class war

Thatcher dies. Thee Faction launch new video.

A rabid class warrior has died. The struggle continues. We don’t take moral exception to the celebrations. We just note that her death will do little, if anything, to loosen up the grip of bourgeois hegemony. In fact, if the hagiographical tributes the TV news is showing us are anything to go by, it’s a splendid opportunity for the ruling class to reinstall her as the postergirl of British capitalism. Which is very disappointing. So we need to redouble our efforts.

thatcher

Tonight, though, we do celebrate everyone who stood up to her. Those who refused to believe the lies about apartheid, the lies about trades’ unions, the lies about ‘freedom’, the lies about selling off our industry and our housing stock. Those who told her she was wrong in her careful imbalancing of the tax system – whether income or community. We also honour her victims: those who didn’t make it, and those who weren’t strong enough for the new robust liberal individualism she forced on us all. Many of us retreated into traditional ties of solidarity, but any project designed to atomize society is going to leave a lot of people isolated. That’s the point, of course. United we stand, and they knew that.

4PAN1T

We could knock out a lengthy article, rebutting the TV’s claims, for example, that she had ‘phenomenal moral courage’. But we have long asserted our commitment to solution songs, rather than protest songs. So instead of pointing out the evils of Thatcher as everyone else will be doing we, via Artrocker TV,  have premiered our new video for Better Than Wages. It’s a song that takes the end of the wages system as a given, and celebrates the joys to be had in prioritising other, more joyous things. Listen hard. The album version – Track One on Good Politics: Your Role As An Active Citizen In Civil Society – is heavier on the guitar and has the odd lyrical difference. This version, a remix from our very good friend and ultra-solid comrade Andy Lewis, is heavier on the horns and keys, and sounds fantastic. A radio hit, we hope. Watch the video right through. The gags come later on.

The point is that the struggle has got to continue. A night on the pop to celebrate Thatcher’s demise is probably well-earned, we s’pose, if you’ve spent decades fighting the ruling class. But for us it changes nothing. So the best way we can mark the death of this class warrior is to remind ourselves that we didn’t start this class war. But we’re going to end it. This video is a cheap, simple, light-hearted way of reminding everyone that there is better to come. Retain hope. Seek joy. Stay positive. Fight on.

Do share this with everyone you know. There’s no point in restricting this stuff to a small audience. Thee Faction are worthless as a well kept secret shared by the socialist cognoscenti. Get the word out.

Thatcher’s gone. But not forgotten. Let’s focus on what we’re fighting for.

Onward.

gdh

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New Mumford & Sons LP or New Thee Faction LP? A stark choice.

As you know, more and more people are labelling Thee Faction ‘The New Mumford & Sons’. The exact nature and extent of our respect for Mumford & Sons is, of course, very well documented. So you can imagine exactly how excited we are by this comparison.

This week sees the launch of the new Mumford & Sons album. To celebrate this, we offer you a choice. It is a choice as stark as the contradictions of capitalism. As opposed as the dialectic itself. As black and white as the prevailing labour relations. Your choice is: to splash your hard-earned on the new Mumford & Sons album, perhaps via a massive corporate retailer like Amazon or similar. Or to spend the cash you swapped for your labour on all three Thee Faction albums for £15with the money going straight to the band to fund further musical and political activities (if you need to try before you buy, there’s songs off all three albums here).

Click on image to get all three albums for £15

Effectively this is a ‘which side are you on?’ moment. Let’s work on the assumption that everyone will buy one or the other. This doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable assumption – that last Mumford & Sons record sold an astonishing number of ‘units’. So, purchasing the Mumford & Sons record says something very specific about you and your place in the class struggle. Purchasing all three Thee Faction records for £15 says something equally clear about you and your place in the class struggle.

This will be a question that will resonate through the ages. “That week, in September 2012: did you buy the Mumford & Sons second album from a massive retailing behemoth or all three Thee Faction records for £15 direct from socialists?“. You will either inflate your chest, look your interrogator in the eye, and confidently answer ‘the latter’, or cough uncomfortably, shuffle your feet, and mumble ‘the former’. You know what you’ve got to do.

Equally, we hear Mumford & Sons will be touring on the back of this new album. Now, attending a Mumford & Sons gig is an explicitly political statement. They take you by the throat and shove class war rhetoric and tight analytical polemic down your gullet, washed down with gallons of socialist rhythm’n’blues with all its redemptive qualities and invigorating energies. No, hang on, that’s us. Mumford & Sons preen in jeans about how mean their girlfriends have been. Or have public therapeutic struggles about their faith in deities or their angst over which way to turn (continue the musical gap year, or take that job at Goldman Sachs, presumably).

Again, the choice is yours. Turn up at one of their celebrations of bourgeois liberal individualistic existential nonsense where the next generation of investment bankers and management consultants chant in unison abut their superficial concerns, or come to the DDRofRnB and get down and dirty to Socialist RnB’s finest solution songs, concerned not with moments of self-indulgent anguish, but with class-based analysis and giving history a big old kick up the arse to propel it towards the next epoch. The one that will be ours.

Up to you, of course. We won’t judge your choices. You simply choose your side, and commit. If it’s Mumford & Sons and their bankrupt aesthetic, so be it. Or if it’s Thee Faction, with our anthems of joy, hope and solutions to the current crisis, then, again, so be it. We are not placing a higher value on one or the other. Just choose your side and be done with it.

And we’ll see you on one side of the barricades or the other. You choose which. Ours or Mumford’s. All we are doing, by offering this bundle of  records and an imminent DDRofRnB, is facilitating the choice.

Our side will win, mind.

Oh, and we are, of course, aware that some of you will already have one of more of our records, and might not want to buy the three album package. We understand. So you could make a very similar statement of your position in the class struggle, and your position regarding Mumford & Sons, by choosing between Mumford & Sons new album and our new album: Singing Down the Government, or, The War of Position and How We’re Winning It.

click on image to buy the album

or, equally, if you just want the two Thee Faction studio albums: Up the Workers, or, Capitalism is Good for Corporations That’s Why You’ve Been Told Socialism is Bad All Your Life and Singing Down the Government, or, The War of Position and How We’re Winning It, then that makes an identical statement about your role in the class war and where you stand vis a vis Mumford & Sons. And we’re offering them for a bargain basement £10 for the pair.

click on image to buy the two album package

Everyone needs to declare his or her hand, of course. Right now. So share this information. Post it on facebook or twitter. Or on your blog. Or email your friends. You must choose, brothers and sisters, you must choose. Whether you are going to be the problem, along with Mumford & Sons. Or whether you are going to the solution. Are you ready to testify?

It’s only class war if you fight back

Finally someone has come out and said it. It’s taken all week, but Gary Younge in the Guardian says: it’s a class thing. Fuck Starkey. Racism is the last refuge of the historian who won’t embrace historical materialism. Eventually, in a desperate hunt for a reason, and in the absence of a charismatic figure they can build a narrative around, they seize on race as the motivating force. On this occasion the race card is such an absurd one to play that Starkey has to resort to the claim that so many white people were involved because they are culturally black. There can’t be a single person in Britain (bar Nick Griffin, who is offering to make Starkey a Gold Member of the BNP) that buys this bollocks. No. Younge has got it right. You look to the economy for your analysis. That’s how history works.

Now the right are terrified of doing this. They know they’ll hate the answers. So their analysis stops at ‘mindless criminality’ ((c) every Tory Cabinet member), as if that is an answer in itself. Why would one investigate any further? Once you’ve got as far as ‘mindless criminality’ there can be no deeper one can dig.

Which means they are genuinely comfortable in the belief that all of the innately mindless criminals in London emerged, at the same time, on the same night, like some kind of zombie movie, to perform their criminal acts in one, single, uncoordinated spontaneous act. Or, failing that, they believe some kind of Fagan figure was coordinating it, via these magic, criminal Blackberry devices. The point is, it was simple criminality. Nothing more.

We’re not allowed to ask what made them ‘mindless criminals’. Were they born that way? To even ask the question is, apparently, to excuse their behaviour. We are not allowed to ask what might have caused it all to happen in one rush of adrenalin. That would be to excuse their behaviour. We can’t ask how a swathe of Londoners, so bereft of hope, should resort to this rather than focus their anger on a specific underlying problem. That would be to excuse their behaviour. We can’t ask why they attacked businesses rather than public buildings (on Newsnight Starkey used this as evidence that it was not political – that, right there, is a perfect example of how narrow the right’s definition of politics is). That would be to suggest there was method in their madness. We can’t even ask why, when given a free run in the city’s shops, these kids wanted branded clothing and goods that the advertising industry has thrust in their faces all their lives, and which offer the very definition of those who have ‘made it’ (and, in their absence, those who haven’t). To ask that question would be to excuse their behaviour. We also can’t ask why it has happened in England, but not in Scotland or Wales, under their left of centre governments. To ask that question would be to excuse their behaviour.

So the orthodoxy has been established. This is ‘mindless criminality’. To suggest otherwise is to be an apologist for thugs.

Well, excuse us, but we don’t think that stretching an analysis beyond the convenient is to apologise for thuggery. The riots fucked up the lives of working class Londoners more than they fucked up the lives of the enemy. For this reason, more than any other, we condemn them*. But it is stone cold stupid to dismiss it as mindless criminality. Well, it’s tactically astute if you’re the Tory Cabinet, or the Telegraph leader writer, or the Met Police. If you’re anyone else, you need to harvest the crust from your eyes.

You know how the world works. It’s the way the economic base is organised that offers the foundations upon which we build the superstructural arrangements. We’ve had a long period of Labour government, where people ostensibly on our side were running the politics. As always, capitalism carried on doing its thing, while Labour made some worthwhile tweaks to stop capitalism’s worst excesses (the minimum wage, trade union recognition and so on). Eventually the establishment tired of Labour, and we were all directed to vote Tory. Which lots of people did.

The thing you get with a Tory government is class war. Or, rather, an onslaught of class politics. Witness Osborne’s insistence that the most vital tweak to the economy we all need is to ditch the 50% top income tax rate, which affects less than 1% of the population. Witness the immediate rise in VAT – a regressive tax – rather than higher rates of income tax – a progressive tax. Witness the attack on the public sector – people who have, in Tory eyes inexplicably,  chosen to devote their careers to public service rather than to chasing profits in some horrible enterprise. We almost called it class war. It isn’t. It’s only class war if you fight back.

There’s been some fighting back. From organised labour, for example. The PCS, the RMT and the NUJ are absolutely at the forefront of this. Comrades have stood up to be counted, and have refused to take what the government is throwing at them. There’s been some fighting back from the likes of UK Uncut or the SWP. But the level of organisation is specific, rather than general, and it represents groups who find it easy to articulate their concerns. Unionised workers, political activists and so on all have analytical tools and a clear understanding of the rights and wrongs. They know what they’re fighting against, and they know who is their friend and who is their enemy.

But the kids we saw torching London this week don’t know any of that. They’re being offered no leadership. The Labour Party is seemingly saying nothing at the moment that might give them a sense of hope. No one will employ them, or educate them, so the NUS and the trades’ unions can’t offer them leadership or guidance. The community leaders who would hand out CLR James pamphlets, or lead discussion of whether Malcolm or Dr King offer the best route out, are 20 years older than they were in the last round of metropolitan riots. UK Uncut, and the other ‘down with this sort of thing’ are too busy with press-friendly spectaculars than recruiting the genuinely lost and disaffected. These kids have nothing to join, no one speaking on their behalf, and no one holding up a flag and saying ‘come on comrades, let’s use this energy and build a better tomorrow’.

In fact, they are completely sold on capitalism and its trappings. The Man has worked his magic on these kids. Thee Faction  and other bang on about fighting a war of position, and establishing a counter-hegemonic culture. Well these kids know nothing about it. They genuinely believe that salvation is to be found in wearing the right daps and the right labels. These are the foot soldiers the consumerist phase of capitalism desperately wanted and needed.But they’re not quite playing by the rules. Either we recruit them, or capital finds a way of adjusting their trajectory back in line with the system’s strategic aims. They think they love the system. They just can’t access its rewards as easily as Cameron and Osborne’s old schoolmates can.

So this was their fightback. They didn’t necessarily say so. None of them articulated it clearly. None of them defined the enemy. But why would they? Who is helping them shape an analysis? No one. They’re marginalised, disaffected, and very  very very angry. But this was a week that was waiting to happen. Things were at boiling point. They boiled over. They boiled over for a whole bunch of very angry, confused, leaderless, rudderless, helpless, hopeless kids. They did the wrong thing. They did a whole heap of very very wrong things, and fucked everything up for a lot of working people whose lives are tough enough already. But why did they do it? Cos they have no hope, no help and no direction.

The answer isn’t to lock them up. The answer is to recruit them to something useful. Use that energy to build a better tomorrow. Kassandra Krossing, in these pages earlier in the week, set about those who call these kids ‘chavs’ or ‘scum’. These are labels which allow the smug to de-humanize the rioters and prescribe Mikado-esque pair-of-eyes-for-an-eye retribution. She was right. She also pointed out that, until the riots, these rioters were the people next to us on the bus. They were the same as us.

Yes they were. But there was one crucial difference. They were one step closer to not taking it any more than the rest of us, and one step further away from caring about the consequences of making a big big noise. But that feeling is simmering in all of us. We’re not going to take it. It’s a class-based onslaught that the Tories and the ruling class are sending our way. It’s only class war if you fight back. And there’s going to come a moment when organised labour, organised politics and organised civil society activity all start to move in exactly the same direction, at the same time, at a serious pace. At that moment we must offer leadership to those helpless, hopeless, misguided kids, and show them that there is no need to shit in our own dog bowl. Solidarity and unity amongst all of us. That’s what makes us strong.

Harness that, and we’ll be fucking invincible, comrade. Let’s make it happen. Thee Faction will be doing their bit. Will you do yours?

 

*we have no doubt that this sentence will be forgotten by most readers and that this piece will be read as some kind of tribute to the rioters. If that’s how you’ve read it, we apologise for our poor writing. That was never the point.

Class War

And so it begins. Can you hear the sound of battle lines being drawn? David Cameron has decided he and his class need to fight back against ‘vested interests’ in  the public sector. Those are, from what we can work out, the people interested in hanging on to their jobs, being able to pay their rent or mortgage, and feeding and clothing their kids. Meanwhile, Bob Crow, quite reasonably, couldn’t be bothered to listen to the head honcho at the Bank of England explaining to the TUC why everyone needs to tighten their belts. He told the BBC:

Whose side are you on?

“I’m not going to listen to Mervyn King at our congress. I’m all in favour of listening to Mervyn King after we finished but I believe it is to decide our own policy, our own platform and this is our opportunity to listen to workers.

“I want to hear what workers are going to say about how they are going to resist these cutbacks that are going to take place from the government’s austerity measures.”

Cameron and co, on the other hand, are going to challenge such ‘inflammatory arguments’ about the cuts. So arrogant are they that they’re even happy to accuse the Police Federation of being amongst these public sector vested interests! The Tories might have forgotten how much they’re going to have to rely on the police in the next few months and years. Expect apologies, pay rises, and a return to limitless overtime for the coppers as soon as the bosses turn up the heat in the class war, comrades.

Nostalgia of the Future, in this week’s podcast interview, asked why Thee Faction had chosen to come back now. It’s painfully bleedin’ obvious isn’t it, brothers and sisters? Nothing’s changed. It’s the early 80s all over again. A return to Class War, as declared by the ruling class. Time to knock us back in line.

Except this time we’re going to win. Let’s get organised. And let’s have a good time doing it.

See you on Saturday.