Been away so long I hardly knew the place
Gee, it’s good to be back home
Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case
Honey disconnect the phone
I’m back in the USSR
You don’t know how lucky you are, boy
Back in the US
Back in the US
Back in the USSR
Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the west behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
They Georgia’s always on my my my my my my my my my mind
Oh, come on
Hu Hey Hu, hey, ah, yeah
yeah, yeah, yeah
I’m back in the USSR
You don’t know how lucky you are, boys
Back in the USSR ( Back in the USSR, Beatles )
”The truth is, anarchists are old news. They were radical, once — in the days of Charles the First and Louis XVI. They had their heyday in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as the labour movement swelled in response to the growth of capitalism. Anarchists — and their variants, such as anarchosyndicalists — rallied workers, helped topple the Romanov Dynasty in Russia, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand (thus precipitating the First World War) and nearly ousted dictator Francisco Franco in Spain.
Then they began to lose steam, with the rise of other, more organized terrorist forces: the Irish Republican Army, the Red Brigades, Basque separatists — movements with specific national and ethnic grievances, as opposed to the general goals of sowing chaos and beheading the existing order. To survive, anarchism had to evolve. From the 1960s onwards, it allied itself with feminism, environmentalism, anti-globalization, basically any left-wing movement with a pulse. New symbols of power became the enemy. Corporations became a favourite target, as did First World nation-states.” ( Tasha Kheiriddin )
Well well well. to evoke such visceral rejoinders: The red apparently is not dead. The two sides to this debate are on the one hand very different, yet very far apart. One obvious connection is their common refusal to compromise, and their rejection of an ordinary, easygoing acceptance of the world as it is. The right wing reactionary is in their way as stern and puritan a moralist as the anarchist. The difference being the nihilism of the anarchist, and a language and vision that is poetic compared to their adversaries cartesian and rationalist line of thought. Still, it seems an internecine and sectarian struggle between opposing factions of the white middle class. Why? The ongoing protest over this whole G20 Shebang in Toronto about illegal detentions,and alleged brutality is basically bunk. The outrage is a case of the ethics of hypocrisy. When historically poor Indians and later poor whites did suffer legitimate grievances at the hands of the Ontario police in Caledonia over land claims from 2006 onwards, through alleged police inaction and then overreaction, no one gave a flying fig. Certainly, the Black Bloc lent no support,and there were no flotillas carrying illegal cigarettes to the needy; and the softer, gentler, kinder approach of the Naomi-Neo-Kleins were M.I.A. in the absence of a photo-op or megaphone moment.
Who knows. Maybe this journalist’s kids will end up in the Black Bloc:
”If these anarchists had any spine, they would go to places like that to make their “statements” against authority and its abuses. But of course, they are too cowardly to do so. So they go where they know they won’t get their heads bashed in, where the cameras are allowed to roll, and where they can always retreat to the suburbs if things get too hot. But then, what should one expect from people who dress like skulking teenagers?” ( Tasha Kheiriddin )
The red scare is back. Anarchism, anarchism, anarchism: one might think that the State was actually in danger of being smashed sometime soon! It could be called bringing the house down, steppe by steppe. Revolution by ventriloquy. Ray Alan was a master, who approached his work with diligence, but without sentiment. He deplored ventriloquists who were “taken over” by their dummies. Was Prince Piotr Kropotkin a dummy, a phantom revolutionary managed by a handler? The recent capture of Russian spies has reignited rumors of cold-war scares, and the spies captured all appear to have been dummies acting under a spymaster controlling the movement. Like Kropotkin, they will likely spend a fair amount of time in prison, perhaps chatting shop with Jonathan Pollard.
Ray Alan invented Lord Charles, the permanently tipsy monocled aristocrat with an eye for the ladies and the catchphrase “Silly arse”. He was once one of the most popular and frequently seen entertainers on British television. But he was a ventriloquist’s dummy, not a real performer, the inspired comic creation of Ray Alan. Technically Alan was an outstanding ventriloquist, managing to give life to his creations and to have them perform complex vocal feats with no apparent movement of his mouth. It seems when Alan passed away and the Spies in America began their first awkward attempts at autonomous speech, they were not up to the challenge. It seems in Russia, they have a Sputnik and lots of Nudniks, but making a cup of coffee is nyet, and those accents in New York.Oy Vay and Mamma Mia! If any city knows communists it has to be New York
One night Alan visited a London nightclub in search of inspiration and found it not on the stage but in the audience. He noticed an elderly man sitting at a table near the stage. “He was wearing a dinner suit, drinking champagne and had a delightful young lady with him. He kept patting her on the knee and saying, ‘By Jove, you’re a lovely little thing, have another glass of champers’.” Lord Charles was born. It took him some time to find the right face for his creation but after much trial and error he noticed a photograph in his study of Laurel and Hardy that they had presented to him at the end of their tour. “I realised that Stan Laurel had the perfect face so Lord Charles’s features were modelled on him,” according to Alan. Chat shows and panel games were fertile ground where Lord Charles could usually be relied upon to insult the host and try to win the attentions of any glamorous female guests or contestants. His catchphrase “Silly arse” never failed to bring the house down. Like the Monty Python sketch ”Penguin on the t.v” it might not take much in England ”profond”.
But while the pair were inseparable on the small screen, Alan once said: “I am not one of those ventriloquists who thinks he’s real. When I finish my work I put it back in the tool box and I don’t take it out again until the next job.”
They don’t make them like they used to. Prince Piotr Kropotkin ( 1842-1921 ) . Kropotkin, though highly influential, was an unusual figure in the anarchist movement. He was interested in science; he gave an enthusiastic welcome to the progress of technology; and when anarchist terrorism was at its height, he maintained the tradition of scholarly and constructive anarchist writing and propaganda. A former personal page of Czar Alexander II, he served as young army officer in Siberia, where he was appalled by the conditions of the prisoners and attracted by the lives of the primitive people of the region. He traveled extensively among the tribesmen of Russian Asia, becoming a noted explorer and geographer. It was at this time that he read the works of Proudhon and began to agitate for revolution. Disguising himself as a peasant, he proseletized in the working-class districts of St. Petersburg. He was arrested. After spending two years in prison, he made a daring escape from a military hospital and settled down in England. Oscar Wilde found the aesthetic of Kropotkin appealing:
”A similar situation obtains in The Soul of Man Under Socialism where aesthetics will take the place of passion and the argument will turn on relieving “us from that sordid necessity of living for others” (ppp). Again, however, we note Wilde’s recourses to archetype; the Christ-figure. In De Profundis, he will allude to Kropotkin as “a man with a soul of that beautiful white Christ which seems coming out of Russia.” Dull eyes here have metamorphosed into soul. Thus, Wilde finally yokes together Christ and the revolutionary some sixteen years after the identification had first taken hold of his imagination.” ( Peter A. Muckley
Ray Alan’s Lord Charles was he antithesis of the anarchist. And maybe the perfect cover. The hoity-toity aristocrat with his put-down catchphrases, such as “Blurry fool!” and “You silly arse!”, proved to be a long-lived inspiration; a send-up of the British aristocracy is a pretty soft target. The fact that his lordship’s speech was drunken and slurred enabled the ventriloquist to speak with a minimum of mouth movement, even when under the scrutiny of television cameras. For those less ingenious than Alan, the fact that they were “throwing” their own voices into a dummy was all too visible.Perfect cover for spying and transmitting code on television.
Evidence, seems to show that the less leather catsuit and more rumpled and dumpled works better in the spy context. Out Anna Chapman. In Melita Norwood; the wee ”granny spy” who was revealed at age 87, to have spent a lifetime slipping British nuclear secrets to the Soviets. Spies are not supposed to sip tea and shuffle out to get the paper in their slippers. The real history of female espionage has some tall but real tales, such as Sarah Emma Edmonds who disguised herself as a man to join the Union army during the American Cicil War and then doubled the ante by going to spy on the confederacy. Ethel Rosenberg was involved in allegedly passing American nuclear secrets from Los Alamos to the Soviets, and perhaps Israel. She earned the chair, the one with the electric wiring outside the upholstery, but not without every leftist from Sartre to Picasso raising a five alarm fire of protest, polemics and posturing
Anna Chapman is a Hollywood spy. If she looked similar to Ian Fleming’s squat and ugly spy Rosa Klebb, with her dimpled knees and knife tipped boots, who would care less. Chapman just fits the public imagination of what a female spy should should like; an understudy to Angelina Jolie in ”Salt” in which a female agent runs around in designer combat gear, yoga fatigues, or towering heels, leaping off bridges and wielding a gun so big and heavy it threatens the laws of physics with respect to her delicate arms. We like our spies to glide over to the drinks table in an exclusive gown, with the ability to incapacitate her victims by offering a glimpse of their spectacular bosoms. ”cocktail, darling?”.Anna Chapman, in this respect, is ”B-” movie material. A Russian mole in suburbia making sure hamburgers don’t burn on the BBQ, and probably using invisible ink as nail polish. Kropotkin, however, could have caused some real damage. ….
…Kropotkin’s anarchism was more communistic than that of Proudhon or Bakunin,and more realistic, at least as far as anarchists go. Also a little more palatable to women and less anti-semitic for those anarchist yids, like Paul Goodman, Chomsky, Bookchin and a Yeshiva full of wannabes. He envisaged a society in which goods were held entirely in common, people helping themselves according to their needs. He pinned his hopes on the then fashionable doctrine of evolution, for which he provided an anarchist-collectivist interpretation in his book ”Mutual Aid” ( 1902 ) . Recalling the way of life he had known in the Siberian steppes, Kropotkin pointed to cooperation within species, rather than competition, as a major factor in the struggle for existence; spontaneous anarchistic co-operation was, he became convinced, the next stage of human evolution. He seized eagerly on any examples of voluntary co-operation, becoming highly enthusiastic about the existence of such associations in Victorian England as the British Life-Boat Association
Kropotkin saw labor saving machines as instruments of human emancipation and enthusiastically acclaimed the invention of the washing machine. Though he spent most of his later life in England, he founded, and for a time edited ”La Revolte” and spent three years in a French prison. He returned to Russia in 1917, after the February Revolution; there he remained for the rest of his life in spite of his opposition to Lenin and the Bolsheviks. When Kropotkin died in Moscow in 1921, a procession of mourners five miles long followed his coffin to the grave. Kropotkin’s and much anarchists thought has been diluted throughout the years by pseudo-experts who have, inadvertently, perhaps created the rationale for Black Block senseless destruction:
Critique of Alan Antliff, ”Anarchist Modernism: ” For Antliff, anarchism isn’t incompatible with such explicitly anti-anarchist movements as socialism, communism, and Bolshevism. As we read his book, we find out that, for Antliff — and perhaps only for Antliff — anarchism is also compatible with mysticism (theosophy) and reactionary nationalism (the writings of Coomarasamy). Antliff’s “anarchism” is actually a misnomer for “individualism.” In the body of his book, despite what he says in his introduction, Antliff never finds or discusses any artists influenced by anarchist mutualism, anarchist collectivism, anarchist communism or anarchist syndicalism. Instead, all he finds are artists who are “anarchist individualists,” “philosophical anarchists,” people who define themselves as rebels against “mass society” or “the masses,” people who don’t form collectives, forge collective (anonymous) styles, or work in collaboration with each other, but instead form “schools” that preserve and reinforce uniqueness and individuality.”
”Why do we need anarchism? I think that humanity is in a very grave situation–perhaps the gravest situation we have even been in as a species. As I survey modern life on our planet, I see massive social problems:
40-50 million American living below the poverty level; 18 million people starving to death each year across the globe; the planet being ruined by global warming, industrial waste, etc.; an economy which is made to serve the top 20%; lifestyles centered around mass consumption; a mass psychology of misery and alienation; The central institutions of modernity, including capitalism, industrialization, rationalization, and urbanization have made our lives a total mess. I don’t know how long we will be able to sustain ourselves in this way of life. I want intellectual tools that can help us to understand these problems and their interrelations. And I want a vision of a better society.” But the bitterness of a utopian dream gone sour can be sobering:
”Grey are the passing days. One by one the embers of hope have died out. Terror and despotism have crushed the life born in October. The slogans of the Revolution are forsworn, its ideals stifled in the blood of the people. The breath of yesterday is dooming millions to death; the shadow of today hangs like a black pall over the country. Dictatorship is trampling the masses underfoot. The Revolution is dead; its spirit cries in the wilderness. “I have,” he concluded, “decided to leave Russia.” ( Alexander Berkman, from Paul Avrich )