English Revolution

English Revolution

I have just seen the first of Melvyn Bragg’s documentaries in a two part series called “Radical Lives”. This was about John Ball, a radical priest in England who in 1381 supported the Peasants Revolt. The documentary does a fine job in describing the feudal economic and racist oppression by the scions of the Norman invasion. The original poll tax was levied at this time and the reaction from the peasantry was swift and violent. They rose up and marched on London, sacked the Tower of London and executed several leading government officials.  …

The struggle of the class

The struggle of the class

I stayed up the People’s History Museum after the meeting and had a quick wander round the standing exhibition. Since it’s a museum of the working class, it’s stronger on the period after the industrial revolution and focuses on the coming of the franchise, the foundation of the trade unions and the Labour Party and the suffragettes. I did however stop at their exhibitions on Thomas Paine and even earlier the Levellers. It opens with two panels on corruption of power and the secret societies which were the precursors of the trade unions, both of which are becoming more accurate by the day.  …

Remembering our history

Earlier today, Peter Tatchell launched a a petition on Change.org and publicised it on twitter arguing that the Dead, not the generals should be the focus of our remembrance of WW1

Also at opendemocracy, an article entitled, “Hiding behind the Cenotaph, Cameron will seek to re-write history” makes a longer and better evidenced appeal to remember that

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santanya, “Reason in Common Sense” 1905

I recommend you read the Opendemocracy article, it reminds us that WW1 was a bloody culmination of a race to empire where dead paid the ultimate price under the incompetent, malevolent and propertied leadership, both political and military. …

It’s guns that made a difference.

It’s guns that made a difference.

With so many articles and other writing stuck in production, I thought I”d knock out a quick blog inspired by at Naked Keynesianism; he posted an article called, The Fiscal-Military State and Western Hegemony. The article has a quick look at a select choice of the literature, and reminds us of Charles Tilly‘s allegedly famous argument that “War made the State, and the State made war”, although I suspect that Tilley was not the first to make this argument. Most interestingly, he argues that where cavalry warfare was in the ascendancy, it acted as an inhibitor to  military technological development and latterly superiority. I suggest it was the development of cities, and their density in Europe together with their walls that necessitated the invention of artillery to conduct siege warfare and an infantry to protect it. Similarly, the development of naval warfare and overseas empires, incubated by Europe’s geography reinforced, or maybe preceded the evolution of land based cannons.  …

This House, or when whips served the Party

I went to see “This House” earlier today. It’s the story of the Labour Whips who kept the Wilson and Callaghan government in power for 4½ years, without a majority for much of the time, from 1974 to 1979. It brought back many memories as I had joined the Labour Party in 74 and of course much of my politics was learned and established in the next 10 years. …

Electing a Prime Minister

It’s been an exciting couple of days in British Politics. One interesting fact that I was pointed at by Paddy Ashdown on the Radio this morning is that of the 12 Prime Ministers since the 2nd World War, only 6 came to office by winning an election. i.e. Only 50% of post war Prime Ministers came to office by winning an election.

How 1940’s 1950’s 1960’s 1970’s 1980/90’s Post 1997
General Election Attlee Churchill Wilson Heath Thatcher Blair
Between Election Eden & MacMillan Dougas Home Callaghan Major Brown

The table above doesn’t show Wilson’s second administration. Also Ashdown says that it was five who became Prime Ministers on the basis of the ability to command a majority in the House of Commons, rather than on the back of a general election, so I may have made a mistake. I used Wikipedia’s British General Elections page as my source. …

Memento Park, Budapest

A sculpture park full of the public statues from Budapest during the Communist era. The Hungarians, after the fall of the communist state in 1989 had a long and protracted debate about what to with that state’s public art. I think its important that they’ve chosen to preserve it, and also to do so in the context of this museum. If you visit this park yourself, buy the guide book, “In the shadow of Stalin’s boots”. As it says in the guide book, the Memento Park is not about Communism, but the fall of Communism.  …

Maps and History

Just back from a busy weekend in London, yesterday we visited the British Museum and Library yesterday, looking for John Rocque’s Map of London, which we didn’t find. We went to the Museum’s Enlightenment room and did find out that the British Library is planning a Maps Exhibition next month. Yesterday was the first time I’d ever been, but I expect I’ll be back next month to see what they’re doing. …

10 around town

10 around town

Sun commissioned a competition amongst the students at the Royal Institute of Art to associate, using sculpture, key values to the No 10, and hence Solaris to celebrate the launch of Solaris 10. The winners are available for viewing outside the Lloyd’s building on Thursday.  I may try and get down to St Helen’s Piazza, these look quite good. The reason I like  this marketing project, is it mixes publicising the great qualities of Solaris 10, with communitarian sponsorship and we get the double whammy of people talking about the art and talking about Sun & Solaris. Also, I like sculpture. …