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The Dialectics of Liberation: The Revolution will be re-enacted?
07:17 pm

Class War
Pop Culture


When I “get into” a certain topic or musical genre or filmmaker or author or TV show, I’m one of those people who has to devour all of it. The whole thing. I don’t stop until I’m done and burping it up.

Recently it’s been the not-so twin topics of the “Laurel Canyon” rock sound of the late 1960s/early 1970s and plowing through the major works of The Frankfurt School, that have occupied a lot of my spare time. I’m especially enjoying re-reading the work of the Freudo-Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse, books I first read, well, thirty-some years ago. Although some of the groundbreaking ideas of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School seem rather more obvious today than they would have in the 1960s at the height of their influence, there are many useful concepts to be re-discovered there that are more relevant today than they have ever been. Marcuse’s work is ripe for a new generation—specifically this very restless up and coming generation—to pick up on, perhaps via the intermediary of someone who could popularize his admittedly somewhat difficult to read philosophy.

Although his name, sadly, rings few bells in 2012, Professor Herbert Marcuse was the “father of the New Left” with his influential books like Eros and Civilization, One Dimensional Man, and Counterrevolution and Revolt. For an elderly professor with a thick German accent, Marcuse was an intellectual rockstar in the 60s and early 70s. Back then, his work was discussed with the same seriousness as Marx’s or Sartre’s or Carlos Castaneda’s. He was denounced by right-wingers like Governor Ronald Reagan who was incensed that Marcuse’s salary was paid for by California’s taxpayers.

I discovered Marcuse in a fairly roundabout way. As I’ve written about before elsewhere, I was a huge Ayn Rand head when I was a kid. Ironically, it was via an article published in her magazine The Objectivist (“Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of the New Left” by George Walsh) that I first came across the ideas of the New Left. Not all that long afterwards, I became much more interested in the types of philosophers that Rand and her disciples decried as academic barbarians, dangerous irrationalists and mutilators of student’s minds, than I was in Rand herself.

Not only did I find that the ideas of the New Left resonated more with my own innately experienced view of the world around me, it also seemed clear that if the ideas of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School terrified the Ayn Rand brigade as much as they obviously did, then they must also be more authentic ideas, too.

But the problem with some middle-aged infomaniac like yours truly recommending that you seek out the work of Herbert Marcuse is that few people actually reading this far will even bother to visit his Wikipedia page let alone buy one of his books. Books seem to have a lifespan of about fifteen years (with some major exceptions, of course) and no one wants to read an old book. Especially not these days, so how would it be that these ideas could spread in the culture again and flourish the way they once did? That’s tough. As a former book publisher, I can tell you for sure: it’s worse than tough, it’s nearly impossible.

That’s why I was so pleasantly taken aback by a very cool-sounding theatrical experience that I read about recently that aims to breathe new life into some old ideas, when some actors recreated an historically important counterculture gathering called “The Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation (for the Demystification of Violence).”

This event originally took place at the Roundhouse in London, between the 15th and 30th July, 1967. Aside from the grandfatherly Marcuse, the well-respected éminence grise of the assembled, the participants included anarchist prankster Emmett Grogan of the Diggers (who fucked with the heads of the attendees by delivering a translated speech of Hitler’s and passing it off as his own), performance artist Carolee Schneeman, Julian Beck of The Living Theatre, Paul Goodman, Gregory Bateson, poet Allen Ginsberg, R.D. Laing, Francis Huxley, “Auto-Destructive art” movement and “Art Strike” founder Gustav Metzger and Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael.

The Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation  was organized by the American “anti-psychiatrist” Joe Berke and others from the Institute of Phenomenological Studies. The idea was to spontaneously create a “free university” to revolutionize the masses, a notion inspired by Alexander Trocchi.

The event drew together the bohemian culture of New York’s Lower East Side with Europe’s own rebel groups in art, literature, politics and psychiatry, producing what has been justly described as the ‘numero uno seminal event of [London] 67’, a sometimes joyous but often angry anti-coalition of ‘politicos’ and ‘culture wizards.’

‘All men are in chains’, runs a flyer for the congress. ‘There is the bondage of poverty and starvation: the bondage of lust for power, status, possessions. A reign of terror is now perpetrated and perpetuated on a global scale. In the affluent societies, it is masked. There, children are conditioned by violence called love to assume their position as the would-be inheritors of the fruits of the earth. But, in the process, they are reduced to little more than hypothetical points on a dehumanized co-ordinate system. …We shall meet in London on the basis of a wide range of expert knowledge. The dialectics of liberation begin with the clarification of our present condition.’

The congress opened on the morning of the 15th with a lecture by the anti-psychiatrist R.D. Laing and closed on the 30th with a lecture by the Digger Emmett Grogan, following an happening by Carolee Schneemann and a performance by the British pop group The Social Deviants the previous evening. Gregory Bateson, Stokely Carmichael, Paul Goodman and the German philosopher, Herbert Marcuse were amongst other public figures who spoke. There were seminars in the afternoons and films and poetry readings in the evenings. ‘The Provos were there from Amsterdam. There were students from West Berlin, political activists from Norway and Sweden as well as a large contingent from the New Experimental College, Thy, Denmark. There were representatives from the West Indies, Africa, France, Canada, America, Holland, India, Nigeria and Cuba,’ and remarks by the poet Susan Sherman, one of Berke’s friends, who covered the congress for Ikon magazine.

The congress radicalised many black (and white) people in the audience and acted as an (ironic) influence on the Women’s Liberation movement. It also led to the foundation of the anti-university of London in Shoreditch in 1968, a further important experiment in radical education.

On February 12th in London, the Dialectics of Liberation conference was reenacted with the original organizers, and actors playing the roles of leading speakers. It’s difficult for me to say much more about a theatrical performance I haven’t seen, but this is an interesting idea to get certain ideas back into currency again. Apparently there were also earlier performances at Occupy London and a twenty-first century version of the Congress, called the Dialektikon, is planned for later this year in London. You can read more about it on their website.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Economic Malpractice and the Millennials, or ‘Heather McGhee, you’re my new hero!’
03:22 pm

Class War


Okay, so did you watch that amazing interview Bill Moyers conducted with former Ronald Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett about the economic shambles that George Bush left this country in and why bold initiatives—not Tea party platitudes—are the only way out of this mess? You did? Great, now proceed on to its perfect companion piece, Moyers’ fascinating conversation from that very same program with Heather McGhee.

McGhee is an attorney and the Washington, DC office director of the Demos think tank. You may have noticed her on MSNBC before, or even Fox News, but this is the first time I’ve seen her in a situation where she’s had such a sustained media platform. McGhee shines here. What a refreshing, sparkling—and incisive—intelligence to see in a younger person. I must say, I’m super impressed by what this young woman had to say here and by what she represents about the up and coming generation. This is someone looking at the world with her eyes wide open and what she says here about how “The Millennials” (those born between 1978 and 2000, representing 80 million Americans) view the current state of affairs cuts straight to the heart of the situation they have found themselves coming of age in.

We already know what the Tea Party “elders” (are any of them young?) think needs to happen, but they’re the ones who’ll be dying off soon, anyways, so fuck them!

If you want to understand what the younger generation are likely to demand of society, moving forward, this interview is a very, very good place to start. This is a very important document of our times. Big picture stuff. It’s also one hell of a bravura talkshow appearance!

One thought I had watching this interview was what a great future President Heather McGhee would make and I doubt very much that I am the only one who was watching and thinking that thought. She’s too young now to run for President, of course, but imagine a progressive wet dream ticket for 2016 of Alan Grayson and Heather McGhee! I think they’d make a formidable team.

McGhee is the most articulate new liberal voice on television since Rachel Maddow. Crooks and Liars editor Tina Dupuy and Heather McGhee need to meet, pronto, if they don’t already know each other.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pussy Riot: Russian riot grrrls lead the way

Before the police dragged them off, the members of Pussy Riot, the Russian day-glo balaclava-clad punk rock protesters, sang their anthem “Revolt in Russia” (“Revolt in Russia – the charisma of protest / Revolt in Russia, Putin’s got scared!”) near the Kremlin. Their inspiration for a style of resistance never before seen in Russia, was the riot grrrl punk movement, including groups like Kathleen Hanna’s Bikini Kill, and flash mobs. The young women of the collective, average age 25, have revealed only the smallest details about their lives. None will divulge their day jobs. They only use first-names.

In the two weeks since their mid-January action, the all-female group has become a potent symbol of anger at the status quo in Russian society and their videos have gone viral all over the world. Like many young people in Russia, the members of the Pussy Riot collective are furious at Vladamir Putin’s plans to seek the presidency again and his return was the impetus behind the formation of the group (as well as their song “Putin Has Pissed Himself”). From The Guardian:

“We understood that to achieve change, including in the sphere of women’s rights, it’s not enough to go to Putin and ask for it,” said Garadzha. “This is a rotten, broken system.”

Her bandmate Tyurya said: “The culture of protest needs to develop. We have one form, but we need many different kinds.”

The band began writing songs with lyrics such as: “Egyptian air is good for the lungs / Do Tahrir on Red Square!” and performing on trams and in the metro. Videos of the flash gigs began spreading across the internet. When the protest leader Alexey Navalny was jailed for 15 days after his arrest during Russia’s first post-election protest on 5 December, three members of Pussy Riot took to the roof of the jail where he was being held, setting off red flares as they sang “Death to prison / Freedom to protest!”

The fear of arrest long ago left the band members, steeped in the tradition of illegal protest. “We have experience with it, we’ve been detained at protests before,” said Tyurya. “It’s not scary – you’re surrounded by good, normal people, those who protest against Putin.”

All eight women were detained during the Kremlin performance, questioned and released. Most got off with administrative fines rather than the 15-day jail sentences often doled out to those who stage illegal protests.

“The revolution should be done by women,” said Garazhda. “For now, they don’t beat or jail us as much.”

“There’s a deep tradition in Russia of gender and revolution – we’ve had amazing women revolutionaries.”

The band is getting ready for its next performance, something that usually takes a month to pull together. Its members don’t discuss plans on the telephone or give away details, out of fear that the security services will disrupt the project. Is what they do art or politics? “For us it’s one and the same.”

Despite projected temperatures of -20C, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to march on Bolotnaya Square, across from the Kremlin, on Saturday. The Russian presidential election will be held on March 4. Vladimir Putin, is, of course, expected to win handily.

Read more:
Feminist punk band Pussy Riot take revolt to the Kremlin (The Guardian)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Sex, cigarettes and revolution
02:49 pm

Class War
Pop Culture


French director Henry Chapier’s 1968 documentary American Summer is a companion piece to Sex-Power which DM featured a couple of months ago. What I said about that film applies to American Summer: ” Revolution has never been sexier, more romantic, existential or just plain goofy when seen through the prism of the nouvelle vague.”

In American Summer we’re confronted with a bunch of white California militants who’ve aligned themselves with the Black Panther movement during the trial of Huey Newton. The film captures a moment in which the youth movement of the Sixties was becoming restless with passive forms of resistance against the Vietnam War and civil inequality, a time in which giving peace a chance was being supplanted by a naive and relatively unrealistic notion of revolution. The ideology was becoming more radical and language more provocative, but little action was actually being taken by the children of privilege. It was mostly a theoretical revolution composed of words and salutes. “In dreams begin responsibilities”...but most of us were still dreamers.

Featuring clips from speeches given by Black Panther party militants, an interview with Black Panther Party information secretary Kathleen Cleaver, concerts, a Black Panther military parade and music by Quicksilver Messenger Service.

‘Sex-Power’: Rarely seen French film about the Sixties with Jane Birkin

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
May Day: Massive protest planned for NATO and G8 summit in Chicago

Adbusters magazine, the original impetus behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, has issued a new invitation for a month-long direct action and occupation this May in the Windy City. Looks like this one could be quite a party, too:

Hey you redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,

Against the backdrop of a global uprising that is simmering in dozens of countries and thousands of cities and towns, the G8 and NATO will hold a rare simultaneous summit in Chicago this May. The world’s military and political elites, heads of state, 7,500 officials from 80 nations, and more than 2,500 journalists will be there.

And so will we.

On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month. With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.

And this time around we’re not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago, 1968 … nor will we abide by any phony restrictions the City of Chicago may want to impose on our first amendment rights. We’ll go there with our heads held high and assemble for a month-long people’s summit … we’ll march and chant and sing and shout and exercise our right to tell our elected representatives what we want … the constitution will be our guide.

And when the G8 and NATO meet behind closed doors on May 19, we’ll be ready with our demands: a Robin Hood Tax … a ban on high frequency ‘flash’ trading … a binding climate change accord … a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals … an all out initiative for a nuclear-free Middle East … whatever we decide in our general assemblies and in our global internet brainstorm – we the people will set the agenda for the next few years and demand our leaders carry it out.

And if they don’t listen … if they ignore us and put our demands on the back burner like they’ve done so many times before … then, with Gandhian ferocity, we’ll flashmob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe … we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear.

Jammers, pack your tents, muster up your courage and prepare for a big bang in Chicago this Spring. If we don’t stand up now and fight now for a different kind of future we may not have much of a future … so let’s live without dead time for a month in May and see what happens …

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

Below, footage of the confrontation between Chicago police and protesters at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago:

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Chicago”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Occupy Oakland re-groups and the cops react: Things turn violent
05:08 am

Class War
Current Events


While the Occupy Movement energy seems to have dissipated in many cities, Oakland is keeping it alive. Yesterday a demonstration turned nasty.

In the video below, the cops seem to be enjoying themselves as they point their guns in the direction of the protesters. As the rifle-toting bulls laugh themselves silly, I wonder if they really have any idea as to who they are protecting and from what? These images remind me of the People’s Park demonstrations of 1969. I see the same arrogance and ignorance in the faces of the cops I saw four decades ago. And the kids on the streets protesting are as idealistic and determined as the cops are clueless. The only difference this time around is the movement will not be stopped.

Oakland Local reports:

Occupy Oakland organizers envisioned this weekend as a “move-in day” which would allow them to rechristen the controversial movement by occupying a vacant building and turning it into a “social center.” Flyers distributed Saturday at a noontime rally at Frank Ogawa (aka Oscar Grant) Plaza announced an ambitious schedule of musical performances, arts & crafts, workshops on foreclosure defense, gender dynamics, and bike repair, forums, and a film festival.

The Oakland Police Department, however, had other plans. As a crowd estimated at around 1,000 people marched Eastward from the Plaza, toward Laney College, more than 50 police officers in riot gear began to trail them from the rear. One woman was arrested when she fell behind police lines, and officers pushed an elderly man to the ground, though he was not arrested.

As the crowd massed at Laney and crossed a wooden bridge, more officers converged from other sides, blocking exits to city streets. Several tense stand-offs ensued, although the tension was broken somewhat by the humorous sight of a man sitting in a chair telling the police he wanted to revise the chant from “F—-the police” to “F—- police brutality.”

The march continued on to East 10th, where more police were sighted, then up 12th Street, near Fallon, close to the location of the move-in target, the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. A ring of riot police, some wielding shotguns, others with batons, guarded the facility. After a protestor moved a fence, police deployed tear gas into the crowd, then declared unlawful assembly.

After several tense minutes, the marchers moved West on 12th, then South on Oak Street. Another showdown ensued in front of the Oakland Museum. A line of police stood at 10th Street, and marchers with homemade shields began to advance on them. Before they could get close, however, OPD let off a fusillade of CS canisters, flash-bang grenades, and beanbag pellets into the crowd. The wind blew most of the tear gas back into the police line, but the demonstration of firepower proved effective, and the crowd retreated.

A cat-and-mouse-game then ensured for the next hour, as police slowly pushed the marchers back to the Plaza. There were several arrests as police advanced, but very few instances of violence and few if any acts of aggression against police. Unlike other Occupy Oakland marches, there were no projectiles or liquids thrown at police. By 4 p.m., the march, still several hundred strong, had returned to Ogawa Plaza, awaiting further actions.

Earlier in the day, organizer Adam Jordan outlined the vision of what Occupy Oakland had hoped to accomplish. “The move-in day is hypothetically and hopefully going to be a multi-use center with free school workshops, free food, free meals, and a meeting place to have for Oakland, for the people, by the people. We see the need to help other people. Going through the system has not been working for a lot of people.”

Occupy Oakland’s positive aspects, Jordan said, were often not looked at “because of the rhetoric from City Hall.” The movement, he said, was here “to make it better for everybody.”`

Moreover, he said, the movement is worldwide. “If anyone has an Internet connection, they’ll realize they now have an Occupy Nigeria, an Occupy Taiwan, and Occupy London, an Occupy Netherlands.I met a guy from Occupy Edmonton…this is a world movement. You think it might go away here, it’ll come back like a weed, because it’s everywhere.”

This footage just uploaded to YouTube by brettnchls captures just one skirmish on a day when there were many. At the 2:05 mark someone appears to be injured and protesters are calling out for a medic. If anyone thinks tear gas cannisters, smoke bombs, flash bang grenades or rubber bullets are relatively harmless, try getting hit by one in the face.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Milton Glaser & Mirko Ilic: Design of Dissent

Tonight in New York, revered graphic designer Milton Glaser (do a Google Images search if that name doesn’t ring a bell) will take part in a panel discussion with Mirko Ilic about the creation of powerful politically driven graphics. The event is hosted by Reality Sandwich creative director, Michael Robinson

This panel discussion features graphic design legend Milton Glaser and award winning designer/illustrator Mirko Ilic focusing on graphic design’s ability to convey how power is effectively used and distributed, and justice is fulfilled. Based upon Glaser and Mirko’s book The Design of Dissent: Socially and Politically Driven Graphics, the authors will discuss how today’s image makers and corporate shamans can use design to create the more beautiful and just world we all know is possible.

This event is co-sponsored with Evolver/Reality Sandwich. Hopefully they’ll put a videotape of the discussion online soon.

Thursday, January 26, 8–10pm at The Open Center, 22 E. 30th St., NY

Below, a delightful portrait of Milton Glaser by Hillman Curtis:

Milton Glaser’s Graphic Influence: 14 Iconic Images (Fast Company)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Anarcho-punk’d: Crass’s infamous ‘Thatchergate’ tape


These days we’re used to seeing public figures like Sarah Palin and Scott Walker punked, but in the early 1980s, the avenues for media hacking just did not exist the way they do now. The infamous “Thatchergate” tape—an audio collage constructed by Crass bassist Peter Wright (aka “Sybil Right” and “Pete Wrong”) of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan “talking” about nuclear weapons and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield as a deliberate attempt to escalate the conflict in the Falklands War was one of the first. The “Thatchergate” tape was an event back then, especially in the squatter/anarcho-punk crowd that I was a part of in London at the time. To hear about Crass perpetrating the hoax of Ronald Reagan getting “caught on tape” threatening to nuke Europe (to show Russia who was boss!) was nothing short of a blow against Moloch!

Today, there are a little more than 2000 items that come up on Google for “Thatchergate” and most have nothing to do with Crass. This story should be a lot better known, it’s one of the greatest pranks in history:

From San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 1983.

Washington. A fake tape of a purported conversation between President Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was circulated in Europe this spring, possibly by the KGB, the State Department said yesterday.

“This type of activity fits the pattern of fabrications circulated by the Soviet KGB, although usually they involve fake documents rather than tapes,” the department said in a written response to reporter’s questions.

The department said that although the recording is of “poor quality,” a technical analysis revealed that the voices were those of Reagan and Thatcher.

But the department indicated the voices were spliced together and said they were not part of an actual conversation.

“We checked with the White House, which advised thay no such conversation took place,” the department said.

The President’s part in the recording apparently was lifted from his Nov. 22, 1982 speech on nuclear disarmament,” it said. “We are not sure where Mrs. Thatcher’s remarks came from.

The department said a copy of the tape was received by the U.S. embassy in the Netherlands a week before the British elections.

The tape dealt with the Falklands crisis and U.S. missiles in Britain, the department said.

It said, “From the drift of the tape, the evident purpose was to cause problems for Mrs. Thatcher by blaming her for the sinking of the British destroyer Sheffield and also for us by stirring trouble on the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) issue.”

The Sheffield was sunk by Argentine forces last year during the war with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Britain and the United Staes took part in a NATO decision to install intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe late this year as a counter to similar Soviet forces if an agreement on restriction such weapons is not reached.

The State Department said the tape-recording was sent with a covering letter from an anonymous person to Dutch journalists.

It is said an analysis by the language experts “suggests that the author was not a native speaker.”

The Reagan administration has contended for some time that the KGB has contended for some thime that the KGB has a forgery factory producing false documents to mislead target audiences.

It was also written up in The Sunday Times, on January 8, 1983

How the KGB fools the West’s press.

THE TAPE is heavy with static and puntuated with strange noises, but through it all can be heard the authentic voices of Ronald Reagan on the telephone: “If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.”

At the other end of the telephone is Mrs. Thatcher. “You mean Germany?” she asks increduously.

“Mrs. Thatcher, if any country endagers our position we can decide to bomb the problem area and so remove the instability.”

If this is not hair-raising enough, we hear Mrs. Thatcher virtually admitting that she had the Belgrano sunk to end any chance of an agreement with Argentina. “Oh God!” says Reagan.

The whole conversation is fake. Both voices are real but the words spoken have been doctored, cut, rearranged and then expanded on the transcript of the tape. Every word from Reagan is extracted from his lengthy presidential address on nuclear strategy. When, for instance, he seems to swear at Mrs. Thatcher, he is in fact coming to the end of his speech and quoting a hymn: “Oh God of love, O king of peace.”

The tape surfaced in Holland just before last year’s British general election, but it never quite overcame the suspicions of Dutch journalists. They declined to publish the juicy exclusive, sent to them anonymously. But other journalists across the world have fallen for an increasing flow of such stories based on “authoritative” cables, memo and tapes. The State Department in Washington says they are all products of an increasingly sophisicated Russian campaign.

“They have accelerated their efforts and they have fine-tuned them,” claims Larry Semakis, deputy director of a State Department team that monitors what the Russians call “active measures.” He admits that “no one can specifically prove in a court of law that Soviet hand was on this or that item.” But he says there is a pattern in the use of forgeries which points unmistakably to the Russians.

The State Department believes that “active measures” are the responsibility of the KGB’s first directorate; that some forgeries go as high as the ruling Politburo for approval…

“[W]hich points unmistakably to the Russians”? I don’t think so…

Then one year later in The Observer newspaper on, Sunday, January 22, 1984, it was revealed that…

‘Soviet’ faked tape is rock group hoax

A TAPE recording, purporting to carry details of a secret telephone conversation between Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan, has been revealed as a hoax manufactured deliberately by an anarchist rock group.

The recording was taken to newspapers throughout Europe—including The Observer—but, apart from one Italian newspaper, nobody had been taken in by the hoax tape until it appeared in the Sunday Times earlier this month.

That newspaper described it as part of a KGB propaganda war. Unfortunately the tape was recorded not in Moscow but in an Essex farmhouse.

The New York correspondent of the paper reported that the State Department believed the tape was evidence of ‘an increasingly sophisticated Russian disinformation cam- paign.’

The real authors of the hoax tape, the anarchist punk rock group Crass, said that they had been ‘amused and amazed’ that the tape had been attributed to the KGB.

The recording first appeared in the offices of a number of Continental newspapers shortly before the British general election last year.

A covering note said it was a recording of a crossed line on which was heard part of the two leaders’ telephone conversation, and that the person who sent it wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Key lines in the tape include Mr. Reagan apparently asking why the Belgrano was sunk during the Fallrlands war, when Secretary of State Haig was nearing a peace agreement. Mrs Thatcher appears to reply: ‘Argentina was the invader. Force had to be used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.’

Mr. Reagan then says: ‘Oh God, it is not right. You caused the Sheffield to have been hit. Those missiles we followed on the screen. You must have, too, and not let them know.’

Later, in a discussion on nuclear strategy, Mr. Reagan is made to say: ‘If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.’

The tape was first brought to The Observer by a Belgian journalist last June. We concluded, like most of the other newspapers, that it was a fake.

The quest for the real hand behind the tape led to an isolated farmhouse in north Essex, where the eight members of the band live with their children.

Reluctantly the members of the band, who sport names like Joy Be Vivre, G Sus and Sybil Right, admitted faking the tape. They showed how they had put it together over two and a half months, using parts of TV and radio broadcasts made by the two leaders, then overdubbing with telephone noises.

‘We wanted to precipitate a debate on those subjects to damage Mrs. Thatcher’s position in the election. We also did it because of the appaling way Tam Dalyell was treated over the Belgrano debate,’ they said.

‘We believe that although the tape is a hoax, what is said in it is in effect true.’

And there was more: From The Associated Press, Sunday, January 25, 1984

And still more…

Crass ‘KGB tape’ hoax (Sounds, January 28, 1984)

CRASS have been uncovered as the perpetrators of a bogus tape of a telephone ‘conversation’ between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

The tape was originally circulated last sammer before the General Election and was claimed to be a recording of a crossed line between the two leaders. Needless to say it is not complimentary to either statesperson.

During the coarse of the ‘conversation’ Thatcher replies to Reagan’s question about the Belgrano by saying: “Argentina was the invader. Force had to be used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.”

And later in a discussion aboat nuclear strategy Reagan says: “If there is any conflict we a shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays with stays within its borders.”

Most newspapers recognised the tape as a fake but the Sunday Times attributed it to KGB propaganda a couple of weeks ago and last Sunday’s Observer took considerable delight in tracking the tape back to Crass’s HQ in Essex.

Invoking the spirit of one of Reagan’s predecessors, George Washington, they explained that the tape had been put together from TV and radio broadcasts overdubbed by telephone noises.

They justified their actions by saying: “We wanted to precipitate a debate on the Falklands and nuclear weapons to damage: Thatcher’s position in the election. We also did it because of the appalling way Tom Dalyell (almost the only MP to raise any awkward questions over the Falklands affair) was treated over the Belgrano debate in the House of Commons.

I recall hearing at the time that Jane Pauley did a story on this on The Today Show in the US, but can find no record of that online, sadly… To this day, the members of Crass have never been able to figure out how the tape was traced back to them.

Pretty much there are only two ways to hear the “Thatchergate” tape: In the Crass song, “Powerless with a Guitar” you can hear a bit of it. It was also included at the end of a “God Told Me to Do It” mix by David Tibet which you can download at the excellent Kill Your Pet Puppy blog (where I got most of this information from and has audio interviews about “Thatchergate”). Since it’s not ideal listening—the conceit was that it was recorded due to crossed wires, so there is a ringing phone noise throughout (a nice touch)—here’s a transcript of the “Thatchergate” tape in full:

Thatcher: Own business!

Reagan. I urge restraint. It’s absolutely essential or the area ‘be “through the roof”.

Thatcher: Look, our objectives are fundamentally different. Al Haig…

Reagan: Secretary Haig….

Thatcher:. Doesn’t seem to be able to find a solution.

Reagan: Why eliminate “Belgrano”? You directed this. The Argentinians were then going…. Secretary Haig reached an agreement.

Thatcher: Argentina was the invader! Force has been used. It’s been used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.

Reagan: Oh, God, it’s not right! You caused the “Sheffield” to have been hit. Those missiles we followed on screens. You must have too, and not let them know. What do you hope to gain?

Thatcher: What I said before -“Andrew”- ....As “cruise” go in, I want incentives at all levels….

Reagan: There’s a deal….a third more submarine ballistic missiles, and you will see that the United States forces remain deployed. The intermediate range missiles are U.S. defence. You proposed building them in Europe. Build up the economy. They don’t work, they’re social programmes…. The United Kingdom is a….er….little nation….

Thatcher: You still need those nations, and you’re given long term international markets.

Reagan: We are supported by our allies, whether they want, or not.

Thatcher: I, I don’t understand you….

Reagan: In conflict, we will launch missiles on allies for effective limitation of the Soviet Union.

Thatcher: ‘Mean over Germany?

Reagan: Mrs Thatcher, if any country of ours endangered the position, we might bomb the “problem area”, and correct the imbalance.

Thatcher: See, my….

Reagan: It will convince the Soviets to listen. We demonstrate our strength….The Soviets have little incentive to launch an attack.

Thatcher: Our British people….

Reagan: London! ....

Thatcher: I think….

Reagan: Let that be understood…



Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Anonymous takes down the FBI’s website, issues new video
09:24 pm

Current Events


Image via AnonNews
After the closure of the hugely popular Megaupload site earlier today, the Anonymous group has struck back by taking down the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website, From Russia Today:

The official website for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation is the latest victim in a massive online attack against both the government and entertainment industry.

The Bureau’s official website,, went down Thursday evening after hacktivists participating in campaigns waged by the loose knit collective Anonymous attacked a series of sites in retaliation for a raid earlier in the day against the Megaupload service.

Following a federal raid that not only shut down the file sharing service Megaupload but also led to more than 20 warrants being served and at least seven arrests internationally, hacktivists took to the Web to respond. The result was an attack on the sites of several entertainment industry and government sites that crippled many of them. The websites for the US Department of Justice and Universal Music Group were among the first to go, with the sites for US Copyright Office, Warner Music, BMI, and RIAA following suit shortly after. At around 7:40 PM ET, finally went down.

Anonymous have also issued this video, declaring the launch of Operation Blackout, and stating:

This is not only an Anonymous collective call to action… this is a call for a worldwide internet and ohysical protest against the powers that be.


The reaction to this is going to be interesting, to say the least!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Alan Turing: Petition to Pardon his Conviction
03:21 pm



In the centenary of his birth, mathematician, code-breaker and pioneer of computer science, Alan Turing has been honored with a Royal Mail commemorative stamp, but has as yet to be pardoned over his conviction, in 1952, for being gay.

Turing was a central figure in the development of the computer. In 1936, he proposed a theoretical “Universal Machine”, which could carry out any calculation by following a stored program. He was also an essential part to Britain’s victory in the Second World War through his work at Bletchley Park, where he turned his “Universal machine” into a working computer. After the war, he intended to manufacture his machine as the first general purpose computer. He also pondered the question of a computer’s ability to think for itself, and proposed the Turing test as a way of measuring a computer’s intelligence.

Yet, for all his hard work for the state, he was shown no leniency when arrested in 1952 for admitting to sexual acts with a man. Homosexuality was illegal in England at this time, but Turing had no fear or shame over who he was. As the police noted when Turing gave his confession: “He was a real convert…he really believed he was doing the right thing.”

By doing the right thing, being brave, and proud in who he was, Turing was punished by the choice of imprisonment or chemical castration. He opted for the latter. He was also stripped of his security clearance and barred form working on or advising on any government matters.

In 1954, his career ruined, his life all but destroyed, Turing committed suicide by eating an apple injected with cyanide.

A tragic end to a man who did so much for others.

In 2009, John Graham-Cumming successfully organized a petition urging the British Government to posthumously apologise to Alan Turing for prosecuting him as a homosexual. This happened when then Prime Gordon Brown released a statement, which read:

‘Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him ... So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.’

But sometimes saying ‘sorry’ is not enough, and in December 2011, William Jones started a petition which states:

We ask the HM Government to grant a pardon to Alan Turing for the conviction of ‘gross indecency’. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ with another man and was forced to undergo so-called ‘organo-therapy’ - chemical castration. Two years later, he killed himself with cyanide, aged just 41. Alan Turing was driven to a terrible despair and early death by the nation he’d done so much to save. This remains a shame on the UK government and UK history. A pardon can go to some way to healing this damage. It may act as an apology to many of the other gay men, not as well known as Alan Turing, who were subjected to these laws.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth and it is now time to clear his name of the terrible injustice that was meted out to him, and other gay men. You can sign the petition here.

Bonus short, ‘The Achievements of Alan Turing’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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