danny baker

Undecided? Commit to a night of Socialist RnB.

So, you’re umm-ing and ah-ing about whether to come to the DDRofRnB on Thursday 7th June. We’ve done the check-list for you, and it turns out you’re the perfect contributor:

Left wing? Tick.

Like dancing? Tick

Like rock’n’roll, soul and RnB? Tick

Like guitar bands with horns and organs? Tick

Like amusing but hard hitting socialist polemic? Tick

Like your socialism to be able to laugh at itself and its enemies? Tick

Like a brand of politics full of joy, hope and giggles? Tick

Like surprise special guests from the worlds of rap and comedy? Tick

Like being in on lovely people’s birthdays? Tick

Like support bands with songs called ‘Purge Your Inner Tory’? Tick

Like drinks and Northern Soul 45s and dressing up in your best clothes, just as the bands will be? Tick

But still you’re undecided. You recognise that £8 is fantastic value for money. You know that Putney is London’s most revolutionary suburb, and the Half Moon its most RnB venue (we put this one to bed a couple of years back, didn’t we?). You know that Thursdays are the perfect night for this sort of thing. Surely you’re edging closer and closer to booking those tickets.

We think you should come. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what lots of people, who have assumed the role of opinion formers in this counter-hegemonic war of position, have said about us and our records:

“Terrific stuff. Well done! Here, we celebrate the successes of the working class” Danny Baker, broadcaster

“Comrade Post has delivered Comrade Parcel, and what a package it is: I could hear the records thumping their tiny clenched fists against the wrapping, demanding immediate liberation from the chains of mail so they could sing freely of Marx, Cole (Not Dole) and other champions of the struggle. Many, many thanks to Babyface and his comrades for such an energising blast.” Francis Wheen of Private Eye, Radio 4’s The News Quiz and biographer of Marx

“..barricade storming, smart, fun, instantly energising” Gavin Martin, Daily Mirror (Up The Workers number 17 in the Daily Mirror ‘Albums of 2011’)

“Actual full-on revolutionary socialist R&B – imagine Dr Feelgood with a brainful of Gramsci or The Redskins with a sense of humour (it is possible, really). Positing that the indie landfill cannot be changed but must be destroyed, Thee Faction launch a critique of societal hegemony on the back of a BIG grimy blues’n’b twang. Excellent.” Andrew Harrison, The Word Magazine

“Thee Faction’s mission is to restore to pop the Socialist polemic of the 80s..and not to rest until the last member of Mumford & Sons is strangled with the entrails of Coldplay’s drummer..with the musical weapons of pub-rock, skinny R’n’B & clipped brass..the titles & the sleeve suggest they’re ruefully aware of the aesthetic difficulties of agit-pop; but their tongues are only partly in cheek. 100% fun AND they 100% mean it, man. Catch live!” David Stubbs, Classic Rock

“What fresh hell is this?” Nick Cohen, Observer columnist and author

“Socialist goodies – I love this band” Josie Long, BBC 6 Music Saturday Morning Show/Award winning comic

“As likely to provoke a knees up as a revolution” Drowned in Sound

“..bringing down the Tories one song at a time” The Guardian

“Timely. I love these mad bastards” Simon Price, The Independent on Sunday

“..a gloriously exuberant blend of storming R’n’B feeding on punk and soul energy. Add to the mix a Marxist musical manifesto that pulls no punches..and you’ve a formula that acknowledges the past but helps take us into a glorious future.” Rock ‘N’ Reel Magazine

“To bring a bit of revolution to the evolution of rock music, you can either, push the sonic manifesto to the limit and cultivate a strange branch of the family tree from that experimental seed. Or, by marrying an original lyrical idea with a traditional riff, turn an established form into something nouveaux. The latter is the strategy of Thee Faction and it works, if only because it takes a certain determined, and clearly collective, genius, to extract Marxist theory from dusty tomes and weld it to soul/blue collar rock n’ roll, to give birth to Socialism Rhythm & Blues..”  Louder than War

“Beats to burn bankers by.” Nicky Tesco, The Members

“Tough!” John Robb, The Membranes/Goldblade

“Invigorating Rock ‘n’ Roll and nasty R’n’B … Billy Bragg and Wilko Johnson having a pint with Arthur Scargill in the wooden snug of a flat cap pub” Is This Music?

“Twinning Dr Feelgood and eastern-bloc rockin’ beats … to rabble-rouse your mind and Agit-prop your pop” Vive Le Rock

“…gig of the year, comrades!” Richard Archer, Hard-Fi

“Guthrie and Seeger, Lennon and Baez, Dylan and Crass changed views through song. Thee Faction do just that through sheer force of joy de vivre…Thee Faction are a lesson – an independent spirit [who] own their means of production….they rock to share an interpretation of the world…real alternative music that sings, “Capitalism is good for corporations; that’s why you’ve been told socialism is bad all your life.” Huffington Post

Great. So it’s decided. You’re coming. After all, you’re bored of protest songs. You want solution songs. There’ll be a whole night of them at the Half Moon on June 7th.

See you there, comrade. We can’t wait. And it’s Billy Brentford’s non-bourgeois birthday. The best present you can give him is an audience. He loves an audience.

Ideology, Lies & Culture

The most disappointing thing about all the strike action last week – apart from the fact that bosses made sure it had to happen in the first place – was the reaction of a large number of members of the public. We don’t blame them, of course – The Man has made sure that everyone’s instant, unthinking reaction to a strike is to blame the strikers – but it makes us sad that The Man’s work has been done so thoroughly.

What is most worrying is that the public will trot out the ridiculous lies that the right-wing press feed us as if they were fact. So it was really refreshing to read Richard Seymour in the Guardian, who exposed a couple of things about the firefighters’ strike that those who buy into everything the Daily Mail tells you really need to know.

James O’Brien, at the generally gruesomely right-wing London radio station LBC, received an anonymous email from City Hall, which outlined just how desperate the fire bosses were. Brian Coleman and his cronies had concluded that they had to win the dispute before 5 November, and so instructed their PR company to “unleash the forces of hell” on firefighters. Which they’ve done. The right-wing press ate it up, printing the lies about £10,000 pa pay demands and absurd percentages of firefighters working second jobs and living abroad. The whole thing was orchestrated by the bosses.

Now no one who reads the right wing press believes this kind of thing happens. Read, for example, Seamus Milne’s The Enemy Within, one of the most meticulously researched books on industrial relations that we’ve read. You can take any of the things he exposes in there about how the NCB and the Thatcher government indulged in dirty tricks during the Miners’ Strike, and show them to people who read the right-wing press, and they will not believe a word of it. They will accuse you of being ideological.

That is how entrenched this stuff is, comrades. The Fire Authority hired a PR company to spread lies about the firefighters and their demands. The PR company spread the lies. The right-wing press printed the lies. That diverted attention away from the private firm of under-trained firefighters that had been called in as scab labour to cover the planned strike. The public turned on the firefighters and called them irresponsible, greedy and workshy. The FBU lost its nerve, and called the strike off.

All because the bosses had a good PR firm who were ready to spread a whole pack of lies about honest, hard-working people.

Sad.

Comrade Danny Baker. Get well soon.

Then Alan Davies, off of the telly, was going to stand in for Danny Baker on his radio show on Saturday, in the middle of the NUJ strike at the BBC. Now, as you know, Comrade Baker is currently going through all manner of gruesome treatment for cancer. Comrade Davies, whose comradely credentials were so superbly laid out in his Alan Davies’  Teenage Revolution on Channel 4 the other week, pulled out of covering Danny’s show because he wouldn’t cross a picket line.

Now, we can’t find any evidence that Comrade Baker has ever crossed a picket line. He certainly didn’t in 2005. And Comrade Davies clearly isn’t a picket line crosser. So this is easy. Everyone’s happy. Everyone is doing the right thing.

Except they’re not, apparently. Those of you who kept an eye on Davies’s twitter feed over the weekend will know that he had to put up with messages like this: keeper9 @alandavies1 seriously? You put a strike over stepping in to help a man with a critical illness? and fiatpanda @alandavies1 Surprised that you find it so easy to choose union solidarity over support for a man with cancer. Nice job. and this SiTheTallGuy Decided to unfollow @alandavies1. That tweet about not crossing NUJ picket line to do Danny Baker’s show confirms he’s a dick. Sorry.

Yes. Apparently Comrade Davies not crossing a picket line to cover a show that there is no evidence Comrade Baker would have done either, under strike conditions, is tantamount to him refusing to administer life-saving treatment. Baker didn’t suffer here. The BBC management suffered. And rightly. Alan Davies followed one of the most important principles we can have, as working people.

Disappointingly, Suggs did the show instead.

Fact is, there has been a huge culture shift. Striking seems to be seen as an individual act of selfishness. Refusal to cross a picket line seems to be seen as an individual act of selfishness. We have become so used to assuming that the motivation behind everything is an individual act of selfishness – thanks to this culture of bellum omnium inter omnes that capitalism has introduced us to – that even age-old moments of solidarity are somehow spun as individual self-interest.

This is what we keep saying, brothers and sisters. The fightback is not just about economic or political power. The fightback is cultural. Until these ridiculous attitudes are successfully challenged and changed, this movement’s going nowhere.

Comrade Terry Eagleton once said this: “Your thought is ideological, his is redneck, but mine is deliciously supple.” There is, as he is pointing out, no escape from ideology. It forms our thinking in so many ways. But make sure the ideology you employ is in line with your real interests. There were NUJ members sending twitter messages to BBC scabs congratulating them on defying the pickets. NUJ members! A trade unionist with Daily Mail attitudes? That’s where ideology is not in line with interests.

Culture war. We’re in one. Don’t ignore it. Fight it. You know which side you’re on. Don’t sell your consent.