Since Turkey’s aggressive offensive against Rojava, an area of North Eastern Syria, began early in October 2019, at least 160,000 Syrians have fled their homes. A BBC report from the 17th October states that airstrikes and ground attacks have killed civilians on both sides of the Turkey / Syria border and quotes a UNICEF estimate that 70,000 children have already been displaced. This is a tragedy for the Kurdish citizens of Rojava, as well as the broader Middle East, given what the Rojava political project represented.
It’s been over a week since Turkey launched a fresh military offensive targeting Kurdish forces in northeast Syria. The death toll in Rojava is rising, and an exodus of civilians from the area has already reached a mass scale. Conflict in Syria thus deepens, becoming ever more complex, with the Syrian regime armed forces now reported to have moved into Kurdish controlled Manbij in order to counter the Turkish invasion. But what has sparked this new wave of insurgency? What role does the US have? What are the Kurds fighting for? And what significance does this have for the wider global justice movement?
by Sean Meleady
Extinction Rebellion may be getting the most headlines, but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate – also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate – is a growing international movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.
by Cristina Flores
Hugo Blanco – famously described by Latin American literary giant Eduardo Galeano as a man who was born twice. His first birth was in 1934, and he spent his early years living as a white boy in Cusco, a city where indigenous people were not allowed to walk on the pavement. Unphased by his skin colour, Hugo would play in the streets with his friends, speaking the local language of Quechua. Hugo Blanco’s second birth was at the age of ten. Upon hearing of a local landowner branding the skin of one of the peasants with his initials, Hugo Blanco, the ardent revolutionary was born. Such early consciousness of social injustice still fuels the man today, as I found out on the 27th February when I was lucky enough to attend an evening with Hugo, as part of the promotion of Derek Wall’s latest book, “Hugo Blanco – a revolutionary for life.” As a social activist myself, I was intrigued by what lessons could be learnt from a 20th century revolutionary legend.
by Cristina Flores
2018 was a landmark year for Mexico. July saw the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (popularly known as Amlo), whose party Morena won 53% of the popular vote. This landslide victory against the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), a centre-right party, has offered fresh hope for a country exhausted by corruption and fraud. The marginalisation of Mexico’s native communities, however, is in no way a resolved issue. Although Amlo’s social democratic agenda may seem to be an oasis in the desert for Mexico’s working classes, the fight for recognition, rights and justice amongst the indigenous peoples of Mexico continues. Arguably the most notable group leading this movement is the Zapatista Army of National Liberation – the EZLN.
This movement has re-emerged as a journalistic hot topic in the past few weeks, owing much to Amlo’s inauguration back in December and the recent commemoration of 25 years since the first EZLN uprising. So where did the movement come from, where are they now, and what does this mean for indigenous rights in Mexico?
By Laura Potts
Last Saturday, I attended the Green House Think Tank’s free one-day conference Facing Up To Climate Reality at the Norwich Forum. Founded in 2011, the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.
Having initially been amused at Labour’s new policy on Brexit being described as ‘Evolution not Revolution’ – a line straight out of the first episode of I’m Alan Partridge – I found it interesting that many news sites and papers were suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn will use a speech on Monday to bring a little more clarity over his party’s position on Brexit. Much like Alan, Corbyn will want to be seen to ‘evolve not revolve’, but one thing has been increasingly clear over the past year or so – Labour’s lines of attack on the government have certainly not ‘revolved’ around Brexit.
Many have accused Labour of being unclear or rather ambivalent about their stance on the UK leaving the European Union. However, electorally at least, this has worked very well for the Labour party and I believe it would be a mistake for them to deviate from this stance.
by Laura Potts
Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.
by Chris Jarvis
Following up on the incendiary Built on Our Backs EP in 2015, Darlington’s darlings of hardcore In Evil Hour are back, this time with their second full-length release – Lights Down. In the age of an emboldened far right, intensified hawkishness in the international military arena, and revelations of the worst excesses of neoliberalism with the likes of the Grenfell disaster, Lights Down is a much needed and timely response.
by Zoe Harding
Let’s leave the sordid world of Earth behind for a bit, and explore the potential of a concept that’s kind of easy to dismiss out of hand.
In his venerable Culture series, Iain M Banks describes a future society based around Minds, unimaginably super-intelligent AIs that control vast ships and space-going habitats, on which a massive collection of alternately hedonistic and depressed lesser-biological beings (assumed to be human, although it’s never made explicit) live pampered and comfortable lives. The Culture is semi-utopian, although, if it resembles any society, it resembles the US in its relations with other civilisations, The books frequently focus on both the skulduggery necessary to keep the civilisation running and the injustice of being born outside it. Nonetheless, it is a portrait of a society in which humans (probably) are protected, cared for and treated equally through advanced technology.
Because utopias aren’t easy or fun to write, few societies like the Culture have appeared in fiction before or since. There is one notable version, however, in the form of an oddly idealistic leftie meme: Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.