An overview of the British radical left party press.

An overview of the British radical left party press.

The radical press in Britain still consists largely of the papers of the various organisations that situate themselves in the left radical milieu.
A visit in Housmans Bookshop in King’s Cross can easily yield a mostly depressing collection of papers by the saddest of organisations. What exactly is their purpose in this world? We try to find out by reading their publications.

For different reasons I have left out some papers from this article, such as News & Letters and Solidarity, as well as the anarchist and ultra-left/left-communist press.

The most industrious people around are no doubt the Trotskyists, where the work ethic has reached all time heights.
Socialist Worker is the most well known and most populist paper. It’s the weekly paper of the Socialist Workers Party. The SWP is the largest of the Trotskyist organisations in Britain, but has recently abandonned many left-wing essentials in order to form a partnership with the Muslim Association of Britain (an offshoot of the clerical-fascist Muslim Brotherhood) in the electoral party Respect, which won one seat in parliament with George Galloway (see Anti-Imperialism article in the last datacide).
While Socialist Worker will still embrace communist positions if they are located in the past, recent highlights are the fight against supposed “islamophobia”, thereby at least tolerating reactionary proto-islamist positions.
Looking at other publications of the SWP one gets the impression that the more “popular” they are supposed to be (Socialist Worker being the most “popular”), the more opportunistic the politics are.
The SWP is notorious in Britain for trying to instrumentalize any “popular movement” and creating front organizations; in the past it was the Anti-Nazi League, or their involvement with the campaign against the Criminal Justice Bill, then it’s the struggle with their new Muslim Brotherhood comrades. After the recent split in Respect (mainly between Galloway and the SWP), it is currently unclear what the next steps will be.
This doesn’t mean that there is a core in the organization upholding the central principles of Leninism and ultimately coming forward with a revolutionary program, although to make that impression may well be the plan of the Central Comittee. As undesirable such a Leninist concoction would be anyway, it is more likely that the organisation gets poisoned a little bit more every time it delves into new lows of opportunism.

But the SWP are by no means on their own down there.

The News Line is the daily paper of the Workers Revolutionary Party, another Trotzkyist sect – once upon a time the strongest of the said, but after a debilitating split in 1985 merely a shadow of its former self. Long gone are the glory days when John Lennon used to donate money (to their predecessor organisation, the Socialist Labour League), and – later – actress Vanessa Redgrave was a prominent member. Nevertheless they still manage to publish The News Line almost every day. In the early 80’s News Line was accused of being financed by Libya, a claim that was at first fiercely disputed, but after the split confirmed by former members.
Who continued to finance the operation since then is unclear, some have suggested Ba’athist Iraq, which begs the question how they could have maintained operations since 2003.
Consistent with the above however is their extreme anti-imperialism (supporting the Taliban during the Afghanistan war) and their radical “anti-Zionism”.
There are sources who say that News Line/WRP have not just earned their money for providing a forum for pan-Arab and islamist ideology in the British Left, but also for spying operations on Iraqi opposition to the Ba’ath regime and on prominent Jews in Britain.

Competing for the title of the most “anti-Zionist” organisation is also the Spartacist League, publishing the paper Workers Hammer. Apparently believing that a bit of anti-Israeli propaganda is always worth front page news, or some sort of back entrance to the consciousness of the proletariat.
August Bebel called it the “Socialism of the stupid guy”, but a hundred years on this is still striving.
Much less of the coverage, compared to the two other rags so far, is dedicated to social struggles, some is covering the history of the revolutionary movement, but much more content is dedicated to recent splits in other Trots organisations. For example they go to extraordinary lengths writing about the split in Workers Power, a rival Trotskyist sect, mainly of course in order to present their own position as superior to the ones of the competition.
To be as intransigent as possible leads to radical contortionism, at least in the Trotskyist scene. The Spartacists (or Sparts as some former members jokingly refer to them) certainly manage to outdo the competition by standing up for Stalinism at the same time as referring to it as a “political counter-revolution”.

Then why not be all out Stalinists like the New Communist Party, who publish the weekly New Worker?
Once upon a time there were Marxist-Leninist “parties” oriented toward the Albania of Enver Hoxha, glorifying poverty and voluntary exploitation in the name of the nation.
For those who want to present famine+nukes as a revolutionary concept, North Korea is the role model today.
While the Sparts still involuntarily have to employ some pseudo-dialectics, the hardcore Stalinists can only hope that the cheques keep coming from somewhere as their revolutionary concepts have ground to a halt.

It gets (maybe surprisingly) a bit more interesting again with the wreckage of the traditional Communist Party of Britain, or: Great Britain respectively.
Predictably the result of a split, the CPB is publishing the traditional daily, the Morning Star, while the CPGB is publishing the Weekly Worker. Both position themselves in the tradition of the Communist Party of Great Britain, that officially existed until 1991.
The Morning Star is similar to Socialist Worker as a publication that tries to create a broader left wing front with all the clichés intact; appearing daily it’s the only of the above papers which is available at selected newsagents. It grew out of the Daily Worker, the historic daily paper of the (historic) CPGB.
In this context more interesting is the Weekly Worker, where it appears that some Trotzkyists have take over the direction. They seem to regard their own (new) CPGB as a nucleus out of which a “new Marxist Party” should develop over the next few years. Thus they criticize Respect as well as the idea that the Labour Left could take over the party again and make it a party of the class again.
But of course it has been a running gag in the British left to create a “real” working class alternative to the Labour Party.

A few years ago, the electoral coalition Socialist Alliance was supported by most of the above organizations; since then the SWP pulled out to try their luck with Respect, and the SA has folded and the scene is in disarray.
This is just as true for the whole range of other smaller sects such as the recently split Workers Power, and (product of the split) Permanent Revolution respectively.

One has to wonder what the function of these organizations and papers actually are in current society. One would automatically assume them to be the fighting organizations of the working class to overthrow capitalism, but that doesn’t seem to be congruent with reality.
Maybe they are the nuclei of such an organization existing due to the ebb in actual revolutionary struggles.
Or maybe they have a completely different function.

Our thesis is that they have basically 2 different functions. One is to split the audience: Usually people are put off by just about anything these organizations bring across, both form and content. Only a tiny minority is attracted to the prospect of this sort of revolutionary struggle, often on the basis of a view of the past, and with a desire to repeat or complete the glorious revolutions of the past. This minority is usually not going to function as a “constituency”, instead they will become militants themselves.

This explains how the various sects can reproduce themselves without having much of a basis or constituency.
They suck up generation after generation of young people who “really want to do something” against the capitalist nightmare, either to spit them out disillusioned and frustrated, or to keep them in the bowels of Trotzkyism (or Stalinism), getting slowly digested in their journey from one split to another and one sect to another.

Thus their function is – to adopt their speak for a moment – objectively counter-revolutionary.

Top Eleven of 2007 + forthcoming releases of 2008

Top Eleven of 2007 (in no order)

Spine 01: Circuit Parallele – Umani Autodistruttivi
DM 12001: Minion – Bored in the USA EP
Praxis 43: La Peste – Safety First
Bastard Child 001: Dylan & Limewax / Dylan & Skitty – Cleansed By A Nightmare
Zhark 12016: Xanopticon – The Silver Key
Girlcum 01: Fanny – The Great American Fear Meter
Kool.Pop 12.014: Mackjiggah – On The Corner
Future Sickness 002: Current Value – Revealing The Concealed
Void 005: Diskore – Up there / Virulence
NO-TEK 012: Various – Torsion Féconde – Chromosome Y (Part One)
Death$ucker 26: Electromeca – Brutal Funk EP

Forthcoming Bombs for 2008

Praxis 44: Anonymous 12″ Series #1
Praxis 15: 3 x 12″ box set of previously unreleased materials from 1993-2003
Sub/Version 013: Vile Enginez – Cycadelic / Tool
Zhark 12018: Bong-Ra – Vitus Blister
DM 12003

Break/Flow vs. Datacide (1997)


…once desire is specified as sexuality, it enters into forms of particularised power…
Felix Guattari

Libidinal Musics
Electronically composed sound, communally celebrated has the effect of some collective plateau phase. Music becomes a device, a prosthetics that leads to a hypersensitization – an overspill that establishes a field of flow between listeners. This incessant repetition with its controlled highs and lows, its deep grindings is nothing other than the continuation of erotics by other means, an erogenisation without object or delimited locale. The carefully placed touches of digitalised breaks, tips of searing reverb and the conducting of frequencies through skins plays the body to effect a libidinal response… to take us elsewhere. The desire for music is the desire for erotic communicstion as diffuse sensuality. Dancing becomes the means of expending the build-up of energy that wells up as a result, not only, of sound stimulus but of the general confinement of social desires. Electricity abounds. Tension and friction. The walls are silver. Desire manifests itself in the broadest social field. Channels are opened up for the release of energies which are not necessarily directed towards the genital figure of pleasure but toward a prolongation through repetition of an endless deferral of accomplishment. Tracks that never end. The night that goes on without run-off.

Machinic Mayhem
Wires, jackplugs, sockets, circuits, entangled cables. We are building a desiring-machine with no one aim other than the continuation of the various processes we can bring into further relationship with it. Dancefloor. Mixing Desk. Groove. Just as sound is made to run through treatment chambers in an effort to ward off its formation and solidification as ‘music’ so we enter into these relays to become unlimited, to ward off the formation of a distinct identity.Then something begins to vibrate, begins to function. Rhythms appear… Both sound and subjectivity become a network of actual and possible relations. A-signifying. Unidentifiable. Promulgating the urge to produce something. Because we cannot return to a fixed point of reference, because the sound no longer strives to represent anything, it can only unleash surges of intensity that correspond to an ever changing subjectivity that challenges the passivity inducing effects of models. We are always moving away from subjugation. We are always resisting the institutional control of intensive flows.

Cycle 1, Cycle 2, Cycle 3, Psychic War
A repeating loop loses all sense of place and time. An attainable plateau firmly rooted within shared biological and psychic realities. The world turns round, the world turns round, the world turns round, the world turns round. There is a pursuit of devices and techniques that take us on the verge of our local and intimate edges – the cliff-top of repetition-compulsion induces the necessary vertigo and loss of footing ascribable to the pull of the unconscious. That repetition is meaningless in light of normative, melodic musics is exactly what we are after. It can take us beyond pleasure and unpleasure, to which the ego fearfully clings, and bring to light unconscious drives and desires that strive for actualisation and proliferation. Ecoute et Repete. If the unconscious is an orphan then this repetition-compulsion obliterates the ego: our boundaries are loosened, we are in-process and the cycles of sound make of identity nothing other than a ceaseless pleasure constantly to be undertaken afresh. The prohibition of a continuing engagement of psychic warfare – access to the unconscious is prohibited, identity must be inherited.

Ministry of Identity Defense
The prohibition of a ‘succession of repetitive beats’ is simply the authorities’ answering salvo in a continuing engagement of psychic warfare. What is at stake is a battle over access to the new territories made accessible by the collision of identity and desire with machines. A manic-inducing cocktail that moves at lightening speeds to create an a-signifying scrawl on managerial control grids. Falling short of the final frontier of micro-biological implants, this penultimate frontier, this existential territory is made accessible by linking up to machines that unleash the non-discursive: a child playing with shit in the darkened glades of a forest where dancers burn money. These machines are personalised, made malleable, taken out of their rigidified context, and made to experiment and express. Machinic-sound conducts a collective proliferation of de-organised erotics, an exploration of unconscious potentialities. Listening to this. The sound of desire. The active composition of several selves again and again, the Ministry of Identity Defense must pass a law.

Libidinal Musics (2): A Guide
To come to a point of libidinal intensity whilst listening to electronic dance music it is simply a matter of reversing the cultural outlook which considers that penetration is the pinnacle of sexual gratification. This fits into the whole process whereby our energy and therefore ourselves are subjugated to easily representable and mediated images that can then be disseminated as the only path to pleasure. The phallic symbol is the cultural norm. We are continually pushed in this direction. If we maintain this mono-dimensional outlook on pleasure then we become easy prey to brainwashing and conditioning through the industrialised manipulation of libidinal energy. If there is only one path towards release then this insinuates into our consciousness that there is only one zone where we can feel pleasure and by extension that our identity is limited to a single Self. What we aim for is porno-stereo. Others may call it the body without organs. Others still may call it the great ephemeral skin. Libidinal musics is another approach to polymorphous perversity where the intersection of bass surges with syncopated kicks and spectral strings can make the skin into a field of goose bumps. This spreading of feelings of pleasure all over the surface of the body, the way it avoids centering on the genital region still makes it a libidinal sensation. Onanism? A fetishism of black vinyl? How can it be possible that music is not a desiring-machine?

LABEL:Flint Michigan @ Break/Flow
GROOVE NOTATION: “there’s only 24 hours in an evening”

Datacide has a weblog!

“Musical time is radically different from the time of capital in which our public life proceeds… musical duration is measurable only in terms of sensibilities, tensions and emotions … “

A new magazine for the grey zone of Noise & Politics, Datacide provides information on the cutting edge of technological subversion via sound and ideas. Assembled as part of an emerging Post-Media flow, Datacide is fueled by a current of enthusiasm and desire that does not seek legitimiation through the usual channels, but works as a tool to prompt the inquisitive and those becoming increasingly tired of the expediencies of journalism and self-interest.

Seeing music as intimately linked and tied to areas beyond the commercial, Datacide intends to travel out along all possible tangents whilst retaining a sensitivity to the ever mutating musical experiments that thrive on the interstice of visibility.

To be used as a communication tool of the trans-european Undo*round, it is intended to give the a deserved coverage to those who do things, not for the kudos, prestige and cash it might bring in but for the buzz of inter-activity and mutual respect.

Heterogenous theory for the invisible insurrection of a million minds.