Generation Loss

Generation loss is a term for when something is transferred, replicated into another format or reproduced and the quality decreases incrementally with each copy. This happens across all formats, analogue and digital, be it a negative that has another negative made from it or an online video that is downloaded, no replica is ever perfect. This theory has been explored in science fiction fairly regularly when clones deteriorate at an accelerated rate or when multiple clones are made the later ones are less like the original, this was confirmed when the world famous Dolly the Sheep, the first living clone of an animal, was found to have debilitating arthritis and died relatively young. The more you reproduce something the poorer the reproductions become. Have you ever played chinese whispers? The final phrase, announced after having been heard and retold to a group of people, has suffered from generation loss. The photograph of a beautiful valley reproduced a thousand times becomes and green and blue smudge.

Socialism is (contrary to popular belief) not Communism. Communism is the opposite of Capitalism, Socialism accepts Capitalism but believes in democratic state intervention to curb its excesses. Y’know, the ones that result in people dying or being abused or discriminated against. It’s original meaning, coined by Henri de Saint-Simon, was to refute the individualism espoused by liberal politics i.e. that people prosper when we work together for a common goal as opposed to everyone being “out for themselves”. Socialism developed into a genuine political force in the 19th century and whilst the history of it is convoluted and difficult, one of its first major ‘wins’ can be seen in the Paris Commune of 1871, a short lived French Government post Franco-Prussian War that didn’t result in many decrees being passed but ones that did were significant. The separation of Church and State for instance. But in Britain in 1900 was when socialism took a larger part in the politics of this country. The Labour party was formed under the banner of socialism and rights for workers (hence the name) and overtook the Liberal party as the major opposition to the Conservatives. Since then the Labour party has remained the main ‘other’ party in Parliament.

Rather amazingly Labour’s impact is profound on any British resident. Even people who claim to be adamant Conservatives still believe in an awful lot of socialist principles: free health care, legal aid, social housing (to combat those pesky homeless people who want your change), maternity leave, and a myriad of other things that we in this country, when we are not taking them for granted, overwhelmingly agree with and actively fight to maintain. The post WWII two Labour government developed the Welfare State and the NHS, put many services into public hands by Nationalising things like the Bank of England. After the decimation of land, property and populace wrought by the war something drastic had to be done and Clement Atlee’s Labour Government, with the help of William Beveridge and Aneurin Bevan. developed this rather radical socialist agenda into policy. It worked and within 6 years the country was transformed to the point where, even though the Conservatives won the 1951 election, it was only by accepting these substantial social changes as a rousing success known as the Post-War Consensus. A lot of these ideals did not survive Thatcherism but some did, notably the NHS and the Welfare State and it is rather encouraging that even as Labour shifted right in the 90s many of these ideals were still maintained. Until today.

The generation loss of socialism has come to the point now where it is so muddied and unrecognisable that people cry foul at its nearest mention and, as mentioned earlier, confuse it with the unmitigated disaster of Soviet Communism. With names like Social Justice Warrior, Feminist and Do-Gooder used as pejorative terms this shows the deterioration of an ideology that was seen as a consensus, an objectively beneficial set of economic and ethical principles. From generation to generation we have been handed these political ideas but shuffled in amongst growing disparity in class and increasing austerity from every political party in the UK. This has created a contempt for this mode of political thinking whilst taking the surviving elements still seen as good and repurposing them; the Conservatives notably referred to themselves as the ‘Party of the NHS’. The result is that the Labour Party of 2017, despite having the largest membership of any party and espousing policies that benefit a massive proportion of the country of all classes, is rife with civil war from its own MPs who demand Labour return to its more right leaning ways so it might win the snap election against an unabashed and staggeringly popular Conservative Party that are doubling down on a glassy-eyed nationalism and individualist manifesto. Politics that once saved and united a nation is now dismissed as a chaotic mess and actively maligned as out-of-date and impractical. Socialism’s generation loss has left it barely perceivable from its source.

This is not unique to the UK. You need only look at the dawning of the Trump era of Rule by Whim and Oligarchy, the rise of sanitised Fascism in Le Pen in France, North Korea’s existence under the boot of a Dictator, Syria’s near total collapse under Assad, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte saying he literally doesn’t give a shit about human rights and is “angry. I will kill people” make it quite clear that in the 70 years since the greatest humanitarian disaster in human history, there has been a deterioration in the memory of that era that revealed to everyone the depths of depravity and unconscionable evil mankind can stoop to under the guise of individualist pride and nationalism. As a child, the values espoused by socialism: fairness, equity and altruism – seemed to be a given, countries and people that did not go along with these kind of egalitarian and (I believed) forward thinking ideas were confronted and taught “that’s not how we do things now”. In the last 3 years or so this seems to have done an about face. Endless reams have been written on the subject, analysing why from every side of the argument but, to me at least, they all fall short of describing the paucity of humanity inherent in nearly every nation across the globe today. That verdant green valley and it’s crystalline blue river, now nothing but a hazy cyan smudge.

When Theresa May wins the General Election in June and England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland become single party Nations, when we leave the EU to our unmitigated detriment due to a myopic and over inflated sense of self worth, it is unlikely anyone reading this will feel the sociological tremors resulting in the genuine catastrophe that awaits. That will be the next generation. The next generation, in the wake of unchecked totalitarian political control, fascist governments, nationalist policy and a total lack of diversity in any field, will lose more than we can comprehend. In just this country alone the NHS will be privatised, the Pound will be one of the lowest valued currencies, class divisions will result in substantial ghettoisation, a hard border in Ireland will plunge us back to ‘The Troubles’ of the 70s that cost thousands of lives, all combined with general economic disparity that will produce a generation bereft of any of the socialist ideals that, ironically, the right wing trumpet as our great institutions. It is the next generation who will be described in history as the Generation of Loss.

Let us hope they develop a radical political idea of working together for a common good. A party of, I dunno, being social?

Sold Out

judas

Once upon a time there was a notion, seen as unforgivable, called  “selling out”. This was the idea that your integrity in whatever field was up for sale and whatever it was you had to offer, once bought, could never be retrieved as it was now “sold out”. It is often used in reference to artists of various kinds. The most egregious cases of selling out were when it was to do with advertising. It is often used as a weapon by seething rivals to wave at their more successful peers to draw attention to their lack of integrity and that their talents are for sale to the highest bidder. Some would argue, however, that utilising the money and exposure offered by some form of larger cultural presence, such as a business etc, is a great thing as it allows the artist to develop without the constraints of poverty and allows a greater audience to see their work. In a capitalist society the latter is generally seen as the focus for any artist but never more so than now.

The notion of “selling out” is all but gone today. The young creative sector of society’s only goal today is to sell their creations or  ‘content’ to the highest bidder at the earliest available opportunity. Youtuber’s (almost universally between the ages of 16 to 26) main aim is to gain a large enough following to tempt companies to advertise on their channel for an intermittent and wildly unrepresentative fee, singers and musicians believe their only route into success is to now use the various television “talent” contests developed purely to make money for the hosts and to be owned, wholesale, by the promotion company owned by oily, bleach toothed, hair dyed, billionaires. Fine artists and graphic designer’s greatest goal seems to be that their art is used in an advertising campaign.

Then there are the deluded artists (like me) who believe that integrity is all that matters when it comes to art, in whatever form. That believe art should not be censored or compromised for any reason, least of all money. That any creation is compromised the moment it requires substantial financial input, because that means that there a many more vested interests that believe they know how best to create the thing for the maximum return on investment. Whilst larger artistic works certainly require involvement from people other than the artist to create a piece, there tends to be a guiding hand. Which is where the idea of selling out came in. To make a film say, requires a lot of money up front to develop and produce and in western society that is an investment (and a high risk one at that) and the more input from outside sources the less control there is from the artist but for a book say it just requires the writer and their editor, right? Not any more. The publisher needs to cover costs too and the Big Six publishing houses need to turn over massive profits every year to maintain their lists so there will be executive input there too. What this amounts to is the fact that if you create anything of any kind your next step to being able to earn money from it is to literally sell it i.e. give away the thing you have created for a fee so it no longer belongs to you. Many business minded people would see not agreeing with this as precious but many artists (like me) see this sale as an unnecessary step it the creative process.

I think this death of the idea of selling out is largely due to the death of foundations, institutions and bodies that would assist artists or talents in their develop with the knowledge they would not make their money back, that their investment in culture was the return. In an age where universities now charge £9k per year – a figure set to rise in the coming few years – and where students are treated as consumers and then duly act like consumers, their education a commodity, the notion of social enterprise for no financial reward is an unthinkable concept. Therefore any creator’s drives must be largely financially minded today, you can no longer want to do something creative purely for the sake of creation, there must be recompense. As such, you must then sell. This sale is so much part of every industry today it isn’t even referred to so selling your product isn’t an unpleasant route that some artists or creations mistakenly take to be rich and famous, it is the goal in western (but let’s be honest, global too) society.

My utter utter despair at my fellow countrymen at the beginning of May for voting in such an unashamedly cowardly and self-centred way was also tempered with surprise at my own naivety that people would not vote for the outwardly cruel and despicable bunch of self serving cunts we now have in power by virtue of the slimmest majority possible. Scotland and Ireland voted (rightly) for themselves and so did England. The majority of voters in England sold out any notion of integrity for personal gain this last general election because they voted for their own pockets, to stay rich, middle class and take care of themselves and their own families knowing full well they were voting for five more years of food banks, public sector cuts, austerity, punishing the poorest and sickest in society and generally a government that any so-called ‘civilised’ country would be ashamed to have rule them. That to me, is the definition of “selling out” and the simple fact that but for one march in London little has been done or said to protest this fact means this mentality is the prevailing wind in this country I now bitterly call home.

I don’t deny I want to be a published author still as I would like to make a living from my writing but in light of our current regime and overall disgust with the attitude of the people in England I am more resolute in my desire than ever to not accept that to succeed is to be selfish. To truly succeed is to be selfless. Altruism outlives you and affects far more than your children or grandchildren. I have been long-term unemployed for the last 3 years (yet mercifully found a job just as the money obsessed Conservatives gained power) and was able to survive purely through the kindness of other people. My Dad was not wealthy and I did not inherit any great deal of money but I did inherit a support network of hundreds of people who have all in small or large ways kept me going over the last three years. I can tell you who hasn’t: British social institutions, our government and by extension our society as a whole. Every time I went to institutions for help they were either entirely unhelpful or incredibly bitter that they had to help me at all and when they did it was made as difficult for me as possible to garner any assistance at any turn. I was made to feel like a criminal and villain simply for the unforgivable crime of not earning money. This sanctified notion of “working families” that is all any political party cares about. The government sells its wares and expects returns despite being malfunctioning and piss-poor in its delivery and effects, my Father gave his away and his legacy is still present today. The same goes for most of the good people I know. If you sell yourself all you get in return is more money which many say is enough, I don’t. I’m greedy. I want to be happy and want other people to be happy and safe and fulfilled and creative. Money never has been able to and never will be able to purchase that.

Judas Iscariot was paid 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus’ trust and in so doing, causing Jesus’ death and then later his own suicide. All for 30 pieces of silver. Those coins are long since lost (if they ever existed) and would never be recognised amongst the currency of the day as it is. Judas sold out, it earned him little but cost him everything.

If you are looking for compassion here in England now, I’m sorry. We’re all sold out.

Back in Manc

Alright people! Enough with the demand for updates on my life! Cheez…

With that piercing display of sarcasm – as no one has really asked – I’m going to tell you anyway;

So, after the gut wrenching, soul-destroying disappointment at the beginning of the year I finally dusted myself off and got back up again (it only took 3 months). And when I say back up, I mean back up to Manchester and returned to my old job courtesy of my very nice boss. (Incidentally, get all your photos printed here.) So my lovely coupled-up Friends James & Nicola, Josh & Victoria and James & Toby all put me up for the month of May while I got back on my feet, i.e. A Flat. My flat is now at least above ground which is an improvement on the last and it is cheaper. It is also in trendy West Didsbury where wannabe footballers and wannabe WAGs go to get drunk, fornicate and fight but luckily they do it quietly and my road is very leafy and green. So that’s a step up.

In addition to this, I got a letter from one of my musical Heroes, Ed Harcourt. And here it is;

Let me just reiterate that. A popular, touring musician who has been in the charts and been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in the past who was signed to EMI, sent little old me a personal letter. What. a. fucking. Legend! He’s done it before too. I sent him the one and only fan letter I have ever sent and the guy replied then too. So that cheered me up. Then it turned out he was playing the Deaf Institute in the city later that month as he is promoting his new album ‘Lustre’ (which I trust you all have bought already and, if not, are opening a new window to order it off Play.com as you read) so I got me some tickets and off I went. I stuck around after the show and sure enough he appeared to sign a few things and chat. I waited till last as I had nothing to sign and had a personal signature anyway and went up to thank him for his kind words and taking the trouble to write in what must be a busy schedule. “Leo!” He shouted. “How’s it all going now? Picking up?” We had a brief chat where I thanked him and told him what an impact his albums had made on me and hoped it didn’t sound stupid to thank him for that and hoped he would continue to make music. To which his response was to give me a big hug and a handshake. What a lovely fella. If nothing else buy his albums ’cause he is just that nice.

Then there was the DEBACLE of an election where I went to an election night party and played the constituency Drinking game but because I don’t drink it was the ‘strip’ constituency game. For anyone expecting a long rant on our current political landscape, it’s coming. I am storing that particular vat of bile for its own post. In short I, like pretty much the whole country, am not happy with the result and am merely waiting for Stormtroopers to come goose-stepping down the high street any day now. Vive le Resistance!

Beyond that I’ve done a few open mic nights and jam nights to get my face back in the frame, which backfired somewhat when the guys from Matt&Phreds took my number and gave me a call for a paid gig which I had to turn down because I don’t have my piano with me and (thanks to my own idiocy and hubris) no longer own a drum kit. Woe. I did a few ‘Jams’ with a friend in his garden on some balmy summer evenings with a Mandolin player, tuba player, saxophonist, Accordion player and me playing upside down acoustic guitar. It was Klezmer-tastic. I have also absorbed the high culture of Manchester (It does exist!) by attending various exhibits including Dorothy Bohm and Goya, as well as the MOSI which is AWESOME!

I also had a lovely afternoon out the other week with Josh and Vic to Tatton Hall which looks like a set from a period film and it has a petting zoo too which was the best thing in my life so far as it had a Chuck. Which is a Chicken/Duck cross, and looks so freakin’ cool I could have stared at it for an hour. There were also, Goats, Donkeys, Cows and most importantly PIGS! And as we all know Pigs shall inherit the earth one day because they are friggin’ sweet and George Orwell said so.

There was also the small matter of me taking photos for that band in the charts, Lucky Soul, while they did their BBC Radio 2 appearance on the Marconie and Radcliffe show. It was great to catch up with Rusky and take some photos of people I’m not related to for a change. The photos were also featured on the BBC website.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. I have had a nightmarish time at work of late, getting a phone line and broadband was a truly hellish experience and, as before, coming back to the empty flat can be depressing and lonely. Living alone does have its advantages as well but I do miss the company.

Aside from all that I’ve been out clubbing (yes, clubbing), to parties, many more gigs and generally acting the Wanton Man of Leisure, so I’ve been far to busy to get depressed really and, in an effort to mollycoddle, I have received some truly wonderful support, understanding and tolerance of my whiny bullshit from my friends up here too. James & Nic were especially kind insisting I stay at theirs longer than planned and generally keeping me on and even keel. Because they are lovely. But Josh & Vic (who got me up here the first time round) have also cooked me many a meal and put me up, again. The lovely couple that are James and Toby have also kept me occupied by dragging me to various club nights and house parties. In short, while everything may have gone tits-up this year I have gained many more things like good friends and other poncey, wet things like that and I love you all a big, huggy bunch. Etc.

So that’s about all the news that’s fit to print. If I’ve missed anything out you already know what it is otherwise you wouldn’t know it was missing. Anyway, it is my birthday at the beginning of next month with which clangorous knell, signals a year since all the shit started and me turning 26. Obviously. I have a few things in the pipeline I will update you all on soon enough but in the meantime, keep it real y’all and send you MP a letter telling him you do not recognise his authority as he wasn’t technically elected then stop paying council tax. Dare you.

Laters yo.