This past year was trying in different ways than the first two of this new decade, but no less keenly felt for that. The pandemic – not over, not yet, probably not for a long time – has whittled down everyone’s immune systems, patience, well-being and welfare. It has also been exploited as a means to pass more authoritarian policies into effect, in the UK and elsewhere.
In our country alone, as our co-editor Rowan Gavin wrote in July, “unelected and corrupt powers continue to wield violence in the name of policing, and continue to roam our streets [as they] regurgitate bigotries that were once only voiced in public by fundamentalists and neo-fascists.” The cost of living, coupled with inflation and profit-mongering, has meant a cold, hungry winter for many.
And yet, Rowan pointed out, we “return every time to the communities of people that resist these cruel forces, today and the next day and the day after.” We return to organise where we can, find reasons to celebrate when we can, and endeavour to have as much fun as we can along the way.
If we’ve learned one thing at The Norwich Radical this year, it’s that solidarity is our strongest tool. It has been for the past year, and it will continue to be for the year just started.
Solidarity is what is keeping most of us going on this fascist little island, filled with transphobia and xenophobia; this island in which the government is enacting destructive and violent repression of migration, of self affirmation, of any form of protest; this island in which the media and arts establishment are complicit instigators of a mental and physical retreat to the dying nightmare of empire and colonisation.
Your local music scene is a hive of energy which fuses together networks of people from all walks of life. It’s as much an awkward social battleground as it is an arena where ideas can be shared and explored in confidence and solidarity; it sustains avenues of expression which promote unity and mutual aid and offers sanctuary for people from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds to let off some steam. So as we enter a political chapter dominated by censorship and surveillance, we should all be asking ourselves what we can do to keep it alive.
Norfolk-based education workers belonging to the National Education Union (NEU) have won a hard-won victory, after working with other trade unionists across England to force the government to close schools to the majority of students. This follows a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, particularly amongst school-aged children.
At year’s end, many of us feel the pull to try and put a positive spin on the preceding 12 month period – to celebrate its joys, while recognising its difficulties in order to put them behind us as we look to the new year with a hopeful eye. At the end of 2020, it is particularly difficult to find a positive angle from which to look back, or forward. The slow-motion explosion that is Brexit has rolled on, the UK government that came to power just over a year ago has taken every opportunity to demonstrate its incompetence and corruption, and the mainstream media has continued to side with the powerful over the marginalised. And then there’s the elephant in every room – the Covid-19 pandemic, which has pushed many of the institutions we rely on to breaking point, revealing just how little many governments care about the lives of their more vulnerable citizens.
In a small apartment in the Sancaktepe-Emek neighbourhood of Istanbul, 12-year-old Miray sits at home, trying to get her 9-month-old brother to sleep. Her other younger brother, only 3-years-old, plays on the floor. It is just past midday on a Tuesday – a school day – but Miray is at home, looking after her siblings while her mother is at work; unable to attend classes because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and unable to join her classmates remotely because of her family’s precarious financial situation.
Miray and her family belong to Europe’s largest and most discriminated ethnic minority group – the Roma – who because of centuries of persecution and exclusion often exist on the margins of society, where they are subjected to racism and poverty.
First, the good news: Donald Trump has been kicked out of the Oval Office.
The proto-fascist, far-right enabling, climate change denying, racist, misogynist is out. The man who held up a mirror to the worst of America, and gave old fashioned racists all the encouragement they needed to express themselves publicly, has been finally removed through the United State’s idiosyncratic, pseudo-democratic electoral process. Barring civil unrest and armed militias causing problems in the transition period, he will be gone in a matter of months.
This month, many returning university students are settling into house-shares in the private rental sector, as the first-year intake prepares to move into halls of residence shortly after. However, for students whose families live in poverty, there are a number of barriers to accessing rental homes, which have worsened this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has also constructed new obstacles to prevent poorer students from relying on campus accommodation.
Since Monday, people living in England are no longer allowed to meet in groups of more than six. Although this is not hugely practical given that many employees and students are being required to return to work and study, these new restrictions show that our incompetent Government is prepared to occasionally act in service of public health rather than into the hands of the free market. But it’s very apparent that these restrictions are aimed at minimising social gatherings amongst young people, who have unjustly been the subject of blame for the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases.
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