The 2009 Histomat Awards
After The Battle of Seattle a decade ago, I remember Socialist Worker had as its front page something like 'after a century of war, barbarism and crisis, Seattle shows the hope for the new century'. Well, as once again world leaders responsible for war, poverty, hunger and economic crisis find themselves holed up behind lines of riot police, besieged by anti-capitalist and environmental protesters in Copenhagen, it is clearer than ever that the only real hope for humanity in the next decade lies in building a mass movement against the system from below.
In short, we need to, ahem, Rage Against the Machine. Karl Marx understood this very well because he understood the barbaric consequences of the inequality resulting from the relentless capitalist drive for profit above everything else.
'Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time the accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole'
On the one hand one gets websites and magazines such as How to Spend It, designed to help the infinitessimily small minority of super rich - whose wealth rises year upon year at an almost exponential rate - spend some of their vast ill-gotten wealth and 'Christmas bonuses'. On the other hand, among the billions of people around the world who actually produce this fantastic wealth, the question that comes to mind is 'How to Spend What Exactly?' Millions upon millions go hungry, or die from starvation, wars and climate catastrophes. Billions suffer exploitation and bullying at work from managers determined to exert their 'right to manage' or else experience the one thing worse than having a shit job - not having one and the misery of unemployment. Millions in any case end up so alienated that 'celebrity culture', Simon Cowell and X-factor seems to represent something akin to the culmination of thousands of years of human civilisation.
I'd rant further, and more eloquently, but I have gone down with a nasty cold and just want to summon up the energy to get this post done before I can retire to my bed with lemsip. But lets just say, in a nutshell, that this year, basically, has been shit on so many levels - and small mercies such as the war criminal Blair being blocked from winning the position of President of the EU don't really make up for just how much shit has taken place. Still, roll on 2010 - and let's hope the new year is a happier one for socialists than the last year has been...
2009 Histomat International Hero(es)/Heroines of the Year: The people of Iran for rising up against a brutal regime in a valiant attempt to commemorate the Revolution of thirty years before.
Runner up: Malalai Joya, anti-war Afghan MP
2009 Histomat International Idiot(s) of the Year: Well, always a tricky one this - so many strong contenders. I was going to give it to the international banking community again for even imagining they could get away with waging a campaign to retain their bonuses this year - a campaign they seem to have won against all odds - but then I read about the growing racism in Switzerland and so in a slightly unsatisfactory compromise I decided to give it to 'Swiss bankers'.
Runner up: Whichever idiot thought it appropriate to give Obama the Nobel Peace Prize amidst the unfolding nightmare of Afghanistan.
2009 Histomat National Heroes/Heroines of the Year: The people around Military Families Against the War, particularly Joe Glenton and Peter Brierley
Runners up: Those workers who have so inspirationally fought back this past year in Britain - from Visteon to Vestas to the Lindsey oil refinery workers to Tower Hamlets lecturers to the Leeds bin workers to the BA Cabin staff and every other small struggle in-between - finally a bit of serious class struggle in Britain...
2009 Histomat National Idiot(s) of the Year: The Members of the British Parliament - particularly the Labour MPs - with perhaps a handful of exceptions. As John Newsinger noted,
'at last Labour MPs are beginning to revolt. Unfortunately, they are not revolting against union busting in the post or at the disgracefully low level of unemployment benefit. And they are not revolting at Brown’s proposed assets sale, at the obscene bonuses still being paid to bankers – or even at the Afghan war. Instead, they are revolting against having to pay back some of their fiddled expenses. Has there ever been such a contemptible shower? Revolting is the right word.'
Runner up: The BBC for inviting 'Nazi Nick' Griffin onto Question Time and so allowing a British fascist party perhaps the greatest ever single dose of mass publicity since the Daily Mail had a frontpage in 1934 saluting the British Union of Fascists under the banner 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts!'
2009 Histomat Socialist Bloggers of the Year: John Molyneux / the late, great Chris Harman, who will be sadly missed.
Runner up: Norman Strike.
2009 Histomat Most Incredible Quote of the Year:
'The banks are fucked, we're fucked, the country's fucked.'
A Labour Cabinet Minister reveals the awful truth, January 2009
2009 Histomat Most Idiotesque Quote of the Year:
'Out of office, but still in public life, Tony Blair remains a man of high intelligence and insight and above all a man of faith, idealism and integrity.'
- George W Bush awarding Tony Blair a Presidential Medal of Freedom
'I want to thank my good friend Tony Blair for coming today, somebody who did it first and perhaps did it better than I will do. He has been an example for so many people around the world of what dedicated leadership can accomplish. And we are very grateful to him.'
- Barack Obama on Tony Blair