Thursday, October 25, 2007

Climate change? What’s the worst that could happen?

If you haven’t seen An Inconvenient Truth yet, don’t bother. This guy is infinitely better than Al Gore, because he isn’t a servant of the profit system! And Al Gore doesn’t wear blue jumpers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oaxaca Solidarity Gig in Liverpool

Outside Next To Nowhere last night, England fans trudged through the streets after their hopes for the desperate glory of international conquest were dashed. Inside, we celebrated internationalism by raising money for some of our current favourite anti-imperialists, those from Oaxaca, Mexico.

The gig, which followed an all-day Zapatista Network gathering, attracted a decent crowd, who witnessed musical performances from Al Baker (self-deprecating but radical 'troubacore'), Alun Parry (folk, in the best sense of the word), and Jo Bywater (cooky acoustic blues). There were also performances from The Mittens, Rick Ash and some DJs, although I was otherwise engaged when they were on and they don't seem to be troubling Google with their presence. Apologies to them and anyone else I missed.

In the weeks to come we have alternative parties for Hallowe'en, Guy Fawkes night and Christmas planned(ish), which will be almost certainly be great, with wonderful music, food and conversation. But we host a wide variety of events at our brand new social centre, so check out the calendar and find something worth going underground for. Or even better, organise your own!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sclavi/The Song Of An Emigrant

Farm In The Cave
Liverpool Everyman (14th-15th October 2007)

On paper, this production seemed to promise so much. It would be a study of migration - a subject that's always topical - which would entertain and educate with its traditional Czech songs and brand new dance routines. Unfortunately, when it came to the night itself there was something missing.

There can be no doubting the skill of the performers, who showed great levels of agility and coordination as they threw themselves across the stage for an hour. Excellent use was made of their metal wagon, which was the basis of a percussive soundtrack that was added to be every footfall. However, when the piece finished, I was no wiser about the conditions that migrant workers suffer, because Farm In The Cave abandoned any idea of a story, preferring instead to focus on 'energy' and 'vibrations', in the words of director Viliam Dočolomanský.

This immediately presents a problem when the audience is unfamiliar with the eastern European dialects on show. If we can't relate to the language, and the body language of the actors is deliberately non-representational, then all the energy and vibrations in the world aren't going to help us get to grips with the story. In a post-performance question and answer session, Dočolomanský rejected narrative entirely, on the grounds that "everyone will have their own interpretation".

Of course there is an element of truth to this. We all have different DNA, and we have all had different life experiences, so we all perceive works of art in different ways. But if an artist throws up their hands and doesn't even try to convey a message, it is clear that the artist lifestyle is far more important to them than the subject matter. Proposing to create a piece on migration becomes just another meal ticket. The audience is left with a tale full of sound and fury, signifying next to nothing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Che Guevara: The Man Behind The T-Shirt

About twenty people gathered in Next To Nowhere on the 40th anniversary of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara's murder/execution, to try and discover 'the man behind the t-shirt'.

The evening commenced with a showing of 2004's The Motorcycle Diaries, a film which follows the very young Ernesto on a journey through South America in the 1950s. It shows him as a doctor rather than a revolutionary, but illustrates the dawning of his consciousness that South American people were being oppressed by imperialist powers.

Then we saw an hour-long documentary about Guevara, which took in his whole life, from his birth into a relatively wealthy family to his death at the hands of the CIA-backed Bolivian army. Though the feature was far too short to go into much depth, and contained such bland pronouncements as 'Che was a mystic. Che was a visionary', it was good to see the man actually moving and talking for once, as opposed to the 2D icon that everybody knows.

After that, we finished off with some drinks, whilst informally discussing the impact that Guevara made on the world (and vice versa). Debate centred on the appropriateness of violence as a revolutionary strategy (until I had to leave and catch my train!), and though nothing was resolved, everyone went home having had their preconceptions and ideas challenged.

Merseyside Posties Wildcat

Though the latest round of official strikes sanctioned by the Communication Workers Union came to an end at 03:00 this morning, many postal workers are defying their leaders, and are staying out.

In Liverpool, the unofficial stoppages started at district offices, and spread to the main sorting office at Copperas Hill. Locally, there were similar scenes reported in West Lancashire and Wirral, as well as London and Glasgow.

Workers coming off strike were hit with the news that Royal Mail is forcing through changes to working practices, preventing posties from starting work before 0600 BST and leaving before 1415 BST, even if they have completed their rounds.

"The current Royal Mail management introduced this concept of flexibility when they were appointed," complained David Wall, a worker at the Walton office.

"Now, they are taking it away, claiming it is because they need to modernise and save money, yet there is no sign that their bonuses have been cut."

The wildcat strikes show that posties are refusing to be pushed around by either the fat cat Royal Mail bosses or the bureaucrats who run the CWU.

The union's general secretary Billy Hayes accepts privatisation, supports New Labour, and is refusing to unite postal workers from around Europe, all of whom face similar 'modernisation'. By wildcatting today, posties are taking some of their power out of this parasite's hands.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Liverpool Anarchist Educational is Class!

We've been conditioned to think that education must be
expensive, that it is too complex for ordinary people and
must be left to experts, and that it is so vital it is best
organised by large and powerful institutions, like the local
education authority or the state. Like most things we are
taught to believe, this is a lie. - The Nihilst
A not particularly dirty dozen met in Next To Nowhere this evening, for the first in our 'anarchist educational' series, which will happen once a month until February (or the revolution, whichever is earlier), apart from this month when we're having two!

We began with a presentation on 'free schools', with particular reference to the ones that were established in Liverpool in 1908 and 1970. The group then discussed libertarian education, and the prospects for starting that up in the modern day, as well as how crap capitalist schooling is.

A good time was had by all, we learned useful stuff, and it was a laugh, which is more than you can say for most class(system)rooms. Anyone interested in learning about anarchism could do worse than come to our next session.

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