The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled.
By Laura Potts
There is an obvious mythical essence to a number of the poems in Descansos, the new collection of poetry from Katherine Osborne, published by Salò Press, coupled with a flowing connection of the surreal which makes its way through each of the works, treading lightly on some and firmly on others. Throughout the poems, there is an unexpectedness of themes and figures, from God to Buffalo. This shift is sudden, like a stream of consciousness or a narrative story. Moreover, the pieces throughout this book seem to have been produced in a more automatic manner: repetition in titles, along with numbers and extended use of brackets. These automatic devices are sporadic and run parallel to themes of loss and nostalgia; both of which lead to a noticeable automatic writing style.
Why, 10 years after a crisis of capitalism that has entrenched inequalities and insecurity, does the left still struggle to convince a sceptical public that an alternative economics is possible? That question was the focus of one of several intriguing sessions at The Norwich Radical’s recent War of Words conference. A new report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) attempts to answer it.
Framing the Economy argues that progressives need to spend less time discussing the detail of economic policy and more on telling simple stories about how the economy works that people can understand. The project grew from a recognition that the right has long been better than the left at presenting ‘common sense’ understandings economic mechanisms.
by Jonathan Lee
Last week President Trump, with a push of his tiny thumb, attacked Palestinian leadership via Twitter and threatened to cut all US funding to Palestinian recipients. His angry tweets were in response to unrest across the occupied territories following his December recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “that the Jewish people established in ancient times”. Despite the fact this came from Donald Trump, he does pose an interesting point. How accurate is this claim? How far back do the State of Israel’s ties to the land really go?
by Toby Gill
‘The most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself.’ – Alexis de Toqueville.
Give people an inch, and they will take a mile. This is what de Toqueville hinted at in his Ancien Regime et la Revolution, his celebrated account of the French Revolution. It was just as Louis XVI’s regime began to reform that the masses could take no more. Just as the promise of real change was made, the guillotine fell.
by Eli Lambe
The Power is a profoundly affecting read. In it, Naomi Alderman envisions a switching of roles and of power dynamics, deftly parodying and reflecting back the ways in which we justify, enforce and understand gender roles.
It asks the question: “What if women were stronger than men; What if men had to be afraid of women?” and follows its core characters – Roxy, the daughter of a British crime boss; Tunde, a Nigerian journalist; Allie, an American foster kid who escapes an abusive household; and Margot, an American Mayor trying to balance her city in the wake of this sudden shift, and protect her daughters Jocelyn and Maddie – as the world progresses towards “Cataclysm.”
by Liam Hawkes
Surreal. Beautiful. Terrifying. Adam Curtis’ newest documentary can be described in many ways. It bombards us with messages and narratives which seem to have emancipatory power by simply exposing the chains we all appear to wear. This mesmerising piece of film-making taps into the psyche of human consciousness, getting to the root of how we feel and why we feel it. Once again Curtis has created a terrifying exposé of the confusing and uncertain world we live in.
by Hannah Rose
He is driving, she is hanging on his arm. Behind them a vista depicting a wide road disappears into desert upon a large screen. The cherry red of her lipstick matches her low-slung red dress, punctuated by a pair of cowgirl boots. Her dreamy expression says she’s completely at ease, hanging off her man; pleased as punch, because he is in control. But he has never seen the script before; he will be reading off an autocue. She is the one driving the show.
Performer-playwright, Louise Orwin, is touring the UK with her new theatre piece, A Girl and A Gun which was performed at Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Jean-Luc Godard’s adage “All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl,” is the springboard from which Orwin’s performance dives headfirst into a chilling reality which is anything but surface deep.
by Micha Horgan
The events that took place in Paris are deeply upsetting; the implications, vast and immeasurable. Immediate thoughts are naturally for those killed and injured and those who loved and depended on them but beyond this there is a lot to think about. Blame, heightened surveillance, further scrutiny of immigration policies (at a time when this is not needed) and other discriminatory backlash will be at the forefront of our media in the coming months.
Following Friday’s events the rhetoric from some people has been that the Western world is “no longer safe”, that we are moving into a darker time. What is certain is that it is time to think.
by Josh Wilson
Politics is about narratives. The problem is that these narratives have a real impact on people’s lives. We are likely to have a decade of Tory rule, a decade of the systematic destruction of our welfare state and all modes of the redistribution of wealth. Corporation tax rates have reduced significantly under this government, as well as the tax rate for the richest in society. We have seen significant cuts to public spending across the board including local governments, arts and higher education. But the Tories are good at narratives. They have weaved a myth of austerity despite it going against the economic consensus. We are still feeling the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 and yet people seem to barely talk about this and be more concerned by spending levels than an out-of-control banking system.
On a majority of just 17 seats in the House of Commons the Conservatives seem confident, but I believe this confidence can be knocked using a few counter-narratives. A narrative of solidarity, one that illuminates the Tories as a party that is anti-poor, anti-worker and only on the side of the richest in our society. The three policies that are key to this narrative are the work penalty, junior doctors’ contracts and the British steel industry.