THE RISE OF POPULISM IN 21ST CENTURY POLITICS

by Matt Musindi

Politics has become more divisive and polarised than ever, and it is the populists who have been the main beneficiaries of these political divisions. A populist is someone who consistently promises to channel the unified will of the people. Going off this definition, most political parties in liberal democracies are populist and yet this is not the case – why?Continue Reading

COUNTERACTING ANTI-IMMIGRATION YOUTH GROUPS IN THE UK

by Mary O’Driscoll

Despite the visceral reaction that some may experience at the sight of the terms ‘far-right’ and ‘youth movement’ sat next to each other, the rise of anti-immigration far-right youth movements in European countries cannot be contested. Not only are far-right political parties moving closer to the mainstream, but young people are getting involved in movements opposing immigration. The values of far-right nationalist political parties such as National Rally (previously known as National Front) in France, Austria’s Freedom Party, and the League in Italy have been embodied in youth movements such as Generation Identity- a group that made the jump across the channel to the UK in 2017. With the painfully hypocritical border-focussed rhetoric of Trump’s United States, and the equally ironic anti-immigration discourse of a Brexit Britain, many people are under the impression that ‘Western’ countries are too generous to newcomers.Continue Reading

UNITED IN THE FACE OF CRISIS – THE STUDENT LEFT NETWORK

By Bradley Allsop

Make no mistake – higher education in the UK is in crisis. After decades of uncertain policy and three successive Tory-led governments with a clear desire to marketise and corporatise our campuses, we’re left with a generation burdened with debt, with an explosion in mental health issues among students, with universities bereft of democracy and increasingly fuelled by precarious labour, with Students’ Unions that are often little more than marketing arms of their universities, and with continuing inequalities in educational attainment. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.

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“A VERY DIFFERENT TYPE OF POLITICS” – RESPONSE TO NUS CONFERENCE DAY 1

by Cherry Somersby

Content warning: Article mentions suicide.

The political transition we have seen in NUS over the last 12 months would have been unthinkable this time last year. The student movement has risen to the growing need for radical action this year, building groundbreaking, vital campaigns, presenting a powerful response to the many crises modern students face.

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THE 20 BEST RADICAL MUSIC RELEASES OF 2016

By Chris Jarvis

Yes, yes, we all know that 2016 has been an unmitigated cluster-fuck, with rising fascism, worsening humanitarian crises and intensifying conflict. In moments of darkness, many of us turn to the arts world – especially music – for comfort, for release, for explanation. With David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, George Martin, Phife Dawg, Erik Petersen, Leonard Cohen, Nick Menza, Greg Lake, Sharon Jones, and too many others all having passed away, many have found music to have also fallen on dark times.

That notwithstanding, 2016 has been a year of some undeniably and uniquely brilliant music too, especially music that espouses messages of a better world, of political analysis, of radical alternatives. Here are the 20 best of those radical releases from the past year.

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HOW THE LEFT CREATED DONALD TRUMP

by Matilda Carter

There’s something darkly comical about Michael Sheen’s intention to abandon acting in favour of defeating the far right. An esteemed actor, deeply immersed in the world of theatre and art, jetting off to Port Talbot to tell working class Welsh people, caught up in a wave of revolt against the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’, what to do. It couldn’t be any more counter-productive if the embodiment of this elitism, Tony Blair himself, had made the journey — although I suppose someone who has played him is good enough.Continue Reading

THE LOUD SILENCE OF WHITE ARTISTS ON #BLACKLIVESMATTER

by Mike Vinti

This week, racial tensions in America have been reignited by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castle and five members of the Dallas police. The response from the the majority of people of all races has been one of shock and sadness, with many black musicians and artists using their platforms to voice their solidarity with the victims and their support for the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z both released statements following the attacks, with Jay-Z even releasing his first new song – Spiritual – in years to support the BLM movement. UK rappers Stormzy and Novelist, two increasingly political artists in their own right, have spoken out, highlighting the issue of police violence in the UK as well as the US. RnB icon Miguel has recorded a song listing the names of black Americans killed by police with plans to update it every week. These are just some of the interventions made by high profile musicians in the last week. Continue Reading

SOME WORRIES, MATE: THE ONGOING AUSTRALIAN ELECTION

by Zoe Harding

Who’s the Australian prime minister?

Don’t worry if you don’t know. In addition to Australia being very far away, it’s rarely covered by either the British or American media unless someone’s found an entertaining new way of being killed by the wildlife. Even in the digital age, Australia is culturally and politically isolated from the Anglophone western world, marginalised by the sensationalised nightmare of American politics and Anglo-American cultural dominance.

The other reason you might not know is because Australian politics is a turbulent sea of leadership challenges and political manoeuvring. Since 2007 five different prime ministers have been in office — Labor’s Kevin Rudd from 2007 to 2010, was deposed by Julia Gillard, who led a different Labor government until 2013 when Rudd pushed her out again. The infighting was one of the reasons for the rise of the infamous Tony Abbot later in 2013, who ruled for two years before being booted out of office by Malcom Turnbull, the current Liberal Prime Minister, in September 2015.

Last week, a federal election began across the country to elect all 226 members of the Australian parliament.Continue Reading

THE LIES WE LOVE TO HEAR

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions xenophobia

“Then what is the answer? Not to be deluded by dreams
To know that great civilisations have broken down into violence,
and their tyrants come, many times before.”

–Robinson Jeffers, ‘The Answer’

The EU referendum result is the beginning of the UK’s divorce from the mainland. In Austria, the recent election results were declared void and must be re-run, giving the far-right Freedom Party another chance at victory. Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France and Geert Wilders’ Dutch Party for Freedom are exploiting every moment of Brexit to force referendums of their own. It seems we have learnt nothing from the past as we hurtle towards far-right governments, high-unemployment and less financial security. Meanwhile in the US, Donald Trump had to delete a tweet deemed anti-Semitic.

These are just some of the recent events that continue to expose the deep flaws within Western societies but none more so than the ease with which politicians are able to con the public into believing blatant untruths and the ability of the public to turn, literally overnight, into unpleasant, frothing-at-the-mouth racist, xenophobic animals. In the case of the UK, these two flaws are actioned by a minority of people, yet seem to encompass the behaviour of the entire country — a perception enabled by another deep flaw, the media.Continue Reading

WE ARE WHAT WE VOTE

illustration adna fruitos democracy

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions racism, xenophobia, homophobia, mass shooting, murder

Our world seems to be approaching a turning point. Donald Trump is now, essentially, a nominated US presidential candidate. The chances of the UK leaving the EU are realistic, potentially paving the way for German and French referendums. Resistance to antibiotics is climbing to dangerous levels just as the Zika virus furthers its reach. The damage to the environment continues unabated. A man walked into a nightclub and killed many innocent people, either in the name of religion or because he was, sadly, unable to connect with his sexual identity. There seems to be a sense of things unraveling across the globe.

While this might understandably seem like the end of days to some, the truth is slightly blander although maybe just as unpalatable. We have allowed ourselves to get to this point. Us. You and me. Certainly not always by choice but we have allowed a system to continue that relentlessly sabotages us over and over. Time after time we let in those we know deep down will do us no good. Certainly the system seems rigged and that we are, in essence, voting for the lesser of how ever many participating evils there are. But the lesser evil is still evil. It’s not hard to understand why Russell Brand pushed the notion of not voting.Continue Reading

THE FAR RIGHT IN BRISTOL

by Freddie Foot

The refugee crisis and the attacks in Paris has led to a reevaluation of European values and Europe’s overall unity. It has also stoked existing islamophobia and anti-immigration politics in the UK.

Those who were at, or read about, the far-right protest in Bristol in October would have noticed the organisers were the ‘Bristol United Patriots’ (BUP), a far-right group who ‘will defend our country our families and our culture against any threat to the peace and security of our nation’. The demonstration centered on opposing the housing of Syrian refugees while there was a British homelessness epidemic. The BUP had stated that “This demo is to highlight the homeless situation amongst the ex-service personnel living rough in Bristol and Somali rape gangs operating in this area. All nationalist and patriotic groups are welcome to fly their own flags.”

While Bristol has a strong history in anti-fascist activities and a relatively weak far-right, it is still worth understanding this new group and its intentions in the city. Readers will be pleased to know that it was difficult to look into the history of the far-right in Bristol. No one from the BUP wanted to speak to me about the protest or their organisation and seemed extremely defensive when I approached them.Continue Reading

THE FORCE AWAKENS: GROWING SUPPORT FOR RIGHT AND LEFT WING POLITICIANS

By Josh Wilson

In Star Wars there are (arguably) three major factions; the Jedi, the Sith and the Galactic Republic. The Jedi strive for peace and harmony in the galaxy, whereas the Sith work for personal gain and power over others. The Republic is a democratically run institution that attempts to foster trade and good relations between planets and species.

In politics there are also three major groups; the far Left, the far Right and Centrists. The far Left work for economic equality through state implemented wealth redistribution. The far Right tend to use divisive and racist policies to create growth for a minority of people and to solidify their economic and political power. Centrists, who can often be seen to lean to the left or the right, tend to argue for free markets, promotion of trade and limited state intervention.

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STANDING UP TO UKIP IN YARMOUTH

by Nick O’Brien

We are Norwich is a broad anti-racist coalition formed to resist the visit of the English Defence League to Norwich in November 2011. We were supported back then actively by over twenty different local trade union branches, religious organisations, and community groups.  We also received support from the Union of UEA Students.  Since then we have kept active, holding a carnival in support of immigration in the centre of Norwich, and putting on cultural evenings with musicians and poets such as Hollie McNish.

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THE FLAG OF HATE RISES OVER EUROPE

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by Chris Jarvis.

With results from all countries except Ireland, the European elections depict a bleak picture. Across the continent, an array of hard right parties has seen electoral success as the vote has swung in their direction. Ranging from the latent, little Englander racism of UKIP, to the Muslim hating nationalism of the Front Nationale and the openly fascistic Golden Dawn, they all, at root, have a core based in the politics of division, the politics of fear and the politics of hate.

Of course, they are not all the same. UKIP are not wholly comparable to Golden Dawn, whose representatives have holocaust deniers among their ranks or Hungary’s Jobbik, whose Deputy Parliamentary leader has referred to those with Jewish ancestry as a threat to their nation’s security. To claim them as the same would be to downplay the truly repugnant and terrifying anti-Semitism of some of the parties who will be taking seats in the new European parliament.

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