Here are the voices of Syria’s revolution. Let’s listen

July 27, 2017

Review of We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled: Voices from Syria, by Wendy Pearlman (Custom House 2017).

The story of this century’s greatest popular uprising, in 2011 against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, is told in this exceptional book by people who participated. They also recount the hurricane of violence unleashed against the revolution and the divide-and-rule methods used by the regime and the “great powers”.

Syrian revolutionaries describe in the book how they became refugees. More than half of the pre-war population of 22 million have been forced from their homes; more than 5 million have fled the country.

We Crossed a Bridge and it Trembled tells these stories through interviews with 87 Syrians, collected in 2012-16 by Wendy Pearlman, a US-based researcher of the Middle East and author of two previous books on Palestine.

Pearlman conducted the interviews mainly among Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Germany, Sweden and Denmark. They included Read the rest of this entry »


After Grenfell Tower

July 12, 2017

A guest post by CLIFF SLAUGHTER

The number of dead from the Grenfell Tower fire is still unknown. Since the fire, millions of people living in high-rise flats do not know if and when they can be safe.

What is to be done? What can come from the anger of millions of people, especially the victims, and the bitter protests about the fact that it is only ordinary working people who were hit?

One answer came from Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster:

The thing about anger and its energy is it has to get directed in the right way. It has to get shaped so it becomes a positive source. And I think that what I find most troubling is those who wish to use that anger to deepen divisions in society.

This gentleman of the cloth is telling the surviving victims, and the rest of us, to direct our anger and Read the rest of this entry »


Interrogating digital capitalism

July 10, 2017

The ways that capitalism uses technology as a means of control was discussed on Thursday evening in London, at a meeting organised by the Breaking the Frame collective.

The meeting was called “Interrogating Digital Capitalism”. Ursula Huws, who researches technology and labour at the University of Hertfordshire, started her talk by arguing that terms such as “digital capitalism” and “biocapitalism” are unhelpful. “I prefer to talk about capitalism”, she said.

Capitalism uses technology at each stage of its restructuring, after recurrent crises, Huws argued. She pointed to three main ways that it uses technology for social control.

■ Technology is used to “simplify and standardise work processes” and sometimes – but not always – to substitute for labour.

■ Technologies are used to control work processes, and for surveillance.

■ Technologies are used to “create new commodities, bringing new areas of human activity into alienated, commodified relationships”. This included Read the rest of this entry »


What would Corbyn do?

June 20, 2017

Che Guevara is so last year. It’s Jeremy Corbyn on the T-shirts now. And he has a gig coming up at Glastonbury.

Corbynismo has turned the British political circus upside down.

The Tory party, having been reduced to a parliamentary minority after its disastrous election campaign, is struggling to contain the anger provoked by the Grenfell Tower fire. People are reacting to the cruel injustices on which this vile government thrives.

Some Tories see continuing Theresa May’s “leadership” as the best hope for at least retaining a hold on government. Others have the knives out for her. None of them seem to have a clue about how to deal with the Brexit talks. The Tory Read the rest of this entry »


Voting as counter revolution

June 20, 2017

How the politicians who gave us the vote saw things one hundred years ago. A guest post by ANTI-WAR

One hundred years ago, the British ruling class decided to extend the vote to most women over 30, and to almost all working class men. By expanding the franchise from a minority to a majority of the adult population, they hoped to restore people’s faith in parliamentary government and thereby counter any revolutionary tendencies inspired by the Russian revolution. Sylvia Pankhurst, the feminist communist, put it this way in 1923:

The legal barriers to women’s participation in Parliament and its elections were not removed until the movement to abolish Parliament altogether had received the strong encouragement of witnessing the overthrow of Parliamentary Government in Russia and the setting up of Soviets. … The upholders of reaction … were by no means oblivious to the growth of Sovietism when they decided to popularise the old Parliamentary machine by giving to some women both votes and the right to be elected. Read the rest of this entry »


Collective rage, collective care

June 19, 2017

More on the Grenfell Tower aftermath, from DAVID BERRIE.

When we talk about communities of care and collectivised social reproduction, THIS is what we mean. Me and a few other art therapists, some who live just a stone’s throw from Grenfell Tower, went down to the estate and just provided materials and emotional support. Two hundred teenagers then spontaneously and collectively made this memorial. The care and support they showed each other was so moving. And their anger was furious.

Yesterday’s protest was the most powerful one I’ve ever been a part of. This has woken a collective rage and collective care I’ve never witnessed before.

This is working class power and it is not going away.

Read the rest of this entry »


A feeling of persecution that runs deep

June 19, 2017

AL MIKEY writes about the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire

I wrote this on Friday after I visited North Kensington, and after residents stormed Kensington Town Hall. For those people not able, or who haven’t had time, to go down to the area to help or witness (witness is what I did), I hope it’s useful. Been an emotional few days like so many people in London that feel this.

FRIDAY JUNE 16th. A lot of really raw anger and hurt, it’s hard to convey the emotions. When I got out of the tube, every 10-15 metres there’s random groups discussing what happened, who they knew, latest updates, and audiences gather. The streets had around 300-400 locals there. An ice cream van was giving out free ice creams (compliments from a local estate agent apparently). All along the street were hundreds of photos of people missing (i counted around 60 different people) a lot of children, whole families.

The residents are a real mixture, a lot of Middle Eastern arabs, Muslims, north Africans, but also white working class, a lot of women and children in school uniform. There’s nothing segregated about it. Everyone is out and talking with each other. Must be 100 Read the rest of this entry »