left vote will remain in the 1-2% bracket, with some exceptions like Dave Nellist and David Henry who will save deposits and possibly do even better.

* I will get very drunk on election night provided I finish this fucking essay before then, and probably have to spend it surrounded by insufferable Tories and insufferable Liberal Democrats (this is Cambridge).

So what do you think?