No to privatisation at the National Gallery!

March 28th, 2015

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Gaza demo London 9/8/14 Stop the Killing!

August 17th, 2014

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Rant 1/8/14

August 7th, 2014

‘Class and Art’

The existence of a class system in the arts is something few artists are inclined to admit to. Even those of a left-wing persuasion can get quite defensive if you suggest that some of their contemporaries are more equal than others. There are a number of reasons for this. They may be cultivating friendships with well connected “blue chip” art celebrities, or maybe they can see the finish line themselves but don’t want to be caught kicking clods of earth in the faces of their also-ran mates. The dismaying truth is that most artists are conservatives.

Naturally, building networks on the way up means keeping quiet about the rules of the game. If you don’t understand how to play it, don’t ask. Artists pretend to believe that the ‘art world’ is an international community of sympathetic souls stuffed with integrity, selflessly dedicated to the cultural cause, and bursting with bonhomie. And to be fair, some are. The ones that have a life in the arts that is. The earnest strugglers who clamber into positions of communal responsibility in teaching, setting up studios and running public galleries. These worthy, semi-pauperised foot soldiers, too nice to say no, find themselves gaping with astonishment at the antics of their more career-minded contemporaries. The ones that seem to command respect, while shamelessly brown-nosing, bigging themselves up and kicking everyone in the teeth.

As money gets tighter those artists with a genuine feeling for the wellbeing of the arts community may find themselves being shot by both sides in the fight for an equitable distribution of opportunities. Well, it’s an age-old problem. But just in time, a group of hard working, well-organised, politically literate individuals have jump-started the Artists Union England and it looks like a runner. Surplus Value seriously advocates joining as soon as possible. In the arts, the owners of the means of distribution are corporate interests and needless to say, critical or politically motivated art is out of the question. As state violence ramps up and civil liberties are eroded, artists need to create peer-to-peer networks, seize the channels of communication and make their dissenting voices heard.

www.artistsunionengland.org.uk

WW1 rant

April 26th, 2014

Funny how historians like to massage history. BBC pundits and WW1 experts are falling over each other in the media trenches to wax lyrical over this four year hell of mass slaughter. Paxo explains that this was a war we neither know nor understand (in other words buy his book!). An imperialist venture that killed 8.5 million is given the personal touch, focusing with microscopic detail on the experience of the average tommy. Letters, photos and personal effects help to shape our knowledge of a British working class who in 1918 wearily marched back home missing the odd one or two who had fallen in action: one million to be precise. As UKIP’s Farage lays a wreath, sobbing into his pint, he would do well to remember that 200,000 of the dead were recruited from our bloated empire.

Nobody talks about the industrialists on both sides of the barbed wired who made fortunes out of the munitions trade, carnage being a profitable business during both war and peacetime then and now. By 1914, advanced technology was able to create killing machines any Hollywood sfx designer would be proud of. These weapons of mass destruction were first employed during the Battle of the Somme, wreaking butchery unimaginable to your average Edwardian Oxford don.

Surplus Value opposes all imperialist ventures. Very little has changed over the last century. As the US and Russia eye up the potential spoils in the Crimea and Ukraine, multinationals sweat over the potential losses and gains. In the early 20th century there was only one honourable battle. This was the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia where workers took control of the means of production and their destiny. We very much doubt that in three years time Paxman will be publishing a book about this major triumph for socialism. Unless it’s to claim that revolution is impossible to understand.

Thatcher Rant

April 18th, 2013

Thatcher is dead and here at Surplus Value we’re jubilant. The Tory press are right; we’re full of hate. We hate injustice, oppression, bigotry and the parasitical classes that still infest our society. Thatcher was full of hate too. Hatred for trades unions, for teachers and nurses, for gay people, for feminists, for the idea of a caring community. Thatcher and her kind want a dog eat dog world where ripping off your neighbour is the key to success and where the privileged can live it up behind high gates. In her world every higher human instinct is derided and trampled and only the venal are rewarded.

We believe that most people are socialists at heart. Most people believe in fair play, in equal opportunities for all, in an impartial justice system and provision for the sick, the elderly and the poor. Jesus Christ was that kind of socialist and the only time he lost his temper was with the moneylenders in the temple.  But Thatcher wasn’t interested in any of that. She encouraged the moneylenders; flogged off social housing and then refused to replace it; criminalised even the mention of homosexuality in our education system; cut taxes for the rich by more than half and corporations from 52 to 35% and then tried to increase it for everyone else. She destroyed the manufacturing base of our economy, sent unemployment spiralling, decimated mining communities throughout the country and flogged off our national assets to pamper her pals. Just ask the Irish or the Argentineans or black South Africans about her brand of corner shop colonialism. The Big Bang she had with her b-movie buddy Ronald Reagan gave the world to the bankers and look what happened. Make no mistake; the name of the game was to create a global super rich elite and to screw everyone else.

By the time she’d done all that, even die hard Tories had had enough. And now, what’s left? A burned out husk of a nation where only the affluent can get ahead and where there are no jobs, no homes and no prospects unless your daddy owns the company. Don’t be fooled by the spin. In Tory speak, ‘freedom’ is freedom for the rich and ‘choice’ is choice for those who can pay. Karl Marx said capitalism turns all relations into money relations but for the Tories that would be paradise. We believe nobody really wants that.  Thatcher said there would never be another socialist government in Britain. It’s the one thing she’s been right about so far. It’s time to prove her wrong.

Rant 18/11/12

November 18th, 2012

Yet again, for the umpteenth time and with predictably devastating results Israel has been ‘protecting’ its borders and civilian population. So far, this entails over 200 airstrikes on Gaza, with enough firepower to flatten Wales rather than a strip not 30 miles long. Gaza, the biggest open prison on the planet, will endure bombardment, slaughter and condemnation in equal measure. It will be derided for having the temerity to democratically elect Hamas, one of the few organizations resisting the apartheid state of Israel in its collective punishment of Palestinians.

Casualties will occur on both sides, however the death toll inside Gaza will be a hundredfold greater and its infrastructure will be shattered beyond repair. In January 2009 Operation Cast Lead saw the Israelis murder over 1,300 civilians, 500 of them children. Not one single western media empire (that’s Fox News & Sky to you and me) cared to mention the dropping of phosphorous bombs, chemical weapons outlawed by the international community. The USA, UK and other European defenders of freedom arm Israel to the teeth. This is not a David and Goliath combat; it’s like a five year old going into battle against an 18 stone rugby player.

Western leaders will call for restraint whilst the troops will swell Israel’s borders waiting for the air assault to meter out as much devastation as is humanly possible within a 24-hour period. Obama, Cameron and co will regret the loss of life and discuss lasting peace, knowing full well that the vice like pressure of the Zionist lobby in both countries will block any meaningful intervention.

Palestine’s only genuine hope comes from within the Egyptian revolution. A demand for real economic sanctions against Israel and the opening of its borders to bring aid and support is the immediate need for the people of Gaza. Talk of restraint will be drowned out by the piercing vengeful scream of F16 fighter-bombers.

TUC march London 20/10/12

November 2nd, 2012

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November 2nd, 2012

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November 2nd, 2012

Rant 10/7/12

July 10th, 2012

Tory think tankers must be busting a gut tarting up the tripe they spew into what’s left of our working lives on a daily basis. Their ramshackle plans for employment law reform are a cheap veneer on the medieval nonsense that was used to justify tax cuts for the rich. Are we really meant to believe that the boss class will hire more readily if they can fire at will or that they’ll stop avoiding tax if we don’t ask them for any? Have the struggles of countless working people over 2 centuries of class war been in vain? Well of course not. We have to fight on, but nevertheless all of us are being subjected to a foul dripping poison concocted to induce blind bigotry. How else could they get away with blaming 120,000 families for ruining society and not get laughed out of office? Or is it just a coincidence that the last time we had full employment we also had the lowest crime levels on record?

Cameron scapegoats to perfection, particularly when old Tory farts start bellyaching that he’s not right wing enough. Jimmy Carr may be a selfish prat but he’s not Philip Green is he? This kind of shabby manipulation of public opinion is a Tory speciality but when it comes to attacking the nations unemployed youth and evicting them from their digs, nobody is going to wear it. Welfare mums, rioting yobs, benefits scroungers and all the other straw targets of Tory folklore are shoved in the stocks and pelted on a weekly basis while the lords of the manor are getting away with supping all and paying nowt. How do they try to blind us to this injustice? By pretending to be personally outraged at tax avoidance and then forgetting to do anything about it. By pretending to be gobsmacked at their chums in the banks for ripping us off with made up interest rates, and then quietly doing nothing about it. But God help you if you pinch some trainers.

We live in a country where the richest pay on average 10% tax and we’re supposed to swallow austerity as though it’s going to cure all. Tory wolves dress up as sheep and then bleat into their media foghorns about choice and freedom and because you’ll never hear a socialist on the BBC, nobody will point out that in the great LibCon trick only cash can buy you a future. Instead of staffing the Revenue so they can snatch back the £120 billion that the bloated top dogs avoid stumping up every year they cut it back by 30,000 jobs. Instead of pumping this lost cash into the NHS they declare it bankrupt and sell it off to profiteers. And throughout this flagrant asset stripping the same voices keep talking up the same tattered crap about standards, entrepreneurship and deregulation. Smug snouts from the same trough grunt on about not blaming the great business minds in the City for lying and robbing; we must encourage them to invest in the nation for all our sakes. Meanwhile in France, President Hollande plans to introduce a 75% tax on incomes over 1 million euros. After 30 years of avaricious global business elites running rampant hoovering up our wages at last someone is going to make them cough some back up. What did Cameron say? “Ooh they’re welcome to come here if they want”. But ask yourself how often are rats seen boarding a sinking ship?