Across all of the contradictory actions taken and advice given by the UK government in response to COVID-19, there is one recurring theme: emptiness. From clapping for a financially dire NHS, to confusing slogans, the government is keen to portray the national response to this crisis as a unified effort with the consensus of the public, healthcare staff and politicians. It seems a sense of morale is being treated as the antidote, rather than investing in real measures to protect the public from ill health. These meaningless gestures in place of action are costing lives, particularly of the working classes.
When I was asked by a friend to think about the difference between being a professional artist and a semi-professional artist with regards to my own practice as a writer and a poet, the distinction between the two seemed – to quote author Daniel Piper – arbitrary and unnecessary. The word semi-professional is not something that has been in my vocabulary, because my ideas of professionalism go beyond the dictionary definition of these two words.
The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled.
by Alex Valente
Contains strong language.
If your opinion, if your ideology, if your personal mindset is that certain groups and communities of people are inferior to others, you do not deserve and will not be allowed to promote that idea. Fuck the notion of censorship, fuck the moderate, tolerant conversation, fuck the high road. Your ‘opinion’ denies the existence of a large portion of the world around you, and actively strives to suppress it. So you know what? Fuck you.
by Laura Potts
The long standing debate regarding gendered school uniform has been raised once more in the news recently, when a number of students at Isca academy in Exeter chose the much cooler option of wearing a school skirt in the recent high temperatures. They were protesting the fact that students are not allowed to wear shorts.
This is not an isolated case, but one of several in recent months. One call centre worker in Buckinghamshire, for example, also chose to question his firm’s anti-shorts rules by wearing a dress, and his tweets about this act of defiance went viral. Protests like these partly reveal the rigidity that gendered uniform creates – but, contrary to what most coverage suggests, the issue goes much deeper than just whether schools allow shorts and skirts in hot weather.
We’ve just got through the new Tory annual tradition of having the nation vote on internal party issues and having the result batter the incumbent Prime Minister. And, whilst the result is somewhat bittersweet with comedy boob-patting socialist Jeremy Corbyn – aka ‘the future liberals want’ – tearing chunks out of the Conservative mandate, we are still left with a government formed of a crypto-nationalist, sexist, and regressive party and an actual nationalist, sexist, and regressive party.
The truth of the matter is that no one was sure what would happen before the election, or during it and now we’re on the other side it’s only fitting that British democracy remains chimerical, confusing and dare I say it, unstable (take that May!). As such I’d like, as I do every fortnight, to say a few words about the current position of the Arts.
“Romania is not sexy,” a fellow academic once told me. “Nobody cares what happens there, nobody wants to study it. There’s so little going on there that’s really exciting or new. ” I thought she was right at the time. After all, I was also always going on about the political apathy of much of my fellow Romanians, the very slow pace of change after the fall of communism in December 1989, as well as the indifference of post-revolutionary governments towards preserving the memory of the totalitarian regime and its survivors. Apathy and amnesia were, I thought, the two main curses of my people.
But four years ago, something finally started happening.
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.