Last year, two-tone legends The Specials released an album entitled ‘Protest Songs 1924-2012’. It featured covers of tracks by Bob Marley, Leonard Cohen, Big Bill Broonzy and other legends of protest music – but not one song penned by a British person, despite the band’s Coventry origins. This, UEA Professor John Street tells me, was part of the impetus behind the project Our Subversive Voice: The History and Politics of the English Protest Song.
By Howard Green
On December 16th, the UN General Assembly passed a proposal entitled ‘Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’. 130 out of 193 UN members voted in favour of it, and only two against: the United States and Ukraine. Similarly alarmingly, all EU member states and the UK abstained from the vote. Why are the nations who take so much pride in having defeated Nazism 75 years ago now refusing to vote in favour of combating it?
by Bernard Rorke
On the Wednesday evening of the 2nd of September, in a narrow street in Budapest’s eighth district, a large crowd gathered in solidarity with the students who have staged an occupation of Hungary’s University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE). The students had sealed the entrances to the building with red and white tape in protest against the latest power grab by the far-right government of Victor Orbán.
From the first-floor balconies, students stood silently in yellow face masks with clenched fists, while below, leading figures from Hungary’s cultural and literary scene recited apposite verses from the country’s rich reserve of defiant, liberty-loving poetry. The students closed the event with a folk song and the crowd joined in defiant chants of ‘Szabad Ország, Szabad Egyetem! (Free Country, Free University!)’.
By Bradley Allsop
The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.
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
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
By Sarah Edgcumbe
“I love my country too much to be nationalist.” – Albert Camus, First Letter: July 1943.
The collective Letters to a German Friend were clandestinely written and published by Camus during the Nazi occupation of France. The context must be taken into account here: these letters do not discuss Germany as it stands today, but rather what it represented under the Third Reich – fascism and the intolerance of diversity and dissent. Camus himself states that the letters should be viewed as “contrasting two attitudes, not two nations, even if, at a certain moment in history, these two nations personified two enemy attitudes.”
by Zoe Harding
Article contains strong language.
I went to a counter-protest last week.
Chances are you did too, if you’re reading this. The protest, by a group called Unity UK, was opposite the Norwich town hall and was probably against immigrants, although most of the people there seemed to think it was in favour of Brexit and one chap wanted to Drain The Swamp (an odd choice of slogan in a county that would be little more than Thetford and a lot of dry mud if we drained it, but I digress.) The counter-protest, on the other hand, was a who’s who of Norwich’s local lefties, turning up with drums, flags, megaphones and a generally good-natured if slightly intense demeanor, to stand opposite them and drown them out.Continue Reading
By Robyn Banks
Content warning: fascism, mass state violence
Last week the Spanish government approved the exhumation of the body of General Franco, the fascist dictator who ruled over Spain for most of the 20th century. Whilst this may not seem like a huge deal on the face of it, it is massive news in Spain and to those with an awareness of Spanish politics. Franco’s ‘legacy’ has been hanging over Spain since his death in 1975. This decision marks a major point of departure for the country.
by Scott McLaughlan
Content warning: mentions Islamophobia, racism, paedophilia, sexual abuse, fascism
The sentencing in May this year of Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon (stage name ‘Tommy Robinson’) to 13 months for contempt of court has caused quite a reaction from his fellows on the far right. On Saturday 9th June, an estimated 15,000 people turned out for a mass rally in London in support of Yaxley-Lennon, Trump and ‘free speech’. The sinister focal point of the rally was to link rape and child sexual exploitation with migration and Islam.