The longest period I spent completely alone during this pandemic was one week. I spent the week reading the increasingly distressing news on my phone, desperately wanting to do something, to be a small part of some collective action against the tightening authoritarian grip of the Tory government. Instead, I sat alone in my rented room, waiting, worrying and reading.
A few years ago, a friend bought me The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks. When I picked up the book, I drew no connecting line between these 4th Century monks sitting in their cells in the Egyptian desert, waiting for the world to end, and myself, sitting, in the 21st Century, in my room in South East London. Perhaps with good reason; these monks spent decades in near or complete isolation, barely eating, sleeping or drinking – I spent a week scrolling on my phone and eating takeaway pizzas. But eventually I did begin to ask a question that connected my experience with theirs: What am I doing in here by myself, when terrible things are happening to us out there?
By Gunnar Eigener
CW: sexual assault, rape
Crime is a constant in society. The effects seep into many different aspects, from devaluing houses on a street to scaring off tourists from a whole country. While we are accustomed to people getting away with burglaries, assaults and even murders, we are taught to believe that those who commit the gravest crimes will be punished.Continue Reading
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: this article mentions racism, discrimination, oppression, and racial / cultural slurs.
“If the Welsh are striking over hunger, we must fill their bellies with lead” are the famous words Winston Churchill never spoke, about sending in the Lancashire Fusiliers to put a swift end to the 1910 Tonypandy miners’ strike.
Though he never advocated firing on the miners, he did send the soldiers to the picket line, and was definitely still an imperialist, eugenically-minded war criminal. The only reason the quote is mistakenly attributed to him so commonly is because it is so utterly believable. It typifies the contemptuous colonial attitudes held by the man himself, and the English parliament, for the Welsh and the working class.
Wales was England’s first colony – the template for later British imperialism. Many of its basic strategies were forged here in England’s closest and very first colonial asset, before being exported all over the world.Continue Reading
by Joshua Ekin
Content warning: mentions suicide, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, mass shooting, murder
A massacre in an LGBT+ space, by a Muslim, with a legal gun, and alleged connections to Daesh. It’s easy to see how contemporary American anxieties converge in the political aftermath of the Orlando shooting. The media response to this — the largest massacre in modern American history — exposes how truth is controlled by the present political regime.
For those who do not spend their days fretting about radical social discourse, homophobia can be difficult to define. Before Obama legalised same-sex marriage federally, it dominated the media conversation, establishing rights as the fulcrum of group empowerment. While the LGBT+ movement focused on this, statistics revealed that LGBT+ kids across the world were entering sex-work and committing suicide at an alarming rate. If such statistics were ever mentioned, it was to bolster marriage as the unequivocal endowment being denied to the LGBT+ community. The institution Australian Marriage Equality claims that the ‘higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation [are] all directly related to the discrimination.’ Marx might have called this ‘bridal false-consciousness.’Continue Reading
by Liam Hawkes
Religion gets a pretty bad rep in the media, and some of the time it is justified. The following reflections are not intended to directly deal with the oppressive histories (and some present-days) of particular religious doctrines. Instead I want to reflect on the structure and nature of faith and spirituality, to investigate the effect it can have on our everyday lives. These reflections are in part inspired by my experiences of the faith of others, looking from the outside. This semi-voyeuristic experience of faith and spirituality led me to question the structure and direction of my own beliefs and how they could be grounded in a kind of blind faith.
I do not want to claim that religion is just a passive component of a believers’ personality, because a lot of the time it very much defines and shapes their understanding of themselves, and their world. No matter what history faith has had, or the extremes fundamentalists go to, or the religious violence which has permeated human history, there is something fundamentally fascinating, and ultimately useful, about faith and spirituality. I think that a knowledge of the comparative structures of religions and experiences of spirituality can enrich our lives, and we should not ridicule or dismiss those with strong faith in their religion.Continue Reading
by Faizal Nor Izham
We keep reading news reports on the Islamic State, immigration from Syria and all-round growing Islamophobia that we often forget that there are other real, everyday problems affecting Muslim countries that are very easy to overlook. The increasing trend in focusing on much broader, impersonal issues by the international media has a tendency to de-humanise Muslims altogether, making it easy to forget that they too face ordinary problems, which often have nothing to do with the abovementioned huge issues.
In an increasingly globalised world, it is inevitable to encounter people from families who have settled in host nations with customs and norms that are different from their own. Coping with this culture clash and confusion of identities is therefore an increasingly common complaint, albeit one that is not always raised publicly. For example, Arabs who have been raised in the West not only have to endure daily Islamophobia (whether they are actually Muslims or not — other religions in the Middle East also include Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i, Druze, Yazidism and Zoroastrianism), they also have to deal with the inevitable clash of East meets West.Continue Reading
by Carmina Masoliver
‘The Place for Poetry’ conference at Goldsmiths took place from the 7-8th May, and I attended it with She Grrrowls, as well as within my poetry collective, Kid Glove.
I arrived in time for the first panel session, and I chose to attend ‘Fragment and Process’. This featured three women; the equal representation of gender throughout the conference was something refreshing. In fact, without realising it I solely saw women presenting their papers that day. Susan Watson spoke about translations of Sappho, with Anne Carson at the centre. This was the first talk that inspired me to take note of unfamiliar authors and texts. Watson provoked interest from the onset, when she explained that the original Greek contained feminine endings, indicating the poet was a woman, whilst in the English translation, the gender of the speaker was not prescribed in this way.Continue Reading
by Anthony Moore
(St. Peter and St. Paul from the South-East; Anthony Moore)
Why would an atheist radical historian go to church? My answer would be that history is an attempt to find out who we are. Churches are, invariably, the oldest surviving buildings in European cities, towns and villages and by closely reading them we can discover how class, status and power shaped the lives of the people through, sometimes, over a thousand years of time. The ‘we’ is everyone coming to the Radical site; whether Norfolk is home or a new place and from whatever ‘faith’ or ‘non-faith’ background you come from.
This is the story of a journey to one remarkable Norfolk church; a journey passing through the suburban necropolis of Toftwood to what Tourism Norfolk would, no doubt, call the ‘market town’ of Swaffham, although many years have passed since the market destroyed the ‘market’.