DOPE magazine – popularly dubbed ‘the anarchist Big Issue’ – is a quarterly newspaper published by Dog Section Press. It’s jam-packed with slick art, contemporary culture and radical ideas, and has featured content from the likes of David Graeber, Sleaford Mods, Molly Crabapple, Ruth Kinna and Benjamin Zephaniah (among many many others) – but not only is its content cool as f*#k, so is its growing social impact.
What a time to be alive. As Covid-19 rampages its way across the globe ravaging families and livelihoods, a medical fetish company has had to supply the NHS with equipment because the British government is a lethal combination of neoliberal, greedy and incompetent. While kink is contributing to saving lives, and while many people are faced with the prospect of trying to subsist and keep their families afloat on £94.25 per week sick pay during the lockdown, the British government has been putting together £1 billion of public funding to be doled out to countries who then intend to use this loan to buy British-made bombs and surveillance technology. British people die through negligence, people in other nations die through cataclysmic violence: welcome to Tory Britain.
A massive issue facing the UK at the moment is right under our noses and indeed right under our feet. That issue is land. Though land injustice may stem from historical legislation such as the Enclosure Acts and the shrinking of the commons through large-scale land grabs over past centuries, the phenomenon continues today, with land inequality becoming ever-increasingly stark. Land is moving more and more from public control into wealthy private hands, with land and housing prices rocketing over recent decades as a result of speculative inflation. In 1995 the total value of land in the UK was around £1 trillion, that figure is now more than £5 trillion.
‘Gypsy and traveller families ‘hounded out’ of areas in act of ‘social cleansing’ as councils impose sweeping bans’ was the ominous heading of a story printed in the Independent last month. It may sound like a news article from 1940s Italy, but this demonstrates the alarming fact that antigypsyism is perceived by many to be the last socially “acceptable” form of racism in the UK today.
by Eli Lambe
No, Soup Kitchens are not making Norwich’s “Homelessness problem” worse. It might seem that way to you, if you’re used to brushing the vulnerable off and not having to see the reality of more and more people’s lives. The easy solution – and the one that your newspaper and the local police like to peddle – is to force rough sleepers and vulnerable people out to the fringes of the city, where they’re cut off from their community and support and, most importantly it seems, you don’t have to see them.
What makes you think that your walking past the Haymarket every so often qualifies you to write about the lives of the people in the queue?
by Tim Forster
Content warning: mentions domestic abuse, violence against women, violence against children
Twisted East Promotion have teamed up with Punk 4 The Homeless to put on a benefit gig at Gringos, Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on 3rd February 2018. The gig will raise money for local Women’s Refuges, Leeway Domestic Violence and Abuse Services and Punk 4 The Homeless, who support homeless children in Central America.
by Kev Walker
Content warning: mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict
It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.
He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.
by Eli Lambe
Released shortly before the disaster at Grenfell, Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle is a timely and balanced exploration of the factors that led to the tragedy, and to the wider social cleansing of working class and low income communities throughout the UK. Introducing the film to a packed room in Norwich’s Cinema City, director Paul Sng emphasised the need to counter the “media culture of denigrating people who live in social housing”. The goal of the film, for Sng, was to show that people living in these estates and situations are valuable in themselves, and that the communities that exist there are important and should be preserved, as well as highlighting how this is overshadowed constantly by the prioritisation of profit and private sector gains.
by Hannah Rose
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.
Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco. 1955
Aliyah has lived in San Francisco’s Mission district her entire life, which I estimate at being around twenty-eight years. Mission is the city’s working class and Latino area. She sleeps on the living room floor. The TV is on and throws intermittent light over her slumbering form, phone still in hand. I have to step over Aliyah on my way to her room—which I am renting through Airbnb for the week—and am careful not to wake her despite the blare of the TV. On the wall, beneath a tangle of half-deflated gold balloons left over from a party, is a giant poster of Whitney Houston—the queen of pop. Behind the water cooler is the silhouetted form of Michael Jackson—the king of pop—suspended on tippy-toes and ‘He Lives’ stencilled beneath.
Photographs of Aliyah and her husband smile back at me from heart-shaped frames that decorate the far wall and on a small, white canvas the words ‘Life is the Flower for which Love is the Honey’ are in poppy-red. One of a few splashes of colour in this windowless, dimly lit apartment.
by Eli Lambe
Crude Apache is a local community theatre company which has been running, in one form or another, for the last 24 years. They are committed to producing accessible and thought-provoking theatre, and their tradition of using non-theatre spaces for their productions allows for innovative use of space and setting. The industrial, bare-bones space of The Shoe Factory Social Club in St Mary’s Works played well with the theme of their latest production, Howard Brenton’s Magnificence – a timely, if sometimes surface-level, exploration of the 1970’s squatters movement.
The play touches on the rise of neoliberalism, state-sanctioned brutality, homelessness and the effects of state brutality in turning resistance into a determination to hurt, and hurt spectacularly. Directed by Tom Francis, this was a solid adaptation of the original, and very successfully captured the arguments we are still having – with ourselves and each other – almost 50 years on.
by Olivia Hanks
“Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.” Sajid Javid’s words, in his speech launching the government’s latest white paper on housing, were rather unfortunate. The sight we’ve all been seeing on high streets this winter is the clusters of sleeping bags in doorways, the faces those of people failed so badly by society that they no longer have anywhere to live at all. This lack of understanding of what the housing crisis really is – not just thwarted aspirations of ownership, but squalor, overcrowding, evictions – sets the tone for this misfiring, misleading, self-contradicting paper.
As another Christmas passes us by, society suddenly remembers about the people living their lives on the streets. The cold weather and family focus of this time of year always seems to bring about fresh discussion, reports, and news concerning the issues around homelessness. Thankfully, much of the talk on the subject – especially on social media – is rather positive. This year I’ve seen a considerable number of friends and colleagues on Twitter and Facebook talking about admirable projects that provide food, care and company to those without a home during the Christmas period.
by Joshua Ekin
Content warning: mentions suicide, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, mass shooting, murder
A massacre in an LGBT+ space, by a Muslim, with a legal gun, and alleged connections to Daesh. It’s easy to see how contemporary American anxieties converge in the political aftermath of the Orlando shooting. The media response to this — the largest massacre in modern American history — exposes how truth is controlled by the present political regime.
For those who do not spend their days fretting about radical social discourse, homophobia can be difficult to define. Before Obama legalised same-sex marriage federally, it dominated the media conversation, establishing rights as the fulcrum of group empowerment. While the LGBT+ movement focused on this, statistics revealed that LGBT+ kids across the world were entering sex-work and committing suicide at an alarming rate. If such statistics were ever mentioned, it was to bolster marriage as the unequivocal endowment being denied to the LGBT+ community. The institution Australian Marriage Equality claims that the ‘higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, early school leaving, conflict with peers and parents and suicide ideation [are] all directly related to the discrimination.’ Marx might have called this ‘bridal false-consciousness.’
by Emma Draper
Disclaimer: mentions loss, bereavement, depression
Until 2013, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) incorporated a ‘bereavement clause’ into the criteria for major depressive disorder, excluding patients from a diagnosis of clinical depression if they suffered bereavement in the last two weeks. Put simply: if someone you love has just died and you cry all day and can’t eat and everything is terrible — well, that’s a healthy and expected response which we call ‘grief’. The removal of the clause by the American Psychiatric Association was contentious, with accusations made that psychiatrists were trying to ‘medicalise’ mourning. One commentator called it the most controversial decision since the removal of homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders in 1973.
For me, this illustrates a lot of pertinent questions about how we think and talk about mental illness. What does mental wellness look like? How do we draw the distinction between the normal fluctuations of a healthy mindset and ‘pathological’ functioning? Does having the authority to categorise what mental states are ‘normal’ give psychiatrists social and ideological influence beyond their remit?
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.
On Monday the 20th of July the Norfolk County Council will meet for their Policy and Resources committee to begin working towards the forecast cuts of £169million to local services. It is a shameful capitulation to the national austerity policies that are destroying People’s lives across the United Kingdom.
Hardly inspired by Norfolk’s proud history of doing different, and fighting against tyranny and inequality for a better life, the grand scheme of the County Council’s much heralded ‘rainbow coalition’ to outfox the Tories, who council leader and Labour stalwart George Hobbs & Co went to such great lengths to keep out of local power, is to out-cut them. The ‘downsizing’ of public services is actually shaping up to be £50million more than even the criminal demands of the Conservative government, in order to buy the Council ‘breathing room’. I assume this cheery phrase used in this gloomy context is meant in the same way that Russian scientists famously kept a dog’s head ‘alive’ for a period of time with machinery — we may well live, but not well.
by James Dixon
Hackney Council have recently come under fire for their pursuit of a Public Safety Protection Order (PSPO) which critics say would start ‘criminalising homelessness’ in the Borough. It would ban ‘rough-sleeping’ and ‘loitering’ and those found to be breaking the PSPO could be served with a maximum fine of £1000. The morals of fining those who have nothing and segregating homeless people away from centres of populace have been pointed out: the council has been derided from homeless charities to pop singer Ellie Goulding.
If this disgusts you as much as it disgusts me, here is a petition you can sign. https://t.co/RAHRLOKygp
— Ellie Goulding (@elliegoulding) June 3, 2015
Norwich City Council have been weighing up implementing a PSPO in the city centre focusing on protecting the War Memorial and Memorial Gardens from damage. Their aims are valiant but the manner in which this is undertaken has left much to be desired.
It was Norfolk’s — and arguably history’s — finest polemicist, Thomas Paine, who best summed up the illogical institution of monarchy when he wrote, “One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves of it. Otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it to ridicule, by giving mankind an ASS for a LION.” Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense rocked the world when it was first published some 240 years ago – inspiring revolution in America, and resentment amongst the ruling class in Britain. It left them trembling at the prospect of revolution on their own doorstep, as the former Corset-maker from Thetford dared common folk everywhere to question exactly why we should offer the inbred parasites atop our society anything but contempt, and the wrong end of a sword.
There have, of course, been some earth shattering changes since the days of Paine — but before you get too comfortable, think hard, ye serfs, on the events of Saturday May 2nd.