An Epoch of Rest By William Bowles

17 September 2009

“It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do; and which shall be done under such conditions as would make it neither overwearisome nor over-anxious.” — William Morris, ‘Art and Socialism’.

news-from-nowhere-213x300William Morris’s News from Nowhere, his future history of a ‘return’ to an idealized vision of a pre-capitalist society, part feudal, part agrarian socialism, I read when I was a teenager, and perhaps oddly, I also read it as a science fiction story.

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Welcome to the crony capitalist convention where New Labour got into bed with the bankers but we were the ones who got screwed

14 February 2009

The cry goes up, ‘wha’ happened?’ The former boss of HBOS, Sir James Crosby became head of the Financial Services Authority allegedly the ‘watchdog’ of the financial sector and then it emerges that Crosby was one of the architects of what Michael Hudson describes as:

“The commercial banks…us[ing] their credit-creating power not to expand the production of goods and services or raise living standards but simply to inflate prices for real estate (making fortunes for their brokerage, property appraisal and insurance affiliates), stocks and bonds (making more fortunes for their investment bank subsidiaries), fine arts (whose demand is now essentially for trophies, degrading the idea of art accordingly) and other assets already in place.” — ‘Bubble Economy 2.0: The Financial Recovery Plan from Hell’ By Michael Hudson’

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Strangers in a (not so) strange land By William Bowles

1 December 2008

In another life I lived in New York City and for about six of the seventeen years I spent in the Big A I was the designer of the US’s first Hispanic museum, El Museo del Barrio, situated in an enormous building, a block long and half-a-block deep, a former Boys Harbor orphanage. New York’s Hispanic community during and after this period was a powerhouse of creativity in all the artistic fields, music, fine art, photography, fashion, theatre and of course, writing. I was extremely lucky and privileged to have been a part of it.

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Keynes with a neo-liberal twist? By William Bowles

10 November 2008

dollars“Just imagine saying, “production for use leads to stagnation; production for death leads to exchange value and profits.” Now don’t jump on me! Wait, I have to go into capital expansion and its being “the breath of capitalism” and, as yet, no forseeable future opportunities for capital reproduction to the magnitude needed for its expansion.”

The above excerpt from a short note from my compadre Patricia in the am triggered a thought about how the state, at least in the UK and in much of the EU, has reacted to the latest, and undoubtedly the worst crisis capital has yet faced. For unlike earlier crises, especially those of the 1970s which presaged the so-called neo-liberal revolution, the nature of Britain’s working class has undergone a profound transformation (along with other ‘advanced’ economies). And, at the risk of repeating myself, or anyway repeating the quote I’ve used before, I think it speaks reams about the real fear the ruling political class feels about the current situation.

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Can a revolt of ‘consumers’ spark a revolution… By William Bowles

26 August 2008

Can a revolt of ‘consumers’ spark a revolution?

“The Middle Class Proletariat — The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.” — ‘UK Ministry of Defence report, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036’ (Third Edition) p.96, March 2007

Prescient words indeed, so given the dire straights of capitalism as the effects of rampant speculation and an economy based upon the illusary creation of wealth bite, does this analysis by the MoD have any substance?

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High Culture — Low Values By William Bowles

11 July 2008

I was raised in a working class family. My father was a full-time trade union official for the Musicians Union and my mother, before she became a full-time ‘housewife’, had been a chorus girl working in pantomime and a member of the Tiller Girls (the Brit version of The Rockettes) and during WWII she worked in a factory making bomb sights at Fry’s Diecasting where she campaigned on behalf of the female workers for equal pay (in the face of opposition from the male-run union). Not exactly typical of working class life but definitely of it.

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Book Review: Why the Left doesn’t get it By William Bowles

15 June 2008

Book Review: ‘Deer Hunting With Jesus – Dispatches from America’s Class War’ By Joe Bageant

“Never experiencing the life of the mind scars entire families for generations.”

This is the hardest review I have ever had to write. Who am I writing it for seems to be at the heart of my dilemma. But let me say first that this book is a witty, insightful and sympathetic portrait of a world most of us are only aware of through cliché or stereotype. Who are we talking about? The so-called American Redneck.

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Sink or Swim in the capitalist ocean? By William Bowles

9 April 2008

When a group of so-called Aboriginals from I believe Borneo (or maybe it was Papua New Guinea) visited the UK recently they were gob-smacked to find homeless people on the streets of London. The concept ‘homelessness’ simply didn’t exist in their vocabulary and reinforced by the vast wealth that surrounded them (the ‘Aboriginal and the homeless). So too was the idea of the ‘nuclear family’. The concept of ‘living apart’ is totally alien to them.

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