by The Norwich Radical team
If we’ve learned one thing at The Norwich Radical this year, it’s that solidarity is our strongest tool. It has been for the past year, and it will continue to be for the year just started.
Solidarity is what is keeping most of us going on this fascist little island, filled with transphobia and xenophobia; this island in which the government is enacting destructive and violent repression of migration, of self affirmation, of any form of protest; this island in which the media and arts establishment are complicit instigators of a mental and physical retreat to the dying nightmare of empire and colonisation.
We are not alone, though it may feel like that sometimes, especially in these most uncertain of years.
People in Norwich and Norfolk have shown that again and again throughout 2021, even with the constant displays of racism and colonialism in how the virus has been and is being reported, and in how Western governments continue to respond to it. We saw solidarity in the mosques, synagogues, temples and churches that opened their doors and facilities to food banks, soup kitchens, and to offer shelter to those who needed it most.
We saw it in the ongoing struggle for liberation, resistance and affirmation in occupied Palestine, in the Landback movements, in the surge of Black Lives Matter, Trans rights, and Kill the Bill demonstrations and protests. We saw it in sports, in the independent arts, be it theatre, music, or visual. We saw it in schools and essential services. Despite everything the government, the wealthy, the oppressive strata of society in the UK and worldwide continue to enact, people came together in true solidarity to help each other, over and over again.
Our contributor Joseph Reardon, in a reflective piece from April, put it best:
Everything we do has an effect upon everyone else, all of us; we never act alone. Solidarity isn’t something to aspire to, it’s just what is: we are all together. Individualism is the myth.
It is clear that top-down capitalist systems are failing everywhere, countries become smaller, borders are getting harder to cross. It is also clear that we can still help each other and make our communities better. We hope you are staying as healthy as you can, that you have a good support system around you, and that you are making those community ties as strong as possible.
Here is to a radical new year, in the name and actions of true solidarity.
TOP 10 ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN 2021
#10 OUR LAND, OUR STREETS: NORWICH’S KILL THE BILL PROTEST
While Archant published clickbait headlines in the EDP and Norwich Evening News that chose to spotlight the pink chalk ‘vandalism’ of a war memorial, Saturday’s Kill the Bill protest in Norwich city centre was in fact a peaceful display of solidarity, and an empowering antidote to the violence that protesters elsewhere in the country have been subjected to. In Bristol, boards reading ‘People Over Property‘ now surround the former plinth of the Edward Colston statue, and act as a visual reminder of both the police and the media establishment’s skewed priorities when it comes to covering protests. Chalk gets washed away with a spell of wet weather. Authoritarian bills don’t.
#9 BLIGHTED LIVES: ROMANI CHILDREN IN STATE CARE
Back in May 2018, both Vladimir Putin and former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions hit the headlines in the same week by threatening to take children away from their families. In the New Yorker, Masha Gessen called this a form of state terror: “Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror.”
This form of ‘state terror’ is all too familiar to Europe’s Roma.
#8 THE TIMES, THE TORIES, ST ANDREWS AND THE OXBRIDGE DINOSAUR
The Times newspaper is at it again. Since the 1st October, it has been attempting to whip white British right-wingers into a fury by portraying freedom of speech as being in danger. According to The Times, students (read: white students) are falling prey to authoritarian demands that they accept “personal guilt” at St Andrews University. Odd, that only since it beat Oxford and Cambridge to the title of the UK’s top university, has the paper fixated on St Andrews’ supposed institutional villainhood like a rabid dog.
#7 BLACK LIVES MATTER: POEMS FOR A NEW WORLD – REVIEW
The revival of the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired an array of haunting artistic responses. Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World, edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa, is no exception. With over 100 contributions from writers of diverse ages and backgrounds, the collection is a poignant exploration of an era of renewed protest and newfound solidarities, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
#6 CRIMINALISING TRESPASS, PART THREE: SUFFOCATING SPACES OF RESISTANCE
For those who don’t know – and there are many who don’t, because the press have been worryingly silent on the matter until recently – there are a number of small, self-organised communities of activists living in tents and treehouses between London and Birmingham, along the proposed route of high speed railway HS2. The railway, and the protest camps, thread through some of this country’s last remaining pockets of ancient broadleaf woodland. Whilst many have been evicted, some camps have been there for over a year.
#5 BRISTOL RIOTS: THE BIGGER PICTURE
Sunday’s events in Bristol have made headlines. Predictably, however, mainstream media has fallen into the trope of shortsighted reporting, indulging in simplistic, one-sided narratives of protestors as ‘mobs of animals’ who ‘attacked’ and ‘badly injured’ police officers. Whilst they make good headlines, these intentionally inflammatory discourses, alongside powerful images of burning vans, serve to eclipse the bigger story.
#4 NORSE WORKERS POISED TO STRIKE
Around 400 workers, previously employed by (Conservative-run) Norfolk County Council-owned company Norse, are threatening strike action due to a dispute about pay and conditions. Environmental service workers, responsible for street-cleaning and park maintenance, are due to transfer from Norse to an arms-lengths company run by Labour-controlled Norwich City Council.
#3 THE HOLIDAY HOME PARADOX: WE LOVE CORNWALL BUT FEEL COMPELLED TO DESTROY IT
“Stop whining, you ungrateful inbred bastards, it’s our money that keeps you afloat” or some variant of that sentiment is regularly heard by Cornish people and permanent residents of Cornwall. Particularly in the summer. Particularly when we register our frustration at being priced out of communities we grew up in; at pristine green land being built upon, despite the presence of thousands of empty homes; and particularly when we dare to register our opinion that people are not entitled to as many houses as they like, no matter how wealthy they are. The severe levels of poverty experienced in parts of Cornwall are completely overlooked by wealthy holiday home-owners and the government (the two being far from mutually exclusive). It is hidden from view sufficiently that it will not dirty their holiday photos, it will not visibly encroach upon the sandy beaches or the pristine sea. They can pretend that everybody in Cornwall is as thick as portrayed in the TV show Doc Martin while maintaining a wilful ignorance about the devastating effects their Airbnb accommodation or holiday home is wreaking upon the county they proclaim to love.
#2 TEAR ALONG THE DOTTED LINE, BY ZEROCALCARE – A REVIEW
The chance to talk about a piece of Italian media that makes it onto the international stage, especially through a platform such as Netflix, is rare to come by; even rarer is for that media to be of any actual quality. It was with pleasure, then, that I sat down to watch Strappare Lungo i Bordi (Tear Along the Dotted Line), written and directed by Italian comics superstar Zerocalcare.
#1 THE PROBLEM WITH ‘FEMINIST’ INSTAGRAM
In December, I found out that the Instagram account, simply titled ‘feminist’ is run by two cis-gender white men: Tanner Sweitzer and Jacob Castaldi.
Accounts like ‘feminist’ become popular by reposting relevant content from others without creating their own. This means they have more time to simply put out more content. The focus of the account revolves around it being relatable to their target audience, and so part of the responsibility also falls with us as the audience, to make sure we follow the tagged content creators, supporting them rather than simply ‘liking’ posts, and interrogating who is behind such popular accounts when that transparency isn’t there.
The Norwich Radical is non-profit and run by volunteers. You can help us continue our work by becoming a supporter. All funds raised help cover the maintenance costs of our website, as well as contributing towards future projects and events.