Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kindle edition of The State and Revolution

It is very useful to have a Kindle edition of this Marxist classic. It is also an illustration of the fact that the last capitalist on earth will sell you the rope to hang the second to last capitalist on earth!

The ideas in Lenin's book are relevant to the modern world. They can also be shown to be a basic criticism of the Communist regimes which did not implement the fundamental ideas in "State and Revolution."

1) There should not be a standing army but an armed people - the idea of a militia is enshrined, for example, in the American constitution. This has been perverted to mean every Tom, Dick and Harry should wander around toting a gun. It is clear that in Lenin's view the state was an instrument for the oppression of one class by another and a workers' militia would be a transitional body for the suppression of the remnants of capitalism.
The standing army in China is evidently not under popular control.

2) All officials should be elected and subject to recall. In modern China there are indeed elections. Elections with one candidate for you to vote for!

3) No official should receive more than the average wage of a skilled worker. The monstrous privileges of the bureaucracy in China are an insult to Socialist ideas. Likewise in Australia the workers' organisations support a privileged bureaucracy which gets out of touch with the rank and file because they have a different lifestyle.

4) All bureaucratic tasks should be rotated. We have seen the problem of bureaucrats with "jobs for life" stifling workers' organisations and stifling the workers' states too.

This is what makes "The State and Revolution" relevant to the modern world.

Grab your kindle copy of The State and Revolution here

American site
Australian Site
Canadian Site
Indian site
UK site

Misunderstanding of - update is the clever little name the ad men came up with for the centralisation of medical records. The basic idea, we are told, is to improve patient care so that medical records can be accessed by health-care professionals.   The government has delayed implementation of the scheme because of "public misunderstanding" of the idea.

I am sure some patients "misunderstand" what centralising medical records will mean. Some understand only too well. The NHS plans to sell private medical data to drug companies and insurance companies, some of which are hell-bent on privatising the health service.

So you can see that patients might be a little suspicious of the government's plans.

And to add fuel to the flames, the government has appointed ATOS to oversee the extraction of GP records to the system. You can, if you like, ask any disabled person what they think of ATOS in the context of "care". ATOS's brutal administration of the government's plan to cut the benefit bill has made their brand so "toxic" that they are seeking to ditch the contract ahead of time. Perhaps IDS has the clowns of G4S in mind for the job?

If you say anything to your doctor in confidence it is presumably not your intention that ATOS and whoever they sell the data to should also be privy to the information. It is possible to opt out of this scheme and many doctors are sympathetic to patients who want to do so.

The retreat of ATOS from the DWP's cruel schemes to attack the disabled is a victory for campaigners such as Brighton Benefits Campaign. To ditch this grubby little scam would be another one.

It seems the cost of liberty really is eternal vigilance :)

Forms to opt out of this dodgy scheme are available here

Monday, February 24, 2014

Imperialism the highest stage of capitalism
I am pleased there is a Kindle edition of this Marxist classic. It is an illustration of the old adage that the last capitalist on earth will sell you the rope to hang the second-to-last.

In one sense, Lenin's work is dated. A lot has happened in the last hundred years! On the other hand most of what has happened seems to confirm Lenin's analysis:

1) The concentration of production and capital developed to such a high stage that it created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life. Most of the economy of countries like Australia is dominated by giant corporations and "Free Enterprise" is a myth or a sick joke.

2) The merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this "finance capital," of a "financial oligarchy." The authors of the present financial disaster being the unrestrained and irresponsible bankers.

3) The export of capital, which has become extremely important, as distinguished from the export of commodities.

4) The formation of international capitalist monopolies which share the world among themselves. Many of them have turnovers greater than the GDP of nation states.

5) The territorial division of the whole world among the greatest capitalist powers is completed. You can count the number of imperial conquests taking place at the present time (Iraq and Afghanistan today - perhaps Syria and Iran tomorrow?)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Crowdfunding to help a plucky young choir get to America

Beth McMillan writes:

The choir I'm currently in are trying to get together enough money to go out to Washington and Boston to sing this July. We're quite unusual as Oxford college choirs go - Somerville College was one of the first women's colleges to open, but it's actually one of the newer colleges, because women weren't allowed into Oxford until 1920. It's not particularly famous or well-funded, and it doesn't have much of a choral tradition.
Our singers come from a lot of different backgrounds, and for most of us, this is our first opportunity to travel so far afield.
We're trying to raise part of the money for our tour through gifts from our friends and family. If you'd be willing to consider helping us reach our goal (I'd be really grateful!), you can donate at .

If you can't make a financial contribution to our project, it'd be great if you could spread the word about what we're trying to do to anyone who you think might be interested.

Interview in Worthing Herald

My interview with Worthing Herald is published online here

was born in Croydon in 1951, the youngest of seven children. In 1959 our world was devastated when my father died. Roland McMillan was a remarkable man and I get my interest in reading and poetry from him.I have always written. I was employed for three years by The Socialist newspaper and I still write book and TV reviews for them. A collection of them is published on Kindle.

My mother could recite poetry from memory and she spurred my ambition to become a teacher. For 33 years I was a teacher in East Grinstead and for 16 years I ran a helpline for stressed teachers in West Sussex. After retirement I turned to writing full time, mainly short stories, some of which have been published online by and In a short story “The Mirror of Eternity” I created the character of Xavier Hollands who was the main character in my novel “Salt Wars”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books

I had an email from someone who wanted to read Classroom Teacher Manual but didn't have a Kindle.

There is a Kindle Reader for iPad and iPhone. It is free. Don't feel bad about taking advantage of Amazon, after all we pay their taxes for them :)

There is also a free Kindle Reader for PC which I have downloaded.

I have read Kindle books on these devices. The iPhone is a bit awkward because it is too small for these old eyes but it is possible to use it. The iPad seems to be as easy as using a Kindle and the PC works adequately.

There is a Kindle Reader for Android devices as well. I have not had cause to use it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

IDS shoots himself in the foot :)

Iain  Duncan Smith has a bit of a thing about Freedom of Speech.

His attacks on the disabled and people on benefits - while he lives in the lap of luxury at our expense - brought into being a twitter feed called @UKJCP or "UKJobCentrePlus NOT" which satirises his department and exposes its machinations.
He was not pleased.

He was not pleased at all.

He was so displeased that he started throwing his toys out of the pram and tried to force Twitter to close it down. The man described as the DWP Brand Manager Jon Woodcock said "The account has been set up with deliberate and malicious intent to devalue and criticise the work of Jobcentre Plus." The fact that they have no money for the poor but can employ an expensive "Brand Manager" is beyond satire.
Twitter obeyed Mr Duncan-Smith. 

They were, according to The i newspaper, convinced that the suspension of the account amounted to censorship by 'effectively silencing criticism of UK Government'.. Twitter didn't realise this for themselves? A bit slow on the uptake perhaps.

Now @UKJCP is back at work. The final result of Mr Smith's crackdown is that they had coverage in the mainstream media which makes Iain Duncan Smith look an idiot and a consequent boost to their audience. 

Freedom of Speech 1

Iain Duncan Smith 0

Will be free to Socialists on 15 February

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Adventure in Cyberspace

Fighting against his mind and his body Terry hauled himself out of bed and ran through his basic tai chi exercises. They were like warm-up exercises. He woke feeling like death and when he had finished he felt like death warmed-up.

When he had first retired he had spent a month in bed getting out only for meals and calls of nature. It was a mistake but at the time it seemed like a glorious rebellion against the tyranny of work which had dominated his life for 50 years.

And in the end he had run out of books.

Now he would make his way to the library. It was free and it was warm and a magnet for people of a certain age on those grounds.

After an hour with the newspapers, unless old George was hogging the Guardian again, it was off for a coffee at a fairly clean café (well it was clean enough if he left his glasses off) and back to the library to catch his hour on the computer. A portal opened up to another world.

"The Library" is an adventure in cyberspace

It is just one of the stories in "The Mirror of Eternity"



Saturday, February 08, 2014

Home Office: People's lives are worth more than Gift Vouchers

I received this from "Justice and Peace". I think the purpose of the petition is to draw attention to the cruel practices of the home office. They can see no end to their wickedness because they assume the general public are ignorant.

The UK Home Office is bribing its employees to send asylum-seekers back to potentially deadly situations.

For asylum-seekers, finding safe residence in Britain can literally be a matter of life and death.
But for Home Office employees, it's a matter of a gift voucher for high street.
According to official documents, when Home Office employees win the fight to deport asylum-seekers, they're rewarded with gift vouchers, cash bonuses or extra holidays.
More than undermining confidence in the fairness of the system, the incentives program supports a policy of cruelty -- sending asylum-seekers back to countries where they can face persecution, torture, imprisonment or worse.
It also motivates UK Home Office to delay cases they think they might lose,
wasting taxpayers' money and other employees' time.
Rewarding people for jeopardizing the lives of others must not be tolerated. Tell the Home Office to withdraw these cruel incentives at once.  

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Give Gove a bloody nose

There are plenty of reasons to vote for Martin but seriously pissing off Gove is definitely one of them :)

Support Avenue Primary School Teachers

Last term the governors at Avenue Primary School in Newham adopted the local authority pay policy which introduces half points into the main and upper pay scale. The school union had communicated a request to remove the half points in order to achieve a policy which complies with nut/NAS pay policy guidelines and in the interests of retention and recruitment. The chair of governors responded with a letter to individual staff telling us if we went on strike we might come back to an academy and he could not guarantee we would all have jobs! The secondary schools in Newham did not include half points in their pay policies but all the primary schools have adopted an unamended model policy with half points. So far we are the only school taking action to protect our pay and within the nut/NAS guidelines. All messages of support to our rep Louise Cuffaro at

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Dear Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister  Teachers, writers and educational experts across the country are driven to distraction by the unstable behaviour of Education Secretary Michael Gove.  He is single-handedly wreaking havoc on the morale and practice of school learning, apparently unchallenged by anyone within his own party. Quite simply we urge you to get this misguided man to step down from government office.

Why is this important?

Education is the practice of learning in which knowledge and skills are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research.  Michael Gove refuses to abide by the wisdom of generations by ignoring research findings; by denying expert opinion; by deriding expertise in the field; and by deliberately demoralising our teachers.  Any pupil or student similarly and willfully ignoring research, expertise and secure knowledge in the same way as Michael Gove would fail any examination.  Any inspected school doing so would be found "Inadequate".    To save the future of education in this country  and to prevent further damage Michael Gove must be persuaded to resign.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Worksheets linked to the Mirror of Eternity

My resources on the Times Educational Supplement website

Weekly report on your shared resource(s):

Views: 74

All time views: 5465

Downloads: 41
All time downloads: 2246

Click here for worksheets linked to The Mirror of Eternity

Click here for your copy

Monday, February 03, 2014

Martin for General Secretary

If you know any teachers. If you even know someone who knows a teacher, they ought to know about this!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Defend Public Education from cradle to grave

Report on UCU Conference "Defend Public Education from cradle to grave”

NUS President Tony Pearce

The cuts are preventing disadvantaged students from accessing higher
education. Much of what we want to defend in public education no
longer exists. We will need to build a public education system from
cradle to grave. The co-operation of UCU and the NUS is an example of
what the trade unions can do if they put their mind to it.

Bonnie Greer

When Bonnie Greer was in first grade in her Catholic School, her
teacher was convinced that she could not understand the holy trinity
"because it is a mystery." She believed she could. Water exists as
ice, liquid and vapour - three different forms but it is still water.
She bases her work on the assumption that even the most disadvantaged
people can understand a sight more than they are given credit for.

She has worked using Shakespeare as a tool of basic literacy with
pupils who are at the bottom of the pecking order in society. She
mentioned a group of refugees from Somalia with whom she used Othello
as a way in to literacy. They understood what it was like to be an

Intelligence tests cannot tell us about people's intelligence, an MIT
physicist who was joint winner with Bonnie of a Horizon test of
potential intelligence, asserted that the tests were crap. "You really
need 4 billion different tests for intelligence!"
Education for democracy is about creating a human being "fit for
purpose" who can stand on their own two feet and help other people to
do the same.

Paul Gethyn member of the Welsh Assembly

Paul Gethyn was standing in for Hew Lewis and made a good job of it.
His speech was very good but he was not the most exciting of speakers.
Since 1999 Wales has diverged from England on educational policy.
Consequently they have, for example, retained the EMA and opposed the
privatisation of education. "We do not want a Darwinist education
system based on competition and "the devil take the hindmost". The
early years are critical and money will be weighted towards the early
years. In an atmosphere of cuts, this does mean other sectors will
suffer however.

They will be bringing in a Wales-only GCSE in English, Welsh and Maths
in September 2015.

Max Hyde NUT President

Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.” according to Nelson Mandela. That is the reason the government is so concerned to impose their model of education. Further Education has been a test bed for many of the things which are taking place in schools. Turning schools into a cash cow for big business concerns makes the government the enemies of promise..

Max stressed the importance of early years education and the need to have qualified teachers so that pupils get a wide repertoire of skills and play. The government seem to idolise the South Korean system and the appalling pressures put on children. “Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. Childhood is a small window in time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child.”

Politicians believe they understand education because they once went to school. In most cases they went to public schools and have no idea what happens in real schools.

The unions have to fight to win as they did in the Stem 6 Free School where they gained union recognition against a vicious employer. The defeat of Michael Gove over the Ebacc was a result of the union working together with other campaigners. 'The more often the words “Humiliated Gove” appears in the newspaper, the happier teachers will be.'