A Sideways Look

Anarchists and admin

One day, after a successful revolution, in that bit of political theory where Marxism tends towards anarchism, the State will wither away and we will no longer have the government of people but the administration of things. Public administration would become concerned with technical issues rather than the coercion implied by laws.

I think this is too idealistic — it pretends that politics, at its heart an argument about how… Continue reading

The Circus

Madnesses en masse I witnessed on the streets of Prague, in the most bizarre of political protests – though one which may catch on. I believe it demonstrates not only anarchist principles, but action, and on a large scale.  The public of Prague had a glimpse of an alternate political method.  This is an account of the joyous approach to politics in the Czech capital.


17th November, the anniversary of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution, and solemnity finds its expression in the candles placed beneath the statue of King Wenceslas upon whose square commemorations have been taking place throughout the day. Looking down from here, perhaps in more ways than one, the foot of the boulevard boasts a more Dionysian spectacle.

A congregation of papier-mâché grotesques is gathered, ungainly costumes mounted on shoulders and covering faces loom over the public. They are elaborate, colourful and cryptic. Symbolism draws the eye and the hotdog-eating crowds. Strolling amongst them, holidaying citizens curiously, if a little apprehensively, accept proffered flyers, leaflets, petitions, posters. Children fearlessly gambol and examine – a towering bear with the face of Mr Putin is a favourite, its meaning lost on them, but becoming clear to their parents. This was a political rally, but unlike any I or they had witnessed. Continue reading

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A Sideways Look: housing

(originally appeared in Freedom, August 2012) A few welcome signs have been emerging from the embattled world of council housing. Where I live, the elected Mayor recently considered a report that suggested building up to 250 new council homes. While this is a modest number, and fraught with difficulties, it is at least a step in the right direction.

For most of the last twenty five years,… Continue reading

A sideways look: ‘disability’

(from Freedom, March 2012) Some time ago a colleague had a serious accident. It meant that for a time he couldn’t walk or put any weight on his legs. He coped okay with all that, but found it really difficult when he tried to get anywhere, and the reaction of people to him once he was seen as ‘disabled’. Buses would drive straight past the stop even though… Continue reading

A Sideways Look: IT

(taken from Freedom, February 2012) The government has announced that it intends to look at information technology training in schools. I’ve worked in IT for some time, for a local authority and three private companies, but I’m of an age that I never had any – my school didn’t get a computer until I left. It is still a welcome move, though there’s no guarantee that the government… Continue reading

A Sideways Look: education

(originally published in Freedom, May 2012) In all the opposition to education cuts and the ramping up of fees, adult education hasn’t had a lot of airtime. There are basically four reasons people want adult education: for basic skills, to learn something they need to improve their job opportunities, for fun and to have a second opportunity.

Birkbeck College in London

Despite pretensions otherwise, all are under… Continue reading