All posts by - tim-russo

Cleveland Browns fans rise up to the chant of #GPODAWUND

gpodawundCleveland has been at the mercy of 80’s nostalgia since, well, the 1980’s. The Flats were a working class Champs Elysee of the midwest, where I first bought a beer when 18 was legal. A reggae scene rollicked. The American Dream was not yet gone. It all seemed possible. And the Browns owned our hearts, breaking them always, in cold winter playoff games.

On 2018’s first cold winter weekend, the American Dream gone poof, the Flats a ghost town Potemkin Village of shiny new public subsidy of oligarchs, thousands of Browns fans will not be at a playoff game, but marching in disgust. With floats. After finally going 0-16, which we’ve all expected now for some time, Browns fans are making floats in their own garages to send a middle finger to Cleveland sports oligarchy on playoff weekend. Braving single digit temperatures, they will march around the stadium their taxes built like a kind of strange Stonehengey pagan incantation to release us from our 80’s spell.

Clevelanders have clinged to our 80’s golden age through a Clear Channel dad rock mist like grim death, as the rest of Ohio, and the midwest now does through Trump, same soundtrack. We love our home, our memories, our ancestors, and their stories, their dreams. It’s all been used against us by rapacious billionaires at the point of a gun who give us something in return for our taxes they call “The Browns.”

No less than Brent Larkin, chief pimp of Cleveland oligarchy for my entire life, has finally written what must seem to Roldo Bartimole a plagiarism of Roldo’s entire life’s work documenting sports billionaire welfare for 30 years, in one column.

Behold, Woke Larkin.

The emotional hold the Browns have on this community is as powerful as it is irrational.  Nevertheless, hindsight allows for the argument that I and most other Greater Clevelanders were wrong, that we would have been better off the last 19 years without the Browns than with them.  

Fuck you Brent. Larkin led the cheers like a pom pom girl for every single taxpayer handout every sports billionaire in Cleveland has ever demanded at the threat of leaving, starting with Art Modell’s in 1995. If it weren’t for Cleveland’s media sticking a knife to our throats “THEY MIGHT LEAVE” every time a billionaire needed a nickel from a poor man, we wouldn’t be in this spell.

Alas, now, no one cares if The Browns leave town and become The Feces of some other billionaire, let some other town get a hot poker up their ass for 20 years, see if we care. Great job Brent. Maybe Brent will go to the march, get on a soapbox and apologize for conning Cleveland his entire career. Get a live feed goin. Clicks. Shares. Likes.

One thing Cleveland does better than just about anyone is gallows humor, so a few thousand fans circling the rich man’s toilet their money gets flushed down? That’s us showing our love. Rising up to show it. We want our football team, we’ve proven that once. Cleveland doesn’t give up on dreams easily. In a world losing hope fast, a parade for losers feels just about right.



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The Guillotine Norm

SliceyBoysGuillotineMemeEveryone sees their social media feed differently. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of guillotines. Granted, my feeds lean very hard left, so my average reader is probably not seeing a daily stream of guillotine memes on Facebook. However! I plugged all this into my structural theory of the internet, and here’s what popped out.

First, a guillotine is a very specific type of terror image. It is class based, and revolutionary. It is an idea. From Wikipedia:

But more than popular entertainment alone, during the Reign of Terror, the guillotine symbolized revolutionary ideals: equality in death equivalent to equality before the law, open and demonstrable revolutionary justice, and the destruction of privilege under the Ancien Régime which included separate forms of execution for the nobility.[20] As such, the guillotine was considered a positive force for progress by the Parisian sans-culottes, the popular public face of lower-class patriotic radicalism in the French Revolution.[21]

Class is how images of a guillotine survive today’s internet, whereas other such images of execution (say, a noose) do not. Think of today’s internet as the primordial ooze of life 4 billion years ago – churning constantly, producing ideas that either survive, or don’t. Darwinian survival is how a guillotine image proliferates online today. (geek speak alert) In the Deutschian cybernetic ooze of the internet’s constant discourse, billions of normative interactions every second have decided one image of execution will survive, even thrive, online – the guillotine – while other images of terror can’t, and won’t. In this way, the internet is enforcing a structural norm; that’s the theory anyway.

At some point (according to the theory) such a structural norm will leap from the virtual to the physical world, enforcing itself. Structural norms of this type are called epistemic, meaning that we enforce these norms ourselves because we adhere to them and expect others to. For example, wearing clothes. Not prancing around naked is a structural norm, because it will enforce itself, through us.

So. Will The Guillotine Norm make the leap from virtual to reality and begin enforcing itself offline? If so, what norm is being enforced? The idea of displaying the image? Or the idea behind the image?

All I really know is there are a lot of guillotines online lately. Merry Christmas!

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A film on why Corbyn’s Labour isn’t radical enough, Nov. 14

SpidersWebHeaderToo scary radical, they say about Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. Well, not really. Just ask the Worshipful Whatnots in the Corporation of the City of London.

Britain once hotly debated whether or not to cast the 1,000 year old medieval relic of the Corporation into the dustbin. By the time of municipal reform fervor at the height of Victorian empire (mid 1800’s), the City had long been seen by the radical left as “the home of the devilry of modern finance”, a century before it became the tax haven black hole of Earth. Rising British socialism went to the mat to destroy the Corporation, losing a public PR battle in the 1880’s won largely by the pomp & circumstance of the Lord Mayor’s Show parade. By 1890, the City killed parliamentary legislation aimed at it for good, convincing Britain, with a parade, that empire was a shared glory, rich to poor.

The City’s survival fight was thus over by the founding of the Labour Party in 1900. Nonetheless, Labour Party general election manifestos regularly proposed the abolition of the City of London as a political entity, disappearing by World War II. New Labour by 2000 made the Corporation of the City of London a crown jewel of neoliberal fake democracy, as financial crises boiled in its spider’s web of tax havens, regularly exploding. The role of City of London tax havens is central to the 2008 crisis, as it will be in the next.

Worshipful Whatnots

Worshipful Whatnots

Corbyn has pointedly not proposed the abolition of the Corporation in his first manifesto as Labour leader in 2017. Not because Corbyn is unaware; the Corbyn wing of Labour has long known the history of Labour and the City. Corbyn’s current shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, is one of those quoted in Nicholas Shaxson’s landmark 2011 book on tax havens, Treasure Islands. Shaxson’s book inspired Michael Oswald’s new film, The Spider’s Web.

Oswald’s quick 78 minute romp through Britain’s second empire is an excellent introduction to the casual observer, and may even be the first such film to dig this deep into the City’s tax haven archipelago. Eye candy helps with such a complicated topic, and Oswald provides plenty to help the radical medicine go down. Beautifully shot exotic island landscapes soothe as worshipful whatnots in British frippery parade to a haunting soundtrack letting you know nothing is as it seems when a thousand year old medieval ghost governs world finance.

Corbyn appears to be, bite my tongue…compromising? By clearly refusing to promise the end of the Corporation of the City of London, Corbyn may be reaching out to the New Labour refuseniks. Or, he may be sending a warning. Will the next Labour manifesto, the one that makes Corbyn prime minister, advocate abolition of the Corporation? Oswald’s film will help build awareness of the issue at the grassroots, so the next time Corbyn has to make this decision, the movement chanting his name in soccer chants will know quite well which direction Corbyn, Labour, and Britain should go.

In that effort, I’m holding a free screening of The Spider’s Web, Tuesday night, November 14, at the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus (CCPC) office in Lakewood, 11910 Detroit. RSVP on FB here. For more, here’s my 2015 paper on the City for the CSU MAGI program. Hope to see you at the CCPC office. I’ll be making Pimms.

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Bernie successor organization forces one of Trump’s billionaires to beg for mercy

BernieSandersMonopolyGuyAfter the 2016 Democratic Primary, local Bernie Sanders organizations all over America transformed. In Cleveland, we became the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus (CCPC). Today, CCPC sent predatory lender billionaire Trump supporter Dan Gilbert, also owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, into yet another petulant tantrum (this time not in Comic Sans font). CCPC’s grassroots drive to deny a Trump billionaire yet more public subsidy is likely the greatest achievement of ANY Bernie Sanders successor organization in America to date.

Faced with a citizen driven referendum to repeal a Democratic Party spawned oligarch public subsidy deal to renovate the arena where the Cavs play (Quicken Loans Arena), Gilbert instead today issued a press release pulling out. Putting scare quotes around “referendum”, Gilbert’s rage comes through loud and clear. Now we know how Lebron James feels.

For months, every single Democratic Party leader in Cuyahoga County has contorted themselves to hand Gilbert ever more taxpayer money. Just 3 years ago, Cuyahoga County’s elected Democrats unanimously gave Gilbert, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and Indians owner Larry Dolan, hundreds of millions from a sin tax on cigarettes sold in Cuyahoga County. Taking money from the poor to hand to the rich is Cleveland’s Democratic Party go-to move.

QTransformationSince Gilbert’s sweetheart deal boiled down to an ordinance passed in Cleveland City Council, this summer CCPC joined a coalition of labour and clergy to collect 20,000 signatures, 13,000 of which were valid, more than twice the required 6,000, to repeal the deal’s ordinance on the November ballot in the city of Cleveland. Months more of contortions later, in desperation to keep the referendum off Gilbert stooge Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s re-election ballot (and every Gilbert suckling incumbent city council person’s ballot), Gilbert now begs for the referendum to go away in his statement.

The Cavaliers organization will no longer participate in the partnership formed for The Q Transformation project and the need for a referendum no longer exists.

Alas, the signatures are valid, the ordinance still on the books, and the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled the referendum must go forward. So now, in addition to a Trump billionaire begging for mercy, Cleveland Democrats have to crawl into the council chamber to repeal their own ordinance just to avoid the referendum when next they convene in September. Delicious. That’s gonna be a fun rally.

Dan Gilbert's other fraud

Dan Gilbert’s other fraud

This is not the first time Dan Gilbert has reneged on a deal for a pretty building. In 2009, Gilbert was given a clause in the Ohio Constitution (by statewide referendum Gilbert himself funded – irony) in which Gilbert promised to build a shiny new building for Phase 2 of his Jack Casino across the street from the arena. You’ll notice a similarity in the graphics pimping the pretty buildings. Gilbert has never turned a single shovel of dirt on his glorious Phase 2, and his Jack Casino rots as a redheaded stepchild appearing designed to fail as it sucks more money from the poor into his pockets.

However, this is the first time citizens have stepped to Dan Gilbert and told him we have a democracy in America, no matter how desperately bought and paid for Democrats try to hijack it. Those same Democrats must now do the people’s work for once in their lives, instead of a billionaire’s. Bernie Sanders’ successor organization locally has given the rest of the country an example. The crybaby Trump billionaire comes with that territory.


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Kyrie Irving, meet Carlos Boozer, another Duke “man”

kyrieearthisflatCarlos Boozer’s sorry ass is the only thing standing between Lebron James and a 9th or 10th consecutive ring next year. Coach K’s slave plantation curriculum that’s supposed to turn Kyrie Irving into a Duke “man” (just like Carlos!) after 11 full games (we’ll get back to that) apparently not only failed to include the Earth being round, but also any sense of basketball history, including the team that would draft him Number One to replace Lebron James, which is why Kyrie’s number is 2. This ignorance will mean Kyrie Irving is on that Utah Road to Nothingville, sadly.

Kyrie is not the first moron to think he was better, somehow, than Lebron James. The entire NBA went through the “maybe Lebron ain’t all that” routine from Darko Mlicic, to DWade, to Carmelo, even, at one point, Gilbert Arenas, before Carlos Boozer convinced himself, yep, that was him. Then, he ruined every Clevelander’s 2004 summer with this same, pathetic routine. I remember it vividly.

I vividly remember hearing the news on the radio, as I drove off the Shoreway and onto the access road to Whiskey Island for some beach volleyball on a glorious summer night in 2004. The Cavs failed to pick up Carlos Boozer’s extension, trusting Boozer would sign a longer new contract.

The haze began. I remember making the turn from the off ramp to Whiskey Island Drive in silence, turning the volume up on the radio. Nothing. The pause in the newscaster’s voice was so audible, I could hear my own mind race through the litany of Cleveland sports woe in a nanosecond and conclude, before I even got past the marina, Boozer would be gone the next day, which he was. That is how important Carlos Boozer thought he was, how much better he could do without Lebron James.

About those 11, count em, eleven games at Duke. That is why no one discovered that Kyrie Irving is made of glass, and injures predictably, if he is Mr. Big. As he did at Duke after 11 games. This lathered, rinsed, repeated in Cleveland for two seasons before Lebron James returned, took the load off Mr. Big, and transformed Kyrie into the player he was always meant to be. Kyrie’s game puts stress on human anatomy that the human body simply cannot sustain for an 82 game season as Mr. Big. He even broke down in the 2015 Finals. You’d think Lord of All Dukies Coach K woulda noticed that.

So, instead of staying one of the greatest players in the NBA in 2017-18 (as Carlos Boozer was in 2003-2004), Kyrie will join a bunch of scrubs on a rebuild, be injured by December, and eventually sell toothpicks at a baseball card convention in Salt Lake City with Carlos, because that will sell tickets. I’d buy one!

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Jeremy Corbyn lost, just ask the White Stripes

Like a footballer returning to Wembley with the World Cup, Jeremy Corbyn entered Parliament Tuesday, after losing an election, to the strains of stadium style chanting of the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army”, chanting his name. For the record, the White Stripes are the last real rock and roll band to chart anything, let alone seize popular music across the Atlantic in a way that would land that one tune into every stadium in the world. Jezza’s an Arsenal fan.

The Rolling Stone, rock and roll’s magazine of record, has a headline today reading “Goodbye, and Good Riddance, to Centrism”, but somehow misses the White Stripes angle. Matt Taibi, heir to Hunter S. Thompson, nonetheless is precise.

Our media priesthood reacted with near-universal horror at the election in Britain. We panned the result in which Labour, led by the despised Corbyn, took 261 seats and won 40 percent of the vote, Labour’s largest share since hallowed third-way icon Tony Blair won 40.7 percent in 2001.

Blair never had a football chant, let alone the White Stripes. He had Mr. D:Ream. Things can only get better. What better rock and roll writers might later categorize as the latest in “beige” brit pop, Blair’s victory song was a kind of pointless dance floor number that felt good at a rally. It all felt so real.

I never actually met Jeremy Corbyn. In three general elections, I met Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, some other pretty hard core Old Labour grandees, but Corbyn never crossed my New Democrat Clintonian Third Way Blairite clique. We’d “hear” of Corbyn’s latest escapade, somewhere out at some protest with Ken Livingstone & George Galloway, list your favorite lefty caricature. Especially during Iraq.

Corbyn was not in the garden at Number 10 for the East Midlands Labour Party’s reception after the commons Iraq vote, at which I shook Tony Blair’s hand and said, “as the one American here, I want to say thank you.” Tony said “Thank you,” back, very sincerely. Jeremy Corbyn was never at the Strangers bar in the House of Commons yucking it up with the back benchers. Jeremy was the back of the backest bench.

Now, Jezza gets the best of all worlds. Doesn’t have to govern, has chants descend upon him, an army on the march singing the whole way, and can sit tight, to watch the Tories consume themselves. This, after two years of hand to hand trench warfare within the Labour Party descended upon Corbyn out of nowhere in spring, 2015. Before his name even was floated, I observed New Labour make its last fatal grasp at the neoliberal straws Taibi’s headline celebrates as over. Now, Corbyn has a White Stripes chant, in the House of Commons, and I suspect the Strangers Bar has a new regular. That’s where losers get a pint.



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UK election for Yanks; key seat Broxtowe


Broxtowe constituency is where I worked each time I traveled to England for New Labour (1997, 2001, 2005). The East Midlands Labour Party office is in the village of Attenborough, right across the motorway from my favorite chippy, George’s Tradition, in Ilkeston. My office was just upstairs from Nick Palmer’s campaign office, Labour’s candidate for Broxtowe all three of my visits. In 1997, a 10,000 vote Tory majority flipped to a 6,000 Labour majority to put Nick into Parliament. Big swings happen in Broxtowe, which is why it is a key seat (targeted) every general election.

Nick’s big issue is animal rights. Nick may not agree, but I always found him to be at least as left as Jeremy Corbyn, but Broxtowe voters didn’t seem to care. Nick worked the seat door to door doggedly for decades in one way or another, and was very popular locally.  Thus, Nick held onto his big 1997 Labour majority in 2001. Alas, Labour’s Broxtowe majority shrank in 2005 to about 2,000, as Tory voters who switched to Labour in 1997 began to peel off over Iraq. By 2010, New Labour had lost every ounce of its credibility over Iraq. Tory Anna Soubry barely beat Nick by 400 votes in 2010. Soubry increased her majority (again beating Nick Palmer) in 2015 to a 4,287, which she defends Thursday.

Tory switchers

Who are these voters; these Tory “switchers”? Broxtowe is suburban Nottingham, very like any Ohio county (Lake?) that also happens to be a targeted bellwether congressional seat. A mix of upperclass, middle and lower class voters, Broxtowe’s boundaries make it a very English place. There is a nature preserve near my office, with swans. In a pond. Near a churchyard with a spire (that pic up there). I always made the tea at my office. Pardon my residual Englishness.

Anyway, if the past month’s Tory collapse is real, and Labour has any shot at a parliamentary majority, Broxtowe will be won in 2017 by Greg Marshall, who took the baton from Nick Palmer’s able hands this spring. Big swings being standard in Broxtowe, one would certainly expect national polls showing Corbyn surging to manifest in Broxtowe. A 4,200 vote swing in Broxtowe would be well in line with historic patterns.

Broxtowe’s switchers would be switching, I think, over leadership. Theresa May has been awful as a candidate, and the Tory manifesto has been an un-costed chaotic series of U-turns. More annoyingly to Broxtowe’s switchers, she foisted this election onto them. No one wants more politics, certainly not an English key seat’s voters who have been bombarded with politics for seven solid years; Thursday will be the fourth national election in Britain since 2010, when Soubry first got to Parliament.

Is Broxtowe enough?

Meanwhile, Corbyn is the picture of strength. To see him on national television as Labour leader is simply astonishing, given the trench warfare the movement behind Corbyn had to endure the last two years. Corbyn is clearly a survivor, who will fight when challenged. Voters like that, not just British ones. In contrast to Theresa May, Corbyn has surged, taking on the Bernie Sanders feel of a historic moment, led by a historic movement.

My bet is the Tories lost Broxtowe when Theresa May refused to debate Corbyn; you called this election, for your own purposes, and you can’t even be bothered to turn up at a debate? British voters like to punish political parties; New Labour for Iraq, Major’s Tories for scandal, and now, perhaps, May’s Tories for cowardice.

Broxtowe might not be enough. Labour’s majorities have relied on winning seats in Scotland, which appears to be a pipe dream in 2017. The rise of Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party (SNP) has nearly wiped out both the Tories and Labour in Scotland. It is unlikely Scottish voters will switch tactically from SNP to Labour in numbers big enough to give Labour at least a handful of seats in Scotland, from only one. The days of Broxtowe deciding matters nationally, may thus be over.

Labour still need to win it. So do the Tories.

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Corbyn’s Labour has a shot

CorbynWinningA 20-30 point Tory lead is now cut in half, some polls showing single digits, since Theresa May called a snap general election for June 8 on April 18. Like clockwork, American press sucked down trans-Atlantic Tory landslide spin (likely from Jim Messina, an Obama/Clinton veteran now working for the Tories). The Washington Post, no doubt on Messina’s speed dial, took comical leaps of conclusion so ridiculous it had to have been pitched to them.

No one elected Theresa May British Prime Minister. She is only PM because David Cameron resigned in 2016, after caving in 2015 to the hard right of the Conservative Party’s decades old demand for a referendum on the EU, which barely passed as Brexit in 2016. Cameron’s pathetic resignation from a hopelessly split Tory Party gave Theresa May the shifting sand on which she claims to stand “strong and stable”.

May is a sitting duck. A terrible national candidate, she runs and hides behind control freakery worthy of a Clinton. May has been around long enough to make enemies in every Tory corner, as any pro-EU Tory hack had to in order to survive on the government dole for 20 years. Her only solace in the recent Tory polling collapse is that UKIP, the fringe hard right of Brexit godfather Nigel Farrage, went back home to the Tories. UKIP as a political force was always the Tory base, much as the Tea Party has always been the Republican base. UKIP got its long awaited result, Brexit, thus, back to the Tories! Will they turnout? That’s the biggest question that will decide June 8th.


Conversely, Corbyn was plucked from nowhere then thrust into the teeth of a dying New Labour gnawing its death throes. Then beat New Labour, twice. Amidst constant treachery and coup attempts, Corbyn survived then thrived, and now stands on a movement-built machine inspired to march. Labour under Corbyn is a political party, not an accident of incompetence, as May’s Tories are.

Corbyn’s Labour movement vs. a Tory Potemkin Village is the story here, not an imminent landslide. Media either cannot see this tide from the left, or have been trying to stem it. To date, media have largely characterized the rise of anti-establishment radicalism as only from the right; Trump, Brexit, LePen. Not even Bernie Sanders’ Corbynesque leap from nothing to the precipice of the presidency has taught the landed punditocracy that a positive left radicalism can gain momentum, even power. Corbyn is thus invisible to them. But not for long.

Predictably, May’s campaign has been the spitting image of Hillary Clinton’s, perhaps Messina packed it in his luggage. Forward Together! Strong & Stable! Now, the fear. After LePen went down in flames in France, Messina speed dialed every neoliberal pundit on American TV, to pile onto the May Train triumphantly, to cement that there is no difference between right wing radicalism and left wing socialism. Capital has a funny way of mirroring every threat against each other.

DavidFrumNextCorbyn’s test now is to survive a trans-Atlantic onslaught upon him that will dwarf anything Trump, Clinton, or even Bernie Sanders had to endure, for 18 days. Showing his strength, Corbyn has pledged not to step down as Labour Leader no matter the result June 8. If the Tories survive by single digits, there is no reason for Labour to ditch Corbyn, given Corbyn is already outperforming Ed Milliband’s 2015 result. If Corbyn wins, the British left will have proven that radical movement politics can win power from the left with a positive message inspiring the working class.


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How Labour unites to make Jeremy Corbyn UK Prime Minister

It's happening...

In 1997, Labour brought this Clintonista turnout expert across the pond to the East Midlands, because Labour had a turnout problem. A Trotsky bust staring me in the face at the Luton Labour Club concentrated the mind.

East Midlands Labour Party Regional Director Roy Kennedy wanted to show me the remnants of Old Labour that New Labour had just defeated, and Luton Labour Club was a stop on my museum tour. Bookshelves filled with Marxist-Leninist volumes floor to ceiling. Dust aroma. Piles of unread treatises. The works. (A nice preview to my next stop in 1997 right after the election, Armenia, but that’s another story…). New Labour derided the likes of Luton Labour Club as “the Trots”, and there was really nothing to rebut that slur in their musty attic.

Labour had a key seat to win in Luton North in 1997, which we did, where Kelvin Hopkins still sits. Luton North is now a safe Labour seat, which Hopkins will win again this June, twenty years later. Hopkins was one of the barely achieved 35 votes that first placed Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot in 2015 to be Labour Leader. Hopkins is now one of Corbyn’s closest allies. Kelvin Hopkins also campaigned for Brexit. For this political moment, it’s hard to find a better Labour candidate than Kelvin Hopkins, who first arrived at Westminster in 1997 because Luton’s “Trots” stayed on side, and voted New Labour.

Trots staying home was the only way Tony Blair could fail to win Downing Street in 1997. Today, New Labour staying home is starting to feel like the most shameful way Jeremy Corbyn fails to win Number 10. History may have passed them by, but “Trots” certainly knew New Labour was Thatcherism’s greatest achievement, and the disaster that would ensue. Old Labour voted New Labour anyway, because even a neoliberal surrendering to the market like Tony Blair in 1997 was better than a Tory.

Jeremy Corbyn was one of those “Trots” in 1997, and in 2017 has survived two vicious leadership elections to seize Labour by both landslides. When New Labour stood this victorious over Old Labour in 1997, the “Trots” came along. Reluctantly, yes. Many of them today say “I told you so,” very loudly.

labourleadsthewaylordsWhat is New Labour doing now? They must seize this moment and make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister. In these anti-establishment times, there is no one on earth more loathed by the establishment than Corbyn, except perhaps Bernie Sanders. Trump, Brexit, LePen, are the negative sides of the current movement. Corbyn, as Labour Leader, can prove there’s a positive side to the world’s frisky mood. Britain, for the next 5 weeks, is now the tip of that anti-establishment wave. Will it crest and fall the way Hunter S. Thompson saw the 60’s roll back from his Las Vegas hotel room? Or will it roll on? That is New Labour’s decision.

Despite the Tory press (which now apparently includes even the Guardian) painting him uncompromising, Corbyn has indeed compromised toward New Labour, just as Blair did toward the Trots. John McDonnell announced he would “come friendly” to the City of London, which Clement Attlee himself promised to abolish in a Labour manifesto not too long ago. New Labour came to the City a bit too friendly, we’ve now learned, but it appears Corbyn and McDonnell (and probably Kelvin Hopkins) have decided the City can be more useful alive rather than dead. The tax haven driven systemic financial risk the City erupts on the world like Vesuvius every decade or so, like clockwork, should be eliminated. Corbyn’s manifesto will let the City live, probably to use the City’s unique power against its own tax havens. Thus, New Labour can keep their Worshipful Company of Twats parading about in their fuzzy hats, just as Luton Labour Club got to keep its Trotsky bust to show off to a visiting Yank.

Theresa May is a sitting Tory duck. This appears to have concentrated minds. A lot of water is under these 20 year old bridges, but signs are emerging New Labour is starting to make nice with Old Labour once more. The polls have already begun tightening, as the contrast sharpens between Corbyn himself and the establishment’s dowager Queen Her Majesty of the Vampire Squid. Uniting Labour against this establishment, at this moment, should go smoothly, not least since the younger generation’s movement that put Corbyn in this position has built a massive machine ready to march. They’ve even got a good meme game.

Win or lose in June, Corbyn’s Labour is the farthest the anti-establishment left has gotten against power. Labour now stands in its moment. The future of this movement is in Labour’s hands, both Old and New. I’m glad to see Kelvin Hopkins right there in front.

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What I learned in my masters program

FDRHatCigOne month left! Instead of dying of despair like record numbers of my demographic lately (came close!), I overcame to graduate this May 13 from CSU’s Master of Arts in Global Interaction (MAGI) program. What did I learn?

Well, as the most non-traditional of students, I had time to watch a lot of TCM, and last week I finally saw a film that captured what I learned in the MAGI program in a non-academic consumable nugget. Hot Stuff, a 1971 animated short by Zlatko Grgic, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, is sort of a Smokey Bear warning cartoon from Canadian firefighters to kids.

“This tongue-in-cheek animated short serves as a cautionary tale against the hazards of fire. Early humans were given the gift of fire, but warned against the dangers, warnings that eventually fell by the wayside.”


In the MAGI program, I learned that capitalism is a fire which behaves exactly as Hot Stuff depicts. Awesome, necessary power, with constant risk of explosion. Unless it’s in a furnace, capitalism, like fire, will engulf all around it in flame. Needs to be a pretty strong furnace, too.

HotStuffPosterI also learned FDR’s New Deal was that furnace, the size of a country, designed to funnel the power of capitalism for the most good, to all; just as fire is captured, stored, transformed, and harnessed in Hot Stuff. Pipes in the New Deal furnace have been springing leaks since it first roared to life, with vandals (neoliberals to be exact) taking bits of pipe in order to unleash the fire for more than 80 years.

As a young Clintonista, I bought the con that making the New Deal’s furnace pipe less thick and certain would all work out just fine. Another analogy I often use is the Eye of Sauron, and The Ring. We as Americans are particularly vulnerable to this…er…Dark Side Precious. (for geeks, see Gramsci.) My paper on the City of London best captures my MAGI journey from Clintonista to Bernie Sanders/Jeremy Corbyn leftism. It’s a crime story. A known racket (the City) took a crowbar to a key New Deal pipe and lopped it off…in 1953. Dr. Jeffrey Lewis at CSU deserves many thanks for including the City in the syllabus. It helped me write a very personal term paper on my own role in helping keep the New Deal gushing one of its first, most damaging, furnace leaks.

So, off we DLC-Third Way-Centrist-New-Labour buffoons went for a few decades, removing valves, shoving in more fuel to the fire, overloading the pipes of a weaker New Deal furnace…all vividly animated in Hot Stuff. The first 6 inch thick walls of the New Deal furnace to crack were organized labor laws. From the moment the Wagner Act, a crown jewel of FDR’s first term, took effect in 1935, capitalism has been torching its way through unions, continuing without cessation today. Just like fire in Hot Stuff.

So you watched a lot of TCM?

NRAMovieScreenGrabA great movement will be required to reconstitute a 21st century New Deal furnace for capitalism, or luck. Probably both. Herbert Hoover spent the bulk of his presidency making things worse after the October crash in his first year, 1929. On a Trump timeline, that’s this fall. Bernie Sanders probably could have staved off the next, completely predictable, financial crisis. Trump can’t even see it. Eye of Sauron, and whatnot.

Mostly what I learned during the MAGI program is that Americans need to be reminded how Americanly awesome the New Deal was. We once controlled capitalism, not the other way around. And that furnace, which we dismantled ourselves, built the American Dream, which today is a fantasy. America used to be so very proud of the New Deal. TCM helped me visualize this pride during the last three years. For example, classic movies of Hollywood’s New Deal era were unabashedly supportive of every aspect of FDR’s program. Even in opening credits, like this one from Claude Raines’ first big hit The Invisible Man in 1933, celebrating the National Recovery Act (the first, better, NRA).

My MAGI exit project studied the internet as a powerful global non-state actor, currently subjecting this debate on our generational insecurity to its own never ending, constant churn of ideas. Thanks to TCM, I guess I’ll toss some Canadian animation into that buzzing stew. In Hot Stuff, it’s easy to see Trump, Brexit, and LePen sparks fly from overloaded sockets as busy, distracted humans ignore the warnings and multiply the risk, oblivious to fire breaking free of its human control. If you’d like to see more incredible Canadian animation, check out the NFB website. Some pieces of the furnace still work.



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