Tag Archive: capitalism

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine — the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you.”  – V For Vendetta

Do not let the media whitewash dictate what you believe, do not let the media or your leaders tell you what you should be thinking.  If in another context someone was consistently failing to be able to build something and charging you a fortune for the privilege of their mistakes you might think of getting another builder.  Capitalism isn’t broken, it was never the raw materials to build a fair society.  It is time to tear it down and start again, what the new structure will look like we’ll have to discuss and try some things out, but let’s not live in a house with no roof just because we’re scared we’ll have to live in a tent for a while whilst we build a proper house.

These are our countries, our cities, our streets, our homes.  We owe it to our children, our children’s children and our disenfranchised and dispossessed brothers and sisters across the world and their children.  It may be the only way we may look ourselves in the mirror.

Song of The Day ~ Moloko – The Time Is Now

Now that grabbed your attention didn’t it?! I’m sure no-one would expect me to be a believer in the right-wing theory that it’s all bollocks and just a trojan horse for the environmentalist lobby. Bear with me, I have not suddenly had a Road to Damascus (Texas) conversion!
What is quite clear is that there are those from a scientific perspective who say that climate change is a real threat and is either caused by, or exacerbated by the emissions and profligacy of humans. There are also those who claim that climate change either does not exist or is merely a cyclical meteorological pattern that has existed for as long as the Earth has and will continue to change the base climate regardless of the actions of the beasts living on the planet. What I do not understand is how this can have been the prevailing argument for so long when it could be rendered easily redundant. What this has in fact done is given the neo-liberals and neo-capitalists a chance to fudge the issue and spend endless years comparing the science and statistics of various positions, which the politicians have then picked up on and postulated at the relevant summits in order to not actually do anything about it.

What remains an issue without contention is the fact that we are running out of the substances that currently form the backbone of our energy provision. There is no science to suggest that this has been a hoax, the debate is merely over just how long each substance will last until it is exhausted. For some of us it will be within our lifetime, for others it may be in the lifetime of our children.

There are many potential reasons for this obfuscation of the real problem. Firstly for the corporations that have a vested interest in the energy industries their agenda is to maximise their profit for as long as possible whilst at the same time allowing themselves time to put the feelers out into other markets that they may be able to control to the same extent as they do at present. If one believes in a capitalist system of business, profit and market economics one can hardly blame them for this, to do anything else would be not to be fulfilling their mandate to maximise the companies profits.

[Some might say that this is an over-simplification and that companies have a vested interest in making research and development key in order to continue their dominance of the market but this is, in my opinion, not to take account of the very basic facts that the heart of capitalist ethic is to take more out than you put in, this is profit. The less you can put in and the more correspondingly you can take out the better the profit and the higher the sense of success. In times when money and industry abound inward investment may be seen as a good idea but in times of economic downturn the demands of the shareholders do not decrease as their purses are stretched but the company’s access to money will diminish. The pressures therefore to take higher risks are dramatically increased, as again can be seen from the example of the banks.]

In addition to the corporational involvement one must consider the governmental angle in this. For the United States the demise of oil will be something of an economic catastrophe and not simply because they run larger and less fuel-efficient cars than anyone else. The US economy is propped up by the very fact that oil is generally traded in dollars, this trade is one of the principle reasons why confidence has remained in the US economy and the US is more than a little keen to preserve this as can be seen by the measures they will go to in order to protect this trade. Already the US has declared oil fields legitimate military targets, it has engaged in war on Afghanistan on dubious premises in order to protect the Caspian oil and gas pipeline and then shored up control of the Iraqi oilfields by illegal regime change and the installation of a puppet state. It has declared as an ‘axis of evil’ those states that have attempted to switch their oil trading currency to Euros. It is true that much of the reason for the change in these countries policies is to be specifically antagonistic to the US but that in itself is not a crime, and neither is their choice of currency. However without the trade in oil there will be less investment in dollars, without that investment the US economy will no longer have sufficient confidence to hold the debts it is currently allowed to hold and loans will be called in. It is on a larger scale again the same situation as has happened to many of the banks over the last twelve months.

The cost of not changing the methods by which we power our economies is that we will enter a period of drastic inflation of energy prices without the wherewithal for most ordinary people to be able to source their energy from elsewhere. This means that the energy shortage will hit the poorest the worst. As the debates continue so the time within which to do something about it diminishes and therefore the costs to actually make a wholescale change in time rise substantially. It is worth remembering that it is not merely individuals that will suffer from massively higher energy prices, so too the small business will become less and less viable as their smaller profits will be eaten up by larger overheads. We are likely to be left with the larger conglomerates that have, at least in the short-term, the profit margins to absorb some of these increases. Of course the conglomerates will have more of a monopoly at this point and will be able to pass on price rises to the customers, the lesser choice coupled with the likely rationing of fuel will make customers far more hamstrung than they are used to being now.

One of the critical things that illustrates graphically that people in power have not grasped the true nature of the problem is that the main governmental force for an energy replacement is nuclear power. It may well be that nuclear power is a lower-carbon method of power generation but this reduction comes at an extremely high price. The dangers of nuclear waste and potential for nuclear meltdown are well-known and in their worst case scenario quite catastrophic, one must add to this the security risks of nuclear weapons and also the fact that if using Uranium there is a finite resource, if Plutonium then the resource is less finite but the risks higher.

Why is it therefore that each new house is not being built with solar panels on its roof? Why are the larger rivers and estuaries not being looked at for tidal, and why critically are schemes such as large scale solar panel development in the Mediterranean or Atlantic which could power much of Europe not being given cross-national funding in order to be online as soon as possible. Instead people are being asked if they like windfarms and many communities have responded that they do not and do not wish such ‘eyesores’ to be in their vicinity. One does wonder how many of said communities would prefer a nuclear reactor blocking the skyline? Furthermore it is quite clear that these communities are being allowed to take a purely selfish view, or the smaller picture of the view through their window rather than looking at the bigger picture of whether a country’s economy survives and all the comforts they are used to alongside it. In my view communities that wish to ensure they are not in the target areas for sources of renewable energy should be allowed to remove themselves from the national grid and be responsible for sourcing their own power. If they produce a net surplus then they may choose to sell this back to the national grid thus not only creating a disincentive for disassociation but perhaps an incentive for very small areas that do wish to be progressive. Areas such as these would remove further pressures on the national grid itself and give impetus to communities looking at being ahead of the game. A community that is self-sufficinet in power terms is far more likely to be able to withstand the further pressures (should there be any) of global warming.

For industrial purposes it is not feasible solely for each community to generate power for its inhabitants and there needs to be a greater range of solutions to cater for the larger users. These should be looked at where possible in offshore solutions. Companies that pay money to research and development of renewable sources of energy provision should be given subsidised energy prices for any of such energy that is generated. Companies that do not can pay tax on the fossil fuel generated energy that can and should solely be used for further development and construction of renewable sources of energy.

In the case of transport infrastructure must be replaced and set up to ensure that those who do not wish to use cars should have a viable alternative both financially and logistically. Those using cars where such an alternative exists can be taxed and this revenue ring-fenced for transport spending to increase and improve the network. Transport must however come under the umbrella of local government, it must have as its primary function the service provision and not that of making a profit. Each town must have a railway station and each village at the very least a regular bus service to the nearest amenities including hospital, schools, shopping, railway station and industrial parks.

In the case of foodstuffs it is ridiculous for farmers in Africa to be growing cash crops that are transported by air to western countries whilst millions on the continent go hungry. this must be seen as a supra-national problem and not an “I’m all right jack” situation. The West must look after its own food needs and we should all get more used to eating the food that is seasonal and can be transported short distances easily. There are many methods by which such food can be saved throughout the year so as to vary diet.

You may be under the impression that renewable energy cannot sustain large economies and is therefore only feasible as a part of the solution, but this is information generally fed by an ill-informed media and those with an agenda, whether hidden or otherwise. Scientists have in fact calculated that a large solar panel development in the Western Med/Atlantic could generate most of the power for the whole of Europe. of course politically this would necessitate an interesting set of compromises but nevertheless it proves that such methods can be employed were the will and then the finance there to support them.

It is likely that at present we still have another fossil fuels left that we have the ability to make up the shortfall whilst we increase renewable energy to take over full capacity, there will however be a tipping point at which there will not be enough left to do this. I am at present at a loss to see just how a move to a renewable economy is in any way a bad idea, it completely transcends the climate change argument because it makes long-term social and economic sense, if therefore it could be implemented we would see the results of the climate change argument from the position of already having safeguarded our economies and development. Where is this not a win-win?

Song Of The Day ~ Nubla – Nada Se Olvida

Dark Horizons

It is easy to dissent when the danger is in the shadows
when the consequences are not looking you in the face
they watch you now from behind desks and computer screens
and make their notes in secret without public trace

this is an uneasy period of silent menace
a time of looking at the grey clouds in the sky
the knowledge that there may be greater darkness yet to follow
that may be precipitated within the twinkling of an eye

I cannot say I will be brave if they should come for me
I cannot promise not to buckle under stress or pain
I can only hope that courage will be looked on as having got me there
and that the courage of others might help get me out again

But I would rather live in fear and be able to look myself in the mirror
than be ignorant of what this world is doing to the people who walk the street
and as I sit in comfort as many thousand others
blessed by birth not to be one of those millions who have nought to eat

the age is coming where we will be defined by actions
and we shall see who chooses to stand up and fight
but I suspect the Western world is populated by far too many
who think that they will not be woken by them coming in the night

it seems far-fetched to believe such horror could be just around the corner
we are used to reading such atrocities in the annals of the history books
but ask yourself now were you one of the dreaded asylum seekers
whether you might not receive those same historical dirty looks

Sleep well my friends and think not who has their finger on the button
dwell not upon those in darkened corridors who pull the strings
but keep perhaps in mind to be careful what you say in conversation
for will you really know who’s listening next time the phone rings?

Song Of The Day ~ The Wedding Present – Brassneck

Football’s about money
and not the game at all
pretty soon it’s academic
if they ever kick a ball

Russian billionaires
launder funds through wealthy teams
and supporters see new signings
like the coming of their dreams

but this isn’t entertainment
and it isn’t for the fans
and putting smiles on youngsters faces
is not the zenith of their plans

as the bread line gains each day
ever more recruits
so the game is being raped
by the men in fancy suits

the sums that they are paying
would build hospitals and schools
but the profanity of this
is they’re not breaking any rules

is it right to pay admission
to watch such a sordid game
and so to line the pockets
for those who only care for fame

is not the true supporter
one who spends their hard-earned cash
on the supper for their children
not prima donnas on the lash

but the money isn’t wed
to Man U or Liverpool
and if you think they care for Britain
then you surely are a fool

Song Of The Day ~ Stereophonics – A Thousand Trees

Money doesn’t grow on trees
yet it seems to do for banks
and the coffers overflow when it comes
to submarines and tanks

nuclear deterrent
the supposed death of classes
one wonders if the people
will ever get up off their arses

final salary pensions now
a relic of the past
and it isn’t clear at all
how long the NHS will last

house prices over precipice
inexorable rise in rents
pretty soon it ain’t the campers
who’ll be living out of tents

the lottery seduces
with the tag “It could be you”
whilst punitive taxes
serve but to turn the screw

can alternative systems
really be so bloody worse
when we’ve boxed up civil liberties
and manuflected at its hearse

where now the fear of chaos
what comfort are your Gods
whose books are full of platitudes
for malleable sods

the consent is manufactured
the narcosis fed by drip
and freedom’s only realised
when the body bag is zipped

It’s time to shuffle off the yoke
before this mortal coil
and show that people are not pawns
in chess games played for oil

Song Of The Day ~ The The – Jealous Of Youth

Cruel Britannia

We slide headlong to recession
voyeurs of social oppression
watching politics trangression
have none the stomach to fight back

as they pass laws that oppress
leave the healthcare in a mess
the balance of wealth they’ll not redress
but receive precious little flack

education becomes training
and it’s acid that its raining
why are none of you complaining
is it not time to attack

do you think you’ll have a pension
at the end of fiscal tension
do you think they’ll even mention
when they stab you in the back

watch it disappear at your cost
and when you realise what you’ve lost
on the scrapheap you’ll be tossed
in their cutting of the slack

I’m no soothsayer or a sage
it’s just clear on every page
the destruction of this age
Time to don the cloak of black

Song Of The Day ~ Editors – The Racing Rats

When considering such questions as what to do now one must decide whether this is to be ‘blue sky’ thinking unfettered by cynicism or prejudiced by what one think might happen or to be realistic and try to fashion ideas based around current thinking.  As I have myself criticised the current thinking and those who continue to limit themselves by trying to come up with solutions from inside a very small box I have to try at least to look at the former strategy.

Climate change is something that must be looked at.  One could sit and argue as to how much of the statistics are true, whether or not we have already passed the tipping point, when exactly fossil fuels will run out but this totally misses the point.  Such arguments are only really pertinent when one is considering simple short-term economics, there is every reason to look to change the nature of our oil-based high carbon economy because in the long run sustainability and renewable energy makes better sense than not.  It is also an excellent time to use the great many unemployed, there are consturction workers currently being paid by the state not to work when at the same time there are a great many who do not have a home, this would appear to be a marriage made in heaven, it would enable the state to stop paying to house people in shelters and B+Bs and temporary accommodation whilst using the skills and the labour of people it would be having to pay for anyway.  Add to this the re-enfranchisement of the builders themselves.  This type of example works in a number of cases, during a recession, especially in this country with the almost extinct manufacturing industry there are a large number of disused factories, these can be used for things that would otherwise be waiting around for the premises in which to build them.  A policy of using these factories to subsidise renewable energy and build wind turbines, solar panels, Hydro Electric Power components and tidal equipment would be an excellent use of the land and the facilities and mean that production could start sooner rather than later.  There are the mechanisms to do all this, it is the will that is lacking.

In essence the financial crisis could have proven to be the best thing that happened to the world, especially to the United States, it would be all too easy for the American electorate to feel that the job is now done, the Bush administration is now gone and a new dawn is heralded with a “Yes, we can” mentality.  However this is only the start, the USA must seek to rebuild international relations on trust not bullying and military might, it must seek to adjudicate struggles on judicial and humanitarian grounds and to do so it must first sign up for the same responsibilities that it expects other nations to do namely the international criminal court.  It must put the issues of Cuba, Venezuela and Palestine behind it and acknowledge that the policies of America first do not only harm other nations but they will come back to bite America itself in the arse.

Likewise for other nations the economic meltdown should be the proof, if any further were needed, that the current system of free market within large conglomerate fortresses and the mortgaging of multiple generations futures to business is to go into the future utterly blinkered and disregards the lessons of history as well as ignores the present.  When Groucho Marx went to his broker in 1928 and said he did not understand how the share prices continued to rise he was given the answer that it was now a global economy and therefore things were different to how they had been before.  In October 1929 when Wall St crashed people said then that this couldn’t be happening, people’s previous access to easy credit dried up and brokers called in the loans and threatened to sell all stocks if they weren’t repaid, which most couldn’t be and this fuelled the crash.

It appears though that the politicians are no more inclined to learn these lessons than the bankers are, content to expect that things will come good in the end.  What they fail to look at is the lives of those too irreparably damaged by the downturn to be able to benefit from any upturn.  These people are the great economic collateral damage of capitalism, and since armies show no mercy in that regard so one should not expect any from the armies of bankers and politicians on the take who sit around tables like First World War generals charting the positions of where people will be wiped out.

Is another world possible – well it must be, after all one existed before capitalism so there is nothing to suggest one cannot exist after it, and a great many would say the sooner we go down that road and seek it the better.  I cannot think of a better way to finish than with another Einstein quote:

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.

Song Of The Day ~ Kings Of Leon – Genius

As I had this one as a work in progress I see Big John has beaten me to it.  However John and I are coming from a very similar perspective and I find his post lends weight to my assumptions as he has a little more life experience of the days before ‘the man’ took over than I do.

I find it interesting that one of the principle criticisms of what many see as having been the embodiment of Communism is that everything is required to be the same, no variation because all is dictated by the State.  Leaving aside for the moment whether what they are basing this on is a valid system of comparison or whether this idea of a uniform-requiring State is correct to any left-wing ideology I wanted to try to see just how the alternatives to anything left of centre manufacture this difference, if they do so at all.

If one looks across the Western world and in particular the United States the reach of the corporations is practically all-pervasive across the board.  From one town to the next there is a worrying homogeneity that renders each town devoid of any singular identity.  Much of this can be seen most graphically in comedian and broadcaster Dave Gorman’s Unchained America in which Gorman seeks to travel from Los Angeles to New York without paying any money to ‘the Man’ ie the chain corporations of America.

Gorman’s choice of vehicle may be more in keeping with the romantic wooly ideals that one starts any such road trip rather than to do with any practical study as to what sort of vehicle one might actually need in order to safely conduct a trip but this in a way is part of the charm, along with his tendency to veer off at tangents that make interesting broadcasting if not fiscally or physically prudent.

Gorman’s presumption is that the trip will be relatively straightforward but this proves to be far from the case.  On his trips into towns called Independence across America, he finds either that the faceless corporations have rendered the town utterly indistinguishable or that the few places of character and individualism are in terminal decline, one particular gem closes on the very day he is there having served as a diner for the community for over 60 years.  It will not be replaced and is unlikely to be revived.

Interestingly the smaller independent places whilst ‘economically unstable’ do sometimes fulfil more one of the fundamental points attributed to Marx and Engels namely to provide workers with more of a stake in things and therefore an interest into their success.  There were numerous examples of multi-generational working through the family business.  It is not surprising that in this situation these people care about the business in which they work and the community feel of such places can lend itself to a belief that one is providing a service to the wider inhabitants and not merely in the pursuit of profit.  Of course this is not always going to be the case and standard employees may feel no more empowered than were they to be working at K-Mart or Wall-Mart or AN Other-Mart.

The people running these independent premises tend to be those with a sense of family tradition or occasionally a sense of the absurd or the non-conformist as embodied in the dog-shaped hotel that Gorman stayed in en route.  These are people, generally 50 and older who have lived through times where the homogeneity was not so pervasive, the 1950s with smaller more intimate shops outside and even often inside the cities, the 1960s with its social changes and cohesive ideals.  These are perhaps the few people that didn’t grow out of such intentions and sought to continue to live by their principles in one form or another.

What the corporate premises cannot provide the same is the value-added service that the independents can, it’s just that this is not appreciated in today’s world as it once was.  Everything now comes down to the bottom line price.  No longer is it important for the cashier to know your name, or what your usual order or to have a specialist expertise in their field and this means not only are we offered merely the selection due to the pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap philosophy but we are also given homogenous staff who have no field of expertise and cannot give any depth to the shopping experience.

Even the few places holding out like a Gaulish village against the invaders are having to make sacrifices, butchers are forced to buy in much of their stock wholesale in order to compete with the supermarkets on the prices of staples such as sausages and mince restricting themselves to the more premium speciality items.  Bakers are now usually chains producing the same items daily in one shop as another, and could the young today tell the difference between a Grocer’s and a Greengrocer’s let alone cite any place that they might have seen one?

I find as I get older that I look forward to the chat at the butcher’s on a Saturday morning as I pick up my meat for the weekend.  I know many who make the monthly trip to the farmer’s market in town mainly because they .  When even the local pubs in many towns are run by national companies serving the same beer at the same price and keeping it badly in the same way

This trend is not set to stem in its tide.  As the time in our lives as well as the budget gets steadily ever more squeezed people are understandably feeling that they are forced to count the cost above all other concerns, choosing to shop in the huge monolith one-stop supermarkets and their partners online and this is a service that can generally only be provided by the big guns and a token smattering of a select few enterprising farmers.

Gorman’s conclusion is that whilst he just about managed coast to coast with only one corporate petrol station payment and one burger that only made a brief foray into his stomach before rejection his journey was far from easy and like as not would be impossible in ten years time.  Big John’s idea of doing a similar thing in Britain I suspect would be beset with many similar problems especially through the more industrialised sections of the country, however owing to the smaller distances I imagine the refuelling would be less of a problem.  This should not make us be complacent about it, what has happened in America has frequently over the last 50 years translated itself over here in time as the culture melds itself into the hegemony and the businesses seek greater influences in the market.  Most of the time the smaller independent businesses survive now where there is far less economic viability as the great corporate entities are uninterested in the service ethos unless it carries a hefty profit worth their while.

There is therefore a real danger of Britain becoming awash with such uniformity, it already reminds me of the America in which I lived 18 years ago and not in a good way.  But can we really be surprised?  One cannot expect businesses to reign themselves in because they have become too successful.  Whilst the marketeers may talk about competition and freedom of choice being the ideal these do not make good business sense as much as having a monopoly on the market and the ability to keep overheads low and profits high, it is as if the competition phase is the fiscal capitalist revolutionary stage necessary to facilitate the vultures from picking off the corpses of the dead and the dying in order to facilitate their subsequent dominance.

Ironically when one looks at which ideology demands pureity and uniformity both racially, culturally and socially I think these are normally things associated with the right rather than the left so why is it still the perception that capitalism provides for a wealth of choice whilst any alternatives are the road to guaranteed totalitarian adherence and conformity?  For this one has to look at the great propaganda victory of the multi-nationals who now have us thinking that we have a mass of choice when actually we merely have a variety of ways to have the same thing and these are dictated by the middle men themselves.  The providers are squeezed in order that corporations can buy their raw materials for as low a price as possible and we are forced to pay the prices they want us to, whilst led to believe they are doing us a favour in doing so.

Go back to your shopping lists people and prepare for markets and local shops and local produce, it is the only way to make the stand.

Song Of The Day ~ Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)


For some time now I have been eulogising about the current British music scene in response to people who have only been looking at the very mainstream or pop market.  There is a vibrancy about it and a great deal of good bands playing their instruments well, writing good lyrics and tunes, influenced by real music be it from the 60’s 70’s or even the 80’s and 90’s.  However it interests me now that parallels have been drawn with the Britpop era in the mid 1990’s and others who have been looking at things from only the point of view of what is out there in the mainstream who have lost faith entirely in the music scene that may be going on.

There is now in the mainstream an even more factory-based approach than we have seen before.  Stock, Aitken and Waterman are usually trotted out and derided but the standardisation of music was first talked identified by Theodor Adorno in The Culture Industry in the 1930s.  Adorno identified the standard blocks that were used and shifted around in a formulaic way to create the semblance of new music whilst only ever using components that had been tried and tested.  Stock, Aitken and Waterman merely adapted the same technique that had been going on for many decades, the only difference being that they were so successful at it that it became itself the over-arching mainstream.

It is said that mainstream music is a constant battle ground of art and commerce.  I cannot see the forces of art as anything more than the heroic but often naive rearguard action.  Their survival is based on the occasional modicum of success and yet that is always its very downfall for that is what brings it to the attention of the commercial and therein lies the inherent paradox.  Art does not need to be successful to be art, in fact if it is merely trying to be successful there is a question mark over its validity as an artistic medium.  However to reach a wider audience and influence and inform the next generation it is necessary to spread its net at least beyond its own comfort zone so as not to stagnate.  

The Arctic Monkeys were the first to really come through, in a commercial way, an avenue that had not been exploited, namely the internet, but their emergence already signified the beginning of the demise of the internet as an independent medium for music, myspace itself having been but one online medium for the promulgation of music that did not specifically crave commercial success as its raison d’etre.  Such a process is never immediate and at present it is easy for those fans of regional bands forming organically in the schools and colleges of the country and playing their music from their influences and in their own words and accents.

In recent times The Arctic Monkeys were the first to really come through an avenue that had not been exploited, namely the internet, but their very emergence already signified the beginning of the demise of the internet as an independent medium for music.  Such a process is never immediate and at present it is easy for those fans of regional bands forming organically in the schools and colleges of the country and playing their music from their influences and in their own words and accents.  It is an almost golden age for lovers of Indie, Punk and Rock music as there is a huge selection of such music being played in the smaller venues around the country.
However for every Kate Nash who slips through the net with a little more grit in her voice and realism in her song-writing there is a Lily Allen who embodies the establishment with her faux emotion, bogus Working Class background and accent and a penchant for designer dresses with a smattering of just enough bad behaviour to make her seem a “rebel” the new enfant terrible  The establishment has always sought to capitalise on the underground, the anti-establishment and as soon as there is any consistency in the it, a degree of order amongst the chaos, it gives the chance to be consumed and exploited. As soon as the underground scene exhibits a popularity that can be milked for profit so the A&R men move in.  It starts off with groups being championed a little more and then the production and advertising becomes almost propaganda-like.  One can see at the moment with the marketing for groups like The Hoosiers and Dragonette whose relatively cult following would not normally precipitate much media interest at this stage but now are part of widescale advertising campaigns and pseudo ‘rockumentaries’ which are little more than infomercials.
This has been necessary for the record industry who have been losing revenue hand over fist due to downloads and an increasing dissatisfaction with their formula stage school pop.  The constant influx of reality popstars which served generally only to act as another method for the Italia Conti and the like graduates to obtain exposure.  On the rare occasions that the “right” candidate did not win, such as Michelle McManus or Will Young beating Gareth Gates the difference in subsequent marketing strategy was clear, with the one being marginalised to obscurity whilst the other was foisted on viewers and listeners at seemingly every opportunity.  This continued domination of mainstream music by the banal led to a backlash which took the form of the myspace and online music.  Myspace was of course very quickly bought up by News International thus to a point negating its ability to be an independent source of music distribution.
Music does of course go around in loops, to an extent this is organically-driven probably due to those influenced by the music of their parents, inadvertantly or not, creating music of similar genre.  In the early part of the 2000s there was a thriving neo-post-punk scene and a great deal of Clash and Ska-influenced music reminiscent of the anti-prog rock Punk scene of the late 1970s.  Now there is a great deal more early electro influenced music very emblematic of the Joy Division and beyond 1980-3.  If this means that we must endure the somewhat creatively bankrupt late 1980s then heaven help us all!  It will however be interesting to see just how much the music shapes the time and vice versa since it looks likely that the hedonistic commercial excesses of the mid-1980s are very much not on the cards over the next 5 years.
Song Of The Day ~ Vampire Weekend – M79 


Red Baron Mediawatch – Tucked away on p. 23 in The Guardian a few weeks ago was a story about the US consolidating its position as the world’s leading arms dealer. The US currently accounts for 42% (approx $17bn of sales) of the world’s arms trade, 80% of which is currently to the Developing World. According to the article US sales have been buoyed up by the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq making neighbours somewhat nervous, Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia have been the largest buyers whilst Iran also remains high on the list, but it generally sources its hardware from the Russians.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the US is absolutely raking it in on all counts. Firstly the defence budget has been justified meaning the American public pays good tax money that might otherwise be frittered away on healthcare or welfare on good old fashioned warfare in a struggle to defeat a subjective concept which keeps expanding even were one to get anywhere near to seemingly defeating it. Nouns are of course tacticians of the highest order!

Secondly all that military hardware is being used, and they’ll need to keep spending money to keep it going, the military objective is a largely destructive one whilst lo and behold who comes along to build Iraq like a Phoenix from the flames but Haliburton and the like, who glean lucrative contracts which are not tendered fairly in the first place.

Thirdly anything in the Iraqi infrastructure that is worth anything is put into the hands of companies that are fronts for US companies thus safeguarding the Iraqi oil not to mention ensuring that Iraqi oil continues to be traded in $ rather than € thus propping up the stability of the $.

It’s a win-win situation. For some. Certainly not for the Iraqis, or the Afghans. Is it any wonder Iran is shitting itself and trying to do a North Korea and tell the US that it has a nuclear capability in an effort to keep the GIs out of Tehran. However they’ve made a fatal mistake and are not playing the game, damn them, they’re paying money to the Ruskies and the septics want a piece of the action. It’s the rather more supra-national equivalent of the hoods coming roung saying:

“We’re offering you protection.”
Victim: “But I don’t need protection.”
Hoods: “You will do!”
Victim: “Listen we pay those red geezers”
Hoods: “Do we look like the red geezers? We’re bigger than the red geezers, we could eat the fucking red geezers for breakfast, you pay us from now on unless you want your capital city to have a nasty accident, know what I mean?”

There was me thinking that this was all about power and religious ideology and the clash of civilisations when all the time it’s nothing more simple than a brutal rip-off and how to make profane amounts of money at the expense of others in a rather Caponeian sort of way. Still we can’t say they aren’t learning from their history then can we?!

Song Of The Day ~ Maximo Park – Apply Some Pressure