Archive for July, 2006

Having been summoned from my pit to appear in the defence of left of centre politics I have been participating in an interesting discussion chez Vandeervecken. I have come across Orion before and he has largely resisted the urge to seriously debate, however on this occasion he has hung around long enough to make it interesting.

The fact that there are conservatives out there is no surprise to me but I am regularly amazed that there politics often appear to come from a shared viewpoint of spoon-fed information. Orion is at least a rareity in so far as he is prepared to debate when so many others will not but I have found the information that he offers to be rather formulaic. My concern is that perhaps it is just my reading of the events. I seem to find it very easy in my mind to refute much of the argument given by right-wingers, at least my argument seems sound in my mind but does it stand up to scrutiny? There are obviously facts that can be quoted to back up the arguments on both sides and even more so the perception of these facts but ultimately one has to choose which version of events one feels is the more objective. If some of the sources clearly have a reason for portraying events from a particular point of view then of course that must be borne in mind whilst reading.

I am therefore asking for any readers who fancy a good discussion of political theory to read through Vandeervecken’s blog entry and come back and lets have a dissection of what arguments work and what do not and why. This is not a back-slapping exercise of how clever or not we can be, it is important that arguments are analysed as to their strength or weakness. i do feel that we on the far-left spend much time amongst each other preaching to the converted because we are passionate enough in our beliefs that anyone to our right will not hang around long enough to engage in debate. It is vital that we have our beliefs questioned and that we in turn continue to read other points of view and interpretations of events so as to determine how strong our ideals and convictions are. Otherwise we are no better than the religious who adhere to an arcane set of beliefs in fear of the nihilism of the alternative.

Let me know what you think, by all means take part in the debate, then pull up a chair and a drink if you fancy, I’ve not got to go to work until mid-August so we can discuss until the wee hours!

Song Of The Day ~ Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

Original Comments:

Danny the Infidel made this comment,
I have always been in doubt of the real values of public debates, apart from showing that your still alive off course. Most of the people that are so intrested that they actually even consider to listen in, are often already “saved to the couse”, what ever it may be, and the ones that can be swayed by the outcome of a debate really no so little about the issue that I quiestion if they should have any say at all. Maybe a bit elitist to say so, but I’m tired of people voting for someone bcouse they have a smoth mouth and a nice tie.
But good luck anyway.

Song Of The Day~Beasty Boys~Sabotage

-Redbaron responds – Hi, Danne, good to hear from you again. I agree with you in the respect of the preaching to the converted which was precisely why I wanted to initiate a more analytical debate. This has quite clearly backfired on me since no-one appears interested in the debate so sadly, I shall bear the humiliation with good grace and continue with my essays.-

comment added :: 18th August 2006, 20:12 GMT+01 ::
haywood made this comment,
I must disagree with Danny on this one, not only for the reason that I was engaging our dear friend Orion before I was forced to allow Baron to tag me out, but for the reason that discourse between radically opposed viewpoints is sorely missed in all other forms of mass-media.
It’s fruitless and tedious I know, but I aint really got anything better to do .

Song of the day The Gunner’s Dream by Pink Floyd

-Redbaron responds – I wasn’t tagging you out fella, I wanted a 2 prong attack! I do also think that discourse between opponents is something of a lost art which is a shame because I enjoy it. Oh and I like both of you listing your own songs of the day in comments, I hope everyone does that, it’s a good insight into what is going on in a person’s mind as well as checking their musical tastes!

comment added :: 20th August 2006, 18:44 GMT+01 ::

thebandsm1.jpg The Best Things In Life Are Free

The Afterglow

Date: 20/07/2006   —   Free   —   Music

product page


As seems to be the norm I got the lethargy before the gig, which was surprising in one way because I’d been looking forward to the gig for some months and after the surgery saw it as being a date by which time I might be feeling a little better and more able to get out and about. The post-30 Baron though is made of sterner stuff and I know to conquer my incumbant sloth and get out there into the world. It is just as well I did.

I came across The Afterglow via myspace, since they spend a lot of time over in Italy this is quite a useful way for artists to get some airtime and I was pleased that the band’s myspace site offered their music for download so that I could listen to it at my leisure. Whilst they may be a band of Italians singing in English they are taken seriously enough to be working with producers like Steve Orton and have their music distributed through EMI. And I liked the music, a lot, it was just the right combination of rock and melody. I reviewed their second EP here and I wrote what I like to think were constructive and positive without being sycophantic comments about the songs they posted on the myspace site. Furthermore this gig was to be within throwing distance from home so it seemed only right and proper to give the band my support.


Playing a backwater pub and a specialist biker’s pub my be an interesting choice of venue but The Victoria is a friendly place if it’s website and consequent publicity is a little lacking. Support act for a more local band is also not exactly the stuff musicians dreams are made of but exposure is exposire after all. And besides, the venue was local for me so who am I to complain? The support slot is a variable one, over the years I’ve seen some really good bands play and some pretty poor ones as well, this is only the second time I’ve gone to a gig primarily to see the support since I saw Editors support Franz Ferdinand.

I stood somewhat alone at the soundcheck but the band played a couple of tracks and I tapped along. The drummer approached me afterwards and said “you seem to know some of our songs.” I replied that I did on account of having heard the tracks on myspace. “Are you Dom?” he asked, I replied naturally that I was and was subsequently greeted like an old friend by all of the band who then presented me with an advance copy of their album. It appears that my words of encouragement and reviews had been received warmly. I was slightly taken aback initially but delighted to be greeted thus and even more pleased to be invited to share dinner with them.


The band got up to play shortly after 9.30, they’d already bought me a drink and given me their album and first ep by this stage so I was in a good mood! Their set was 45 minutes and had the right mix of old stuff, new stuff, known stuff and unknown stuff. 4 out of the 9 tracks in their set are unreleased so even the die-hard fan will have something new. ‘All Of You’ their opening track is a foot stomper which I hadn’t heard before, then on to the familiar ‘Things I’ve Lost’ and ‘Journey’ followed by what seems to be one of the band’s old songs ‘Pride’. The musical style is good solid rock base with more accoustic verses, heavier in the Middle 8 and refrains. Dave’s accoustic guitar compliments Mik’s much heavier electric style whilst David on bass clearly has the talent and ambition to play good complicated bass rhythms.

At the opening to ‘Love’ the first single of the band’s that I came across, lead singer Dave dedicated the song to me personally as, “a new friend”, it was a touching gesture and if the band do manage to make it big and start playing stadia in the future it’ll be the moment I bore all my friends with for years to come. ‘Love’ is real single material, very catchy, and happens to have a video with some foxy chicks in it as well which never goes amiss!

I hadn’t heard ‘Guilty Lover’ before, it’s catchy and funkier than most of the other songs and it’s definitely worth keeping in the set, hopefully it’ll make an appearance on a future EP or the myspace site, well worth a listen. The backend of the set was ‘Supermarket’ from the forthcoming album followed by ‘Clown’ another of the band’s older songs. Finally they rounded of with ‘Nothing Happened’ which is also off the new album. The sound was right for the pub, they played the more load and upbeat of their tracks the set didn’t include the very excellent ‘Easy’ but in this venue at least it probably wasn’t missed by any but the afficianados.


I like the fact that the live performance is not a formulaic rehash of studio songs but a proper performance of the songs with all the nuances that a live performance should bring. One also has to bear in mind that to the band’s credit they were playing in sweltering heat under bright stagelights, it was sweaty for us watching, one can only imagine what it must have been like up there.

If the British can overcome their usual suspicion of anything foreign they will find The Afterglow very much in the tradition of their own rock music. There is a stream of bands that have fallen foul of this snobbish prejudice and the number of hits from outside the native anglophone world has been disproportionally minimal to the talent out there.

Of course such an evening’s wining and dining could lead to accusations of me being “embedded” with the band in the same way that US and UK journalists had travelled with the military during the invasion of Iraq, however I would like to think that I still have enough integrity left to be objective in my reviews, besides I was spared the quandry since the performance more than lived up to expectations and I can therefore, with a clear conscience, urge anyone near Camden Town and Liverpool over the next couple of days to go and see them and those in Oxford and London to keep in mind the September gigs, for the sort of small amount of money you are likely to have to pay if at all there is no question The Afterglow are probably the best value currently on the circuit.

Original Comments:

kevin g made this comment,
Concert sounded, from your review, as amazing. I’ve never heard of this band before, will have to study up on them. Thanks! Happened to tag using That Petrol Emotion, and your site came up, so I stopped by.

-Redbaron responds- Thanks for stopping by Kevin, any fan of That Petrol Emotion is a fan of mine, smashing group sadly missed. If you liked ‘Chemicrazy’ then I think you’d like The Afterglow a lot. If you go to their myspace site on the ‘more information’ link at the top of this review then you can download their songs for free and see what you reckon.-

comment added :: 22nd July 2006, 03:43 GMT+01

Greeting socialists, anarchists, communists, disenfranchised, dispossessed and free thinkers one and all and welcome to the 6th Blog Carnival of Socialism. I feel the timing of this carnival is particularly pertinent coming as it does almost exactly a year after the Make Poverty History March in Edinburgh on the 2nd July, the Carnival for Full Enjoyment and subsequent heavy-handed police action in Edinburgh on July 4th, the protests outside the Gleneagles complex where the G8 leaders were meeting on July 6th, the announcement of London as sucker host for the 2012 Olympic Games and the bombings in London on July 7th. As someone who was in Edinburgh at that time along with many other good comrades it is a privilege to be hosting this edition and I have enjoyed reading the submissions that have come my way. My thanks to all those who took the time to submit and to John Angliss who had the original idea and the presence of mind to get us all involved.

Comrades, I therefore present your Carnival Of Socialism #6: (the colour key for readers is that the green highlighted will take you to the main site whilst the red will take you directly to the article in question)

Riversider presents an easily accessible starting point for those looking to make a difference using the Blogosphere as their weapon – How To Build A Community Campaigning Blog.

Richard Estes, American Leftist debates the US policy on the remaining oil rich countries and looks at whether or not the chaos of the war in Iraq will have an effect on the way the US interacts with other countries – “101st Airborne, Neoliberal Division”

Mike McGehee of the libertarian socialist/anarchist blog “Truth Addict” breaks the mould of the stereotypical Texan “We Should Be Building Stalagmites of Unconditional Love” if one can retain hope and clarity in the lion’s den as McGehee has, it must surely be an inspiration for us all.

Reasonable Conservative Jon Swift debates the relative minutiae of camel and needle sizes in Warren Buffett Turns Against God posted at Jon Swift.

Andrew Rihn reinforces the mantra “those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it” in his appraisal of the US and Philipines Happy Filipino-American Friendship Day posted at And time yet for a hundred indecisions.

Not content with organising the whole Carnival of Socialism structure the tireless John has also been delving into the left-wing Blogosphere, he has found the following 3 articles which prove he must have far too much time on his hands!

The very reliable George Monbiot tackles a rather worrying trend in the rise of mental health disorders in the young.

The incomparably well-read and researched Le Colonel Chabert illustrates that proper political theory and critique is alive and well in Warrior Clerks. You’ll need your wits about you it is complex, erudite and fascinating.

In Welcome to Wonderland, Ravenblade offers us an alternative to the vacuous millionaire media version of international current affairs. He also has a rather nifty cartoon blending nazi symbolism, Bush and Cheney and a Disney adaptation of a classic children’s fairy tale!

Media Star Big John, still basking in the glory of his Guardian appearance contributes his case to be regarded as a Bollinger Bolshevik, minus the Bolly which he can’t afford on his pension!

Deborah Orr in The Independent says when referring to woman wearing the burkha and hijab “these garments are physical manifestations of outdated, cruel and degrading traditions.” Jim on The Daily (Maybe) argues eloquently that “No, actually the Saudi Arabian regime, and others like it, are the physical manifestation of the worst aspects of these traditions, but Orr chooses to focus all her bile on female immigrants.”

My long-standing Republican comrade Longrider is receiving visitors for musings of a more regal nature.

Durruti breaks the golden rule of polite conversation mixing both religion and politics in a good chewy piece Fundamentally Flawed where he seeks to bury the notion of ‘the enemy of mine enemy is my friend.’

The ever vigilant Lenin’s Tomb highlights the task facing Craig Murray, a man the government have taken a serious dislike to on account of an irritating habit of telling the truth. Murray faces court action and the gvernment is seeking to supress documents by Monday 10th July. it seems therefore all the more important that people see these documents, how they then choose to continue to diseminate this information is up to them but it cannot harm Murray’s cause if they continue to be in the open.

Whilst I would in no way seek to denegrate the importance of our Carnival and those who participate in it, it is important that we remember there are many would would seek to repress our message, some because they do not understand it and have been spoon-fed for so many years that they would be hard-pressed to know genuine political ideology if it bit them on the arse but others because they understand all too well just how dangerous to their prosperity any tinkering with the world order may be. There are already pin pricks in that great Hoover Dam of capitalism and it is our job to whittle and chip away and make the holes bigger until they can no longer be ignored.

It is our job to win over, or in many cases win back the indoctrinated whilst dismantling the ideology of the oppressors. The thanks we will get will be no more than the East German writers and thinkers who made up Neue Forum and brought about the first stages of the dismantling of the German Democratic Republic in 1988-9 but that does not and should diminish the importance and significance of the task.

That completes the submissions I have for this Carnival, it’s been my pleasure to host and therefore it is just left to me to thank you for reading and look forward to Carnival Of Socialism #7 chez Shane.

Blog Carnival archive - carnival of socialism

Blog Carnival submission form - carnival of socialism

ps. Keep an eye on the hit counter and if you happen to be the 250k make yourself known and you can have a free link.

Original Comments:

jr made this comment,
great roundup
-Redbaron responds – Thanks jr I’m glad you enjoyed it.-

comment added :: 12th July 2006, 20:55 GMT+01

I’m sure there are many people who will be doing retrospectives at the moment of the bombings that took place last year, some may also touch on the Live8 concerts. I was not a part of either of these events, I was however involved in the demonstrations in Edinburgh and Gleneagles which also took place this time last year. It is a participation of which I am proud, but I am disappointed that the impact of our actions was even less than our low expectations might have led us to believe.

There was a lot of hope from many quarters before the Make Poverty History march but this was largely from the liberal wing and the people excited by the frisson of doing something in protest that they wouldn’t normally have done. Those of us who’ve done this before at the ESF or the StW marches and politically-motivated marches in the past were not quite so hopeful. It’s nice that new people were involved and the atmosphere in Edinburgh was indeed very special but the rot had started some time before I arrived.

The decision some time after the MPH march in Edinburgh had been announced to host concerts on the same day in both London and Edinburgh seemed baffling, it would surely fractionalise the numbers attending the MPH march. The march had been arranged for the 2nd of July so as to coincide with the G8 Summit taking place in Gleneagles some miles to the north of Edinburgh starting on the 6th. Other events had been planned for the days in between but it was the MPH march which was to be the unifying force so to speak. It was to many of us a problem that the MPH campaign sought to distance themselves from seriously political intent, this was undoubtedly in order to maximise its appeal to those not usually interested in politics.

However being sceptical about a movement’s naivety and its likely failure to achieve objectives does not mean if those objectives are just that one should not lend ones support and seek by participating to make the movement stronger. Such a movement can only be changed and made to understand its shortcomings by those within and to carp from the sidelines but refuse to involve benefits no-one except those we are all opposed to.

The Live8 gigs seemed to be a popularisation of the issues, something designed just for a PR victory rather than serious intent. On a recent BBC TV program about the time last year one source within the Live8 camp stated, “Bob Geldoff wanted the big aerial shot of Hyde Park to show that there was this mass of people demonstrating for Make Poverty History” This of course is a ludicrous assumption. Most of the people at Live8 would have gone along regardless of whether there was a message behind it, it was a pop concert with lots of famous people and an event that would go down in history. You could have made the concert about some filthy rich woman’s anniversary and people would still have queued for tickets, oh wait sorry they did do that it was the Queen’s Jubilee concert at Buck House, oh sorry I forgot they claimed the reason for that was entirely philanthropic didn’t they, funny how suddenly the monarchy deigns to allow its subjects in, nothing to do with PR there either then.

However of course it wasn’t just Live8 which diluted the message and the impact of the MPH march, it was cleverly derailed from within by Gordon Brown and Hilary Benn who came out offering their full support. I remember all of us thinking at the time that the cynicism of this coming from the people who genuinely could make a difference if only they really wanted to.

It is easy to see that the genuine aims of the more serious political demonstrators were not shared by the political establishment because once the happy church groups and liberals had gone home from Edinburgh after the MPH march and the politicians had barricaded themselves behind the Gleneagles perimeter fences the full force of the police was brought to bear on the remaining protesters. Whilst I will not claim that I have Vietnam vet style helicopter flashbacks I will not forget

The sight of Geldof’s head on Blair’s shoulder coupled with the vacuous promises of the G8 leaders who simply repackaged measures they had already agreed to, whilst putting even longer time limits on them was sickening. The media lapping up this huge PR machine where the governments and rich elite sought to make people believe that they wanted to do something about the world’s poor was no surprise after all they are all part of this leviathan of exploitation. Let’s face it if the governments and rich really wanted to do change the world they’d do so not try to spend time and money convincing us to try to help them do so. We wouldn’t need to do anything except watch them redistribute the wealth but they won’t because they’re cunts and that’s why they have to be forced to do so by those of us with at least some sense of the moral outrage that is the state of the way the world is run.

And that is why we keep marching and writing and talking, to make people realise that this isn’t going away and they aren’t going to stop it because they are the ones responsible so we have to do it. The consequences of not doing so are all too evident of the other series of events which unfolded this time last year on the London Underground.

*I use the word cunts advisedly, not to try to be all vernacular for the sake of it but because it is perhaps the last taboo word left in modern English, a word with genuine impact and when it comes to the description of those that have raped the world and billions of those who live in it, I think its use justified.

Song Of The Day ~ Lush – Deluxe

Original Comments:

haywood made this comment,
Yes the smell of defeat is ripe, we must fight off this creeping malaise of apathy. On my second reading of 1984 I have come to many dulling truths. First most, we must realize a combination of laziness, stupidity and indifference has aloud small faction of fascists to take control.
The stage is set for 1984

The inner party of wealthy capitalists, controlling the air we breath

The outer party , any one that votes and tries hopelessly to change there fate while barely scraping by.

The “proles” basically the population south of the equator.

George Orwell, I miss you…

comment added :: 8th July 2006, 08:20 GMT+01 ::

We are all used to seeing and hearing of the policies and intentions of the far-right, and sadly it has become all too common to hear some of these policies repeated in a mainstream environment. It is bad enough that there are moves within law and order, asylum policy, pension and healthcare provision and benefits payments to become less exclusive, however to see the same rules being applied to education is chilling in the extreme. Creationism I have come across, the movement to promote it in the US has had an effect on the smaller Christian fundamentalist community over here who have begun lobbying for it to be taught in schools. Intelligent design was the next step, attempting to pervert scientific theory to back up a doctrine that has precious little factual basis and even less relevance.

There is no surprise that such religious fervour comes from the U.S. one of the most fundamentalist nations on the planet, just as one would not be surprised to hear Islamic views of a more conservative nature come from Saudi Arabia or Iran. I have heard much criticism from the Western world as to how the Islamic states and the Islamic faith discriminate against women. Much of this comes from what appear to be poor and selective readings of Islam or simply the interpretation of extremism as the norm rather than the exception.

Never has the hypocrisy seemed so acute as when I found out from National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People about LB1024 in Omaha, Nebraska which is a law to divide up school areas whose implementation will be very likely to reflect racial boundaries. It is again no surprise that a staunchly conservative and reactionary state such as Nebraska should be the first to run with such a plan but it is astonishing that this has not been thrown out by the legislature at some level. There is a word in Afrikaans that is familiar to most people that best describes racial segregation. The word is apartheid. However Nebraska’s record on segregation has not been exemplary. The U.S. Court of Appeals in 1975 found that Omaha Public Schools were segregated and therefore in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Subsequently Omaha Public Schools operate under a federal court order to desegregate until 1984 and continue to work on desegregation plans including bussing until 1999.

Of course whilst our education systems on the whole have done some work over the last 20 years to instill in us a degree of tolerance of the race of others the pressure to continue this tolerance in later life is rarely reflected. Some deference is made to equality in so far as it is enshrined in law that if you are caught exhibiting discrimination in public you can be liable to censure, however so much of our society continues to enshrine discrimination and fractionalisation. The demonisation of communists, trade unionists, homosexuals, asylum seekers and muslims to name a few over the last 20 years only goes to show how little tolerance society is prepared to show.

It does however concern me that there should need to be a National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, it seems to play perfectly into the hands of the right-wing who will claim that if you had a society representing the white community that there would be uproar. Whilst they may feel they have a point this argument can be easily countered by the accusation that white people do not need such an organisation because mainstream society works for their advancement anyway. This is only partially true of course and herein lies part of the problem, because there are a great many white people for whom society does not work in fact because there are precious few groups to represent the poor and the dispossessed who do not constitute a minority interest for the politically correct to lobby. I understand why a group like the NAACP exists, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable because it’s very raison d’etre acts as a constant reminder to us in society that we have continued to fail to address centuries of inequality and whether it be on grounds of creed, colour, gender or financial circumstance discrimination in our society is not only alive and well but in fact thriving. As somone on the political left I feel that assistance and empowerment should be as colour blind as the society we are hoping to create.

I cannot see the USA changing whilst bigots like Bill O’Reilly are allowed to spout lies masquerading as news on mainstream television. O’Reilly is an especially billious imbecile who thinks nothing of throwing his toys out of the pram if anyone should dare express a view that differs from his extreme right-wing ones on his program. In the case of Jeremy Glick, signatory to a US anti-war petition and son of a Port Authority worker killed in the 11th September bombings, O’Reilly thought nothing of bringing his father and mother into the debate, despite knowing of course neither of them, he presumtuously claimed that Glick’s father would not agree with his far-left views. Glick managed to retain his composure far more than O’Reilly and most non-brainwashed people would have said that the factual moral high-ground belonged unequivocally to him. After the program the producer and assistant producer told Glick to vacate the building because O’Reilly was liable to get violent if he ran into him. The next day O’Reilly was allowed to issue a sucession of lies pertaining to be a representation of Glick’s views with no right to reply.

This is not news, this is not even reasoned commmentary, this is simply a vehicle for fascism.

If you think that such a partisan news station cannot have any real impact on a democratic society I suggest you look a little closer at the facts. In 2000 when the US presidential election hung in the balance at 2am it was George Bush’s first cousin John Ellis, in charge of Fox News election night coverage who decided to go with the story that Bush had won the state of Florida. Shortly afterwards NBC/CBS and ABC all followed suit and predicted the Bush victory. Events over the following weeks have proven that there was no factual basis for Ellis’ assertion, the Associated Press stance at the time was that it was still too close to make any call, however the implications of Ellis’ actions couldn’t be more profound. In classic propagandist mode the perception, wrongly, became that Bush had won the election and therefore people were less inclined to question when the result was superimposed on them later.

Add to this the results of a recent survey in the US:

  • 33% of Fox viewers says WMDs were found in Iraq (11% of PBS viewers thought this was the case)
  • 67% of Fox viewers thought links had been found between Iraq and Al Queda (16% of PBS viewers thought this was the case)

“He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.” – George Orwell.

The trouble is there seem to be many groups who believe that the way around this is to protest outside Fox News offices saying ‘Down with this sort of thing.’ The vast majority of Americans just go on taking their medicine oblivious to there being any problem. Fox News is no more likely to give up partisan reporting than Bush and the right-wing fanatics to follow him will want to give up political power. And one serves the other. If you want the situation to change you and me are going to have to do something about it.

It is not just the US that is experiencing this stranglehold on objectivity, the inexhorable rise of the British Conservative party backed up by the Murdoch press is almost a mirror image of the US situation in 2000. The reason the rise of the British Conservatives is so remarkable is that they are garnering support without actually putting forward any policies. This is the most dangerous sort of political movement because it provides the same sort of political blank cheque that was given to Thatcher in 1979 and Reagan in 1980. And look at the shit that got us in!

Song Of The Day ~ Macy Gray – Do Something

Original Comments:

Inquisitor made this comment,
Damn good article. Good to see that this site is still kicking where it ought to hurt.
-Redbaron responds- Thanks Inquisitor I appreciate that. Who knows, one day if we keep plugging away…-

comment added :: 3rd July 2006, 15:38 GMT+01 ::