Marxism 2017: Day 2

An account of Day 2 at Marxism 2017.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next post in my series about Marxism 2017. The event finished with the Closing Rally last night, after which I travelled back to King’s Lynn. I have quite a few more posts to do before this series finishes however. 

DAY 2

I was staying in a room in a University hall of residence about a 15 minute walk from the event, which suited me very well. I set off at about 9:20AM (the first meeting session started at 10AM, and I wanted to be early because the meeting I had chosen was likely to be very well attended. I arrived at Student Central at about 9:30 and took the stairs to the third floor as the meeting was scheduled for the Upper Hall (I am old enough to have attended meetings there when it was still called the Badminton Court). 

FAKE NEWS: MEDIA, TRUTH AND POWER – SIMON BASKETTER

This was a splendid way to start the day. There was some very entertaining stuff, with serious purpose. The events of June 8th showed everyone who was not already aware that there are limitations to the power of the media – our mass media were universal in predicting (and in most cases wanting) a huge majority for Theresa May and the SelfConservatives and of course she ended up with no majority, dickering with the foul bigots of the DUP to hang on to the power. Of course she is now so desperate that she is asking Labour for ideas (Jeremy Corbyn’s response: “I’ll give you a copy of our manifesto”). Here are some photographs to help tell the story:

UCL building
This building caught my eye as I walked past on my way to the event.
Posters1
Posters on the way up.

Posters2

Upper Hall
The Upper Hall at 9:30AM

Posters3Posters4Posters5Posters6Posters7Posters8

Throughthewindow1
The view through one of the the Upper Hall windows
Food stand
A food stall (London prices are beyond my means – I was not a cjustomer)
Rose window
Rose window

big screen, UHBasketter

Sarah Ensor + Simon Basketter
Chair Sarah (one of the speakers at the meeting on Biodiversity and Species Extinction) and speaker Simon Basketter.
Sarah Ensor opens the meeting
Sarah introduces the meeting
Simon Basketter starts his talk
Simon speaking, careful not obstruct the screen.

FN1FN2Basketter at the micGraph1Graph2Broken NewsGraph3TrustGraph4Rogers + HammersteinLukacs

MARXISM AND MENTAL HEALTH – BETH GREENHILL

I will be giving this meeting a full post to itself in due course – it deserves it, and I have asked the speaker to email me all her slides, including those she did not get to use because of the importance I attach to this subject. For the moment here are a few pictures:

Display1
A display on the main staircase at Student Central.

Tomas Tengely-Evans and Beth Greenhill (speaker)Four humoursBimaristansBeth GreenhillMarx at the asylumVygotskyAusterity Ailments

service maps

'Bildung'

MARXISM, NATURE AND SOCIETY – MARTIN EMPSON

Following the lunch break (picnics are something of a tradition at Marxism festivals, and I participated in the Norwich and East Anglia picnic) I headed to room 3E for this meeting. I would have preferred this talk to have been assigned a bigger room because the topic is so important. It was well attended, as it should have been. There were many outstanding contributions, including from those fighting against fracking (a particularly destructive method of extracting fossil fuels from shale). A woman who was born in Australia and whose father works in mining talked about her arguments with him and how she explains that she does not want people in mining to be jobless – she wants them to have jobs helping the environment, such as developing renewable energy sources etc. Here are some pictures:

PlatformBook displayRent controls now!big screen

IRELAND AND THE RISE OF THE RADICAL LEFT – GERRY CARROLL

Gerry Carroll is one of two members of People Before Profit elected to the Stormont Assembly in the days when that body still functioned. The other was Eamonn McCann. One of Stormont’s less charming features is a register that requires you to state whether you are Nationalist or Unionist – McCann and Carroll both wrote the single word Socialist in this space. People Before Profit are a cross-border organisation and they also boast three members of the Dail (the Irish Republic’s parliament), two of whom, Richard Boyd Barrett and Brid Smith were also at Marxism 2017. Gerry Carroll won his seat in West Belfast – Gerry Adams’ stamping ground. For an avowed non-sectarian to win in the very heartland of Sinn Fein is particularly remarkable. Carroll talked about both his success and that in the Republic. In the Republic much of the radicalism developed around the attempted imposition of water charges (yes – in Europe’s wettest country), but also of course the Republic became the first country in the world to vote in favour of equal marriage. 

After Carroll finished his inspiring speech various people in the audience talked further about some of the points he raised, filling out the picture. Here are some pictures…

Jasmine (chair)Capital 150Jasmine and GerryChair and speakerJasmine at the micGerry giving his opening speech

DID LENIN LEAD TO STALIN? – PADDY NIELSEN

After the second long break of the day it was back up to floor 3, this time room 3B for me. This meeting dealt with one of the more persistent accusations flung at the left (note, until the mid 1990s Socialist Worker retained its masthead stating “Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism”). Nielsen set out the counter arguments excellently. Stalinism was a product of the isolation of the Russian Revolution – it did not spread elsewhere as the revolutionaries hoped, and it was separated from the revolutionary movement by a river of blood. Most of the old Bolshevik leadership who were alive when Stalin took power died at his hands. Here are some pictures:

Paddy Nielsen ready for his talkPlatformBook displayChair introduces meetingPaddy speakingPaddy in action

 

A Little Bit of Many Things

A mixed bag of stuff – hope you enjoy it.

INTRODUCTION

Much of this post will be sharing finds from elsewhere, but there will also be some pictures of my own. I will be starting with politics,  moving from there on to transport, then some science and finishing up with some stuff about autism. Other than in this introduction most of the text will be coloured, and links as usual will be in bold and underlined. 

POLITICS

There is a particular reason why I am mixing red and green in this section and priveleging green by having it come first. The Greens have pulled out of a number of seats in the upcoming general election to make Labour’s task easier. These seats include at least one held by a current cabinet minister. I urge Labour to reciprocate by at the very least not fielding a candidate in Brighton Pavilion (the only seat currently held by the Greens), and preferably also by leaving a clear field for them on the Isle of Wight, and in a few other seats that the Greens are particularly targetting. In my own constituency of Northwest Norfolk Labour is the only party with a chance of unseating the Tory, and I will thankfully be able to vote Labour with a smile as they have very sensibly reselected the excellent Jo Rust as their candidate. My first two shares are both about Labour’s plans to deal with tax avoidance. The two pieces in question are:

I conclude this section with a reference to Labour’s manifesto, now in the public domain. I have read the document in full and urge you to do likewise by clicking here. As both an aperitif and a lead-in to the next section of this post I reproduce the transport section:

Labtrans

TRANSPORT

A brief section, containing two important links. The first, from the Campaign for Better Transport is titled “Improving air quality: buses are key to success and details precisely how serious an issue air pollution is in the UK and how buses can help solve this.  The second piece I am sharing in this section comes from livescience.com and has the self-explanatory title “New Battery Could Power Electric Cars 620 Miles on Single Charge“.  Below is a picture of the battery taken from that article.

 

An illustration that shows how the new electric battery is stacked like a ream of paper.

Credit: Fraunhofer IKTS. 

SCIENCE

I have three recent finds to share, all courtesy of the Guardian. The first of these another link in the chain of whale evolution, published under the headline “36m-year-old fossil discovery is missing link in whale evolution, say researchers“. Here is the picture:

Two Mystacodon selenensis individuals diving down to catch eagle rays along the seafloor of a shallow cove off the coast of present-day Peru.

From water creatures we move to ancestors of flying creatures, with this piece titled Dinosaur tail trapped in amber offers insights into feather evolution” again accompanied by an excellent picture, reproduced below:

Having covered water creatures and the ancestors of air creatures we finish with land creatures, and the largest fossilized footprints ever discovered, with a diameter of 1.7 metres. These dinosaur footprints are located near Broome in northwestern Australia, a place I visited in 2006. The largest creatures living there these days are crocodiles which at an absolute peak might grow to a body length of six metres. The article is titled
World’s largest dinosaur footprints discovered in Western Australia” and accompanied by some good pictures, one of which I reproduce below.

The prints indicate enormous animals that were probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip.

The prints indicate enormous animals that were probably around 5.3 to 5.5 metres at the hip. Photograph: Damian Kelly/University of Queensland/EPA

AUTISM

I have several pieces to share in this section, starting with two from americanbadassadvocates as follows:

My next share is from visualvox and has the self-explanatory title “Done with that autism spectrum “disorder” business

I finish this section with a link to piece from thesilentwaveblog. There is another very recent post from this same blog that will be featuring in the post I shall be producing for my birthday. As a clue I will tell you that due to the particular number it will be I am calling this birthday the “Douglas Adams Birthday”. Today’s link is to a post titled
Asperger’s / autism and microaggression” with the picture reproduced below:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Just a few photographs today, mostly of items going under the hammer at James and Sons next auction (full catalogue available here):

359
Lot 359 – five images.

359-a359-b359-c359-d

1134
Various cigarette card lots, all in the 1100s

1133113211311149118911061191119011961193

DSCN6542
A 2016 £2 coin, commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, the first I had ever handled (taken just before I handed over as part of a bus fare).

 

 

 

 

Aspiblog Election Special

Some thoughts about the upcoming General Election, which was confirmed as happening while this post weas being created.

INTRODUCTION

Parliament has voted by 522 to 13 to accept Theresa May’s call for a snap General Election, which will take place on June 8th….

SETTING THE SCENE

This morning Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK put up a post titled “General Election Thoughts” most of which I am in agreement with. Here is a screenshot of the start to that post:

In the comments section a certain Howard Reed cited Paul Mason’s five point policy plan, which is as follows:

1/ If Theresa May calls an election today, a progressive alliance can beat the Tory hard Brexit plan. Here’s how…

2/ We set up an independent website to show how tactical voting can beat the Tories and grassroots cross party alliance promotes this

3/ Labour has to guarantee Scotland a) right to remain in Single Market b) second referendum

4/ Labour should offer *today* Caroline Lucas to be in shadow cabinet, form Green/Red alliance, stand down 1x further candidate for Greens

5/ Libdems need to decide: with the progressive forces of Britain or in a perpetual flip flop with the Tories. You have 15 minutes.

The first two of the five points are scene setters, and very uncontentious. Point 3 is the one that the Labour Party, or at least some elements thereof, will find hardest to accept, but SNP support will only be forthcoming if it is honoured. 

The fourth point is obvious, and those who remember my Fantasy Cabinet, a response to this piece on Tax Research UK, will realise that I am 100% in favour. For the fifth point, the ball is in the Lib Dems’ court. One mistake can be forgiven, especially given some of the comments May has made in calling for this election. However, precisely in view of those comments, a second decision in the space of seven years to throw in their lot with the Tories would put them utterly beyond the pale. 

SOME FURTHER LINKS

In addition to the Tax Research UK piece that inspired this I have read a number of other cracking pieces about this upcoming election.

CLOSING THOUGHTS (& PHOTOGRAPHS)

In my own constituency there is only one party with the support to have even the proverbial “cats chance in hell” of unseating the Tory who bar the years 1997-2001 has held the seat since 1983, so my General Election vote is already decided. Something else that this snap election has done is demonstrate once again that FPTP is a relic from the past that needs replacing asap. My final words in this post (other than picture captions) take the form of a social media hashtag:

#MakeJuneTheEndOfMay

New £1 (in circulation since March 27th, but this was the first I have seen, last night) – obverse

New £1 – reverse

New £1 – both faces

Comparison pic – new £1 and Britain’s only other dodecagonal coin, the brass threepenny.