IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #2 – ESCALATION

by Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

The first article in this series looked at early steps of any campaign: doing your research, setting your goals, getting the message out there and beginning to grow your movement. This time we’ll be taking a look at some of the issues that occur as you begin to develop as a group.Continue Reading

IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #1 – FIRST STEPS

by Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE CIRCLE, BY DAVE EGGERS

by Eli Lambe

Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.

There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”Continue Reading

LIBERALISM HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER, LET’S KEEP IT THAT WAY

by Sunetra Senior

A few days after Trump’s Presidential win, an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz – entitled Under President Trump Radical Hope is Our Best Weapon published in The New Yorker – went viral. In it, the Dominican writer called out Trump as a ‘misogynist’ and ‘racial demagogue’, and principally defended multiculturalism stating that in order to recuperate: ‘we need to bear witness to what we have lost: our safety, our sense of belonging, our vision of our country’. He further argued that the best way to do this was to employ a concept called ‘Radical Hope’.

This, according to the creator of the philosophy Jonathan Lear, is a determined sort of hope that tackles mass trauma by being “directed toward a future goodness which transcends the current ability to understand what it is.” Here, I would like to highlight the British Labour Party’s recent parliamentary progress as not only encapsulating this, but also expanding Díaz’ original proposed vision. Corbyn and his recently more socially democratic party so successfully delivered Radical Hope that it not only revived the liberal spirit, but the possibility of a truly equitable world.Continue Reading

MANCHESTER AND THE SORRY STATE OF BRITISH JOURNALISM

by Rob Harding

CW: article contains descriptions of the Manchester terrorist attack, racist discourse, links to images of war crimes.

The official threat level after the terror attack in Manchester is back down from Critical to Serious, and the country has started to move on. The news cycle seems to have been slightly shorter, as well; at time of writing the front page of the BBC News website is largely concerned with technical problems at British Airways and I-kid-you-not a cheese rolling competition.

I’d love to say that this particular terrorist incident didn’t incite the usual wave of hate and disgustingly inappropriate coverage that tends to follow such events, including random hate crimes, thundering headlines and political manoeuvring. I’d love to.

But The Daily Mail exists. And The Sun. And the political climate in the UK has become sufficiently toxic that even without those two, the response was nonetheless as unpleasant as any I’ve seen.Continue Reading

FUCK OFF, TERFS: DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERNET HATE MACHINE

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by Rob Harding

Content warning: article contains strong language and mentions transphobia, rape, death threats, online harassment, homophobia, biphobia and bi erasure.

So this week a friend of mine said something on Twitter about accepting transgender people as people, regardless of genitalia. One of those reasonable discussions that occasionally ensue on the internet ensued, and ended with her getting dog-piled with sufficient angry, hateful messages to nearly crash her ageing iPhone and accusations ranging from homophobia to gaslighting and advocacy of corrective rape. While the barrage of tweets from a dozen accounts was polite by online discourse standards (for ‘polite’, read ‘no swearing but massively condescending, dismissive, pompous and worryingly intense’) the death threats and abuse that followed in private messages was significantly less so.

Once more, my friend had attracted the ire of the TERFs.Continue Reading