The Kool Katz

(Nick Cave style song I wrote with my katzzzzz)
Well Ive got a couple of animals
and I feed them other animals
I guess you’ve never seen how happy we are

We sit out in the garden
and we watch the birds a passin’
contemplating how we might kill and might devour

You will say our nature’s cruel
and we’ll say ‘hey, that’s just our nature’
It’s hard to know just where to draw the line

And If we ever see you coming
we’ll be paying close attention
Always planning our escape route in advance

But I wouldn’t turn your back
You never know, we might attack
Leave you bloody, scratched and bleeding on the floor

I know by now we should be sated
Believe me this hunger’s vicious
Every time that we are fed we just want more

Well Ive got a couple of animals
and I feed them other animals
I guess you never saw us going down

I feed my animals other animals
Hell, I eat other animals
thats just how this whole word keeps spinning round

E G Wakefied on Class War

E G Wakefield’s 1831 pamphlet householders in danger from the populace is interesting for a number of reasons, not least because of the unalloyed class hatred it gives fine example of, its useful discussions of the classes, and its resonance with our present. It was written in the context of a nervous ruling class following the Bristol riots of the same year. It had kicked off in Bristol because tea aficionado, lesser known for his soujourn as  prime minister, Earl Grey had attempted to pass a reform bill that would get rid of the rotten boroughs and give expanding industrial towns like Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham representation in the house of commons. Sadly, the Tories liked democracy back then about as much as they do now due to the fact that – in theory at least – if implemented it would make it difficult for a small nest of chinless Etonite cunts to govern the populace. The rotten boroughs were areas that had been vacated for whatever reasons meaning that votes from those areas could be purchased instead. The Tories were eventually able to fend off the bill in the house of lords where they were dominant.

Bristol had had representation in the commons since 1825 but of a population of 104,000 only 6000 could vote. A staunch advocate against the bill turned up in Bristol to open the Assize court – a travelling court that dealt with some civil but mostly criminal charges. On seeing a mob that had gathered in anger at the anti-reformers victory, the judge Sir Charles Wehterell told them he was going to imprison them all. This went quite badly for him, as group of 500 to 600 people kicked off massively chasing him in to mansion house. He only just managed to escape before they burnt that down, along with the Bishop’s house, before they set about disassembling the goal and let their mates out.

A troop of the 3rd Dragoon Guard and a squadron of the light dragoons were sent in. Despite killing and injuring hundreds of the protesters the general was still tried for leniency. A further 100 of the protestors were tried with four of them hung against the wishes of 10,000 or so people who signed a petition in their defence.


The occasion of Wakefield’s pamphlet is the fear that if this Gallic cock were to crow in London, as Bristol suggested it might, resulting surely in revolution. It is against this eventuality that wakefield pours his immense class scorn finally suggesting quite extreme and distinctly american sounding measures.

Roughly, Wakefield’s aim is to persuade a ‘a class amongst the working class to join the middle class’ in fending of the threat of a unified working class. This ‘object’ he picks up from Sir Francis Burdett who had tried to make the argument by claiming there was no such things as class – only Englishmen. Wakefield is scathing in his refusal of this point:

A metaphorical constituent of Sir Francis Burdett, at a late meeting of Westminster electors, by by of illustrating the doctrine of his representative, said, “Look at the fishes in the sea: some are large, some small; some swim near the surface, others at the bottom of the water; but are they not all fishes?” He forgot to add that the several classes of fishes subsist by devouring each other. 

despite the ‘fallacy or sophism’ of the argument, Wakefield agrees it had a noble aim, so attempts to likewise persuade the upper working-class to ally with the middle class without pretending class is erased by the nation. He does this using his own somewhat idiosyncratic class (re)classification: the householders vs the populace. Regarding the former Wakefield states ‘I address myself to those who keep houses, not those who own mansions’ because those who have mansions are rich enough to easily relocate from London for a year or so if the anarchy threatened by the populace eventuated. Instead, Wakefield seeks to build an alliance between the lower middle and upper working class families that own their own homes. These groups have the most to lose, Wakefield argues, from revolution in the capital. That great cross class clarion call: ‘what will it do to the house prices?’

The populace, who are in direct antagonism with the householders, are given a more finely grained categorisation. Generally they are:

a numerous body who, though subdivided into classes, have, or suppose themselves to have, an interest opposite to that of the community at large, and who may be described as the enemies of the protective laws by which society is upheld […] bent on producing a state of anarchy, with a view to plunder and the destruction of the rights of property.

Wakefield makes a a further 3 distinctions within the populace:

1) Common Thieves

2) the Rabble

“Persons whose extreme poverty, frequent unsatisfied hunger, and brutalizing pursuits, render them as dishonest as thieves ; many of whom are, indeed, occasional thieves ; most of whom constantly associate with thieves; and of whom not one would neglect an opportunity to enjoy other men’s goods by force.” 

3) Desperados

“A body, principally work-people, though of the working-class they form but a very small proportion, —disciples of Owen and followers of Hunt, who meet and proclaim themselves at the Rotunda, in Blackfriars’ Road.”

Wakefield laments the lack of information about the populace, citing the fact that they share a class position and hence class interest so that:

“as the class of persons in question are deeply interested in concealing the maturity of their designs, and as such designs may be entertained or even pursued without any tangible conspiracy, the most diligent government could not easily have obtained accurate information on the subject”.

How then has Wakefield come upon his information about this class? Credit where it is due he has at least conducted some ethnography, even if it wasn’t all voluntary. Wakefield had to spend a spell in Newgate Gaol for kidnapping an un underage girl and attempting to force a marriage with her so as to inherit her father’s fortune. A little outre even by todays standards, but there you go. Anyway it is in Newgate that he claims to have conducted the majority of his research regarding the filthy populace and their designs against the sanctity of property. It is worth noting however that pretty much everything Wakefield ever wrote took the form of imagined conversations with others in which his arguments are always, not surprisingly, victorious. Kind of like the Plato of political economy, if Plato had been a delusional sociopathic narcissist.

Wakefield’s sneering sociology of the populace begins by giving an reasonably interesting account of Common Thieves. He points out that within a few miles of St Paul’s there are no less than 8 criminal prisons (Totbill-fields, Clerkenwell, Giltspur-street Compter, Horse-monger-lane Jail, Newgate, Cold-bath-fields House of Correction, Brixton Penitentiary, and the great Millbank Penitentiary) for the most part over-crowded with London thieves. All of these prisons remain over-crowded despite incompetent police and the fact they regularly send their inhabitants to the hulks for transportation to the colonies. Because of this, Wakefield reasons, the full population of thieves in London must be immense. Indeed when the King had been supposed pass through London, accompanied by the only person in the history of the world worse than Tony Blair, Sir Robert Peel, Wakefield claims to have seen a roaming band of 7000 thieves. Unbelievable.


Characteristic of Wakefield’s highly speculative sociology, he gives the final estimate as follows:

Further, when confined in Newgate myself, and when my attention was particularly directed to the subject, I formed a calculation of the number of thieves always at large in London, estimating it at 30,000. Though I have mislaid the particulars of that estimate, I remember that it was founded on facts carefully verified; and my opinion of its accuracy has been confirmed by subsequent observation of the class of people to which it related.

Anyway, Wakefield’s fear is that the Common Thieves will use a public occasion like the King’s birthday to: take the streets; call the Rabble to assist them; deploy the then novel french technique of barricades; attack the prisons to release even more assistance; kill Sir Robert Peel because Continue reading

Atheism and Communism

The internet seems just about saturated by brave, sweaty, masturbatorial, neckbearded, soggy-biscuit-hobbyist, atheists these days. Led, as they are, by perennial first cums like Richard Dawkins and Ricky Gervais. I can only hope that there is a hell and Dawkins is made to fuck a beehive for all eternity. My imagination lacks the depth to be able to contrive a fitting punishment for Gervais for this photo alone.

shuddering fuck ricky gervais is awful.

If there is one decent reason to hope for the existence of an omnipotent god, then it is precisely so that it can pick up from where my limited human imagination fails me in this regard. I can only suggest that at least part of the punishment involves him having to spend time in the same room as himself from someone else’s perspective. Urg. And that he is gradually fed bits of himself as suppositories only so he can vomit himself out and the process begin again. That sort of is what Ricky Gervais is though isn’t it? God help me.

Anyway, came across this from Karl whilst going over Private Property and Communism from the 1844 manuscripts. Seems to get to the very crux of my problem with the pubescent atheist stench wafting from comment sections the internet over. Except, of course, when they let Alpha Pubes like Dawkins and Gervais spluge their particular brand of phobia above the line. Cum soaked keyboard atheism is abstract content determined negatively – against/mirroring US christianity – its only real purpose being to provide an endless supply of smug/smarm to whiteboys for them to brandish while they troll minorities. Go and fuck your fedora you massive bunch of cunts (_x_)

Karl Marx ever so slightly more precisely:

This material, immediately perceptible private property is the material perceptible expression of estranged human life. Its movement – production and consumption – is the perceptible revelation of the movement of all production until now, i.e., the realisation or the reality of man. Religion, family, state, law, morality, science, art, etc., are only particular modes of production, and fall under its general law. The positive transcendence of private property as the appropriation of human life, is therefore the positive transcendence of all estrangement – that is to say, the return of man from religion, family, state, etc., to his human, i.e., social, existence. Religious estrangement as such occurs only in the realm of consciousness, of man’s inner life, but economic estrangement is that of real life; its transcendence therefore embraces both aspects. It is evident that the initial stage of the movement amongst the various peoples depends on whether the true recognised life of the people manifests itself more in consciousness or in the external world – is more ideal or real. Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction.

The philanthropy of atheism is therefore at first only philosophical, abstract philanthropy, and that of communism is at once real and directly bent on action.


But since for the socialist man the entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the creation of man through human labour, nothing but the emergence of nature for man, so he has the visible, irrefutable proof of his birth through himself, of his genesis. Since the real existence of man and nature has become evident in practice, through sense experience, because man has thus become evident for man as the being of nature, and nature for man as the being of man, the question about an alien being, about a being above nature and man – a question which implies the admission of the unreality of nature and of man – has become impossible in practice. Atheism, as the denial of this unreality, has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a negation of God, and postulates the existence of man through this negation; but socialism as socialism no longer stands in any need of such a mediation. It proceeds from the theoretically and practically sensuous consciousness of man and of nature as the essence. Socialism is man’s positive self-consciousness, no longer mediated through the abolition of religion, just as real life is man’s positive reality, no longer mediated through the abolition of private property, through communism. Communism is the position as the negation of the negation, and is hence the actual phase necessary for the next stage of historical development in the process of human emancipation and rehabilitation. Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society

Reverse Archeology of Goldsmiths Bright Future

For those of us who have been hanging around Goldsmiths for a few years, it all looks pretty new and shiny after the summer break. Walking into RHB you can immediately tell what must still be in process out the front. The fenced off ex-car park can only be protecting some kind of reverse archeological excavation in which the university digs up its own brand-spanking neo-liberal future. It began, I suppose, when they dug the NAB up out of the putrescent layer of entrepreneurial crust just beneath the potential building site that management saw there. At first I thought it was a cinema complex with bowling alley attached. Strike! Closer inspection suggested to me that it must in fact be a children’s hospital, given the carcinogenically bright colours every other wall had been painted. Oddly, the children inside seemed more like 20 year olds and only appeared sickly due to the relative pallor of the complexions that they hopelessly tried to shield from the radioactive interior.


It wasn’t until the corridor on the left hand side of RHB turned cartoon vagina pink that I began to feel that these transformations warranted further investigation. It seemed as if, having instantiated itself on the backfield, the NAB was now radiating diabetes inducing ‘theme walls’ throughout the college. Soon after, the entrance of the RHB began to mutate, now resembling the banal fascism of a cut-price Mussolini drunk on bleach, then furnished with all the ‘fun’ of a rich kid’s rumpus room. Bright coloured ‘designer’ chairs = creativity. Who needs coercion when white paint and the teen section of a commercial furniture catalogue can create eternal candy coloured sterility. The library was next to succumb to the pantone™ intestinal pathogen. In response to student requests for longer opening hours, more computers and more books, we got what we had always misunderstood that we actually wanted: a café, selling overpriced sustenance approximations, and one that had seemingly vomited out a whole floor of ‘creative hubs’ in the only nerve-wracked colours our austere future could afford to imagine.

I don’t want to sound petty or unappreciative. I think those Dyson hand-hurricane things in the toilets are fucking great. But it seems to me there is a sinister logic at work in the managerial preference for cosmetic surgery and muzaked, prozacked, botoxed interiors. You have to smile. Given that every department not yet shut down is supposed to be under the whip of the profit motive as we all tighten our belts to thrive in the new (lack of) funding regime, it seems odd that so much is being spent on painting the shell while all else is left to rot. We don’t have to look far to see that managerial logic is at least consistent with itself, much like a partially digested carrot is also part of a pile of sick.





To make up the funding gap university managers have followed in the footsteps of their trailblazing comrades in the US. Universities in the UK have started issuing public bonds that they then have to pay back with interest. The problem – if you want to call it that, I’ve looked at this retina scorching yellow wall from this lime green beanbag for so long all I hallucinate is opportunities – is that based on your rating from companies like Standard & Poor’s your payments increase if your perceived inability to repay the bonds decreases. The same brilliant sort of set-up that has led to Greece’s golden dawn of Sisyphean economic servitude. The university then becomes beholden to the rating agency who can recommend streamlining and selling-off everything under the sun in order to placate the invisible hand of the risk rating roulette wheel. There is one thing that rating agencies do like universities spending their money on, though. Yep, big shiny fuck-off new buildings plastered in infantilizing colours that reflect only the luminous libidinal energies of the market.

God, Sovereignty and Silver: Clipped Coins and Bitcoins

There has always been a curious co-mixture of god, sovereignty and money. God and sovereignty are both characterised by an ontological gap – God being something like the hole in the ozone layer for religion, sovereignty being characterised by the void it must cover over with self-legitimising violence – and historically god has relied on earthy sovereigns who have in turn drawn justification from the bearded man in the sky. Following Sohn-Rethel’s argument, we can also see how the ability to concieve of a monotheistic and universal God was made possible by generalised market exchange. To be thought at all, a universal God required the universal equivalent – money.


So it was that in a period of transition, presided over by Locke and others,  that heresy or other sins against religion lost their potency and became no longer things you could hang for. Covering yourself in goat’s blood and chanting ‘Satan, Satan’ in the town square posed little threat to civil society. The period was, however, one of a different type of crisis. Silver coins were supposed to carry an amount of silver equivalent in value to their monetary value. The crisis issued from the fact that people were clipping the coins, using the shavings as new currency, whilst the original coin retained its pre-ordained value, although now of course being made of less silver.

Coin in various states of clipping left to right

For Locke this was no small matter. There were issues of international trade at stake, whereby foreign countries cared little for the regal seal and were only interested in the weight of silver. On the international market, a clipped coin was worth less. Yet the primary threat for Locke was domestic. Sovereignty was characterised primarily by the ability to kill people towards the end of protecting private property. There was a direct relation between sovereign power and the ability to issue and guarantee currency. The clipping of coins and the exchange of degraded coins, was at the same time a devaluing of sovereignty. For Locke, the clipping of coins amounted to nothing short of treason, and as such deserved the death penalty. Locke moved quickly to put his friend Isaac Newton in charge of the royal mint, and Newton spent 50 days a year trying people for treasonous coin clipping. It seems as if it was not only these Whig backroom boys who understood the relationship between coin clipping and the erosion of sovereignty. The shears used by coin clippers became something of a revolutionary image, throughout the period. And anti-clipping detection squads were regularly chased out of places in London by the occupants.

Perhaps the preeminent threat posed by clipping, for Locke, was epistemological. If the true standard – ie amount of silver = value of coin – was rendered unsound, then this, by the general circulation of debased coins, gave way to a debasement of Truth itself. Sohn-Rethel is again not far away here. If the very categories through which we think are forged in the market, then what happens  when there is a deterioration of the standard within exchange. Postitivism starts to look a bit rough around the edges. I could, perhaps, somewhat tenuously go on to explain post-modernism by the de-linking from the gold-satandard and the exponential increase in the complexity of the fictions of ‘financial products’. I want instead to turn to a present day example of sovereignty corroding coin clipping.


Bit coins are of course much more above board than the conspitorial and darkened dens of coin clippers. Continue reading

Adventure Capitalism and the Arrogance of private property, with a footnote on the taste of Kereru

I am reading the diary of adventure capitalist brat, and son of 19th Century Jimmy Saville*, E Jerningham Wakefield’s trip to New Zealand beginning 1839. The scene of their arrival in Ship Cove (Meretoto, Totaranui) is an interesting one. Jerningham has some sort of historical reverie following the footsteps of Captain Cooks earlier visits to the same place. The purpose of the trip is to buy up large tracts of land for a European settlement and market speculation. It is clear in Jerningham’s account, that he is unable to conceive of any other form of ownership or exchange beyond individualised private property. In fact, he seems to have an unswerving conviction that world belongs to Europeans, any other claims being mere nuisance or extortion.


Maori did not own the land in anything like the european sense, but understood themselves as being of the land. Hapu held the land in common, and various hapu, and indeed individuals within hapu, would have had different and overlapping mana giving authority over different uses of the land and resources. To be able to cut down trees in a particular area for instance would have required the mana to do so. The closest European approximation being something like the usufructuary rights to the commons, although the language of ‘rights’ is entirely inadequate here. In any case, lease-hold would have been about the closest thing young Jerningham could have parsed through the limitations of his hot little hothead.

Bearing in mind that chopping down trees, fishing and taking water would have definitely required negotiating the complexities of reciprocal exchange, the forming of relationships between parties, Jerningham’s complete lack self-consciousness is astounding and cant simply be waved away with charges of anachronism. Jerningham is well aware  that the whole reason for the voyage is to dispossess Maori of their land, quite precisely through extortion, the journal being geared to valourise such an endeavour. He recounts:

A mischief-making native, belonging to the Kapiti tribe, but who has married a woman here, tried to annoy us by threats and extortions of payment for wood and water, on account of the tapu of Ship Cove. As, however, his demands were exorbitant, and renewed after the satisfactory settlement of the point by a small present, he was quietly and firmly refused by my uncle; who reminded him that the natives had themselves broken the tapu, large numbers of them having removed to the immediate neighbourhood of the burial-place in order to have the advantage of proximity in their dealings with us.

Note big Willy Wakefield’s self-confidence in explaining tapu to Maori. Jerningham continues:

He persisted in his violent demands; and early one morning came alongside in a canoe, and carried away our fishing-sean, having first pushed over one of the apprentices who was in the boat. Captain Chaffers went on shore with an armed boat to demand instant restitution of the net; and found that our tormentor had enlisted the feelings of the other natives in his favour. They were sullen and reserved, and refused to give it up at first. Their appearance, and the fact that many fresh natives were ashore, induced Captain Chaffers to return on hoard, and prepare the ship for an emergency. The guns were shotted, the crew armed, sentries placed at the gangways, and a spring put on the cable so that the ship’s broadside might be brought to bear on the beach where the natives were encamped. During these preparations, one or two large war-canoes came round the northern point of the cove, and dashed in to the beach at great speed, the rowers singing in time with their paddles. A single canoe, full of natives, now came off to the ship. As they silently paddled round the stern, we observed that some carried their tomahawks and green-stone clubs or meri ponamu. The others kept their blankets and mats wrapped over everything but their heads. Our original persecutor was the first who attempted to ascend the ladder, tomahawk in hand; but he was startled to find at the top a sentry with musket and bayonet, and my uncle, who quietly but firmly told him to go ashore, and that he would allow no natives to come on board armed. “Dogskin,” as we had nick- named him from his wearing a mat of that material, seemed inclined to persist in his intention of getting on deck; but the sight of the end of a pistol sticking out of my uncle’s coat-pocket suddenly made him change his mind; and he descended into the canoe, which pulled slowly back to the shore.

Looking for eurocentrism in Jerningham’s diary is, of course, about as difficult as finding jokey racist ignorance in anything that comes out of the facehole of John Key (pronounced Jonky). Anyway, the point is to show that this is the only way it could appear to Jerningham. The indelible limiting structures of his market orientated mind, if you will. A page or so later, he makes this clear with regard to their attempt to gain clear title to land:

We could do nothing here towards attaining our object, which was to select and purchase a location suitable for the emigrants whom we expected to follow us in January. Neither Ngarewa nor Te Wetu could give us any distinct information as to the ownership of the land in this neighbourhood. They both spoke of Rauperaha as the great chieftain to whom they were in a measure tributary; but they seemed to agree that Hiko, the son of Te Pehi, had the best right to the land here. Neither, however, was described as having an absolute right to dispose of land; and the vested rights appeared to us to be involved in much confusion. Our White friends could not clear up our doubts; and, moreover, it was plain that although the immediate vicinity of Ship Cove could boast of excellent harbours and sublime scenery, it was not at all suited for a large European colony.

A following passage, probably deserves some sort of award for the monstrous disfiguring of reality. Perhaps having a sewarge treatment plant named after him might be a fitting tribute. The logical contortions and acrobats deployed  to make dispossession sound, not just as an ok thing, but as indeed payment in itself, is if nothing else, impressive:

As, however, we did not propose to take possession of any territory without a positive sanction on the part of the natives, it was determined that Barrett should explain our views to them. He confessed that they would be sure to accept a payment, and that certainly they had a right to it, as we should probably include, villages and cultivations in such large districts as we proposed to buy.

A very important part of our projected plan was, to reserve a tenth portion of the land bought by us for the benefit and use of the natives. We had it in view thus to secure a valuable property to them, which might preserve their chiefs in circumstances equal to those of the higher order of settlers in future times. We had looked forward to the time when the value bestowed on these native reserves, by the improvement and cultivation of the other lands with which they should be intermingled, and by the presence of a large and thriving civilized community, might afford the means of furnishing the natives with abundant revenue to support the dignity of their chiefs, with improved clothes and food, with houses like those of Europeans, with cattle and agricultural implements, with education and the means of religious worship; in short, with all that might make them respectable in the eyes of the future colony. It had of course been provided that these reserves, although tapu for the natives, should be inalienable by them, as it was foreseen that, without such a precaution, the natives would part with their reserves for a nominal value, as soon as they should acquire a real one in the eyes of speculating colonists. It had also been provided that the defects of the system of Indian reserves in North America should be avoided. There the reserves have been selected in huge blocks which lie unimproved themselves, and which, while they produce no benefit to the natives, impede the cultivation and consequent rise in value of all the lands in their neighbourhood. They have been found to produce there the same evils which arose from the excessive grants made to individuals at the first foundation of the colony of Swan River. The Indian reserves in Canada would doubtless become of real value to the Indians, if small portions of them could be given away to bona fide settlers, able to bring labour and capital to bear on their land. The intervening parts of the great desert would then acquire more value, and produce more revenue, than the whole of it while it remained tapu to any but the Indians.

Aware that I may be seen as overly negative about Jerningham’s gap yar in the pacific, I offer one extremely interesting tidbit gleamed from his diary. Besides, I can’t completely hate Jerningham. He enjoyed drinking, hot pools, orgies, and combinations thereof. Three pretty good things, I think we can all agree. Especially when the sustenance for such activities is provided by roast Kereru in a delicate red wine grave. Anyone who as seen a Kereru (New Zealand wood pigeon) haul its luxurious carcass onto the strained branch of a puriri tree has wondered if they taste as delicious as they look. Turns out, yes. Jerningham, being lucky enough to be there before laws protecting native birds from the roasting tray describes them as,  ‘very large, of brilliant plumage, and extremely well flavoured.’ There you have it, then.


*Edward Gibbon Wakefield abducted a pre-pubescent girl and forced a marriage with her hoping to access her father’s fortune. He spent 3 years in New Gate Prison, presumably on the nonce wing.

The Spectre of James Mill on the Woolwich Murder

As if we needed any more proof that we are living in an utterly shit and unfunny planetary version of Groundhog Day, here is a passage by James Mill from 1828 in which he talks prophetically about: September 11, the Iraq war, Afghanistan, drone attacks, the Woolwich murder, Snowden, etc, etc, and on and on out into the intolerable ‘infinite number of things’ Mill reads in the tea leaves of the eternal recurrence.


Nothing is worthy of more attention, in tracing the causes of political evil, than the facility with which mankind are governed by their fears; and the degree of constancy with which, under the influence of that passion, they are governed wrong. The fear of Englishmen to see an enemy in their country has made them do an infinite number of things, which had a much greater tendency to bring enemies into their country than to keep them away.

In nothing, perhaps, have the fears of communities done them so much mischief, as in the taking of securities against enemies. When sufficiently frightened, bad governments found little difficulty in persuading them, that they never could have securities enough. Hence come large standing armies; enormous military establishments; and all the evils which follow in their train. Such are the effects of taking too much security against enemies!

A small share of reflection might teach mankind, that in nothing is the rigid exercise of a sound temperance more indispensable to the well-being of the community than in this. It is clear to reason (alas, that reason should so rarely be the guide in these matters!) that the provision for defence should always be kept down to the lowest possible, rather than always raised to the highest possible, terms! At the highest possible terms, the provision for defence really does all the mischief to a community which a foreign enemy could do; often does a great deal more than it would. A moderate provision against evils of frequent and sudden occurrence, a provision strictly proportioned to the occasion, and not allowed to go beyond it, will save more evil than it produces. All beyond this infallibly produces more evil than it prevents. It enfeebles by impoverishing the nation, and degrading by poverty and slavery the minds of those from whom its defence must ultimately proceed. 

— James Mill  – Essays – Colony – 1829

sweat shops, the sin of cheapness and shopping as civil war

W002_waddellW002-PAColl-4920-3-09-08Less than 50 years after the bogus birthing ceremony of a brave new settler colony, economic refugees from Britain and Ireland had begun to exploit each other with all the fervour of the capitalists they had fled from. In 1888 presbyterian minister Rutherford Waddell gave a sermon at St Andrew’s Church in Dunedin exposing the existence of sweat shops in the supposedly fairer farmville version of Britain, New Zealand. Waddell’s sermon was entitled ‘Sin of Cheapness’ and argued that it was an unbridled avarice and a ‘rage for bargains’ that was driving wages below subsistence:

These sweating wages were caused by excessive competition, and that competition was created by the enormous rage to get cheap things. Of course that was the effect of the lust for gain, which lay at the back of this desire for bargains. In their desire to get the cheapest article, people would walk about town half the day, looking into the different shops; and if anyone went down the street he would see placards telling him the goods were being sold at enormous sacrifices, that they were being practically given away, and that people were asked as a compliment to take them. All that sort of thing is simply demoralising.

Women in dunedin were making moleskin trousers at 2 1/2 d, earning 2 shillings working from 8am to 11pm – roughly 3/5ths of fuck all in todays money. Or, in Waddell’s parlance ‘wages were being earned that were totally inadequate to keep body and soul together’ – an elegant euphemism for that pesky limit to capital’s ‘rage’ for driving the cost of labour toward zero – starvation. Waddell, who at 14 had himself worked for four years for nothing as a draper’s apprentice in Banbridge, NI, also stated conditions were significantly worse in other cities, citing Wellington as example. Demoralising indeed, and it seems as if our sins have multiplied since. Half a days shopping seems marginal since we were fenced in to the market place with rows upon rows of no8 barbed biowire.

Waddell, one of that rare breed of christian who believed that the gospel should be interpreted in terms of social justice, took his argument to the meeting of the presbytarian synod demanding that action be taken. Although there doesnt seem to be a copy of the original sermon the synod meetings were regularly minuted verbatum in the Otago Times. Waddell, by all accounts a skilled speaker, argued to the presbytery that whilst the church shouldn’t take less interest in the moral and spiritual welfare of the people, they might want to show at least passing interest in their social welfare as well. Unconscionable. It is hard not to be reminded of the rifts and anguish caused recently at St Paul’s over London occupy when they were forced to decide whether their flock was more rightly the motley and disaffected that had camped on their doorstep or the aristocracy who were inconvenienced by being short a wedding venue. With a notable resignation they rightly decided to remain in the service of the rich.  In any case, the presbyterian church in NZ were also facing a crisis because their wealthier souls were wearing their fancy clothes to church and and the presbyteriat had stopped attending at all. This was because, in Waddell’s searing phrase:

The working class don’t go to church because the capitalist class pray for them on Sundays and prey on them the other six days of the week

I am pleased to announce, that capitalist’s have since managed to outsource the day of prayer to former colonial subjects and can now hunt 24/7. Waddell, on the other hand, was keen that the law of the gospel should be allowed to taint the sanctity of commerce. Unfortunately many of his fallow men of the cloth thought that this was unthinkable. The responses of the various members of the presbytery show all the marks – sadly none of the Marx, although the spectre of Adam Smith haunts the discussion – of the protestations and laments of the capitalists in England, wheeled out whenever it was suggested they turn the temperature down on the human furnaces that powered their personal ATMs.

After a couple of brief yays from Rev Mr Borrie and Rev M. C. Smith, John Dunlop, formerly Professor of Theology and Moderator of the Presbyterian church in New Zealand, led the attack with a characteristically cuntish argument: he knew more about sweated labour because he had seen some properly grimey shit in Leeds, the others were wrong to blame it on avarice and competition, as it was caused by the immorality of the exploited women’s lazy and drunken husbands. These errant idlers and their coopted concubines should be told emphatically that the only way to ameliorate their situation ‘was by becoming new men and new women.’ Presumably, meaning that they should die and be replaced from a bottomless pool of cheap labour. Dunlop, further meditating on which side his bread was buttered on, went on to say that ‘it would be a pity if the church turned from it’s preaching of Christianity to indulge in experiments of an economic class’, further ‘he would be sorry to see their church take up what might be a class attitude, or what might wear the appearance of a class attitude.’ Besides, he ‘had never heard from anybody what should be done when hundreds of women were competing to to get certain work. What could the manufacturer do?’ – other than gleefully bludgeon them back into the soil with a sewing machine and bargain prices.

Mr Adam followed by jumping on the drunk wagon, claiming that in the last ten years the colony had spent £15 million on piss-ups and bbqs and felt they should hail temperance down on them from the pulpit. The Rev. Mr Currie called bullshit on the alcohol argument saying that it didn’t explain why women who worked for 15 hours a day couldn’t afford to feed themselves. He felt it would be wise to ‘preach the laws of christ as laws that must be obeyed, even if the laws of political economy had to be contested and to go to the wall’ to be shot point blank in the head. This was swiftly castigated by the reverend, mentalist and philosopher Dr. Macgregor.  Macgregor believed, amongst other things, that the ‘hopelessly lazy, the diseased, and vicious’ should be incarcerated for life so that they might be saved from the cruel realities of Darwinian selection. After being booted out of the church for his Darwinian proclivities he went on to become the the inspector-general of lunatic asylums. Takes one to know one, as they say. Anyway, in the meeting at hand, he invoked the holy ghost of the petit bourgeois ideiological priest par exellence, Adam Smith. Macgregor, ‘hoped the church would never commit itself to fixing the rate of wages. The proposal was avowedly going against the laws of political economy, the laws of nature, and they might as well protest against creation.’ As if Macgregor had not made the point quite strongly enough, a Mr E.B. Cargill also rushed to protest the abhorrent calumny against capital with a dry, prophetic wit:

it had been assumed that men in commerce always endeavoured always to get the better of one another, and that if Christian principals were brought into commerce the business so conducted should go to the wall. [This was] an utter untruth. It was a statement curiously at variance with the position of commerce in the present age. What great accumulations had grown from commerce; and was that large structure of credit built upon lies and falsehood? It was entirely the contrary; it was entirely the contrary; it was owing to the honour and great faith existing between man and man that it existed at all, for it would fall to the ground if that were not the case.

Even reading with generosity ‘the honour and great faith existing between man and man to mean ‘between capitalist and capitalist‘, it appears as if ever since the fucktardery of Dutch tulip mania, history has been one long belly laugh at Mr Cargill’s howling defence of the fair lady finance.


Waddell, at this stage, was keen too assure his co-workers that he ‘was not disloyal to the higher class, but was only seeking to be loyal to the law’ and that ‘his tastes were with those who who had plenty of wealth, but his sympathies were with those who knew the privations and miseries of life.’ Continue reading

Political Economy in the Colony

Attempting to amass some sort of file on vernacular political economy. I have posted a couple of examples of what I mean by that, here and here.

I am reading Amiria Henare’s excellent Museums, Anthropology and Imperial Exchange at the moment. Turns out Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations was versioned as The Origin of the Wealth of the English People and serialised in Maori in a settler state-sanctioned newspaper called the Maori Messenger in 1849. Amongst various other chauvinisms and absurdities – eg English being spoken more widely because it is a better language – the aim seems to be to convince Maori of the superiority of a developed division of labour.

The first page is below, the rest can be found here


Donna Awatere, Māori Sovereignty

Donna Awatere Maori Sovereignty


Maori Sovereignty_Donna Awatere.pdf (473.9 MB)!Rk5xXQaQ!Cz5XtzuE91Q9NuN_pYnRhTQY_voZuVb0EiuU270-jkw


Donna Awatere’s blistering polemic against pākehā arrogance and white cultural imperialism. Written in the 80’s and originally published in the feminist journal Broadsheet, it managed to fuck off just about everyone. Can be difficult to track down, I finally got a copy from trademe a while ago. Have uploaded it in full here because it is still depressingly spot on, and deserves to be read again and again. The Donna that wrote this definitely wouldn’t have cared about the copyright. Who knows now… Anyways, seems fitting to use another ACT supporters file hosting service to bootleg it (download link above).

Mana motuhake of the proletariat!