We look back – perhaps forward – to the counterculture of the 1960s to try to understand optimism, or possibility, or hope. The abolition of the future over the course of the decades between then and now creates a clean, blank break, an insurmountable barrier in the collective (un)consciousness, that renders many of the ideas for radically new, collective styles of living, doing and being incomprehensible to us, the generations born after the ‘end of history’. The impossibility, to our 21st century minds, of alternative modes of social reproduction, for example, is the result, and process, of what cultural theorist Mark Fisher (1968-2017) called capitalist realism – the doctrine we are all subjected to which claims that the way things are is the only way that they can be, and that any attempt to do anything else is doomed to failure. There Is No Alternative.
While Archant published clickbait headlines in the EDP and Norwich Evening News that chose to spotlight the pink chalk ‘vandalism’ of a war memorial, Saturday’s Kill the Bill protest in Norwich city centre was in fact a peaceful display of solidarity, and an empowering antidote to the violence that protesters elsewhere in the country have been subjected to. In Bristol, boards reading ‘People Over Property‘ now surround the former plinth of the Edward Colston statue, and act as a visual reminder of both the police and the media establishment’s skewed priorities when it comes to covering protests. Chalk gets washed away with a spell of wet weather. Authoritarian bills don’t.
by Tesni Clare
For those who don’t know – and there are many who don’t, because the press have been worryingly silent on the matter until recently – there are a number of small, self-organised communities of activists living in tents and treehouses between London and Birmingham, along the proposed route of high speed railway HS2. The railway, and the protest camps, thread through some of this country’s last remaining pockets of ancient broadleaf woodland. Whilst many have been evicted, some camps have been there for over a year.
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.