by Alex Valente
2019 is drawing to a close, but the turmoil and trauma of this turbulent year show no signs of abating. As we wrote on the cold, miserable and particularly unfortunate morning of Friday the 13th,
in the coming months and years, many in this country and elsewhere will suffer under a Tory government led by a racist liar. Social services will be dismembered. Workers’ rights will be eroded. Vulnerable people will face violence at the hands of increasingly aggressive immigration authorities and police. All of which will be sanctioned, incited, and protected by the country’s highest authorities and institutions.
The turn of a decade is an important time to review, to remember what the good fight is actually about, and what type of work is expected from us, as people, as a community, as a society. As Sarah Edgcumbe wrote recently, “we are not in competition with each other – we are up against the greed and entitlement of society’s most wealthy, and divided we have fallen”. At The Norwich Radical we have worked to cover the lead up to the election – and the changing landscape of national and international politics – from as varied a perspective as possible, choosing to elevate the voices of the targeted and the oppressed, of the unspoken and the overlooked. We will continue to do so in the new year.
Unfortunately, the convergence of many factors, recent events included, have led us to make a difficult decision about our conference, War of Words. In 2020, War of Words will be on hiatus while we attend to other internal priorities. Fear not: we will return in 2021, with a new format, new speakers, and possibly a new venue, too!
Also in 2020 we will be looking to add new voices to our current editorial and writing team, with a new round of recruitment beginning in late January. Now more than ever, institutions in the media need to be held accountable for having aided and abetted the rise to power of the worst elements of our society.
We won’t spend any more time here wallowing, but we do want to remind everyone to take some time to recharge, to regroup, to find some space to feel human again before rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. If you’re looking for direction, we highlighted some steps to take in our General Election reflections.
After all, as section editor Rowan Gavin wrote about the recent UCU strike action:
“We are the outrage, and the laughter. We are here to fight the power. We are power.”
TOP 10 ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN 2019
#10 SAM FENDER – REVIVING RADICAL POLITICS WITHIN INDIE MUSIC
cw: mentions of suicide
In recent years, the indie-rock revival has gained traction across the UK, spurning artists such as Circa Waves, The Magic Gang, Sea Girls and countless other bands and solo artists with catchy, accessible lyrics and melodies against guitar-heavy backgrounds. I will fully admit to being an indie fan at heart; these artists generally make up a large proportion of my ‘heavy rotation’ on Spotify at any given moment. But the genre can’t always be credited with much lyrical originality, or indeed, with much engagement with the world beyond the singers’ own personal dilemmas and often relentless self-deprecation.
#9 MEXICO AND THE EZLN – WHERE ARE THEY TODAY?
2018 was a landmark year for Mexico. July saw the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (popularly known as Amlo), whose party Morena won 53% of the popular vote. This landslide victory against the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), a centre-right party, has offered fresh hope for a country exhausted by corruption and fraud. The marginalisation of Mexico’s native communities, however, is in no way a resolved issue. Although Amlo’s social democratic agenda may seem to be an oasis in the desert for Mexico’s working classes, the fight for recognition, rights and justice amongst the indigenous peoples of Mexico continues. Arguably the most notable group leading this movement is the Zapatista Army of National Liberation – the EZLN.
#8 THE TORY RECORD ON GYPSIES, ROMA & TRAVELLERS MAKES FOR GRIM READING
A political party in the UK is defined by its members and its representatives. Regardless of the leader, the real character of a party is found in the policies it puts forward, and the things that its cabinet members, MPs, and local councillors do and say. In the Labour Party, the about turn the party took from being the neoliberal centre-right party of Tony Blair, to the democratic socialist party of Jeremy Corbyn was brought about by the will of its members. The elected politicians of the Labour Party do not always see eye-to-eye with their leader, but if you look at the collective things they say and do, and the policies they propose, there is a broad consensus on certain values which tell you the nature of the party as a whole. The same can be said of the Conservative Party. You can read more here if you want a ten year history of Conservative hate speech against Romani and Traveller people.
#7 RAGS TO RICHES – A BUSKER’S TALE
Three o’clock in the morning. You’re lying in a sleeping bag under a workbench in a dark room surrounded by tools and sawdust with a ragged blanket warding off the elements that pour in through the window which doesn’t properly close. The nighttime gale weaves its way into the building, embraces your exposed limbs and extremities and you shudder your brain back into the realm of sleep.
#6 THE WOMEN’S MARCHES: FOURTH WAVE FEMINISM & A WORRYING, WAYWARD TREND – PART 1 (OF 3)
‘Are we in the right place?’ was a semi-serious question posed by a friend of mine at the 2018 Women’s March, which took place in London on 4th March to commemorate worldwide Women’s Day. Having been to many demonstrations between us, including the historic 2017 Women’s March, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration, we had sound reference points between us too. Usually, there’s a friendly, lively atmosphere. You might even enjoy some canned ciders as you watch an animated speaker deliver one motivational speech after the next.
#5 CORE CIVIC CAUGHT CONDUCTING SEX-BASED EXPERIMENTS UPON IMMIGRANTS WITH A SECOND IMMIGRANT WITNESS COMING FORWARD
CW: graphic mentions of sexual harassment, voyeurism, and physical and mental abuse
In the first instalment of this story I chronicled the sworn Affidavit of Corey Donaldson, a former immigrant inmate at a low security prison in Georgia at McRae C.I. Corey provided evidence of industrial-scale prurient crimes targeted at the dignity of immigrants and carried out by Core Civic.
#4 RHODESIA IN NORFOLK AND THE DANGERS OF BRITAIN’S IMPERIAL AMNESIA
The unassuming small parish village of Southrepps, twenty-two miles north of Norwich, is the surprising location for a memorial to the former pariah state of Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe. This is not necessarily a well-known site – it was stumbled across during a summer cycle – yet it represents an important space to demonstrate the wider political environment in rural Norfolk, and the area’s connections to right-wing pressure groups further afield. The memorial itself is opposite Southrepps Hall and is made up of an avenue of Tilia Cordata – small-leaf lime trees – and three flag poles hosting the Union Jack, the Rhodesian flag and the original Southern Rhodesian flag. The Sladden family are the ‘Lords’ and ‘Ladies’ of Southrepps Hall and have a close history with Rhodesia, historically being settlers themselves. It would appear that the Sladden family built the memorial to commemorate their connections to the former country and to celebrate its memory.
#3 CORE CIVIC DOES NOT DISPUTE ORGANISED SEXUAL HARASSMENT PROGRAM AGAINST IMMIGRANTS
CW: graphic mentions of sexual harassment, voyeurism, and physical and mental abuse
EXCLUSIVE – An independent investigation into original documents and an Affidavit supplied by an Australian whistle-blower has revealed that the private prison Core Civic runs an organized sexual harassment program against Immigrants, supported by its head office in Tennessee, and federal government watchdogs at the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) and SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) know about it — as does the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) — but each have proved apathetic, doing nothing to penalize it.
#2 HOW IS A GYPSY SUPPOSED TO LOOK?
I am probably not the image most people have in their mind when they think of a Gypsy.
My mother is of mostly Irish-American stock – which gives me a few ginger wisps in my beard, and a smattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks. My hair is dark brown, not black. I don’t wear a lolo diklo (red scarf) around my neck, or a staddi kali (black trilby hat) on my head. Most of the time I wear jeans and t-shirt, I rarely ever dance on tables, and I have no piercings or tattoos. I live in an apartment in the centre of a European capital with a woman whom I am not married to, and I travel only about 20 minutes maximum by foot every day to go to work.
#1 HOW THE NAZIS WIPED OUT THE ROMANI MIDDLE CLASS
CW: genocide, ethnic violence
Between 1936 and 1945 the Nazis wiped out over 50% of Europe’s Romani people.
Whether they were choked to death in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau, “exterminated through labour” climbing the stairs of death at Mauthausen, or shot in a mass grave dug by their own hands in Romania – the extermination of the Gypsies of Europe was carried out with deadly efficiency.
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