In search of a new kind of politics

The latest Labour Party leadership election has become a source of intense debate among the left. Here, long-standing Labour member Andrew Ryder reflects on his history in the Labour Party and argues that, regardless of the outcome, a new kind of radical community politics is needed.

I have been a Labour Party member for over thirty years. I joined when I was 18. In many respects, Labour has been my secular church, a moral compass and point of guidance in my work and life. Like many Labour members I am deeply saddened and concerned by the tangle Labour has got itself into with the leadership contest and have sought to make some sense of the current state of affairs by reviewing my own history in the party.

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DIY Academic Publishing

As universities become dominated by a narrow understanding of intellectual activity, designed to fulfil the obligations of the REF and other national research assessment systems, the search is on for a new way of doing intellectual production…and making it sustainable. Here Simon Cook and Drew Holgate explore one model of independent scholarship.

In the old days any self-respecting group of radical intellectuals or activists worth their salt set up a printing press. Control of the means of production generated heady times, and usually also growing debt and often bankruptcy. Today, new technologies make it ridiculously easy to set up a digital press with minimal costs.

Rounded Globe is a scholarly e-publishing operation founded in 2014. In this post, we outline our operation and vision.

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The lost art of interdisciplinarity and the neoliberal university

Continuing on work exploring the meaning of intellectual endeavour inside and outside the university, Simon Cook explores the lost art of interdisciplinarity and how the modern university was shaped by a neoliberal agenda.

I’ve been studying English intellectual history for nearly three decades, focusing on the years between 1865 and 1925. At the beginning of this period intellectual life in England took place largely outside the universities; by the end of it, the modern university had emerged, replete with its professional journals and division of faculties, and has claimed a monopoly over serious scholarship ever since.

And yet a decade ago I resolved to pursue my own research as an independent scholar, without any university affiliation. In this post, I offer some reflections on how my work has shaped my attitude toward the modern university.

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An open letter to the Brexit left

Fernando Sdrigotti writes an impassioned plea to members of the left (#Lexit) who are voting to leave the EU on the 23rd June, to have a rethink. A vote for Brexit is not an anti-capitalist vote, he argues, but a vote for a new right-wing agenda of neoliberalism and xenophobia.

I write to you as a comrade. But I also write to you as an EU immigrant in the UK, one that had the foresight to become a British citizen and therefore is able to vote in the EU referendum. This referendum is the most important election in my life. And so is the case with many of us, many of who don’t have the chance to have a say.

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Setting Up a World: Phenomenology and Cultural Amnesia in General Orders No. 9

In this article, Tina Richardson reviews General Orders No.9, written and directed by Robert Persons and released in 2009, and reflects on the geography of loss and forgetting.

On its website, General Orders No. 9 describes itself thus:

An experimental documentary that contemplates the signs of loss and change in the American South as potent metaphors of personal and collective destiny.

As a psychogeographer, the word ‘loss’ is not lost on me, since a wealth of psychogeographical accounts and related literary texts exist on this very subject. Written and directed by Robert Persons, the award-winning General Orders No. 9 would make for a very neat analysis along the lines of nostalgia, haunting and memory – quite possibly one of a deconstruction.

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The Panama Papers and affective resistance (or capitulation)

If there were ever a time when society should have stood up and said “no more” or even started spontaneously rioting in the streets (not to conflate commentary with advocacy, of course) it is with the release of the trench of documents called the Panama Papers. The 11.5 million papers, leaked from the files of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, reveals the degree to which the global elite have been squirreling their assets away in tax havens and other hidden spots (such as the London property market). They do this by using shell companies (an official definition of which is ‘a non-trading company used as a vehicle for various financial maneuvers or kept dormant for future use in some other capacity’).

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The labour market isn’t working (what a surprise)

A scheme is being piloted in Islington, which places job advisers in GP surgeries. The aim? To offer job coaching sessions to those on long-term sickness benefit (something of a captive audience in GP surgeries). It will be rolled out nationally before evidence collected as to its efficacy.

Meanwhile, research study after research study has stated that women who have children are forced out of the workplace at a record rate, or that mothers are actively discriminated against when they are in work. Age discrimination is also rife, with older workers struggling to progress or find new jobs if they are made redundant.

We can surely have a moment of irony when we consider that ill health is grounds for employment termination, given the government’s obsession with getting the sick back into work.

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Moving to slow digital

The marketeers would believe that websites should publish a blog once or twice a week, or even more, to be credible, but then again, that’s because they are part of a digital marketing regime, where quantity can count more than quality.

Driftmine has always tried to aim for a different method and navigate the gap between producing original and authentic articles (and sometimes we pull that off) and a non-profit, non-funded status. Driftmine is not aiming and has never intended to aim at monetising through advertising or deals with ‘big corporations’ that pay for mentions. Just as in art and music, when you are producing ideas as an outsider (someone who works outside the system) you produce in your ‘spare time’.

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The conundrum of women’s equality

In the last half-century, advanced industrial nations have seen immense changes in the position of women in society. They have caught up or overtaken boys in educational achievement. They have joined the labour force and all other facets of public life.

As analysts, we have a tendency to focus on the negative. Sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence and general objectification still go on and are mostly unpunished. Women are thrown out of work easier than men. They take the lion’s share of domestic work and childcare compared to men. But compared to women around the globe, and our recent ancestors, we have unprecedented freedoms.

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