It’s late capitalism, Jim, but not as we know it

Yanis Varoufakis4

Number one on the agenda of the new Greek Govt is to re-negotiate its debt, but more than that, to find a way forward for Greece, which could re-define how many countries in Europe deal with the current predicament. And the man for the job is left-wing Economics theorist, academic and blogger, Yanis Varoufakis. It’s going to take super-human abilities, and luckily Yanis is a hyper-intelligent Marxian-Vulcan beamed in from a post-capitalist future utopia. Or at least we hope so.

Holiday/Epic Problem split 7″ Out Now!

Hi!

The long awaited split 7″ between Holiday and Epic Problem is finally out! We have copies on clear vinyl and super limited black vinyl. Both bands are incredible and although they’re a bit more poppier than most of the bands we work with, we’re still incredibly pleased to have them as part of Prejudice Me Records.

They’re currently half way through a mini tour of the north of the UK and you should totally check them out if they’re playing near you. See the poster below for details;

Epic Problem Holiday Tour Poster

You can check the EP out here and pick it up for £3.50 plus postage here.

Cheers! Fran & Zoe X

Reporting Sexual Harassment by a Surgeon

During my Surgery rotation, I shadowed a surgeon who was particularly colorful with his language. He was very talkative and obnoxious, peppering his language with expletives, making some rude comments about Mormons, and at one point insulting an Asian American woman who was one of the surgical assistants, suggesting that she would be good in bed because she was Asian.  Now, it’s not unusual to work with surgeons like this – it’s almost normative.  I remember one surgeon I worked with in 3rd year of medical school who was wondering aloud what kind of sexual experience his parents had when they conceived him.  I remember an Indian surgeon who liked to play Bollywood music full blast while he did his work.  But I thought the remarks toward the Asian American woman crossed the line, so I decided to report it to the Hospital System.  I even spoke with the Asian American woman who was the target of the abuse, and she said that was normal, and she brushed it off.  Her passivity and nonchalance about the incident was infuriating, and not surprisingly, I got this generic response from the Hospital System:

“Dear Bob,

This letter is sent in response to your concerns reported to AAA Family Medicine Program and BBB Health System in January 20XX.

Your concerns alleged inappropriate comments made by a surgeon towards a XXX Hospital surgical assistant who was Asian American. You stated that two or more surgeons and multiple staff are implicated in making sexist and racist comments against women and Asian Americans.  You also alleged such remarks were a systemic issue suggesting an atmosphere of discrimination against Asians that is pervasive in XXX Hospital’s surgical services.

BBB Health System takes these matters seriously. Corporate Integrity investigated the reported concerns. Based on our investigation findings, we are unable to substantiate the provider made the alleged comments. We are also unable to substantiate the provider made the alleged comments. We are also unable to substantiate there are providers or staff making sexist and/or racist comments or that there are systemic issues creating an atmosphere of discrimination against Asians or any other groups or individuals in XXX Hospital’s surgical services area.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and providing us an opportunity to address your concerns. Feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Respectfully,

BBB Health System.

 

Director, Corporate Integrity

Vice President of Medical Affairs

Chief Medical Officer”

 

Here is my theory: there is a very hierarchical power structure that protects surgeons.  Surgeons with powerful personalities and charisma have lots of people who work under them: surgical assistants, nurses, technicians, all who depend on the surgeon for their employment.  Anyone who rocks the boat risks losing their job without much fanfare.  That is because there is a code of silence against anyone who speaks up.  In a sense, it’s like the mafia.  The surgical assistants, nurses, and technicians all have a vested interest in keeping the surgeon out of trouble, so it is in their best interest to deny that anything happened, even if the surgeon is sexist, racist, or discriminatory. Don’t hear, don’t see, don’t speak.  If I had only recorded the whole scene, maybe I had a better case, but even then I’m not sure if it had made a difference.  If even the Asian American woman couldn’t see the point or was too afraid to speak up for herself, I’m not sure if anything could have made a difference.

Are we all “domestic extremists” now?

If you’re reading this then the chances are you could be a “domestic extremist”? Do you even know what that means? Don’t worry since not many of us do. It’s a word that’s crept into the lexicon over the last 10-15 years since the establishment of New Labour’s remodelled version of the secret state – institutions such as the National Public Order Investigation Unit, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit and the National Domestic Extremism team.

These units were set up in response to the success of anti-capitalist, animal rights and environmental movements of the late nineties. In 2006 all three were merged under the Association of Chief Police Officers and a national database of domestic extremists was built up which now numbers several thousand.

By then the term had broadened to include – in the police’s own words -groups or individuals who “commit or plan serious criminal activity motivated by a political or ideological viewpoint”. Something can be a “serious crime” when it is carried out by “a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose”. So that could include the groups who sabotaged the badger cull or anti-fracking protests for example.

In truth anyone who wants to radically change society and build a more just, equal or sane world is likely to be viewed as a “domestic extremist” and get on the database. In fact journalists and photographers who have made complaints against the police and even politicians such as London Assembly Member Jenny Jones have had the label applied to them.

It is in the nature of the state to always be fearful and suspicious of the people it rules over. Those who rise to the top – the rich and powerful – deeply distrust the rest of us and with good reason: they know exactly how iniquitous and venal the system is they help to perpetuate. Accordingly the rest of us – the working class – are viewed as dangerous and unpredictable. The 2011 riots proved that beneath the apparently stable order of society there are tumultuous forces to be contained.

It is easy to let this make you paranoid and suspicious and that would be playing into the hands of the oppressors. The so-called “secret police” went overground during the last decade. Whereas before spying and surveillance were done covertly by groups like Special Branch, in the New Labour era, they also become a tool of intimidation through employing “in yer face” tactics of filming by Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT).

For several years it appeared that on every demo there would be a group of cops with cameras and sometimes they’d also have sheets of paper with mug shots of activists to watch out for. The situation became so ridiculous that I was even followed on one occasion when I wasn’t doing anything political at all. I simply went into a building where a meeting I was unaware of was taking place and on leaving I noticed a FIT team behind me!

The effect of all this has understandably been to deter some from being politically active. The reasons why the numbers of people on demos or involved in grassroots campaigns has declined in the past decade is complex and can’t be whittled down to one cause, but there is little doubt that covert surveillance and with it feelings of intimidation and criminalisation has been a factor.

But in the last two or there years the mood has shifted. Thanks in part to revelations about undercover cops in protest groups and the Edward Snowden leaks, the secret state has had the glare of publicity shone on it. Importantly it has moved beyond mere activist circles to the point where even ordinary people – to use that term – have felt their privacy and integrity is being threatened and violated.

New struggles have come along which have attracted a fresh influx of activists who are untainted by the past. The anti-fracking and badger cull campaigns spring to mind. Other activists, meanwhile, have been fighting back in the form of groups such FIT Watch, who have themselves filmed the surveillance teams, and NETPOL – the Network for Police Monitoring.

Last year on 5 February NETPOL launched the first “Domestic Extremist Awareness Day” by asking for campaigners to find out if secret records are held about them by making subject access requests to the Metropolitan Police’s National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit.

This year they are following that up by asking you to tell them on Facebook – or on Twitter using #domesticextremist – “what might make you a so-called domestic extremist”. Er, how many days have you got…?

To find out more about Domestic Awareness Day 2015 see: https://netpol.org/2015/01/28/domestic-extremist-awareness-day-2015/

To find out if the police hold data on you see:  https://netpol.org/campaigns/dont-be-on-a-database/subject-access-requests-an-introduction/

Stopping (some) dodgy evictions

Since the High Court Enforcement Officers have been given more of the eviction work, there’s been an increase in dodgy evictions, including evictions, without notice, of new sets of squatters, using old possession orders.

They make out that it’s the same or connected people and get a “warrant” or “writ of restitution”.

As there is no notice there is no opportunity to set aside the eviction writ on the basis that at a writ of restitution is not appropriate. But some clever squatters, when told by security that they would be out the next day, put a stop to this by putting in an application to stop any application without notice.

The relevant wording of the order goes:

It is ordered that:

1.    XXXXX be joined as Defendant in proceedings.

2.    Any application made by the Claimant in the said proceedings within the next 21 days is to be made on notice in writing to XXXXXXX and with no less than 48 hours notice of this application. ……

An application costs money, unless someone is on benefits or can prove no or practically no income, but if you’ve reason to think you’re under threat it could be worth it. Get in touch.

Oh what a state!

Mouse_King_Details_06“Since political power proceeds from land ownership, a simple diffusion of land- ownership is all that is needed to insure a satisfactory distribution of power” (A.J. Nock).

Land reformation could be just over the horizon for the people of Scotland. But can we count on meaningful changes coming ‘top-down’ through the mainstream political process? Let’s take a look at some of the background to how the Government was formed to help with our expectations.

The sordid history of political power in Scotland as we know it begins with King David I (1124-1153). Following the crumbling of the Roman Empire, the Celtic system of common land and the Roman idea of private property blurred. The result was feudalism: a land-based power structure with the King at the top of the tower. David I ruthlessly introduced feudalism, creating a loyal elite which he granted control over pieces of Scotland in contracts called ‘feus.’ These contracts were revocable at any time, so kept the nobles in check. In this way King James I cemented his power over a young Scotland and kick-started the landowning system which we inherit today. This was the first great step in creating a national power. Kings from this point on reigned in more and more of the country under a royal dictatorship.

Advisors to the King took until the 14th Century to morph into something resembling a Parliament. Known as ‘the three estates’ it consisted of clergy, burgh commissioners and nobility. Theses were in many respects the holders of landed power: The church was once the biggest landowner, controlling ¼ of Scotland before the Reformation; burgh commissioners controlled the growing urban centres and the nobility consisted of men holding feus directly from the King. It was this last group which came to be the most important political group by the 16th Century. Partly populated by men with hereditary, landed titles (Duke of Bucchleuch, Earl of Fife etc.) it also included a social stratum of untitled ‘gentry.’ To be accepted as part of the gentry one had to own a large swathe of land and country estate, so entering the class of people who lived off rents from the land they owned (a.k.a. enjoying luxurious lifestyles funded from the labour of the landless peasantry).

As decisions on how the country was ruled were made increasingly by the men who owned the land they perhaps unsurprisingly sought to secure their interests. This was achieved by Acts of Parliament which cemented a monopoly of land ownership in their hands. For example the Act Concerning Talzies prevented land being removed by debtors when gentry went bust, the Law of Succession ensured estates were never split up and the Register of Sasines allowed the general pillaging of land by those who could afford expensive lawyers. This power to create laws which ‘good citizens’ must abide by was basically a monopoly of violence. If an impoverished peasant attempted to use land which had been enclosed they were forcibly evicted by the King’s constabulary, locked up and fined. This increasingly occurred as the commonly held ancestral land of peasants was enclosed, eventually sparked resistance during the Crofters’ War.

Such a power to write the laws of the land was central in the next two great leaps made by the landowning class towards our fine Parliamentary system. First the landowners rid the Parliament of clergy by excluded Catholics in 1567 and Protestant bishops in 1638. They also kidnapped huge areas of land held by the Catholic Church during the Reformation at the start of the 17th Century by hoodwinking the threatened clergy. The other vital step was the removal of the monarchy from the top of the pyramid . This happened following the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion when a whole raft of the King’s feudal powers were swept away by a landholders’ Parliament. The monarchy was retained but with greatly dwindling powers. This reform may have prevented widespread uprising by depleting royal rule before the masses rose up to kick them out.

The overthrow of the monarchy was by no means a win for democracy. The Parliament was now dominated by the landowning elite; a class of people defined by gaining financially from others. By securing power over the land – the only means to produce wealth – they establishing the continual transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Those working the land rented it from a class who lived off that rent. It is no accident that the very same class held or influenced the positions of political power. Not only that but they also secured the ability to vote for seats in the Parliament. From 1430 men could only vote if they held land worth more than 40 shillings. This of course meant that landowners voted for their sons and grandsons, securing Parliamentary power.

But wait! It surely all changed with the Great Reform Act of 1832 I hear you shout. The industrial revolution brought a new class of wealthy capitalists made rich from extractive and productive industries. These nouveau-riche men demanded political power such as their old-money peers held. In France the result was Revolution and political upheaval, the removal of hereditary ownership of land and land redistribution. Not so in the UK, we instead had the Great Reform! Extending the right to vote to property owning men, reform again extinguished the fire of revolt. However, again this was no move away from the landed class as the new industrialists bought up land in a desire to join the social elite. More fundamentally, the means of wealth was still tied to the land. Industrial capitalism simply introduced another layer of profit-driven power. The raw materials required for the industrial revolution were dug out the ground or grown from it, so great capitalist riches were still at the whim of landowners and rent. The 1832 Act was a clever move by the establishment to relinquish enough control to prevent their upheaval, effectively allowing new entrants to their social stratum into the game. And so the power-hold of the landed class was retained.

So the origins of the political system is entrenched in landowning power and the ability that gives to extract wealth from the labour of others. Although the Parliament has visibly moved far away from the blatant landed power of the feudal system, the influence of landowners, directly through positions in political parties and indirectly by influencing land use, remains deeply ingrained. Reforms in 1918 and 1928 brought the vote to all men and all women respectively but did these changes really hack at the roots of landed power or simply avert any significant upheaval? To this day we see the continued, methodical exploitation of one class of people by another, enabled and justified by the Political system. Maybe things haven’t changed so much as we would like to think…

29th January 2015

Bootscraper -There Must Be Another Way
Black Star Dub Collective -Vampire (Dub Conductor Vocal and Dub Cut)
Sun Ra and his Astro Galactic Infinity Archestra -I’m Gonna Unmask the Batman
Miles Davis -Summertime
Gary Clail On-U Sound System -Privatise The Air Part One
Victims Family -Evil Twin
Hello Bastards -Happy Under The Sun
Darren Hayman -May Day 1894
The Legendary Shack Shakers -Pandelirium
The Dead Anyways -Oscar Wilde at Heart
Epic Problem -Lines (Under The Pavement Radio Session)
Holiday -They Said We Could Have Everything in the Argos Catalogue
Aphrodite’s Child -The System
Aggressors BC -Wishing Your Life Away

[mixcloud]http://www.mixcloud.com/Underthepavement/utp-29-jan-2015-the-one-that-challenges-technology/[/mixcloud]

29th January 2015 What’s On

Echo is a non-profit political events and news site. Echo hopes to provide opportunities for struggle against oppression to grow by increasing participation in demonstrations, events, organised groups, and fundraisers.

Visit the site here: http://echomanchester.net

Friday 30th January

Holiday, Epic Problem, The Vermin Suicides, Patchwork Society plus more TBC.

£3 on the door 7.00pm Ducie Bridge, 152 Corporation Street, M4 4DU

https://www.facebook.com/events/874530545901793

https://www.facebook.com/events/1508216102772012

Saturday 31st January

Manchester Vegan Society Monthly Social Meet Up

Come along and meet and chat to other vegans. No cliques here, everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be vegan, all we ask is that you eat vegan whilst with us. Meetings have been held every month since 2004 and we’d like them to keep happening so come along and say hi!

1.00pm-3.30pm at Mod’s Veggie/Vegan Cafe at the Thirsty Scholar, New Wakefield Street (off Oxford Road), M1 5NP

https://www.facebook.com/events/884801814876061

Defiance Sessions, Glossop Labour Club

From Barnsley, The Hurriers are a 5-piece socialist band. Influenced by The Clash and The Specials, they have irresistible pop hooks and hard hitting lyrics. An inter-generational band (featuring a father and son) they were invited by Billy Bragg to play his Leftfield stage at Glastonbury. Their song “Truth and Justice” has been taken up as the unofficial anthem of the Orgreave Justice campaign.

The ‘Defiance Sessions’ are a new bi-monthly gig promoting music that beats with a revolutionary heart. The gigs are hosted by singer-songwriter Quiet Loner (a veteran of Billy Bragg’s Leftfield stage & Tolpuddle Martyrs festival) and feature singer/songwriters and bands from around the UK, that have politics, passion and protest in their music. The sessions take place at one of the oldest independent socialist clubs in the country – Glossop Labour Club.

Doors 7pm. Music starts at 730 and the band will be finished at 10pm allowing people to chat to the band afterwards, listen to some great music, share ideas and get the last train out of Glossop (10.38pm)

Tickets £7 on the door, £5 advance, £3 Unwaged

Advance tickets from
https://www.wegottickets.com/event/301104

Sunday 1st February

Dominic Berry presents When Trolls Try to Eat Your Goldfish
“Lyrics and laughs at my family comedy adventure poetry show!”
2.30pm at Zion Arts, Hulme

https://www.facebook.com/events/795326250526266

Friday 6th February

Mega Quiz!
7.30pm – 10.30pm
Subrosa, 27 Lloyd Street South, Moss Side, M14 7HS

https://www.facebook.com/events/372910569547558

Tuesday 24th February

LGBT History Month presents Dominic Berry
6.00pm at Manchester Central Library

https://www.facebook.com/events/1620012491547529

Saturday 28th February

11:00am – 5:00pm at Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS

https://www.facebook.com/events/790739784330503/

Sunday 1st March

A day for practical organising between journalists, publications and independent media organisations.

Sunday 15th March

https://www.facebook.com/events/328786627307935

Friday 17th and Saturday 18th April

https://www.facebook.com/events/399006860255333/

Thursday 30th April

https://www.facebook.com/events/732738423441495

Friday 1st, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd May

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/671081986320086

Any what’s ons?

Email radio@underthepavement.org