Pinki / Tanith – Silbury Hill – Beltane 1987

Pinki / Tanith

It is Beltane. The Gary Critchley connection to Campbell Buildings has evoked memories of Pinki – as she was when she lived at CB. So here is a pic of her post CB self as Tanith.

She took the name Tanith in 1985 when she was doing her Stonehenge Festival campaigning as a pagan ‘priestess of the Temple of the Black Flame and Silver Star’.

Gary Critchley – Raised In A Prison

This is to flag up the case of Gary Critchley who is still in prison for an alleged murder at Campbell Buildings in 1980 – see recent posts on Bob Short’s Trash Can book thread for more details and also the official website and also this website.

The challenge is to get this miscarriage of justice overturned.

But how? I suggest it needs a twin track approach

Firstly to raise the public profile (as Jock has suggested) via myspace / facebook / blog sites like KYPP – for example by putting a slide show of Gary’s paintings plus a relevant soundtrack eg Raised in a Prison by the Mob on youtube or organising a UK exhibition of Gary’s paintings…

Secondly using official channels eg letters to your MP and the Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP
Home Secretary 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF.

Gary is also being supported by Wendy Thurley and Julie Coimbra.

Julie and Wendy are librarians in Cambridge and contacted KYPP about the case.

Julie said [edited]:

“Myself and another librarian have become involved in trying to publicize this extraordinary miscarriage of justice. We happened to purchase some of Gary’s paintings and began corresponding with him without ever asking why he was inside. When the Private Eye article came out in July we were flabbergasted to say the least and began our campaign. Fifty of his paintings were sent to Adelaide and were in a recent exhibition there. Prior to posting them we photographed them all and have made them into cards to sell, 12 are at present on the website.

If you have ANY INFORMATION WHATSOEVER that could be helpful could you let us know and we can pass it on to Glyn Maddocks, the solicitor who has taken up his case. Anyone who can provide ANY INFORMATION should be encouraged to contact us as soon as possible”.

Julie and Wendy have created the website from which the following bio of Gary is taken.

Finally – don’t wait for someone else to act. If you think this is important get on and do it yourself.

Biography- Gary Critchley “Raised In A Prison”.

“England is a supposed model of democracy and justice, yet ironically I have so far been made to serve longer for being rebellious and non-conformist than the Yorkshire Ripper has for 13 serial Killings. Nowadays, painting is the only thing that keeps me alive.“

Gary Critchley

Born in Birmingham and raised on an estate that bordered on two mental hospitals, visiting and often staying with his elder brother in care homes and approved schools,

Gary was introduced to institutions at a very early age. At 8 years old he got drunk on alcohol and by the age of 12 he was drinking on a regular basis. Aged 14, Gary became a punk rocker, was recruited to the Young Socialist party and excluded from school for leading ‘pupil-power’ marches and picketing the school. Also aged 14 Gary was sent to juvenile detention centre for criminal damage and theft. During his time there he was physically and mentally abused and he describes this as a very negative period of his life.

Upon release he quickly deteriorated, abusing various drugs and becoming involved with crime. In 1980, six months after being released from borstal, he moved to live in London. In June of that year he was discovered severely injured four stories below the flat he was squatting [in Campbell Buildings] and was taken to hospital with a broken back, arm, legs and head injuries. When police investigated the circumstances, they found the body of another man in Gary’s squat. Charged and bailed for this man’s murder, Gary returned to Birmingham where even on crutches he continued his life of punk rock gigs and substance abuse.

In May 1981, he was found guilty of murder (despite numerous forensic discrepancies) and sentenced to be ‘detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure’, the juvenile equivalent of a life sentence. The then Lord Chief Justice recommended that he should serve ‘no more that 8-9 years’. Despite this it was a full 20 years before Gary was first released in July 2000.

Gary was recalled to prison three months later for having sexual relationships with two female peers at his rehab unit and running away with one of them. After another three years in prison for these breaches of his license conditions, he was again released in 2003 to another drink /drug rehab centre. Twelve months later in 2004 he was again recalled to prison for missing a probation appointment. He’s still there.

Over the last five years in prison, Gary has suffered from severe depression and made three serious attempts to take his own life. After the second attempt, Gary was introduced to drawing and painting for the first time in and has since become a prolific painter. He has won a Koestler award for one of his paintings and has been both encouraged and inspired to paint by the staff of a Cambridge University library that have bought and exhibited several of his early works and sponsor him with materials etc.

Despite unanimous recommendations of release and the parole board agreeing that he does not constitute a risk to the public, Gary was recently refused parole on the grounds that if he was ever to relapse into drink /drug use there was a “possibility” that he “could” re-offend violently. This was despite all professional opinion and the masses of evidence to the contrary where Gary has been in active addiction without any such incident.

This ruling is currently the subject of a judicial review, being in breach of not only the Human Rights Act but also several judicial rulings regarding Lifers. There are also investigations still going on into the events surrounding the index offence, of which Gary to this day has no memory.

Gary describes his on-going imprisonment as “warehousing”. He has now actually served more than three times the recommended sentence. He maintains that he never murdered anyone, never intended to hurt anyone and has never before or indeed since the age of 17 been involved in any violence. He says he is now semi-institutionalised and a true product of the system. No longer jailed in relation to the original offence, he has become somewhat of a political prisoner: being punished over and over by a retributive system for his years of rebellion and breaches of petty rules.

Gary on right with green jacket and blond spikes 1979/80 – photo courtesy of Carol Coombes.

Some of Gary’s prison artwork may be viewed HERE

Template for contacting MP’s and other officials or media. Please cut and paste the document below onto a word document and print it out to send by post or fax.

Dear …………………..,

I am contacting you regarding Gary Critchley, prisoner no B39969 (A1473AK), convicted of murder in 1981.

The Judge at the time recommended he serve no more than 9/10 years.

This is now his 30th year of incarceration. The conviction is unsafe and according to his solicitor one of the worst miscarriages of justice Britain has ever seen.

Briefly the case is as follows, however please read the Private Eye article


for full details.

Gary allegedly killed a man in 1980. During this murder he sustained frontal lobe damage to his brain, by being hit with a hammer. He also broke his back, ankle and wrist and was found in the street covered in blood.

The victim sustained more than 20 blows with a hammer.

The blood on Gary was found to be from his injuries and there was not one speck of the victim’s blood on him.

The victim was discovered in a room on the upper floor in the building, Gary was found outside on the pavement.

The only evidence to link Gary to the crime was a trainer, two or three sizes too small for him, on his left foot. On his right foot was his own boot which fitted him.

Gary apparently killed the victim, avoiding any blood, changed one shoe, hit himself on the head with the hammer, and then jumped out of the window.

The truth indicates that both Gary and the victim were attacked by a third party, who remains at liberty.

I feel that this really is a grave miscarriage of justice.

Unfortunately, this is not a high profile case, merely the case of an ordinary citizen who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A person who nearly lost his life, but who ended up in prison himself, for something the forensic evidence suggests that he didn’t commit.

I am asking you to look into this, because I know if you do, you will want to take it further.

……………………………………………… Signature.

An anarcho-punk Ph.D thesis

I have just found this 264 page PhD thesis on anarcho-punk – written by Michael Dines in 2004, but only now online. [Warning Note – I had some problems downloading text on Firefox, but worked ok on Internet Explorer]

I have just speed-read it – it is a good overview, but doesn’t get beyond (a few of) the groups.
Examples – gives a very detailed ,chord by chord, phrase by phrase analysis of Bloody Revolutions, which leads in to a brief discussion of the French Revolution and a mention of the Wapping Anarchy (Autonomy) Centre…but nothing on Centro Iberico and later A centres…
Nothing on fanzines- major lack.
No Mob/Zounds.
Mentions Stop the City – but only as a quote from Andy Martin – and although discuss McLibel Trial, does not connect Dave Morris with STC.

Bit of a neutron bomb – the groups (buildings) – Crass, Discharge, Subhumans remain but the people, yer actual anarcho-punks, have been textually vapourised.

So it goes.


Here is the index.

1. Punk and The Consensus: The Move Towards the Anarchic 48
1.1.1940-1955: The Building Blocks of the Consensus 50
1.2. A Force to be Reckoned With: Sustaining Britain’s `World Role’ 50
1.3. Looking After the Nation: The Establishment of the Welfare State 54
1.4. Fixing the `Balance of Payments’: The Development of the `Mixed
Economy’ 56
1.5.1955-1979: The Breakdown of the Consensus 57
1.6. `Rivers of Blood’: Another Blow to the Consensus 63
1.7. Final Thoughts: The Beginning of the End 71
2. Pop vs. Progressive Rock: Starting Out on the Punk Rock Road to Nowhere 72
2.1. Musical Whiplash: K-Tel and the Politics of Boredom 73
2.2. From New York to Sex: Sonic Reducing in the Big Apple 83
3. The Sex Pistols and Anarchic Rhetoric: `Cos They Meant it Man 93
1. New Beginnings: The Transformation of the Punk Rock `Ethos’ 114
1.2. From Protest to Parody: The Building Blocks of the `Anarcho’ 120
2. Breaking the Sound Barrier: The Parallel Emergence of Discharge 129
3. `Bloody Revolutions’: Crass and the Forging of a New Direction 144
4. Parliamentary Questions: Crass and the Politics of War 166
5. Instantaneous Spontaneity Drive: The Final Path of the `Anarcho’ 183
5.1. Us Fish Must Swim Together: Anarcho-Punk and Lyrical Reflection 188
5.3. Onwards and Upwards: `Culture Shock’ and the Hindrance of Stereotype 202
5.4 A Revolt Against the Rational: The End of the Road for the `Anarcho’ 208
1. Unfinished Business: The Thread of Dissent into the’80s and Beyond 215
2. From Conflict to Sore Throat: Musical Heterogeneity of the Anarcho-
Movement 229
3. The Relationship Between Punk and the `Anarcho’: Final Thoughts 243


Spanish anarchists make trams run on time…

I have started writing a post to go with this pic but not finished it yet. Damn. Meanwhile here is a quote from the Communist Manifesto. More to follow.

All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, …

Punk is Dead- Part 23

This is the International Times interview with the Clash from August 1977. The pic of Mick Jones from this and his quote “Whoever said PUNK IS DEAD is a cunt” was used as graphic by Crass for their ‘Punk is Dead’ on ‘Feeding the 5000’.

In the interview Mick asks IT about their February 77 headline “Punk is Dead”. Although Mark Perry of Sniffin Glue/ ATV did say “Punk died the day the Clash signed to CBS”, the IT headline was not based on Mark P’s quote – he hadn’t written it in Feb 77. He was a still a fan of the Clash then. In Sniffin Glue 9 (April/ May 77) he reviewed the first Clash album and called it “The most important album ever.”

Mark’s “the day punk died” quote [probably] came from the last Sniffin Glue, issue 12, September 77.

So it looks like the Crass song was part inspired by International Times. Although IT had been a sixties/ hippie counter culture mag, by 76/77 it had acquired a punk edge:

‘When the mode of the music changes’, IT said originally, ‘the walls of the city shake.’ Well the walls have been replaced, the sky lowers on sky rise buildings, and the mode of the music has settled into comfortable soft rock, such as The Eagles, slagged out and professional, with crystal clear production to ping in the foggy ears of hash smokers sitting comfortably, ‘laid back’. Everybody’s just as bored, scared and unoriginal as they ever were – perhaps more so.

Punk is trying to burn through it and all the slickness, but could be easily sabotaged by ‘Very punk, very Joan Sanderson’ type stuff. How can we ever change anything if we cultivate stupidity? – The transcendental moron, the punk moron, the fashionable moron, the cool moron. We could be offensive, but you wouldn’t give a shit when you’ve bought your nice new stereo…The only sign of life is an occasional exuberance shown in cruelty, and atoned for by sentimentality, all blanketed over by an incredible self-absorbed apathy which stops you from thinking, emotion or suicide. And you probably can’t even understand the words we’re using, let alone apply it to yourself, and as for ourselves this applies also, and all we ever need is a little love and understanding. But how do we get there, how well, and how often? What can one ever do? Going down the pub?”

Apart from playing their first gig at the Huntley Street squat -which was London’s largest squat in 1977-one of Crass first gigs was at ‘festival’ in Covent Garden. Thanks to some ace detective work by Tony Puppy, who spotted a reference to ‘Cras’ in the IT archives, it looks as if this was the James Street squat where IT had their offices…and where Tony himself later lived. [Tony has also found info on the Demolition Decorators who were based at James Street.]

In ‘The Story of Crass’ (page 83) Penny R. said that Andy Palmer was ‘vaguely involved’ with International Times and [allegedly] ‘pilfered a guitar from the IT offices’.

What is emerging out of the IT archives is another strand to the London punk/ pre-punk counter culture cross over, one in which Crass are more entangled than the image of them ‘isolated’ out in Epping would suggest. Even with the main stream of punk there is untold / half-told story. I have just checked, but can’t see any mention of IT in Jon Savage’s ‘England’s Dreaming’ – yet if you go through the back issues for the period, punk is there. IT was like a big circulation fanzine, but one which was selling mainly to people from the pre-punk counter culture and exposing them to a version of punk as [see IT editorial above] a renewal/ reformation of the counter culture.

Certainly it had that impact on me as a reader. If it was being read by [future members of] Crass in a similar way, it may have influenced Crass particular construction of punk.

AL Puppy

(insertion of IT snippet showing ‘Cras’ and more IT/James Street published links can be seen in the Puppy photo album under Print Material and International Times folder HERE

International Times archives on line


Thanks to Gerard (see comments below) we have Crass link. After the above IT cover came out in February 1977, IT did a brief interview with the Clash in August 1977 – from which came the Mick Jones quote “Whoever said punk is dead is a cunt” which was then recycled by Gee/Crass as image for their song “Punk is Dead” on Feeding the 5000 … so Crass and the Clash were reading IT in 1977.

Now back to 1976…

In the summer of 1976 I spent a week in London. It was very hot. Punk was still an unknown, so instead I wandered round west London in search of any traces of the Hawkwind/Pink Fairies era counterculture. I did not find any such traces.

I did find a copy of it /International Times which had just been re-launched again. The details are vague – but I must have subscribed since I recognised quite a few of the covers/ contents of later issues from this International Times archive.

What the archive shows is that there was at least some continuity of the counterculture from the sixties (IT began in 1966) through the seventies and into the eighties – which included punk.

There is another archive here, which is searchable. I found two articles by Kenneth Grant written for It in 1969. One includes this very strong warning to all dabblers in drugs:

What I wish to emphasize here is, that in the unrestrained
and uncontrolled vision induced by drugs taken without
proper magical knowledge and skill, great danger lies. It is
a danger, not, so much of the drugs themselves as of obsess-
ion by entities which seize upon the magically unprotected
consciousness of the drug taker.

Just a shame all the hippies did not take Mr. Grant’s warning more seriously. If they had there would have been no need for punk…

I also  found something I wrote for a later re-launch in 1986 and – which I had totally forgotten – something I wrote for IT in 1979 as well.


This is a film, seen before
On TV one night, too late
Black and white, old and worn
Sound gone hard to discover
The action, the place, the time,
the players.

A train in steam, a city lit by gas
Hotel room mirrors
White and a maid, she seems Chinese
Arranges flowers, careful decorations

Outside in the centre, old cars,
slow traffic
Skyscrapers ultra new, electric trams
Close up faces sullen heavy
Hungry, empty.
Demonstration in the docks
Anger roused, violence begins
Airship high gleaming silver
Shoots into the crowd,bodies fall
A child cries lost, uniforms,horses
People running.

Factory chimney black smoke
twisting over rooftops
Glistening leaded slates back
to back
Fading into each other crowded close
Gathered below a pyramid of 
slag, smouldering.           
By night a volcano                       
Tattered children playing by a railway                                           
Slow shunter curving lines of trucks                                         
Unemployed vacant staring            
Others picking refuse                     
On a beach collecting coal                  
A grimy sea spills lifeless waves
dying on a barren shore.     

Empty prairie, lines of steel          
Pillar of smoke, a cloud becomes    
an armed train                             
Shooting telegraph poles             
Bloody flag once black                  
Desperate faces, knowledge           
of death.                             

An office steel furnished              
Ticker-tape talking, papers fallen   
on the floor                                
Green/grey useless notes, dying money                                         
In streets below                             
Armed ex-soldiers, machine-gun    
Mounted on a solid tyred truck                           
Frei-Korps hunting the remnants    
of a revolution.                             

ALISTAIR LIVINGSTON International Times 1979

Stop the City… and Reclaim the Future?

Reading through the veritable frenzy of spectacular speculations in the media that the 2009 London G20 summit will lead to anarchy in the UK (or at least in the City), I was amused to notice that the second Stop the City took place on 29 March 1984 – twenty five years ago.

However, apart from a thoughtful article found in SchNews (who have been going for 15 years) the media’s collective memories don’t seem to stretch as far back as 1983/4. Parts of the Schnews article connect back even further to the radical alternatives advocated by Undercurrents magazine in the seventies.

In the near future we can expect to see scenes reminiscent of post-war Britain, when people turned to allotments during the times of rations and scarcity. Allotments already made a comeback over a decade ago as people resisted the hegemony of the supermarkets, but the revival may have only just begun. Economies of scale should follow with an increasing need for more localised farming and co-operatively run food growing. Out of necessity, many people who’d never before imagined it possible may well find themselves involved in food production.

The article even has a Spanish anarchist quote by Durruti … the same quotation which, coincidently, can  also be found on the re-released Let the Tribe Increase due out on 6 April.

Whatever happens in London over the next few days, however spectacular, the real problem will remain :how can “self-sufficiency, conservation and the co-operative pooling of resources”  become the foundation for a sustainable future? The “new world we carry here, in our hearts”.

AL Puppy


This week’s G20 mobilisation in the City Of London – by calling up the ghosts of Reclaim The Streets and Stop The City, as well as incorporating elements of more recent movements such as Climate Change and anti-war campaigns – is shaping up to be one of the most important mobilisations in central London during the past decade.

The very fact that the ad-hoc G20 Summit is ‘needed’ next week in London is confirmation that we were right all along and now it’s starting to kick off! Yep, the system was as unsustainable as it always looked, and the globalised capitalism which made us rich as it made others poor is finally reaching its end game. Poverty hasn’t been made history but is instead coming home to us. A response – albeit harsh – to those affected by the credit crunch is ‘welcome to the majority world’. 90% of the world’s population don’t go through consumer goods as if they fell out of a corn flakes packet, so why should we in Britain?

This crash looks like producing the kind of economic cutbacks environmentalists have been screaming out for for years. UK car production is down 60% in the past year – difficult for those who lost jobs and have families to feed – but maybe it heralds a less consumerist society. The global aviation industry is being severely hit by a large drop in demand and will lose up to $8 billion this year. Building developments are being dropped left, right and centre.


“We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth, there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world, here, in our hearts. That world is growing this minute”. – Bienventura Durruti – 1936

With the cracks gaping wide in Capitalism’s shiny facade everything’s up for grabs as sections of society not used to scraping by on benefits or minimum wage will start to see just how vulnerable they really are. The test to will be whether people who grew up in the Thatcher Blair years will stand by the dog-eat-dog me-first attitudes which have become ‘common-sense’ – which during a crisis could play into the hands of the far right. Or if they will turn to the growing set of solutions which has been developed over the past 40 years and which SchNEWS has been banging on about for the past 15: ecological and social sustainability and a equitable system. How? Using ideas gleaned from Anarchism, Ecology and anything else that has challenged the aura of inevitability that previously surrounded capitalism.

There are many political activists in Britain and elsewhere who have both been preparing for a collapse and even cheering it on. But now the signs are here, do even the most hardened chaoto-nihilists really want to be reduced to fighting over the last tin of baked beans in the radioactive ruins of Sainsburys? Even stockbrokers may find themselves turning to previously marginal ideas, long the hobby-horse of apocalypse-fetishists and 60s beardy-weirdies, such as self sufficiency and non-capitalist modes of organisation.

The recession is already biting in certain key areas. The cost of basic living has shot up in the past 12 months: power has gone up 22%, food 11%, and transport fares 8%. Power, food and transport rank alongside housing, education, water, and health as essentials in any functioning society. If the capitalist state can no longer provide these affordably (or at least the illusion of them), then communities must take things into their own hands.

Take just those three – power, food and transport. The key to wresting these from the clutches of multinational capital is self-sufficiency, conservation and the co-operative pooling of resources.

It’s obvious that houses shouldn’t be so reliant on external power – and held to ransom by energy cartels. Not only should they be more energy efficient but also be able to generate their own power, renewably. Energy generation at all levels has to also come from renewable sources – it’s a no brainer. Currently with our government refusing to properly invest in renewables, energy companies like Shell are cutting back on their already meagre sustainable energy budgets.

Food is even more essential than power, and the average Brit is more of a hostage to a small number of international corporations than ever before. In the near future we can expect to see scenes reminiscent of post-war Britain, when people turned to allotments during the times of rations and scarcity. Allotments already made a comeback over a decade ago as people resisted the hegemony of the supermarkets, but the revival may have only just begun. Economies of scale should follow with an increasing need for more localised farming and co-operatively run food growing. Out of necessity, many people who’d never before imagined it possible may well find themselves involved in food production. Councils have so far refused to meet this growing demand with years-long waiting lists for a bit of yer own land, so now is the time for residents to take unused land into their own hands for a spot of guerilla gardening. With the high costs of organic food out of the reach for those forced to rely on the chemically saturated fare of budget supermarkets, allotments are the best option for the production of wholesome food.

Transport is not so life-or-death, but is still a basic necessity. However until anti-gravity devices and water powered engines are invented, we are reliant on oil. But again, economic forces are about to severely limit this oil consumption – and that includes the transportation of workers, food and other commodities. Once more, this points to localisation: more locally grown food – to lower food miles, and less commuting to work. If far fewer people are able to run a car, development of public transport infrastructure will be key and bike use will go up – great news for the smog-choked cities of Britain and everywhere else. Anyhow, countries much poorer than Britain manage to maintain public transport systems better than ours – which is no surprise given that it’s always been a policy of UK PLC to pander to the road lobby.

At this point it is more important than ever that people have these discussions and are informed of these potential solutions. A set of new/old ideas are about to have their day. Maybe people might think that they’d need to be dragged kicking and screaming into wearing tofu sandals in a vegan tree village, but actually they may find that the values of mutual aid and cooperation have always run through society. They may even come to relish the sense of community which could emerge from all this, and not want to go back to the atomised society they’ve left behind.


Nearly finished with Galloway Levellers

I am sitting here listening to Hawkwind’s Space Ritual. There are 31 books stacked up in arms reach around me, five lever-arch files, three big maps (one of Northern Ireland) and a small mountain of photocopies, some of which have avalanched onto the floor.

Word count tells me I have written 8545 words in the past 12 days which means I now have 45 963 words of “Against the poor, the rich prevail…” my dissertation on the Galloway Levellers Uprising of 1724. Damn, I hadn’t added it all up until now and it should only be 40 000. And it isn’t quite finished.

It nearly is, just trying to fill in some gaps and summarise/ draw conclusion. I guess I will have to cut my 5000 word Introduction to create some more room. But I have been writing up this damn dissertation for 18 months now – got up to 60 000 words last September, then threw 40 000 of them away to create space for editing and re-writing.

I guess it is a moving target. If it was all printed off would look like a big thick solid wodge, but it isn’t fixed, it is unstable, shifting and changing as I find new bits to add – like all the Irish connections which came about from the Plantation of Ulster when thousands of Protestant Scots were given land by king James I (of England, VI of Scotland) which had belonged to Irish Catholics. Some of these Scots (well quite a lot really) moved from Galloway across the North Channel to Ulster. To make money from their Irish lands, they sent cattle from Ulster to England via Scotland. That started about 1620. English farmers didn’t like it so in 1667 they banned Irish cattle.

I knew about the last bit, but tracking down all the Irish links – like which Galloway landowners owned which bit of Ireland and for how long – was a bit harder. A then I found that a big chunk of County Derry/London/Derry was inherited by one of Galloway’s Roman Catholic families who owned the Irish land from about 1650 to 1720.

Enough. Tomorrow I will get up early and go for a long walk in the mist and fog. I will think very hard about how to make some kind of sense of the 45 963 words of confusion. Then I will tidy up all the books and stuff. Then I will write a Conclusion, delete my Introduction and replace it with the Conclusion.

And then?

Well I need to start checking a nearby wood to see if (once it gets a bit more springish) there are any plants in it like wood anemones and bluebells which mean it might be an ancient wood. Which means I need to brush up on my plant identification skills.

Then there is “the end of objective reality”

– from

Commodity fetishism is the central, definitive characteristic of capitalist society. What is extraordinary about Lukács is that he was one of the few Marxist philosophers who really added something to Marx’s views. Lukács goes further than Marx, developing the notion of reification in a way it is not developed in Capital. For Lukács, commodity fetishism was the “basic phenomenon of reification”, which refers to the process through which the exchange of the products leads to the transformation of social relations among human beings into apparently natural relations among things.

The problem is that Lukács identifies reification with objectivity, whereas they cannot be considered socially or conceptually identical: “It is in Hegel that we first encounter alienation as the fundamental problem of man in the world and vis-à-vis the world. However, in the term ‘alienation’, he includes every type of objectification.” Thus ‘alienation’, when taken to its logical conclusion, is identical with objectification. Therefore, when the identical subject-object transcends alienation it must also transcend objectification at the same time. But since, according to Hegel, the object, the thing, exists only as an alienation from self-consciousness, to take it back into the subject would mean the end of objective reality and thus of any reality at all.

History and class consciousness follows Hegel in that it too equates alienation (Entfremdung) with objectification (Vergegenständlichung). It is necessary to make such distinction, because only in certain forms of society is there reification of external objects. And without this distinction, it means that de-reification will imply that there are no objects, material or social.

I have read History and Class Consciousness after reading a suggestion by Joppe (in his book on Debord) that it was an important source for Debord’s Society of the Spectacle. It is a hell of a read. As dense,complex and confusing as the works of Kenneth Grant, who is also a great fan of the word ‘reification’. Could a synthesis between Lukács and Grant be created? Which could then, in a Hegel style dialectic , become the thesis against which to oppose/ negate the notion of Marx as an ecologist proposed by John Bellamy Foster (Marx’s Ecology and Ecology Against Capitalism) and Joel Kovel (The Enemy of Nature) – all which I have skimmed through recently.
Should keep me busy once I have finished the dissertation.

We are the forces of chaos and anarchy…

By the time I discovered punk with ‘White Riot’ in 1977, I had soaked up a fair bit of previous counter-culture history and music. History never really repeats itself, but as Nic has commented many times on these pages, sub-cultures and counter- cultures seem to have a recurring arc or trajectory, rising up then falling back to earth with a crash. There is a bit of such an arc here, although for dramatic effect I will start  like this:

Look what’s happening on the streets
Gotta revolution got to revolution

We are all outlaws in the eyes of amerika
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fuck hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young

All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is

We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves

Up against the wall
Up against the wall motherfucker
Tear down the walls
Tear down the walls

And the human name
Doesn’t mean shit to a tree

All from Jefferson Airplane’s 1969 ‘Volunteers of America’ .There is a live clip (only 3.37) of the band playing ‘Volunteers’ here 

But it wasn’t the Airplane’s revolutionary rhetoric that first got me interested in the band. It was their reputation for excess of a rather different kind, which I discovered in the school library of all places. It must have been early 1974 and I had been reading my way through every interesting book in Kirkcudbright Academy library when I found one about rock’ n’ roll. How It got their I will never know, but there it was so I read it. Discussing cutting edge rock, the author reckoned that the best ‘acid rock’ album was ‘After Bathing at Baxters’ by Jefferson Airplane and explained how the group had spent the summer of love (1967) in San Francisco taking lots of LSD and then going into the studio and experimenting with psychedelic sounds to produce a masterpiece – far superior to the Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. Far out!

So I got a copy Easter 1974 and over a few hot sunny days played it over and over again. Even without the aid of any form of drug, it sounded amazing, the music just soared and flew out of the speakers. It still does sound amazing and the music still soars.

I have replaced the 1974 vintage vinyl with a cd copy. This gives a bit more background to the recording. The band did not spend all their time in the studio. They were managed by Bill Graham and he insisted they  played gigs every weekend , whilst recording during the week. This was  unlike the Beatles who had become a studio only group by the time they recorded ‘Sgt Peppers’.

The previous Airplane album was ‘Surrealistic Pillow’. It had been recorded in 13 days in 1966 and sold a million copies, staying in the top 5 of the US album charts through the summer of 1966. The singles ‘Somebody to Love’ and ‘White Rabbit’ had been top ten hits. Both are now pop classics.

No doubt getting bored with having to belt out White Rabbit yet again every weekend, the Airplane wanted to do something different, to make an experimental uncommerical record. So Grace Slick (a psychedelic Siouxsie) wrote a song inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses called ‘Re-Joyce’. Here are part of the lyrics:

There, are, so many of you.
White shirt and tie, white shirt and tie,
white shirt and tie, wedding ring, wedding ring.

Mulligan stew for Bloom,
the only Jew in the room
Saxon’s sick on the holy dregs
and their constant getting throw up on his leg.

Molly’s gone to blazes,
Boylan’s crotch amazes
any woman whose husband sleeps with his head
all buried down at the foot of his bed.

And here is the song itself 

I still rate ‘After Bathing at Baxter’s’ as one of the best records of  all time. Although if you just read lyrics like these:

If you were a bird and you lived very high,
You’d lean on the wind when the breeze came by,
You’d say to the wind as it took you away,
“That’s where I wanted to go today”.
Will the moon still hang in the sky when I die,
When I die, when I’m high, when I die?
If you were a cloud and you sailed up there,
You’d sail on water as blue as air,
You’d see me here in the fields and say,
“Doesn’t the sky look green today?”

You would probably disagree. Even if you hear the song here 

For more tracks see here

And then? I will skip ‘Crown of Creation’, already done ‘Volunteers’ and then in 1970 the group split. Then two of the group – Grace Slick and Paul Kantner went into space with ‘Blows Against the Empire’ a science fiction inspired album about hi-jacking a starship and heading off out into the cool and the dark.

The acid revolution had turned sour by 1970. The war in Vietnam continued (with the illegal bombing of Cambodia about to start), President Richard Nixon  was in power and all the psychedelic dreams and counterculture schemes had  turned to dust and bitterness. The  first two references are to the 1968 Democratic party Conference in Chicago 1968 which turned in to a riot and Ronald Reagan, B-Movie start Governor of  California, later Mr. President.

You know I remember the 23rd of November
In the abyss of Chicago you can see the barbed wire – pigs around a lot of
The witch hunters wail and they bark and they wheeze and they try to turn us
into their poison

You unleash the dogs
of a grade-B movie star governor’s war
While you sit in the dark –
insane with the fear of dying
We’ll ball in your parks
– insane with the flash of living

So drop your fuckin’ bombs
Burn your demon babies

You know – a starship circling in the sky – it ought to be ready by 1990
They’ll be building it up in the air even since 1980
People with a clever plan can assume the role of the mighty
Carry 7000 people past the sun
And our babes’ll wander naked thru the cities of the universe
free minds, free bodies, free dope, free music
the day is on its way the day is ours

The starship was a fantasy. The actuality was the ‘get back to the land’ movement which spawned a thousand communes. The expectation was of some catastrophe, of a neo-Nazi Amerika… so all the hippies who weren’t quite dead decided to grow their own food and live on the land…a guy called Stewart Brand (who had been one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Prankesters – of Electric Kool Aid Acid Test fame) set up a Whole Earth Catalog. It was a data base of useful tools for back to the land hippies – for making, building, growing  their communities. Some few years later Brand turned it into a computer bulletin board and helped start what was to become the internet / computer revolution. Science fiction became technological reality. Not a starship, but the world wide web. But enough of that. [ There are two recent books on the ‘hippies to the internet’ theme on my bookshelves but can’t find them…one is called ‘What the Dormouse Said’ > White Rabbit/ Airplane]

And now here is the is the last bit of this story:

At first
I was irridescent
I became transparent
I was absent

With which ( the song Starship) – see here the album ends.

Dalston Junction To Broad Street 1980ish

Found this  wierd bit of film on You Tube. Filmed from cab of train with a radio on playing some music. It is quite surreal. Here it is  Dalston Junction To Broad Street 1980s