The Language Games of Power

An important tool, not just for academic anarchists, but for any individual who wishes to think critically about what is presented to them by political elites, is what is known as the genealogical approach. A ‘genealogy’ is just an obtuse and elitist word which roughly means ‘a history of words, or terms and their use’, and it’s a brilliant way of undermining the machinations of political operators.

As the critical theorist James Tully notes, you ‘begin by questioning whether the inherited languages of description and reflection are adequate to the task’. Nowhere is the lack of discursive options more prevalent in British political life then the discussions surrounding the economy and around immigration; two clear preoccupations of the political elite. When it comes to the economy, we are hearing the same Thatcherite cries as before- TINA (‘there is no alternative!), and the language of the economy is tied down to a limited number of possibilities. We must tackle the deficit, how do we tackle the deficit, how much of the public sector do we sell off to our friends, how many tax breaks do we offer millionaires, how many pensions do we undermine, how many people on the breadline do we deprive of their dignity before we can no longer get away with it? When it comes to oppositional forces, aside from the quite deliberately under-interviewed and underexposed Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, the economic argument is about deficit reduction, what to cut, to what extent and for how long. The language of neoliberalism is so pervasive that even centre-right Keynesians have been excluded from the narrow mindset. Continue reading

CALL OUT FOR ANTI-FASCISTS AGAINST THE EDL IN DUDLEY, FEB 7th 2015

 

On the 7th February 2015, the English Defense League will be coming out in their hordes to rally in Dudley, capitalising on the recent shootings at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris.

A recent post on the EDL event… Continue reading

An Afterlife to Capitalism?

 

After a recent conversation with friends regarding the future of religion in a post-revolutionary setting, I wanted to write this article to address some of the issues I have, even as an atheist, with the abolitionist narrative of religion and its mindset which still remains as colonialist as it did a century ago, with modern anti-theists merely replicating Christian civilising missionaries.

I don’t often like to speculate on the utopian fantasies of post-revolution but there are moments within radical conversations that one needs to at least construct a basic framework in order to explore further their own ideas.

My friend doesn’t see religion as compatible with anarchism. They say that the hierarchy of God over man is contradictory. They say that religion is oppressive. They say that it should be abolished, that their revolutionary future can have no space for religion or the religious. They quote Marx’s critique of religion as an ‘opiate of the masses’ and I have to stop them there for a moment because that line is so intolerably misquoted. The full quote, we must always remember, is this: Continue reading

A change in direction

After 35 years of neoliberal economics working class Britain is not doing well.  A recently published report shows that in 2011 nine out of the ten poorest regions in North West EU countries were in Britain (1). The figures for 2009-10 in the UNICEF report ‘Child well-being in rich countries-a comparative overview’ puts Britain fourteenth out of the twenty nine ‘most advanced economies’ (2). That doesn’t sound too bad until you realise that is pretty much last place out of NW European countries with a similar post WWII experience. Also reported this summer was that out of the twenty eight EU countries the UK comes in twenty sixth in terms of loneliness- that is not having someone you could turn to and rely on in a crisis (3). After three decades of what Harvey termed the economics of class war (4) the British working class is atomised, alienated, lonely, precarious and increasingly skint. We live in an ill society that generates ill people. Studies show that individuals are happier within societies that are more equal — wide disparities of income and wealth create societies that are less happy and more ill at ease. The UK has high rates of inequality, one of the consequences being the prevalence of mental illness and the use of anti-depressants. In a society marked by inequality, exploitation and environmental degradation people are struggling with unease and alienation and a lack of an alternative to ‘what is’. Continue reading

The smell of ruling class fear

In 2015 let’s smell the fear of the ruling class

The struggle for radical change can leave us feeling burnt out, isolated and on the run. It’s an uphill struggle most of the time in which the agencies of the state and the hierarchies that it supports, including a grossly unjust economic system, appear to be forever in the ascendency. In 2015 we need to put the struggle we face in perspective and see some of the actions we take as the progress they surely are. We might not be victorious but we have won some battles and each win should spur us on.

Photo: Jon Bigger

When we think of some of the actions taken against us it can be bewildering. In recent times the state has helped arm the police to new levels. They have the power to infiltrate movements and gather intelligence like never before. We’ve recently learned of their tendency to steal the identities of dead babies in order to infiltrate groups and disrupt campaigning. Meanwhile the state continues to legislate away communal existence and spaces. Bands of workers have been undermined by successive pieces of legislation whilst trade union bureaucracies now personalise struggle with the rise of individual casework. Neoliberalism is now a feature of the left and it affects the weaponry in its arsenal. Continue reading

New Year, New We? The Dialectics of Survival in 2015

 

Today I walked the ten miles from Leamington Spa to Coventry because I had eleven pence in my pocket and the barrier guard was up and at ‘em. Eleven pence. This is my sole capital. A first class honours graduate in 2015. Though I have a roof over my head every night, I have no fixed abode and move between friends’ houses (an act of solidarity that means everything.) In the look ahead to 2015, Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani paints a grim picture for Britain as a whole over the next twelve months. I want to portray a more personal understanding of that reality, alienation and anxiety that five years of austerity have created.

 

In previous articles I’ve focused on my mental illnesses, and I am still trying to understand how they are connected intrinsically to contradictions within capitalism. There is a very raw dialectical nature to the way that mental illness is not only treated in our society but consumed and experienced too. I suffer from severe depression, bouts of dissociation and what for now remains to be a self-diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. This helps to explain an addictive personality and my inability to maintain relationships. But how much of this comes from a historical background of unstable family and acute poverty? How much of this comes from the impossible expectations upon myself under the age of austerity? Continue reading

A special end of year slideshow and message from Freedom News

It’s been an eventful year, as always. Here at Freedom News it has been especially interesting. In March we took the decision to move Freedom News from a printed newspaper format into a fully fledged, exclusively online news website. We’d like to thank everyone who has followed us online and supported us through this period of transition for Freedom. Our final printed edition, which is still available from Freedom Bookshop and online, gave us a chance to round off another chapter in the 128 year history of the paper.

From the relentless Poor Doors demonstrations that ended with negotiations with the owner of 1 Commercial Street, to the chasing off of Westbrook Partners by the brilliant folk at the New Era Estate, and all the other achievements of 2014. It’s been in many ways a year that shows if you fight you CAN win. We’ll to be alongside our comrades in 2015 to keep up the pressure for fair working conditions, affordable housing for all and the general class warfare that rages around us every day. Continue reading

A Christmas fundraising drive from Corporate Watch

…and then we told them the wealth “would trickle down!”

Six-figure Christmas bonus? Why not let some ‘trickle down’ to Corporate Watch?

For nearly 20 years Corporate Watch has supported people struggling against corporations and capitalism by providing information for action: from campaigners against the fracking companies plundering the countryside to those resisting the corporations profiting from imprisonment of migrants. We provide all our research for free online and produce DIY tools so people can carry out their own research.

We don’t accept corporate or state money, so Corporate Watch depends on funding from our subscribers, the generosity of individual donors and a handful of independent trusts. In order to continue with our work we need your support! You can help Corporate Watch by making a one off donation or becoming a ‘Friend of Corporate Watch’ by setting up a regular subscription.

And while you’re at it, it would be great if you could help spread the word by forwarding this message to email lists, social media etc.  Twitter: http://ow.ly/G6mxI Facebook: http://ow.ly/G6kcl Continue reading

Burn Up, Don’t Burn Out: Mental Health and Freedom.

Last week, I documented the events at Warwick Uni and the police brutality that followed a peaceful sit in. This week, as a continuation of those events I want to try to present an understanding of how these attacks are made to deter us, not only through fear but through trauma and helplessness.

 

Every activist is at some point in their trials made acutely aware of burn out; the moment at which the fight to change society infringes on your own mental health. Recently, I’ve been experiencing that tension. It is, with little exaggeration, a process of consumption. You balance between the urge to continue the fight and the separate urges that you turn inwards against yourself.

This morning I went to see the doctor. Since my arrest at the Warwick demo, I have seen an increase in anxiety, I’ve been suicidal and I’ve struggled to maintain a serious balance in my relationships. I shake and sweat at night and I dream about losing my sight through violent means. He changed my meds and sent me on my way. Continue reading

The uncovering of the Barcelona 4-F case

CW: police brutality, racism, suicide

 

On the 4th of February 2006 a squat party taking place in the centre of Barcelona attracted police attention, who stood outside requesting IDs, in a similar fashion as the Met would stop and search in London. What would seem like a relatively common interaction between squatters and coppers became one of the worst cases of police brutality and cover-up in Spain’s recent history. During the squat party there were nine arrests. The next day the then-Mayor of Barcelona, Joan Clos, stated to the press that a police officer had been wounded by a plant pot thrown from the balcony of the building. The police officer ended up tetraplegic. The version of events changed a few days later to say the officer had been wounded by a stone thrown outside of the squat, which suited the narrative to charge Rodrigo Lanza, a young Chilean, and two others. Patricia Heras was cycling that night and had an accident in a different area. She was taken by ambulance to the same hospital as the police officer. Due to her appearance – punk/squatter – she was also charged with assaulting a police officer and throwing a fence at him.During the trial two police officers, Victor Bayona and Bakari Samyang, testified against the defendants. Up to four forensic specialists contradicted the police’s version, saying it was impossible that a stone thrown from that angle would have caused the injuries to the police officer. The ambulance driver also testified that Patricia Heras had a cycling accident in a different location far from the squat. Continue reading