Welcome to the April 2023 Issue of The Norwich Radical! As we announced in March, we’re changing how we do things around here. Going forward, you can expect new content from us in a multi-article issue once every two months. Our first priority at the Radical has always been to follow the needs and interests of our volunteers. This new model will allow us to continue producing the progressive, exciting analysis that we’re interested in as a collective, to a schedule that suits us!

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by Howard Green

It’s no exaggeration to any person or any robot to claim that Artificial Intelligence has arrived. It has done so without its previous aura of mystification and impracticality. Now, with applications such as ChatGPT, it seems to be finally materialising into what technology like this can truly be, and allegedly, productive for all of those who use it.

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By a Norwich LGBTQ+ activist

CW: references to transphobic policy and rhetoric, neo-nazi ideology, far-right violence

Last August, The Norwich Radical published coverage of a drag queen storytime event at the Millennium Library. The event was targeted by far-right organisations, and defended by a much larger group of LGBTQ+ Norwich residents and allies. Since then, far-right protestors in smaller numbers have attempted to disrupt more LGBTQ+ community events in the city. Meanwhile, the government has continued to ramp up anti-trans rhetoric and policy, aided and abetted by the bile of the mainstream press and the complicity of so-called ‘gender critical’ figures in academia and popular culture. This is more than a ‘minority concern’. It is a large-scale civil rights struggle against an establishment more fascistic by the day.

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by Jonathan Lee

CW: War, torture, police violence, racist violence

The full-scale escalation of the war in Ukraine began on 24th February, 2022; a war which has now displaced more than a third of the Ukrainian population and forced some 8 million people to flee as refugees to neighbouring European states. The response from (most) European countries has been nothing short of remarkable. The majority of the continent’s states have responded to the largest displacement of people in Europe since the end of World War II by opening their borders, facilitating access to their social welfare systems, providing work permits, and mobilising tens of thousands of volunteers to aid those in need. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, described the obligation to protect refugees as “a moment of truth for Europe.” In her address to the European Parliament on March 1st 2022, she said:

This is a clash between the rule of law and the rule of the gun; between democracies and autocracies; between a rules-based order and a world of naked aggression. How we respond today to what Russia is doing will determine the future of the international system. The destiny of Ukraine is at stake, but our own fate also lies in the balance. We must show the power that lies in our democracies; we must show the power of people that choose their independent paths, freely and democratically. This is our show of force.”

If only this show of force, power of democracy, and freedom to choose one’s own path applied equally to all peoples fleeing war. Refugees from darker-skinned parts of the word can only dream of such noble rhetoric coming from a European leader. The policies of Fortress Europe to repel people from conflict regions in South West Asia and North Africa are well documented. These people have not been greeted with emergency directives to ease their access to European job markets. Rather, like beggars at the door, they have found the gates of Europe firmly shut to them. More often than not, those gates have invariably been reinforced with barbed wire, and kept shut by attack dogs, tear gas, and lethal force. While white Ukrainian refugees have broadly been welcomed with open arms, those from outside the continent remain left behind, beyond the borders of the EU. 

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By Kasper Hassett

Norwich has a goth scene. That’s not always obvious – but go digging in the Underbelly of The Rumsey Wells on certain Saturdays and you might find yourself caught up with those who move on the city’s darkest dance floor.

Started by Alixandrea and Dvae in Cambridge, Sacrilege is a semi-regular club night showcasing a range of dark music from all eras. In recent years it has moved with them to Norwich, and is now gaining traction as a hub for the East Anglian alternative community to gather and enjoy goth music. I got in touch with Alix and Dvae to discuss Sacrilege, how it came to be and what may be in its future.

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By a frustrated member of UEA staff

The University of East Anglia is in crisis. £30 million or more in deficit. Hundreds of jobs under threat. Zero of the leaders who got us here willing to take accountability. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is an existential threat to the future of one of Norfolk’s most important institutions.

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by Carmina Masoliver

Whisky and Beards is a publishing house that works on a print-on-demand basis in order to ensure an equal relationship with each of its authors. Predominantly publishing poets from the local poetry scene in Thanet, Margate, I have chosen a selection of four of their publications, including writers hailing from York and Bristol. 

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by Sunetra Senior

Labour has shown to lead by 20 full points in the first major political poll of 2023. That number has since jumped to 28 at the time of writing. This looks potentially promising ahead of the looming local elections. However, it has not been because of the leading power of Starmer but rather the lingering legacy of the corruptive Conservatives, including the habitual trademark ‘sleaze’. This is hard to shake off, even with a full head of gel and the snappiest suit from the most exclusive vault: the last few months saw the  kempt PM, Sunak, come under pressure to sack, and not simply investigate, his cabinet member Zahawi, under fire from the HMRC for dodging tax and later controversially settling the issue with a payment of £1 million. Meanwhile, Dominic Raab joined Priti Patel in the hall of shame amid accusations of the favourite Tory pastime:serial bullying the junior staff.  Such institutional indiscretion, of course, is but a microcosm of the national socio-economic devastation that continues to ravage the UK. An extension of the Tories’ self-serving tenet, widening social inequality, financial desperation of middle and low-income households, exploding xenophobia and the generally cowed demeanour of present-day Britain, are the direct social result. 

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by The Norwich Radical team

This past year was trying in different ways than the first two of this new decade, but no less keenly felt for that. The pandemic – not over, not yet, probably not for a long time – has whittled down everyone’s immune systems, patience, well-being and welfare. It has also been exploited as a means to pass more authoritarian policies into effect, in the UK and elsewhere.

In our country alone, as our co-editor Rowan Gavin wrote in July, “unelected and corrupt powers continue to wield violence in the name of policing, and continue to roam our streets [as they] regurgitate bigotries that were once only voiced in public by fundamentalists and neo-fascists.” The cost of living, coupled with inflation and profit-mongering, has meant a cold, hungry winter for many.

And yet, Rowan pointed out, we “return every time to the communities of people that resist these cruel forces, today and the next day and the day after.” We return to organise where we can, find reasons to celebrate when we can, and endeavour to have as much fun as we can along the way.

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by Sarah Edgcumbe

Between January 1st 2022 and 25th November 2022, Israeli forces killed 199 Palestinian civilians, including 47 children, and at least 15 women. Perhaps the most high profile killing occurred in May 2022, when Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head by Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) whilst covering a story in the Occupied West Bank. She was wearing a press vest at the time, marking her clearly identifiable as both a journalist and a target. Others present at the time, including a colleague who was injured, made it clear that there were no Palestinian fighters near them when they were targeted by direct fire. This incident was, in effect, a continuation of Israel’s deliberate policy of targeting journalists as a means of shutting down any reporting which can contradict the Israeli state narrative – and, once more, Israel escaped without repercussions

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