Saturday, December 31, 2005

Essays, Damn Quotes and Conclusions.

The doggedly torturous affair that was my recent bout of essay writing finally ended two days before Xmas. Its one thing that perplexes me about Equality Studies, and the students doing it. Last year the courses format for examining students was take home essays, where students had three days to write two 2,000 word pieces on their various topics, the idea was plausible, simply set two hours of your time aside and treat the thing like it were an on the spot exam in a hall, except with the privilege of having access to your notes and more. Not surprisingly, the class managed over the years to up the quality of the essays it was doing, so that what was being handed up equated in format and style the sort of academic essays people prepare over a month or more. So here we were this year with a different format, where all the essays were handed out and a three week deadline placed a head of us. Due to some mucking about with the course schedule this meant I had six to do. Usually doing essays can be a relatively enjoyable experience, being forced to research areas I traditionally wouldn't express an interest in, this was a much more tedious experience of drumming out an essay ever three days to keep up with the tedium of the deadline bearing down on me. Throw working into the mix, and fecking hell, it weren't the easiest thing to do in the world.

The essay topics were varied, stretching as they did across Critical legal theory, social policy and feminist theory. Some of the stuff I got to research will no doubt be of use for articles somewhere along the way, as is the case with the one about Copyright legislation, housing and how migrant workers are treated under Irish legislation. Apart from being an interesting theoretical excursion into feminism and some Marxism, I can't really see much of a use for the discussions of the Domestic mode of production, the rant about Cultural turn in feminism or that old chestnut for undergrad social policy types the future of the welfare state.


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Thursday, December 29, 2005

An Indymedia Review Of The Year

Indymedia will be publishing a review of the year on New Years Day. This is just a selection of 12 months worth of the stories that dominated the site in the form of features over the past year.

I've being looking back over this blog, and it strikes me as having a rather confused identity. Mostly it seems to limber along as an archive for articles and reveiws that I publish elsewhere. In other places it does contain the random anecedotes that are typical of the rest of the blogosphere. I think this place needs more of that and possibly a design over haulm again.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Urban 75 Open Letter To The Fucking BONGOLOIDS Amongts You.

Dear Dance Floor Drummers,

You bunch of selfish fucking cunts!!! What kind of fucktard brings a bongo onto the dance floor thinking that they are in anyway contributing to our aural pleasure. In paticular you, the bloke who tried to play almost non stop for the last 3 hours. Only it wasn't non stop was it? It was play some bollocks rythm (and i use the term rythm very loosely) for 10 seconds then stop because your a bit shit, wait ten seconds then start up again and repeat. Non of which was even pretending to be in time with the music. Drummer, you are a social square peg if ever there was one. Some mothers really do 'ave em!

You are known to me as a phenomonen called 'social betamax' in that you aren't seen around very often but when you are, you're not really very compatible, are you?

Glad I aren't at the end of this tirade

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Babies, sex and flagons, shifting women, getting stoned

Was down at the Cork gig last night. God Is An Astronaut were top notch. Whipping Boy were a disaster. To be fair to them, listening to them all these years without ever seeing them as I was too young, meant that myself and those with me at the gig propably had a mythology about them built up in our heads, which was bound to come crashing straight down once this ego in a second rate Jack L costume came stumbling on to the stage, shouting the lyrics of songs. The band were as static as hell, and really looked like they weren't enjoying the singers antics, in fact they really looked rather scared and more worried about mortgage rates than the gig itself. Boy, the crowd really did thin itself out half way through, the set was probably waaay too long, which shouldnt be a bad thing but with that performace it really was. In Cork he burnt the Sun with a blow torch, which as pissed as he was i thought he was going to throw into the crowd, as he did with his bottle of bucky.

Even more horrifying than shouting for a revolution without any content, was the moment he got the crowd to start hitting themselves on top of their heads "like our muslim brothers." This in fact was the only moment of interaction from the band themselves all night, who seemed to get in on this particularly odd moment without any hesitation or prompting from McKee. The worst bit was probably the band introductions after he greeted the audience with "..blah..blah...we lurve you INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC OF COORK! Mister Myles McDonnell on Bass...from the INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC OF..." And no one batted an eyelid.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Outfoxed: Gagging Online Whispering.

A powerful expose of the intersection between elite interests and the ideological bias of Murdoch’ s Fox News network, Outfoxed performs the same function as Michael Moore’s work. Picking up key themes and running them to death, to expose the obscene manipulation of the American public through such slogans as ‘fair and balanced’ reportage. Diana Winthrop, a former Fox News producer describes being ‘ordered, from the top, to carry propaganda; carry Republican right-wing propaganda.’ Of guests on its leading show Special Report, between January and May last year, there was a greater than 8 to 1 imbalance in favour of Republicans. Fox News seems to epitomise where much of the global media is being pushed. Aesthetically, the network is a blizzard of information over-load, updates prowl along the bottom of the screen while newscasters mouth off in split screen boxes against glaring graphical backdrops of American patriotism. Despite an onscreen abundance of ‘news’ and ‘fact’, tuning in to Fox news prompts seeds of mental dissension, you are staring into the face of elite bias and content and its as obvious as the American flag in the background.

The success of films like Outfoxed, the Corporation and those by Moore are evidence that a wide section of the population are increasingly sceptical. When elite interests and the media intersect, more of us expect propaganda. But as the recent US Elections show, substantial portions of the population are still shaped by a socialisation process that occurs throughout our lives, that equates the free market with a free media. Outfoxed leaves no one in doubt that corporate power is waging a war against journalistic freedom. Something Outfoxed ignores, but far from paranoiac fantasy is the state’s simultaneous attack on noncompliant media activists and networks.

Most dramatically, in an act Mark Thomas compared to smashing up printing presses, the FBI seized two Indymedia servers, crippling part of the network for a brief period in November. There’s some evidence that the Swiss authorities requested it to cover up the publication of photos of undercover police agent provocateurs in action in Geneva protests. The seizures have also disrupted evidence gathering for legal action against the Italian authorities after a violent police raid on a media centre during the Genoa protests of 2001. In the US Indymedia was the centre of failed legal attempts by the Diebold corporation, to prevent publication of flaws in electronic voting terminals for use in the recent US elections. Back here, the Indymedia network has been pivotal in uncovering the use of Shannon Airport as a stop over for the US Military, as well as undermining state hysteria around such events, as Mayday when it was accessed a million times and the Bush visit.

These raids aren’t a once off. The more obvious context is a background of similar state led offensives against the development of non-corporate media networks. In what’s being dubbed a ‘model for the world’ by Miami authorities, at recent protests reporters were embedded with state forces, as in Iraq. Those refusing to be embedded are often on the receiving end of repression or delegitimised. Cops shouted "she's not with us, she's not with us" at Ana Nogueira, a reporter for the grassroots TV Network, Democracy Now as she was hauled off reporting as police broke up a demo of 200 people. The City Council had forbidden gatherings of seven or more. Before the run up to the Republican National Congress police from several NY Departments raided and shut down an Indymedia benefit screening. In the summer of 2004 Indymedia founding member Lenin Cali Najera of Equador was murdered. Colleagues suspect a robbery was faked as cover for a political assassination, carried out by right wing paramilitaries. Again, in Cyprus a major national scandal broke after police admitted to investigating Petros Evdokas and Indymedia at the behest of the CIA, after he published material claiming American interference in a referendum on the island

Obviously the music industry feels the effects of peer to peer file sharing networks, and takes action against them. Sometimes this is illegal. As a recent Australian court case found, sections of the industry were hiring people to paralyse peer-to-peer networks with fake files. It should be no surprise that political and corporate elites are also feeling the impact of radical journalism online. The dynamic between the establishment media and the insurgent electronic media is interesting. After a police raid on the Indymedia Centre in Genoa in 2001, The Daily Mail wrote an article accusing a hospitalised media activist of being "in charge of computer systems used to co-ordinate attacks on the G8 summit." Like wise only a handful of mainstream press outlets covered the Indymedia server seizures despite it being condemned by a huge range of Journalistic Unions and brought up in the British Commons. In a similar manner Watergate era US media giants ignored extensive bugging and actions against the US left, only becoming concerned when they were directed against the Democrats, as one faction of power.

Organisations close to the US state were quick to recognise the potential of new media technologies in creating popular mobilisations. Within reason, anyone can put up a website, so ideologies and interest groups previously isolated from traditional media can now challenge its dominance. The RAND Corporation, a think tank linked to the US Military warned of the development of ‘all channel’ network designs that facilitate equal access to knowledge and its production. New networks facilitated by the net ‘will pitch battles for public opinion and for media access and coverage, at local through global levels.” Already the role of this new media has been dramatic. RAND noted how online medias prevented the Mexican State from turning the Zapatista Chiapas Rebellion of 1994, into a bloodbath similar to the Mexico City University occupation of ‘68, more worrying for RAND was the ripple effect the rising had in coalescing radical activism globally. The fact that ‘there is no single, central leadership, command, or headquarters—no precise heart or head that can be targeted” worries repressive state mechanisms that could previously target key figures or organisations, in tactics best characterised by the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO operation to ‘disrupt, discredit and destroy’ the new left in the sixties.

If social conflicts were to arise in Western countries, it would be increasingly difficult for any state to monopolise information in order to isolate hot spots. The targeting of San Francisco’s business district for action by anti-war activists the day bombs fell on Iraq and the mass arrests of 3,000 people undermined the images of patriotism generated by the US State. Those that wanted to get around the lack of mainstream media coverage could, mainly through online journals. South Korea’s most popular media outlet is called OhMyNews, an online portal with the motto ‘every citizen is a reporter.’ Already it’s been attributed responsibility for shifting the balance of power to liberals in a presidential election through mobilising youth.

As with the Charterist movement that developed around the 19th Century radical British Press, a mobilising media is a worry to elites, with its threat of awakening once passive parts of the population. Increasingly the modern mainstream media primarily exists to deliver adverts to a passive consumer, for political elites its there to deliver official lines to a passive population. For states and corporations, the development of a radical online journalism deliberately uprooting the elitism of traditional medias, inviting the unwashed to define their own interests and symbolically turning the world upside down is a worry. For once mobilised, its rare a population shares the same interests as its corporate and political rulers. As it stands these sites are whispering, but the potential is there for them to begin screaming.

Another more academic version of this article is availible over here

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Crap Jobs, Crap Holidays and Crap Towns.

If your in the mood for some irrepressible solidarity on the front of just how crap home towns can be head over to the Idler. Basically, it strikes me as the sort of rantings that may come out of the more expressive elements of the crustidom I've always associated with the anarchist counter culture across the water, thats heavy does of situationism and an unhealthy faith that communication actions can change the world. Well, from a brief look at the site it seems they have picked up on the sort of edgy cyncism that used to drip from the fondly remembered Slate

Getting it together to publish three collections of Crap Jobs, Holidays and Towns. This is perfect toilet reading material, if only the wireless was up and running eh? With tales of maynoisse abuses in sandwich processing plants, and how "Too Much Too Young’ being murdered through the floorboards" in a dingy regional town can really be the cultural highlight of the weekend. Ouch.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I love zines and think that they are such a great way to self publish and get your ideas out to more people. I was talking to a friend of mine, who writes a zine and runs a zine and bookshop, the other day about blogs, she personaly doens't like them, which at first surprised me because I thought the idea of getting more people writing and more people sharing would be high on her list of good ideas. At the same time she makes her zine on her type writer and is not a fan of computers so of course it should have come as no surprise. Her actual reasons for not liking blogs is that people don't put enough thought into them, as a result they are not as truthful. The idea of it being too easy to put something out there before you might really know if it is how you want to represent yourself. And that the quality of what goes out is not as high as you would get in a zine or anything that you sat with edited and re-edited till you got it right.

She lent me the other day this zine, not being a punk I have missed out on the having the common knowledge of all these great zines that everyone seems to know about. There is this other one I started to read a few years back that is great, all cartoons. I didn't realise that EVERYONE knows this zine

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Friday, December 09, 2005

OOP LA! The Poshie Goes Down...

For those of us subscribing to the "resistative pleasure" excuse for watching soap operas, tonight was the night, where the cracks in hegemony widened into the erasure of false conciousness in one of the streets oldest loafers. The night when Sally Webster's burgeoning aspirations to the petit-bourgeoise came tumbling down around her head at a prompt taste of her own medicine. A spawn of Blairite revisionism and upward mobility, Sally's exactly the sort of girl who'd vote in Cameron. She's been waging a perpetual class war against all on the street for the past 18 months,and as if pulling her daughter out of Weatherfield Comp, scabbing on the girls in the underwear factory and getting the family in debt wasn't bad enough she recently had the gumption to start pouring scorn on her daughter's new friends, a chavtastic teenage smoker called Nicola who's dad is a long lost black sheep in the Webster lineage.

Arriving over to their gaff to pour scorn on the parents for the wayward infleunce of their little Nicorette, lead to the uncovering a tale of rags to riches glory, when it emerged the lumpen wing of her family had pulled itself up through education to the position of a sociology lecturer. Told by her lost relative that their daughter was forbidden from young Sophie's company, the tables were turned and Sally's face hit the floor.

Distant Sociology Lecturing Relative: Since hanging around with your daughter, she's been speaking mooo...more broad...lets say more "aye, boy gum." We can no longer faciltate the furtering of that friendship.
Sally: WHA-EVER! (Said with all the ferocity of Lady S.OV.)
DSLR: Whatever? Now, I see where she gets it.
Sally: Everyone says it nows-a-days...look at you, you're all airs and graces and sounding your "h"s...
DSLR:...and your still a bleached blond harpie

After a nerve calming half gallon of alcohal in the Rover's, it was back to the kitchen sink drama of the 1950's with the Websters taking pride, once again in their humble roots and an end to Sally's desire to upper middle class tosh.

Sally: no one in this family will ever be posh, yer dads going to the chippy..
Kev: ...and when i get back, i spect every one to be sittin round da telly eatin' with their hands..
Sally: ..and pickled onions all round.


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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Just After Watching Sophie Scholl and In Anticipation Of My Review Here's An Old Article On Nazism.

When discussing National Socialism and the German working class; there's no room for romantic accounts of history, its not about matters of myth or dead heroes alive again in effigy. One thing is clear; a class which had consistently risen throughout Germany in the wave of revolution between 1918 and 1923 failed to produce one large scale strike similar to those that broke out in Turin in 1943 under Mussolini, no peppering of exemplary acts against state agents co-ordinated by a revolutionary underground such as those in Russia under the Tsar, that there was no large scale sabotages of armaments plants or no out breaks of rioting against Storm trooper patrols in working class communities throughout twelve years of a regime which facilitated the most brutal repression against working class people leaves us with many complex questions but only one clear answer. With a secret police producing nearly 1,000 arrests of workers per week; it is clear that with all the vehement hatred contained in National Socialism, it could identify its potentially most dangerous enemy as the German working class itself.

There are four complex but interweaving strands which facilitated the solidification of the National Socialist regime between January 1933 and June 1934. The central locomotive driving the discussion of these four themes are the containment and neutralisation of the working class by National Socialism. The methods employed ranged from attempts to buy off the class through refusing to launch the aggressive attack on wages expected by business and maintaining and extending elements of the social welfare system which had become a feature of Weimar which riled capital with its fear of a 'trade union economy' to out right terroristic repression.

Haunted by the memory of 1918 and the general strike which brought the Kapp Putsch to it's knees National Socialism saw itself foaming at the mouth with impatience to smash the traditional socio-cultural structures of working class solidarity when it came to power in January 1933. The destruction of the working class's overt political structures; as they manifested themselves in both offensive forms as reformist and revolutionary political tendencies and in the defensive organs of the trade union movement proved an immediate agenda of National Socialism under Hitler as it strove to solidify power. The Reichstag fire attributed to the Dutch Communist Van Der Lubbe can be understood as a strategy of tension orchestrated by the SS, Goering was later to boast of it. A ploy similar in many ways to that used in Italy in the late seventies and again finding expression in the media hype surrounding the recent supposed anarchist letter bombings directed at Prodi. That is a pretext for creating an atmosphere of political upheaval and tension which serves to generate, justify and flame repression against those it is claimed is creating the disorder. A parallel can be seen in the myths of a massacre of 70 policemen in Lichtenberg, which fanned FreiCorp's repression in the wake of the March 4th, 1919 General Strike, resulting in 1,500- 2,000 deaths. The ushering in of the 'Emergency Decree for the Protection of the People and The State' saw the swift banning of the Communist Party and arbitrary attacks on the workers' movement by police and SA.

Later in the year the regime in a typical attempt to assimilate elements of working class culture declared May 1st a holiday and oversaw huge labour demonstrations, the official organ of the German TUC, Gewerhschaftszeitung, published an article for its May Day edition naively assuming that they 'certainly need not strike our colours in order to recognise that the victory of National Socialism, though won in struggle against (the Social Democrats) our victory as well.' In his dairy Goebbels wrote: 'Tomorrow we will occupy the trade union buildings. There will be little resistance'. He was right, the oldest workers' movement in the world was smashed and on June 22nd the Social Democrats too found themselves removed from the political equation. Deprived of its traditional armoury of resistance and opposition in the structures the working class had fostered; militants were forced to operate in an illegality which bore no resemblance to that expected for the regime was to go all out and attempt whole scale restructurings of the working class environment and a taming of the power of national socialist labour organisations.

With this elimination of organised political opposition came a restructuring of industrial relations along National Socialist lines which while not eliminating struggle at the coal face of the class struggle, sought to inoculate ideas of the Gemeinschaft (National Community) into the class which created a façade which theoretically at least neutralised ideas of class conflict in industry. Organising industry along lines outlined in the Arbeitsordnungsgesetz (AOG) enacted on January 20th 1934. The AOG defined the workplace as
Betreibsgemeinschaft, the smallest element in the wider national community, with a feudal relationship between boss and worker promoting a non material bond of loyalty midst capitalist modes of production. Schwenger, one of the architects of Nazi industrial policy described its aims 'to pacify the workforce, eliminate disputes, remove the objective grounds for social foster national ideas and to reject class conflict.' (1) The AOG plays a key role in highlighting the regimes attitude to the working class and its attempts to solidify power. Through the act the regime attempted a fundamental restructuring of attitudes to work. Hitler described how there as no need to socialise industry when one could socialise people, Robert Ley the head of the Nazi Labour Movement expanded in describing how 'we must all share in the workplace where we are employed. Share in every stone, every machine, everything. Yes, my friend; of you work there, it belongs to you! In law it may be the property of another, but that means nothing.' (2) The removal of traditional working class modes of representation saw an inability to channel opposition, the ground previously occupied by the trade union movement became occupied by the national socialist Deutsch Arbeitsfont (DAF) with a system of elected Councils of Trust which were theoretically to play an advisory role in the new industrial landscape. A process of breaking down relationships between the class was initiated through greater individualisation through Taylorism and with the advent of competitions like National Vocational Competition which sought to introduce the national socialist organising priniciple of competition among workers as a means to break up traditional notions of solidarity which had provided the backbone of the union movement. Mason uses an example of a mural from the 1934 Berlin Exhibition 'German People- German Labour which attempted to illustrate the AOG, featuring labourers and crafts men working in harmony building a small housing estate undisturbed by class tension or the noise of modern industry.

The AOG offered 'Strength Through Joy' holidays and leisure pursuits organised by firms and the state. However along with these leisure outlets it also offered the Arbeitserziehungslager, concentration camps attached to larger plants which when viewed alongside the Strength Through Joy iniatives can read as something of a signifier for the regimes attitudes to the working class; terror mixed with a willingness to give in to demands and seek a buying off of the working class. The fear of hunger unrests of 1918 saw the regime attempt to maximise supplies by using up foreign exchange which had been set aside for rearmament in the pre-war period, and as Mason suggests added an internal dynamic to the aggressive expansionism of '38-39; using plunder from Poland to satiate demand at home. The encouragement of geographic and industrial mobility has also been seen as partially contributing to the break up of 'red' neighbourhoods which held the potential for providing support for organised movements of workers opposition and resistance. Having eliminated political expression by the class, the Regime went one step further and attempted to reconstitute the class itself, eliminating the dangerous class contradiction of the old working class by socially dispersing it and wiping it out theoretically as a class.

The success of the elimination of a left opposition and resistance to the regime, then opened up the way to an elimination of a potential left opposition within the National Socialist movement itself as represented by the destruction of the Rohm/Strasser tendency of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) and their rhetoric of a 'second revolution' in the so called Knight of the Long Knives. The SA was socially constituted by the petit bourgeoisie and declassed elements from the years of unemployment; it provided the backbone of the National Socialist Movement and had proved an essential component in the outright attacks by the regime between March and June 1934. Historians like Reich and Rohm locate the violence of nazism as rooted in the authoritarian socialisation of middle class childhoods while this may certainly be true, the existence of the SA as a descendent of the FreiCrops which crushed strikes throughout the upheavals of the early Weimar gives testament to its function within the broader spectrum of National Socialism. The anarchist Daniel Guerin gives an eyewitness account of a Nazi Stormtrooper rally in Leipzig in 1933, quoting the ranting demagogue describing how 'we have now but one enemy to vanquish; the bourgeoise. To bad for it if it doesn't want to give in, if it doesn't want to understand.' (3) The Rohm/Strasser tendency of the SA represented an economic left wing of national socialism which took serious the movements promises to end the burden of interest, rent slavery and to nationalise industry. Rhetoric it may have been, but as Nazi Gauleiter Krebs reported that 'any attack on capitalism and plutocracy found the strongest echo among the local functionaries with their middle class origin.’ (4)

Speer mentions something similar in his memoirs, the sole owner of a car in his section 'the other members only expected to have a one after the 'revolution' they dreamed of took place. By way of preparation they were finding out where in the rich suburb the right cars were available for X Day. (5) The SA had provoked tensions along class lines within the movement in the past. In august 1930, Eastern SA units revolted, under the leadership of Walther Stennes. Reasons included payment and problems with the gauleiters and the growing influence of the rival SS. A group in Berlin even attacked Joseph Goebbels offices and beat up the SS men who stood guard. In February 193, Stennes wrote in a letter to Röhm "it is much more important to undertake measures to relieve the economic position of the SA. In Berlin there are regiments containing 67% unemployed. In Breslau a company could not turn out for inspection ... in frost and snow - because it completely lacked footwear". In a speech on 17 June, Franz Non Papen, a centre party renegade and Hitler's Vice Chancellor echoed the sentiment of much of the upper bourgeoisie and capital towards the wave of violence and extra-legal rule by force carried out by an organisation which while existing officially outside the state structure now seemed to share its monopoly of violecnce describing how 'no nation can live in a state of permanent revolution from below...terroristic methods in the field of law.' (6) And it was that Hitler had his 'comrades' in the leadership of the SA liquidated in the Night of the Long Knives. This liquidation of the anti-capitalist elements within National Socialism can be read as a parallel to Mussolini's Concord with the Vatican, that is the Rohm Putsch represented a compact and reapprocahment with capital, the SA's purpose having been served in the wiping out of the labour movement.

While the regime occupied the territories previously occupied by the organs of the working class within industry, and deprived it of political space; another important element which must be discussed and is often underestimated when one speaks of a neutralisation of the working class in the Third Reich is the regimes clear identification of the need to occupy the ground previously held by working class movements within their social and cultural milieus. This was one aspect which both communist and socialist groups did not consider in their preparations for illegality; where they previously could fallback on organic structures of support within communities, now they couldn't. Peukart describes how 'the attempt to nationalise society led to the atomisation of the power structure.' (7) Germany under Hitler saw the intrusion of the state into the various cultural and social milieus of the working class. One of the more interesting campaigns of resistance launched by the KPD (German Communist Party) prior to Januray 1933 was the so-called Kneipe-kampagne, that is the struggle for territorial control of taverns which were been used by the SA to gain a foot hold in working class areas.

This physical occupation of a nodal point of working class life by National Socialism broadens with the regimes solidification of power into the introduction of national socialist based organisations (Strength through Joy etc) to usurp the traditional roles of working class voluntary organisations and associations which organised leisure activities and facilitated mutual aid in working class communities. Part of an overall process of creating a dependence at once on the regime and of neutralising ability or tendencies towards the formation of independent cultural and social outlets; which could theoretically have provided the basis of a workers' resistance to Nazism. This was the recognition that the environments that facilitated working class traditions of struggle and solidarity were as much of a threat to the regime as the more overt and official organs of the class's representation that grew out of them. The increasing individualisation in the factories was compounded by an alienation of the community. As one diary entry states 'And the world? The best thing is to shut your eyes to it and to stop hearing and seeing all the dreadful fuse and bother.' (8) As one report by the underground SPD stated 'the essence of fascist control of the masses is compulsory organisation on the one hand and atomisation on the other.'

Yet, a photo of a National Socialist May Day Celebration in Penzberg in Upper Bavaria, Nazi ranks gathered at the back and miners up front, a mass of straight arm salutes and a scattering of clenched fists attesting to two strands which seem to define working class experience under National Socialism; mobilisation and refusal. (9) Horkheimer, the former director of the Frankfurt Institute, used to say "If you don't want to talk about capitalism, then don't talk about Nazism." As the dynamics of capitalism continued to reproduce itself in industry, so too did the dynamics of working class existence breed and necessitate non-traditional modes of resistance to the regime. As Robert Ley, head of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront stated 'the only people who still have a private life in Germany are those who are asleep'; so it is not odd for us to characterise even the simple refusal to cook an Eintopf as opposition; as it was a rescinding of an expected form of consent in the private sphere which became an area in which the class was increasingly forced into retreat from its submission in the public sphere. The KPD's strategy of agitation for mass revolutionary action defined in its slogan of 'after Hitler, us' combined with its attempt to impose a form of centralised organisation developed for struggle under a wholly different context led to devastating setbacks for the resistance.

However new generations of anti-fascists emerged with no memory of the struggles before 1933, some of these such as the Edelweiss Pirates and Meuten groups of anti-authoritarian youths who rejected the culture of the Hitler Youth would become politicised by the occupation of the working class milieu and declare 'eternal war on the Hitler Youth', organising attacks on National Socialist Patrols and engaging in armed attacks on the Gestapo. In industry, a labour shortage of one million people created new opportunities for working class resistance in the forms of go-slows and mass absenteeism. The nature of resistance may have changed, but the battle field remained the same.

National Socialism then essentially solidified its grip on power through the destruction of the political space of the working class in its defensive and offensive organs, by a restructuring of industrial relations along National Socialist lines and attempts to buy off the class through maintenance of wages and increases in living standards. The regime also saw a need for a rapprochement with capital and the middle classes which necessitated the elimination of anti-Bourgeoisie sentiment within National Socialism Itself. Finally the regime sought to occupy the cultural and social space of the working class depriving it of the ability to self organise and hence any nodal points for the growth of resistance through a proliferation of its own organisations.

1 Quoted in Mason, Timothy. Ed. Jane Caplan. Nazism, Fascism and the Working Class; Essays By Tim Mason. (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
2 Quoted in Mason, Timothy. Ed. Jane Caplan. Nazism, Fascism and the Working Class; Essays By Tim Mason. (Cambridge University Press, 1996) P80
3 Guerin, Daniel. The Brown Plague. Travels in Late Weimar and Early Nazi Germany. (Duke University Press, 1994) P120-122.
4 Hamerquist, Don, Sakai, J, Anti Racist Action Chicago, Mark Salotte. Confronting Fascism; Discussions For A Militant Movement. Kersplebedeb, ARA Chicago, Arsenal Magazine, 2002) P109
5 Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich. (Macmillian, New York, 1970) P52
6 Hohne, Heinz. The Order of the Death's Head; The Story of the SS. (Martin Secker and Warburg LTD, 1969)
7 Peukart, Detlev JK. Trans. Richard Deveson. Inside Nazi Germany; Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life. (B.T. Batsford LTD, London, 1987) P144
8 Peukart, Detlev JK. Trans. Richard Deveson. Inside Nazi Germany; Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life. (B.T. Batsford LTD, London, 1987) P79
9 This image can be found on page three of the illustrations in Peukart, Detlev JK. Trans. Richard Deveson. Inside Nazi Germany; Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life. (B.T. Batsford LTD, London, 1987)

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

21st Century Indulgences, Chugging and Corporate Ch Ch- ing.

The social welfare office is a bleak place to find yourself on a summer’s afternoon. It's decrepit decor of ruddy orange plastic chairs and ratty gray carpets, scarred with cigarette burns from anxious claimants testify to a lack of state investment and care . With every text and fag leaving another dent in a miserly bank balance, attempting to navigate signing on for the first time is more obstacle course than a walk in the park.

The anonymous voice at the other end of the line to the Citizen’s Information Centre was upfront and helpful, but nothing prepared me for the scowl awaiting as I finally came up to the spittle covered screen separating me from the vision that was the permed, middle aged, cardigan woman, and with the potential to emancipate me from my Koka noodle hell and put me back in the realm of fresh veg. Cardigan woman tells me her computer system operates two tax years in the past, so it’ll be my mid-twenties by the time I can use up the accumulated PRSI credits from my patch work quilt of jobs. Forms and forms later, and after jumping dolphin like deftly through reams of hoops - I'm left to await confirmation of my SWA. A letter arrives a few weeks later: my summer is to be lived out on 13.50EUR a week. With so much privatized knowledge of miraculous scamming of the welfare system collected among my social networks, how the hell did it come to pass that I let it slip I was co-habiting with another minimum wage slave?

Skipping every good gig of the summer and forward a few weeks I’m scrounging the job websites for the ideal posting - the sort of employment where I can persist with my disdain for work and internet addiction, greeting the world with lethargy and hangover’s rather than service and cheer. It’s at this point that chugging comes in. At once every urban area's new social pariah, the industry of charity mugging grows at a frantic rate as the most visible method of fund-raising. For most of us awareness around chugging extends little beyond the daily shared avoidance strategies used when passing the fuckers. They approach with grins like five year olds all giddied up to the eye-balls on skittles, meanwhile their eyes betray their smiles, its clear they really just want the ground to open up and swallow them, while you promptly lapse into the same hackneyed tricks; pretending to send a text message, using your IPod to short circuit your hearing or just storming past as if they don’t even exist.

I’d been through the interview process for chugging once or twice before, for groups like Concern and Amnesty International, both of whom have in house fund raising operations paying over the odds of €14 per hour. A double team presents itself, one young and in training to take over the interview process, the other older and in control. Given the predisposition for slightly hippy-ish clothing and woolly jumpers, the NGO sector should be thankful the League of Gentlemen never caught wind of the potential for Legs Akimbo style farce. Subject to a hardly probing set of questions on motivations for wanting the job, I found myself getting into a rhythm about wanting to save the world, knowing I am doing something useful with my life before hitting a brick wall when asked to talk at random about something I’m passionate about, a natural surliness ensured this was as far as I got.

It’s Friday, 11am and mid-August, when a rather excitable character rings me offering me an interview at 6pm for a chugging role to start the following Monday. I make my way out to a small office for an agency in lower Rathmines, I'm told I already have the job before being rushed through the interview routine for bureaucratic purposes, by a stressed indie-boy in his late twenties. Three days later I’m rushed into a one day training session with a slightly overweight, rugby player turned charity sweet talker. I was to be transformed over night into a salesman familiar with the routine of “Stop! Pitch! Ask!” This was the corporate newspeak covering up the old routine of sales targets, a PLC-ing of charities, disguised among a chummy, “we're a gang, and a what do a gang have? Balls” mentality, clearly designed to sap away any individual intuition that this charity talk was a load of tosh and you were standing on the precipice of the world of cold selling. After eight hours of repeating sales routines, the next day I was bibbed up and out on the street and hoping no one I know would pass by.

Amidst a drought of employment a flat-mate ended up pushing these notorious charity scratch cards on a commission only basis for 1 Euro out of every 2 Euro made. This was really stretching the definition of charity with the money going to a well known private alcoholic’s clinic. On sunny days, we sat perched in Temple Bar and watched with a clinical coldness as his levels of aggression increased over the months, before climaxing in brazenly following people from one end of Temple Bar to the other. Thankfully chuggers fuck off when politely asked to. After all, charities don't want to tarnish their brand with harassing figures desperate to pay rent.

Looking into it, chugging is a world with many nebulous traditions clashing. For the major charities it's simple. The donations they receive on an ongoing basis through direct debit allow for clean, efficient and long term budgeting as we had it drilled into our heads in training. Chugging is a method of direct sales and promotion rolled into one, lessons learnt from corporate promotion teams on visibility and engagement and on how to push a product in the face of a youth demographic. As one fund-raising company routinely points out: “while the average age of a donor on a charity database is 55, the average age of a person who decides to give regularly during a face to face communication is 29.” The model was developed in the early 1990's by the Austrian Andreas Leitner who had previously engaged in cold calling on telephones, before spreading the method to Germany, Switzerland and Italy, before hitting the UK with the company Dialogue Direct, last year it turned over €4 million.

On one hand you have charities seeking to raise money motivated by global or local concerns, and on the other you have private companies offering a service on a commission basis. Last year in the UK an estimated 690,000 people were persuaded by "chuggers" to give financial support to a charity, according to figures from the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association. At an average fee of £50 per sign-up, that suggests £34.5 million of donations going as income to the businesses. The big five are the Dialog Group Ltd, which runs the Face 2 Face Fundraising and Dialogue Direct agencies, Push Ltd, Gift Fundraising Ltd, Caring Together Ltd and Fruitful Fundraising UK Ltd. These are the commission sucking companies who's prominence has unleashed the current wave of anti-chuggger backlash prompting some of the more major charities to set up in house companies to do the work directly.

Feeding people my hook line of “excuse me, but do you know where the little people live?" Before rapidly proceeding into my spiel. The other option was pretending to be a tree, dancing or singing and fucked if I was doing that. There was a surprising lack of ignorance on the Dublin streets, there were in fact no blunt “fuck offs” and only a handful of goth kids muttering “get a real job” at a safe distance before tossing off to waste their mammies money on Marilon Manson shirts in Asha. Our location for the day was in and around the Central Bank, a turf much contested by the several homeless tappers who saw us preying on their market of soppy alternative types and American tourists hanging around Temple Bar, many of whom walked into my ploy forcing me to fob them off by immediately asking for money. This was selling a modern form of indulgences: this truly was a parallel world of “this week we have a special offer on children between the ages of five and ten suffering from polio, ten of whom you can cure for minimum of €19 a month. Take out a tax efficient subscription of €21 a month and that'll school eleven young girls left orphaned by parents with HIV, suit you sir? Well, step over here where you can purge your consciousness of guilt, and renounce your social responsibility all in one foul swipe of your signature and a series of numbers sent to your bank?”

The ad for the job sold it as “crazy or random” with the possibility of “work outdoors and do something different” and “make a real difference to your world” ensuring a constant flow inwards of young people seeking temporary work outside the humdrum of the McJob circus, while keeping some what in line with their own ill-defined sense of social justice. The others on team were indie types, or mushroom munching, psy-trance types clutching their Carlos Castaneda before heading off traveling again to some vaguely world music soundtrack. Judging from constant on-line advertising, there is a huge staff turnover in the “chugging” world. I did one day on the job, it was emotional prostitution, with a face physically aching from so much fake smiling. And then there was the weather, I’d been told in training that save for a hurricane Katrina style cataclysm we were never permitted to leave the out doors.

The buddy buddy-bullshit from the Carlos Castaneda reading team leader was nudging me to stay late, auto-reduce my hourly rate to somewhere dangerously below the minimum wage while keeping up the companies commission and I'm sure his own bonus. With such profits at stake and charity as the best motivational tool, its no surprise to hear that in New Zealand, there are claims that some chuggers are asked to pay a bond to cover an donors who pull out before a month before taking up employment. The next day when my alarm clock went off, I rolled over and went back to sleep - it was clear I needed to get off the streets and start pissing the general public off from a call centre instead.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Saving The Soul Of Rave From Trance.

Last week I brought you an incredible cut n pasted, situationist style cartoon warning of the threat posed to the rave scene by the likes of Tiesto. Well, this week, I bring you the perils of the typical night on the dance floor. These just keep coming in on ie-dance, for more of this check out this collection here.

I must have come across a dozen or so attempts to super-impose dialogue over kiddies comic strips, noen ever get far beyond the seven shades of situationist shite that inspired them; save for now, feast your eyes on this. At once a perfect example of the sort of distorted world view that can be forced on to a once innocent cartoon strip, and a warning against commercial dance all in one shot.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Mind Numbing Muppets: Pat The Plank And Terrified Kids

Presenting another in a series of Mind Numbing Muppets - a Soundtracksforthem response from the underbelly of the keyboard to the kaleidoscope of dazzlingly silly cahnts who impose themselves on us via their access to the media.

Number 3: Pat Kenny

Two weeks after Halloween and businesses across the country were doing their best to confuse the fuck out of every one by decking out the Chrimbo lights. Get ready because from December 8th on the city will break into a frenzied panic as culchies descend to get their shopping on. Dare you lurk by the bus stop to Heuston station for all the pushing elbows and country battle axes grabbling their way on to buses as if they were the last exits from hell. Then like flies on shit, and stoners to a 24 hour garage, urbanite shoppers find themselves compelled by decorative lights to splash ludicrous amounts of dosh about shops all in the name of Christ. Newspaper headlines will soon forget scarcity in Sudan and regale us with a slightly worrying concern with Barbie shortages and video game droughts.

At least at this time of year there’s one constant. For years now The Late Late Toy Show has pepped up kids around the country with the sort of hell bent consumer excitement us adults get from peering over that tome of consumer pornography, the Argos catalogue. A doyen amidst the TV schedules the Toy Show has become standard fare to tickle the toes in the pre-Christmas run up. For parents it’s an opportunity to go window shopping without leaving their gaff. For kids its an opportunity to load up on all the ammunition they need to make the X-mas run up complete and harangue their folks with demands. For those of us without a Friday night social life, it provides the sort of comic relief that can only come from a presenter who’s had his personality hoovered out of his nose, leaving him with all the stuffiness of Paddington Bear. The Toy Show revels in that form television that sees adults getting their kicks from the reactions of terrified looking kids.

A childhood memory of Kenny has him gawking from the screen, like Joe Ninety with a degree, presenting ‘Today Tonight’ the forerunner of Prime Time. Starting off as a continuity announcer, Kenny’s plank-ness became obvious early on doing the voice over for Dev’s funeral. After a bout of solemn fiddly dee music, Pat read out the title without checking – it turned out to be ‘The Aul Divil Is Dead.’ Moving on to present the Eurovision, Pat would annoy half of Europe before finally being pacified with his very own ‘Kenny Live’ leading to a state of perpetual guerrilla war in Mountrose between the two production teams. As Gaybo pissed off to retirement, Pat fell into his shoes, leading to a huge fall in ratings. Critics only began to hold their guns on Kenny after viewers opted not to tune into Dunphy’s melted wax model face and retained their generational loyalties to the Late Late.

The latest Toy Show saw Hazel Kaneswaran’s (her of Dove fame and now You’re A Star) kid dragged out on stage to like a performing monkey while she mouthed support from the sidelines. With a face like a rabbit in a headlight, the poor fucker looked like a caged animal in the glare of the studio lights and could only stare blankly at the audience. His ordeal only got worse when a seven foot Barney appeared to mouth off Christmas tunes, while a delirious looking Pat The Plank whooped it up prancing around the child like some demented elf. Dustin still made his annual appearance with all the mannerisms of a drunk taxi driver pontificating on current affairs. Pat struggled to cope with the scripted jokes about turkey hunts, and his attempts to raise the level of humour with a doll that mouthed Bush-ism’s was undercut by the turkey’s Bertie doll, a Telly Tubby. Every year there is the inevitable pile up as kids on bikes hurl themselves across the studio to the glee of Kenny, this year some three year old on a trike nearly came foul of an eight year old road hog in a motorised quad.

Gone are the days of the Billy Barry Kids with their dancing routines and eyes glazed over with Skittle over indulgence. These days thankfully its more a dose of twelve year old rock bands churning out covers of ‘The Darkness.’ The Toy Show features all the stereotypes one could care to mention. The seven year old hairdresser, glamming it up like failed cast members on Ab Fab, all that was missing was a fag hanging from her mouth. The book worms pontificating about Harry Potter, the video game nerds who can barely take their eyes off Fifa to tolerate Kenny for a moment and the construction nerds fiddling around with bits of wood.

Gaybo had his festive jumper, giving him the sort of doteage that smacks of grand-dad and packages of Werthers. With Pat, one can’t help but feel slightly queasy as he awkwardly cohorts with the kids. Behave! The only kiddy fiddling going on here is that of the corporations, who as ever leap on any opportunity provided to pass off their merchandise on the new generation. As a recent episode of Panorama pointed out 60% of household expenditure is on products to satisfy kids. All this means the little gits control the consumer end of an industry worth $1.1 Trillion globally, and that industry is intimately linked to Christmas. As Christmas beckons one really does get the urge to re-enact a stunt performed by the London based situationists, King Mob in the seventies. Who walked into a high street store, dressed as Santa and began to hand out toys to kids with a ‘merry Christmas.’ Full of Christmas cheer, security began to wrestle with hysterical kids in an effort to snatch the toys back.

The new Smyth’s ad models itself on Power City ads, some kid shouts prices while his female helpers present the various products on sale. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the logic behind some of the more popular products like Pokemon, which bases itself totally on the logic of compulsive consumerism. ‘Got To Catch Them All’ maybe the aim of the shows characters, but ‘got to buy them all’ becomes the reality for parents when it comes to the playing cards and other products. Pokemon once the most insidious end of a industry that seeks to condition children for a life time of buying, has passed its traits on to other products like YU-GI-OH and Bratz. All of which urge more purchases as a means to extract full utility from the line. Buy one Bratz, and it’s a doll, buy two and they interact. Socialisation begins earlier and earlier.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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