Must Listening These Days: Billy Bragg’s “Between The Wars”

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself particularly drawn to articles, discussions, and songs, pertaining to class struggle and the labour movement…Yes, more than the usual.

Why’s that? Well, as we watch Donnie’s horror show unfold in the U.S., a lot of intelligent folks have been arguing, and rightfully so, that the left has not been focusing enough on issues tied to the working class. Well, Bernie did, and did so quite well, but the corporate Dems wanted no part of that.

Anyways, one of the songs that has been receiving a lot of play in my household is Billy Bragg’s “Between the Wars”. If you’re not familiar with the song, then check out the lyrics below, and you’ll understand why:

I was a miner
I was a docker
I was a railway man
Between the wars
I raised a family
In times of austerity
With sweat at the foundry
Between the wars

I paid the union and as times got harder
I looked to the government to help the working man
And they brought prosperity down at the armory
We’re arming for peace, me boys
Between the wars

I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man
Theirs is a land of hope and glory
Mine is the green field and the factory floor
Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers
And mine is the peace we know
Between the wars

Call up the craftsmen
Bring me the draftsmen
Build me a path from cradle to grave
And I’ll give my consent
To any government
That does not deny a man a living wage

Photo credit above: Kris Krug / Wikipedia

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Why The Working Class? Vivek Chibber Hits HR

So, it’s February 12th…and this is the first post for the Pinko Rag in quite a while…Yup. Following the U.S. election, some of us, and that includes moi, elected to put their heads in figurative sand, with the help of booze, pointless television shows and a steady stream of sports.

But, thankfully, many, many progressives haven’t gone that route, and have been busy resisting; fighting for a socially just and environmentally sustainable future. In recent weeks, there’s also been a lot of discussion, debate and even hostility within the left, in respect to how we go about doing this.

Since Donnie took the American throne, there’s been no shortage of talk about 1) how that happened and 2) if the left has been focusing on too many issues, or just the wrong issues.

Well, recently Jacobin Magazine posted an essay by Vivek Chibber, which immediately sparked my leftist fire (the essay originally appeared in The ABCs of Socialism). In it, Chibber outlines why the working class is the focal point of socialist theory. The essay outlines in a very concise and compelling manner, why real, substantive change will only come from organizing the working class. Here is an excerpt:

So, in a society in which most people don’t have job security, or have jobs but can’t pay their bills, in which they have to submit to other people’s control, in which they don’t have a voice in how laws and regulations are made — it’s impossible to achieve social justice.

Capitalism is an economic system that depends on depriving the vast majority of people of these essential preconditions for a decent life. Workers show up for work every day knowing that they have little job security; they are paid what employers feel is consistent with their main priority, which is making profits, not the well-being of employees; they work at a pace and duration that is set by their bosses; and they submit to these conditions, not because they want to, but because for most of them, the alternative to accepting these conditions is not having a job at all. This is not some incidental or marginal aspect of capitalism. It is the defining feature of the system.

Economic and political power is in the hands of capitalists, whose only goal is to maximize profits, which means that the condition of workers is, at best, a secondary concern to them. And that means that the system is, at its very core, unjust.

A left that focuses on fundamentally changing the economic and political structures of power, through communal efforts and worker unity, isn’t dismissing gender issues, racial discrimination, environmental degradation etc. Rather, it understands that real, substantive change will only occur by empowering the masses and creating a society where capital accumulation isn’t paramount to everything else.

It’s certainly not a new idea for the left, but it’s one that unfortunately, has consistently been punted from so-called ‘leftist’ parties in the preceding decades. Funny how that happens when ‘progressive’ candidates are taking money from oligarchic interests.

Anyhoo, the essay mentioned above is definitely a must read, particularly at times like this.

Must See Viewing: HyperNormalisation by Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis forged his reputation as a compelling and talented documentary producer years ago, and the British filmmaker has enhanced that status with his latest release, “HyperNormalisation.”

Now sure, not everyone is going to agree with the theories that are spun in the film, but Curtis presents a fascinating backstory to the machinations of neoliberalism, suicide bombings, and the corporatization of cyber reality. Oh, Curtis also has some interesting things to say about good ole Donnie ‘Sniff Sniff’ Trump…

You can check out a trailer for the film below.

Not only should should you check out “HyperNormalisation”, but other films from Curtis like “The Century of the Self”, “The Power of Nightmares”, and “The Mayfair Set” are must see viewing.

 

If You Didn’t Read Bernie Sanders’ Op-Ed, You Have Some Homework…

The world is still buzzing and shaking from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, as leading up the referendum, polls indicated ‘Brexit’ wasn’t going down…Now that it has, corporate talking heads, intellectuals and even your average Joe Sixpack, have been debating and speculating on how this could have happened.

Well, one of the more insightful and compelling responses that’s been offered, came courtesy Mr. Bernie Sanders. Recently the progressive titan wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, which was, well, a must read.

Here is just some of what Sanders had to say:

Surprise, surprise. Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children.

And it’s not just the British who are suffering. That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite, is failing people everywhere. Incredibly, the wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population — around 3.6 billion people. The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99 percent. The very, very rich enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water.

Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could.

During my campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, I’ve visited 46 states. What I saw and heard on too many occasions were painful realities that the political and media establishment fail even to recognize.

In the last 15 years, nearly 60,000 factories in this country have closed, and more than 4.8 million well-paid manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Much of this is related to disastrous trade agreements that encourage corporations to move to low-wage countries.

Again, it’s mandatory reading, so you should head to the Times to finish the editorial. While we can all debate as to whether Britain should have remained in the EU, in its current form, no one should really be that shocked Brexit has taken place.

People are finally realizing the neoliberal shite has hit the fan, and they’re not having it any longer. Focusing this anger and frustration into progressive developments, however, is the task at hand. One which, Mr. Sanders, has been doing a pretty, pretty, good job of doing.

A Must See: Requiem for the American Dream

If you’re looking for something to watch this weekend, but wish to view something that’s, you know, actually important, then you should watch Requiem for the American DreamIn fact, even if you were planning to take a break from electricity, you should do a 180, and watch it.

Requiem for the American Dream features renowned intellectual, and one of the most important progressive voices in American history, Mr. Noam Chomsky. The Professor details the ongoing battle between democratizing forces–the masses–and the ruling elite. Not only does it include information that every citizen should be aware of, but it’s shot and edited together brilliantly.

Do yourself, and hopefully society a favour, watch the damn movie.

The film is available on Netflix.

Watch The Undercurrent’s UC007 The Guide to Legal Tax Evasion

The recent release of the “Panama Papers” sparked outrage throughout the enlightened masses, as they’re further evidence of what an effing sham ‘globalization’ (neoliberalism) is. But, as The Undercurrent’s video below outlines, hoarding cash and avoiding taxation, isn’t something corporate interests have to do in the shadows.

Thank You Thomas Mulcair, But it Was Time…

If you live in the Great White North, or keep apprised of world politics, then you’ve likely heard that Canada’s New Democratic Party has decided to end the leadership run of Thomas Mulcair.

In a development that quickly made headlines throughout Canada, only 48% of NDP delegates wanted to keep Mulcair as the party’s leader. Observers knew that Mulcair was navigating through treacherous waters heading into the convention, but no one really knew if the NDP was going to vote for change…That they did.

Anyone who has read any posts at the Pinko Rag, shouldn’t be surprised to hear that we’ve historically been NDP supporters. After all, this is the party that has represented the working class throughout the decades, and has been the driving force for many of Canada’s most progressive policies. Tommy Douglas – universal healthcare- 1966. I mean, come on…In fact, it’s been the NDP that’s forced the historical ruling party of Canada, the Liberals, to even stay within striking distance of the center on policy.

Now, to be fair, Mulcair took the NDP’s reins at the best of times, but also the worst…He did so after the NDP had risen to historic heights, thanks to the extremely popular and charismatic, Jack Layton. So, while Mulcair became the leader of opposition after Uncle Jack’s tragic passing, he had ridiculously massive shoes to fill.

Look, much has been written about the NDP’s ill fated attempts to outflank the Liberals, and try to be the ‘reasonable’ alternative for the insufferable Conservatives. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals eagerly countered the NDP’s decision to do so, went left, and yadda, yadda, yadda, they have a majority government.

Mulcair was always a strong debater, he always called Harper and the crew on their bullshit, but at the end of the day, his vision for the NDP was off base. The NDP has always represented real change; a return to a world where the ruling interests aren’t skull effing the masses and the environment to go with it. That’s been their appeal, even at times when the majority of Canadians weren’t willing to roll up their sleeves, and throw down with the status-quo.

We’re seeing that in the U.S, however, thanks to Mr. Bernie Sanders, that a huge amount of Americans are looking for this type of change. We also saw it in the U.K. to an extent with Jeremy Corbyn. But Mulcair’s NDP kind of embodied a ‘hey, we’re for change, but if you’re not for really big change, well, we can do that too’. Ultimately, however, that just isn’t going to cut it in these troubling times.

Mr. Mulcair, thank you for everything you’ve done, but it was indeed, time.