Graffitied in swirly red French handwriting, on the wide concrete track that leads through the camp, is the motto: ‘Nous sommes toutes des enfantes du Carnet!’: we are all children of the Carnet. The Carnet is a stretch of land on the Loire Estuary, next to the Saint-Nazaire seaport and downstream of France’s sixth largest city, Nantes. The 110 hectare area which incorporates 51 hectares of wetland and is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, many of which are endangered and on the brink of local extinction, is under threat of development. With a nationwide shift towards supporting green energy projects, and the Saint-Nazaire seaport earmarked as a prime location for offshore wind farms, the Carnet has been chosen as the site for a new ‘green energy industrial park.
by Stu Lucy
Occupy. Regardless of what you think about the movement’s longevity, potency or efficacy, it was hailed as the start of a new wave of activism that was so desperately needed, protest that would reinvigorate the oppressed and make the elite ruling class of Western democracies pay attention and take heed. Occupy Wall Street was of course where it all began, and it soon spread to over 20 countries worldwide.
There was one country though that found itself besiege to an Occupy movement, news of which barely made it to the international media stage. Furthermore, this relatively modest movement wasn’t aimed at the 1% – the metaphoric representation of a ruling class defined by financial capital – this movement instead took aim at one of Africa’s most destructive democratically elected dictators: Mr Robert Mugabe.
Yesterday, on the 8th anniversary of the deportation of 9 SOAS cleaners, students of SOAS began an occupation of the Directorate on the Main Building first floor. We are taking direct action in resistance to the planned shut down of the refectory and outrageous threats made by management to the livelihoods of members of our community. We stand in solidarity with the catering staff, and all the exploited workers of SOAS, in their fight for dignity and respect.
We’ve all seen the headlines – tripled tuition fees, retroactive changes to the student loan book, the nefarious uses of the National Student Survey. Often treated as isolated issues, these policies are in reality the foot soldiers in a war being waged to undermine the very foundations of our universities, twisting them from hallowed halls of challenge and transformation into bland centres for corporate training and indoctrination. This spectre haunts academics, senior managers and even Students’ Unions alike, forcing them all to dance to the mantra of the market, to the profit agenda. This spectre’s name is capitalism.
by Rowan Gavin
I was recently excited to hear of a new module being run in the Politics department at UEA next academic year entitled ‘Activist Campaigning’. Module convenor Dr Ben Little was good enough to let me interview him about the course, its history, and his hopes for its future at UEA.
by Chris Jarvis
Luvdump came kicking and skanking out of Bury St Edmunds in 2007, bringing to life their aggressive mix of melodic punk rock and ska-core. 2013 saw the release of their second full length album, Age of Austerity, alongside their relocation to the North West, where they have made their home ever since. A regular on the UK ska and punk circuit, Luvdump have continuously maintained a political current to their music, lifestyles and lyrics, with the social conscience of the band seeping through almost every song.
by Chris Jarvis
February 12th saw the release of St Lucian born musician Taj Weekes’ fifth full length album Love Herb and Reggae – a collection of fourteen bouncing, mellow reggae tunes with his band Adowa. In 51 minutes, Taj’s lyrics cover the full assortment of reggae’s lyrical history, touching on politics, human rights, marijuana and love. And yet from the opening hook, to its final, fading gasps, it never slips into cliché or stereotype, proving itself to be original and unique and without doubt their strongest record to date.
By Chris Jarvis
I’m an elected Sabbatical Officer at UEA and I’ve just come from a 26 hour occupation camp on my campus which was the culmination of a two-year campaign calling for UEA to join institutions across the world to divest their money from the fossil fuel industry. We occupied for 26 hours, one hour for every £5,000 the University currently has invested in fossil fuel companies. Often, such action would not be supported by elected student officers, and in the worst instances condemned by them.
By John Heathcliff
It’s 8.30 pm on 5th November 2015, and for the first time in over four years UEA students have gone into occupation, just outside the Vice Chancellor’s office. It’s a cold winter night, and it’s raining quite heavily, but the protesters – resplendent in orange jumpsuits – are huddled together under a blue tarpaulin, which is swaying in the wind. Banners and placards are hung across the railings of the square, with one proclaiming loudly: “DIVEST”. There aren’t many students around yet to see the occupation, but there will be more tomorrow, because the protesters are staying for 26 hours: each hour representing £5,000 of the money that UEA invests in fossil fuels. This is the UEA Fossil Free occupation.
by Colin Hynson
Derek Wall Economics After Capitalism: A Guide to the Ruins and a Road to the Future.
Pluto Press, 2015. £13.00
In the last months of 2011 countries across the world witnessed an explosion of protest under the banner of ‘Occupy’. Inspired by uprisings of the Arab Spring and the Indignant movement in Spain and angered by the effects of the financial crisis of 2008–2009, large groups of anti-capitalist and anti-corporatist demonstrators took over public spaces and set up camp. The Occupy protests in New York and in London were the ones that occupied most public attention although there were Occupy protests in many cities across the world, including on Norwich’s Hay Hill.
The Occupy protestors were subject to all of the usual attacks and criticisms from conservative commentators and pundits and there was one thing that they all agreed on. It was easy to see what the protestors were against but much more difficult to find out exactly what they were for. There was no list of demands, no manifesto and no programme of action. Yet for many supporters of the Occupy movement this wasn’t a weakness but a sign of strength. It allowed diverse groups from environmentalists to socialists and anarchists to come together and draw attention to a problem that needed fixing, i.e. capitalism, whilst agreeing that there were many ways that could solve that problem.
by Romayne Phoenix and John Rees
by Romayne Phoenix, Chair of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity
Saturday June 20th will be the first time that we can all meet together after the general election and the shocking and unexpected result of the Tory Party in power. This looks set to be a massive demonstration. We need to join up and celebrate the strength of our growing numbers and we need to celebrate each and every successful act of resistance.
by John Rees, member of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity National Committee
There has already been an explosion of protest in response to the threat of an ever deepening austerity programme coming from this Tory government. In Newcastle, Cardiff, Sheffield, Peterborough, and many other places there have been thousands taking to the streets already. In Bristol seven young women, all A-level students, called a protest on a weekday evening and 3,500 people turned up to march through the city centre. But people want a national focus to demonstrate their anger.
In certain circles, there is the perception that the transformation to the ideal of the student as consumer is complete and that therefore the student activist and a radical student movement is a thing of the past. Although there was the anti-fees flashpoint in 2010, the argument goes, now the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth from the education they directly pay for, than they are about changing the world.
Over the last four years there have been countless examples of campaigns that prove this thesis wrong. This series of articles seeks to explore those campaigns, what they have achieved and what they mean for the student movement and the Higher Education sector as a whole.
by Chris Jarvis
In February 2013, students at the University of Sussex occupied a University building, as part of a campaign against the mass outsourcing of large chunks of the University’s operation. Privatising maintenance, catering and security among other functions put the employment of 235 members of staff at the University at risk as well as changing the narrative of what those services existed for. Rather than being run for their own sake, they would instead be run for profit. The plans, when announced a year previously, were done so with no meaningful consultation with either staff or students.