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 Rowan Gavin
We are the morning greeting. We are cold boots on colder ground. We are the smiles in the winter sunshine. We are the chants and the songs and the stiff-limbed dances. We are the fascinator of freedom, the little red coat of resistance and packet line soylidarity. We are the educators, learning in a new classroom. We are the outrage, and the laughter. We are here to fight the power. We are power.
By Jess O’Dwyer
“There is a political power in laughing at these people.”
So say Led By Donkeys, a “Brexit accountability project” created by four friends who wanted to “[channel] frustration into action and [hold] politicians to account with a bit of humour.” The group go around the country putting up billboards with quotes or Tweets from pro-Brexit politicians, as well as projecting or broadcasting previous interviews on Brexit. This is to show a side-by-side comparison of their changes in stance, highlighting contradiction and hypocrisy.
by Joe Rutter
Last week a fishy deal was struck, as Facebook donated £4.5 million to the National Council for the Training of Journalists. It’ll fund some 80 traineeships with local newspaper publishers that will last two years. Fantastic, on the face of it. On the face of it (the mantra on which Facebook was built) a rainbows-and-flowers deal, an altruistic gesture on behalf of the almighty Facebook to rescue the vulnerable and decrepit print journalism industry from destitution. A good cause, I’m sure we can agree, for the Zuckerberg zillions: better than nuclear weapons or propping-up dictatorships. So let’s leave it at that, shall we? Except then there’s this lingering feeling that something more, something insidious, is happening.
Overshadowed by the perennial pain of Brexit negotiations and fresh flurries of speculation over her leadership, Theresa May’s trip to China earlier this month passed with little comment.
Democratic freedoms in Britain’s former colony Hong Kong were briefly discussed. A few business contracts were confirmed. And the shimmering outline of some future post-Brexit trade deal could at times be briefly discerned.
What was remarkable about the visit was scarcely noted:
Around this time of year, you’ll have witnessed a flood of articles that aggressively motivate you to increase your dwindling productivity and ‘get yourself back on’ the proverbial ‘track’. If you’re the Daily Mail, you might be delightedly telling people how average UK life expectancy has ground disastrously ‘to a halt.’ However, this obsession with life span and these generally flat, statistical measures of personal power are the real issue, and what I would argue even obscure the long-term, self-preservative solution.
Over the last 8 years, higher education in the UK has been subject to some of the largest and most invasive reforms in its history, guided by a deliberate, neoliberal project with the aim of crafting a marketised sector. This has set a new bar for invasive reforms that is now extending into the murky realms of the ‘free speech’ debate, with recently departed universities minister Jo Johnson proposing the illogical and frankly dangerous step of imposing fines on universities whose students’ unions fail to support free speech on campus.