In Articles on 30 November 2011 at 10:32 pm
Abby McFlynn and Jonny Gordon-Farleigh
“Clearly somebody doesn’t want to hear the story about the Heathrow Campaign,” said John Stewart, someone who has been described as the most effective activist in the UK, as he retold his seven-hour detainment and interrogation by FBI, secret service and immigration officers at New York’s JFK Airport. However, there were communities all across North America who did want to hear about the victory of the ‘No Third Runway’ campaign at Heathrow Airport, and decided to invite John and Plane Stupid activist Dan Glass to visit their communities that are being affected by the expansion of the aviation industry.
Even with a file full of support from MPs, MSPs, congressmen, senators, human rights lawyers and scientists, Dan didn’t even get as far as New York because of the “incident”. “Which one?” “You know which one! The superglue.” At the Belfast passport office a CIA agent took him aside to a Hummer with deck chairs, and when he finally made it to his interview, he was asked “Dan, I hear you want to superglue yourself to Sarah Palin?”. This suggestive question concluded any chance of Dan traveling into the United States, and now with both John and Dan barred from the country, the Aviation Justice Tour went ahead thanks to Skype, and the ‘Let John and Dan in’ petition maximized publicity for the tour.
In Articles on 30 November 2011 at 9:55 pm
A poster in support of direct action not elections. Courtesy of Marianne Maeckelbergh
La Nostra Elecció: L’ Acció
Barcelona, Spain, November 2011
The streets of Barcelona appear deceptively calm at first sight. Fashionable people stroll the streets, shopping bags in hand, while others stop to drink a glass of wine at a sidewalk cafe. These luxurious images project a sense of prosperity onto the streets of Barcelona, but underneath the surface, a struggle rages. The 15 May Movement that captured the global imaginary just six months ago and encouraged people all across the world to occupy public space and hold massive democratic assemblies is no longer limited to the central square. Now, they are everywhere.
Across the city less complacent images abound. Everywhere there are posters and banners that declare: “Democracy is a farce”; “Democracy is Hypocrisy”; “No One Represents Us”; “Active Abstention”; “All Power to the People: Don’t Vote!”; “Democracy is a Grand Circus”; and “Our Elections: Actions”. Two growing trends are visible here in Barcelona that certainly resonate elsewhere. First, people seem to take for granted the idea that voting and electoral politics actually bears little relationship to democracy. Second, there is an evolution in the tactic of occupation – expanding from public squares to buildings, hospitals and universities.
In Articles on 30 November 2011 at 9:45 pm
Around 50,00 students took to the streets of London on 10th November 2010 to demonstrate against the proposed higher education cuts. Andrew Moss Photography. CC BY 2.0
What will higher education in the UK look like in a few years’ time? What can we do right now to save it? If the coalition government’s vision in the Browne Report and subsequent White Paper is to be implemented in full we can imagine several things, all highly undesirable: a two-tier university system in which rich and well-placed middle and upper-middle class students dominate the Russell Group even more than they do already; these institutions, now being able to set their own fees, can charge Ivy-League rates whilst ignoring the all least attempted meritocratic supplement of US college scholarships; students at these institutions will be able to study a wide range of subjects, including those in the arts and humanities – Philosophy, History and Classics will thus return to being the preserve of a cultured elite. In the second tier, private providers will take over those institutions unable to survive the loss of the block grant and who lack land and other resources to weather the sudden loss of income: degrees here will be shorter, perhaps lasting two years rather than three or four, classes will run before and after people go to work, or at weekends, and much of the provision will appear online. Smaller subjects will have disappeared due to a supposed lack of demand and the awkwardness of fitting them into the timetable. Endless feedback forms will attempt to reassure the student that he or she is first and foremost a “client”, unless he or she is involved in any political action on campus or elsewhere, in which case the new squatting laws will immediately be applied, turning the student from consumer to criminal faster than you can say “domestic extremist”.