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erikhorsebalm

erikhorsebalm has written 22 posts for Thee Faction

30th November – ALL OUT

 

When the government decide we can have a day off for the royal wedding they said it wouldn’t damage the economy, even though afterwards they said it did.

When the workers decide to strike for a day they say it costs the UK economy half a billion.

An everyday story of country folk

You think complex financial instruments will set you free?

‘Hedge fund’. It has a bucolic feel to it, and that’s the way they want us to think. ‘Hedging your bets’ means trying to minimise risk. If a vineyard wants to know where it stands, they could sell the 2013 bottles on the futures market – before planting the vines  This will give them money to buy more land or vines up front; and a feeling of security about the future. It’ll be a fixed price, whether that year’s wine is liked by the critics or not. He hasn’t eliminated risk, just let someone else take it on. If you were to send Soviet Beret £9 for the next Thee Faction LP, which hasn’t been recorded yet, that would be the same (especially if you believed that you could flog it on eBay for £10 afterwards). Futures are the simplest form of derivative. The derivatives market is so called because the cash is ‘derived’ from another transaction. (The ‘spot market’ is where goods and money change hands at the same time).

 

This everyday story of country folk is a long way from the reality of what hedge funds get up to. Some are so bonkers they need a bank of linked computers to work out the odds. Nobel prize-winning mathematicians have been sucked into the City to feed this flock of seagulls of ‘financial innovation.’ And the sums of money that they deal with are friggin’ trouser-boggling. Hedge funds are already playing with $2 trillion of your money. Your pension. Money from your council. The fees you pay at University. There are $600 trillion of derivatives just floating around the globe. Marx called this ‘fictitious capital’. He’d flip if he could see the figures and think he’d been ignored. By way of comparison, the world produces less than $50 trillion in new goods and services per annum.

 

The scale of operation is bigger but the principle is the same as in our vineyard. The vineyard didn’t want to gamble on whether the 2013 harvest would be popular. But that meant somebody else did take a bet – the hedge fund. That’s what hedge funds do – bet with other people’s money (and a wee bit of their own). And bets can get more and more complicated. Ever heard of forecasts, trifectas, jackpots, placepots or pool bets? These are all ways of betting on horses. Usually they make it possible to win more money for a smaller stake. (This is called ‘leverage’ in the financial ‘markets’.) But you need your horse to run faster than the others. Or, conversely, bet on which horse comes last…

 

Hedge funds bought shares in Northern Rock thinking it would be sold, as it was, to that magpie Branson this week. But they actually brought the bank to its knees in the first place by ‘short-selling’ its shares.

 

Short-selling is a practice where a capitalist borrows 10 shares worth £100 on the expectation that they are going down, so that if he is right he can buy them back for £80 and keep the other £20 as profit. This is the opposite of ‘going long,’ when a capitalist buys a security in the expectation that its price will rise, and can keep the extra as profit if right. The Financial Services Authority has recently demanded that the bastards ‘short-selling’ company shares should be identified. DUUURRR! It’s the hedge funds. Hedge funds are the worst sort of capitalists. They will tear a firm to pieces if it makes money and then put it back together again if it makes more money. They’re like a bloke that shouts ‘fire’ in a cinema then loots the dead bodies after the stampede.

 

Capitalists argue hedge funds can make things happen. Share prices go down because hedge funds sell, and not for any other reason, they claim. Sounds like pirates to me. We in The Guild believe that capitalism is an inherently unstable system, and the operations of hedge funds and other speculators are merely the executors of the market forces through which the laws of inefficient chaotic capitalism work. Markets sometimes move in the ‘wrong’ direction’ – the opposite directions to the economic ‘fundamentals.’ (Whatever they are and whether or not they exist.)  These are the Bubbles. Bubbles have been a feature of capitalism since its central tenets were first starting to develop. For instance during the 1630s Northern Europe went crazy for Tulips. A rare tulip could sell for more than a whole farm. Why? Because each speculator assumed that, since prices were going up, they would be able to get more for the bulb than they paid for it. And why were prices going up? Because people were buying bulbs. Much like the entrenched belief in the UK , the US , Spain and Ireland that house prices would rise forever. Now Capitalism is in crisis hedge fund managers fear that the printing of money to help ease the financial crisis devalues money. Hedge funds are going after ‘hard assets’ like mining and land in the emerging economies, so the argument that investments drives jobs is horse-shit.

Can speculators make money by putting up prices or destroying the livelihood of firms? Some argue that it’s all a game using sums. If one speculator buys a piece of paper and makes money, then somebody else must have sold and lost money. Certainly society as a whole is not made one penny richer from speculation, a parasitic activity that burns up real wealth. But if there are a group of people with inside information such as hedge funds, then they can profit at the expense of the savings of widows, orphans and others not in the know. You.

 

Hedge funds are not just gamblers. They are also the bookies. In addition to a share of the winnings, (made with other people’s money) they charge a management fee.  As we know, whichever horse comes in first, the bookies always take their cut.

 

Speculation does not cause shortages, but shortages can lead to speculation – which makes the shortages worse. Think of ballast in a ship’s hold. If the sea were calm, there wouldn’t be a problem. The storm is the cause of the problem. But in a storm the ballast can punch a hole in the ship’s hull and cause disaster. A wall of money can make things happen, but only when they’re prone to happen anyway.

 

Let’s take speculation in oil. Demand is outstripping supply. Twelve years ago oil stood at $10 a barrel. Oil companies therefore couldn’t be arsed to search for new sources of supply, and the western world guzzled petrol on the grand scale. Nobody knew how much oil the world would want in 2012. Now it’s panic stations.

So the problem is capitalism, not speculation. Prices go up anyway because capitalism is unplanned. Capitalism inevitably creates shortages at some points and gluts elsewhere. Firms go bust and workers lose their jobs because that’s how capitalist ‘competition’ works.

 

Capitalists believe that their theories of speculation and investment are be judged by its predictive power. We in The Guild believe a theory is to be judged by its explanatory power. The first thing we have to do if we don’t want a world war over resources is smash the hedge funds. This kind of sharp practice has to stop. Now.

WHAT IT IS, WHAT’S GOING ON

Capitalism: it’s wage slavery which means you’re a commodity: purchased and owned through market exchange. Capitalism is inefficient because it elevates a small group who organise for their own benefit.

What about Guilds organising each of the essential functions in society?

Representative bodies which are fully accountable to you.
This means no more lazing around for you, however. You’ve been conditioned.
We’re passive; babies who throw our toys out of the pram if our Internet’s too slow. Imagine what would happen if the cash-points ran out of money. We’d freak out.

You’ll become much more active – we must re-achieve the ability and the drive to demand. Easy to turn on ‘Mock The Week’ and giggle at Eric Pickles. Hee hee, look at him, he’s so fat. What you’re doing there is delegating political power someone you’re pointing to and laughing at. That’s a bit rubbish.

Think of it as lots of employee take-overs. Industrial Guilds would undertake activities in the general interests of the industry. Unions can only put the brakes on, so are easy for the Capitalist press to attack as obstructive. Let’s take the steering wheel.

It would be great if Guilds and political bodies converged at a local, regional and national level with each providing representatives to oversee key community decisions. A quick chat and it’s all organised.
We’re all for fun. Hard work. Innovation. Don’t be scared, it’s not that different. There’ll still be cricket, television, take-away food. This is a very British Socialism we’re suggesting.
Socialism has never been tried here. This is the sort of advanced f*cked up society Marx was talking about.
Hoo hoo, Cameron’s got you exactly where he wants you, you sap. You’re scared of losing your job, house, pension: so you’re going to be a good citizen and look the other way. LISTEN UP! The economic situation is going to get a lot worse for you if you don’t take action now against the government’s cuts programme.
This is the perfect opportunity for us to politely clear our throats and say “well, time to go after these buffoons who’ve been trained to protect their class”.
The Tories didn’t get into this gig to make things better; they did it to protect their interests. But, as stated before hereon, they’re a bunch of amateurs. The country is being driven by those without a licence. They didn’t even win the election, for Cliff’s sake.
The Tories want to knacker the NHS and the welfare state, so the UK can move towards a US model where ordinary people have to take out loans and insurance to cover their basic needs, so their class pay less tax. The greed in our society is lodged very firmly at the top: directors of the FTSE 100 top companies have seen their pay leap by 49% since last year, according to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, meanwhile 600,000 public sector jobs will go by 2016. 100,000 posts were lost in April, May and June of this year alone. The unemployment rate for young people is already at 23%; its highest level for nearly two decades.
Last time we got The Specials. This time we got Mumford & Sons.

“So what can I do?”, I hear you bleat?

Join the resistance. You don’t hear about this on the telly. Here’s a list of organisations that are actively protesting. Agitating, doing stuff. They probably watch ‘X Factor’ too, they’re not a bunch of hippies.

Just LOOK AT THEM ALL! LOOK AT HOW MANY THERE ARE! LOOK!!!

Birmingham Association of the NUT, South Gloucester Unison, North/ North West London CWU, Walsall Against the Cuts, Leicester Unite 0168M. Portsmouth TUC, Bakers Food and Allied workers union (BFAWU), Waltham Forest NUT, Bolton Health Unison, International Alliance in support of workers in Iran, Kirklees Unison, LSE students union, Torfaen TUC, Unite SE2/8 branch, Unite Southampton 0854 branch, Oxford and District TUC, PCS DCLG HQ London, PCS Natural England branch, Lancaster and Morecombe District NUT, Colchester and District Trades Council, Wandsworth NUT, Oxford Unison local government branch, Leeds Metropolitan UCU branch, UCU CONEL branch,  EIS Glasgow Committee of management, Holborn GMB branch, Doncaster Unison, Calderdale NUT Association, Calderdale Save Our Services, UCU Manchester Metropolitan University branch, Unison AQA branch, Berkshire against the Cuts, Watford Trades Council, Disabled People against the Cuts (DPAC), Day-Mer North London, London Metropolitan University Unison branch, Barnsley NUT, Birmingham Unison, Hastings against the Cuts, CWU Eastern No4 branch, Manchester NUJ branch, Oxford City Unison, Bolton Trades Council, London RMT Transport Regional Committee, Croydon NUT, PCS Defra London branch, Gateshead Unison local government branch, Unite Bristol Health Service branch, Chesterfield and District TUC, Unite LE/785 Voluntary Sector & Legal Workers branch, Manchester Coalition Against the Cuts, UCU North West Regional Committee, Barnsley College UCU, UCU Northern Regional Committee, Barnsley TUC, London Region Fire Brigades Union, Manchester EAN, Camden NUT, UCU Lambeth College branch, UNITE Fujitsu UK Combine Committee, Sandwell NUT, Croydon College UCU, Camden Unison branch, Oxfordshire UNISON Health branch, PCS DSA Northern and Scotland branch, PCS ACAS London sub branch, Tower Hamlets Unison, Manchester Trades Council, Lewes Stop the Cuts, Unison Manchester Metropolitan University branch, Sheffield NUT, Bolton Health Unison, Ashfield Unison branch, USDAW Eastern C014 Welham Green branch, PCS DWP Liverpool branch, NUT East London Teachers Association, Unison United Left, Shropshire and Telford Trades Council, East Midlands Region UCU, Lancaster, Morecambe and District NUT, Yorks and Humberside Region UCU, NUT Lambeth Teachers Association, Colchester TUC, CWU South Central No1 branch, PCS DWP Lambeth and Southwark branch, PCS DWP Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire branch, PCS DWP Birmingham South branch, Ealing UNISON, PCS Land Registry Computer Services branch, PCS EHRC national branch, Westminster Kingsway UCU, Portsmouth Unison, PCS DWP Avon, Leeds Unison, Barnet TUC, UNITE IT & Comms National Industrial Sector Committee, Edinburgh No1 UNITE branch,UNITE Scottish Housing Branch (Sc 151), Bolton health joint union committee, RMT London Underground Fleet Maintenance, UNITE 193 branch (local govt), UNITE LE/0775M Cambridge University branch, UCU London Metropolitan University branch, South Yorkshire NUJ branch, NUJ London Magazine, Cardiff against the Cuts, Notts TUC, GMB s38 Branch, PCS IPS London & South Home Office branch, UNITE Greater Manchester IT Branch, UNITE Fujitsu Manchester reps committee, PCS HMRC Euston Revenue and Customs Branch, Hackney Pensioners Association, The Campaign Against Climate Change trade union group, Defend Council Housing, Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts, Southwark Save Our Services, UNITE Hillingdon 1/854 public service branch, GMB SW London General Branch K19, Goldsmiths UCU, Bolton NUT, Wandsworth Against Cuts, Right to Work Campaign, Haringey TUC, Kingston Anti Cuts Campaign, Education Activist Network,Waltham Forest Trades Council, UCU London Region, Defend the Right to Protest, UNISON London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, UCU Tower Hamlets College, Unite L&E Aerospace industrial sector committee,, USDAW North London branch,Socialist Teachers Alliance, UK Uncut, UNITE North West IT & Comms regional industrial sector, Anti Academies Alliance, Islington Hands off our Public Services, Sandwell Unison, UCU City and Islington College, UNITE London Construction branch Le/0555, North London USDAW dist branch, Islington NUT, Dudley NUT, Wakefield and District NUT, Oxfordshire Anti-Cuts Alliance, Bexley NUT, London Region UCU retired members branch, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC), PCS Central London Valuation Branch, Greenwich & Bexley Trades Council, PCS DFT Nottingham Branch, Lancaster and Morecambe against the Cuts.

THEN THERE’S 30th NOVEMBER. The damage to public services if the cuts go ahead will be far greater than any pain from strikes. Please support the day of action. Please don’t cross picket lines. THIS CONCERNS YOU. If you think it doesn’t, if you look the other way, you’ve chosen your side. Their side.

The battle lines are being drawn for the biggest confrontation yet between workers and the Tory-led government; pensions are being raided. With the population getting older, the Tories have picked their fight.
More than two million are set to strike on 30th November over the Tories’ plans to raid pensions. News needs conflict. This is the best way, sadly, to get this on the agenda.
BACK THEM. DON’T SACK THEM.

UP THE WORKERS!!

 

WE’RE COMING FOR YOU, DAVE!

We’re winning the War of Position.

But we’re handing control of the crises of Capitalism to those who benefit most from a further division between the rich and the poor.

This week has seen two European Prime Ministers forced out of office – not sure by whom, perhaps a mixture of protesters and the demands of “the markets”. Greece is now under a coalition government backed by the Troika (the tripartite committee led by the European Commission with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, that organised the financial “rescues” of Greece, Ireland and Portugal) and headed by a former vice-president of the European Central Bank.

In the UK the Metropolitan Police have implemented a policy of ‘total policing’ with 4,000 police threatening to use rubber bullets on the student demonstration and kettling workers’ protests. The blocking of the St Paul’s protesters on their way to meet the new Jarrow March was, quite frankly, not cricket.

In just over two weeks we will see potentially two million public sector workers come out on strike against Tory bullying.

November 30th promises to be the biggest day of action for almost a century.

1.1 million Unison union members balloted delivered an overwhelming vote to strike.

Across the union 79 percent voted to strike. And in the NHS the result was even better 82 percent.

Could be easily over 2 million coming out, once we know what Unite members want to do.

Money put aside for pensions is being siphoned by the biggest con-artists since the South-Sea bubble. Tax-payers money has been dribbled away inefficiently. The fact that we’re to work longer and pay more in because we’re  “living longer” is a crock of shite.

We’re being made the scapegoats for a worldwide banking balls-up. Simple as.

The government claims it has made a new, improved offer to the unions on pensions.  Danny Alexander called it “generous” and “the chance of a lifetime”. He’s a Lib-Dem. They are a Capitalist party. The fact remains that we’ll have to pay more in and work longer to get less out.

Unlike Thatcher, this load of rubbish of a Tory government has picked on an issue that unites the unions and affects everyone.

These are not “business as usual” times. We are living through a period where history will be made. What you do has not been so important for decades.

This is their glorious opportunity to knacker our class. But this is, conversely, OUR glorious opportunity to knacker their class.

Agitate. It’s fun. Talk to everyone you know and work with. Talk about inefficiency. We’re winning.

You can find a friend of the cause anywhere.

CHANT!

Let's all chant!

Around 35,000 demonstrators swamped the streets of Manchester this weekend to make sure the Tories know we’re there. Good work .

 

Organised by the Trades Union Congress it was billed as a “march and rally for The Alternative – jobs, growth, justice” in opposition to the coalition’s axing of public services and pensions; a culture protecting its comforts.

 

This wasn’t a bunch of loonies and anarchists. Huge numbers of mainstream public sector unions and workers, including fire fighters and teachers, took part along with a range of activists; no arrests were made, no punch-ups seen.

 

Here’s some of the chants that went up over the weekend:

“Tory scum, off our streets”

”David Cameron on your bike, we want a general strike!”

“Only one cut we want to see, Tories on the guillotine”

 

The last one’s a bit strong, but the wit of the half-rhyme is admired.

 

We in the Guild love a chant.

 

William Morris is the main man for us British Socialists when it comes to the chant.

 

In Morris’s time – the late 19th Century (CE) – it’s no exaggeration to suggest that everyone sang. Sheet music was the MP3 of the day, Christmas carols were becoming massive,  Music Hall songs and folk tunes were passed around in the pub, around the hearth and whilst working.

 

Morris understood how to emote through his poetry, when he turned to songwriting he invented the Socialist R’n’B of the day. Just look at the titles: they could all be songs by Thee Faction – ‘Voice of Toil’, ‘Wake London Lads’, ‘No Master’, ‘All For The Cause’, ‘The Day is Coming’ (“cast off all fooling, for this, at least, we know: That the Dawn and the Day is coming, and forth the Banners go”) ‘Socialists at Play’ ‘The March of the Workers’, and many more.

 

He was that popular that in 1890 he was considered to be the frontrunner for the Poet Laureate gig to replace Tennyson. Check some of the lyrics.

 

The chants romanticise the march of the workers. There’s no real attempt to explain historic class struggle, but they were antithetical (i.e a positive future was contrasted with a negative present), which is something the Guild at Thee Faction attempt to portray. There’s going to be more chanting on the next LP….”Don’t forget what the movement’s done for you baby, don’t forget what the movement’s done for you…

The Pirates of the Bundelsliga

Professional football has been a Capitalist Valhalla since the formation of the original football league in the 1880s. Workers in England’s industrial North and West Midlands, recently granted Saturday afternoons off, were given something to do with their time (and money) to prevent them talking about a revolution.

It’s easy to see that this is still the case: that football, especially in the UK (England in particular is the plaything of capitalists, TV companies, fascists and sexists).
But elsewhere –  there are plenty of football clubs that are the opposite. Thee Faction’s favourite is in Hamburg, Germany. Between the Reeperbahn and the docks is the Millerntor stadium, home to St Pauli FC.
One thing strikes you as you make your way to the ground. From most of the bars, shops and blocks of flats, flies the Jolly Roger; adopted by the fans as a symbol of the poor v rich in terms of football club ownership. St Pauli supporters are a mixture of punks, tattooed rockers, anarchists, socialists and blue collar workers: plus St Pauli has more women supporters than any other club in Europe.
These supporters are attracted to a club that wears its political heart on its sleeve and one that encourages an alternative culture to flourish on the terraces. They were the first European club to properly promote an anti-rascist and anti-fascist culture in the ground. The team played a tournament in Cuba to show solidarity with the country – and one goalkeeper Volker Ippig – took a year out to help the Nicaraguan Revolution.
St Pauli supporters
Matches are deliberately staged as a party. The team comes on to Hells Bells by AC/DC; sound systems are set up outside the ground afterwards so that mini street parties are held.
This rebranding of the club started in the dark days of the 1980s. The club, formed in 1910, had fallen on hard times and were playing in the lowest tier of German pro football.  A group of local squatters and immigrant workers began to attend games. The squatters bought their Jolly Roger flags into the ground. Slowly the group grew and other football supporters from further afield, tired of the fascist elements and commercialism associated with other clubs, began to follow St Pauli. As the team continued to struggle in the early part of the noughties the punks organised a series of gigs which saved it from liquidation. in 2006 they incredibly reached the semi-finals of the German Cup (inspiring a hit single featuring defender Marcel Eger, now of Brentford FC). Today you see Che Guevara flags and anarcho-syndicalist banners held aloft all around the ground. Asylum seekers are invited by the supporters groups at each game. They achieved promotion to the top flight on the 100th anniversary of their formation.
Even more extraordinarily (within the context of British football) the club had until this season an openly gay man as its Chairman. When homophobic taunts at an away game were launched at him the return fixture at St Pauli saw the terraces full of rainbow flags.
Promotion back to the top division means new commercial pressures. Business seats have been introduced and a VIP box was sponsored by a Hamburg strip club. Fans immediately protested. The Sozialromantiker (Social Romantics – who’s flag is the “Jolly Rouge”) covered the strip-club adverts in the ground during the games with flags. The ads were removed; the flags remain.
Is there anything similar in UK football? No. There are plenty of clubs who have a working class base, or are surrounded by bigger glitzy clubs, or eschew crass commercialism, or have very active supporters’ trusts who part-own the club (e.g. Brentford, Exeter City, Walsall, Hartlepool United) – there are some who were set up by fans’ groups as a protest (FC United of Manchester, AFC Wimbledon). Kudos to Swansea City for being the first club in the Premier League era to have a supporters’ trust who own a significant chunk (20%).

There are left-wing Ultra groups at other clubs of course: such as Livorno’s Brigate Autonome Livornesi, A.C. Arezzo’s Fossa, Pisa Calcio’s Ultras, (there’s others in Italy) – Olympique de Marseilles Curva-Massilia, Galatasaray’s Ultraslan, Hapoel Tel-Aviv’s Ultras Hapoel, (with the caveat that this goup is also Zionist), Benfica’s No Name Boys, AEK Athens’s Gate 21, and Sevilla FC’s Biris Norte – some are known for displaying flags with red stars, hammer and sickles, the anarchy symbol or images of Che Guevara. In Turkey, Beşiktaş JK’s ultra group Çarşı has an A in its logo that is similar to the anarchy symbol. The annual Mondiali Antirazzisti (Anti-Racist World Cup) attracts more than 6000 people, and is the largest gathering of anti-fascist Ultras in the world.
On the other hand, Lazio’s Irriducibili, APOEL F.C.’s PAN.SY.FI, Inter’s Boys San, Real Madrids Ultras Sur, Hellas Verona’s Brigate Gialloblu Espanyol’s Brigadas Blanquiazules, Hajduk Split’s Torcida, Dinamo Zagreb’s Bad Blue Boys, FC Dinamo Bucureşti’s Nuova Guardia, FC Steaua Bucureşti’s ultra groups and Atlético Madrid’s ultra groups are known for displaying Swastikas.
Fierce rivalries between ultra groups can be found all over the world, although most of the larger rivalries are found in Europe and South America. The rivalries are often based around a basic animosity toward the rival team, mostly in derbies – Dinamo Bucharest vs. Steaua Bucharest, Sampdoria vs. Genoa, Roma vs. Lazio, Inter vs. Milan, Wisła Kraków vs. Cracovia Kraków, Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray, Vitesse Arnhem vs. NEC Nijmegen, Palmeiras vs. Corinthians, Independiente vs. Racing, Boca Juniors vs. River Plate, AEK Athens vs. Olympiakos) but some rivalries are based on politics in addition to team difference (e.g. Livorno vs. Lazio).
In his book, How Soccer Explains the World, Franklin Foer describes the rivalry between Serb and Croat teams as,”The new, or rather old, enmity could be seen visibly at the soccer stadium … fans sang about their respective slaughters.” The ultras of FC Red Star Belgrade, the Delije (Heroes), and the ultras from FK Partizan Belgrade, Grobari (Gravediggers), formed the base of Arkan’s Tigers, a Serbian paramilitary force who were later implicated in multiple acts of terror during the Wars in Yugoslavia. The Tigers made a dramatic appearance during the Belgrade derby game of 22 March 1992, played between Red Star and Partizan, where they held up road signs saying: ’20 miles to Vukovar'; ’10 miles to Vukovar'; ‘Welcome to Vukovar’. More signs followed, each named for a Croatian town that had fallen to the Serbian army. Arkan was then director of the Red Star supporters’ association. When Bosnia-Herzegovina played a friendly game against Croatia in August of 2007, “Croatian fans formed a human U symbol representing the fascist Ustase movement responsible for mass killings of Serbs, Jews and the Roma during World War II, and now more recent, Bosnian war”. Although in this instance, the Croats used the fascist symbol U as a sign of nationalism, amid new rising of ethnic tensions in Bosnia between the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims.

Some groups, particularly in Italy, have animosity toward so-called “modern football”. All-seater stadiums, more expensive tickets, matches being played at non-traditional times (particularly evening matches), fan-favourite players being sold like merchandise, replaced by players who don’t “love the shirt”, and the excessive commercialization of football are all common targets for Ultras’ animosity. “No al Calcio Moderno” (Against modern football) is commonly seen on banners in Italian stadiums, and have spread across Europe. In Italy, Germany, Belgium and South America there are clubs whose association with Socialism goes back a long way, and there’s even an anti-fascist club in the USA (Seattle Sounders and their ultras Gorilla FC) but St Pauli, we believe are unique in that it’s annexing by the alterno-groups in the City happened so recently, and has endured.
The phrase “Love Football Hate Business” or “Against Modern Football” has started to appear on the occasional banner; particularly at the ‘protest clubs’ (FC United of Manchester & AFC Wimbledon). The back pages are full of stories of the shady dealings of UK clubs and the constant danger of liquidation. (A fine independent web page that follows business developments in football can be found at Charlton fan Wyn Grant’s regularly updated Political Economy of Football site). So, oddly, perhaps, from a business point of view more involvement from the fans would help? Are UK football clubs missing a trick here? Is there a community of alterno-types in any City in the UK who would be able to do what the fans’ group has done at St Pauli? Stefan Schatz from the St. Pauli supporters’ trust (or ‘fan project’ as it’s known in Germany) recently told Reuters that the “skull ‘n’ crossbones thing means we have the fifth largest merchandise fund”. (for some of course this has become a fashion accessory much like say, Jack Daniels or a Ramones t-shirt – cf a new Thee Faction song Don’t Call On Rock which deals with this post ‘77 ‘revolt into style’).
Any business that runs itself on a 90% wages/turnover model is doomed, surely? Clubs can build up a big debt due to the friendliness of banks – but it’s usually local businesses who are owed the money when they go into administration. Most people decry the big wages paid to the players; but this is not the fault of football; this is market forces, this is the fault of Capitalism; it’s CAPITALSM you have the problem with.
TV money and merchandising is the biggest ‘income stream’ for the big clubs. When those streams run dry, football is in big trouble unless the supporters take over. Much like all strata of society.
DEGGDH Fox, the guild's youngest member, loves his St Pauli

DEGGDH Fox, the guild's youngest member, loves his St Pauli

Thirty Days Hath November

One thing we at Thee Faction love about Bullingdon Britain is how clear they’re making it for us. Thatcher appealed to the aspirational in us. The current bunch of thugs know Capitalism is failing and want to keep their status, keep their money. You can see the fear on their faces. They want us to swallow the absurd notion that if we work longer, for less pay, that it’s good for us. They want to take benefits from the young and old, from those with disabilities and from single parents.

 

They’re making it clear we, the working class are to pay for the crisis, to keep them in the style in which they’re accustomed. We’ve seen the fudge of the banking reforms – 2019 for a slight separation which was put together by emplyees of Barclays and JP Morgan. We’ve seen the Lib Dems refuse to agendise the break-up of the NHS at their conference.

 

The student protests last winter were the opening shots of resistance. Afterwards we first saw the organised working class flex its muscles on the big TUC demo in March, and in June 700,000 teachers, lecturers and civil service workers walked out – to show what’s possible

 

What a contrast from when Woolies closed down. Seems like an age ago, doesn’t it? No one marched. Nor did the workers and local people stage a sit-in. 18 months on, they would now.

 

Ed Milliband tried to be all media-friendly at the TUC last week by criticising unions for striking during ‘negotiations’, but we argue that union leaders who were content to win some concessions in negotiations (assuming they really are negotiations and not ‘talks’) have been left with nothing they can sell to their members, and that pressure from members will encourage them to join the fight.

 

Therefore the Tories face the possibility of mass strikes of millions of workers. Millions. Again we tip our hats to the mad ruling-class warrior Thatcher for buying off workers in her first term and then taking on the Miners in the second term. Cameron is such an amateur. He’s showed his hand too soon. He wants to crush us with ‘austerity’.

 

So, here’s how you can help. There’s to be a march on the Conservative conference in Manchester. In November, a national Unite the Resistance conference has been called, following on from the 750-strong London-wide meeting in June.

 

Then, comrade,  there’s 30th November. Our glorious opportunity to shut them down.

 

Ten unions are balloting for strike action on that day, adding to the four unions who have already balloted prior to strike action earlier this year. We’re prepared to lose a day’s pay. because WE, the working class, are the ones in it together.

 

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber agrees with us. He’s said “this will be the biggest trade union mobilisation for a generation” and that “..further consideration is being given to what other actions might be appropriate beyond that day of action if a settlement [over public sector pensions ] isn’t secured.” Union News’s use of Thee Faction’s “366” on their introductory DVD given out at Conference must’ve helped (LOLZ).

 

And this is going to be a very modern, Deft Left strike. Not walking around with banners. This is going to be targeted action. Talks with the government are a piece of theatre – the real decisions have already been made. We know that, they know that.

 

We fell about at the Tories’ response. Francis Maud, The Cab Sec said on Radio 4 “The public will be fed up”. What a typically British response. Francis thinks we’ll all be tutting at the telly. No we won’t, you prawn. We’re not “fed up”. We’re bloody LIVID.

 

The kids ain’t as dumb as you think.

 

AV or not AV, that is the question? No, it’s NOT the question.

Thee Faction have been enjoying playing songs live from our new LP: and today, in the London sunshine, have been enjoying the comradely spirit of International Workers’ Day on the May Day march (and agitating for broadcast news NOT to refer to the marchers as “protesters”, this is a loaded word and not applicable today).

We have been asked, during these events, our views on Thursday’s (May 5) referendum to slightly fiddle with the voting system.

News media have piqued interest by desperately looking for conflict to make it relevant to their agenda/narrative – this has lead to some cheap Clegg-bashing which has (once again) helped Cameron.

We ask you to look at the evidence and make up your own mind.

We have been looking at some studies from the University of Reading (UoR – a politics department our very own Baby Face may or may not have once been employed as a lecturer in, depending on which rumours you believe) and the University of Essex (UoE). We have concluded that both sides of the campaign have been talking a vast amount of crap (presumably to make the vote more interesting).

Here are our conclusions.

AV is not very different to “First Past the Post” (FPtP). Both are “Majoritarian” – i.e. they produce a majority for a Capitalist-supporting party in Parliament. AV is NOT going to profoundly change our electoral system.

The debate has been tainted by exaggerated, false and confusing claims on both sides.

Let’s look at some claims of the “Yes to AV” campaign first.

The “Yes” campaign is driven by the claim that MPs will need 51% of their constituents onside and therefore will be more responsive and “work harder” – that AV will therefore reduce the number of safe seats, which they say has some sort of correlation with “lazy” MPS. There is a grain of truth in this, but the simulations from the UoE and the UoR show that this is minimal; that less than 5% of safe seats would become marginal. Over a third of MPs get over 50% of the vote anyway, so wouldn’t have to bother to “work harder” to get your vote. Almost another third are so close to 50% it makes no odds. The long Australian experience of AV suggests there is excitement in constituencies where the winning candidate gets less than 35% – there are very few of these in the UK .

The “Yes” campaign claims that AV will mean that MPs will be better behaved having worked so hard for your vote (see above). We can’t see any evidence for this and don’t believe the Yes camp has a crystal ball. If one looks at analysis from the UoR one sees NO correlation between safe seats and the expenses scandal. We didn’t hear anyone during said scandal saying “gah, if only we had AV, that’d prevented this”.

The “Yes” campaign and this referendum were driven by the Lib Dems. One of the major policies of this party is electoral reform, but it’s a proportional system they want. Nick Clegg has described AV as “A grubby compromise”.

The “Yes” campaign claims that AV will lead to less “landslides” from parties gaining less than 50% of the “popular vote “ e.g. Mrs Thatcher in 1983 or Mr Blair in 1997. The UoR study shows this kind of landslide would actually increase, and that the results of these elections would have been even more disproportionate.

The “Yes” campaigners argue that AV (for all its faults) is progressive and that a change in the system will make further changes easier. We’re not sure about this. We suggest that a move to AV will make no difference; and therefore will exhaust the appetite for reform – surely a change should be undertaken only for a system that can be defended on it’s own merits?

Let’s now have a look at the “No” campaign.

The “No” campaign says AV attacks the notion of “one person one vote”. No it doesn’t. We in the guild admit to being slightly snobby about a voter who isn’t firmly committed to one candidate; but 2nd/3rd preferences are not a second/third vote; it’s nonsense.

The “No” campaign argues that AV will give more credence to extremists. This is the most persuasive left-wing argument against AV, but we see no evidence for it. According to the UoR and UoE studies extremists may garner more votes but will not gain more seats. They’re unlikely to pick up 2nd/3rd preferences.

The “No” campaign claim AV would cost £250 million. This is massaging the figures! That figure includes the £91 million this unnecessary referendum is costing in the first place, and the expensive “counting machines” the No campaign claims are needed are probably not needed – we can cope with bigger paper ballots (we manage OK with the big sheets from the European elections).

The Tory and Labour MPs supporting the “No” campaign claim the AV system would help the Lib Dems and lead to coalitions. There is obviously a grain of truth in this which is why the Lib Dems are supporting the “Yes” camp – but as mentioned earlier having looked at the evidence from the UoR and the UoE we believe the Lib Dems would gain at most 32 extra seats, which wouldn’t lead to loads of coalitions, and there would still be all the usual safe seats.

So that’s all the bullshit taken care of. This referendum is meh. For what it’s worth Thee Faction will be voting “No” as we believe the argument that AV is better than FPtP has NOT been made. And it’s time to deal with REAL ISSUES.

In conclusion; we are being treated as children, as usual. There are far bigger issues on which we could be having a referendum: scrapping the civil list, reform of the House of Lords, lowering the voting age to 16, localised power of councils, elected Mayors, right-to-recall-MPs legislation…all decisions we won’t have a say in.

Therefore, comrade, our energies on May 5th must be focused on  supporting local candidates from Socialist parties in their campaigns on REAL ISSUES in the local elections, against pernicious capitalism, cuts and privilege.

UP THE WORKERS!

Promo Demotion

We at Thee Faction HQ have been discussing the modern pop “promo clip” of late, as there is shortly to be a war of position “single” from your favourite Reigate radicals.

As we use the tools of the rock band to present our message of economic equality, we must understand how our enemies use the tools of the “rock video”. Therefore, it’s important we understand the clichés of this capitalist record-company/TV bedfellow…

1. Staring in/out of windows. It seems that this is essential: to represent the bourgeois self-important notion of being trapped in your own psyche, you against the world (if you’re staring out of the window) or that the world is excluding you (if you’re staring in). Individualism will be unnecessary in the future. Therefore Thee Faction will not have any windows in our pop video.

2. The band pretending to play in the middle of an unused building/field/airstrip etc. When Thee Faction were young pop videos featuring rock bands would show how successful they were by pretending to play in front of loads of people, or pretending to get her off of/out of ‘Friends’ up on stage to do some pretend dancing with. Nowadays it has to be an empty room to represent your singer’s ennui/angst. There will be no windows and no empty rooms or fields in the Thee Faction rock video.

3. Girl. Sexist of course and these days have to be all spooky(walking through traffic, slow motion, suggesting the unattainable and the past). There will be no ‘mysterious girl’ in our clip.

4. A photo of the above

5. A letter from the above

6. A mirror. See (1)

7. There will be absolutely no water/ocean/rivers/rain cleansing members of the group in any sort of pseudo-poetic way.

8. Cars/Driving: cars are a bourgeois status-symbol of the highest order. Driving is also used as a visual metaphor for escape. We confront. Escape is bourgeois. No cars. Even if it’s raining (Which it won’t be. See above)

9. Running/Walking – we’re not going to be escaping our problems on foot either

10. Hands on face/Jesus Christ pose to indicate emotional scars and/or torment. Clenched fists may be moot as we do it on stage to reflect the anti-fascist salute, but the clenched fist may be misinterpreted within the rock clip format as angsty, so is out.

11. Mountains/Hills/Forests. No bloody Mountains, Hills or Forests.

12. Ironic dance routines to mock dance routines in pop videos. None of that.

13. Funny cameos. These suggest the cult of celebrity (to get your video noticed). Bourgeois.

14. Candles. There will be no candles in our clip. Socialism embraces progress. We used flipping electricity to make the music.

15. Animation. We’re starting a revolution here, not making a kids TV show. Grow up.

16. And we won’t be spending any money on it.

Thee Faction appreciate this limits us slightly. But like Georges Perec – who wrote a novel without using the letter ‘e’ – to restrict should make us more creative. As working people we are constrained all our lives by the forces of capital and the owning classes: we must be cleverer than them.

Mumford & Sons….

…..like black people never happened

 

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