Author: Billy Brentford

Lead singer of Socialist R&B band Thee Faction.

Billy Brentford on Core Arts

This post is a ‘shout-out’ to all our musician comrades …
You may have been at our big show at on Friday night? A brief missive is in order to introduce you fully to their work.
First, thanks to all those who came along; *WHAT A NIGHT* of dancing and entertainment. We had a meeting afterwards and a motion was passed that, since our ‘reformation’, this was the concert that reminded us most of the good ol’ days. No more modern fancy club gigs for us, it’s all all about the DDR of R’n’B and nights like this as we head towards the impending revolution.
We in the guild are suspicious of the notion of ‘Charity’. This reeks of social democracy: sometimes ‘Charity’ is an example of capitalist society preserving the status quo by sweeping the problems away with ‘a bit of fun’ without attacking the underlying problems of poverty, prejudice and injustice. ‘Charity’ in general, is the poulticing of an ulcer.
Whilst we obviously don’t deny charities need funding and are fully behind Nylons as he grows his ‘tache for Movember (especially as he looks so good) we in the guild urge you to give up your *time* for charitable organisations too.
Core Arts provides an environment where folks with mental health problems can express themselves through art and music. They have, in their beautiful former school house in London E9, created an environment to help break down many of the prejudices associated with people with mental health problems and promote access and participation in the arts. They have workshops and events to celebrate the talent and abilities of their members; one of the main aims to help these individuals to become economically independent and to integrate.
So, over to you.

If you’re a musician we urge you to get involved. They don’t need money (they’re slick, efficient and well-funded), They need you. Won’t take up much of your time. Core Arts has a recording studio: various excellent musicians give up their time to help the members record their ideas. A lot of these folks made up the entertainment before we took the stage on Friday, and they were all brilliant. Please, for a few hours, even if it’s just the once, sit in on one of these sessions. We met all the comrades that do on Friday, and they were all lovely.

The aim is to  “improve the potential for equality and lasting change for people who are generally regarded as having little to offer society”. By joining in on a guitar or some drums you could move this a little closer for someone.

Comradely rock!
the Music Technician Mark
the artistic director Paul
and our comrade the events co-ordinator Pete

and say we sent you…

…and ask what you can do. DO YOUR BIT!


As we look around Reigate, we’re struck by the need for some design: Capitalism dominates our environment as much as it does our lifestyle.

Above all, to really be an architect, to be creative, Thee Faction feel you have to know the lives of people, their misery, their suffering. The main thing is to be someone who manages to understand life, and one must understand that it is important to change the world. We are looking for coherence. We have to live honestly, live hand-in-hand with each other. There are too many injustices. But commitment to the Communist Party provides hope, solidarity, and the realization that it is possible to struggle together for a better world. So let’s DESIGN a better world.

Chakhava's Roads Ministry buildingAmong the outright gems of Communist Architechture is Georgy Chakhava’s 1975 Roads Ministry building, a monumental grid of interlocking concrete forms rising on a steep wooded site in Tbilisi, Georgia. The project’s genesis might prompt most architects, so often at the mercy of clients’ fantasies, to swoon with envy as Mr. Chakhava was not only an architect but also the minister of highway construction. As such, he was not just his own client; he could also hand-pick the project’s site. The ministry building’s design also debunks many of the standard clichés we hold about late Soviet architecture. Rising on an incline between two highways, the building’s heavy cantilevered forms reflect the Soviet-era penchant for heroic scale. Yet they also relate sensitively to their context, celebrating the natural landscape that flows directly underneath the building.

The composition of interlocking forms, conceived as a series of bridges, brings to mind the work of the Japanese Metabolists of the late ’60s and early ’70s, proof that Soviet architects weren’t working in an intellectual vacuum.

Druzhba Sanitarium, YaltaSimilarly, the Druzhba (Friendship) Sanitarium in Yalta, Ukraine, designed by Igor Vasilevsky and completed in 1986, is a lesson in bold strokes. The resort building’s cylindrical form stands on a hill overlooking a beach in what was then an exclusive resort town. To enter, visitors cross a bridge encased in a glass tube and then descend into the complex, which is supported on massive legs housing the elevators and stairs. Conceived as a “social condenser,” the building’s core is occupied by a cinema, dance hall, swimming pool and cafe. Circling this core are the guest rooms, arrayed in a dazzling saw-tooth facade orienting each room toward the water and sunlight, while giving the structure an eerie science-fiction quality. (Think “2001: A Space Odyssey.”)

DruskininkaiThen there’s the Gaudi-esque romanticism of a sanitarium in Druskininkai, Lithuania, which spins the aesthetic off in yet another direction. Built as a series of interlocking cylinders, its forms are lifted slightly off the ground to create the illusion of lightness. Decorative concrete ribbons spill out over the facade; columns for draining rainwater splay open at the bottom. The building looks as though it’s unravelling, a blend of creativity and madness spilling out into full view.

How about a trip to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to be stunned by an open-air terrace, steps down into the earth, flanked by a pair of immense concrete walls and narrow staircases that evoke the excavation of some forgotten futurist city. This is our vision for the centre of Reigate.

French communist party HQMy absolute favourite of course is The French Communist Party headquarters designed by Oscar Niemeyer.

Niemeyer’s biggest achievement is the sensory spectacular Brazilian capital Brasilia. In the late 1960s he was forced into exile during the military dictatorship, (which was also anathema to the Tropicalia psychedelic music brigade) and so moved to Paris.

The building was built in the early 1970s on a site formerly occupied by workers’ housing at Place du Colonel Fabien in the 19th arrondissement, an area known for its Communist sympathies. It overlooks a square where workers used to gather for entertainment such as animal fighting.

Niemeyer, who waived his fee for the building, said it would become a tourist attraction – and he was right, with visitors fascinated by the white dome that rises out of the forecourt in sharp contrast to the sweep of curtain-walled offices behind, known as the “flag” or “wave”.

The dome was the last phase of the headquarters to be built, and is the roof of the building’s main conference room, a space dominated by hundreds of hanging metal ceiling tiles.

The undulating floor of the building’s foyer is intended to suggest a hillside, it’s unsettling. Niemeyer also designed the furniture.

I’ve always liked that the building has several different temperaments. After the cavernous underground areas which feel very secure, you move up into the offices which feel very light and inviting, with two long sides of glass curtain walling bookended by solid ends of ceramic tiles. The single-glazed facade can be opened. Then there’s the roof terrace which is a fairly sculptural element quite different from other parts of the building, with areas cut out at the ends to allow light into what was the top floor café.

Architechture creates urban space and a good mood. Upsetting Prince Charles is key.

Cultural invention takes its rightful place alongside political action in shaping who we are. Think ahead. Think COMMUNISM.

Sing-a-long with L’Internationale wherever you may be

It’s rare that Thee Faction would ever take you to a link on the internet, as there’s something suspiciously bourgeois about farting around on YouTube etc, but this is definitely impressive.

It’s a lovingly created (if not visually spectacular) collection of MP3s of L’Internationale in 40 different languages!


L’Internationale is the song which became the anthem of Socialism. It’s a sing-a-long classic.

“This is the final struggle / Let us group together and tomorrow / The Internationale / Will be the human race.”

The original French words were written in June 1871 by Eugène Pottier (1816–1887, previously a member of the Paris Commune) and were originally intended to be sung to the tune of La Marseillaise. Pierre De Geyter (1848–1932) set the poem to music in 1888. His melody was first publicly performed in July 1888 and became widely used soon thereafter.
In 1944, the Soviet Union adopted the song as its national anthem, with a slight twist in the Russian translation, the song became the Anthem of the Soviet Union.

The traditional British version of it is usually sung in three verses, while the American version, authored by Charles Hope Kerr with five verses, is usually sung in two. The American version is, strangely, sometimes sung with the phrase “the internationale”, “the international soviet”, or “the international union” in place of “the international working class”. In English, the traditional pronunciation is not an imitation of the French – instead we tend to rhyme “Internationale” with “valley”.

The English-language version is a bit tricky to sing, as the lyrics may appear sometimes forced and unnatural, as we’re so used to the lingua franca of pop. Billy Bragg, after a meet with American singer Pete Seeger, agreed that the old lyrics were a bit “archaic and unsingable”. Bragg composed some slightly revised verses for the song, based on the British version. The recording was released on his album The Internationale.

Walter Henry Smith: a critique of the life and revolutionary activity 12th April 1977 to 31st December 1980

Walter Henry Smith was a revolutionary firebrand and musician, active in south London in the late 70s. He is best known for planning the Marxist-inspired ‘Glorious Day’ with a small group of likeminded individuals, at the same time as making violent enemies of local gangsters. A charismatic man of action and an impressive orator he served prison time for stealing a Scorpion tank and driving it towards the Houses of Parliament. Smith eventually went into hiding to avoid a £6000 contract put on his head by the Welsh gangster Ronnie Lynch.

Smith led a Marxist revolutionary guerilla movement (inspired by the military theories of the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara) known as the Tooting Popular Front (TPF). Their agitations involved kidnapping, a right-to-work protest outside the Tooting dole office, and a failed coup at the local council HQ – a partial success as a lift was taken over by the TPF for the people.


During his time in jail Smith was interviewed by Valerie Singleton during which he outlined his plans for the post-Marxist Tooting.

Like Thee Faction, Smith attempted to combine Marxist ideals with Rock ‘n’ Roll – under the pseudonym Duane Donervan.

The TPF insurrectionists alongside Smith were known as:

  • Speed: a former Territorial Army recruit and the group’s master at arms
  • Ken: a peace-loving Buddhist vegetarian and Smith’s right-hand man and conscience
  • Tucker: Quartermaster and transportation
  • He has not been seen in Tooting since the 31st December 1980. It is believed he escaped to Italy.

    From their South London base, the TPF attempted impressive schemes to spark the revolution, from protesting at a South African rugby tour to kidnapping an MP, culminating in the liberation of a Scorpion tank with which to attack the British Parliament.

    The rallying cry of the TPF became enormously popular in Britain in the late 70s, and to this day remains incredibly evocative of the era: “Power To The People”.

    Another famous quote of Smith’s regards his views of the eventual end of his class enemies after the ‘Glorious Day’, to whit: “… up against a wall for one last fag, then bop, bop, bop”.

    Another inspiring quote of Smith’s is: “I’ve got battles to fight and Rights to right”.

    The TPF name-checked three major left-wing individuals of the day:

  • Peter Hain – now a respectable Labour MP and former cabinet minster, but then a major figure in British protests against the Aparthied regime in South Africa,
  • Paul Foot – the campaigning investigative journalist and nephew of Michael, and
  • Tariq Ali – the left-wing historian, novelist, filmmaker, political campaigner, and commentator, who in the late 70s was coming to prominence for protesting against the Vietnam War, being a friend of Malcolm X & John Lennon and a leading light in the International Marxist Group.
  • The major influence on the TPF is, however, is the Guerrillero Heroico Ernesto “Che” Guevara (June 14 1928 – October 9, 1967). As a young medical student, Guevara traveled throughout Latin America and was transformed by the endemic poverty he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region’s ingrained economic inequalities were an intrinsic result of monopoly capitalism, neocolonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution. This belief prompted his involvement in Guatemala’s social reforms under President Jacobo Arbenz, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow solidified Guevara’s radical ideology. Later, while living in Mexico City, he met Raúl and Fidel Castro, joined their 26th of July Movement, and travelled to Cuba aboard the yacht, Granma, with the intention of overthrowing U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Guevara soon rose to prominence among the insurgents, was promoted to second-in-command, and played a pivotal role in the successful two year guerrilla campaign that deposed the Batista regime.

    Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara performed a number of key roles in the new government. These included reviewing the appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals, instituting agrarian reform as minister of industries, serving as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba’s armed forces, and traversing the globe as a diplomat on behalf of Cuban socialism. Such positions allowed him to play a central role in training the militia forces who repelled the Bay of Pigs Invasion and bringing to Cuba the Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles which precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Additionally, he was a prolific writer and diarist, composing a seminal manual on guerrilla warfare, along with a best-selling memoir about his youthful motorcycle journey across South America. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to incite revolutions, first unsuccessfully in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia, where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces and executed.

    Guevara remains both a revered and reviled historical figure, polarized in the collective imagination in a multitude of biographies, memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs, and films. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

    Thee Faction salute W.H. Smith and urge all young folks to be inspired by this inspiring British class warrior. We are not subjects, we are CITIZENS.

    The 1985 tour of Europe, a plea: what happened to our comrades?

    There won’t be much of an explanation of exactly what happened to Thee Faction in Europe in 1985, but coded messages have been sent: suffice it to say it all got a bit unpleasant, as insurrection does.

    We at Thee Faction are unscathed and have reformed; but, all joking aside we wonder what happened to our hopeful, intelligent and sometimes violent comrades on that tour. Do you know?

    youth wingYouth Wing were from Todmorden, deep within Last of the Summer wine country. They were Dak, Geofff, Gaz and Bryn. In an earlier incarnation (as Western Dresden) they’d been produced by Martin Hannett of Joy Division fame, but via an anarcho-syndicalist forum in Huddersfield they’d transmorgraphied into Youth Wing. They were the funkiest of the four bands, taking the template of The Kleaners or Vital Organz, but mixing it with a Dr Rhythm drum machine, a 4-person Estonian brass section and the astonishingly pornographic films of Dak’s brother and sister (Adam & JoAnn), played in reverse polarity on a black and brown screen via an early Betamax tape machine which they’d nicked from BBC Leeds. I can still sing their opening number, Tailoring:

    …Buy it on the high street/ get it high on the high street / kicking off on the high street / you ain’t a man until you’ve been beaten up / creeping up / on the high street …

    which could sometimes last for 30 seconds, on other evenings for 20 minutes (and like a leitmotif or movie soundtrack they would occasionally return to the chorus in the middle of other numbers).

    A mutual friend stayed in touch with Dak, Adam & JoAnne (they were thrown in jail in Vykana while busking with the sax player and the tapes on a small TV), we’d love to see them again to perform the Communist song and dance routine that Dai recently found glued inside one of our amps from the period. A truly brilliant band.

    Now Now NOW! were a bunch of public school kids (in the best traditions of Orwell or Lyttleton) Now Now NOWwho’d converted most of their family to Communism and travelled in a converted ambulance (driven by their Uncle, Tomma, who must’ve been 70). Their gigs were like a concert in reverse, starting with a unique drone so low it once made Nylons sh*t himself at a soundcheck (you try getting undergarments in Forbes, Ohio at 1.30am in the morning. The only way is with a metal pole through a window. Apologies to The Breton Brothers, needs must) and ending with a beautiful 120BPM pop song so perfect it made you weep:

    … you have no idea until you read Marx and Engels / don’t be afraid of the Government boys and girls

    They once semi-kidnapped a policeman who later joined the band: they stayed in the US and became a C&W band called Running The Business. Last seen in 1989 backing the legendary Frank Sheen & the Trough of Despair.

    HeftVisceral Heft were five six-footers who had all been in the British army, and (so they claimed) were all called Steve. Steve X never went anywhere without a copy of Antonio Gramsci: Selections from Political Writings, 1910-1920 with Additional Texts by Bordiga and Tasca in the left-hand pocket of his combats. Steve P was a woman from Aberdeen: she’d also been in the navy where, in best naval traditions, she had a tattoo from every port. In Singapore she’d asked for a thistle on her shoulder and the legend “Flower of Scotland” written around it. Struggling to describe a thistle to the artist she’d settled on the term “spiky flower” as this garnered a look of enthusiastic recognition from the taottoist. Peeling back the plaster in the morning to see the resulting work in the mirror she was horrified to see the legend “Flower Of Scotland” written around a … pineapple. This also served therefore, as her nickname. She didn’t like it. Steve Surreal’s guitar-playing is some of the best I’ve ever seen or heard. He combined Wilko’s chopping-style with the effects-heavy sound of Flanger and Phaser which was popular at the time, and always used a 50p as a pick. His wife was called Rosemary as I recall. They crossed hair-metal with Black And Blue-era Rolling Stones. The Heft were proper communist revolutionaries and a massive influence on us, both politically and musically. Visceral Heft released an album in 1985 called Heft which these days goes for £6000-£7000 on eBay.

    I hope they’re all well. To quote Leon Trotsky: “If we had had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes”.

    Communism in the USA


    Only through the abolition of the capitalist system and the socialist reorganization of society can exploitation of human beings by others, and the evils of oppression, war, racism, environmental degradation, and poverty be ended. We seek to build a socialist society which puts people and nature before profits.

    A proper statement of intent from an RCP and there’s nothing unusual about that, except the above statement is, somewhat surprisingly, from the constitution of the CPUSA, the Communist Party of The United States of America.

    The USA has had a strong union movement for many years and this tradition continues, and one can not underestimate the influence on this which has been forged by the CPUSA, a party which is still around and working.

    The CPUSA was formed in Chicago in 1919. By the end of the year it had 60,000 members and, at its height, over 200,000. (There has been a Marxist Tradition in the States before that, going back to the Socialist Labor Party in 1876). Many of the members came from the ranks of recent immigrants from war-torn Europe.

    At that time, the CPUSA advocated insurrectionist communist revolution, bringing it under attack from the more established and influential U.S. anti-communist forces — the Palmer Raids and the first Red Scare were only two of many major anti-communist projects undertaken by the U.S. government. Many persistent attempts at suppression of communist activity by the government continued until the end of the McCarthy era climate of the 1950s; after that, anti-communist suppression activity took more covert forms such as COINTELPRO against the New Left.

    A decline in the 1950s, as with many RCPs, was precipitated by Krushchev’s denouncement of Stalin. The CPUSA’s membership of the Comintern and its close adherence to the political positions of the Soviet Union helped anti-communists to present the party as not only a threatening and a “foreign” agent fundamentally alien to the “American way of life”. By 1957, membership had dwindled to less than 10,000, of whom 1500 were FBI informants!

    But the party continued its long pursuit of legal reforms and vigorously campaigned with local activists against racist apartheid. The New Left of the 1960s took radical socialism along specific US lines. The Party leader at the time Gus Hall’s rejected of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika policies at the end of the 1980s so the party bravely became estranged from the social democratic left which spilt and formed the the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

    The CPUSA is based in New York City; and claims a membership of over 15,000. It has an impressive web presence at and all the usual social networking offices. It publishes a newspaper People’s World, and a magazine, Political Affairs.

    It’s been tough for the CPUSA, as you can imagine. It’s been attacked by from state and federal governments and FBI from the start. The party apparatus began underground. It emerged into the light in the last days of 1921 as a “Legal Political Party” called the Workers Party of America. As the red scare and deportations of the early 1920s ebbed, the party became bolder and more open. An element of the party, however, remained permanently underground and came to be known as the “CPUSA secret apparatus.”

    Paranoia, racism and isolationism in the United States aroused the immigration debates of the 1920s, which led to the restrictive Immigration Act of 1924. Anti-Semitic and anti-Communist literature become widespread (e.g., Henry Ford’s International Jew) in the same period.

    In the 1920s the Communists decided that their central task was to develop roots within the working class. This move away from hopes of revolution in the near future to a more nuanced approach was accelerated by the decisions of the Fifth World Congress of the Comintern held in 1925. The Fifth World Congress decided that the period between 1917 and 1924 had been one of revolutionary upsurge, but that the new period was marked by the stabilization of capitalism and that revolutionary attempts in the near future were to be spurned. The American communists embarked then on the arduous work of locating and winning allies amongst the powerful teamsters such as the Chicago Federation of Labor.

    Stalinist and Trotsky-ite splits were inevitable through the 1920s as the International Comitern was split – not helped by Stalin’s decision to break off any form of collaboration with western socialist parties. (This policy had particularly severe consequences in Germany, where the German Communist Party not only refused to work in alliance with the German Social Democratic Party, but attacked it and its members).

    By 1930, the party adopted the title of Communist Party of the USA , with the slogan of “the united front from below”. The Party devoted much of its energy in the Great Depression to organizing the unemployed, founding unions, championing the rights of African-Americans (alongside the African Blood Brotherhood) and fighting evictions of farmers and the working poor.

    The ideological rigidity of the third period began to crack with two events: the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. Roosevelt ‘s election and the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 sparked a tremendous upsurge in union organizing in 1933 and 1934. While the party line still favored creation of autonomous revolutionary unions, party activists chose to fold up those organizations and follow the mass of workers into the AFL unions they had been attacking.

    The Seventh Congress of the Comintern made the change in line official in 1935, when it declared the need for a popular front of all groups opposed to fascism. The CPUSA abandoned its opposition to the New Deal and provided many of the organizers for the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

    Party members rallied to the defence of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War (1936 to 1939). The CPUSA, along with leftists throughout the world, raised funds for medical relief while many of its members made their way to Spain with the aid of the party to join the Lincoln Brigade, one of the International Brigades. Among its other achievements, the Lincoln Brigade was the first American military force to include blacks and whites integrated on an equal basis.

    Membership rose to about 75,000 by 1938, but many left the after the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with the Nazis Germany on August 24, 1939.

    Throughout the rest of World War II, the CPUSA continued a policy of militant, trade unionism.The leadership of the CPUSA was among the most vocal pro-war voices in the United States, advocating unity against fascism and supporting the prosecution of leaders of the Socialist Workers Party under the newly enacted Smith Act.

    The Truman administration’s loyalty oath program, introduced in 1947, drove some leftists out of federal employment and, more importantly, legitimized the notion of Communists as subversives, to be exposed and expelled from public and private employment. The House Committee on Un-American Activities, whose hearings were perceived as forums where current and former Communists and those sympathetic to Communism were compelled under the duress of the ruin of their careers to confess and name other Communists, made even brief affiliation with the CPUSA or any related groups grounds for public exposure and attack, inspiring local governments to adopt loyalty oaths and investigative commissions of their own. Private parties, such as the motion picture industry and self-appointed watchdog groups, extended the policy still further. This included the blacklist of actors, writers and directors in Hollywood who had been Communists or who had fallen in with Communist-controlled or influenced organizations in the pre-war and wartime years.

    The widespread fear of Communism became even more acute after the Soviets’ explosion of an atomic bomb in 1949 and discovery of Soviet espionage. Ambitious politicians, including Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, made names for themselves by exposing or threatening to expose Communists within the Truman administration or later, in McCarthy’s case, within the United States Army. Liberal groups, such as the Americans for Democratic Action, not only distanced themselves from communists and communist causes, but defined themselves as anti-communist. The Congress wished to outlaw the CPUSA in the Communist Control Act of 1954.

    By the mid-1950s, membership of Communist Party USA had slipped from its 1944 peak of around 80,000 to approximately 5,000. Some 1,500 of these “members” were FBI informants, which had the bizarre effect of bringing in 1500 much-needed members fees, paid for, of course by Hoover’s department!

    The 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary and Nikita Khrushchev criticizing Stalin demoralised the CPUSA. A new leader emerged, former steel-worker Gus Hall. In the 1970s, the CPUSA managed to grow in membership to about 25,000 members, despite the exodus of numerous Anti-Revisionist and Maoist groups from its ranks.

    In 1984, because of the popularity of Ronald Reagan’s anti-Communist administration and decreased CPUSA membership, Gus Hall chose to end the CPUSA’s nation-wide electoral campaigns. Hall stood for President 3 times though!

    During the 1990s, the party recruited heavily in impoverished minority neighborhoods in the US , particularly in Black neighborhoods. The CPUSA still runs candidates for local office, although almost exclusively under the Democratic banner. In recent years, the party has strongly opposed the Republican Party in the U.S. , who they term “ultra-right” and, at times, “fascist”. The CPUSA still maintains that both parties are capitalist in nature, and only support the Democrats as a means to topple what they perceive as conservative domination in America . Many in the socialist movement disagree with this “lesser of two evils” strategy and it has encouraged some defections from the CP to other leftist groups. There has been some increase in membership since the early 1990s once Communism became less of a threat after the Soviet collapse.

    When the Communist Party was formed in 1919, the United States government was engaged in prosecution of socialists who had opposed World War I and military service. This prosecution was continued in 1919 and January, 1920 in the Palmer Raids or the red scare. Rank and file foreign-born members of the Party were targeted and as many as possible were arrested and deported; leaders were prosecuted and in some cases sentenced to prison terms. In the late 1930s, with the authorization of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began investigating both domestic Nazis and Communists. Congress passed the Smith Act, which made it illegal to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the government, in 1940.

    In 1949, the federal government put Eugene Dennis, William Z. Foster and ten other CPUSA leaders on trial for advocating the violent overthrow of the government. Because the prosecution could not show that any of the defendants had openly called for violence or been involved in accumulating weapons for a proposed revolution, it relied on the testimony of former members of the party that the defendants had privately advocated the overthrow of the government and on quotations from the work of Karl Marx, Lenin and other revolutionary figures of the past. During the course of the trial the judge held several of the defendants and all of their counsel in contempt of court.

    All of the remaining eleven defendants were found guilty. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of their convictions by a 6-2 vote in Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951). The government then proceeded with the prosecutions of more than 100 “second string” members of the party.

    Panicked by these arrests and the fear that it was compromised by informants, Dennis and other party leaders decided to go underground and to disband many affiliated groups. The move only heightened the political isolation of the leadership, while making it nearly impossible for the Party to function.

    The widespread support of action against communists and their associates began to abate somewhat after Senator Joseph McCarthy overreached himself in the Army-McCarthy Hearings, producing a backlash. The end of the Korean War in 1953 also led to a lessening of anxieties about subversion. The Supreme Court brought a halt to the Smith Act prosecutions in 1957 in its decision in Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298 (1957), which required that the government prove that the defendant had actually taken concrete steps toward the forcible overthrow of the government, rather than merely advocating it in theory.

    The Communist Party USA played a significant role in defending the rights of African-Americans during its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. Earlier however,at the direction of the Comintern in 1928 the party advocated for many years a separate ‘ Negro Republic ‘, to be founded in the heavily black populated areas of the Southern part of the United States . Based on Stalin’s nationalities policy in the Soviet Union, blacks throughout the US were to be declared citizens of this new Republic, then shipped off to it. Throughout its history many of the Party’s leaders and political thinkers have been African Americans. James Ford, Charlene Mitchell, Angela Davis, and Jarvis Tyner, the current executive vice chair of the Party, all ran as presidential or vice presidential candidates on the Party ticket. Others like Benjamin J. Davis, William L. Patterson, Harry Haywood, James Jackson, Henry Winston, Claude Lightfoot, Alphaeus Hunton, Doxey Wilkerson, Claudia Jones, and John Pittman contributed in important ways to the Party’s approaches to major issues from human and civil rights, peace, women’s equality, the national question, working class unity, Marxist thought, cultural struggle and more. Their contributions have had a lasting impact on not only the Party but the general public as well. Noted African American thinkers, artists, and writers such as Claude McKay, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, W. E. B. Du Bois, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Lloyd Brown, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Paul Robeson, Frank Marshall Davis, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many more were one-time members or supporters of the Party, and the Communists also had a close alliance with Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. The party’s work to appeal to African-Americans continues to this day. It was instrumental in the founding of the Black Radical Congress in 1998.

    The Communist Party opposed the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, the invasion of Grenada, and U.S. support for anti-communist military dictatorships and movements in Central America . During the Vietnam War, as a tactical move, the CPUSA did not call for an immediate end to the war, but instead for negotiations between the North Vietnamese leadership and the U.S. While some on the left have criticized the CPUSA for this position, it was in fact in line with that of the Vietnamese Communist leadership. Meanwhile, some in the peace movement and the New Left rejected the CPUSA for what it saw as the party’s bureaucratic rigidity and for its steadfastly close association with Soviet Union.

    An overview of the Communist Party’s current ideology can be found on their website “Reflections on Socialism,” by Sam Webb, the Party’s national chair. The article explains the Party’s support for a democratic, anti-racist, anti-sexist, immediate left-wing change for the United States . The report also covers the fall of the Socialist Bloc, claiming that democracy was not sufficiently developed in these countries. “On the one hand, socialism transformed and modernized backward societies, secured important economic and social rights, assisted countries breaking free of colonialism, contributed decisively to the victory over Nazism, constituted by its mere presence a pressure on the ruling classes in the capitalist world to make concessions to their working classes and democratic movements, and acted as a counterweight to the aggressive ambitions of U.S. imperialism for nearly fifty years.” The report stresses its dedication to revolutionary struggle, but states that Americans should look for peaceful revolutionary change. Webb says that capitalism cannot solve problems such as economic stagnation, racism, gender discrimination, or poverty. The report explains that there will be many transitory stages from capitalism, to socialism, and finally to communism. On the issue of markets in a socialist society, Webb states, “Admittedly, market mechanisms in a socialist society can generate inequality, disproportions and imbalances, destructive competition, downward pressure on wages, and monopoly cornering of commodity markets – even the danger of capitalist restoration. But this is not sufficient reason for concluding that markets have no place in a socialist economy.”

    Sam Webb

    Sam Webb

    The CPUSA recognizes the right of independence-seeking groups, many of whom have been led by communist and communist-oriented partisans, to defend themselves from imperialism, but rejects the use of violence in any United States uprising. The CPUSA argues that most violence throughout modern history is the result of capitalist ruling class violently trying to stop social change.

    In order to make room for the rental of 4 floors in the CPUSA national building the CPUSA donated 20. 000 books and pamphets, its entire written history, to the Tamiment Library at New York University. This included over a million photographs from the archives of the various incarnation of their newspaper. The Tamiment Library also holds a copy of the microfilmed archive of Communist Party documents from Soviet Archives held by the Library of Congress as well as other materials which documents radical and Leftist history.

    Among the points in the party’s “Immediate Program” are a $12/hour minimum wage for all workers, national universal health care, and opposition to privatization of United States Social Security. Economic measures such as increased taxes on “the rich and corporations,” “strong regulation” of the financial industry, “regulation and public ownership of utilities,” and increased federal aid to cities and states; opposition to the Iraq War and other military interventions; opposition to free trade treaties such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); nuclear disarmament and a reduced military budget; various civil rights provisions; campaign finance reform including public financing of campaigns; and election law reform, including Instant Runoff Voting. The Communist Party USA emphasizes a vision of socialism as an extension of American democracy. Seeking to “build socialism in the United States based on the revolutionary traditions and struggles” of American history, the CPUSA promotes a conception of “Bill of Rights Socialism” that will “guarantee all the freedoms we have won over centuries of struggle, and also extend the Bill of Rights to include freedom from unemployment”– as well as freedom “from poverty, from illiteracy, and from discrimination and oppression.” The Communist Party believes that “class struggle starts with the fight for wages, hours, benefits, working conditions, job security, and jobs. But it also includes an endless variety of other forms for fighting specific battles: resisting speed-up, picketing, contract negotiations, strikes, demonstrations, lobbying for pro-labor legislation, elections, and even general strikes.”The Communist Party’s national programs understands that workers who struggle “against the capitalist class or any part of it on any issue with the aim of improving or defending their lives” are part of the class struggle. The Communists maintain that developments within the foreign policy of the United States–as reflected in the rise of neoconservatives and other groups associated with right-wing politics–have developed in tandem with the interests of large-scale capital such as the multinational corporations. The state thereby becomes thrust into a proxy role that is essentially inclined to help facilitate “control by one section of the capitalist class over all others and over the whole of society.”

    Accordingly, the Communist Party holds that right-wing policymakers such as the neoconservatives, steering the state away from working-class interests on behalf of a disproportionately powerful capitalist class, have “…demonized foreign opponents of the U.S., covertly funded the right-wing-initiated civil war in Nicaragua, and gave weapons to the Saddam Hussein dictatorship in Iraq. They picked small countries to invade, including Panama and Grenada, testing new military equipment and strategy, and breaking down resistance at home and abroad to U.S. military invasion as a policy option.”

    The Party has consistently opposed U.S. involvement in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the First Gulf War, and the post-9/11 conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
    “Over 150 anti-war resolutions were passed by city councils. Resolutions were passed by thousands of local unions and community organizations. Local and national actions were organized on the internet, including the ‘Virtual March on Washington DC’ … officials were flooded with millions of calls, emails and letters”.

    The Communist Party USA’s Constitution defines the working class as a class which is “multiracial, multinational, and unites men and women, young and old, employed and unemployed, organized and unorganized, gay and straight, native-born and immigrant, urban and rural, and composed of workers who perform a large range of physical and mental labor–the vast majority of our society”.

    The Communist Party seeks equal rights for women, equal pay for equal work, the protection of reproductive rights, together with putting an end to sexism. The Party’s ranks include a Women’s Equality Commission, which recognizes the role of women as an asset in moving towards building socialism.

    Historically significant in American history as an early fighter for African Americans’ rights and playing a leading role in protesting the lynchings of African Americans in the South, the Communist Party, in its national program today, calls racism the “classic divide-and-conquer tactic…” From its New York City base, the Communist Party’s Ben Davis Club and other Communist Party organizations have been involved in local activism in Harlem and other African American and minority communities. The Communist Party was instrumental in the founding of the progressive Black Radical Congress in 1998.

    Historically significant in Latino working class history as a successful organizer of the Mexican American working class in the Southwestern United States in the 1930s, the Communist Party regards working-class Latino people as another oppressed group targeted by overt racism as well as systemic discrimination in areas such as education, and sees the participation of Latino voters in a general mass movement in both party-based and nonpartisan work as an essential goal for major left-wing progress.

    The Communist Party holds that racial and ethnic discrimination not only harms minorities, but is pernicious to working-class people of all backgrounds, as any discriminatory practices between demographic sections of the working class constitute an inherently divisive practice responsible for “obstructing the development of working-class consciousness, driving wedges in class unity to divert attention from class exploitation, and creating extra profits for the capitalist class”.

    The Communists support an end to racial profiling. The party supports continued enforcement of civil rights laws as well as affirmative action. Supporting cooperation between economically advanced and less economically-developed nations in the area of environmental cooperation, the Communist Party USA stands in favor of promoting “transfer from developed countries to developing countries of sustainable technology, and funds for capital investment in sustainable agriculture, energy, and industry. We should support efforts to get the developed nations to make major contributions to a fund to protect the rainforests from devastation”.

    The Communist Party USA is unalterably opposed to all manifestations of racism, national oppression, national chauvinism, male supremacy, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, which are used by the enemies of progress to divide the working class and people’s forces. The principles of democracy, equality, justice, and class self-interest require a joint fight against all expressions of racism and gender oppression. They fight for full equality for all who suffer from racial, national, and gender oppression as an essential aspect of the unity that is basic to all social progress.

    The USA is a country which was founded by those seeking freedom and tolerance. Thee Faction believe that one day the US will lose its cartoon fear of Socialism: perhaps via its greatest invention: Rock ‘n’ Roll …

    Major Parties of influence of a radical Socialist and Anti-Capitalist bent in places where you wouldn’t expect there to be such a thing – Part 1: Europe

    KPOAUSTRIA: The Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ). On a local level the KPÖ has a continuing importance in the state of Styria (in the south east; the second largest of the nine Austrian federal-states), returning 20.75% in the 2005 local council elections, achieving 4 seats to the Styrian assembly. This was their first return in the assembly since 1970, achieved due in large part to the enormously popular town councillor Ernst Kaltenegger. 60% of the town councillors and half of the local councillors salary are given to social purposes, in accordance with the basic rules of the KPÖ. It was formed in 1918 and banned between 1933 and 1945 when Austria was under German control. The KPÖ played an crucial role in the Austrian resistance against the Nazis.

    The Red-Green AllianceDENMARK: The Red-Green Alliance campaigns against the Capitalist notions of the EU and is particularly active in opposing a European Army. In the elections on November 13th, 2007, the Danish Red-Green Alliance won 4 seats in the national Parliament. In the regional elections on November 15th, 2005, members of the Alliance were elected to municipal councils in 14 cities, including 6 members and 9,.5 % of the votes in the party stronghold of Copenhagen, where they returned one of the seven city mayors (responsible for social affairs). They also have representation members in 4 out of the 5 regional councils.

    The Left AllianceFINLAND: Left Alliance. The party currently has 17 MPs in the Finnish Parliament and over 8% of the vote in the local and national elections of 2007 & 2008. It has settled down now after a lot of defections and feuds, as the name suggests it’s an umbrella group designed to bring together various socially-inclusive organizations. It has an impressively long list of aims and campaigns including merging aspects of Marxism, green politics, ecology and anti-globalization.

    PCFFRANCE: French Communist Party. The French have a long association with the left, there’s various parties with major influence, the biggest being the Socialist party (a centre left party along the lines of the old UK Labour Party which still commands almost 25% of the vote and once returned a President, Mitterand). The French Communist Party retains a huge membership and considerable influence in French politics: two presidencies of “conseil général”, 186 seats in regional parliament, about 800 mayors. Founded in 1920, it participated in three governments: in the provisional government of the Liberation (1944-1947), at the beginning of François Mitterrand’s presidency (1981-1984) and in Plural Left’s cabinet led by Lionel Jospin (1997-2002). In 2007 the party achieved over 1.1 million votes for the national assembly, returning 15 members. They returned a similar vote for the European Elections last year. Recent major successes include protests against the First Employment Contract, (2007) which forced then president Chirac to scrap plans for the bill, which would have allowed employers the opportunity to terminate employment of workers under twenty-six without any reason, within their first two years of employment.

    The LeftGERMANY: The Left. there’s 5 left-leaning parties in the In the Bundestag. Probably the most socially-inclusive is Die Linke: The Left. The party has 76 out of 622 seats after polling 11.9% of the vote in the 2009 federal elections. According to party figures the Left had 77,645 registered members as of September 2009 making it the fourth largest party in Germany.

    The party’s fiscal policies are based on Keynesian economics, originating from the 1930s when governments responded to the Great Depression. It believes the German central bank and government should collaborate with expansionary fiscal and monetary policies in order to “ameliorate business cycles, to support economic growth, and to reduce unemployment”.

    The party aims at rises in government spending in the areas of public investments, education, research and development, culture, and infrastructure, paid for by taxing large Corporations and closing tax loopholes.

    It wishes to regulate the financial sector to reduce the speculation of bonds and derivatives. The party wants to strengthen anti-trust laws and empower cooperatives to decentralize the economy. Further economic reforms shall include solidarity and more self-determination for workers, the rejection of privatization and the introduction of a federal minimum wage, and more generally the overthrow of property and power structures – unashamedly citing Karl Marx: “man is a debased, enslaved, abandoned, despicable essence”.

    Concerning foreign policy, The Left calls for international disarmament, a replacement of the NATO with a collective security system including Russia as a member country. German foreign policy it feels should be strictly confined to diplomacy and co-operation.

    The Left supports further debt-cancellations for developing countries and increases in development aid, in collaboration with the UN, WTO, the World Bank, and diverse bilateral treaties among countries. The party strives for the democratization of the EU institutions and a stronger role of the United Nations in international politics. The Left opposed both the War in Afghanistan and in Iraq as well as the Lisbon Treaty. Remember all of this from the 4th biggest party in Germany . Impressive.

    SynaspismósGREECE: Synaspismós – Coalition of the Left of Movements and Ecology has been the most telegenic of Communist Parties of Europe recently, getting out on the street to protest against the Government’s “austerity measures”. Last year Synaspismós polled over 315,000 votes in the national elections, which provided them with 14 MPs. They are a broad church opposing Neoliberal Capitalism and Globalisation, but aspire to be what they call a “canopy party”; where one can find people of varying ideological and theoretical backgrounds. Members are encouraged to form, or participate in, intra-party platforms on the basis of kinship in ideology. Platforms mount open discussions and publish magazines. The party has its own radio station called In Red.

    PRCITALY: In 1991 the Italian Communist Party of Antonio Gramsci split into the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), and the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). varoius attempts at hard-left alliances haven’t garnered more than 3.6% of the popular vote, but the movement is still alive.

    The LeftLUXEMBOURG: The Left – not strictly a party but an electoral alliance of the Communist Party of Luxembourg the New Left, the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party. You may be surprised to know they returned an MP to the 60 seat national Parliament in 2009, André Hoffmann.

    Left BlocPORTUGAL: Left Bloc. Got 9.8% in the national legislative elections last year, their best ever result, returning 16 members. The Bloc proposed Portugal’s first law on domestic violence, which was passed in parliament through the support of the Portuguese Communist Party and the Socialist Party, and other splendid laws on civil rights including the protection from racism, xenophobia and discrimination, gay marriage laws, laws for the protection of workers and anti-bullfighting laws.

    The Party of Communists of the Republic of MoldovaMOLDOVA: The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova is the only communist party to have held a majority in government in the post-Soviet states, and is still the biggest single party in Parliament with 44% of the popular vote in last year’s snap elections.

    United LeftSAN MARINO: In the 2008 general election, United Left was part of the Reforms and Freedom electoral coalition which won 25 seats out of 60 in the Grand and General Council with 45.78% of the national vote. The coalition is a major part of the official opposition to the right-wing Pact for San Marino government.

    The Communist Party of SpainSPAIN: The Communist Party of Spain is the third largest national political party in Spain. Illegal during the reign of Franco, when it was finally legalized in 1977, despite murderous attacks by right-wing groups, it had 200,000 members. The Catalan United and Alternative Left has 2 out of the 12 MPs at the regional Parliament of Catalonia.

    Swiss Party Of LabourSWITZERLAND: Has a fascinating political system of cantons, local councils with all sorts going on, and an active ‘hard-left’ party of social inclusion, the Swiss Party Of Labour. Marianne Huguenin is mayor of Renens (near Lausanne ) and Josef Zisyadis represents the south western canton of Vaud in the national council. The Party stands for social justice and egalitarianism, and is very successful protecting the Swiss public health initiative.

    There are other impressive parties of social inclusion in Belgium , Cyprus , The Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia , all of whom are more popular than any similar group in the UK .

    European United Left–Nordic Green LeftMany groups unite to sit in the European Parliament, such as the European United Left–Nordic Green Left which has 34 MEPs. Broadly parties of social inclusion are are committed to European integration but obviously oppose neo-liberal monetarist policies.

    After the Soviet Union broke up into neo-Capitalist nation states in the 1990s (supported by pressure from external Capitalist states) many traditional European Marxist groups found themselves in flux. But as ever the we are politically dispossessed and is therefore still represented by modern parties of social inclusion and justice supported, of course, by Trades Unions.

    Ideals are in practice, and Thee Faction say “on your side, comrades”!.

    Next in this series, Communism in the USA …

    Is Cricket Socialist?

    Gentlemen vs Players
    The Indian Premier League (IPL), is back shortly. It’s seen as a bonanza for fans, players and corporate owners, but there’s a danger the tournament represents a distorted form of commodity and consumer excess.

    The IPL is a corporate-driven Cricket tournament in India featuring a set of city teams playing 20 overs a side (‘Twenty20’) – allowing players from various cricket-playing nations to be bought through bids made by corporate-owned teams.

    Cricket has captured widespread mass attention in India unlike any other sport, and the way it’s managed and administered has reflected the dominant mode of economic transactions in the country. From being a sport that was a hangover from the British colonial era and restricted to teams divided on communal bases it has become a symbol of Indian nationalism and is now becoming a full-fledged commercial enterprise. Not dissimilar to the course followed by India socio-economically.

    Sport was always viewed as an afterthought by the post-independent Indian state and there’s no real evidence it was ever tied in with youth development or community building. But Cricket, under the auspices of the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), formed a structure of age-group, state and domestic tournaments so the sport that has touched several urban and semi-urban areas. The BCCI has followed an opaque model of functioning as it has begun to earn big money because of growing popularity after the victory in the 1983 World Cup – and therefore the commercial benefits of the telegenic nature of one-day cricket.

    That cricket is a business is nothing new, not at least since Thomas Lord put a fence around his ground and started charging admission (Lords). But the significance of the IPL cannot be in doubt. For the first time since the early 19th century cricket teams are to be privately owned. As a result, cricket as a business will further edge out cricket as a public service and popular institution.

    The IPL is a form of commodity market, where the commodities are players, the owners are the corporates, and the value of the commodity is determined by a set of rules that play itself out with cricketing instruments and more so on the TV screen in the form of commercials. India winning the Twenty20 World Cup has helped the product too.

    The IPLTwenty-20 has added more capitalist glitz to a nation which is getting used to Bollywood and its new consumerism. The BCCI had the advantage of running the game in the second largest populace in the world and it was only natural that it could influence other boards in releasing players for the IPL Therefore the league got an international flavour adding more more ‘value’. The auction made it clear that commercial values are not the same as cricketing values, and that the franchise owners’ calculations reflect priorities other than putting a winning team on the field. Could the 1st season million-dollar plus bids for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Andrew Symonds, be explained entirely by their cricketing prowess? It could be argued their celebrity pulling power enhanced their commercial value: Dhoni as Indian captain and fashion icon, and Symonds as pantomime villain. Ishant Sharma, an exciting prospect but as yet without a Twenty20 international under his belt, was bought for US$950,000 by Kolkata; while Umar Gul – the highest wicket taker in last year’s inaugural Twenty20 world cup – was snapped up by the same franchise for a mere US$150,000.

    Commercialisation of sport exists all across the world. In the USA, for example, major leagues have been established for four main sports – Baseball, Basketball, American ‘grid-iron’ football and Ice hockey. These sports are played seasonally as a well-integrated market that cohabits with a regulated structure. Participation is guaranteed for interested sections through feeder units in colleges and schools, and infrastructure is established through community ownership and city planning administrations. In other words, a fully fledged sport environment with corporate ownership and state and community support exists, transacting action in the various leagues.

    In Japan, professional baseball leagues involve corporate-owned city-based teams too. Players are ‘fed’ to these leagues from the school and college levels and athlete development programs are coalesced with youth development activity driven by the state. In Spain, club soccer acts as an avenue for regionalism. The local governments play an important role in youth and skill development initiatives. (In nations where the state predominates in planning and administration of sports, such as in Cuba and China, Governments insist they are keen on youth development and participation).

    The anarchic nature of market-driven sport suggests that only a small coterie of readily-recognisable talent gets attention. Those slogging it out in domestic cricket with skill levels suited more for more rigorous five-day test cricket would pale in comparison to the players getting to play in the IPL Twenty20s. The IPL distorts cricket as a jamboree that values brands above skill. A major danger for the IPL is that it will reflect its model, the English Soccer Premier League in its paper-thin love of celebrity. As the English Soccer clubs have developed into big businesses, dedicated to the maximum exploitation of the product, they have grown more remote from the people supporting the game. Ticket prices have soared; merchandising is relentless; corporate hospitality rules. Increasingly, the owners treat the teams as disposable assets, one part of a larger portfolio. Liverpool FC was bought by two American businessmen, Tom Hicks and George Gillette, both major donors to George Bush’s campaign coffers. Now they are at war with each other over an attempt by Gillette to sell the club to Dubai International Capital, the investment arm of the Dubai government. (At least in Britain the football fans have well-organised supporters associations, rooted in long-term loyalty to their club of choice, and can sometimes make their voices heard and put pressure on owners. These act as like Trade Unions for the club’s supporters and Thee Faction fully support membership). The IPL hasn’t anything similar.

    Seen from a larger perspective of sports management and administration in the country, the IPL seems a distorted money-spinning exercise devoid of substantial participative value. Thus Thee Faction speculate that an IPL cricketer could earn almost a million US dollars over three years for merely bowling four overs each in about 16 games in each year and for endorsing a brand, while other Indian sportspeople such as hockey players suffer from lack of compensation and training facilities. Reliance on corporate bodies alone to promote sports brings commercialisation-inflated value for the commodified participant and pandering to voyeuristic desires if the spectator is successfully consumerised.

    The corporates involved with the IPL are surely unlikely to earn any money in the initial years; returns, if any, will come later. Why then are some of the biggest names in the business? There could be many reasons. The professed ones are related to brand building. The more accurate explanations are of two kinds. One is donors’ vanity. A second reason is that it is a sign of excess all around that this finds its expression in many areas – excess in the lifestyles of the rich, excess in consumerism, excess in business endeavours and excess in bidding for team licences and players. History tells us that the period of excess is followed by a period of collapse.

    Leisure time granted to the Proletariat during the industrial revolution on Saturday afternoons was designed to prevent popular revolution. Businessmen moved in to charge gate money. Playing sport is, to them, ideal preparation for the capitalist productive process. Thee Faction believe that in the future 22 players will play Cricket for the enjoyment of testing one’s body, teamwork and their interaction with the sporting environment.

    Competitions such as the IPL are a vaunted triumph of the free market; but it proves less about what Adam Smith called “the invisible hand” and more about a sleight-of-hand collusion between public authorities and private interests (IPL franchises do not operate in a free market, since each one is guaranteed a monopoly in its respective city, which is not the case in English football). The BCCI claim the IPL money should improve Cricket’s infrastructure but the franchises are under no obligation to do this, and anyway this would be restricted to the eight conurbations involved in the league.

    The BCCI is a public body holding the rights to cricket in trust. What it has done through the IPL is to privatise a public asset. Like other privatisations, it has been accompanied by hoopla that obscures the real nature of the transaction, and its real cost to the public.

    The IPL is a surrender to the ineluctable statement that commercial forces are inevitable, like forces of nature, and it’s a mistake to try to hold them back. In fact, the IPL, like other privatisations, is the result of policy, and simply reflects the power of the narrow social strata that benefits from it.

    Thee Faction are against exploitation of sport for Capitalist enterprise.

    Marxist Ideology and the Forging of an Ensemble

    The Pervyi Simfonicheskii Ansambl (First Symphonic Ensemble) was founded in the Soviet Union in July 1921. In accordance with Marxist ideology, it had no conductor: decisions on interpretation being made by a number of elected committees.

    At their first big gig in Moscow, Otto Klemperer was invited to conduct. As the concerto rang out, Klemperer put his baton down on the floor and joined the audience, and the ensemble finished without him. The Persimfans demonstrated that, in a proletarian state orchestra, musicians do not need a musical dictator.

    “It isn’t that we’re opposed to conductors,” the group’s founder, violinist Lev Zeitlin, said, “just bad conductors.” But Zeitlin and company, in keeping with the egalitarian philosophy of Karl Marx, eschewed all men with batons, with the occasional exception of invited guests like Klemperer.

    The Persimfans fared admirably without a leader, although its successes came only after loads of extra rehearsals and conferences during which every performer had to become familiar with the entire score. Works by Haydn, Mozart, and the like were simple enough to present few problems. But the group was challenged severely by the excesses of the Romantics and the complexities of 20th-century composition.

    Within the ensemble, a smaller committee of musicians was elected to meet regularly to decide on such apparent intangibles as volume, dynamics, tempo, and style of specific pieces. Then, at rehearsals, one of the committee members would sit in the balcony to listen and report back.

    Onstage, the group played in a circle so that each musician was visible to all the other musicians. “The utmost concentration and attention is demanded of each player, all of whom are fully conscious of their responsibility in that magic circle,” the French pianist Henri Gil-Marchex, who performed with the Persimfans, wrote. “Each member of the orchestra has his own important part to play, and glances, raising of the brow, and slight motions of the shoulders… are done by each instrumentalist, but so discreetly that the listener…seldom notices it.”

    In January 1927, Sergei Prokofiev appeared with the Persimfans to play on his Piano Concerto No. 3. He remarked “The conductorless orchestra coped splendidly.. and accompanied soloists as competently as any conducted orchestra…Their main difficulty lay in changing tempo, for here the whole ensemble had to feel the music in exactly the same way. On the other hand, the difficult passages were easily overcome, for each individual musician felt himself a soloist and played with perfect precision.”

    The Persimfans were very famous outside the USSR throughout the 1920s and inspired imitators in Paris, Berlin, and New York. In 1927 they were named an ‘Honored Collective’ by the Soviet government. But sadly dissension within the ensemble – coupled with a relaxation of the state-held view that guidance and leadership by a trained individual are always ideologically offensive – proved the group’s undoing. The Persimfans disbanded in 1932.

    Similar ensembles, such as the Orpheus Ensemble based in New York City, have had more success, although decisions are likely to be deferred to some sense of leadership within the ensemble (for example, the principal wind and string players). Most others have returned to the tradition of a principal player, usually the “1st violinist” , being the artistic director and running rehearsals (such as the Australian Chamber Orchestra).

    In Communist R&B a certain dignity of labour is required, to provide each role that makes up the whole. Lyrics are not written by committee but instead as a result of ideological debate. For example – Situationism has proved a thorny subject for Nylons, Brentford and Baby-Face, but the common good always wins out. There are certain traditions from Rhythm & Blues which can be used and usurped, such as chordal modality and the dichotomal spirit of rebellion and spirit of gospel which makes the methods perfect for the use of Socialist ideals.

    Thee Faction believe pop music can be achieved through peaceful committee. As can Government.

    Don’t Sell Your Consent

    The day Thee Faction reconvened to sort through the tapes for ‘At Ebbw Vale’ was a hot July day, notable for the death of Raoul Moat, a “gunman” who shot three people.

    Moat had been pursued by the Police in the small northern English hamlet of Rothbury for the best part of a week, AND, of course had also been pursued by rolling news media. We watched for days, knowing we were a long way from the story, sympathising with the local folks yet grateful it did not concern us, happy to see news services were ‘keeping us informed’ but most of all, looking forward to Mr Moat carrying out his threat of blowing his head off, live on TV.

    One of the songs involved in the At Ebbw Vale sessions deals with exactly this salacious desire to have the bourgeois idea of ‘importance’ bought to us, we feel we are being looked after at the same time as feeling nervous that at any point we could be attacked: it is this dichotomy which keeps us quiet and oppressed.

    This “propaganda model” as an alternative to the conception of the media as “adversarial,” the one to which journalists, jurists, and communication scholars typically subscribe, is beautifully outlined by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media [Pantheon, 1988/2002].

    The propaganda model as outlined herein depicts the media system as having a series of five successive filters through which the “raw material of news” must pass, leaving a “cleansed residue” of what “news is fit to print, marginalizing dissent, and allowing the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public”:
    (1) a focus on profitability by and the increasingly concentrated
    industry that has close ties to the government and is in a position by sheer volume to overwhelm dissenting media voices;
    (2) the dependence of these media organizations on funding through advertising, leading them to head towards content likely to appeal to the
    (3) the dependence of journalists who work for the media on information from sources that constitute, collectively, a powerful/prestigious establishment;
    (4) commercial interests that make the media vulnerable to “flak” and criticism from groups and institutions with the power to generate criticism and protest to which they respond with caution; and, finally,
    (5) anti-socialism – one standard to those on “our” side and a quite different one to “enemies.” (e.g “the war against terror”).

    Chomsky contends that media providers “narrow the range of news that passes through the gates and even more sharply limit what can become ‘big news’ subject to sustained news campaigns.” Far from being autonomous creations, media systems reflect, the distribution of economic, political, and symbolic power in society. Those at the top, and especially the government with its huge public relations apparatus, hold a strategic advantage. The result is the “manufacture of consent” for government policies and the capitalist average which advances the goals of corporations and preserve the system.

    “Facts” become simply a consideration of the relation between the “evidence available”. Credibility of sources and their accounts varies, and “slow” the flow of news. Most “stories” survive only as long as they appear timely and until displaced by other more interesting or important happenings. Those which turn out to have a longer life are sustained by the chain of responses generated by an initial report.

    TV News, hampered by the need for pictures is literally, produced. The need for a moving image to illustrate dominates TV news’s agenda, thus turning it into a simple television programme, with conflict, a narrative: almost as a sport.

    The practice of appealing to the public on all sorts of intricate matters means almost always a desire to escape criticism from those who know by enlisting a large majority which has had no chance to know. The verdict is made to depend on who has the loudest or the most entrancing voice, the most skillful or the most brazen PR “guru” the best access to the most space in the newspapers. For even when the editor is scrupulously fair to “the other side,” fairness is not enough. There may be other sides, unmentioned by any of the organized, financed and active partisans.

    The advocate of popular government has also to come to terms with the fact that on political questions there is rarely a single version of the truth. The relevance and significance of the “facts” is often disputed while typical citizens, in view of the many competing demands of family and job, not to speak of an inherent right to pursue their own “happiness,” have little time and limited inclination to educate themselves on the many, often complicated issues that regularly command the attention of public bodies. As Rousseau recognized long ago, the “people” refers in the last analysis to an existing majority.

    There is no rule for resolving disputes democratically other than to grant the majority authority over the rest. Implementation of its decisions requires additional rules formulated so as to protect the fundamental rights of everyone.

    There is of course in the UK the BBC and the allegedly “liberal” media – but these are in constant danger from political conservatives who, by controlling the terms of the debate, have succeeded in moving the political “centre” several steps to the right. These attacks, more than anything else, have moved some who would protect press freedom to defend some media practices behind the rampart of apolitical “objectivity.”

    Critics of current policies have become more circumspect as administration supporters package patently conservative comment into the news, which gives government a freer hand.

    Thee Faction believe that commercial news providers yield a propaganda result that a totalitarian state would be hard put to surpass. (Whilst appreciating that this very treatise is our propaganda!)

    Thee Faction urge you to question the news media you are being fed, especially from TV. Beware of “experts” and “statistics”. The bourgeoisie manufacture your consent by making decisions for you, in the same way religion, school or parents do when you are a child. Question everything, read and discuss. Grow up.

    Don’t sell your consent, it’s very valuable.