Tag Archives: foist

UNITE AND/OR FIGHT? THE LEFT RESPONSE TO RUSSELL BRAND’S REVOLUTION

By Owen Adams

WHAT is the left-wing best at? Surely slogans calling on us all to unite and fight against the privileged few?

The cruel irony is,  it’s the right-wing that has succeeded in being united to prop up the interests of the privileged few, while the left eats itself to near-oblivion with accusations and counter-accusations, some petty, others fundamental. Cries of “sell-out!”, “fake!”, “traitor!” ring out across the broad spectrum which now encompasses anything from mainstream Labour (which, according to the Political Compass, was planted in the centre-authoritarian-right when last measured in 2010) to anarcho-communist, aka libertarian socialist.

Many of us who identify as ‘left’ have a common goal, that of the emancipation of the people and end to exploitation, but how will we ever get anywhere if we don’t unite? And how can we get the message across to the masses struggling beneath the onslaught of the elite against us that the greed of capitalism, the morass of exploitation, is not human nature but moral injustice? That we’re trying to end a class war not of our making, while trying to save our planet from the ravages of the elite?

One problem is many people see revolutionary or any other sort of change as a Pandora’s box, they are gripped with fear of the unknown so continue on the same old path designated to us by the elite. And this notion was what inspired the latest FOIST track, which took us a gargantuan two months to create.

As I was uploading the track on to the internet, impatiently telling my Facebook friends to watch out for it, my newsfeed was full of a clip from BBC’s Newsnight, which just blew me away. A famous person given eight minutes of airtime seemed to be echoing the title of our latest FOIST oeuvre “all we are saying is give anarchy a chance”. All too often it seems many who call themselves anarchists are anything but, while numerous others advocate classical anarchism without using the term, and the latter seemed very much to be the case here. The A-list celebrity stated as my heart and soul cheered: “The planet is being destroyed, we are creating an underclass, we’re exploiting poor people all over the world and the genuine, legitimate problems of the people are not being addressed by our political class.”

Jeremy Paxman, while archly playing his establishment interviewer’s role, agreed “all those things may be true”. But what was the comedian-actor-presenter-writer’s scheme? “A socialist egalitarian system, based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations and massive responsibility for energy companies and any companies exploiting the environment… I think the very concept of profit should be hugely reduced. David Cameron said profit isn’t a dirty word, I say profit is a filthy word. Because wherever there is profit there is also deficit. And this system currently doesn’t address these ideas.”

He may not have used the A-word, but he did use the S-word.

I was exhilarated, particularly as I saw the initial positive reaction from not only committed anarchists but friends who rarely voice political opinions. The message was gaining ground, a call for revolution, and Channel 4’s Paul Mason wrote a piece largely applauding the messenger and his message.

As you’d expect, it was just a few hours before rightwing commentators began wading in to pick apart this extraordinary primetime television exchange. But at about the same time also came the first volleys from the left.

If it had been Noam Chomsky, David Graeber, Howard Zinn, Stuart Christie, Ian Bone, Mark Steel, Mark Thomas or the ghosts of Bakunin, Durutti, Malatesta, Kropotkin, Emma Goldman or even Karl Marx in the chair opposite Paxman making similar arguments, I doubt whether there would have been such a rumpus (then again, I doubt whether they would have got eight minutes on Newsnight). But this was Russell Brand, Marmite man. And this, I believe, has had a massive bearing on the response, the messenger in danger of overshadowing the message.

So what are people saying and what have I been saying back?

“I can’t stand Russell Brand.”

Until recently, nor could I. Narcissistic to the point of inducing revulsion, questions need to be asked about Brand’s attitude to women, which more than borders on the misogynistic. His self-adoration and his quest for stardom can partly be explained by his ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) but his alleged sexist behaviour must be challenged.

Titling his autobiography My Booky-Wook annoyed me to the point of rage. What did anyone see in him apart from having the gift of the gab? But then I discovered his Nazi Boy documentary, made before he hit the big time, where he wholly showed up the BNP as sad, friendless losers, I started reading his prose in the Guardian, I saw his impressive performances mocking the Westboro Baptist Church, his telling-it-like-it-is on Question Time and his castigation of the sponsor of the GQ Awards. I’ve since seen his return to his former hometown of Thurrock in Essex, to support the mental health group, Mind.

His peacock mannerisms still annoy me (though admittedly some of that may be down to male envy), and stagey people often sound at their most pretentious when they strive to “keep it real”. Ooh, and I don’t like his hair either, his boots, nor his bared chest.

But I say forget the man, as what he’s saying is more important.

“Profit is filthy… says the man with $15 million.”

Kropotkin was a prince, Marx wasn’t skint, nor was Vanessa Redgrave. John Lennon performed Imagine and Working Class Hero in a mansion. The Chartists, Suffragettes and other progressive political movements were promoted and led by moneyed people. Does this negate them speaking up for the working class (particularly as Brand claims to have working-class roots)? This is the meme doing the rounds, but it’s a non-starter really. He hasn’t made his millions on the back of exploitation, tickets might cost £30 for his shows, but so what? Did anyone’s philanthropy ever fulfill the aims of a revolution? Maybe he’ll do benefits or maybe he funds causes already, who knows? The fact remains, profit IS filthy.

“He’s talking about revolution, but he isn’t saying how”

Many have seized on his comment: “Jeremy, don’t ask me to sit here in an interview with you, in a bloody hotel room and devise a global, utopian system.” Yet he does flesh out his ideas on the sort of revolution he wants to see in the New Statesman: “Total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic system is what interests me.” It’s long been said that the revolution must come from within – in his book The Fall, Steve Taylor advocates humanity getting back in touch with a ‘life-force’ or ‘life-spirit’ and connectedness with the planet and universe (which he argues is exemplified by some new age theories and Taoism). Brand is a fan of transcendental meditation (which he discovered when beating drug addiction about 10 years ago).

Surely it would be a mistake, one which he would be castigated for, if he offered a 12-step programme to ‘true’ socialism or anarchy? A revolution must be everyone’s revolution, or it will just revert to hierarchy and tyranny. We’ve been down the route of Leninist vanguardism (still advocated by the tiny left parties) and it only resulted in more oppression. As Bakunin (an imperfect man himself) said: “We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.”

The shape a revolution takes must be taken collectively and individually, without Brand or anyone else calling the shots.

However, he might have suggested horizontal organisation within communities…

“He’s just helping the Tories stay in power by telling people not to vote.”

I’m inclined to disregard a fresh conspiracy theory that the BBC and Brand concocted a ‘don’t vote’ message to ensure the Tories and UKIP will be in power forever. Besides, he repeated the call in the New Statesman: “As far as I’m concerned there is nothing to vote for. I feel it is a far more potent political act to completely renounce the current paradigm than to participate in even the most trivial and tokenistic manner, by obediently X-ing a little box.”

He’s right… and yet this is the big conundrum. By ticking the box, we are complicit in maintaining a parliamentary and electoral system designed by the elite, to maintain the elite. While Labour may have brought in a universal health care and welfare system in the late-1940s, it has helped to erode both ever since. The minimum wage may have been one of the few positive achievements of the Blair administration (though it falls short of the living wage), but we also saw a continuation of Thatcherism, privatisation, horrific wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (millions marched against it, and were ignored), and the scrapping of Labour’s socialist principles embodied in the original Clause IV.

So is Labour really no better than Tories? I think it is, albeit Labour offer only the occasional glimmer of hope; Labour wants to retain a nuclear arsenal, build more nuclear power stations, make cuts, be “tough on immigration” while promises such as renationalisation and bringing NHS services into public hands can readily be broken. It was Labour which bailed out the banks with trillions of taxpayers’ money, and continued the deregulation of the City. It was Labour which wanted us all to carry ID cards, brought tanks into Heathrow and curtailed civil rights in the guise of anti-terrorism.

But within Labour exists people with social justice in their hearts and yes, socialism (even Miliband says he is). I know some of these party activists, and I support their efforts.

Besides, Tories and fascists will always use their votes.

Even if Labour is a path towards disappointment, disillusionment and disenfranchisement, the evil visited on the poor is not as prevalent and all-encompassing as it is with the Tories.

Another friend said “why didn’t Brand advocate a vote for the Green Party?” Perhaps because he believes it’s a wasted vote. While Greens are far more left of mainstream Labour (see the Political Compass) they are still operating within the same elite institution and flawed first-past-the-post system.

Ultimately, how can we be living in a democracy when the monarchy still holds sway, vetoing laws they dislike and rubber-stamping those which steal from the people?

With reluctance that I will put an X next to Labour in 2015. About 60% of people, perhaps more, most likely will do as they did in 2010, and not vote.

Brand says: “I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Maybe the onus is on Labour to now prove itself a genuine option for those outside the narrow franchise of regular voters which it appears to solely chase?

Brand has just voiced what many of us were thinking within our four walls. He should be lauded and applauded, not torn apart by the left, where he clearly has his affinity.

And putting an X on a sheet of paper every five years is not enough. It is not taking charge of our own lives, it is giving the job to a politician – highly unlikely to be working in any of our interests.

Perhaps a better idea would be for people to wake up to the fact that when a majority votes for nobody, nobody is in charge. The Tories seized control of the country with 20% of the vote, and in my locality UKIP took three out of eight council seats in May 2013 with 9.4% of the overall electorate’s vote (66.7% didn’t vote).

Our political system, as so many of us readily accept, is hopelessly flawed. Lao Zi wrote about 2,500 years ago: “No one rules, if no one obeys.” Words worth hanging on to, and echoing down the millennia, to still have resonance now through the latest conduit, Russell Brand.

Link

Friends, who needs them? Maybe they’re tarnished by any admitted association with FOIST, but since our inception we have operated partly as a self-indulgent unit, and also periodically reached out and embraced whatever tentacles of a music scene we could grasp hold of and pull into our orbit…

We may be thanked, but we also may be cursed, both by those we claim as friends below, and also anyone who’s got a computer like mine that emulates the days of ZX81s and dial-up when many links are presented in a blog. But let’s carry on regardless.

We could an inordinate amount of links of those FOIST has helped along the road to fame – Carlton B Morgan And The Supernormals, Obesity Rollers, Basti… the list goes on… but I’m being strict here and only including the combos that are still going concerns, even if they have just reformed and are a shadow of their former selves, or have reinvented themselves with new name but similar personnel…

For starters, let’s zoom in on a bizarre comedy act (or is it serious, I can’t tell?) who have been and ARE STILL Foist alumni (once you enter Dr Pleasure’s world, you never really leave)… I believe a new episode is due out very soon, but let me present to you… a previous episode of the BLUEBELLS series, based on real life:

Incidentally, one member of the Bluebells team (GERRARD BURRIDGE aka GODFREY DREAMTONE aka EVIL 3) has been an erstwhile FOIST member, playing drums with CASUM, HEX FREMLIN and DIRTY BOY, but here’s his latest combo, PURE EVIL with the jaunty little number, SAUCY JACKY:

And here’s a more typical side to PURE EVIL, performing the first of a weekly series of gigs staged by FOIST back in November 2009 (the gigs continued into 2011) at The Angel Hotel in Coleford… thanks to TREV for the brilliantly shot footage!

The other member of the BLUEBELLS team, RICHARD ‘DOBBINS’ ROBBINS, also featured in DIRTY BOY… he went on to join THE PEPPERMINT HUNTING LODGE, who featured prominently in FOIST’s ANOTHER FINE MESS 2009-11 series. They have now been reborn as NOVELLA NOISE…

Other past/present FOIST alumni are guitarist/singer TONY HOPKINS, who first collaborated with FOIST for the live act THE SEX TONES, and fiddler/banjoist/mandolinist/whateverelseist JIM WILLIAMS, who played on 2 tracks of the new BIG CUN TREE EP, MEADOWS OF PHLEGM… both were and still are members of the recently reformed POSH FROCK & JUKEBOX, featured below:

Other stars of the Forest of Dean scene of a few years ago, and both (as did TPHL) featured on the FOIST-produced double-CD scene compilation OUT OF THE WOODS, were JOE & THE SLUTS and TWIST THE KNIFE… they have been renamed, respectively, with slightly different personnels but more metallic and powerhouse BLACK  ART and MEDIK… check them both out below…

http://blackart.bandcamp.com/album/dashed-hopes-broken-fingers

… But let’s return to the early daze of FOIST… back then (1989-90) we put on a series of 13 (I think) gigs at the (now demolished) Coleford Community Centre. The gigs really took off when this (recently reformed) duo performed, the same week they made the front page of Melody Maker…

We also hosted the 3rd or 4th gig by this (still-active) combo from the Forest of Dean (where they tried out their EMI-sponsored stage show for the first time):

HEX FREMLIN played a memorable gig with Bristol’s mighty MOONFLOWERS, who trashed the playgroup area at the back of the stage, destroying a sofa and covering themselves and the whole area with paint which they daubed over themselves… here they are, recently reformed:

Also on the bill that night were the delightfully named STD… and the left-handed bassman Spike is now the man behind the NOISE RESEARCH INSTITUTE, whose output is available on cassettes and here:

Should also mention two other acts that are strongly still going that have played a part in the FOIST saga… CITIZEN FISH and RADICAL DANCE FACTION… I’ll leave you with one of each… if there’s anyone I’ve missed, let us know and maybe there’ll be a part 2 of FOISTIAN CONNECTIONS…

But FOIST might not have existed (at least not with this name) had it not been for THE MINUTEMEN, as we named our collective after the song BIG FOIST, below… we have been periodically in touch with MIKE WATT, the bassist, and are planning a FOIST outing to see him play the Marrs Bar in Worcester on February 28.

Link

Yes, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make £££s, $$$s, Euros, Yen, Roubles, Gzlotis, whatever currency you love, just for reading this and listening to Foist’s tunes.** The slower you read and the more tunes you listen to, the more you earn… just give us all your bank details below and we will pay into your accounts…***

Why are we paying people to listen to us rather than the other way round?**** It’s down to experience really. FOIST, a few of you will know, has now been in existence since 1989-ish, so that’s 24-ish years! In the early days we actually imagined we might make it as indie stars or something, perhaps travel the world with our music, have a cult form around us… influence the pop charts with our innovative ideas. The reality was that the £20-odd we made from cassette sales (of the 1990 compilation The Storey Of Brian’s Mind) went on beer and chips, and we actually had to work at putting up marquees for scout camps and suchlike in order to pay for studio time, on the rare occasions we went outside Dr Pleasure’s FOIST HQ…

So, increasingly we have given away our music. Before the internet and computers and stuff in tapes in the mail to record companies, DJs, promoters etc, few which seemed to go anywhere but dead letter offices (though I don’t think we ever got round to sending John Peel anything, who knows he might have played it?). The only time FOIST ever made a hit with promoters, the band had split up (thus HEX FREMLIN missed out on supporting REBEL MC, GARY CLAIL, KALIPHZ and FUN-DA-MENTAL in the early 1990s).

Hex Fremlin, along with Casum, Dirtyboy, Helium Dealer, Turbowanker and several other outfits FOIST had high hopes for in its initial phase of 1990-2000 sort of era. Their ‘greatest hits’ (all unjustly misses, truth be told) can be heard on one of the Soundcloud sets here (the other set is five of the best of the newest stuff, which we tried to get people to listen to a month ago, with less than a whisper’s worth of response)

We keep meaning to get round to releasing some of the hours and hours worth of music in our vaults… we gave away the strictly limited-edition run of 13 copies of THIS DEVIL FROM THE WOODS compilation several years ago to random people at ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES at MINEHEAD BUTLINS (including Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth I believe). Some other FOIST oldies can be found on this earlier Soundcloud, of which we have long ago lost the log-in and password details to so it cannot be updated…

We have now given away ALL the copies of last year’s LP, 3600 ADD… here’s a sample of the 60-track hour-long collection here…

We have not yet got round to releasing the latest EP by new FOIST signing, BIG CUN TREE, MEADOWS OF PHLEGM… here’s a preview of this folkin’ fandango…

And we STILL haven’t had a proper release of the 2011 compilation SYNT, even though this catchy number went down a storm on WHITE LABEL RADIO:

And the few who heard this, our venture into drum’n’bass, liked it (except I think HOLLY, our guest singer, was embarrassed of it for some reason though I reckon she done us proud… but see what you reckon???):

Anyway, we are serious under-achievers here at FOIST, but I, Tarzan, for one, am an attention-seeking pain-in-the-arse (or would be given the chance) and if I had the money***** I would, SERIOUSLY, pay people to listen to us!

I did hear from a good friend of FOIST (one of the small handful of friends we have) that a certain rawwkkkk drummer said “what’s this shit?” on hearing the 3600ADD LP. That made my day, and gave me a reason to go on… WHY? Because we WANT a reaction, and a seriously NEGATIVE reaction is just as good as a POSITIVE one… I would hope that the reason we don’t get people saying “THIS IS FUCKING AWFUL/ DREADFUL/ BOLLOX/ SHITE” is because they’re too fucking polite and don’t want to hurt our feelings, but I fear it’s because either “I CAN’T BE ARSED TO LISTEN/COMMENT” or “IT’S OK, I SUPPOSE”… a non-committal response which just makes me go ARRRRGHHHHHH! So PLEASE anyone who actually does read/listen to this, MAKE YOUR FEELINGS KNOWN, WHATEVER THEY ARE! WE THRIVE ON REACTION OR I DO AT LEAST COS I’M AN EGOTISTICAL TWAT!

Er… anyway… So what’s new on the FOIST front… well after the disastrous no-show of the Brain Parade (a project abandoned midway through), we are now embarking on an ambitious project, a satirical musical/ concept compilation soundtrack with the working title of HECTOR. For this we are enlisting FOIST associates from the near and distant past… our dream is that we get it in the WEST END or BROADWAY, or at least staged by am-dram companies in our beloved native FOREST OF DEAN…

But we all know that at FOIST… DREAMS DON’T COME TRUE, we’re gonna press on with it anyway…

As an aside, Tarzan Evans – that’s me, the principal libretto writer of HECTOR, is also involved with another blog site http://fodanarchists.wordpress.com/news/ … which has had more readers/viewers than this FOIST blogsite has EVER had in the space of a couple of weeks thanks mostly to the interview with the famous anarchist Stuart Christie (the next interview we have lined up is of a famous anarchist pop-star, now playwright, I’m so excited about it I’ve almost given the name away!)… the Forest of Dean Anarchists – and we are fucking SICK of people saying “how can anarchists be organised”, when since the 19th century, anarchism HAS ALWAYS been organised – are meeting fortnightly on Tuesdays at the Severn View pub in Lydney on the 2nd Tues of the month, and Bailey Inn, Yorkley 4th Tues of the month).

SMALL PRINT

* Not really
** You’re a sucker if you believed this

*** We’re not gonna empty those accounts, we don’t know how to phish anyway

**** This was a ruse to get you to look, if you hadn’t guessed already (I wonder if it’ll work? Doubt it)

***** If you think I, Tarzan has any money, you’ve obviously never met me/him (to write in 1st person or 3rd person, I can never decide? What a quandary… NOT)

Link

Here’s an exclusive preview of FOIST’s upcoming compilation THE POINTLESS OF EVERYTHING, out when our many acts have recorded their many ditties… also, another exclusive track off what’s sure to be a big hit in the folk world, BIG CUN TREE’s debut EP, MEADOWS OF PHLEGM.

So ello ello ello what’s all this then, what’s it’s all about etc etc…
ok, TRACK 1: SCIFILIZ by THIRD KIDNEY FROM THE SON

We’re very impressed by our new signing, a space-garage-rock band we discovered floating above a leyline in the middle of the woods (location secret). We’re assured by the songwriter that any incidental reference in the lyrics to any person, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.

TRACK 2: NEITHER DEAD NOR ALIVE (VESTIBULE) by AFTERNOON SKY

It’s fortunate that this reclusive combo, which has been in hibernation for the past 2 decades, added that word in brackets, or we wouldn’t know what they’re talking about. Via semaphore signals, this collective, which inhabits scowles, explained: “We were interested in the synthesis between music of the Mesolithic age and that of the electronic age. Imagine you have been transported 6000 years into the future, and find yourself at an electronic music convention. As is the natural way of things, you are part of a shamanic hunter-gatherer procession and you dip briefly in and out of rooms and marquees where various forms of electronic music are being performed. Is your primal being enriched by the modern sounds, has your ego developed beyond an embryo as a result? We leave it up to the listener to ponder these possibilities.” Quick bit of background… AFTERNOON SKY first sent FOIST signals via short-wave radio in about 1989, indicating it wished to make 2 yin-yan concept albums, titled SO MANY REASONS FOR US TO BE ALIVE and WISH I WAS DEAD. Both have gone done in history as astounding successes in the collective-unconscious concept-album sphere. There was a third one, but can’t quite recall the title. So it was quite a surprise when they emerged from the depths of the earth once again, the other week.

3: MR PHANTASIST by ADULT PLAYROOM

Perhaps the most infectious act out there in the FOISTIAN dimension, ADULT PLAYROOM presents another corker, in contention to being as big a smash as BANG BANG BUSY and NEVER THE SAME, and their debut LP, HEAD FULL OF TOYS. This one is about someone singer Ian Morley knows too well…

4. BLOW THE WINDS (HEIGH HO!) by BIG CUN TREE

On a mission to folk off the planet, these cunning traditionalist minstrels have taken an excerpt from another ancient song, something about a man spying a lady bathing in some water, and reinvented the fiery Celtic wheel.

5. This last one, if it has a title, I really can’t recall what it is, and not sure who it’s by either. Must check when we have the next FOIST session tomorrow night. But to me it sounds like the perfect slice of loping funk with only faintly sinister undertones…

So, that’s yer lot for now… let us know what you think. Don’t be polite.