Politics

Rent Strike: The new wave of student radicalism in London

Rent Strike Demo. Source: UCL CTR

Student rent strikes have become something of a phenomenon in London. Starting with University College London and now encompassing three other universities, including Goldsmiths and the Courtauld Institute, around 1500 are withholding at least £1.2 million from university administrators in protest of rising accommodation costs and shoddy maintenance of student halls.The rent strike is the new predominant vehicle of student radicalism within London and… Continue reading

The case against voting

“…while liberty of thought is written in the charter, slavery of thought, under the name of majority rule, is decreed by the charter.” – P. J. Proudhon

It should come as no surprise that the trend in rallying to the ballot box is declining. People are lacking incentive to vote, and with entirely good reason. Time and time again, people have been sold out, betrayed, and lied to. Is it… Continue reading

Only working-class self-organisation will kill the housing bill

The Aylesbury Estate

With the Housing Bill about to come into effect, conditions are looking bleak for the working class. The Bill follows a plethora of attacks on poor people, the most notable of which are the benefit cap and the bedroom tax, not to mention the 2012 ban of residential squatting. Last year saw a record number of tenant evictions (averaging  170 per day), unprecedented numbers of people… Continue reading

‘North of the Watford Gap’: Resistance beyond Central London

The Rebecca Riots of 1843.

You are holding a black-and-white photograph. It shows a woman holding a union placard. It shows a picket line, scab vans, Labour politicos, a man dirty and tired from his work. You are holding the narrative of industrial working-class struggle. You put down the photograph and pick another history.

The struggles of non-London working-class communities are condemned to history. We are all miners still on… Continue reading

2015: A Time for Outrage?

Two years have passed since one of the great political and social thinkers of our time departed this world.

On 26 February 2013 Stephane Hessel died at the age of 95. Hessel enjoyed a long life, from his birth in Berlin to his final breath in Paris, where one of his last works “Indignez-Vous!” (Time For Outrage) was published.

The small book holds a large punch and it came to life from a fiery speech Hessel gave in 2008 commemorating the French resistance. The 37 page book was translated into many languages and emerged during a time when the occupy movement was breaking out of social networks and onto the streets, it was a time when the Arab spring was spreading across the middle east, a time when the Sarkozy presidency was coming to an end and Greece was in the throes of social and economic upheaval.

“Indignez-Vous” the short yet fierce little book showed the resilient spirit of Hessel who penned the work at the age of 92. The resistance veteran strived to resurrect the resistance sprit for this generation not only in France but across Europe and further a field. Continue reading

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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

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