As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...
- Name: Alistair Livingston
Friday, February 16, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Campus campaign on newsnight Scotland
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Crichton Campaign on Newsnight ScotlandThe Campaign was given very good coverage on Newsnight Scotland Tuesday 13th Feb.
Note - first few minutes are from Newsnight UK...
Unfortunately following studio debate was about tuition fees - do Scottish Universities need more money from Scottish Executive (via Scottish Funding Council) now that tuition fees have been brought in in England.
This rather abstract debate was not very useful for our Campaign.
In fact it was pretty irrelevant - I have yet to hear anyone suggest Glasgow are pulling out of Dumfries because of tuition fees.
So why follow the strong narrative of Willie Johnston's film with this irrelevant - for immediate Crichton situation- studio discussion?
I guess that neither Sir Muir Russell nor anyone else from Glasgow University was prepared to go on Newsnight Scotland to argue the case for closure.
I wonder why? Could it be there is no such case?
Monday, February 12, 2007
Just do it yourself
ONE AFTERNOON when I was 17, Gary Marx, the lead guitarist from the Sisters of Mercy, came round my squalid bedroom and answered some questions about his band for my fanzine, Attack on Bzag!.
The Sisters were a great local group, a class apart from most other bands in Leeds at the time. They had just released "Body Electric" on the CNT label and it wouldn't be long before they started having alternative hits on their own Merciful Release label and then became the European kings of Goth. The singer, Andrew "Spiggy" Eldritch, was an enigma of sorts - he wore sunglasses in winter in Yorkshire and sang like Scott Walker down a drain. He later moved from Headingley to Hamburg which seemed about right.
Nothing significant happened at the interview. Gary said he couldn't believe I had the cheek to get him to come to me rather than the other way round, but he came thinking my mum might have made some cake. Tough luck - I no longer lived with my mum and I was about as hungry as he was.
I typed up the article and it appeared on a single sheet in the fourth issue of the fanzine. I didn't have any pictures of the band, so I just cut their logo out of a music press advert and stuck it right next to a silhouette of some First World War British soldiers. The article was little more than a review. To produce the fanzine cost me about pounds 40 for 400. I hand-printed them on a Roneo Gestetner machine which had correction fluids that could keep you going long after the printing had finished. It was, by my own estimation, the last issue before Bzag! actually began to stand out from the busy underground fanzine crowd. I remember all this because some Sisters of Mercy fan has just paid pounds 62 for a copy of this issue on eBay. I only wish I'd been the vendor.
A fortnight ago someone told me some of my fanzines and those of my contemporaries were for sale on eBay. I had a look and tried to buy the aforementioned Sisters issue, as it had a rare pink photocopied cover. Each time I bid, a counter bid appeared from a "Mr Spiggy" - not the man himself - until the price hit pounds 24. At this point I decided that despite having gone on to sell more than 40 million magazines for pounds 3 at a time, I probably couldn't compete with the spending power of a determined Sisters fan. A week later eBay told me the auction finished at pounds 62. I can only assume Mr Spiggy had duelled to the death with another member of the Sisterhood.
The British fanzine scene of the mid Eighties was an excitable and productive time. Members of The Farm (back in the charts now with "Altogether Now") produced the first football culture mag, The End; Newcastle gave us the truly unique Viz; an anarchist hippie from Stoke Newington produced VAGUE (imagine Vogue produced by the Prada Meinhof gang). Radio One's Steve Lamacq and I used to run fanzine stalls with a mad chef called Richard at all Ken Livingstone's GLC free festivals. Selling the fanzines was our destiny, our means to exist. These disposable pamphlets full of fanatical rants about the "scene" in Greenock, Harlow or Hull, were badly printed and collated by hand - and we had the paper cuts and ink under the nails to prove it. It was the closest I ever came to hard work.
To think that people are now spending pounds 62 on a 20p booklet is bizarre, especially when they are only interested in a single page. I'd like to flatter myself that they're after my early work but it's the music they want. A few years ago I gave half my collection away to a guy from Scotland who wanted them for his college course or something, but I couldn't let go of the hardcore. Thirty years on they sit tattered and torn in a concertina folder in my office, opinionated missives with fantastic names like Kill Your Pet Puppy, Slow Dazzle, Rox, Molotov Comics and Cool Notes. At the time they were our tickets out, now they're just snapshots of a forgotten underground, reminders of a life before e-mail and websites.
Occasionally I find an old unopened envelope with 20p stuck to a bit of card and a request for a copy of Attack on Bzag!. And I dig one out and post it because a fanzine seller never runs out of stock. Had our Sisters of Mercy fanatic considered that, it would have saved him pounds 61.80, and he wouldn't have needed PayPal.Copyright 2004 Independent Newspapers UK Limited
Battle for campus rages...
Massive coverage in today [Monday 12th]'s Herald
Vortex, Stoke Newington Church Street
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Mini spectacular societies
Or not… listening to Rubella Ballet songs off their website and thinking about the week ahead. I had an invite to attend a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 15th but will be at home looking after Callum. Right now he is busy throwing / dropping stones on to the patio/ wheelchair stand. Been busy doing this for an hour or so. Now he has finished and is in bed wrapped under a duvet to thaw out. Something to watch out for with people in wheelchairs - because they are sitting still rather than moving about they generate less heat and so can get colder more quickly. But back to this text…
Is there such a thing as a micro-situation? Or put otherwise - is the Society of the Spectacle really such a totality , or does it exist in mini-versions? Does , for example, Dumfries and Galloway have its own ‘spectacle’? I suggest it has. Or at least contains within itself some striking contradictions and profound social /economic problems which the localised spectacle smoothes over with endless glossy ‘regeneration strategy ‘ reports.
I could pursue this analysis further, but will leave it here for just now . To illustrate my hardly revolutionary point - read on….
First taken from this blog site http://drumsleet.blogspot.com/2006/03/chapter-6.html
Last year Pete Fortune and I wrote a book entitled 'Dumfries a History and Celebration'. As possibly any book with such a flatulent title deserved, it attracted little publicity on its publication. It's an attractive looking book with 5 chapters of largely plagiarised drooling about Dumfries and its rich History and, in the last of these, an upbeat assessment of Dumfries' potential to re-invent itself and survive rather than do the decent thing and slide discreetly into the Solway. We were very much against the lunatic feeling of optimism that we were forced to inject into Chapter 5, so much so that I wrote a secret Chapter 6 as an antidote.
Here it is:
Actually it's a shit-hole isn't it? All these famous people might have come from Dumfries but they all fucked off as soon as they could, and no wonder. The only exceptions are folk who died prematurely before they could fuck off. Walking through Dumfries on a Saturday afternoon is enough to make you weep. The streets are filled with junkies, knock-kneed whores, thieves, pedarasts, religious maniacs and Rangers supporters.
Every second shop is a fucking Pound emporium selling glass paperweights made by Korean schoolchildren and umbrellas that break as you leave the premises, or a Tanning Salon where you can go to cultivate that particular orange complexion unique to the town's tarts. The streets are filthy, coated in chewing gum, the riverbanks covered in kebab boxes and the only people with the energy to complain are monomaniac serial letter writers who in any sensible community would be beaten to death or locked away in an upstairs room. The pubs are full of the same pissed old men or a legion of able-bodied drunkards on incapacity benefit, and the only pub entertainment is Sky Sports or watching some old dosser shite himself.
At night the town fills with bottom feeders or fat old bags on hen-parties from Newcastle the only town in the world comparable to Dumfries in its subnormal and retarded inhabitants. The town's packed with inadequate single mothers on benefit and their cock-eyed boyfriends on crack although there is a huge population of middle class wankers who live in overpriced encampments on the edge of town and depend on the burgeoning ranks of irredeemable scum for their livelihood.
800 years of History but you'd think the town had been designed by some humourless, possibly syphilitic, presbyterian. Every building of any importance has been knocked down, or soon will be, apart from those associated with Robert Burns, the poet of choice for Scotlands masons and unionists. The football team's crap, the leisure centre, if it ever gets built, will fill up with the town's young, an under-educated mob of proto-criminals, and going to Tesco's and making it back without being ambushed by some Sandside skip-rat will remain the highlight of everyone's week. The council's full of old bores or drunkards whose collective imagination would fit in the shell of a hazel nut. The only tourists you see are here by mistake, or are disabled pensioners from East Kilbride who got the Mystery Tour Booby Prize.
The Crichton Campus is the university of choice for people with one C pass at Higher or saddos who can't bear to leave their thick boyfriends and go to a proper University. Guid Neighbours is an orgy of drink fuelled violence with no origin in history at all, apart from an attempt in the 1930s to convince the townspeople they had a sense of community and heritage.
Second from Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray’s website http://elainemurray.scotparliament.co.uk/
Labour politicians met with council officials on Friday (2 February) to discuss their frustration at the lack of action taken by the council to tackle the decline of Dumfries town centre. They demanded meetings to press for more action after claiming recently that the public will lose faith that Dumfries town centre will ever be regenerated unless there is less talk, and more action from the council.
Elaine Murray said,
“There is a recurring theme whenever we press council officials for more action to regenerate our town centre. We are always shown the glossy documents and strategies, but there is no comprehensive programme in place to implement these plans. Everyone understands that it will take time and that a start is being made with the new leisure centre taking shape and work is due to begin soon on environmental improvements in areas such as Friars Vennel. But it’s obvious from what I’m told on the doorstep that local people do not believe progress is happening fast enough.
“To me it’s clear that we need action on four key issues. We need a commitment to extend Community Wardens into the town centre to help tackle anti-social behaviour and vandalism. We need a clear pledge to traders that the council will not introduce car-parking charges. We need to see the establishment of a real partnership between public agencies and small businesses in the town centre to give them the support they need and to help attract new retailers into the town. And finally we need a concrete proposal to tackle flooding on the Whitesands. There is a lot of work to be done and it’s vital that the council does not duck at the challenge.”
What the ‘Crichton situation’ - the threat by Glasgow University to pull out of Dumfries - has done is expose the reality which has until now been papered over with the ‘glossy documents and strategies’. I have a whole box full of them. And guess what Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Enterprise: Dumfries and Galloway’s response to the ‘situation’ is? You’ve guessed it - they will commission a £30 000 economic impact assessment study…
But I reckon they could save the £30 000 with a short phone call..
Third…following - Appendix 5, pasted below - is taken from final page of the 2004 Crichton Strategic Development Framework online at
I have highlighted key documents. The Economic Impact Assessments were carried out by Roger Tym and Partners. Here are the contact details for their Scottish office
Roger Tym & Partners
19 Woodside Crescent
Glasgow G3 7UL
T:0141 332 6464
F:0141 332 3304
I suggest that a direct approach to R. Tym and Partners from a person of sufficient status should be able to establish the following :
1. have the several Economic Impact Assessments undertaken by the firm assumed the continuing presence of Glasgow University at the Crichton University Campus?
2. How essential to the overall Crichton Project is the Crichton University Campus?
On the assumption that the firm have not factored in the loss of Glasgow University in their Economic Impact Assessments , the firm will not be able to provide any details of the likely impact of the loss of Glasgow University . However any professional opinion expressed on the situation should count as fairly expert knowledge.
Crichton Strategic Development Framework
Relevant Reference Documents
Dumfries and Galloway Structure Plan 1999 (Dumfries and Galloway Council)
Finalised Nithsdale Local Plan 2002 (Dumfries and Galloway Council)
Caring for the Built Environment (Dumfries and Galloway Council 1997)
Memorandum of Guidance on Listed buildings and Conservation Areas (Historic
PAN 57 Transport and Planning (Scottish Executive 1999)
PAN 65 Planning and Open Space (Scottish Executive 2003)
A Policy on Architecture for Scotland (Scottish Executive 2001)
Designing Places (Scottish Executive 2001)
NPPG 17: Transportation and Planning Maximum Parking Standards (Scottish
Guide to Transport Assessment in Scotland (Scottish Executive 2003)
Dumfries and Galloway Local Transport Strategy (Dumfries and Galloway Council
Crichton Master Plan (Page and Park 1997)
The Crichton Business Plan 1997/2002 (Crichton Trust)
Crichton Historic Landscape Survey (LUC, Patricia Thompson and GUARD 1998)
Crichton Vehicular Circulation and New Parking Facilities (LUC, Mouchel Consulting
The Crichton Business Plan 1998/2003 (Crichton Trust)
Crichton Electrical Infrastructure Reinforcement (Harley Haddow Partnership 1999)
Crichton Technical (Communications) Strategy Plan (Mason Communications Ltd 1999)
The Crichton: Regeneration Strategy 2000 (Crichton Trust)
The Crichton: Landscape Conservation/Management Plan 2000/05 (Crichton Trust)
The Crichton: Marketing Plan 2000/05 (Crichton Trust)
The Crichton: Business Plan 2000/05 (Crichton Trust)
Crichton Economic Impact Assessment (R Tym & Partners 1998)
Crichton Economic Impact Assessment Review (R Tym & Partners 2000)
Crichton Economic Impact Assessment Second Review (R Tym & Partners 2003)
Crichton Stakeholder Strategy 20003/08 (Crichton Trust)
the world has turned day glo
The story continues...
Also, Chris Liberator [ Hagar the Womb] has a 'new' autobiography on his website
And don't forget to check out Tom Vague's history pages.
Will add more here soon.
There are more
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Hagar the Womb video on youtube
Hagar the Womb video
Note: Hagar the Womb (and Rubella Ballet!) also have tracks on ‘In Goth Daze’ a Cherry Red dvd.
This is a pretty important video since it neatly illustrates what no amount of words can do.
When I see or hear ’anarcho-punk’ this is what I think of. Not Crass. And if you watch, listen and learn I think you will agree. It is another kind of anarchy.
It is also important since Hagar the Womb came directly out of the Wapping Autonomy (Anarchy) Centre in 1982 as an anarcho-feminist response to all the ‘boy-bands’ who used to play there. Alternative Sex was the anarcho-feminist fanzine response.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Nostalgia for an age yet to come
What we have already done in France is haunting Europe and will soon threaten all the ruling classes of the world, from the bureaucrats of Moscow and Beijing to the millionaires of Washington and Tokyo. Just as we have made Paris dance, the international proletariat will once again take up its assault on the capitals of all the states and all the citadels of alienation. The occupation of factories and public buildings throughout the country has not only brought a halt to the functioning of the economy, it has brought about a general questioning of the society. A deep-seated movement is leading almost every sector of the population to seek a real transformation of life. This is the beginning of a revolutionary movement, a movement which lacks nothing but the consciousness of what it has already done in order to triumph.
What forces will try to save capitalism? The regime will fall unless it threatens to resort to arms (accompanied by the promise of new elections, which could only take place after the capitulation of the movement) or even resorts to immediate armed repression. If the Left comes to power, it too will try to defend the old world through concessions and through force. The best defender of such a “popular government” would be the so-called “Communist” Party, the party of Stalinist bureaucrats, which has fought the movement from the very beginning and which began to envisage the fall of the de Gaulle regime only when it realized it was no longer capable of being that regime’s main guardian. Such a transitional government would really be “Kerenskyist” only if the Stalinists were beaten. All this will ultimately depend on the workers’ consciousness and capacities for autonomous organization. The workers who have already rejected the ridiculous agreement that the union leaders were so pleased with need only discover that they cannot “win” much more within the framework of the existing economy, but that they can take everything by transforming all the bases of the economy on their own behalf. The bosses can hardly pay more; but they can disappear.
The present movement did not become “politicized” by going beyond the miserable union demands regarding wages and pensions, demands which were falsely presented as “social questions.” It is beyond politics: it is posing the social question in its simple truth. The revolution that has been in the making for over a century is returning. It can express itself only in its own forms. It’s too late for a bureaucratic-revolutionary patching up. When a recently de-Stalinized bureaucrat like André Barjonet calls for the formation of a common organization that would bring together “all the authentic forces of revolution . . . whether they march under the banner of Trotsky or Mao, of anarchy or situationism,” we need only recall that those who today follow Trotsky or Mao, to say nothing of the pitiful “Anarchist Federation,” have nothing to do with the present revolution. The bureaucrats may now change their minds about what they call “authentically revolutionary”; authentic revolution will not change its condemnation of bureaucracy.
At the present moment, with the power they hold and with the parties and unions being what they are, the workers have no other choice but to organize themselves in unitary rank-and-file committees directly taking over the economy and all aspects of the reconstruction of social life, asserting their autonomy vis-à-vis any sort of political or unionist leadership, ensuring their self-defense, and federating with each other regionally and nationally. In so doing they will become the sole real power in the country, the power of workers councils. The only alternative is to return to their passivity and go back to watching television. The proletariat is “either revolutionary or nothing.”
What are the essential features of council power?
Dissolution of all external power
Direct and total democracy
Practical unification of decision and execution
Delegates who can be revoked at any moment by those who have mandated them
Abolition of hierarchy and independent specializations
Conscious management and transformation of all the conditions of liberated life
Permanent creative mass participation
Internationalist extension and coordination
The present requirements are nothing less than this. Self-management is nothing less. Beware of all the modernist coopters — including even priests — who are beginning to talk of self-management or even of workers councils without acknowledging this minimum, because they want to save their bureaucratic functions, the privileges of their intellectual specializations or their future careers as petty bosses!
In reality, what is necessary now has been necessary since the beginning of the proletarian revolutionary project. It’s always been a question of working-class autonomy. The struggle has always been for the abolition of wage labor, of commodity production, and of the state. The goal has always been to accede to conscious history, to suppress all separations and “everything that exists independently of individuals.” Proletarian revolution has spontaneously sketched out its appropriate forms in the councils — in St. Petersburg in 1905, in Turin in 1920, in Catalonia in 1936, in Budapest in 1956. The preservation of the old society, or the formation of new exploiting classes, has each time been over the dead body of the councils. The working class now knows its enemies and its own appropriate methods of action. “Revolutionary organization has had to learn that it can no longer combat alienation by means of alienated forms of struggle” (The Society of the Spectacle). Workers councils are clearly the only solution, since all the other forms of revolutionary struggle have led to the opposite of what was aimed at.
ENRAGÉS-SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE
COUNCIL FOR MAINTAINING THE OCCUPATIONS
Paris May 1968