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Friday, April 26, 2013

John Pilger:Dance on Thatcher's grave, but remember there has been a coup in Britain

In the wake of Thatcher's departure, I remember her victims. Patrick Warby's daughter, Marie, was one of them. Marie, aged five, suffered from a bowel deformity and needed a special diet. Without it, the pain was excruciating. Her father was a Durham miner and had used all his savings. It was winter 1985, the Great Strike was almost a year old and the family was destitute. Although her eligibility was not disputed, Marie was denied help by the Department of Social Security. Later, I obtained records of the case that showed Marie had been turned down because her father was "affected by a Trade dispute".

The corruption and inhumanity under Thatcher knew no borders. When she came to power in 1979, Thatcher demanded a total ban on exports of milk to Vietnam. The American invasion had left a third of Vietnamese children malnourished. I witnessed many distressing sights, including infants going blind from a lack of vitamins. "I cannot tolerate this," said an anguished doctor in a Saigon paediatric hospital, as we looked at a dying boy. Oxfam and Save the Children had made clear to the British government the gravity of the emergency. An embargo led by the US had forced up the local price of a kilo of milk up to ten times that of a kilo of meat. Many children could have been restored with milk. Thatcher's ban held.

In neighbouring Cambodia, Thatcher left a trail of blood, secretly. In 1980, she demanded that the defunct Pol Pot regime - the killers of 1.7 million people - retain its "right" to represent their victims at the UN. Her policy was vengeance on Cambodia's liberator, Vietnam. The British representative was instructed to vote with Pol Pot at the World Health Organisation, thereby preventing it from providing help to where it was needed more than anywhere on earth.

To conceal this outrage, the US, Britain and China, Pol Pot's main backer, invented a "resistance coalition" dominated by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge forces and supplied by the CIA at bases along the Thai border. There was a hitch. In the wake of the Irangate arms-for-hostages debacle, the US Congress had banned clandestine foreign adventures. "In one of those deals the two of them liked to make," a senior Whitehall official told the Sunday Telegraph, "President Reagan put it to Thatcher that the SAS should take over the Cambodia show. She readily agreed."

In 1983, Thatcher sent the SAS to train the "coalition" in its own distinctive brand of terrorism. Seven-man SAS teams arrived from Hong Kong, and British soldiers set about training "resistance fighters" in laying minefields in a country devastated by genocide and the world's highest rate of death and injury as a result of landmines.

I reported this at the time, and more than 16,000 people wrote to Thatcher in protest. "I confirm," she replied to opposition leader Neil Kinnock, "that there is no British government involvement of any kind in training, equipping or co-operating with the Khmer Rouge or those allied to them." The lie was breathtaking. In 1991, the government of John Major admitted to parliament that the SAS had indeed trained the "coalition". "We liked the British," a Khmer Rouge fighter later told me. "They were very good at teaching us to set booby traps. Unsuspecting people, like children in paddy fields, were the main victims."

When the journalists and producers of ITV's landmark documentary, Death on the Rock, exposed how the SAS had run Thatcher's other death squads in Ireland and Gibraltar, they were hounded by Rupert Murdoch's "journalists", then cowering behind the razor wire at Wapping. Although exonerated, Thames TV lost its ITV franchise.

In 1982, the Argentine cruiser, General Belgrano, was steaming outside the Falklands exclusion zone. The ship offered no threat, yet Thatcher gave orders for it to be sunk. Her victims were 323 sailors, including conscripted teenagers. The crime had a certain logic. Among Thatcher's closest allies were mass murderers - Pinochet in Chile, Suharto in Indonesia, responsible for "many more than one million deaths" (Amnesty International). Although the British state had long armed the world's leading tyrannies, it was Thatcher who brought a crusading zeal to the deals, talking up the finer points of fighter aircraft engines, hard-bargaining with bribe-demanding Saudi princes. I filmed her at an arms fair, stroking a gleaming missile. "I'll have one of those!" she said.

In his arms-to-Iraq enquiry, Lord Richard Scott heard evidence that an entire tier of the Thatcher government, from senior civil servants to ministers, had lied and broken the law in selling weapons to Saddam Hussein. These were her "boys". Thumb through old copies of the Baghdad Observer, and there are pictures of her boys, mostly cabinet ministers, on the front page sitting with Saddam on his famous white couch. There is Douglas Hurd and there is a grinning David Mellor, also of the Foreign Office, around the time his host was ordering the gassing of 5,000 Kurds. Following this atrocity, the Thatcher government doubled trade credits to Saddam.

Perhaps it is too easy to dance on her grave. Her funeral was a propaganda stunt, fit for a dictator: an absurd show of militarism, as if a coup had taken place. And it has. "Her real triumph", said another of her boys, Geoffrey Howe, a Thatcher minister, "was to have transformed not just one party but two, so that when Labour did eventually return, the great bulk of Thatcherism was accepted as irreversible."

In 1997, Thatcher was the first former prime minister to visit Tony Blair after he entered Downing Street. There is a photo of them, joined in rictus: the budding war criminal with his mentor. When Ed Milliband, in his unctuous "tribute", caricatured Thatcher as a "brave" feminist hero whose achievements he personally "honoured", you knew the old killer had not died at all.

25 April 2013


An edited version of this article originally appeared in the New Statesman

Chrissy Amphlett 1959-2013 “I Touch Myself” and Self Examination for Breast Cancer by John Tognolini

 
 
 
 We heard the news Trish and I, in the car radio  coming back from Orange to Wellington in Central West New South Wales on that Monday afternoon of the 22-4-13. When they said that she died of breast cancer and MS it hit me. For a lot of us she had been a big part of our lives. The fact that I'm only eight months older than her says something about the impact she  had on my life. Chrissy was not the bad girl of Australian Music, No she was the Strong Woman of Oz Rock & Roll. So it was not surprising that she wanted her signature song, I Touch Myself to be used to encourage women to self examine themselves for breast cancer.
 
I looked at her Facebook page and decided to share these words she wrote on 14-3-12:
 
"Unfortunately the last 18 months have been a real challenge for me having breast cancer and MS and all the new places that will take you.You become sadly a patient in a world of waiting rooms,waiting sometimes hours for a result or an appointment and you spend a lot time in cold machines like MRI,CT machines,hospital beds,on your knees praying for miracles,operating rooms,tests after tests,looking at healthy people skip down the street like you once did and you took it all for granted and now wish you could do that.


 I have not stopped singing throughout all this in my dreams and to be once again performing and doing what I love to do. I have been writing the occassional song with a wonderful collaborator Kraig Jarret and two weeks ago we performed some of those songs in NYC in the West Village.
 
My illnesses have really exhausted this little body of mine that I have thrown from one end of a stage to another and performed thousands of shows thats sadly some of you missed.With that said I am getting stronger but there is still some fine tuning and work to be done on myself. It's a different self but my voice is strong and not affected by the MS as some reviewers have cruelly reported.
 
I can walk altho sometimes I wobble but try to wobble with the beat.I look after myself and my husband has been through this with me every part of the way and I cannot imagine what I would have done without him and his kindness.
I did something right.My lttle dog Holiday lays on the end of the bed when I am not feeling great and doesn't leave my side.I don't reach out to people and talk about what I go through as we are all going through something and for someone who once was fancy free I have all of this in my life "So I Know".
 
I am grateful to have the knowledge that all of this has shown me and I feel privledged that I am strong enough to "know" and share that it's really alright. will sing again,I will perform again but this time "I know" I hope you understand what I mean and if you don't you will one day and be grateful.Yes Lawrence What A Life and this is Life.We must never be afraid.
 
I Twittered the next night on #AFL360 Be serious about Chrissy Amphlet, her last wish was for her song 'I Touch Myself' to be used to promote breast cancer awareness.
 
 

"That Christmas Day in 2011 was a pretty heavy day. It’s when Trish told me that she had noticed for the first time a lump in her breast while looking after me in Randwick. During the next few weeks Trish underwent tests in Dubbo and Sydney, and then travelled back to Sydney in mid-January to have a double mastectomy at the Seven Day Adventist Hospital. She’s clear now, but cancer survivors can develop secondary cancer. Her odds are at sixteen per cent. She’s tired a lot of the time and I’ve been her carer since then, on top of my teaching. Trish’s workplace is supportive and she still works part-time at Dubbo Base Hospital, but she’s very tired when she gets home.  

When we travelled to Melbourne for ten days around the AFL Grand Final, it was the first time in the best part of two years that either of us had left Wellington to do something other than visit medical specialists or have major surgery. We’re a very 21st century couple, with matching surgery scars. Her scars go across and mine goes up and down; together that’s a positive and a plus sign, and we didn’t even plan it. We love each other."
We never going to forget Chrissy and her last request must be honoured.



 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Arthur Miller Quotes A History Talks Vol 2 Issue 1


Arthur Miller (1915-2005)
"I have made more friends for American culture than the State Department. Certainly I have made fewer enemies, but that isn't very difficult."

"A play is made by sensing how the forces in life simulate ignorance-you set free the concealed irony, the deadly joke."

"A playwright lives in an occupied country. And if you can't live that way you don't stay."

"All we are is a lot of talking nitrogen."

"Can anyone remember love? It's like trying to summon up the smell of roses in a cellar. You might see a rose, but never the perfume."

"Certainly the most diverse, if minor, pastime of literary life is the game of Find the Author."

"He wants to live on through something-and in his case, his masterpiece is his son. all of us want that, and it gets more poignant as we get more anonymous in this world."

"He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid."

"I know that my works are a credit to this nation and I dare say they will endure longer than the McCarran Act."

"I love her too, but our neuroses just don't match."

"I think now that the great thing is not so much the formulation of an answer for myself, for the theatre, or the play-but rather the most accurate possible statement of the problem."

"I understand Willy Loman's longing for immortality Willy's writing his name in a cake of ice on a hot day, but he wishes he were writing in stone."

"I'm the end of the line; absurd and appalling as it may seem, serious New York theater has died in my lifetime."

"If I have any justification for having lived it's simply, I'm nothing but faults, failures and so on, but I have tried to make a good pair of shoes. There's some value in that."

"If I see an ending, I can work backward."

"In the theatre, while you recognized that you were looking at a house, it was a house in quotation marks. On screen, the quotation marks tend to be blotted out by the camera."

"Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets."

"That is a very good question. I don't know the answer. But can you tell me the name of a classical Greek shoemaker?"

"The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less."

"The best of our theatre is standing on tiptoe, striving to see over the shoulders of father and mother. The worst is exploiting and wallowing in the self-pity of adolescence and obsessive keyhole sexuality. The way out, as the poet says, is always through."

"The closer a man approaches tragedy the more intense is his concentration of emotion upon the fixed point of his commitment, which is to say the closer he approaches what in life we call fanaticism."

"The job is to ask questions-it always was-and to ask them as inexorably as I can. And to face the absence of precise answers with a certain humility."

"The number of elements that have to go into a hit would break a computer down. the right season for that play, the right historical moment, the right tonality."

"The problem was to sustain at any cost the feeling you had in the theater that you were watching a real person, yes, but an intense condensation of his experience, not simply a realistic series of episodes."

"The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost."

"The theatre is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life."

"Well, all the plays that I was trying to write were plays that would grab an audience by the throat and not release them, rather than presenting an emotion which you could observe and walk away from."

"What is the most innocent place in any country? Is it not the insane asylum? These people drift through life truly innocent, unable to see into themselves at all."

"Where choice begins, Paradise ends, innocence ends, for what is Paradise but the absence of any need to choose this action?"

"Without alienation, there can be no politics."

"You cannot catch a child's spirit by running after it; you must stand still and for love it will soon itself return."

"You specialize in something until one day you find it is specialising in you."

“Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.”

“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.”

“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.”

“The two most common elements in the world are hydrogen and stupidity.”

“Everything we are is at every moment alive in us.”

“If a person measures his spiritual fulfilment in terms of cosmic visions, surpassing peace of mind, or ecstasy, then he is not likely to know much spiritual fulfilment. If, however, he measures it in terms of enjoying a sunrise, being warmed by a child's smile, or being able to help someone have a better day, then he is likely to know much spiritual fulfilment. ”

“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.”

“The very impulse to write springs from an inner chaos crying for order - for meaning.”

“If you believe that life is worth living then your belief will create the fact.”

“The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.”

“A character is defined by the kinds of challenges he cannot walk away from. And by those he has walked away from that cause him remorse.”

“The world is an oyster but you don't crack it open on a mattress”

“Betrayal is the only truth that sucks.”

“Great drama is great questions or it is nothing but technique. I could not imagine a theatre worth my time that did not want to change the world.”

“Self-realization and self-fulfilment are the sine qua non for human existence.”

“The enemy is within, and within stays within, and we can’t get out of within.”

“The structure of a play
is always the story of how
the birds came home to roost.

“All organisation is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition just as two objects cannot occupy the same space”

 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mark Steel: You can't just shut us up now that Margaret Thatcher's dead

If someone robs your house, you don’t say: “I disagreed with the burglar’s policy, of tying me to a chair. But I did admire his convictions.”

Maybe a more modern way of broadcasting the news would have been for Davina McCall to announce it, saying: “She’s gone, but let’s have a look at some of her best bits.” Then we could see her denouncing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and befriending General Pinochet.

Instead it began as expected, with the Hurds, Howes and Archers phoning in their “remarkables” and “historics”, and we were reminded how she brought down the Berlin Wall and rescued Britain, then an article in The Times claimed she was responsible for ending apartheid, and it seemed by today we’d be hearing she stopped Gibraltar being invaded by Daleks and made our goldfish feel proud to be British and took 8 for 35 against Australia to win the Ashes.

“Even those who disagreed with her, respected her as a conviction politician”, it was said many times, as if everyone would participate in the mourning. But soon it was impossible to pretend there was a respectful consensus, not because of the odd party in the street, but from a widespread and considered contempt. In many areas it must have been confusing for Jehovah’s Witnesses, as every time they knocked on a door and asked, “Have you heard the good news”, they’d be told “Yes mate, I have, do you want to come in for a beer?”

Before long came the complaints, such as Tony Blair saying: “Even if you disagree with someone very strongly, at the moment of their passing you should show some respect.” Presumably then, when Bin Laden was killed, Blair’s statement was: “Although I didn’t agree with Osama’s policies, he was a conviction terrorist, a colourful character whose short films were not only fun but educational as well. He will be sadly missed.”

The disrespect was inevitable, as millions were opposed to her not because they disagreed with her, but because she’d helped to ruin their lives. If someone robs your house, you don’t say: “I disagreed with the burglar’s policy, of tying me to a chair with gaffer tape and stripping the place bare, even taking the pickled onions, which I consider to be divisive. But I did admire his convictions.”

For example, a Chilean woman living in Britain was quoted in The Nation magazine, saying: “The Thatcher government directly supported Pinochet’s murderous regime, financially, via military support, even military training. Members of my family were tortured and murdered under Pinochet, who was one of Thatcher’s closest allies and friend. Those of us celebrating are the ones who suffered deeply.” Yes, but she was able to buy shares in British Gas so she was better off in other ways. In so many areas, the party that insists we show compassion for their departed heroine made a virtue of showing none when she was their leader. She didn’t just create unemployment, she gloried in it. Her supporters in the City revelled in their unearned wealth all the more because they could jeer at those with nothing.

But this week Thatcher fans have been unrestrained in their abuse for anyone not displaying “compassion”. Maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt and accept they’ve just discovered it. They’re all going to the doctors saying: “I’ve been getting this strange sort of caring feeling towards someone who isn’t me. Do I need antibiotics?” If they’re puzzled as to why there isn’t universal sadness this week, maybe they should visit Corby. It’s a town that was built in the 1930s, entirely round a steelworks, and thousands of unemployed Scots moved there for the work. As a result its people still have a strong Scottish accent, even though it’s in Northamptonshire.

But in 1980 Margaret Thatcher’s government shut down most of the steel industry, as part of her plan to break the unions, and the effect on Corby was like someone taking control of the Lake District and concreting in the lakes.

I was there to record a radio show about the town, and met Don and Irene, both in their seventies, at the Grampian Club. Don’s father had walked to Corby from Larkhall, near Glasgow, in 1932. I mentioned the steel strike and plant closure to Don, but he gestured as if it had somehow passed him by. It would have to be mentioned in the show, so I tried to find someone in the town with a story, an anecdote, something. But no one wanted to say a thing about it. During the recording, I asked if anyone had a story to tell from those days, but no one did, until it felt as if the whole audience collectively passed a motion that went: “I think you’d best move on to another subject, Mark.”

Afterwards in the bar, Irene told me: “We weren’t being rude, love, when we didn’t have a lot to say about the closure. But it wasn’t an easy time. Don marched from Corby to London with a banner. It made him angry about everything, we split up for a year because it was too much to live with. But we were lucky, two of our closest friends committed suicide in the months after the closure. So people would rather forget about those times really. But apart from that we really enjoyed the show.”

Still, even those who disagree with her policies, will surely commend her achievements.

Strangely, it’s now her supporters who are insulting her memory, with a funeral paid for by the taxpayer. Surely it would be more fitting to leave her where she is, and say: “If you can’t stand on your own two feet, you can't expect help from the state.”
 

Raymond Chandler Quotes-A History Talks Vol 1, Issue 18



Raymond Chandler 1888-1959(1959-03-26)})))))_)) Quotes


“To hell with the rich, they make me sick.”

“A writer who is afraid to overreach himself is as useless as a general who is afraid to be wrong.”
Pearls are a Nuisance

“Chess is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency.”

“The faster I write the better my output. If I'm going slow, I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”

“The most durable thing in writing is style, and style is the single most valuable investment a writer can make with his time.”

“Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder.”

“California, the department store state.”

“The actual writing is what you live for. The rest is something you have to get through in order to arrive at the point.”


“Police business is a hell of a problem. It’s a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there’s nothing in it to attract the highest type of men. So we have to work with what we get.”
The Lady in the Lake

“There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps
art from becoming ridiculous.”

“All men who read escape from something else into what lies behind the printed page; the quality of the dream may be argued, but its release has become a functional necessity.”

“A city with all the personality of a paper cup. (On Los Angeles)”

“Don't ever write anything you don't like yourself and if you do like it, don't take anyone's advice about changing it. They just don't know.”

“Scarcely anything in literature is worth a damn except what is written between the lines.”

“And the commercials would have sickened a goat raised on barbed wire and broken beer bottles.”

“When I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.”

“There are two kinds of truth; The truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The fist of these is science and the second is art.”

“I certainly admire people who do things.”

“When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”

“Being a copper I like to see the law win. I'd like to see the flashy well-dressed mugs like Eddie Mars spoiling their manicures in the rock quarry at Folsom, alongside of the poor little slum-bred guys that got knocked over on their first caper amd never had a break since. That's what I'd like. You and me both lived too long to think I'm likely to see it happen. Not in this town, not in any town half this size, in any part of this wide, green and beautiful U.S.A. We just don't run our country that way.”
The Big Sleep

“Television's perfect. You turn a few knobs, a few of those mechanical adjustments at which the higher apes are so proficient, and lean back and drain your mind of all thought. And there you are watching the bubbles in the primeval ooze. You don't have to concentrate. You don't have to react. You don't have to remember. You don't miss your brain because you don't need it. Your heart and liver and lungs continue to function normally. Apart from that, all is peace and quiet. You are in the man's nirvana. And if some poor nasty minded person comes along and says you look like a fly on a can of garbage, pay him no mind. He probably hasn't got the price of a television set.”

“Out of the apartment houses come women who should be young but have faces like stale beer; men with pulled down hats and quick eyes that look the street over behind the cupped hand that shields the match flame; worn intellectuals with cigarette coughs and no money in the bank; fly cops with granite faces and unwavering eyes; cookies and coke peddlers; people who look like nothing in particular and know it, and once in a while even men that actually go to work. But they come out early, when the wide cracked sidewalks are empty and still have dew on them. (from) "The High Window”

“The challenge is to write about real things magically.”

“...had my books been any worse I would not have been invited to Hollywood and if they had been any better I would not have come.”

“If you can get past those awful idiot faces on the bleachers outside the theater without a sense of the collapse of human intelligence, and if you can go out into the night and see half the police force of Los Angeles gathered to protect the golden ones from the mob in the free seats, but not from the awful moaning sound they give out, like destiny whistling through a hollow shell; if you can do these things and still feel the next morning that the picture business is worth the attention of one single, intelligent, artistic mind, then in the picture business you certainly belong because this sort of vulgarity, the very vulgarity from which the Oscars are made, is the inevitable price that Hollywood exacts from each of its serfs.”

“The moment a man begins to talk about technique that's proof that he is fresh out of ideas.”

“The impulse to perfection cannot exist where the definition of perfection is the arbitrary decision of authority. That which is born in loneliness and from the heart cannot be defended against the judgment of a committee of sycophants.”

 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Hunter S. Thompson Quotes A History Talks Vol 1, Issue 17


 
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.”

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and -- in spite of True Romance magazines -- we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely -- at least, not all the time -- but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don't see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” “THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
“It never got weird enough for me.”

“If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.”
“I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.”

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time—and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

“We are going to punish somebody for this attack, but just who or where will be blown to smithereens for it is hard to say. Maybe Afghanistan, maybe Pakistan or Iraq, or possibly all three at once. Who knows? Not even the Generals in what remains of the Pentagon or the New York papers calling for war seem to know who did it or where to look for them.

This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed--for anyone, and certainly not for a baffled little creep like George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it off.”

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in Conversation On History/A History Talks Vol 1 issue 16


Click on the link for this discussion between Oliver Stone and Tariq Ali - On History  at the New York Library in 2012
 
In working together on two challenging new documentaries —South of the Border and the forthcoming Showtime series Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States—filmmaker Oliver Stone engaged with author and filmmaker Tariq Ali in a probing, hard-hitting conversation on the politics of history. Their dialogue brings to light a number of forgotten—or deliberately buried—episodes of American history, from the U.S. intervention against the Russian Revolution, to the dynamic radicalism of the Wobblies, how Henry Wallace’s nomination for the vice-presidency was deliberately thwarted by Democratic Party machine insiders, to the ongoing close connections between various U.S. presidents and the Saudi royal family. For Stone and Ali—two of our most insightful observers on history and popular culture—no topic is sacred, no orthodoxy goes unchallenged.
 

About the authors
 
Oliver Stone has directed, among other films Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, W., World Trade Center, Any Given Sunday, Nixon, Natural Born Killers, Heaven and Earth, JFK, The Doors, Born on The Fourth of July, Talk Radio, Wall Street, Platoon, Salvador, and the documentaries Looking for Fidel, Comandante, Persona Non Grata, South of the Border, and the upcoming Untold History of the United States series for Showtime.

Tariq Ali is an internationally acclaimed Pakistani writer and filmmaker. He has written more than two dozen books on world history and politics, and seven novels (translated into over a dozen languages) as well as scripts for the stage and screen. He is an editor of New Left Review and lives in London.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Mark Steele:What did I learn from this class survey?


Mark Steele:Watch out for the postman if he's humming Mozart. For class to have any meaning, it must represent more than which music you listen to.

They’ve done another one of those surveys about class. And they’ve followed the rule of these surveys, that each one has to be more stupid than the last. The results have been on every news channel and in every newspaper, that there are seven classes now apparently.

And one of the ways they worked out which one people might be in, is to ask whether or not they listen to jazz, which makes you “established middle class”. This makes sense, as the first prominent jazz musician was Louis Armstrong, grandson of slaves and son of a New Orleans prostitute, the la-di-da established middle-class trumpeting ponce.

Listening to classical music also makes you established middle class. So if you hear the postman humming a bit of Mozart off a car advert, it’s probably Stephen Fry roughing it for the morning. And if Jane Austen were to write a novel now about someone trying to climb the social ladder, instead of all that mucking about with gowns and fans, they’d just have to turn on Classic FM for 10 minutes a day and half the village would be desperate to marry them.

The survey might show that Roman Abramovich, on the other hand, would come out as traditional working class as he likes football, sitting on his £500m yacht muttering to Frank Lampard: “The thing is, Frank, with my background I never stood a chance.”

One question the survey didn’t seem to bother asking was what job you did, although it does ask for the jobs of your friends. So if you’re a cleaner who knows some teachers, that makes you middle class for having teacher friends, but those teachers will be working class for having a friend who’s a cleaner. If you’re the Queen’s cleaner, she’s likely to say, “It’s all right for you, with your upper-class lifestyle knowing the Queen. I’ve had to put down that I know a cleaner. And the way things are going, that won’t even entitle me to housing benefit.”

Going to museums is middle class, using Facebook makes you an emergent service worker, and so on. So the survey doesn’t so much measure class, as measure things people like doing.

The survey would be more useful if it had concluded that the 19 per cent who go to museums are in the category of people who go to museums. Otherwise they might as well have written: “There are now four social classes in place of the traditional three. People who like being on top during sex are a ‘Professional and Appreciative of Altitude’ class. People who prefer being underneath are ‘Manually Horizontal’. Those who favour being behind are ‘Intermediate’, and there is also an ‘Experimental and Contortionist’ class, which consists mostly of younger and more agile members of the community.”

Some people have dismissed this survey on the grounds that it proves class no longer exists at all. Jill Kirby, a Conservative adviser from the Centre For Policy Studies, says that “class has eroded almost completely”. That’s why it’s just coincidence that the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Mayor of London are sons of millionaires who went to public schools, two of them to the same one, and it’s just as likely that soon half the Cabinet will all have gone to the same comprehensive in Ipswich.

But for class to have any meaning, it must represent more than which music you listen to, or even whether you went to Eton. It only makes sense if it refers to your relationship with the way society is owned and controlled, and have a common interest.

For example, in the 18th century, the aristocracy of Europe was a class of people which owned and controlled the land, and which had a common interest in preserving rules such as hunting wherever they liked, and only being allowed a senior position in the army if you were born into a noble family. For those privileges, this class was prepared to engulf Europe in a war, whereas it’s unlikely there will ever be a war waged by people who enjoy going to a museum as part of their weekend break.

Similarly now, if you’re on the board of a bank, your relationship to society is different to the person who works in a call centre for the bank, or cleans the bank, or dreads getting letters from the bank. For most people, that dividing line, as to whether you have any real control over society is still clear.

A different survey, which came out two months ago, revealed that more people now define themselves as working class than at any point for 30 years. That may be because even in professions such as lecturing, sales or trades that once seemed middle class, there’s now insecurity, and fears over pensions, and over tuition fees for the kids that make them feel more working class. Or it could be that they’ve made a cultural choice, and said: “Away with such frippery as John Coltrane. From now on, I’m going to whistle, and eat tinned carrots and shout, ‘Wahooor, I wouldn’t go in there for a while’ whenever I come out of the toilet.”

Or maybe that’s wrong, and some of the staff who’ve just been made redundant from HMV are still established middle class, even though they’re now unemployed, because they worked in the jazz or classical sections, and can still remember some of the tunes.

The Independent Saturday 06 April 2013

 

Joe Bageant Quotes: A History Talks Vol 1, Issue 15


Joe Bageant
The following quotes are from Joe Bageant's (1946–2011) classic Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
“The four cornerstones of the American political psyche are 1) emotion substituted for thought, 2) fear, 3) ignorance and 4) propaganda”
 

“Republican or Democrat, this nation's affluent urban and suburban classes understand their bread is buttered on the corporate side. The primary difference between the two parties is that the Republicans pretty much admit that they grasp and even endorse some of the nastiest facts of life in America. Republicans honestly tell the world: "Listen in on my phone calls, piss-test me until I'm blind, kill and eat all of my neighbors right in front of my eyes, but show me the money! Let me escape with every cent I can kick out of the suckers, the taxpayers, and anybody else I can get a headlock on, legally or otherwise." Democrats, in contrast, seem content to catalog the GOP's outrages against the Republic, showing proper indignation while laughing at episodes of The Daily Show. But they stand behind the American brand: imperialism. They "support our troops," though you will be hard put to find any of them who have served alongside them or who would send one of their own kids off to lose an eye or an arm in Iraq. They play the imperial game, maintain their credit ratings, and plan to keep the beach house and the retirement investments if it means sacrificing every damned Lynndie England in West Virginia.”
 
“If middle-class Americans do not feel threatened by the slow encroachment of the police state or the Patriot Act, it is because they live comfortably enough and exercise their liberties very lightly, never testing the boundaries. You never know you are in a prison unless you try the door.”
 
“This book is written from a changing town in Virginia, but this class of mine, these people--the ones who smell like an ashtray in the checkout line, devour a carton of Little Debbies at a sitting, and praise Jesus for a truck with no spare tire--exist in every state in our nation. Maybe the next time we on the left encounter such seemingly self-screwing, stubborn, God-obsessed folks, we can be open to their trials, understand the complexity of their situation, even have enough solidarity to pop for a cheap retread tire out of our own pockets, simply because that would be the kind thing to do and surely would make the ghosts of Joe Hill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mohandas Gandhi smile.”
 
“man! Can you believe they actually allow this stuff to be sold over there? Glad we got laws against that crap in this country." I remind him that the socialist party is probably the largest political party on the planet. "Aw bullshit!" he said. I asked, "Then what the hell do you think is the largest party?" "The Republican Party of course! We're the only country with real political parties." Now this is from a guy who has an MBA from one of the South's universities, holds local office, and has influenced public affairs.”
 
“Remember when welfare mothers were robbing us all blind and driving Cadillacs? ”
From Honk If You Love Caviar
 
"How about them political elites, huh? Five million bucks for Chelsea Clinton's wedding, 15K just to rent the air-conditioned shitters -- huge chrome and glass babies with hot water and everything. No gas masks and waxy little squares of toilet paper for those guys."
"Yes, it looks big time from the cheap seats. But the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington's political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling class does not work at all."
"Yessiree, it was gonna be a "systemic collapse," by god, and if you needed proof, just look at the way both George Bush and Barack Obama agreed that some American corporations were too big to let sink, therefore it was time for the public to start bailing out the boat. Meanwhile, the royal economists were unanimous in that this "rescue" was going to require another 10 trillion bucks somewhere down the pike -- a very short pike. So it must all be damned serious and we gotta do this thing. Right folks?
In an unusual display of common sense, the American public said "Bullshit," by margins of three or four to one, depending upon region. That did not bother political and economic elites much. What the fuck do the proles know anyway?"
 
 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Ernest Hemingway A History Talks Volume 1-1ssue 14


Ernest Hemingway Quote 1899-1961

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

“All thinking men are atheists.”

A Farewell to Arms

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

“But man is not made for defeat," he said. "A man can be destroyed but not defeated. ”

The Old Man and the Sea

“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.”

“So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”

Death in the Afternoon

“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.”

“It's none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

“All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”

“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry: Worry never fixes anything. ”

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

“Do you suffer when you write? I don't at all. Suffer like a bastard when don't write, or just before, and feel empty and fucked out afterwards. But never feel as good as while writing.”

“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

“If a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.”

“Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?”

The Old Man and the Sea

“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, "Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

“Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her”

To Have and Have Not

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

“Remember to get the weather in your damn book--weather is very important.”

 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

George Orwell Quotes-A History Talks Vol 1-Issue 13



Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), known by his pen name George Orwell
 
Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness.

 If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

 To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.

 Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is possible that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never had much temptation to be human beings.

 Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.

 Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words: it is war minus the shooting.

 Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.

 The great enemy of clear language is insincerity

 To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle.

 For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity.

 Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

 All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

 The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.

 An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.

 Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

 Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent.

 At age 50, every man has the face he deserves.

 On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good and not quite all the time.

 Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket.

 Liberal: a power worshipper without power.

 Political language - and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists - is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

 Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

 If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

 We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

 Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

 War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
― Politics and the English Language

Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations
The educated man pictures a horde of submen, wanting only a day's liberty to loot his house, burn his books, and set him to work minding a machine or sweeping out a lavatory. 'Anything,' he thinks, 'any injustice, sooner than let that mob loose.' He does not see that since there is no difference between the mass of rich and poor, there is no question of setting the mob loose. The mob is in fact loose now, and--in the shape of rich men--is using its power to set up enormous treadmills of boredom, such as 'smart' hotels.
― Down and Out in Paris and London
 
When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.
― Why I Write