Chomsky with a guitar – aka TV Smith #punknotdead

Punk isn’t dead, and won’t be while TV Smith can draw breath and hold a plectrum.  Going on tonight’s performance, that will be a good 25 years yet.  Smith, who was there as a proper punk in the 70s, has the energy of a gobby gobbing 20 year old, but the skills and cynicism of a man who has seen it all – Thatcher, Blair, Bush, Iraq – more than once.

Early on in his blistering set at the Dulcimer in Chorlton, he sang his classic “Not in My Name” from the album Misinformation Overload.

While I have always loved these mournful lines –

All my heroes died
While they were still alive
Confused or compromised
Their values undermined
They were led down to the hole
Where the blood and money flows

The next verse, sung in the way it was written – with passion and precision-

Bad guys come first
The third world thirsts,
Starves or dies of AIDS
In the modern day crusades
The wild west will win
Defeat the Indians
Drive the devils to the door
With the homeless and the poor
And when there’s nothing left to bomb
No-one left to beat
They’ll train their crosswires on
The unseen enemy
The ever-present threat
That hasn’t happened yet
And probably never will
Still they move in for the kill
But the night sights won’t show
If you’re friend or foe
Are you so much better than
The junkies and Saddam?
Are you guaranteed a place
When they build the master race?
Will the world then be pure?
We’ve heard that one before
In history’s deepest holes
Where the blood and money flowed…

brought me up short.  We have been here before, or we never actually left;  Even before the Great Crash of 2008, there was, of course, a war on the homeless and the poor.  Smith saw it then, sees it now.  For  almost forty years he’s been seeing it, and singing it like he sees it.  Tonight he played a beautiful random mix of old and new (including, at my request, Atlantic Tunnel), songs from his latest album “I Delete”, and some he’s not yet recorded.

Smith is doing something important. He’s entertaining, but reminding us that we are here but for a very short time, and that morals and friends, and the great refusal of punk – refusal to abide by authority that cannot actually justify itself – is what makes us, mostly, human.

If you get the chance, see him perform, I do not see how you can be disappointed.





Psycho-analysing the species – on the 20th Century & pre-tits-up 21st…

I am dubious about the value of trying to psycho-analyze societies. And when I say “we” and “the species” I am v. conscious of mostly meaning white middle-class male Westerners.

But still, maybe this will provoke someone into sending me some very good reading suggestions.

ATT (After the Thesis) I am going to read “Male Fantasies” by Klaus Theweleit.,,,
What else should I read?

“The responsibility of intellectuals” Or “After I get shot in the head”

Some guy, I forget who, said that it was the responsibility of intellectuals to expose lies and tell the truth.  Meh, as far as it goes, sure. Which truths to who gets more interesting….

If I get shot in the head (and given my deteriorating relationship with Manchester City Council, this is not impossible), and there is a memorial lecture (rather than the more likely party where Councillors and activists get on down), then this;
I don’t want the speaker just to tell everyone what they already (should) know, or could find out from reading a book/article.

I want to the speaker to earn their keep, and use their analytic skills to tell truths about ‘the movement’ to ‘the movement’.

  • Are we losing? Why?  How do we stop losing?
  • Are we winning? Why?  Can we keep winning? (What are the next moves of our opponents, and what might we do about those). Can we ‘win’ quicker? How?
  • What are our metrics for winning and losing, anyhow?
  • What do we here in this room need to do, here in this city, in the next three weeks, three months, six months?
  • How will we know if we’re doing these things?
    How will we know if they are ‘enough’?
  • What can we learn from our own failures and successes?
  • What can we learn from comparable movements’ failures and successes?
  • What does it mean to learn, anyway?
  • Under what conditions, with what tools, do we learn?
  • Can we improve how easily/quickly we learn? How?


The whole ‘not my place to tell movement what to do’ schtick, that just about passed muster up to the 80s is not good enough anymore,  imho.  The trades unions, churches, solidarity campaigns etc are on their asses.  Too much sage on the stage, too much wilful ego-fodderfication, too many zombie repertoires, too much smugosphere.