ALIENATION – or ‘the ‘Rat-Race’ speech — Jimmy Reid, Glasgow, 1972 (9 July 1932 – 10 August 2010) PDF

JIMMY REID, the Glaswegian socialist and union activist who died on 10 August, was a truly inspiring orator. ‘Alienation’ or the so-called  ‘rat-race speech’  he delivered on the occasion of his inauguration as rector of Glasgow University in 1972 was compared at the time to the Gettysburg Address. It has lost little of its relevance today

“Reject the values and false morality that underlie these attitudes. A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts, and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?”

Inauguration Speech (PDF)


CRIME: ITS CAUSE AND TREATMENT (PDF) draws on the reflections and experience of more than forty years spent in court. ‘Aside from the practice of my profession, the topics I have treated are such as have always held my interest and inspired a taste for books that discuss the human machine with its manifestations and the causes of its varied activity. I have endeavoured to present the latest scientific thought and investigation bearing upon the question of human conduct. I do not pretend to be an original investigator, nor an authority on biology, psychology or philosophy. I have simply been a student giving the subject such attention as I could during a fairly busy life. No doubt some of the scientific conclusions stated are still debatable and may finally be rejected. The scientific mind holds opinions tentatively and is always ready to re-examine, modify or discard as new evidence comes to light.’

Clarence Darrow was a renowned American attorney who successfully represented defendants in two of the most famous trials of the 20th century. He had an unusually broad legal experience, practising corporate, criminal, and labour law — all with great success. He is remembered for his wit, compassion, and passionate defence of civil liberties. (CRIME: ITS CAUSE AND TREATMENT – PDF)

The Slaughteryard by Esteban Echeverría (new translation by Norman Thomas di Giovanni and Susan Ashe)

Esteban Echeverría’s El matadero (The Slaughteryard), written towards the end of the 1830s, is, chronologically, the first work of Argentine prose fiction. A fierce and outspoken opponent of Juan Manuel de Rosas’ Federalist regime, the author was forced to live a long exile in Montevideo, where he died in 1851. El matadero remained unpublished until 1871. Owing in part to its brevity – a mere 6,000 or so words – it may be the most studied school text in all Latin-American literature. It is certainly known and acclaimed beyond the borders of Argentina

Argentina, 1839. A young man dies for his political beliefs when attacked by a mob in a slaughteryard used to butcher cattle. The story takes place at the height of Juan Manuel de Rosas’ reign of terror. Though fictional, it is an open indictment of that brutal regime and the first masterwork of Latin-American literature, originally published twenty years after the author’s death. El matadero is reputed to be the most widely studied school text in Spanish-speaking South America.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1805, Esteban Echeverria was a poet and moral thinker who, owing to his uncompromising ideals, was forced into a long militant exile in Uruguay where he died in penury in 1851.

Available now for the first time in a modern English translation this is a story that in well over a century has lost none of its freshness and popularity. This edition is the fruit of years of research into little-known corners of Argentine literature and history, including an extensive glossary, the story’s rare first printed version (in Spanish), and an appendix of reports by early English travellers to the River Plate, including Charles Darwin. This is an uncompromising and unforgettable story

Slaughteryard (a commentary by translator Norman Thomas di Giovanni – PDF) ISBN 9780007346738 Published by The Friday Project

THE GREAT GAME — A Russian Perspective by Grigory Lvovich Bondarevsky. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

THE GREAT GAME — A Russian Perspective by Professor Grigory Bondarevsky, ISBN 978-1-873976-17-3

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Much as today in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, the battle for control over Central Asia and the Near and Middle East in the 19th century was fierce and bloody. Sometimes it was conducted in secret, sometimes in public; sometimes it created a great stir, at other times no one noticed. It was fought throughout the nineteenth century by the foreign ministries of Great Britain and Russia and the armed forces of the East India Company and then the British Empire on the one hand, and sections of the Russian army commanded from Tiflis, Orenburg and Tashkent on the other, together with mobile and highly qualified spies on both sides posing as scholars, travellers, merchants and clerics. The story of this battle is told in thousands of newspaper articles, hundreds of books, and hundreds of thousands of secret reports penned by the actors in this great drama, which was played out in the course of a century in lifeless deserts and mountain ranges whose peaks were sometimes over three and a half miles high. This unique Russian account of Kipling’s  ‘Great Game‘ — from a strictly Russian perspective — takes the form of a chapter by chapter review, by Professor Grigory L. Bondarevsky — a Russian academician (Oriental Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Social Science) who played an important part in defining post-war Soviet policy in Central Asia and the Middle East — of Peter Hopkirk’s excellent study The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia. The review initially appeared over a matter of months in the journal Central Asia and the Caucasus in World Affairs (1995 — ed. S. Christie). This book is not only a secret service history, or to be more accurate a history of the rivalry between the secret services of the British and Russian empires in the nineteenth century; it is also an entertaining account of the geographical discovery of unknown and sometimes forgotten countries in Central Asia, which was then a mysterious place.

Professor Bondarevsky was murdered in Moscow on 8 August 2003. (NB: A complex character, Bondarevsky had fingers in lots of disparate pies as I later discovered — to my cost — in Baku, Azerbaijan. See the 2003 obituary in Lyndon Larouche’s Executive Intelligence Review)



Let Ramensky Go! sung by Josh MacRae (1968)

JOHNNY RAMENSKY was an expert safeblower who kept getting caught, but whom no prison could hold; even so he spent more than 40 of his 67 years behind bars. In total, he was sentenced to 56 years in jail throughout his criminal career in courts across Britain. He also became a wartime legend after being dropped behind enemy lines as part of an elite commando unit to blow open the safes of Nazi Generals. Offered special commando training under the leadership of General ‘Lucky’ Lacey, Ramensky was dropped as part of a crack unit behind enemy lines to use his  expertise to blow open the safes of German leaders and secure important documents. During the fighting in Italy, he was among the first troops to enter Rome  where he blew open the safes in 14 foreign embassies in a single day. He also blew Goering’s safes, receiving the Military Medal for his efforts and a pardon when peace was finally declared in 1945. In November 1955, he was arrestedagain  and sentenced to 10 years ‘preventative detention’ in Scotland’s maximum security prison of Peterhead, from which he escaped five times in total — the first prisoner to do so. Ramensky died in Perth Prison, aged 67  in November 1972,  from a brain haemorrhage suffered while serving a 12-month sentence.  It was his dislike of violence that earned him his nickname ‘Gentleman Johnny’, but it was his daring wartime exploits and prolific criminal career which made his name. Ramensky never targeted people’s homes. His hit-list consisted of business premises from banks and shops to large offices.

Let Ramensky Go – sung here by Josh MacRae who also sings Sky High Joe, Baron James McPhait, Arkansas Rambler, The Day We Went To Rothesay, O, Champion At Keepin En RollinJohnny Cope and Kerrigrew’s Soiree