Thursday, 9 October 2008

Photomonth -London

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Banker Politician Boss Landlord

Post- Armageddon
"They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise sword against nation nor train for war any more." Micah 4:3

Monday, 6 October 2008

Jack London-socialist

Londons' writings

William Morris

William Morris

The Earthly Paradise (1868-70)

Forget six counties overhung with smoke,
Forget the snorting steam and piston stroke,
Forget the spreading of the hideous town;
Think rather of the pack-horse on the down,
And dream of London, small and white and clean,
The clear Thames bordered by its gardens green;
Think, that below bridge the green lapping waves
Smite some few keels that bear Levantine staves,
Cut from the yew wood on the burnt-up hill,

Bob Dylan names Burns as inspiration

O, my luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my Dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry

Till a' the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!

O I will luve thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

Monday, 22 September 2008




Political Song in America in the Thirties and Sixties by Peter Burton

Labour and political songs have existed since the beginning
of the 19th century ranging from worker and abolitionist songs to
farmers’ laments and spirituals.

The songs tended to appear in broadsides and song sheets as well as labour publications.By the beginning of the 20th century a tradition had been established of using songs for labour organising goals- the ‘Wobbles’ being the organisation most associated with this means of agitating and organising.

Their first publication was ‘Songs of the workers: On the road in the jungles and the shops’ in 1909 . It was better known as “The Little Red song book “ and was designed to fit into a shirt or back pocket .Key songs included- “Casey Jones- The Union scab”, T-Bone Slim- “I’m too old to be a scab “, Ralph Chaplin,” Paint er Red” to the tune of “Marching through Georgia” -not forgetting the Marseillase and ‘The Internationale’. The socialist party also printed songbooks as did various labour unions at this time.

Joe Hill was a key IWW organiser who traveled widely organizing workers and writing and singing political songs. He coined the phrase "pie in the sky", which appeared in his most famous protest song "The Preacher and the Slave (1911). The song calls for "Workingmen of all countries, unite/ Side by side we for freedom will fight/ When the world and its wealth we have gained/ To the grafters we'll sing this refrain." Other notable protest songs written by Hill include "The Tramp", "There Is Power in a Union", "Rebel Girl", and "Casey Jones--Union Scab".

Another one of the best-known songs of this period was "Bread and Roses" . It was sung in protest en masse at a textile strike in Lawrence during January-March 1912 and has been subsequently taken up by protest movements ever since.

In the Thirties the American CP and individual CIO unions published numerous songbooks-The ‘Red songbook’ of 1932 included IWW songs such as the aforementioned “Preacher and the Slave”, “Hold the Fort” and Aunt Molly Jackson’s “Poor Miners’ Farewell”. And the Spanish Civil war generated many folk-style songs supporting the Republican side- (A Las Barricadas remains a popular song for anarchist militants to this day).

The ‘Brookwood Chautauqua songs’ booklet-from the later 1930’s-published in Katonah,NewYork, with the slogan “A singing army’s a winning army”, began with “Solidarity Forever”, and included “Victory song of the Dressmakers”,
“The Soup Song” and “March Song of the Workers”.

‘Commonwealth labour songs’ appeared in 1938 and included a similar line-up with “The International” and ending with “Old John Lewis “(to the tune of old McDonald had a farm). The goal during the depression was to get catchy folk song style songs that could be easily remembered to spread throughout the country-e.g.' The CIO’s in Dixie' to the tune ‘Dixie’ issued by the Birmingham Industrial union council, and “The Workers Marseillaise”- the steel workers battle hymn (to the tune of hold the fort) did just this.

“Songs for America.-American Ballads, Folk Songs, Marching songs, songs of other lands” appeared in 1939, a rich and varied group of songs that included “The Star Spangled banner , the ‘International,’ Spanish civil war tunes “Kevin Barry” and “The Ballad of the Chicago steel massacre”.

Unions such as the ILGWU published “Everybody sings’ and in 1942 the New York State Federation of Teachers Unions issued “Sing with the Union”.

There were individuals too who promoted rural protest songs that reached the North. Memphis born Bob Miller wrote scores of songs and published a portfolio
“Songs of the Almanac singers” in 42. Poet and journalist Margaret Larkin publicised “The songs and struggles of Ella May Wiggins”, who had been shot in 1929 during the Gastonia textile strike.

Composers and performers Florence Reese, Ella May Wiggins, Jim Garland, his half sister Aunt Molly Jackson, and sister Sarah Ogan Gunning, Woody Guthrie, Agnes Sis Cunningham, Lee Hays and John Handcox captured a mix of radical political songs, working class trials and hardships during the depression years and on into World War 2.These singers identified with the left unions of the time.-The National Miners union, the National Textile Workers Union and the Southern Tenant farmers union.

In addition there were also labour orientated schools, such as the Highlander Folk school in Monteagle, Tennesse, Commonwealth college in Mena, Arkansas, The Southern school for workers near Ashland, North Carolina, and the socialist Brookwood Labour school in Katonah, New York. Hancock wrote “Ragged are We” and “There are mean things happening in this Land” while organising for the Socialist- connected STFU.

By the early forties there were a number of labour records available but it was the ‘Almanac singers’ who were most associated with conscious organising songs .
It was formed by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell in early 1941-it led to
“Songs for John Doe- peace songs” and “Talking Union” – once again labour songs that were written to catch on . “The Almanac singers” lasted only two years but laid the basis for the folk revival in the 1960’s .Other labour orientated groups recorded during WW11 included “The Priority Ramblers and the Union boys” and Woody Guthrie. Alan Lomax was heavily responsible for shaping the careers of Guthrie, Leadbelly, Burl Ives, Josh White, and Peter Seeger – to the point where they were sometimes called “the Lomax Singers”.

A similarly influential folk music band who sang protest songs were ‘The Weavers’, Pete Seeger being its main member. The weavers were the first American band to court mainstream success while singing protest songs, and they were eventually to pay the price for it. While they specifically avoided recording the more controversial songs in their repertoire, and refrained from performing at controversial venues and events (for which the leftwing press derided them as having sold out their beliefs in exchange for popular success), they nevertheless came under political pressure as a result of their history of singing protest songs and folk songs favoring labor unions, as well as for the leftist political beliefs of the individuals in the group.

Despite their caution they were placed under FBI surveillance and blacklisted by parts of the entertainment industry during the McCarthy era, from 1950. Right-wing and anti-Communist groups protested at their performances and harassed promoters. As a result of the blacklisting, the Weavers lost radio airplay and the group's popularity diminished rapidly. Decca Records eventually terminated their recording contract.

Woody Guthrie’s influence was huge and Dylan was only one of many who was inspired by the Oklahoma Bard in the Sixties. Sis Cunningham had been a member of the Almanac singers in the forties with Guthrie, Seeger and Bess Hawes. Together with her husband Gordon Friesen she launched the magazine “Broadside” in New York on the encouragement of Seeger and Malvinas Reynolds in February 1962 (it was subtitled “A handful of songs about our times).

Broadside was seminal because it published the songs that the more mainstream ‘Sing Out’! would not. Its first issue contained Reynolds “ “Come clean Blues and Dylan’s “Talkin John Birch Society blues” about a right-wing racist organisation-it was his first published song. Dylan , Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Len Chandler and Peter LaFarge would meet monthly in Sis and Gordon’s’ cramped apartment and record their new songs, which would be transcribed before then appearing in the magazine. This inspired other political songwriters to send their demos and tapes to Broadside from around the country. The magazine included articles, letters and illustrations capturing the rapidly changing political climate of the 60’s and only folded in the 1980’s.

The civil rights movement in the sixties, as opposed to the labour movement, became the inspiration for organizing songs-with Guy Carawan –the music director of the Highland Folk school in Tennessee being central to this change.. He made field recordings of the civil rights movement and introduced “We shall overcome” in 1960 which rapidly became the Civil rights anthem. It was one of many mass organising tool songs derived from familiar gospel tunes.

Dylan, Odetta, Josh White, Joan Baez and Peter Paul and Mary performed during a pre-march concert on the day of the historic march on Washington in August 1963. Later in the day, Dylan , the Freedom Singers, Peter Paul and Mary , opera
Star Marian Anderson, and gospel star Mahalia Jackson sang to the mass crowd.
Sadly the only black artists directly involved in civil rights actions were Harry Belafonte and Nina Simone. Ray Charles and James Brown represented black consciousness in their music but avoided overt civil rights concerts and events. Berry Gordy, owner of Motown, issued civil rights records , but was slow to urge his acts to get involved.

Civil rights songs were used from the summer of 1964 to encourage voter registration in the South at Civil rights workshops and Folk festivals such as the Northern District Mississippi Folk festival and Greenwood Festival.

The civil rights movement , in turn, led to campus organising and the founding of the S.D.S (Students for a Democratic Society) in 1960 and the University of California Berkeley Free speech movement in 64,with Baez singing “The Times they are a changing” and “We shall overcome” at the initial protest.

As fighting escalated in Vietnam , folk music began to serve as a rallying cry for the mounting peace movement . A ‘sing in for Peace concert’ at Carnegie Hall in mid-65 featured 60 performers including Peter, Paul and Mary , Baez and the Freedom Singers, attracting 5,000 people. Peace songs were used to swell the crowds at
anti –war rallies with 'Broadside' and 'Sing out' publishing both old and new peace songs.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Culture and Revolution in the Thought of Leon Trotsky.

Volume 7, No. 2, Spring 1999

Culture and Revolution in the Thought of Leon Trotsky.


The Culture of the Old World

Leon Trotsky, Ibsen

Leon Trotsky, Two Literary Souls at the Mercy of the Metaphysical Demon

Leon Trotsky, Poetry, the Machine, and the Poetry of the Machine

Leon Trotsky, On the Novel in General and on The Three of Them in Particular

Leon Trotsky, Culture and the Little White Bull

Paul Flewers, Vekhi and the Retreat from Reason

Impressionism: Trotsky in Vienna

Fritz Keller, Trotsky in Vienna

Leon Trotsky, On Death and Eros

Leon Trotsky, A New Year's Conversation about Art

Leon Trotsky, The Vienna Secession of 1909

Leon Trotsky, Two Viennese Exhibitions

Leon Trotsky, On the Intelligentsia

Leon Trotsky, Vienna Secession 1913

The Culture of the Transition Period

John Plant, Trotsky, Art and the Revolution

Antonio Gramsci, A Letter to Leon Trotsky on Futurism

Leon Trotsky, For Quality -- For Culture!

Culture Under the Dictators

Pierre Naville, Trotsky on Art and Literature

Richard Greeman, Did Trotsky Read Serge?

Esther Leslie, Elective Affinities

James T Farrell, A Memoir of Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky, Marcel Martinet

Leon Trotsky, The Attitude of Men of Letters

An Interview with Jean Malaquais

Fritz Keller, Stalinism versus Hedonism

The International Federation of Independent Revolutionary Artists

Maurice Nadeau, Trotsky and Breton

Leon Trotsky, You Must Not Whisper

Leon Trotsky, Difficulties With Diego

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

William Blake : Paradise –the Hard Way.

Born in London in 1757 William Blake lived through both the American War of Independence and the French Revolution, and witnessed the vicious repression after these events by the British ruling class .Although a deeply spiritual man, he was nevertheless appalled by the conditions of his fellow human beings and laid the blame in his political poems squarely on the twin evils of Church and State.

Blake was part of a group of close-knit skilled artisans who placed more weight on the moral value of their products than the market value. The fierce independence he sought throughout his life manifested itself in his trying to obtain total control over the labour process. He came up with the idea of publishing his own illuminated books, in which the text and illustrations could be printed from a single plate that was etched in relief before being sold direct to the buyers for a fair price. The process was so time consuming that he never gained materially and he never escaped the hated but much needed patronage of patrons.

The other consequence of this desire for independence was his opposition to the encroachments of both Church and State. The evidence for what influenced Blake’s ideas was the appearance of his signature on a document circulated at a Conference of Swedenborgians in Easter 1789. Emmanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish spiritual philosopher. The Swedenborgians stood for a millenarian proclamation of a New Age, hostility to priest craft, a positive view of human sexuality and a visionary reading of the material world. There was a split over the movement’s aim of creating a New Church and Emmanuel Swedenborg’s attitudes to sexuality .(Swedenborg had a vision of an overtly sexual heaven and tolerated concubinage). Blake identified with the expelled minority who opposed this but he also had differences with this expelled minority in turn. He was not a joiner of organisations but stood with the oppressed as an individual.

Opposition to Swedenborg was grouped around his publisher Jacob Johnson and his journal the ‘Analytical review’ .Although all dissenters identified with the French Revolution and Blake was to defend Paine’s Republicanism from reactionary attacks, he also had a lifelong enthusiasm for visionary experiences which gave him a correlative scepticism about the power of Reason .This marked him out from both the Painite Republican Deists and the Johnson circle. Central to the differences were his ideas about the self and his attitudes to sexuality. Blake was willing to put the self into hazard in the interests of his prophetic vision- “Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life” he declared .This contrasted with the Painite idea of the autonomous individual. The modern day equivalent might be a kind of idealist self-help New Age working on oneself in order to liberate humanity.

Blake's Newton (1795) demonstrates his opposition to the "single-vision" of scientific materialism: Newton fixes his eye on a compass (recalling proverbs 8:27, an important passage for Milton) to write upon a scroll which seems to project from his own head.
Blake saw sexuality as unruly and depicted sexual difference as an unstable rather than a fixed part of human nature (See his ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’) What was shared with Paine was a rough handling of the Bible .In Paines’ ‘ Age of Reason’ the Bible was dismissed as a priestly distortion of Hebrew folk tradition. Blake wrote in his Notebook:
“The Hebrew nation did not write it, Avarice and Chastity did shite it”
(Notebook, E 516).

He supported Paine for the latter’s’ attacks on the Bibles- “Perversions of Christ’s words and acts”. But if radical politics abstracted the individual from the sum of human brotherhood in its stress on the autonomy of the reasoning power , then it would perpetuate , in Blokes’ view, a mystery as destructive of human potential as the “ State religion” it wished to replace.

In ‘Visions of the daughter of Albion (1793), which contains Blake's critique of Judeo-Christian values of marriage. Oothoon (centre) and Bromion (left) are chained together, as Bromion has raped Oothoon and she now carries his baby. Theotormon (right) and Oothoon are in love, but Theotormon is unable to act, considering her polluted, and ties himself into knots of indecision.
Many of Blake’s’ most angry poems were published in his ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’

In the ‘Chimney Sweeper’ Blake contrasts the drudgery and shocking lives of a child chimney sweep with the intoxicating image of a promised afterlife in Toms’ dream of an Angel- a thinly disguised attack on the Church – if you submit to misery and don’t resist oppression we will give you a dream. Its form and language give a sense of fate for the life of the child slave – so it’s a poem that still matters now given the scale of child and sweatshop labour that still exists in the 21st century.

The Chimney Sweeper

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘ 'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!’
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curl'd like a lamb’s back, was shav'd: so I said
‘Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.’

And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight!—
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them lock'd up in coffins of black.

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he open'd the coffins & set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run
And wash in a river, and shine in the Sun.

Then naked & white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind;
And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father, & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags & our brushes to work.
Tho' the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.
A little black thing among the snow:
Crying weep, weep, in notes of woe!
Where are thy father & mother? say?
They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil'd among the winters snow:
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy & dance & sing,
They think they have done me no injury:
And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery.

In ‘Holy Thursday’ Blake describes an annual procession, when thousands of the poorest children in London were marched from Charity schools to St Pauls. There they demonstrate their piety while their patrons look on. There is an ironic attack on the ‘wise guardians of the poor’.

Holy Thursday

Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two in red and blue and green,
Grey headed beadles walking before with wands as white as snow;
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames waters flow.
Oh what a multitude they seemed, those flowers of London town.
Seated in companies they sit, with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs:
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.
Now like a mighty wind they raise to Heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the agéd men, wise guardians of the poor.
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

The Holy Thursday of Experience makes this more explicit-Blake contrasts the bounty of nature in a rich and bountiful land with the poverty and misery of the children .The disbelief of the speaker serves to emphasize the absurdity of plentiful nature and poverty existing side by side reinforcing its unnaturalness. But the children are also seen as a force and the Holy Thursday of Experience uses plainer imagery to suggest that both anger and nature will end this oppression.
‘Babe can never hunger there’ but only in a different system – Blake though charity almost evil- no tinkering – be honest about the causes and eradicate it.
In the ‘Garden of Love’ the innocence and natural development of childhood that took place in the past has been distorted in the present by priests and their draconian church laws. Every element of the poem-its form, language, repetition and syllables contribute to the portrayal of a world that is full of despair and oppression, the poem becoming darker and darker with each line. The Garden reveals a loss of innocence and a denial of natural sexuality with the graves representing the death of pleasure and beauty- (Note how the imagery of the plate reinforces the message.) -namely his complete opposition to chastity, shame and marriage.

The Garden Of Love

And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

‘London’ is another poem full of anger at the state of society.


I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackning Church appalls,
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

The poems’ power lies in the juxtaposition of powerful images as Blake wanders through the streets of London- its key words are ‘Mind forg’d Manacles’ – Blake’s equivalent of Marx’s false consciousness.

People are imprisoned by their fears and false beliefs, ’the cop in all our heads’- this leads to fatalism and false despair. In other words mental imprisonment, manipulation and psychological oppression were not abstract concepts for Blake but as much a prison as bars and steel doors. If you couldn’t imagine a society without oppression and exploitation, you really were in a prison .He attacks the monarchy, militarism and imperialism and their hypocrisy and in the last stanza also has a pop at marriage and its corollary –prostitution.

In the ‘Prophetic books’ Blake continues with these themes. ‘America -a prophecy’ dramatises the Revolutionary war in America , Blake seeing the war as a step forward for world wide liberty and an opportunity for the British ruling class to see the futility it’s militaristic policy. His ‘Europe- a prophecy’ progresses onwards from ‘America’ describing war and revolution in Europe, but with plates illuminated in code because of the fierce political repression of those who identified with the French Revolution. The poem tells the British establishment to head the warning of a failed militaristic policy in America.

In Blake’s ‘famine’ a starving child is portrayed intimately and with chilling dignity in Revolutionary France.The Book of Urizen is one of the major prophetic books of the English poet, and was illustrated by Blake's own plates. It was originally published as The First Book of Urizen. Later editions dropped the word "first".

The book takes its name from the character Urizen in Blake’s mythology who represents alienated reason as the source of oppression. The book describes Urizen as the "primeval priest", and describes how he became separated from the other Eternals to create his own alienated and enslaving realm of religious dogma. Los and Enitharmon create a space within Urizen's fallen universe to give birth to their son Orc, the spirit of revolution and freedom. He is symbolic of the French and American revolutions. In form the book is a parody of the Book of Genesis.

Blake moves on from specific instances of oppression and injustice in the Songs to talk about underlying causes. It’s the ruling class that has invented heaven and Church laws with its ‘Thou shall not’ bans , policed by black gowned priests , economic power and slavery in London’s charter’d street, cemented by personal fear and self -imposed limitations in a corrupt world. Fear corrupts the powerful, the individual and society which, in turn, lead to a hardening of the individual and society when the causal repression is not honestly addressed and fought against by us all.

“Prisons are built with stones of law, brothels with bricks of Religion”. Charity is a crime as it reinforces an unequal status quo and ignores the cause-Capitalism.
“As the caterpillar chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys’: ‘Shame is Prides cloak’; ‘A dead body revenges not injuries’; ‘Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by incapacity”.- Proverbs of Hell.

Religion, Patriotism, Commerce and war are all hypocritical excuses for a status quo that exploits the poorest and weakest. Its cause, for Blake, was a lack of vision and imagination and an over-emphasis on Reason at the expense of the former.

The prophetic books present a vision of a dynamic, dialectical process in society,
Blake seeing oppression and division followed by revolution as cyclical.
He gives the different energies, forces and desires that exist within societies at different stages of development coded symbolic names, characteristics and stories and saw change occurring as a product of the unfolding of “contraries”. In doing so he revealed eternal truths abut humanity through the specific injustices of his time making Blake a revolutionary.

“The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction”.

Peter Burton
August 08

Beat Poetry

The Treason of the Intellectuals and other verse

Most of the 68 pieces collected here appeared over the last two decades in Socialist Organiser, Workers Liberty and Solidarity. They are, most of them, workaday political verse, in the broad sense of political. Some, for instance, “Nina Ruah”, are “personal”. I make no claim that any of this is “poetry”: that belongs to an altogether higher order of things. Nor should little bits of insomniac's verse, dealing in nuance, paradox, mood, ambivalences, passing perplexities, discouragements, be read as political manifestoes.

Sean Matgamna
26 July 2008
Author: Sean Matgamna


I am of Ireland:
Long years ago I left it;
It does not leave me;
It does not go from me,
It will not go from me.

I am of Ireland:
Many years am I out of it;
It is not out of me;
It does not leave me,
It does not leave me.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

May 68

Detailed study of events of May 68 by Dave Broder

Who belongs to Glasgow -by Mary Edward

A landmark publication in 1993, this study of Glasgow immigration was used in all schools throughout the city. Now thoroughly revised and updated with a new chapter, this timely publication is an essential insight into the historical background of Glasgow's migrant groups and their interactions with the indigenous population.

In this insightful second edition, Mary Edward traces the history of immigration to Glasgow over the past 200 years. From Highlanders to exiled Jews and asylum seekers, the Irish, Poles, Chinese and Asians’ experiences of Glasgow are all covered. There is an initial chapter on Glasgow’s roots as an industrial city based on the slave trade analyzing how the merchants and tobacco barons used profits from the Southern plantation system to exploit an abundant workforce fleeing economic destitution and political persecution. This turned Glasgow into “the second city of the Empire”.

There is a final chapter discussing the discrimination recent Asylum seekers have faced in Employment and Housing and there are details of the work of some of the campaigning groups who have tried to address the different forms this discrimination has taken.

ISBN: 9781905222872
Publisher: Luath
Publication Date: 11 March 2008
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Pages: 192 p.

Words 205

Peter Burton

Monday, 23 June 2008

Chinese Whispers: The true story behind Britain's hidden army of labour, by Hsiao-Hung Pai

Chinese Whispers: The true story behind Britain's hidden army of labour, by Hsiao-Hung Pai

“If you don’t want to do the whole session, you can just buy parts. Three pounds for touching her face and hair, £10 for touching the upper part of her body, £20 for fondling the lower part of her body. Would you like a cup of tea first ?

- a Chinese female housekeeper at a brothel in Cheam , Surrey- February 2007

From brothels in London to a lettuce farm in Sussex and Chinatown kitchens, this courageous and heart-wrenching book documents the super-exploited lives of the army of undocumented Chinese workers living in the UK. Hsiao-Hung Pai goes undercover for the Guardian to expose the secret hell of fear and sweat that exists in a subterranean twilight world .Everywhere she goes, Hsiao-Hung Pai finds that illegality itself multiplies the misery and that all attempts to improve their lives are doomed as ‘illegal’s’ move from one terrible job to another.

Gangs attack "massage" joints with impunity robbing undocumented workers who have been paid in cash, dishing out example beatings to workers who have done nothing wrong. Waiters earn far below the minimum wage, and invisible labourers fall sick in hellish factories. Exorbitant fees are charged for overcrowded accommodation and essential documentation . Amidst all of this Britain still spurns the UN convention that aims to protect all migrant workers.

Britain is one of the many developed countries that has so far failed to sign up to the 1990 UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which states that human rights and certain minimum standards of welfare should be extended to all migrant workers, regardless of their legal status. In Britain, "illegals", as the tabloids call them, have no rights. Contacting the police or accessing the health service are not options as this means deportation-a fact that is used routinely by the gang-masters and agencies. Blocks on giving agency workers equal rights compound the misery.

Cockle pickers drown, people die from exhaustion after working 24-hour shifts on production lines, and families back in china are forced to take on more debt once the existing debt is paid off .Families receive no compensation and the chains of organizations supporting the trade in cheap labour continue to flourish. There's political capital to be made prosecuting gangs bringing illegal immigrants into Britain, but very little to be had protecting the rights of those "illegal’s" once they are here. In fact the expose reveals a carve up between gangmasters , agencies, factories and the government to super- exploit illegal immigrants using the fear of deportation at any time to keep it all in place.

Hsiao-Hung Pai also explains why so many Chinese workers risk their lives to work in Britain, having been driven out of China by economic reforms implemented since it joined the World Trade Organization (nearly five million workers in state-owned factories were made redundant between 2001-2006 in the north-eastern provinces alone); and demonstrates the ways British consumers benefit from their labour.

The book humanizes the workers by relating their own personal stories throughout and there is a concluding chapter on the role of the unions and what direction campaigning organizations ought to take making ‘Chinese Whispers’ an essential book for both trade union activists and anti-sweatshop campaigners .

Peter Burton

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick

Author: Clive Bradley

Blatantly recognisable, but with a style which never overwhelms the content. His films are individual, personal - yet awesome in scale and power. So protective was he of his artistic vision that he lived for most of his career in self-imposed exile from the Hollywood system in Britain, even reconstructing Vietnam here because he didn't like flying. He was idiosyncratic, maverick, reportedly very difficult and perfectionist; but that is frequently the mark of an artistic genius.

Beginning with small, noirish thrillers, Kubrick made his first major feature, Paths of Glory, in 1957. It's a war film; but here there is none of the platitudinous sentimentality of Saving Private Ryan or a host of other, even lesser stuff. During the First World War, a French general given impossible orders passes the buck down, and the buck is continually passed until three men, one of them black, are on trial for cowardice. It is the task of Colonel Dax (Kirk Douglas) to defend them at the court martial. In a beautifully simple drama, the horrors and evils of the battlefield are evoked - but more importantly, the evils of the powers behind the war are centre-stage. Unlike the standard "war film", Paths of Glory doesn't just condemn war for its brutality, or pay homage to the ordinary Joe caught up in terrible events: it puts the system which caused the war on trial. Like all Kubrick's films, it is innovatively shot, almost expressionistic, but never just as a gimmick.

When Douglas was executive producing Spartacus and the original director, Anthony Mann, was sacked early in production, he turned to Kubrick to fill his place. Kubrick was still largely unknown, and Spartacus was the only film he was ever hired to direct (as opposed to seeing it through from its inception). Evidently Kubrick's experience on the film, and particularly with Douglas, were so bad that he resolved never to be controlled like this again, and from then on did his own thing this side of the Atlantic.

But Spartacus is one of the most astonishing, powerful, marvellous socialist films ever made. Kubrick achieves in it one of his characteristic tricks: to take a well-known, hackneyed genre, and utterly, unrecognisably transform it (he was to do the same, for example, with science fiction in 2001, and horror in The Shining).

Based on the novel by Howard Fast (and of course on historical events in the first century BC), with a script by Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten who went to prison rather than testify to McCarthy, Spartacus is the well-known story of the slave revolt. It's in the tradition of all those sword-and-sandals fifties epics, the best of which is Ben Hur. But no Bible-story this. I've seen Spartacus more than a dozen times, and every time it reduces me to tears. It is a marvellous story of the unquenchable human struggle for freedom, even against impossible odds, which culminates in an extraordinary dramatic feat: we want the hero to die.

It is a deeply intelligent, humanistic film, in which all its central characters are multi-dimensional and fundamentally honourable. The antagonist is Olivier's Crassus; but even he is motivated by his sense of honour, and we are asked to condemn not the evil man, but the evil system which he cannot but support, and which makes him terrified of slaves, who he must destroy.

The climax, the extraordinarily staged battle on the hillside between the slaves and the Roman legions, is vintage Kubrick -spectacular, terrifying. We know the slaves are doomed, but understand why they have to fight. It is followed by the famous scene in which the entire vanquished slave army declares "I am Spartacus!" rather than allow their leader to be crucified, one of the great moments in film.

Kubrick's next work was the opposite end of the scale, and no doubt closer to his natural instincts - his weird, quirky adaptation of Nabokov's Lolita. In Kubrick's hands (Nabokov wrote the screenplay), this becomes a tragi-comic satire on smalltown America. If you saw Adrian Lyne's awful recent version, put it out of your mind and see Kubrick's funny, discomforting little gem.

Then came Dr Strangelove (Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), Kubrick back again in anti-war territory, and once again focusing on the insanity of power. A lot of the energy comes from the virtuoso performance of Peter Sellers (in three roles); but notice also little touches like the documentary style in which the siege of the US army base is shot. It's cheaper, and a lot more effective, than the lauded opening of Saving Private Ryan - a savage indictment of imperialism's world-destructive drives, done with anger but wit.

2001: A Space Odyssey, made in 1968, has been blamed for everything bad that's happened since in American film because of its use of state-of-the-art special effects. Yet there is no other science fiction film anything like it. It's an enigmatic, awesome, philosophical account of the first meeting between humanity and extra-terrestrial life. Some people complain they don't understand it: but a civilisation this advanced would seem magical and beyond understanding. The idea of staging the meeting between astronaut and aliens in a familiar little room, without meeting the aliens at all, is to my mind a stroke of brilliance.

The film has dated somewhat, rooted as it is in the days of moon-shots and the Space Race. But at its heart is a prescient meditation on the nature of artificial intelligence which is more relevant now than it was in '68. HAL, the computer (a warm red light in a cold human environment), goes mad, while the human beings rarely show any emotion at all - and goes mad because its/his creators were unable to grasp the moral complexity of his programming.

Mention should be made of the tremendous cut from the distant past to the near future. An early hominid, who just discovered the use of tools, tosses a bone into the air; as it spins in the sky, the image is transformed into a spinning space station. It's a fantastically economical cinematic image. But more than that, it expresses the very essence of humanity - the role of labour, so to speak, in the transition from ape to man.

Kubrick withdrew A Clockwork Orange (1971) from circulation in the UK because of fears of copy-cat killings. As a result, in this country it can only normally be seen on crappy pirate videos (when a London cinema screened it a few years ago, Kubrick sued) - which is the only way I've seen it myself. Based on Anthony Burgess' novel, the film is an almost cartoonish stylisation of inner-city violence, of moral emptiness, and of the equal moral void in the state's efforts to address the problem. Again, Kubrick goes for complex, ambivalent material: who is worse - the violent thug, or the state which "deals with him" by robbing him of emotion, of humanity?

Barry Lyndon, based on Thackeray's novel, is one of Kubrick's least seen and least liked movies, because it is extremely long and slow (and it bombed commercially, I think). But it deserves to be seen. Once again, you have the distinctive Kubrick style and attention to detail - here addressed to lavishly recreating on the screen eighteenth century paintings, even where this required technical breakthroughs in lighting.

It was followed by one of his most popular movies (although at the time it didn't do that well in the cinemas): The Shining, adapted from a Stephen King novel. Kubrick takes a traditional and rather corny ghost story, and turns it into a terrifying indictment of the nuclear family. A man, his wife, and possibly psychic child spend the winter looking after a hotel. There, the conflicts, frustrations and repressed emotions of their family group erupt into violence. For most of the film, you can read the progression of the father (Jack Nicholson) either as his response to the hotel's ghosts, or as simply the development of his own mental instability. If the film has a fault, it is that this "two-level" interpretation is occasionally violated, and only the supernatural explanation is possible. But even at the supernatural level, we are given a powerful metaphor for America: the hotel is built on a graveyard.

Visually, the film is pure Kubrick (the famous tracking shots following the kid around the corridors on his bike; the set-piece "visions", blood pouring out of the elevator) - and there is Kubrick's typical use of classical music, rather than an original score (here it is mainly Bartok).

But the real question which demonstrates the film's strength is simply this: can you think of another horror movie which is even vaguely similar? Poltergiest takes a similar basic idea - the angry spirits of the dead beneath the housing estate; but to compare the films for a moment is to realise how in Kubrick's hands this is not merely a "horror" device, but a statement - something with real meaning. This was Kubrick's greatest skill - to take something familiar and transform it.

Full Metal Jacket does the same thing with the "Vietnam film". Formally, it's unusual, as it is divided into equal halves - first in a training camp, then in battle. (The standard Vietnam film gets you into the jungle a lot earlier.) And this is because, again, of Kubrick's real concern: not just "war" in the abstract, but the relations of power between people. At the film's climax, the Vietnamese sharpshooter who has been scaring the US soldiers to death, and whom they finally kill, turns out to be a teenage girl. The faceless sniper, "the enemy", is just a child. It raises, in very simple dramatic form, the crux of the matter politically: why is a teenage girl prepared to risk her life to fight American soldiers? It might not have the grand epic quality of Apocalypse Now, but it is powerful stuff nonetheless.

Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, will be released later this year. Apparently, it's Kubrick's look into the world of sexual fantasy. In fact many of his films have little or no sexual content at all, which is unusual in itself (some do, of course, most obviously Lolita). It sounds, therefore, like something of a departure. Much has been made of the obsessiveness of Kubrick's demands on the actors (50 odd takes of Cruise coming through a door). The real point, however, is that actors whose standard fee is millions of dollars don't decamp to England for two years and live in near hiding for just anybody. Even Tom Cruise, offered the chance to work with Stanley Kubrick, jumped at it at whatever cost.

A lot was made, in his obituaries, of Kubrick as the last of the "auteurs". This idea, which comes out of 1950s French film theory and the directors who developed it (Jean Luc Goddard, Francois Truffeau), was to do with the director as sole "author" of the work of art. In so far as directors have clear, individual voices, Kubrick was plainly an "auteur"; but the idea has limited meaning. No director is really sole author, as they depend heavily on writers, cinematographers, designers and editors to create their films (not to mention the actors). To detach Lolita from Vladimir Nabokov, or 2001 from Arthur C. Clarke (who co-wrote it) is stupidly to diminish their contribution.

Workers' Liberty 1/55

Eyes Wide Shut
Submitted by Jason on 7 June, 2008 - 19:33.
was in fact very disappointing from the maker of The Shining, Spartacus, Dr Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, 2001 A Space Odyssey- all of which are brilliant. I agree that Full Metal Jacket, Spartacus and The Shining are tour de forces- and very divers as well!

Barry Lyndon is I also agree well worth seeing but not as great. A Clockwork Orange- brilliant book, very disturbing film but still very worth seeing (now widely available) though it is unpleasant in paces- I guess was th epoj t but I personally found it somewhat gratuitous. I haven't seen Lolita.

Eyes Wide Shut has its moments but its overlong, self-indulgent and almost meaningless in my humble and utterly subjective opinion. Unless I missed something.

Never quite sure about artisitc criticism in socialist publications except to say 1) I think it is worth including 2) party lines should not be followed (witness the crass criticism common in the SWP and related tot his 3) there ar eno right answers in art. Despite some fairly fundamental disagreements with the AWL I think this article is quite interesting (though now very dated!)

Submitted by Clive on 8 June, 2008 - 09:31.
It also has a factual error. None of the defendants in Paths of Glory is black. For some reason it was strong in my memory at the time I wrote this that this was the case, but watching the film since, it isn't. Memory is weird, isn't it?

I agree Eyes Wide Shut was pretty awful. It struck me as a film made by someone who really needed to get out more.

You *must* see Lolita.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

For the background and controversy over Pastor Martin Niemöllers' famous Poem see :


Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.


When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,there was no one left to speak out.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

A woman’s touch

Writer and broadcaster Mark Cousins salutes the British documentary movement’s unsung female voice, Stirling’s Ruby Grierson.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Orwell, ‘Politics and the English Language’

Its over 60 years since Orwell wrote the essay ‘Politics and the English Language’ -yet its warnings are as relevant now as they were then.Orwell argued that the decline of the English language as a useful tool reflected the political conditions of his time. But far from being an inexorable process he thought the abuse could be stopped and believed journalists had a particular responsibility amongst writers to show their dissatisfaction.

The power of the written word was being under-minded by an adoption of Politician Speak. He gave five examples of bad language accusing the authors of ‘Ugliness’’ ‘Staleness of Imagery’, and ‘Lack of Precision’. Political writing was the most guilty of having those characteristics.

Prose construction was avoided by the use of lazy “ metaphors”,
“Verbal false limbs”, “pretentious diction” and “meaningless words”-
Important precise concepts like Fascism and Democracy had become distorted and were being used in a consciously deceptive way.

Modern writing shunned originality and was the product of lazy uncritical methods of work. His anecdote: Writers should ask -

1 What am I trying to say ?

2 What words will express it ?

3 Could I put it more shortly ?

4 Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly ?

He argued there was causal link between clichéd phrases and the defence of the political status quo, euphemisms numbing the public as words got sanitised by colourless concepts such as ‘pacification’ to describe Genocide.

Orwell’s’ goal was not to straightjacket writers . His key was to let the “meaning choose the word” . It’s almost twenty years since the fall of the Berlin wall . WMD’s and “45 minutes” are only the most infamous of many examples that could be given that show Orwells’ essay is, sadly , as relevant as ever.

Peter Burton

Fred Wiseman

Time for Wiseman

Technological changes in the sixties led to the introduction of lightweight portable
16 mm cameras , the new technology changing the nature of documentary filmmaking.

Cinema Verite minimised voiceover commentary and non-diegestic music. The style and form appeared observational but in fact a film would be culled from days of footage, the selection of shots having deliberate intended effects on the audience.

One of the key exponents of the new style Cimema Verite ( Cinema Truth)
was Fred Wiseman .In the case of Wisemans’ High School 80 minutes of film was selected from 40 hours of footage. On the surface the film looks like a slice of High school life, but through the use of long shots, editing, extensive dialogue, close ups, conflict, and an absence of continuity, a representation is made of power and conformity to that power by students and parents. And “ No one in power loses an argument” to quote Wiseman.

Regimentation of school life is conveyed through association or montage techniques.
The power of both content and form saw Wisemans’ first film Titticut Follies about
the criminally insane at a Massachussettes Institute banned from 1967 until 1991.

Wiseman destroyed stereotypes , and combined tenderness , brutality ,apathy
dedication of purpose and integrity in a way that other Cinema Verite filmmakers struggled to match. To watch a Wiseman film is to go through a real experience. His main films in addition to High School were Hospital 1970 and Near Death 1969. Other must see Cinema Verite films include Salesman 1969, Gimme Shelter 1970, Primary 1960 Grey Gardens 1973 and Don’t Look Back in 1965.

Peter Burton

Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Land Where Blues Began

The Land Where Blues Began PG
Friday, April 25, 2008 Glasgow Film Theatre

A self-described "song-hunter," the folklorist Alan Lomax traveled the Mississippi Delta in the 1930s and 40s. In the late ‘70s he returned with filmmaker John Bishop and black folklorist Worth Long and made this film, narrated by Lomax and including remarkable performances and stories by J.T. Tucker, William S. Hart, Bill Gordon, Belton Sutherland, Reverend Caeser Smith, James Hall, Johnny Brooks, Clyde Maxwell, Bud Spires, Jack Owens, Beatrice Maxwell, Walter Brown, Wilbert Puckett, and Othar Turner.

Certification (PG)
Director John M. Bishop
Starring Various
Year 1979
Running Time 1h 0m
Country of Origin USA
Language English

Great Book on 65 to 72 in US

“There’s a riot going on, revolutionaries,rock Stars and the rise and fall of ‘60s counter-culture” by Peter Doggett’

Peter Doggetts “There’s a riot going on, revolutionaries, rock Stars and the rise and fall of 60’s counter-culture was one of the best featured books at the recent Aye Write festival in Glasgow .

The book recalls in detail ( its 525 pages) the uneasy relationship between rock stars, political activists and the counter –culture in the 8 years between 1965 and 1972.

Doggetts’ raison d’etre for the book:-

“ In an era when Bono, the hand in glove darling of the global political establishment and Bruce Springsteen, the personification of cosy liberalism, are revered as rock and pop icons, its timely to be reminded of an era when artists were prepared to court popularity ( And worse) for their ideals.

Dogget also attacks some of the myths that have been created by the artists themselves about the period citing the documentary ‘The U.S. against John Lennon’ as sanitising the role of an artist who gave both money and publicity to the IRA, Black Panthers , The Vietnam solidarity Committee, Zippies, Yippee and ,not least, the “Dylan Liberation Front “.

The book begins with an account of how a key figure like Jerry Rubin began to channel the Berkley Teach- in - in May 1965 for free speech against the war using artists like Phil Ochs . Rubin also attempts to revive and use a by now disgruntled Dylan through Alan Ginsberg. He describes the role of Ginsberg, Ed Sanders and Tulin Kupferberg and their musical ensemble “The Fugs ” exploring the limits of censorship as they travel across America.

Dylans' attitude by 65 is described in discussions with Ginsberg and quotes from Dylan himself. The more Dylan tried to distance himself from the political activists the more they, in turn, tried to reclaim and re-activate him. This took on bizarre proportions as the Dylan obsessive A J Weberman makes it his sole mission to “ liberate Dylan “ launching a “ Dylan liberation Front “ campaign . One of the more unsavoury of Weberman’ tactics was raking through Dylan’s garbage to find incriminating sell-out evidence about the artist.

And Black Panther leaders like Bobby Seale and Huey Newton read coded hidden messages into Dylan’s' lyrics on’ Bringing it all Back home’ and ‘Highway 61 revisited’ supposedly telling them what tactics to use in their war against “ The Man”.

There are recurring chronological accounts of the relations between artists like ,Dylan, Mick Jagger, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe McDonald , The Who, Joan Baez etc and the key underground activists of the time. This is interspersed with arguments that took place within the counter -culture between Abbie Hoffman , Jerry Rubin ,Elridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, John Sinclair, Michael X and key organisations like the SDS, The Weathermen, The Black Panthers over tactics, aims and the very nature of protest itself.

(Mick Jagger comes in for particular criticism for all the tax exile stuff)
Though others are also exposed -( like Jefferson Aeroplane making excuses for not going to the Chicago convention ) where there was likely to be police violence. This is the central ongoing theme of the book.

Doggett is particularly sharp on the absence of women from the revolution. Joan Baez notwithstanding, they were largely expected to roll joints and throw themselves into the cause of sexual freedom.

Asked about the position of women in the black consciousness movement, Stokely Carmichael, “honorary prime minister for the Black Nation”, replied “prone”. Women were not allowed to bear arms in the Black Panthers but would have found a role in the British underground press.

One advertisement in The Black Dwarf read: “Dwarf Designer Seeks Girl. Head girl typer to make tea, organise paper, me. Free food, smoke, space. Suit American negress.”

Dogget also recalls the stories of the big events of these years,Kent state, Woodstock, the Isle of Wight festival, Altamont, Biafra , Attica, the Chicago democratic convention, the Newport Folk Festival , Grovenor square and the Prague Spring - sometimes taking time out to talk about the civil rights protests in the fifties.

There is an ongoing invaluable discography informing readers of seminal albums and individual songs and the affect they had on different individuals and a number of great anecdotes -Country Joe McDonald bursting into anti --Vietnam song at the Chicago Conspiracy Trial having being been primed by pranksters Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin to do so- Dylan cycling after A J Weberman to beat him up after one too many intrusions.

There are also details of meetings between Tariq Ali , Robin Blackburn and Lennon and Yoko and the relationship between Hoffman, Rubin and the Lennon’s in the early
70’s .

“There's a riot going on” is an invaluable book about the counter-culture in the US at a crucial time and the limits of the New left . There are also many lessons for us about successful and unsuccessful tactics through his examination of both the underground activists methods and the American states’ response.

Peter Burton

Monday, 17 March 2008

Sunday, 2 March 2008

May 68 Photos,Film and Info

Bob Dylan & Allen Ginsberg at Kerouacs' Grave

William Blakes' Songs of Dissent Part 1

Mike Marquese on Blake

Terry Eagleton on Blake

Kenny McEwan on Blake


For a Bootle Girl

a poem by William Blake

I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe was ne'er beguiled!

And I wept both night and day,
And he wiped my tears away;
And I wept both day and night,
And hid from him my heart's delight.

So he took his wings, and fled;
Then the morn blushed rosy red.
I dried my tears, and armed my fears
With ten-thousand shields and spears.

Soon my Angel came again;
I was armed, he came in vain;
For the time of youth was fled,
And grey hairs were on my head.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

An Unlikely Weapon

“An Unlikely Weapon”

“An Unlikely Weapon” by director Susan Morgan Cooper tells
the life story of Photojournalist Eddie Adams. Adams’ most famous
“decisive moment” was during the Vietnam War when he photographed General Nguyen Ngoc firing at point blank range at a Vietnamese prisoner.

Archive footage is interspersed with interviews with fellow
photojournalists and Adams talking to camera himself as he walks
the streets of New York. It creates a picture of a brutally honest,
sometimes difficult, courageous and charismatic man who continually
struggled with the responsibilities that came with his profession.

The aftermath of the photo haunted Adams for the rest of his life as he concludes that “the photograph destroyed two lives” – the prisoner and the General who shot him. On photographing Clint Eastwood for “Unforgiven” he is told by Eastwood that Michael Cimino carried a folded up photo of the image for and year and a half in his wallet before going on to make the Deer Hunter ( a film in which he reversed the Russian Roulette roles ).

Work assignments with Fidel Castro and the early pre-porn
Playboy illustrate the toughness and integrity of the man (as he never touched the models) and towards the end of his life he set up a free workshop based school in Upper State New York for those studying Photography “This will save you five years” he declares to the young photography trainees.

Adams passed away in 2004 making the completion of
such a fine representation by Susan Morgan Cooper
even more remarkable.Catch it at Art-house cinemas if you can.

Peter Burton

Josef Koudelka

Magnum Slideshow of work

Prague Spring 68 established Koudelkas' reputation.

Peter Magubane

Demonstrating with the camera

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

George’s Bright Colours

George’s Bright Colours

You tended them too well,
Your foreign fruit.
Your languid, shackled oranges,
Where no such smell of liberty
Relieved their souring stench.
Two faced, one-eyed fuckwit.
Couldn’t see or wouldn’t,
How your tin-topped ambassadors,
That painted Stars and Stripes,
On that scorched Republic,
Made the Promised Land ignite.
The Peninsula of sand,
By your petroleum command.
Turned from red and blue to black.
Ripped apart your own Jihad.

Amy Anderson

Monday, 11 February 2008

The Liverpool Docker

It's ten years since the end of the longest strike in British labour movement
history-The Liverpool docks strike . The Liverpool dockers and the Women of the Waterfront performed heroics to win their strike but got sold out by their
own union the Transport and General workers Union.

I'm a docker under a Mersey sky
My heart longs for
a time free from worry ; I blow
on my freezing picket lines hands

Fuckin' bosses!!

I'm obsessed with Unity and Solidarity
They see the world in
dog eat dog bottom line terms
but i never will

How much longer must
this pain go on ?
Bloody forever if needs be-
know whaur a fuckin' mean like !!

Peter Burton
February 2008

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Story of the Blues

The Story of the Blues Part 1 by Peter Burton

The Story of the Blues Part 2 ( Pre-War Blues) by Peter Burton

Blues part 3

Blues Part 4 - Pre-war blues

Blues -60's/70's

General Strike Verse

(From the St Pancras Bulletin, May 5-10 1926)

A is for ALL, ALL OUT and ALL WIN,

And down with the blacklegs and scabs who stay in.

B is for Baldwin, the Bosses’ Strong Man,

But he’s welcome to dig all the coal that he can

C is for Courage the workers have shown,

Class Conscious and Confident that they’ll hold their own.

D is for DOPE that the Government spread—

Dishwash for Duncos and Dubbs—“nuff sed”.

E is for Energy that will carry us through,

Everyone class-conscious, steadfast and true.

F is for Fight, our fight to the end,

For we’re solid together, not an inch will we bend.

G is for Grab-all, the bosses, you know,

Greedy and grasping, one day they must go.

H is for Hardship, we all must endure;

However, keep smiling, for Victory is sure.

I is for Interest, Profits and Rend

Into the pockets of the Indolent.

J is for Jix*, the stirrer of strife,

Just waiting the chance to have your life.

K is for knife that is wielded by Jix,

Keep yourself orderly and frustrate his tricks.

L is for London, where the TUC meet,

Leading the workers the bosses to beat.

M is for miners, for whose rights we must fight,

Maintaining the cause which we know to be right.

N is for Natsopa, who stopped dope from the Boss,

Narking Churchill and Jix, so Baldwin was cross.

O is for OMS, the scabbing patrol;

Oh! How they are working, digging the coal!!

P is for pickets on guard at the gates,

Pulling up blacklegs who scab on their mates.

Q is for Quandary the Government’s in,

Quite certain now the workers will win.

R is for Railways that won’t run alone,

Ready for workers to run as their own.

S is for Solidarity that is winning our fight;

Stick well together, for Victory’s in sight.

T is for Taximen joined in the fray,

Troubling the blacklegs to walk all the way.

U is for Unity, each one for all,

United we stand till the Government fall.

V is for Victory, of which we are sure,

Vanquishing the bosses for evermore.

W is for Workers’ Wages and hours,

We are nearing the day when control is ours.

X is for exit the whole boss class—

Xtra enjoyment for me and my lass.

Y is for Young Workers to whom fighting is new;

Yes, Young, but determined to fight with you.

Z is for Zeal shown by the Vigilance Corps,

Zealous that workers aren’t trapped by the law.

* Jix is a play on Joynson-Hicks the Home Secretary.

Alexandr Rodchenko

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Wrathful Black Hawks

Wrathful black hovering hawks
chopping the air
in an afternoon haze

Wrathful black hawks
shadow boys playing
Exploring a rustic
lifeless car shell

bright bolts flashin'
raeburns glinting
sounds of earnest radio instruction

Wrathful black hawks
smelling no prey
whir off in sync
down the sun-baked highway

Peter Burton

January 2008

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Brechts' Short Stories -simply Wonderful !

The only volume of Brecht's fiction in English

Casual wickedness, moral hypocrisy, determined self-interest - such are the familiar residents of Brecht's fictional world. These thirty-seven short stories, together with a fragment of a short novel, comprise the complete collection of known finished stories. The tales in this volume range from the grotesquely mordant to the lightly farcical, and show Brecht to be just as a strong an innovator in fiction as he was in drama. The collection comes from all periods of Brecht's life and the Introduction by the Editors sets Brecht's fiction in context alongside his dramatic and theoretical works.

The "bluntest, the most direct of this century's great writers" (Paul Bailey)

Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke A Change Is Gonna Come Lyrics

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ever since
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
somebody keep telling me don't hang around
It's been a long, a long time coming
[A Change Is Gonna Come lyrics on]

But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knocking me
Back down on my knees


There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

G8 protests and USA photos 2005