THE EU WASN’T ALL THAT GOOD (BUT WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED ANYWAY) – PART II

brexit eu signs

By Jonathan Lee

Part I of this article can be found here.

Since the United Kingdom signed the Withdrawal Agreement and formally left the European Union on 31st January, Remainers and Leavers are just as polarised as they ever were. Much of the rhetoric from Leavers and Remainers demonstrates a warped understanding of what the EU actually is and how it works. In this part, we address a few notable example of the things which both sides get very, very wrong.

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REFUGEE SOLIDARITY IN THE FACE OF THE RISING FAR RIGHT

by Sarah Edgcumbe

Owen Jones recently pointed out that the far right is now at its strongest since the 1930s. A horrifying reality of today’s populist Europe. These groups have been unfailingly and cynically opportunistic in using terrorist attacks in Europe to galvanize hatred against Muslims, whilst presenting themselves as protecting white European innocents from the depravity of the Qu’ran, or simply as “not racist” concerned citizens who feel that we should help “our own” (read: white) homeless before helping others. This mindset has contributed to the election of far right governments in Poland, Hungary and Italy and demonstrates that we should not view these groups as fringe street-movements – they are effecting political change with horrifying efficiency through influencing voters.

Mainstream media is in on this, of course. As Chris Jarvis wrote in October 2016, the media’s reaction to refugees and migrants has been nothing short of inflammatory.  The influence of mistruths presented in the media has led to vilification of refugees and migrants. In our failure to protect vulnerable people who are unable to seek protection in their country of origin, we have failed to learn history’s lesson. Enoch Powell would be proud of us. We should all be fucking ashamed of ourselves.Continue Reading

NOTHING WILL STOP THE CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

by Gunnar Eigener

The environment is changing. All across the globe, weather patterns have shifted, resulting in abnormal meteorological behaviour and pushing society towards conditions it is not used to. The UK has just come out of a record-breaking heatwave. Japan declared a national emergency after heatwaves there killed 65 people. Wildfires in Greece left over 70 people dead and in California, over a dozen people are missing as fires spread. Visitors required evacuation from Yosemite National Park and wind threatens to fan flames in Sweden’s forests.

However, should we be surprised by these events? Continue Reading

TRADE SECRETS #1 – HOW TO HUNT THE STAG: POWER, BLACKMAIL AND EXPLOITATION

By Toby Gill

Part of a new series exploring the concept and consequences of ‘free trade’ from a variety of perspectives.

John, Tyrion and Ned lie patiently in wait. They have cornered their target, a colossal, fully-grown stag, grazing nearby. The three of them are in position, bows drawn, waiting to strike. Suddenly the stag bolts, leaping into the undergrowth. Tyrion jumps into pursuit. He knows he has little hope of catching the beast, but he does not despair – it is headed directly towards John’s position. The creature approaches the bush where John is hiding, its end clearly drawing near. But there is no shot. The stag runs past unscathed, and escapes into the night. Tyrion runs over to the bush, exasperated, ready to strike John with the back of his hand. But John is not there. He is around the corner – attempting to catch a rabbit with his pocket knife.Continue Reading

365 DAYS WITHOUT CHANGE — HOW THE ARTS AFFECT OUR ENGAGEMENT WITH CONFLICT.

by Jess Howard

Content warning: this article contains upsetting images.

In 2015 I wrote an article on an image of a Syrian child’s lifeless body being lifted out of the sea on a beach close to a Turkish resort. The photograph shocked people around the world at the time. It demonstrated the severity of the Syrian conflict, as the child in the photograph, and his family along with him, had been attempting to travel to Greece to seek refuge. September sees the anniversary of the photograph being taken, but how have our attitudes to photography and conflict changed in the past year?Continue Reading

WHAT IS DONE CANNOT BE UNDONE. WE ARE THE ARCHITECTS OF OUR FUTURE.

by Natasha Senior

I keep replaying the same slide show, projecting it on the back of my mind. I see the temperature rising, 9/11, the Iraq war, financial collapse. I enter the ballot box for the first time, eager for change. The coalition forms. Mass extinctions. The SNP wins a majority. Tuition fees triple. The Arab Spring. House prices rise. Riots. The Olympics. Food banks. Austerity. Austerity. Austerity. Benefits slashed. The NHS in turmoil. The Eurozone crisis. Scotland votes for unity. Greece votes for change. They are hung, drawn, quartered. We reach the 1°C threshold. The ballot box takes away a piece of me every single time. The far left brings hope but the far right brings hate. They spread their infectious disease. Storms, droughts, forest fires. Everything I fear begins to materialise in front of my eyes. Refugees fleeing the wars we started but we just condemn them to their fates. Floods everywhere. Terrorism. Xenophobia. Half-truths and outright lies. A vote for fear, a vote for suspicion, a vote for fascism.

The weather joins us in this violence as we drive another dagger into the heart of the world. I tell myself lies to ease the pain, looking for ways to return to the past. Hindsight is 20/20 but we never learn from our mistakes. Hatred and fear, symptoms of this deeply tortured nation. I want to leave this place, I want to end the nightmare, but there is no place on Earth that isn’t infected. I collapse into the carnage. I am in free fall. At the mercy of the past. It’s over.

But it is not over. I will not let it be over.Continue Reading

THERE IS NO THIRD BOX TO TICK: ‘LEXIT’ IS NOT AN OPTION

by Elliot Folan

So. The referendum is nearly upon us. And the reactionary Leave campaign rolls on, with Farage unveiling his latest piece of racist propaganda and Leave.EU exploiting the homophobic murder of 49 LGBT+ people for political gain. The leaflets that keep dropping through my door from the official Vote Leave campaign, meanwhile, tell me that we must take back ‘control of our borders’ and rid ourselves of EU regulations that protect workers’ rights. The campaign to leave the EU has had no left-wing voices in it, despite the hopes of lapsed Lexiter Aaron Bastani (who has flipped, and will now vote to Remain). Yet some activists, and a handful of Labour MPs, continue to push the narrative that an exit from the EU will be a triumph for progressive politics.

I understand this view. I don’t want to pretend that I find it incomprehensible, or that it’s without any rational basis. The European Union is an institution weighted towards transnational capital, its decisions are made in backroom committees far from public scrutiny or understanding, and the only directly elected institution — the European Parliament — lacks the formal powers of a proper Parliament. The left-wing critiques of the European Union are not without foundation.Continue Reading

IS ANOTHER EUROPE POSSIBLE? – AN INTERVIEW WITH NATALIE BENNETT

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.

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INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY AND THE EU SHAMBLES

by Robyn Banks

This International Women’s day was supposed to be devoted to refugee women. Well, it was in name — the EU parliament website published a series of articles highlighting the plight of women refugees, such as the fact that two in five are underage. But as EU leaders hammered out a deal on the long night between Mother’s day and International Women’s day, it seemed that the only thing the EU really planned on doing to help women refugees was to use them as fodder for a Brussels photo exhibit.

For a long time, people in the EU from both left and right have been questioning if what they see is really what they get, and nothing is more exemplary of this dishonesty than the EU’s recent deal with Turkey. On two days when much fanfare was made about Mothers, about the trauma of women refugees, about family reunification, we learned about the EUs most absurd plan to date. The plan involves a one in, one out scheme whereby boats crossing to Greece from Turkey carrying ‘irregular’ or ‘illegal’ migrants — e.g. everybody not using official channels, refugee or otherwise — would be intercepted and forcibly turned back. In return for paying their life savings and risking their lives to make the dangerous crossing to Europe by dinghy, they will be sent to the ‘back of the queue’ for asylum seeking.Continue Reading

THE GREEK CRISIS: OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

by Josh Wilson

The Greek financial crisis has done what all news stories do when they do not have an abrupt or exciting ending. It has faded from the homepages of all major news websites, to a small box down the page a bit and eventually only being found by using the search bar. Out of sight, out of mind as the saying goes, but it was just a month ago that Greece voted on whether to accept austerity measures and have since been systematically ignored by their government and international creditors.

In that crucial referendum on whether to accept or reject further cuts to services and higher taxes in order to release bailout funds, 61.3 per cent of people voted against austerity. Yet just days after this democratic exercise, it was shown to be nothing more than a democratic sham.Continue Reading

A GAMBLE ON GREECE

by Natasha Senior

In the beginning of this year, the people of Greece voted in the radical left-wing party, Syriza — lead by Alexis Tsipras. They did this to send a message to Europe, a message that Greece cannot bear the weight of austerity anymore. But this is a message to which no one listened; instead, the Troika — consisting of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank — continued to reel out Angela Merkel’s increasingly redundant party line that Greece has to meet its obligation.

This was how the people of Greece were to view it: as an obligation. An obligation to be treated by the rest of Europe like petulant children who need to be disciplined, an obligation to let their economy shrink to devastating levels, an obligation to stand by as poverty engulfs them.Continue Reading

THE GATHERING STORM OF AUSTERITY

by Natasha Senior

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity national End Austerity demonstration takes place on Saturday 20th June. Assemble: 12pm, Bank of England (Queen Victoria Street). March to: Parliament Square. 

Like a storm in the sea sending a tidal surge our way, the past 5 years under austerity tell us of looming devastation.  We saw it gather momentum on the horizon, as the waves of cuts started to roll in — pay freezes for the public sector, caps on benefits and cuts to social housing. This left in its wake a falling GDP per capita, a decline in affordable housing, and the rise of food banks. And now that those responsible for this have been re-elected, we are shamelessly informed that the storm is not over, the worst is yet to come and we will not be rescued.Continue Reading

EU GETS READY TO SEND SYRIZA THE ‘YOU’RE DUMPED’ TEXT

by David Peel

We are a few weeks away from the General Election in Britain, and austerity is moving front and centre. Not NHS privatisation, not school academies, not McJobs or homelessness, but their mother and father – the ideology of austerity. The phoney election war between the major parties, otherwise known as the ‘cosy consensus’, is about to be dealt a blow.

It has emerged, if reports in The Times are right, that the EU has asked Finland to draw up plans for a Grexit, where Syriza doesn’t walk out of the EU, it is pushed. EU leaders are fresh out of patience with Greece, and their mood was not improved when Syriza leader Alex Tsipras turned to their bitterest enemy, Vladimir Putin, for help.

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THE GREEKS MUST NOW FINISH THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION THEY STARTED

by David Peel

Outside the Finance Ministry in Athens is the Camp of Struggle, where cleaners sacked from their jobs by the previous government of Greece, as part of its EU-imposed austerity regime, demand their jobs back.

We are now months into the anti-austerity Coalition, led by Syriza, and the cleaners have not got their jobs back, despite promises from Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis. Syriza pledged to introduce legislation to rehire them, alongside thousands of others.  It hasn’t. The cleaners have said that if Syriza does not deliver, they will turn their protest against the new popular government. And for now, polls continue to show Syriza has popular support, and would win another election, but the fragile unanimity in its own ranks is fracturing.Continue Reading

I AM BECOME THE EATER OF WORLDS: BRAY WYATT, UNDERTAKER, AND THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

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by Jack Brindelli

Wrestlemania is here – and I have a challenge for you. I dare you to watch. I literally dare you. Yes, that’s right, WWE, ‘make-believe fighting’ if you really must label it that, where grown men and women play-fight on television for the entertainment of billions worldwide. “But Jack,” I hear you cry, “You’re a culture writer for the Norwich Radical! Surely you know better than to revel in such uncultured pastimes?!”

Now, in order to refute that, I could go into a lengthy and tedious history of the marriage between art, philosophy and combat. I could talk to you about wrestling in the world’s first democracy of ancient Greece, at the dawn of western civilisation. I could talk to you about the ancient Eastern martial arts that inspired Bruce Lee to greatness. I could reference Roland Barthes famous essay on the subject if I wanted. I could, but frankly, I don’t fancy pandering to the inherent class-snobbery behind suggesting wrestling is a ‘lowly’ distraction.

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PODEMOS MUST MOVE FROM ANTI AUSTERITY TO SOCIALISM

by David Peel

I know it is a bit early to be thinking of Christmas 2015, but it is worth putting a note in your diaries to watch out for the Spanish General Election, which takes place on December 20. By then, here in Britain, we will be seven months into our own messy government coalitions, following the General Election in May, a time of extraordinary drama and instability not seen for a generation in British political and national life.

By then also, the issue of Greece might be resolved, but it is doubtful. With Syriza, the anti-austerity movement thought perhaps a corner had been turned. And yet a few weeks after the momentous victory and following tough negotiations with the Troika, it looks like austerity is alive and well. It’s most virulent opponent – a coalition of the Radical Left and anti-immigration Right – is managing to keep it going while hoping a desperate Greek people stay loyal.Continue Reading

FEVER PITCH: FOOTBALL CAN BE A FORCE FOR RADICAL CHANGE, RATHER THAN A HINDRANCE

by Jack Brindelli

This, my latest contribution to the Norwich Radical, was all but written an hour before I finally submitted it. My sermon on the overlooked politics of football fandom was signed sealed and on the brink of being delivered. I already had plenty to talk about. It’s been a long month of big themes in the footballing world. Over the course of February, the Beautiful Game has been at the centre of almost every kind of debate there is to be had — and it has popularised these debates in a way that most of us laptop radicals could only dream of.

First, there was uproar when man of the people, Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore poo-pooed the idea clubs should pay their employees a living wage in the wake of a record £5.1billion television deal — at which point Labour leader Ed Miliband literally missed an open goal to popularise his party’s campaign for a living wage, in an election year. Then there was the moment Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated a goal for Paris Saint Germain tore off his jersey to reveal 50 tattoos, later revealed to be names of people suffering from hunger throughout the world in a bid to raise awareness about global inequality — proving he has a conscience to match his not-so-starved ego in the process.  And then of course there were infamous incidents involving Chelsea fans barring a black man from riding the tube in Paris — and of West Ham fans mocking the disabled, reported by TV pundit Kevin Kilbane — provoking widespread condemnation, not least from football fans themselves.

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SYRIZA AND THE LEFT: WE MUST UNITE TO DEFEAT AUSTERITY AND FASCISM

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by David Peel

The neoliberal strategy of austerity has suffered its first serious reverse in the election of Syriza to power in Greece. However, the euphoria at that victory on the Left has been strangely muted, almost as if, like the Greeks, we cannot bring ourselves to believe it.

Perhaps we have felt this to be a peculiarly Greek phenomenon, even a Southern European thing. After all, Podemos in Spain seems to be heading in the same direction. Even the doyen of late capitalism, Alan Greenspan, has made similar recent observations. Alongside his prediction of the death of the Euro, he noted it could never work without European political harmonisation. And this he thought inconceivable, because of the differences between Northern and Southern peoples and states.Continue Reading