by Lesley Grahame
Remembrance is a solemn and moving national event. Even more so this year as we look back on 100 years of wars since the beginning of the war to end all wars. I wear my red poppy with sorrow and my white poppy with hope.
Whatever we feel or know about the horrors of war, Remembrance Day itself day is about a generation who wanted to make a difference, and put their own bodies in mortal and horrific danger to do so. They trusted their leaders, if not to keep them safe, at least to keep them doing the right thing, and perhaps to take care of their families, and themselves if they survived. Community solidarity through shared grief is almost palpable at some Remembrance Events, as we are reminded that no family escapes if war comes to their county.
Few would deny the trauma or tragedy of war, or the need to help survivors, yet these can get lost in the pomp and ceremony, or worse, the glorification of war.Continue Reading
by Norwich Claimants Union (NCU)
The Norwich Claimants Union represents the coming together of claimants, workers, union representatives and city councillors to oppose and intervene in government policy regarding the deliberate and calculated erosion of the welfare state. To achieve this, the government supported by the mainstream has demonised claimants. They have become the scapegoat for our failing economy and societal degradation.
Since the recession of 2008 this campaign against claimants has gathered momentum. However it is worth remembering that the recession, bank bailouts and austerity programs was the result of the miss selling of financial products, namely derivatives. The effect was to transfer wealth away from our financial system and into the hands of a relatively small number of ruling capitalist elite.Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
Numbering around ten million, Romany gypsies constitute Europe’s single largest minority ethnic group and are almost certainly the continent’s most discriminated against. The Romany people uniquely bear both the intense scrutiny of outright persecution and the simultaneous off-hand dismissal of their very identity, allowing and even justifying racism to go unchallenged.Continue Reading
by Rowan Gavin
Climate change is the defining issue of our time. For once I’m resisting the philosopher’s urge to insert the word ‘arguably’ into that sentence, because right now I really believe it. My inspiration arose from the People’s Climate March which took place around the world on Sunday the 21st of August, and the creativity, commitment and love of the people involved.
Some months ago a coalition of climate activist groups announced their intent to organise the biggest climate change protest ever, centred around a massive march in New York. Certainly, as became apparent over the following weeks, they were creating the biggest publicity campaign for such an event that I personally had ever heard of. Inspiring videos and statements came flooding in from people all over the globe, from those whose lives were most threatened by climate change, to some of today’s most prolific and successful climate activists, and to those many compassionate individuals who simply felt they had to do something. Reasons to march, tales of previous protest actions, and reports of new additions to the movement sparked across the internet, in a slow but steady growth of solidarity and support.
Before I went to bed on Saturday night, reports and images from marches in time zones ahead of mine began to trickle in − tens of thousands were turning out in Australia, India, various pacific nations, and elsewhere. At 12.30 GMT+1 it was to be London’s turn.
by Hannah Jerming-Havill
Sunday morning, 14.09.2014, there’s a slight overcast dulling Bristol’s sky, the tea is brewing and on the other side of the North Sea history might be written.
Recently however, the utopian illusion has been dissolving in accordance with the suffocating right-wing wave that’s been ablaze throughout Europe. In 2010 the far right, anti-immigration party Sverigedemokraterna (SD) gained seats in the Swedish government for the first time, which made the past elections dismally historical. Due to the coalition based structure of the Swedish government, SD gained quite a significant position of power, because neither the left-wing nor the right-wing coalition secured sole majority; SD had the power to swing the vote left or right with their 5.7% of government seats. As the left was outraged the coalitions broke down and Miljöpartiet (MP – Sweden’s equivalent of the Green Party) announced that they would rather shift their position and collaborate with the right-wing coalition than give SD such a power privilege.Continue Reading
by Steffan Smith
Who are the poor? Why are they poor? And what keeps them so? These three simple questions are central to the way in which we as a society approach the welfare needs of our poorest people.
To sift society’s answers, of which there are many variants, quickly reveals that there are two major and contradictory ways of understanding the source of poverty. The first way of thinking puts the individual at the centre of the picture, seeing affluence and destitution as straightforwardly reflective of individual worth; this is a central tenet of the right wing worldview. By contrast, the second way sees the individual as a small part of a larger system that they cannot dictate, pawns of varying levels of power cutting a path within set bounds; this is fundamental to the left wing worldview.Continue Reading
by Mattie Carter.
The constant stream of images and information from the Gaza strip can be almost overwhelming at times. Perhaps more than any other time in this long, seemingly unending conflict, there appears to be somewhat of a consensus among politically informed people, particularly the young, that Israel’s use of force has been disproportionate. However, despite this, the rhetoric on both sides is reaching a fever pitch and, whichever side you have more sympathy with, the solution seems further and further away from fruition. Despite a ceasefire brokered by Egypt (at the time of writing), there seems to be little real trust in the public that talks between the two sides will be anything more than a public relations gesture nor that the violence won’t soon begin again.Continue Reading
by Jack Brindelli.
When Michael Gove came out as a fan of Antonio Gramsci – the thinker known in certain sections of academia as “the last acceptable Marxist” – there was of course outrage from the left. “Michael,” they cried, “you have, if you ever read him, missed the point.” But clearly, so did they. Gove, it has become clear over the course of his dismembering of the education system, very much understands Gramsci. Because we, who stand against this government’s wanton destruction of the welfare state, are not fighting a war of facts. As Chavs… author Owen Jones rightly points out on a regular basis: were that the case, after four years of calamitous cuts and pig-headed privatisation, we would surely have won by now.
by David Peel
For many millions of us in Britain and across Europe, austerity is not an economic response to a capitalist crisis. It is a full blown transformation of our way of living where the vast majority share – albeit in a limited way – in the benefits of the wealth we created. It is a shift to a way of living that makes us all poorer, not just financially, but culturally, politically and socially, where much more of the wealth we create is handed to the very few richest and most powerful.
We all know capitalism is crisis. Adam Smith knew it. Ricardo knew it. Marx knew it. Ups and downs. Booms and slumps. The rich cannot make their millions out of economic stability. For them to rise to riches, millions of us must fall to poverty.
by Chris Jarvis.
With results from all countries except Ireland, the European elections depict a bleak picture. Across the continent, an array of hard right parties has seen electoral success as the vote has swung in their direction. Ranging from the latent, little Englander racism of UKIP, to the Muslim hating nationalism of the Front Nationale and the openly fascistic Golden Dawn, they all, at root, have a core based in the politics of division, the politics of fear and the politics of hate.
Of course, they are not all the same. UKIP are not wholly comparable to Golden Dawn, whose representatives have holocaust deniers among their ranks or Hungary’s Jobbik, whose Deputy Parliamentary leader has referred to those with Jewish ancestry as a threat to their nation’s security. To claim them as the same would be to downplay the truly repugnant and terrifying anti-Semitism of some of the parties who will be taking seats in the new European parliament.