by Sarah Edgcumbe
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to have disastrous consequences for many people around the globe who have lost loved ones, or who are struggling to cope financially due to livelihood disruption. Domestic violence rates have increased at a staggering rate, whilst loneliness and uncertainty are having a negative effect on many people’s mental health. It is amidst these turbulent times that once again, much like the train-wreck of Brexit, the acid test of “Britishness” seems to be qualified by how deferential people can be to the political elite, as opposed to how willing they are to defend democracy and the welfare of Britain’s citizens and residents.
by Robyn Banks
Content warning: mentions sexual harassment
This month, Spiked launched their newest Freedom of Speech University Rankings for 2018. The fourth edition of the rankings, which started in 2015, are an ‘assessment’ of freedom of speech on our campuses. Spiked’s methodology is simplistic. They look at the policies and actions of both universities and their students’ unions (SUs), ranging from the no-platforming of controversial speakers to their codes of conduct. They then give each uni and each SU a rank of red, amber or green, and give an overall ranking to each institution based on these two scores.
by Robyn Banks
CW: mentions transphobia
‘Universities must bring back freedom of speech!’ That was the premise of various headlines surrounding Jo Johnson’s announcement last week of proposed powers for the Office for Students (OfS). One of those proposals is that universities and student unions that don’t conform to Johnson and the OfS’ concept of ‘freedom of speech’ could receive sanctions in the form of fines. While the powers of OfS are still only at the consultation stage, this announcement gives us a rather concerning insight into the plans and aims that Johnson has for the newly formed office.
by Rowan Gavin
With just four days until polling day, the EU referendum continues to dominate news headlines and pub conversations. Like many, I have been exhausted by the fearmongering, unconvincing and generally depressing arguments churned out by the mainstream campaigns on both sides. So when The Norwich Radical asked me to interview Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, about the positive Green case for staying in the EU, I was excited to hear some refreshing ideas on the topic. I also got the chance to speak to David Raby, a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich.
by Sam Naylor
On the 20th and 21st of May, myself and thirteen other students from the University of East Anglia (UEA) attended the European Youth Event (EYE) in Strasbourg. Over 7,500 young people attended the event, coming together to share ideas on how to tackle youth-related issues through interaction with European decision-makers and speakers.
Through attending plenary sessions on addressing youth unemployment and migration, to panels of Human Rights Heroes and ERASMUS+ opportunities, right the way through to pop-up-tent-style refugee meetings and anti-war talks, EYE provided a space for European youth to imagine a progressive future for the continent and its young people. Sadly, this sparked the cynic in me as the European Union is by no means a shining institution of perfection. An inner voice continued to nudge, searching for some sort of foul play; was the event just one big act to get European youth on board with the EU project? Or is it fair to view young people as more likely to push for their ideals and move away from business-as-usual politics and policies? I’d still like to believe in the latter.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
Out of the May 5th elections the biggest story was the criticism of the coverage by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets. Particular focus of this was on BBC Question Time and the BBC Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg. This isn’t the first time that Kuenssberg has come under fire and it probably won’t be the last. A petition was doing the rounds demanding an independent review of how biased her actions may have been but has now been taken down. Additionally, the lack of coverage over the alleged Tory fraud in the last General Election has generated a sense of distrust in the BBC, an organisation that states: ‘impartiality lies at the heart of the public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences’.
by Cherry Somersby
NUS’ ‘No-Platform’ policy is the refusal to allow ‘racists or fascists’ to speak at NUS events or alongside NUS representatives. Bearing in mind that this policy is often conflated with attempts by individual Students’ Unions to ban certain speakers from their campuses, it has been dubbed by many as an attack on free speech, and further confirmation that the ‘intolerant student left’ have become more concerned with hiding in their progressive echo-chambers than with serious, healthy debate.
by Faizal Nor Izham
One novel I’ve always been meaning to finish is the the award-winning sci-fi classic Neuromancer by William Gibson. Since the initial publication of the counter-cultural novel in – of all years – 1984, it went on to inspire the ‘cyberpunk’ movement in the science fiction genre, as well as the ‘high-tech, low life’ type neo-noir aesthetic that often goes with it. Neuromancer has also gone on to inspire popular films such as Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix.
But what makes the novel so prominent in popular culture is that fact that it was the first to coin the term ‘cyberspace’, i.e. a ‘consensual hallucination‘ replicated artificially by millions of interconnected computer users – which in turn makes up the Internet as we know it today. The story revolves around a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack (not dissimilar from Keanu Reeves’ original role in The Matrix). This in itself can be seen as an allegory for counter-cultural movements literally taking place within this ‘Matrix’ – a term first coined by the novel way before the movie of the same name was released – a world within the world, similar to the setting of the Tron films.
by Faizal Nor Izham
Although Asia as a whole will always be making great strides economically, much more remains to be seen in the way of democracy and human rights. There has always been the myth that Asian values and democracy are incompatible — a well-known fact in Asia, especially in the more developing countries — but in the Internet and social media age, there appears to be a renewed demand for freedom, especially when people’s livelihood and most basic rights are in jeopardy.
However, despite these assumptions, a more thorough analysis shows that Asian history is actually rich in philosophies and traditions that are well-steeped in democratic ideals.Continue Reading
by Faizal Nor Izham
The question of implementing human rights always seems to be a tricky one in countries outside of the Western world. While human rights and freedom always seem universally-agreeable on paper, the West’s history of colonisation often renders it unfavourable in some countries, as it would be interpreted as an extension of colonialism and therefore the Western way of life itself.
This often creates a Catch 22-like scenario in countries which are now in dire need of freedom and democracy in the face of political oppression. Arguably, some countries consider human rights a luxury rather than a ‘need’ but in others, many of their citizens now feel their own livelihood is being jeopardised. In some cases, there is even a possible danger of nations going bankrupt altogether. In the 21st century and the Internet Age, one of the more prominent regions grappling with the contestable issue of human rights, is Southeast Asia.