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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Making an exhibition of my book.

Image of iron furnaces from 1853 plus text from book
For the launch of my book - on sale here -there will be an event and exhibition in September 2014. It will be held at the  Workshop Gallery in Castle Douglas (where I live in Scotland). The gallery is attached to my brothers’ furniture restoration/making workshop.

The plan is to illustrate the themes of the book with a collection of graphic images. I have done a quick trawl through images I have but they will need to be whittled down to 12 or so. There will also be some of my daughter Elizabeth’s paintings. Elizabeth designed the cover image of my book.

The chapters in the book began life as a series of blog posts for Radical Independence Dumfries and Galloway. Reading through them in print there are three phases of history  present

I. Deep history
This  phase runs from the origins of feudal land ownership in Scotland a nearly  thousand years ago when Scots kings borrowed the idea from the Normans in England. This phase carries on through taking in the Reformation, the ‘English’ civil war, the Jacobite rebellions, the Scottish Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and  reaches the present with the idea that the aim of Scottish independence is a democratic revolution .

2. Modern history
This phase covers the past 40 years. The argument here is that the radical possibilities of the 1970s, which could have pushed the post-war social democratic consensus towards a more sustainable society through a combination of social, economic and ecological justice, were  blocked by a neoliberal counter-revolution. More than blocked, the radical possibilities were actively suppressed. The problem here is that I link together what were quite separate ‘alternatives’ at the time- for example punk and the proto-Green radical technology movement .

3. Immediate history
This is where I am responding to, for example, Nigel Farage of Ukip being run out of Edinburgh last year. It is where I try to bring  the deep  history and modern history phases into alignment with the as yet unknown outcome of the Scottish independence referendum vote on 18 September.

To overcome the ‘too long, didn’t read’ problem, the text of the original blog posts is broken up by the insertion of images every 500 words or so.  Although there are illustrations/images in the booklet there are far fewer. The idea of the book launch exhibition is to re-illustrate the book  with a set of powerful/striking images.

Here are some of the possible exhibition images,

From the 'School Kids Oz' 1970

South Scotland Bio-sphere Reserve

Stop the City

Nigel Farage plus Sex Pistols/Jamie Reid graphic

Wind farm


Airds Moss, Ayrshire- monument to Richard Cameron and his followers
 killed after declaring war on Charles II in 1680.

Tipping the Slag by Edwin Butler Bayliss 1870-1950

Coal miner working narrow wet seam, Lanarkshire 1950s
The Mob- Kill Your Pet Puppy 1981
Lugar Iron Works 1858- close to Airds Moss above

Original art work for  Mob album
Let the Tribe Increase, 1983

Poll tax riot Trafalgar Square 1990 plus Situationist text

Situationist image on cover of International Times no.26.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

The freaks attacked capitalism where it hurt.

Did you believe in the idea of an alternate culture whose evolution could undermine and finally break the stranglehold of capitalist death culture on our planet?

From The IT archives  Article by Mick Farren 10 February 1972 It Vol. 1 No. 123

Did you believe in the idea of an alternate culture whose evolution could undermine and finally break the stranglehold of capitalist death culture on our planet?

Did you also believe that the situation of a minority holding authority and deciding the behaviour of the rest of us was a destructive one?

Did you think that a society that was sufficiently plural to contain a number of different beliefs existing in harmony was a preferable situation to a regime that permitted little or no variation on a single lifestyle?

Did you ever express the idea that a person should be free to do what she or he desires providing it harms no one?

Did you feel that social change and a change for individual consciousness was so linked as to be indivisible?As you read this are you feeling embarrassed about the fact that a lot of these concepts are naïve hangovers from flower-power?

This embarrassment could be the result of a trend in underground media that has lately made it fashionable to dismiss the good ol’ hippie idealism as childish and impractical, and suggest a concentration on solid, sensible adult political solutions.The retreat from a hippie, illogical revolution to solid Marxist Leninist good sense is possibly another symptom that social change toward a free human environment on this planet is losing ground.– a symptom similar to finding too many people too wrecked on downers to even think.– similar to us all getting drawn into various consumer capitalist shucks.– Similar to the increasing poverty in freak communities everywhere.

The freaks attacked capitalism where it hurt. (You who are laughing at this statement should now explain to yourselves why our rulers bust hippie rags like Nasty Tales and Oz and not, say, the Socialist Worker). The capitalist system is unable to cope with the active freak on any level. It can be the level of the lone Viet-Cong who rode into Saigon on a motorcycle, machine-gunned a lot of US officers and split, or it can be the level of a bunch of freaks who, stoned on acid, start painting the High Street dayglo.

The system which works on a killer logic is mortally afraid of the freaky, joyous act. They are afraid of homosexuality because it is an act of love, of joy that has no hypocritical bullshit about families, children and apple pie. It’s joy, and that’s it, and so it had to go.The first response of our rulers was to repress the freaks with physical and psychological brutality.It was failure.It merely brought us together and gave us strength and energy.Then they tried to contain us by destroying our energy.And they are getting more successful every day.All God’s children having clap should not demoralise us, but it does, it is as though we had been promised it was going to be easy.

Capitalism, over the last five years, has made great efforts to replace most manifestations of freak culture with sad, rip-off imitations that seek to destroy communal energy and isolate the individual. They also demoralised us by deceiving us into judging the products of our own culture by capitalist standards.If a rock festival attracts a million people who watch a whole bunch of superstars but feel isolated and lonely, it is generally acclaimed as a success. A festival where ten thousand freaks show up, watch other freaks make music, get high and joyful, is put down as a failure.A band like Emerson, Lake and Palmer seek to impress the audience with the fact that they (the audience) lack the ability to do what the musicians are doing: their end product is that the audience feel inferior and isolated. (Think about the groupie reaction and read that again).A band like David Peel and the Lower East Side seek to impress the audience that any one of them are able to do what the band is doing. The audience can take part and create a total joyous event.The problem is that we are encouraged to view ELP as a success and David Peel as a failure.

We are being forced to think of our culture in commercial terms.We are being re-conditioned to think like capitalists.Even concepts like success and failure are being used to undermine our confidence that we are able to organise our own culture and society.Say you wanted to provide the freaks in your neighbourhood with some of their material needs; so you want out and conned some old capitalist to put money into a "hippie store" in the hope of his making a load of bread. Say the store went broke in six months because you had been giving the stock to people who had need of it.Would that be success or failure?The only person who could call it a failure would be a capitalist.

There is a fashionable saying: - Freaks can’t get anything together. It was invented by the system to bring you down.When you are down, the system has another set of answers: -Here, man, have some downers. Here, man, get into sensible, serious politics. Here, man, buy a Grand Funk album.Have you ever had some far out idea that your friends have laughed at and called you crazy? Have you felt frustrated because of it? Your friends are reacting to this kind of pressure.To be called crazy should be a compliment.Blow up a bank as a revolutionary protest or blow up a bank to see the flash? Or does it matter?

The system seems very afraid of colour, of flash, of high joyful energy. It is afraid of people coming together. If you hide in your pad or freak ghetto, if life becomes drab and quiet, it means the pigs are winning.A new summer is coming and it can either be a hard time or a series of weir, colourful, joyful events that jar the confidence of straight society.They may react in hysteria and fear. It will require strength.It will, however, generate it’s own energy and strength once it begins.

If it does not begin, we move closer to being parasites on the system, begging for crumbs, dependant on them for our food, homes, clothes, music and our very lives.We come closer to accepting the drab, lonely, frightened existence of our parents. We will join the system that is killing our planet.The stoned fantasy is in vain, unless it becomes the absurd reality.

Remember Fudd’s First Law of Opposition: - That which is pushed eventually must fall over.

Friday, August 01, 2014

The effect is shattering