Monthly Archives: June 2009

Kollerstrom Cancelled!

yep, latest news from the fine folks at Conway Hall is that the event has been cancelled and they were unaware that Kollerstrom would be speaking.

Eviction Resisted at Lewisham Bridge School

Up to 100 people gathered at the occupied Lewisham Bridge School this morning to stop today’s eviction scheduled for 10:30am.

A youthful and lively contingent joined local parents on the roof whilst local supporters gathered outside the front of the school. The mood remained positive, despite a strong police presence including a helicopter earlier in the day.

Bailiffs entered the school but made no attempt to gain access to the roof where the tents stayed up and the occupation continued.

Police left at around 12:30 with most of the bailiffs leaving shortly after. Although a couple of bailiffs did remain, it seems that for now the occupation continues.

Join their facebook group here.

and here’s some pics

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Holocaust Denier Nick Kollerstrom to appear at Conway Hall

“Conway Hall is a landmark of London’s independent intellectual, political and cultural life.

For over one hundred years the Ethical Society had its centre at South Place in the City of London, where it fostered freedom in moral and spiritual life and thought. In order to have a wider range of influence and greater scope for development the Society decided to build a new home in Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury.”

http://www.conwayhall.org.uk/

Original home of the anarchist bookfair, the long established Conway Hall has played host to many controversial events over the years.

On Tuesday 30th June they appear to have decided to switch sides for the night and are holding an event which will feature disgraced holocaust denier, conspiranoid and all round misfit Dr Nick Kollerstrom.

Regular readers may remember how Kollerstrom was rightly sacked from his fellowship at UCL after they were made aware of his nazi-apologist views by ourselves along with Rachel North and Blairwatch.

For those not in the know there’s a couple of choice quotes in the letter below which Kollerstrom published on a far right website.

This nasty little nutcase is plugging a new book about his endless fruitloop claims that the 7/7 bombings were the work of little green men or some such nonsense. Kollerstrom also has form for harrssing the families of some of the victims of 7/7 in his intredip quest to make a name for himself in that strange bunch of fruitcakes, loonies and neo-nazis, the 911 Truth Movement.

Kollerstrom calls himself a veteran CND campaigner and researcher, presumably an attempt to divert people away from his vile anti-semitism.

Conway Hall can be contacted at: conwayhall@ethicalsoc.org.uk or on 020 7242 8032 – we’ve already dropped ‘em a line.

To Whom it May Concern

I write to make yourselves aware that a well known holocaust denier is due to speak at Conway Hall on Tuesday 30th June.

Dr Nick Kollerstrom is advertised on the 911 truth forum as being due to appear to take a question and answer session after a screening of the BBC documentary.

It may interest you to know that Dr Kollerstrom was last year sacked from his Fellowship position at University College London after some of his writings published on far right websites came to light.

Kollerstrom claims that the gas chambers ‘were a myth’ and goes on to say:

“As surprising as it may sound, the only intentional mass extermination program in the concentration camps of WW2 was targeted at Germans.”

“Let us hope the schoolchildren visitors are properly taught about the elegant swimming-pool at Auschwitz, built by the inmates, who would sunbathe there on Saturday and Sunday afternoons while watching the water-polo matches; and shown the paintings from its art class, which still exist; and told about the camp library which had some forty-five thousand volumes for inmates to choose from, plus a range of periodicals; and the six camp orchestras at Auschwitz/Birkenau, its the theatrical performances, including a children’s opera, the weekly camp cinema, and even the special brothel established there. Let’s hope they are shown postcards written from Auschwitz, some of which still exist, where the postman would collect the mail twice-weekly.”

“The gas-chamber legend was born in December 1941″

“The United Nations has now established its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, as of 2006. On this anniversary, we all need to mull over the faking of history and the Greatest Lie Ever Told.”

Kollerstrom has since been apparantly unrepentant in his views.

I find it therefore sad and somewhat shocking that a respected institution such as Conway Hall should offer a platform to a known Nazi apologist.

Kollerstrom has also been accused of harrassing the families members of victims of the 7/7 attacks, an event which he believes was orchestrated as part of a ‘Zionist Conspiracy’.

I note that tickets for this event are currently priced at £7. I would therefore conclude that Conway Hall will be making some money out of this event. I feel that this greatly compromises a venue which has done so much to promote ethical and humanist values over so many years.

Should this event go ahead then I for one will not be attending any future events at Conway Hall, nor shall I be publicising them. I will encorage others to do the same.

I sincerely hope that this situation can be rectified and that the name of a strong left leaning institution should not be damaged.

In the interest of transparancy I will be publishing this letter and any response.

Yours

Johnny Void

Read the whole sorry saga here

UPDATE: Ticketweb are selling tickets for this event – you can contact Ticketweb at clients@ticketweb.co.uk

Chris Gray RIP – part 2

Here, Paul Sieveking, founding editor of Fortean Times provides his thoughts on the life and times of Chris Gray:

In the months leading up to the May events in Paris in 1968 and the worldwide wave of unrest and university occupations, two explosive pamphlets made quite a stir in Britain among students interested in contemporary radical activity: The Totality for Kids (1966), a translation of Raoul Vaneigem’s Banalités de base (International Situationniste Nos. 7+8. 1962-63), described by one critic as a form of “hermetic terrorism”, and Ten Days that Shook the University (November 1967), a translation of Mustapha Khayati’s De la misere en milieu étudiant, which had caused a scandal in November 1966 when published in Strasbourg using student union funds and led to Europe’s first university occupation of the modern era. Totality… was translated by Chris Gray and Philippe Vissac; Ten Days… by Timothy Clarke and Don Nicholson-Smith, edited by Chris Gray.

Chris spent most of his first 10 years with his grandmother in Windle Hey, near Crosby, Liverpool (where he developed a lifelong passion for gardening) and was educated at Repton. His 11-year-old brother died of meningitis when Chris was 16, and his mother descended into alcoholism and madness, later cured by LSD therapy. Chris left home for Paris when he was 19 where he encountered Guy Debord and other situationists, and also spent time in Tangiers. He collaborated with Conrad Rookes on Chappaqua, a film about altered consciousness. He met Charlie Radcliffe, fresh from the Provo agitation in Amsterdam, and helped him compile and publish Heatwave magazine in July 1966, with material from the Provos and American anarchist publications like Rebel Worker. Following the second issue of Heatwave in October, Chris and Charlie – along with Don Nicholson-Smith and Timothy Clarke – joined the Situationist International.

Charlie left the S.I. in November 1967, while Chris and the others were excluded by Debord’s Paris cabal the following month for “maniacal excesses” and lack of theoretical rigour. (The S.I. had become notorious for its exclusions since 1958.) “The presence of the S.I. never made itself properly felt in either England or America,” Chris wrote later. “The English and what could well have become the American sections of the S.I. were excluded just before Christmas 1967. Both groups felt that the perfection and publicisation of a theoretical critique was not sufficient: they wanted political subversion and individual ‘therapy’ to converge in an uninterrupted everyday activity.”

In April 1968, following their exclusion, the London situationists brought out a magazine called King Mob Echo (named after Christopher Hibbert’s book on London’s Gordon Riots of 1780). This had the cover line “I am nothing but I must be everything – Karl Marx”. It included a translation of part of Vaneigem’s Traité under the title “Desolation Row” and a text by the radical Freudian Norman O Brown called “The Return of the Repressed”. King Mob 2 appeared in November 1968, with a piece by Chris on student power and the end of modern art. He also co-wrote (with Timothy Clarke) “The revolution of modern art and the modern art of revolution”, which was circulated in typescript before being published in Tom Vague’s King Mob Echo: English Section of the Situationist International (2000).
In 1969 came King Mob 3, largely recounting the exploits of Ben Morea, editor of the Dadaist Black Mask, and the New York street group the Motherfuckers. Chris and the other King Mobsters fomented various disruptions and demonstrations round London. In December 1968, for instance, a group of 25, including an art student called Malcolm McLaren, invaded Selfridges’ toy department and gave away toys to passing children. Not long afterwards, Chris made his first trip to India, where he recovered from an over-indulgence in Methedrine and other recreational drugs.

In the late Sixties, Totality for Kids and Ten Days… enthused a bunch of libertarian-inclined students in Cambridge, including John Fullerton, Anthony Wilson, and myself. Fullerton and I went on to form with others BM Ducasse, a “pro-situationist” group in London. In 1972 we translated Vaneigem’s Traité de Savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations (Dec 1967), which I published under the title The Revolution of Everyday Life (Practical Paradise Publications, April 1975). Wilson founded Factory Records and the Hacienda Club in Manchester (based on an old proto-situationist quotation: “The hacienda must be built” (Ivan Chtcheglov, Formula for a new urbanism, 1953).

I first met Chris in 1971 when he was living in Belsize Avenue in north London with Sue Cohen. He was delightful company, quick-witted and witty, kind, mischievous and mercurial. Charlie Radcliffe said he was “tall, neat, dark-haired, skinny, striking-looking, very intelligent, fastidious, softly spoken and serious but with a ready laugh that often collapsed into hopeless giggles when something really amused him. The name might be Gray, but the sense of humour, like the clothes, was often black.”

I gave Chris a hand in assembling the situationist translations that were eventually published by Free Fall Publications in 1974 as Leaving the 20th Century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International, but by this time Chris had moved on and no one proof-read the text, resulting in several lacunae. The book, with graphics by Jaime Reid, had a decisive influence on Malcolm McLaren and the whole punk scene of the 1970s – see Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus (1989) and England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage (1992). (Leaving the 20th Century was reprinted by Rebel Press in 1998.)

Chris’s commentary ended: “What was basically wrong with the S.I. was that it focused exclusively on an intellectual critique of society. There was no concern whatsoever with either the emotions or the body. The S.I. thought that you just had to show how the nightmare worked and everyone would wake up. Their quest was for the perfect formula, the magic charm that would disperse the evil spell. The pursuit of the perfect intellectual formula meant inevitably that situationist groups were based on a hierarchy of intellectual ability – and thus on disciples and followers, on fears and exhibitionism, the whole political horror trip. After their initial period, creativity, apart from its intellectual forms, was denied expression – and in this lies the basic instability and sterility of their own organisations…

What needs understanding is the state of paralysis everyone is in. Certainly all conditioning comes from society but it is anchored in the body and mind of each individual, and this is where it must be dissolved. Ultimately the problem is an emotional, not an intellectual one. All the analyses of reification in the world won’t cause a neurosis to budge an inch…

…[W]henever I go out on the streets my being somehow reels back appalled: these terrible faces, these machines, they are me too, I know; yet somehow that’s not my fault. Everyone’s life is a switch between changing oneself and changing the world. Surely they must somehow be the same thing and a dynamic balance is possible. I think the S.I. had this for a while, and later they lost it. I want to find it again – that quickening in oneself and in others, that sudden happiness and beauty. It could connect, could come together. Psychoanalysts and Trotskyists are both silly old men to the child. Real life is elsewhere.”

In 1975, Chris and Sue travelled to Sri Lanka to study vipassana meditation, and then moved to Pune (Poona) to set up a vipassana workshop in the ashram of the famous revolutionary Jain teacher, Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh. Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It aims not merely to cure diseases and eradicate mental impurities, but also to heal human suffering and achieve full liberation. At Chris and Sue’s urging, I went out to Pune in late 1976 and listened to the guru’s wide-ranging discourses. Rajneesh (later known as Osho) gave Chris and Sue neo-sannyas names: Paritosh and Pradeepa. They separated a few months later, and Paritosh took up with Usha (Gina Raetze), before leaving the ashram in 1980. For his account of Osho’s teaching see his book Life of Osho (1997) by “Sam” (ISBN: 0-9531534-0-1). Available online at http://www.enlightenedbeings.com/pdf/life_of_osho.pdf

Pari’s last book, also under the nom de plume of Sam, was The Acid (Vision Press, PO Box 64657, London NW3 9NH. ISBN 978-0-9562049-0-5). Mike Jay, author of Artificial Paradises, Emperors of Dreams, and several other acclaimed history books, comments: “For anyone who thinks the story of LSD was written in the Sixties: think again. The Acid combines a sharp critique of that decade’s psychedelic adventures with a brave and original series of self-experiments in the present day. Returning to LSD after a hiatus of nearly forty years, Sam pursues its revelations systematically, and with a lifetime of experience to integrate into them. The result is an instant classic of acid literature.”

Christopher Nelson Gray, born London 22 May 1942; died of lung cancer in London on 14 May 2009.

Paul Sieveking

For Charlie Radcliffe’s memories of Chris, see

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/chris-gray-rest-in-peace/