Graffitied in swirly red French handwriting, on the wide concrete track that leads through the camp, is the motto: ‘Nous sommes toutes des enfantes du Carnet!’: we are all children of the Carnet. The Carnet is a stretch of land on the Loire Estuary, next to the Saint-Nazaire seaport and downstream of France’s sixth largest city, Nantes. The 110 hectare area which incorporates 51 hectares of wetland and is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, many of which are endangered and on the brink of local extinction, is under threat of development. With a nationwide shift towards supporting green energy projects, and the Saint-Nazaire seaport earmarked as a prime location for offshore wind farms, the Carnet has been chosen as the site for a new ‘green energy industrial park.
by Tesni Clare
It’s not an original idea: opportunistic, peripatetic capitalism works by capitalising on its own crises. The idea rings even truer for neoliberal capitalism.
It’s what Naomi Klein has dubbed ‘disaster capitalism’. Amidst public disorientation following a crisis, control is achieved by the imposition of economic shock therapy, or in other words, economic liberalisation – public spending is withdrawn, large scale privatisation occurs, and disaster is transformed into a shiny new investment. Private contractors move in, gobble up funding for their efforts to ‘clean up’, and billions get cut from government budgets.
by Jack Brindelli
Released a year before the turn of the Millennium – a year which drew its primary significance as a milestone from being an anniversary of Jesus’ birth – Antonia Bird’s Ravenous took us on a darkly comic journey into that most sinister yet persistent aspect of the human condition; cannibalism. What is to be noted though, is that the film clearly foregrounds the fact cannibalism is not just a literal act, committed by black-eyed psychopaths in the American wilderness, it is the metaphorical process of manifest destiny, of the consumption of lands and human energy for profit that would underwrite the world that birthed our own 21st century world.
What a time to be alive. As Covid-19 rampages its way across the globe ravaging families and livelihoods, a medical fetish company has had to supply the NHS with equipment because the British government is a lethal combination of neoliberal, greedy and incompetent. While kink is contributing to saving lives, and while many people are faced with the prospect of trying to subsist and keep their families afloat on £94.25 per week sick pay during the lockdown, the British government has been putting together £1 billion of public funding to be doled out to countries who then intend to use this loan to buy British-made bombs and surveillance technology. British people die through negligence, people in other nations die through cataclysmic violence: welcome to Tory Britain.
As the UK’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak exposes capitalism for all its evils, now is the time to start laying the foundations for a better future.
We’ve been in the final throes of capitalism for some time now. Since the financial crash of 2008 long-term economic stagnation has persisted in the west, yet 1% of the world’s population have managed to hoard almost half of global wealth. As the world faces a global pandemic of the life-threatening novel coronavirus aka Covid-19, now more than ever the faults in our capitalist system are screaming out for scrutiny, and it is fast becoming obvious that inequality kills, and capitalism is to blame.
By Jess O’Dwyer
“There is a political power in laughing at these people.”
So say Led By Donkeys, a “Brexit accountability project” created by four friends who wanted to “[channel] frustration into action and [hold] politicians to account with a bit of humour.” The group go around the country putting up billboards with quotes or Tweets from pro-Brexit politicians, as well as projecting or broadcasting previous interviews on Brexit. This is to show a side-by-side comparison of their changes in stance, highlighting contradiction and hypocrisy.
by Jonathan Lee
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.
The following is a summary of Conservative policies which have affected Gypsies, Roma, & Travellers during the time the Conservatives have been in power.
by Jonathan Lee
There is a mendacious yet persistent fantasy that Roma could be saved from the horrors of racism and discrimination if only they weren’t so poor. It is the conservative idea that the free market can cure racism, that racism is purely a product of economic disparity, and that if only Roma were more economically engaged, most of the nasty symptoms of antigypsyism would simply fall away.
Afghanistan, a country that has been in and out of the news since the 9/11 terror attack and subsequent U.S.-led coalition invasion, is once again at the forefront of media attention this month, as a result of Trump’s decision to cancel peace talks with the Taliban on 9th September. The relentless violence and bombings conducted by Afghan state forces, U.S.-backed Afghan militias, Taliban, religious extremist groups, career criminals and other groups are no longer considered to be remarkable events; they happen so frequently that the international audience has become desensitized to them.
by Craig Adlard
This year’s War of Words – The Progressive Media Conference welcomed a panel of four activists to discuss direct action and concerns surrounding the current activist scene. While noting that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) is in some way appreciated, one major theme of the discussion was that XR is failing to take along vulnerable and minority groups. There’s a feeling that the movement is too white and middle-class, and is unsettlingly weak on climate injustice messaging. As someone on the radical left but also actively on board with XR locally, I wanted to write this piece to largely reaffirm those criticisms, but from an insider’s viewpoint. Far from being single-minded and unreflexive, discussions within the group show that XR is very much seeking to learn and grow.
by Liv Barnett
Christmas is rightfully criticised as an event of extreme consumerism and financially the most challenging time of the year for many, especially as satisfying the desires of children come with an increasingly steep price tag. But it is also a time where everyone celebrating it demonstrates the capacity for generosity, self-sacrifice and thought for others. No doubt, the 20th and 21st century history of Christmas is one where people consume as much as possible, with little care for waste or the environment. Articles circulate annually telling us of ‘Christmas towns’ in China where the whole town is populated by families painting little plastic trinkets red, only to be sent to Europe and America for temporary use during this festive season. It is also the time when people accumulate most of their debt, the time when drunk and disorderly behaviour in the UK sky rockets and domestic violence increases dramatically.
However, let’s not feel too glum, even for the those who resent the un-unionised Amazon workers standing in for “Santa’s Little Helpers”, or the fact that Father Christmas is supposedly an old white dude with a beard who delivers gifts, meanwhile a less old white dude with a less impressive beard is remembered for his anthem aiming ‘to save Africa’. There’s still something positive we can focus on.
Christmas is a time where people in the western world also mark a moment in time and space with togetherness
It is one of the only times of year where everyone is encouraged to spend time and feast with loved ones. Feasts traditionally bring people together, for better or worse, and contribute to how people make and maintain different forms of social relationships. Rather than thinking of Christmas as a time where we are forced to be with family, we can think of it as a time where family is made. The sharing of particular ritual foods, meats and special vegetables puts Christmas in a similar category to feasts that take place throughout the world during significant moments in life, and just like in societies idealised for their collective way of life, Christmas is a time where people in the western world also mark a moment in time and space with togetherness.
Alongside feasting and sharing of particular foods, there is also gifting. Within the academic discipline of anthropology, gifting is not understood merely as a one way transaction of an object for the sake of demonstrating love or kindness, but rather a social practice that establishes ongoing social relationships. These may not always be benign. Gifts can draw people into obligations to others, or begin the process of competitive gifting where people out-gift each other in value or substance and establish their own prestige. Nonetheless, gifting is the antithesis to alienation – it is a moment we give something of ourselves to another person – it might be time taken to find the gift, money spent purchasing it, or thought gone in to choosing it. The gift is far more than the object that is exchanged, it is a material representation of both the social relationship that exists between the participants of the exchange, and also a symbol of the amount of effort and sacrifice someone is willing to make for another without any direct or immediate material gain. Such sacrifice and thought for others is increasingly more rare and is not a virtue promoted in the current neoliberal climate – where we are expected to exercise individual choice and freedom without regard of our impact on others or the environment.. Thinking of others before ourselves is one aspect of Christmas that exists alongside the otherwise alienating aspects of it, where those producing the objects later purchased and exchanged are never to use the object or meet the people who do so (an aspect of what Marx termed as estrangement).
Therefore, this Christmas (and in the lead up to the New Year) try to remember and remind your loved ones, that what has made this period significant to our communities
Christmas, for those fortunate enough to have the resources to celebrate it, and loved ones to celebrate it with can be a time of closeness. It can also be a time of intense stress with an increase in domestic violence and family conflicts. It puts a huge strain on women in particular, who often carry a large proportion of the invisible material and affective labour of Christmas on their shoulders (cooking, choosing presents, decorating, organising guests, placing presents in stockings and cleaning in preparation for hosting). Therefore, it is certainly not a time of ease. But we should nonetheless remember that it is a time where we reforge and maintain our most significant social relationships. This, paradoxically done through immense consumption – is nonetheless a moment where many of us make time and effort to reconnect with family and friends. Christmas is one of the few rituals left that brings people together in time and space through feasting, gifting and even singing the odd carol. Therefore, this Christmas (and in the lead up to the New Year) try to remember and remind your loved ones, that what has made this period significant to our communities is not just the birth of a religious figure, the reincarnation of earlier pagan rituals, the royal’s taste for German trees or Coca Cola’s branding skills but our relationships of care that are made and maintained. Through the acts of gifting and sharing at Christmas we emphasise the ways we are all connected and affected by one another, as opposed to prioritising the individual that is otherwise pervasive in contemporary political and economic ideologies.
Featured image : Christian C (no changes made, under CC 2.0)
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by Jess O’Dwyer
The Earth is our nurturer, inspirer and protector, yet we are actively and consciously driving ourselves towards her (and our) oblivion. Extreme weather is the new normal: we’re chopping down trees faster than we’re planting them and we’re still burning fossil fuels despite the common knowledge that they are damaging to the atmosphere and are causing our own children to struggle to breathe.
Ever since I studied Frida Kahlo in class, I have been a fan. Self Portrait with Monkeys (1943) and The Broken Column (1944) always stood out in my mind from those years, the monkeys offering a protective symbolism, and the latter painting signifying a kind of strength through suffering. Like Kahlo, I enjoyed painting self-portraits, and I found it difficult to paint other faces with the same accuracy.
By Laura Potts
Last Saturday, I attended the Green House Think Tank’s free one-day conference Facing Up To Climate Reality at the Norwich Forum. Founded in 2011, the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.
The environment is changing. All across the globe, weather patterns have shifted, resulting in abnormal meteorological behaviour and pushing society towards conditions it is not used to. The UK has just come out of a record-breaking heatwave. Japan declared a national emergency after heatwaves there killed 65 people. Wildfires in Greece left over 70 people dead and in California, over a dozen people are missing as fires spread. Visitors required evacuation from Yosemite National Park and wind threatens to fan flames in Sweden’s forests.
However, should we be surprised by these events?
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green have brought together perspectives from across the sector to explore the possibilities of post-fees HE. In the final instalment, the series editors summarise the visions for the next chapter of UK HE that the series has laid out.
There is more energy, debate and innovation on the left now than there has been for decades. Capitalism’s multiple crises, and the inability of its defenders to respond to them, are beginning to translate into tangible political opportunity. This series sought to capture the essence of some of this historical moment and direct it towards thinking about what we want our university campuses to look like, beyond the staple progressive policy of scrapping tuition fees. A project in unashamedly utopian thinking, it recognised the very real possibility that free tuition might be a reality in the near future, and sought to explore how this requires the left to think practically about what comes after and where our energy should be focused next.
America’s influence in the Middle East is beginning to fray at the edges. This is bad news for both the region and the global community. America has, over the past decade, became something of a pariah in the area. Its foreign policy, already distrusted by enemies and allies alike, has looked increasingly unclear and erratic under the current administration.
While previous Presidents acted with caution and measure, the Trump White House presses on, having found in its new National Security Advisor John Bolton the man who would seemingly give weight to any decision that Donald Trump would be likely to favour, yet is already being rumoured to be behind Trump’s decision to withdraw from the North Korea Summit.
by Jonathan Lee
It’s a dirty word for many who don’t really understand what it means. People often broadly sweep Socialism into a single ideology, which is much maligned as an unworkable and authoritarian regime, seemingly unsuitable for the modern day, and unpopular amongst the electorate.
I’ll start out being optimistic, and assume that this ignorance of what Socialism is explains why some people discount it out of hand. Because the premise of Socialism is generally one that I have to believe most people should aspire to in some way. “Every human being should be a moderate Socialist,” Thomas Mann said.
Why? Because Socialism is a general set of social, political, and economic views that places people first. And what’s the point of having a democratic society, in which we the people place power in the hands of a select few to manage our lives, if not to make things generally better for people as a whole?
by Stu Lucy
Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.
By Laura Potts
In recent weeks, Damien Hirst’s anatomical sculpture Hymn (1999–2005) has been installed outside of my university, Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), where it will be on show until July 29th as part of his exhibition at Houghton Hall. Although the term ‘hymn’ refers to a form of praise, there are a number of reasons why neither Damien Hirst nor the institutions choosing to associate with his work should be praised.
By Nicholl Hardwick, for The Grow Organisation
In contemporary Britain, our lives are pervaded with unique health and economic pressures. Capitalism, globalisation, Brexit and the internet have all contributed to a new era of loneliness, community isolation and disconnectedness. We may go days at a time without speaking or having sentimental engagement with another person. In particular, elderly members of the community frequently fall to the wayside as our distancing society ceases to encourage them to function as active participants.
The US President, Donald Trump, has announced that the US will pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran much to the dismay of all those involved and many other countries around the world. The deal was viewed by Trump as ‘the worst deal ever’, possibly an overstatement since Iran surrendered 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile and limited to installing at a maximum 5,060 centrifuges, making the production of a nuclear weapon impossible. Still, time limits were placed on these and other elements of the deal, meaning that in 15 years, Iran could have begun its nuclear programme again. While the JCPOA can, and should, be viewed as a successful deal, it is another example of not dealing with the root cause of the problem, which is the part Iran plays in propping up terrorist organisations and brutal regimes worldwide.
By Sarah Amsler
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
‘The university’ is a fertile space within which to practice radical imagining and world-making today. I do not mean that actually-existing universities, in the UK or elsewhere, necessarily provide space for such work. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that the spaces for critique and creative thinking in higher education have shrunk as forces of commodity fetishism, privatisation, competition and authoritarian modes of control have permeated university governance.
By Dan Davison
Examinations are woven into the fabric of student life. From the ‘Key Stage’ National Curriculum assessments I sat in childhood through to the tests I took as a Master’s student, every stage of my education has known the familiar cycle of revision, testing, marking and grading. It was not until I became a precariously employed university tutor that I realised how dangerously uncritical we are of that cycle. By this point it seems so natural to make people sit exams at various points in their lives that it scarcely occurs to the public consciousness that students and teachers might be better off without such a regimented approach to learning.
By Michael Kyriacou
It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.
The traditional arguments for ‘free education’ focus on reducing the upfront price of university courses to zero. Rather than HE being a commodity to be traded on the open market, it becomes a good paid for by the government. This kind of argument rests on a contradiction: we cannot solve the commodification of HE by continuing to assert the existence of HE as commodity, even a nationalised one. Abolishing tuition fees is undoubtedly a good thing, but to move beyond their legacy we must understand HE as devoid not only of its price but also its status as a commodity. We need to explore the potential for HE grounded not in classification or institution but in the fundamental equality of intelligences – HE without the degree.
by Stu Lucy
In my previous piece I outlined a theory that compared the woes of our current modern condition to a biological model of a disease increasing its prevalence across the planet, particularly in the Western world. Although slightly macabre, I feel it was necessary to characterise the systemic issue of unbridled growth in such a dramatic and sensational fashion – after all it is the fate of humankind, and well… the planet, we are talking about here.
I finished with a simple analogy calling for global treatment of this cancer that has befallen us since the mantra of growth has been so fanatically professed by economists, politicians, and industrialists alike. How though may we undertake such a gargantuan task that requires the remodelling of all aspects of our societies, from our education systems to popular culture to our entire global trade system?
There was some apprehension as a Chinese ‘Heavenly Palace’ fell to Earth last week. The 8.5 tonne Tiangong-1 space station, adrift since China’s space agency lost connection with it two years ago, made an ‘uncontrolled’ re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere early on Easter Monday.
Fortunately there was never much cause for concern, the European Space Agency calculating the chances of being hit by debris as ’10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning’. Most of the station burned up on contact with Earth’s atmosphere and the remaining fragments plunged into the South Pacific. But the episode had a eerie resonance, symbolising something of the West’s prevailing perception of China as an enigmatic, technologically advanced state, glowing with – rather like its wayward satellite – a nebulous sense of danger.
by Stu Lucy
Humans move, we always have done and always will do. Our movement has evolved through the existence of our species from necessity – following the seasonal availability of food – to luxury, such as holidays and recreational travelling. While part of our species has been afforded the opportunity to travel around the planet in our spare time, absorbing the multitude of cultures and landscapes it has to offer, there continues to exist a drive to move to find something better, not for food, as in pre-modern times, but economic and/or environmental security. Economic, climate and conflict migrant populations are increasing year on year, and are so for one very good reason: a global disease.
by Lewis Martin
On March 20th I had the pleasure of interviewing The Handsome Family as a part of their tour for the 20th anniversary of their album Through the Trees. I interviewed Rennie Sparks, half of the band’s duo, about the difference the band offers from the usual Americana band (and if they are even an Americana band), what it’s like releasing music under your own label, and if being in the spotlight makes their message more powerful.
By Max Savage and Ellen Musgrove
“…in the short term I would be happy to reconstruct a social democratic compromise which aimed to decrease inequalities…I recognise that this will not remove the gross injustices inherent within capitalist structures. To reiterate, capitalism is the enemy, but neoliberalism seems to me to be worse than social democracy. Perhaps we should set our sights a little lower than capitalism and attempt to slay the neoliberal beast.”
– Adam Tickell, ‘Reflections on “Activism and the Academy”’ (1995)
Professor Tickell, once apparently an advocate of radical social reorganisation, is now Sussex University Vice Chancellor and one of neoliberalism’s torchbearers in the UK higher education sector. While it is tempting to conclude from this transformation that Tickle is a duplicitous, cowardly and parasitic individual, there is in fact a larger point to be drawn: very often our politics are not forged by our own choosing but by our position. Once you are earning an obscene salary and have turned a blind eye to staff on your campus earning under the living wage, perhaps neoliberalism isn’t so beastly after all.
by Laura Potts
The TARDIS programme at Chapel Break Infant School is an exemplary example of creative education and an inspirational learning environment. For 10 years, the programme has transformed classrooms into imaginative environments for young minds to explore and develop in. TARDIS stands for ‘Thinking Arts Reflective Dialogue Imagination Studio’. The aim of its resourceful staff is to immerse the children in philosophical and creative enquiry:
‘The learning consists of the development of a range of skills, including speaking and listening, debate and discussion, a variety of thinking skills, social skills, independence of thought and action and persistence. It builds a knowledge and experience of the visual arts beyond those that can be offered within the usual classroom setting.’
Around this time of year, you’ll have witnessed a flood of articles that aggressively motivate you to increase your dwindling productivity and ‘get yourself back on’ the proverbial ‘track’. If you’re the Daily Mail, you might be delightedly telling people how average UK life expectancy has ground disastrously ‘to a halt.’ However, this obsession with life span and these generally flat, statistical measures of personal power are the real issue, and what I would argue even obscure the long-term, self-preservative solution.
Young people can’t catch a break. On the one hand, we’re scolded and ridiculed for our apparent lack of engagement with traditional political institutions, which is generally assumed to be a result of our ‘laziness’ or ‘apathy’, with our disillusionment and distrust with politicians that have continually failed us apparently precluding our ‘right to complain’. On the other hand, when we do engage politically, in those rare moments when we do seek to take an active role in our futures, we’re painted as thuggish, fragile or naïve. In short, the message we continually get is: “engage – but not like that!”
by Rowan Gavin
Today, Essex-born folk singer Beans On Toast releases his ninth album, ‘Cushty’. Last night, I saw Beans play live for the ninth-ish time (if I’m honest, I’ve lost count, but the symmetry is pleasing). If you’ve been to a British festival in the past decade you’ve probably run into Beans as well – he’s the kind of musician who pops up everywhere. With a new album out every year since 2009, he’s perpetually turning up in your town on tour, or supporting one of his many musical friends, or appearing at festivals you didn’t know he was on the bill for.
by Laura Potts
Last week saw the government’s Autumn budget released for public scrutiny. The report starts by stating that the United Kingdom has “a bright future”, with talk of an independent economy forging new relationships with the EU. This long term plan is meant to give voters the belief to take the long road with the government for a better Britain, but their sweeping statements do not at all sit in line with what I and many others would see as a ‘brighter future’. This is as true in the field of education as any other.
by Mark Pearson
Info war perverts.
Cold hard cash agendas set.
Truth is not out there.
(Part 2 of a two-part article. Read part 1 here.)
After ten years of a Tory government, austerity measures and feeding big business, the average person will feel an intense economic squeeze. What is more, because economy is a civilised way of survival – i.e. you do not have to shed blood to achieve dominance or direction – you feel a subjective effect; in this case constriction. You are made to feel more self-conscious, scared, selfish and despondent. If the public sector is being deprived of money and capital is being syphoned into business instead, society will naturally feel more divided and competitive within itself.
by Chris Jarvis
Tuesday November 7th marked 100 years since the Russian Revolution, when the Bolshevik Party overthrew the Provisional Government in Russia established in February of 1917. What followed was 84 years of Government by the Party in Russia, and what came to be known as the USSR, as well as a global struggle for ideological, economic, military, and imperial dominance between the “communist” east and capitalist west.
Throughout that period, a central plank of western political policy and rhetoric was the fear-inducing concept of the red menace and its attempts to wreak havoc upon the democratic states of Western Europe and North America. Erosion of civil liberties, aggressive policies on migration, and imperialist adventures through East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa were all justified with the visage of Joseph Stalin, conniving communists. and the hammer and sickle looming ominously as a backdrop.
Amongst the most brazen of these were the infamous ‘red scares’ – periods of government, media and public hysteria about the communist threat, primarily confined to the USA.
(Part 1 of a two-part article. Read part 2 here.)
In the spirit of championing an individualistic, leftist paradigm, I’m redefining the idea of ‘taking the red pill’ – a phrase currently used by anti-feminists on the right – to instead more aptly explore the incredible, remedial impact Corbynite politics could have on our current economic model, and by extension the strained social consciousness with which it is inextricably linked.
by Laura Potts
Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.
by Laura Potts
Schools stand as institutions of education, aiming to enhance and aid growth in various forms. Children growing through the school system will eventually leave as adults. However, in my generation, there is a trend away from exploring a key part of adulthood: continued self education.
By Olivia Hanks
What happens if a member state of the European Union refuses to comply with a European Court ruling? Incredibly, the answer is that nobody knows: it has never happened, though financial sanctions including the withdrawal of all subsidies are theoretically possible. But following Poland’s open defiance of an ECJ order to cease logging in the ancient Białowieża forest, suspicions that the EU is essentially toothless when it comes to law enforcement are about to be tested like never before.
Content warning: mentions white nationalism, racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia.
By Gary Olson
My take on Steve Bannon’s recent firing is at odds with the celebratory tone I detect from others, especially those claiming it’s a victory for decent people. It was nothing of the sort, and Bannon wasn’t banished for any of the reasons we’ve read about in mainstream media accounts.
by Chris Jarvis
Following up on the incendiary Built on Our Backs EP in 2015, Darlington’s darlings of hardcore In Evil Hour are back, this time with their second full-length release – Lights Down. In the age of an emboldened far right, intensified hawkishness in the international military arena, and revelations of the worst excesses of neoliberalism with the likes of the Grenfell disaster, Lights Down is a much needed and timely response.
by Zoe Harding
Let’s leave the sordid world of Earth behind for a bit, and explore the potential of a concept that’s kind of easy to dismiss out of hand.
In his venerable Culture series, Iain M Banks describes a future society based around Minds, unimaginably super-intelligent AIs that control vast ships and space-going habitats, on which a massive collection of alternately hedonistic and depressed lesser-biological beings (assumed to be human, although it’s never made explicit) live pampered and comfortable lives. The Culture is semi-utopian, although, if it resembles any society, it resembles the US in its relations with other civilisations, The books frequently focus on both the skulduggery necessary to keep the civilisation running and the injustice of being born outside it. Nonetheless, it is a portrait of a society in which humans (probably) are protected, cared for and treated equally through advanced technology.
Because utopias aren’t easy or fun to write, few societies like the Culture have appeared in fiction before or since. There is one notable version, however, in the form of an oddly idealistic leftie meme: Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.
by Rowan Gavin
As the farce of university bosses’ salaries has finally entered mainstream debate this year, I’ve often found myself wishing that the kind of people who are comfortable taking pay rises six times larger than their average member of staff, and who don’t see a problem in sitting on the committees that decide their salary, would just piss off out of our universities altogether. So when I read the FT’s interview* with Bolton Uni VC Prof George Holmes the other day, I’ll admit I was a little surprised to read his proposal for a method of achieving just that.
by Laura Potts
This year’s degree show was of striking magnitude. The work in all departments was of a very professional standard, with the textiles department in particular showing great craft and display skills with their breathtaking exhibition. These high standards were maintained throughout, even into the degree show shop, which housed snippets of work for sale.
by Chris Jarvis
CW: torture, rape, political violence
Less than a decade ago, left-wingers across the globe turned towards Latin America as something of a road map towards a more progressive and socialist politics. Many a left tradition could be identified in the range of regimes, leaders and parties that had come to power throughout the region. Evo Morales in Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Ollanta Humala in Perù, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, the ever present Castros in Cuba, and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The “Pink Tide”, as this phenomena became loosely known, was high, and international awe developed among the left.
Breaking out of the 1990s, in which the global institutions of neoliberalism, from the IMF and the World Bank to the US state and multinational corporations drove an agenda of austerity, privatisation of services and market liberalisation, Governments of the “Pink Tide” brought promise of a better deal for the various Latin American nations which elected them. To greater or lesser degrees, these Governments sought to recentre economies away from international capital and towards the needs of people, increase spending on and provision of welfare and public services – whether through anti-hunger initiatives, healthcare programmes or education projects, and deepen democracy. Across the region, the Pink Tide brought with it decreasing levels of economic inequality, higher literacy rates, reduced poverty and greater levels of health.
by Toby Gill
Content warning – sexism, domestic abuse, racism, two very rich men being awful.
Last night, combat sports enthusiasts of the world gathered around their television sets. At the end of a long day’s work, they sunk into their sofas – remote in one hand, perhaps a Bud in the other. Of course, as they have been saying to their less knowledgeable friends for months, this whole fight is simply a farce. Of course, just like everyone else, they are obviously going to watch it. This week has been the world tour: a series of hugely anticipated pre-fight press conferences. Fans now watch eagerly – just to see if there could be some substance to this fight after all.
What they have been greeted with is a steaming, grotesque, shameless turd-like insult to everything they hold dear.
It’s becoming a popular thought in public consciousness that women ought to focus on their own autonomy and watch out for co-dependence on their closest female friends. It’s a third/fourth wave feminist philosophy that gained momentum through the hopeful nineties years, evidenced in such films as teenage clique critique ‘The Craft (1996). And surely, the thinker will say, a continued focus on personal freedom for women can only good? To these people I say: please remember we’re living in an unhinged, manipulative age.
With the infamous/illicit (?) inauguration on 20th January, we’ve just had Trumpeted to us social regression by at least 20 or so years so if the good fight for feminism is to keep up we must adapt the strategy accordingly. This means once again pushing for a support-group, grass-roots sort of approach – not unlike the Suffragettes who fought for the women’s right to vote in the early 19th century – whereupon more women not only campaign together, but sincerely support each other in their private relationships.
by Gary Olson
Normally I skip the op-ed pages of the power-worshiping New York Times, but a recent piece by R.R. Reno caught my eye. Reno, a political and religious conservative, edits First Time, a neoconservative journal.
In his article, Republicans Are Now the ‘America First’ Party, Reno contends that Donald Trump understood that unfair free trade deals, immigration, and the “broad and deep impact of globalization on America’s economy and culture” deeply vexed many voters. These were the ominous developments that stoked Trump’s populist rhetoric. An angry backlash against the New York/Washington establishment carried the day in key electoral states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
According to Reno, Trump’s juxtaposing of globalism and Americanism, or what Reno describes as “patriotic solidarity,” won the election for Trump. That is, enough voters strongly resented the elite, neoliberal globalists (think Clinton and Obama), believing they cared not one whit about them.
by Laura Potts
As a fine art student, I spend my time surrounded by others engaged in creative practices or on creative career paths. However, as I’ve progressed through the first year of my degree I’ve noticed a major stigma attached to these paths. Even within my own arts university there is a perception that fine art students are less ‘realistic’ than those on other creative courses in the university, like graphic design or fashion. This perception, usually held by people who haven’t taken the time to ask fine art students and other creatives about our work, has spread widely through society. Modern artists do not warrant the same level of interest and respect as the great painter-philosophers of previous centuries.
We’ve all seen the headlines – tripled tuition fees, retroactive changes to the student loan book, the nefarious uses of the National Student Survey. Often treated as isolated issues, these policies are in reality the foot soldiers in a war being waged to undermine the very foundations of our universities, twisting them from hallowed halls of challenge and transformation into bland centres for corporate training and indoctrination. This spectre haunts academics, senior managers and even Students’ Unions alike, forcing them all to dance to the mantra of the market, to the profit agenda. This spectre’s name is capitalism.
If you’re reading this you are doubtlessly already aware of Kristen Visbal’s sculpture Fearless Girl, that has taken up residence on Wall Street opposite Arturo Di Modica’s Charging Bull. Sculpted by Visbal and funded by State Street Global Advisors Fearless Girl appeared on March 7th, 2017 (the eve of the Women’s March) and went viral. Its intention is to address the lack of women at the top of huge corporations.
Most people would have to agree this is a worthwhile cause; unfortunately, Di Modica isn’t exactly happy about Fearless Girl’s placement and is currently campaigning for its removal. Before we decry this as sexism or fear of the power of women, in any fair society he should be allowed to state his claim, so let’s hear it.
One of the bands appearing at ROAR on April 28th in aid of Norwich’s local Women’s Refuge, Leeway, is London based all girl H/C punks Kill Bitches To Dress Foxes.
I first came across KBTDF on one of those meandering journeys through the internet.. Previously known as Medication Time, this London based three piece is comprised of Ale on bass, Itxi on drums and Turko on guitar. With a variety of musical backgrounds and citing influences as wide as Municipal Waste, Emma Goldman and Andy Stanton, they kindly agreed to an interview about punk, politics and other stuff.
By Lewis Martin
This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.
Depending on how you feel, questioning whether we live in a democracy is either incredibly stupid or incredibly scary. In a democracy, every member who is eligible helps to decide how they are governed. Essentially everyone has the same voting power, the same level of influence over government, and the same means of expressing that influence.
But in reality this is an idealised version of democracy. In truth, we admit that there simply isn’t time for us to all have a say in every matter that affects us. Instead we elect officials who more or less represent what we want; accepting that they may stand for a few policies that we don’t agree with but we take the rough with the smooth. After all, the nature of democracy means one doesn’t get their choice every time. It’s the nation’s consensus.
by Laura Potts
On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.
By Ellen Musgrove
‘We call upon the Government to take direct responsibility for what is a violation of human rights. We believe a national strike is not only possible, but an incredible opportunity to show the sheer power of our movement, and to put pressure on the government to call a referendum. In the past 5 years, support for repeal has grown to a level that the government can no longer ignore.’
by Laura Potts
Forget statistics, results and score tables – how much does the modern school system genuinely guide young minds toward a progressive and fulfilling future?
John Dewey, often called the father of modern western education, argued that raising children as obedient conformists, rather than individuals who think for themselves, is very dangerous for democratic society. In recent decades, generations of people have been brought up at a midpoint between these two extremes, raised to conform to individualism. This has provided support for dangerous social, environmental and political power structures which do not provide for the vital collectivist needs of our ever-more-globalised world.
The election of Donald Trump and the result of the Brexit referendum have thrown the prospect of a greener future into doubt. Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and promise to boost the ailing US coal industry overshadow the current surge in renewable energy. The UK government’s decision to sell the Green Investment Bank (GIB) has been attacked amid fears of asset-stripping.
Social media is full of individuals and climate groups recoiling in horror at the potential of such actions pushing back the advancement of environmental progress. Many are counting down the days until Trump’s inauguration and the eradication of environmental regulations that is predicted to follow. Yet is the future really as bleak as many would have us believe?
by Alex Valente
Content warning: mentions racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and the general mess that is 2016.
And so the world has suddenly changed, again, seemingly even louder than before. For a lot of people who claim to be interested in following politics, nationally or internationally, the events of the past month can feel like a shock. We’ve all trying to find someone to blame, someone to accuse, someone to stand in front of us as we look in a mirror, and global media has been having a field-day of think-pieces on the issue. But quite frankly, who cares?
We fucked up. We’ve been doing so for a long time. We’ve been doing so with every time we didn’t speak up, stand up, stand in the way of neoliberalism, aggressive capitalism, individualism and their opening the gates to full-on, fully backed racism, xenophobia, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so many other horrors that not even patriarchy-mythologised Pandora could be blamed for them all.
by Tara Debra G
“Flags don’t build houses”, said Jeremy Corbyn last year, criticizing Scottish nationalism and the SNP. Well, no, they don’t, but neither does an unelectable party, so swings and roundabouts really. But he does have a point: nationalism as a political framework doesn’t inherently support leftist values, or the working class, or is particularly anti-capitalist.
In fact, the strongest argument I hear against Celtic nationalism from the English left is that it doesn’t solve the foundational economic equality at the heart of class oppression in the UK. I’m a Welsh nationalist and I agree. But the left shouldn’t care about Celtic independence because it’s intrinsically anti-capitalist, because it’s not that – the left should care because leftist ideals should encapsulate anti-imperialism.
by Emmanuel Agu
Perhaps not in its inception, though undeniably, the climate change crisis is one of race. The protest today launched by the UK chapter of the Black Lives Matter (BLMUK) stands as a call to arms in opposition of worrying statistics of the UK’s Influence on both global climate change and the local effects — highlighting the disproportionate nature of these adverse affects on communities of colour in the west and world wide.
On Friday June 23rd 2016, millions of us woke up to the rattling reality of a momentous decision: the pound had plummeted to a 31-year low, our young people had lost the right to live and work nearby abroad, and oh yes – the UK as we knew it was now officially in a state of civil conflict. But this isn’t going to be another article about how we should respect the people who voted Leave – though of course we should – nor one that commiserates upon how we’ve tragically lost touch with the ‘underprivileged and disadvantaged’ of us, for the simple fact that it is the sole circulation – and indulgence of – such statements that is fanning the right-wing heat blowing an insidious hole through our country.
by George Laver
If, over the last year or so, anybody has been monitoring political discourse, it should have come as no surprise that the Labour Party has collapsed into meltdown. From an anti-electoral onlooker’s perspective, it is over trivial matters; but to the dedicated parliamentarian, it is a cause for some concern. In particular, there are the issues surrounding supposed “entryists” and “Trotskyists” amongst the rank-and-file of pro-Corbyn Labourites. A bitter repeat of the witch hunts against members of the “militant tendency” in the 1980s, this too would be no surprise to those who had the foresight to expect it.
Whilst I am not writing this to defend Trotskyism – or even to defend entryists tactics, parliamentarianism, and so on – I am writing in defence of those who hold viewpoints that are considered outliers to the common political discourse; and in spite of the fact that left-wingers are brandished with the label of “the politics of envy,” there is a perfect justification for envy. It is not a label from which we should blush and shy away.
Victory! The University of East Anglia has at long last agreed to fly the rainbow flag for the first time in the university’s history. After over three years of campaigning by UEA’s lgbt+ activists, university managers finally gave in and flew the rainbow flag ahead of this year’s Norwich Pride. Undoubtedly, this is testament to the efficacy of persistent campaigning and to the dedication of student activists both those currently at the University and those who have since left it behind.
I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.
The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.
But it is not over. I will not let it be over.
by Robyn Banks
They said he was unelectable. Throughout Corbyn’s rise to labour leader, those of us who supported him were continually told not to. Conservative commentators watched in angst, and told us it would never happen, and the right wing of the labour party begged members to vote for somebody more moderate, more appealing to the wider electorate, more ‘electable’. But, still, he garnered 59.5% of votes in the 2015 Labour leadership election. 87,000 people joined the labour party after his victory, and more than half of labour members this January had joined since the last election, with many signing up in order to vote for him in the leadership race. 13,000 more have joined this week to support him. It’s clear that he offers something that many people want.
by Jess Howard
My younger brother is 14, and with that is coming all manner of traditional 14 year old behaviours. Sulking, door slamming, wearing a can of Lynx per day, and spending eternity glued to his Xbox. In addition to this, he has also discovered the wonderful world of procrastinating on YouTube, and so we are being treated to a delightful array of narration on a daily basis.
During one particular conversation revolving around a group of people who seem to sit and chat rubbish for hours, with one relevant fact thrown in for good measure, he asked why the Mona Lisa was such a valuable painting. An interested and insightful question, but one we only arrived upon after he asked if Leonardo DiCaprio was around during the Renaissance period.
by Joe Cook
We’re the generation of bright screens and a dark future
A digital ball and chain
But when things go wrong we can’t turn off and on again
We live in a world where the most important connection is WIFI
And memories are captured in pixels rather than eyes
by Joe Cook
We live in a magpie society
Shiny objects we crave
If you want to live like a king you best work like a slave
When there’s spoilt brats talking about their sweet 16
There’s children whose drinking water ain’t even clean
Daddy didn’t get you the car you wanted?
I hope that old mansion you live in turns out to be haunted
by Liam Hawkes
As a 20-year-old young man today, I find myself surrounded by a society and culture which seem to lack substance in a lot of ways. I have had a lot of enlightening conversations with friends about this, and one of the conclusions we reached is that we are the generation of nostalgia, imitation, and regurgitation. We think back to the golden filters of 60s or 70s music as the paradigm our experiences now should imitate. We idolise the past because of the lack of originality in the present.
I feel part of a reflective generation which instead of projecting creativity into the future, we simply project it into the past to achieve a nostalgic warmness to keep us comfortable. This doesn’t surprise me when I look at the advent of pop culture and what is considered ‘talent’, or the celebrities of today. This is all a downward slope from the crossing the threshold of the millennium and feeling more culturally empty than ever before.
by Mike Vinti
The lines between the underground and mainstream music worlds have been blurring for a while now. As with the majority of issues facing the music industry these days, this is largely because of the internet. While it’s been an undeniably positive force on music itself, allowing fans and artists to connect more easily as well as opening whole new worlds of music to potential fans, it’s also made underground music more marketable.
This may not sound like a bad thing, and to a large extent it isn’t. While it would be great if musicians could live off credibility alone, in the ruthless world of capitalism in which we live, you need to be stacking that P if you want to survive. Where this increased marketability becomes less positive however is when corporations start getting involved.
by George Laver
On 13th March 2016, a rally took place in support of the ‘kill the housing bill’ campaign, aimed at confronting governmental attacks on council and social property and redressing our attitudes towards it. Since then, numerous student-led rent strikes have also ignited. The cause for anger in both of these movements stems from different stimuli, but both address issues of rent and property.
The first, from the legacy of Thatcher’s ‘right to buy’ scheme, which initially undermined council housing; the final blows were to come from this Housing and Planning Bill. The second, from the frankly ridiculous cost of rent that is borne by students in London — although this could extend across the UK, as many students will readily testify to the advantage-taking circus that are landlords. Geared towards annihilating social housing, the Housing and Planning Bill in particular aims at increasing the rent payments of council house tenants in wealthier areas. A natural product of this would be the forcing of people out of their council houses and into the arms of another set of robbers — or, private landlords.
In response to this, the demonstration of March 13th attracted thousands of protesters, targeting their motions towards the fact that sharp increases in rent would facilitate an eviction of council tenants in all but name. These issues should be labelled for what they are: the government taking control of people’s very lifestyles. By increasing rent prices, they are forcing movement; it seems to bear many similarities to a covert attempt to stimulate the private housing sector. Once again, their interests lie in private property — we are merely pawns on the board.
by Armando Razo
In 1981, news anchor for NBC, Tom Snyder, asked the only band that matters why did they decided to be introduced as a “news giving group” instead of a “Rock & Roll music group” to which Joe Strummer, eloquently replied: “Too many songs have been written about love already, subject’s covered… The news is news, right? So it’s not boring, I mean… it’s what’s happening now”. So what’s happening now? It’s 2016 and we have sources of information everywhere, some of which are important, some irrelevant. Some true, some false. Some will endure the test of time and some will be instantly forgotten. But, do we really know what’s happening now?
One novel I’ve always been meaning to finish is the the award-winning sci-fi classic Neuromancer by William Gibson. Since the initial publication of the counter-cultural novel in – of all years – 1984, it went on to inspire the ‘cyberpunk’ movement in the science fiction genre, as well as the ‘high-tech, low life’ type neo-noir aesthetic that often goes with it. Neuromancer has also gone on to inspire popular films such as Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix.
But what makes the novel so prominent in popular culture is that fact that it was the first to coin the term ‘cyberspace’, i.e. a ‘consensual hallucination‘ replicated artificially by millions of interconnected computer users – which in turn makes up the Internet as we know it today. The story revolves around a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack (not dissimilar from Keanu Reeves’ original role in The Matrix). This in itself can be seen as an allegory for counter-cultural movements literally taking place within this ‘Matrix’ – a term first coined by the novel way before the movie of the same name was released – a world within the world, similar to the setting of the Tron films.
by Olivia Hanks
The Labour Party’s deputy leader Tom Watson wrote in The Guardian last week about the challenges posed to society by automation. Rapid developments in artificial intelligence over the last few years have brought this issue to prominence once again, and spawned a proliferation of articles saying, effectively, “We know we said this in the 60s, but this time we mean it — robots are going to take over the world!”
The fact that fears of mass unemployment caused by machines proved largely unfounded in the 19th century and again 50 years ago doesn’t mean that we should ignore this issue. Far from it — it presents us with an opportunity to rethink our entire approach to work.
If your friend says ‘I’ve started going to the gym’ it is considered undisputedly positive; if they tell you ‘I’m getting CBT’, suddenly the atmosphere becomes tense. They seem to feel awkward as they tell you, and you don’t quite know how to react. They might as well have told you they’ve contracted an STD. But Cognitive Behavioural Therapy — ‘a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave’ — is only good for you. It is evidence of a sensible choice. And yet, sweating, starving and interfacing with an inanimate, rectangular scale every morning, is more attractive to people than sitting in a comfortable chair and talking leisurely with someone you trust.
by George Laver
It is no secret that the UK has maintained its long and proud tradition of housing a police state. The job entails committing to what has been ordered — at the expense of surrendering the human ability / right to make choices based upon morality, and taking into consideration the subsequent impact of the actions once carried through. This surrendering of our moral faculties to a higher power handing out orders carries with it a heavy burden — the absolute collapse of human dignity has been brought about by those who were simply following orders.
If they have been ordered to stand between the starving and a warehouse stocked with food, they will do it; if they have been commanded to hold a barrier between a person and their family, they will do it; and – in full relevancy to the focal point of this article – if they have been told to evict somebody from a home for the sake of maintaining property rights, they will do it. As such, this article aims to deliver an analysis of the modern day tyranny of private property and where it leaves us.
by George Laver
Amidst the giants of British politics, there is an ever-growing rift that threatens to split central parties in all directions. Even though the stereotypical dichotomy of the right-wing representing anti-EU camp – playfully dubbed ‘Brexit’ – and the left-wing representing the pro-EU camp tend to stand up to truth, there are subdivisions within the parties that make this a more complicated matter. In particular, the main figures on both sides having differed opinions over the matter.
For example, Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that he believes Britain should remain in the European Union (EU), whilst London Mayor Boris Johnson – an associate and old Eaton friend of Cameron’s – is thoroughly backing the ‘Brexit’ campaign. If anything, it shows that this point of contention can trigger big differences amongst the closest of allies. It is not just these individuals that we must consider, but also the collateral damage that their campaigning has: those who see their efforts will more often than not draw inspiration from them, casting an influence over their vote when the day arrives.
by Alex Valente
Star Wars. One of the biggest franchises not only in its field, but spanning a multimedia galaxy, has now become even larger after being acquired by Disney. Ranging from books to comics, toys to videogames, music to clothing, costumes, and theme parks. Drawing in accolades, from die-hard fans to casual viewers, from across the world. Star Wars. One of the most impactful, politically muddled, and bizarrely misguided products – and symbols – of Western media.
It was inevitable. As a self-professed nerd, casual toy collector, avid comics-reader, in the presence of one of the biggest releases in cinematographic history about to hit screens worldwide, I could not not dedicate an article to Star Wars. As a Norwich Radical writer, on the other, I also cannot not recognise the immense (infinite?) power and sway the franchise holds, in popular and consumer culture. Just how much of it is really looking forward, and how much is stuck in A Long Time Ago..?
For many millennia to come, the climate crisis will be the defining moment of our history. When we first shovelled the crushed, decayed, fossilised remains of prehistoric creatures into engines, we found that we could create plentiful power. It is this power that has allowed us to coexist in huge societal networks, to eliminate disease and travel to outer space. But these tremendous strides in humanity have come at a huge price.
The infrastructure of our society relies on consuming, we no longer share local resources within small communities, but transport them across the world and transform them many times until they take the barely recognisable forms of commodities we use every day. In each step of this process we lavishly spend fuel, a resource that we once treated as ever-lasting, but now we see it’s running out. But our biggest mistake was that we thought we were getting all of this for free when in fact, all this time we’ve been borrowing huge amounts from the environment. And as we see the Earth changing drastically, with the oceans acidifying and the weather becoming increasingly unpredicable, we know that the time has come to settle the debt. These next few weeks, as world leaders gather at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, we will decide as a species how to return what we owe.
When George Osborne took to the stage at the Conservative party conference, he had an air of confidence that spoke volumes. He tapped into a sense that has been palpable for a while now, the widely held belief that he is the saviour of the British economy. Soaked with ambition, he painted for us his bold and vibrant vision for Britain, creating a northern powerhouse and putting the working, taxpaying people at the heart of his plans. He decreed his party the builders of Britain and the only true party of labour whilst unapologetically championing his more liberal politics. Then as the applause rolled in, showering him with reverence and adoration, the next five years unfolded in front of me and I could see this man winning the 2020 general election. The thought of it made me feel sick to my stomach.
by Colin Hynson
Derek Wall Economics After Capitalism: A Guide to the Ruins and a Road to the Future.
Pluto Press, 2015. £13.00
In the last months of 2011 countries across the world witnessed an explosion of protest under the banner of ‘Occupy’. Inspired by uprisings of the Arab Spring and the Indignant movement in Spain and angered by the effects of the financial crisis of 2008–2009, large groups of anti-capitalist and anti-corporatist demonstrators took over public spaces and set up camp. The Occupy protests in New York and in London were the ones that occupied most public attention although there were Occupy protests in many cities across the world, including on Norwich’s Hay Hill.
The Occupy protestors were subject to all of the usual attacks and criticisms from conservative commentators and pundits and there was one thing that they all agreed on. It was easy to see what the protestors were against but much more difficult to find out exactly what they were for. There was no list of demands, no manifesto and no programme of action. Yet for many supporters of the Occupy movement this wasn’t a weakness but a sign of strength. It allowed diverse groups from environmentalists to socialists and anarchists to come together and draw attention to a problem that needed fixing, i.e. capitalism, whilst agreeing that there were many ways that could solve that problem.
Popular culture moves in mysterious ways. For years it can seem like a particular trope or sub-genre has died off before bursting from its suspended animation and illuminating our screens once more. For years it appeared vampires and zombies had been permanently banished to the cinematic shadows before rising triumphant from their cultural tomb, terrifying new generations of cinema-goers at the turn of the century. Similarly, in 2015, the robot seems to be undergoing something of a resurrection. For the past decade considered clunky and kitsch, Artificial Intelligence has suddenly monopolised the top-billed releases of the year – droids are back in the big-time. The question is why?
Left-leaning politicians and political commentators tend to only invoke the name of our first woman to be Prime Minister in two ways: with the deafening thunderclap of pure evil or with a conciliatory tone; expressing the validity of many of her arguments. If the left truly want to be in a position to change the country for the better though, we need to begin thinking about Thatcher not just as a towering, transformative ideological figure, but also as an astonishingly talented political strategist.
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.
by Matilda Carter.
Business seems to be the very opposite of a radical political strategy. Businesses are, after all, the primary unit of the way capitalists view the world and are, by virtue of their definition, intrinsically linked into the capitalist system. When left-wing radicals talk about how goods and services would be distributed in a post-capitalist world, they focus on need rather than profit, and social good rather than endless innovation. In the long-term, businesses as we know them are terrible for our livelihoods, our understanding of each other as people and for the majority of the human race. However, given the distinction between short-term and long-term strategies I laid out in my last article, the question remains: can business be part of a short-term radical political movement?
by Mattie Carter.
Political debate often takes a binary form. We cast the left and right as two belligerent armies, fighting for the control of the political and economic apparatus of government and we dehumanise those who disagree or object to our values as part of an amorphous mass of evil. If you oppose aspects capitalism, then those on the right will cast you in the light of a statist, Stalinist, pseudo-intellectual and if you mention any benefits of the system then the most diehard socialists will dress you down with all the fervour of a zealous priest, preaching platitudes and quotes from Das Kapital. This is not something we should necessarily take the blame for, as much research suggests that it is a borderline insuppressible instinct, in fact I do it several times in this article, but I open with this because I’m about to attempt to defend believers in the global free market economy.