THE CULTURAL IS POLITICAL – THE REUNIFICATION OF LEFTISM AND CULTURE

by Chris Jarvis

Culture and politics are inseparable. Culture is more than mere entertainment, more than escapism. Culture is central to how we understand the world, build our value sets and perceive our fellow people. It stirs human emotion in unique ways, pulling different levers in the brain. Sometimes overtly, sometimes with subtlety, the dominant cultural practices, institutions, icons and outputs are used to reinforce the dominant political system and defend the status quo. Establishment weaponise culture as a means of influence.

But this isn’t the sole preserve of the political right.

Looking through history, many of the most important moments of popular revolt have an accompanying soundtrack. The resistance to the Vietnam War had the protest folk singers. Rage Against the Machine were agitators of the US anti-globalisation movement. Riot Grrrl acts built feminist infrastructure, led pro-choice campaigns and brought ‘the personal is political’ sentiments to the fore of a cultural phenomenon. And so on, and so on.

This isn’t coincidental.Continue Reading

EXPERIENCING FAITH: THE SPIRITUALITY OF CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY

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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

WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE

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by Jack Brindelli

Contains spoilers.

Let’s get something perfectly straight. The proponents of 21st century capitalism do not want to be your friend. As much as the likes of Starbucks and Apple might wax lyrical about fair-trade, rainforest friendly, organic, aspirational community funds,, they are not interested in improving your living standards, and they don’t care if you dream big, or live with dignity. They have only one true desire; —they want to bleed you like a stuck pig until your veins run dry, and their cups overflow with crimson cascades of our life-force. Metaphorically…  more or less.

And we know it too. Capitalism, like any self-respecting cannibal, wears a human face — but it sits uneasily with us. Subconsciously we know that even in a world where it is the dominant ideology, it has all the sincerity of a crocodile’s grin. That’s why we all need a sanctuary — a place of refuge from the dull buzzing rhetoric of productivity, aspiration and progress that continuously echo round our heads every time we tune into society.Continue Reading