Wednesday, 24 September 2008

To my father. Who taught me not to drive.

Anarchist worker-collective tram. Plaça Espanya 1936
Arxiu Fotogràfic AHC

Today is la Merced, a holiday in Barcelona in honour of the
city's patron saint. The week-long celebrations culminate tonight
with a giant firework display over the fountains of Montjuïc, just
next to Plaça Espanya.

I normally go if I am here.

To stand below the falling coloured sky... such a strange and magical

But not this year.

Today is also my father's birthday.

But there will be no celebrations as he died in January this year.

A good man. A gentle man. He once went to war to fight fascism.

Because they did not listen to the warning voices from Spain.

He taught me a love of books and animals.

And fireworks.

Though my sister and I only got the sparklers while he played with all the rest.

He taught me to laugh.

And he taught me not to drive.

Never instilled that unquestioned belief in the need for a car.

Belief which has had so many consequences.

And he was right.

I miss him.

The choice of graphic was indirectly inspired by Jon who
visits this blog and who works for a bus company in California.

Turning Worlds Upside Down

The song is in fact by the folk singer and writer Leon Rosselson
but I prefer Billy's version.

Even if he does now live in a very large house with a view.

(Not, at least, over the private golf course which now occupies the
site of the Diggers' long-lost, but not forgotten, dream. Neighbouring
houses on St George's Hill are currently valued at around 3 million
pounds; sometime neighbours the likes of Elton John and Cliff Richard).

What on earth do they do with all the rooms?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Exemplary Moments in English History. 1649

Signed for and in behalf of all the poor oppressed
people of England, and the whole world.

Gerrard Winstanley (and 44 others)

"That the earth was not made purposely for you, to be Lords of it,
and we to be your Slaves, Servants, and Beggers; but it was made
to be a common Livelihood to all, without respect of persons: And
that your buying and selling of Land, and the Fruits of it, one to
another, is The cursed thing, and was brought in by War; which
hath, and still does establish murder, and theft, In the hands of
some branches of Mankinde over others, which is the greatest
outward burden, and unrighteous power, that the Creation groans

Gerrard Winstanley, a creationist one must admit (though in his
writing God and Reason seem to be interchangeable) was a
founding member and guiding theoretician of the English Diggers.

They believed that land was a "common treasury" which belonged
collectively to the people. Especially poor people.

Great believers in direct action, in the spring of 1649, they proceeded
to cultivate a stretch of common land on George's Hill Surrey.

Needless to say this utopian experiment in agrarian communism
lasted less than a year. Not for nothing are the ill-gotten gains of
private property generally connected with the "power of the
murdering and theeving sword."

But it's hard to keep a good idea down and it keeps popping up:

The anarchist agrarian collectives of the Spanish Civil War,

The San Francisco Diggers in the 60's.

Indirectly innumerable projects to give access to land to the poor
in Latin America.

All share something of Winstanley's vision.

Even the Queen, 11th in the Forbes richest monarch ranking
and worth a mere $600 million, is not immune.

Winstanley was a great promoter of the "Common-wealth."

Unfortunately I don't think Lizzie quite got the message right.

And even more unfortunately that old sword is still alive and

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Money? Let's just print our own.

Luis Romero Exposito Collection

Most local Councils did during the Spanish Civil War as metal coins

From the graphics it seems they held the eccentric belief
that wealth is somehow connected to labour and the means
of production.

As opposed to the infinite greed of Stock Market thieves
and speculators.

For a little insight into who is responsible for the current financial
chaos listen to or read the transcript of "The Giant Pool of Money."
from This American Life radio.

The reverse of the note:

"The price of our heroic sacrifice will be the freedom and
well-being of the world."

Better still

Eliminate (oh utopia) the money altogether.

CNT FAI (Light/Strength) coupon valid for a pair of shoes.


Size 39

Monday, 15 September 2008

Wall Street Weeps

Iraq War Cost

click here to learn more

So do I.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Victor Jara

They try to conceal the infamy
they have inherited from past centuries,
but the mark of murderers
cannot be wiped from their faces.

From "Vientos del Pueblo"

Victor Jara, much-loved poet, singer and political activist was
supposed to sing at the Technical University that 11th of September
1973 in Santiago, Chile.

They were opening an exhibition on the horrors of fascism and
civil war. President Salvador Allende was also expected to attend.

Early that morning it became evident that the feared fascist military
coup had started.

Victor still went to the University, where he was also a teacher, and
he did sing: to the 600 students and teachers trapped on the campus
that night by the curfew - the university buildings surrounded by tanks
and troops.

The tanks and heavy artillery attacked next morning. Victor was one
of the many taken prisoner and force marched to the Chile Stadium.

He was repeatedly vilified, tortured and beaten, his ribs and wrists

On Sunday 16th September his machine-gunned body, dumped near
the Metropolitan Cemetery with five others, was recognized by local
people just before an unidentified van appeared and picked up the bodies.

He wrote one more poem during those four last days in the Stadium,
unfinished as he was finally dragged away.

How hard it is to sing
when I must sing of horror.
Horror which I am living,
horror which I am dying.
To see myself among so much
and so many moments of infinity
in which silence and screams
are the end of my song.
What I see, I have never seen
What I have felt and what I feel
Will give birth to the moment...

Victor's wife, Joan, was English.

Today on the web:

I found three chapters of her book Victor: An Unfinished Song.

Worth reading, especially for the translation of one of his songs:
Cuando voy al trabajo, written when a young militant worker he
knew was shot dead during a peaceful demonstration. It's a love

Victor believed in love.