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What’s Happening In Sweden? – Bella Caledonia
"When it comes to making absurd exaggerations about this country to suit their beliefs, they are latecomers. If Sweden occupies an outsized position in the dystopian geography of the nativist right, this is derivative, a sacrilegious inversion of the role it has held for generations in the belief system of their progressive opponents.

It seemed harmless enough, a few years back, when no one talked about ‘fake news’ – but actually, what’s the difference between taking a small local experiment and blowing it up into a story about a whole country switching to a six-hour day, and taking a few local incidents involving immigrants and blowing these up into a story about a whole country where law and order is breaking down? The content is different, sure, and the consequences darker, but the basic pattern is the same."
sweden  dougladhine  myths  socialism  democracy  history  socialsafetynet  2019  bureaucracy  immigration  nationalism  whitesupremacy  arms  weapons  andrewbrown  dominichinde  scandinavia  nordiccountries  welfarestate  chile  pinochet  austerity  schools  schooling  education  privatization  markets  capitalism  labor  work  misinterpretation  england  uk  military  neutrality  foreignpolicy  coldwar  wwii  ww2  exceptionalism  modernity  socialdemocrats 
3 days ago by robertogreco
Cybergothic Acid Communism Now • Commune
"To the barricades, through the looking glass.

Once upon a time, way back in 2010, having just read his brilliant book Capitalist Realism, I went to see Mark Fisher speak. I walked in late and he was in the midst of denouncing the one-day strike as a pantomime, a meaningless echo of uprising. (He was right, as he was about so many things.) He moved through the financial crisis, to the soulless thing that neoliberalism had made of the university, to a demand to repoliticize mental health. I sat enthralled, too nervous to go say hello afterward. I wish I had.

Fisher died in 2017, leaving anyone who had read him bereft. I find myself, while reading and rereading, wondering what he would have thought of The Favourite or the new Robyn album; longing for his caustic words on the meltdown of the Theresa May government; wishing he had been here to tear “hopepunk” to shreds; wondering too what he would have made of AOC.

The new k-punk collection, all 824 pages of it, is out now from Repeater Books, gathering a decade and a half of Fisher’s writings on pop culture, politics, and theory. It contains everything from blog comment policies to the unfinished introduction to what would have been his next book. Even a quick skim will remind you that Fisher was a much more audacious, nuanced, and flat-out weird writer and thinker than almost anyone the left can claim these days.

Trying to do justice to a now-gone writer who regularly blew your mind is an impossible task, and yet someone who so regularly took aim at sacred cows — starting a piece with “Orwell is wrong about everything, but especially 1984” — should not become one himself. It’s hard to imagine him having any patience with such treatment, anyway. The combination of humility and raw confidence with which he wrote would prevent, I hope, any enjoyment of sainthood.

The only way to treat him right is to read him with the same eye for ruthless critique that he always brought. The same vitality that makes it impossible to imagine him gone courses through this book, whether he’s writing about the calcification of Glastonbury, the bloodless corpse of New Labour, or the privatization of stress. His long posts often come to abrupt ends; there is no wind-down, everything is full-tilt and then crashes to a halt, winded and satisfied with itself (but never smug, no, Fisher always had the bone-deep understanding that smugness is counterrevolutionary).

Fisher is closest in style to Ellen Willis. Like her, he is a brilliant pop-culture critic as well as political observer and actor whose politics were mostly knife-sharp, but capable like all of us of an odd conservative turn. His insistence on popular media as a terrain of struggle is too rare within a new left struggling for direction; Fisher more than anyone understood that the material conditions that drained the vitality from pop music and art and even TV were the same ones that had sucked the life out of the working class. Instead of the innovation that neoliberalism promised us, we’ve just gotten recycled versions of things we’ve seen a million times before, and all of it under the pretense of anti-elitism, of “giving the people what they want.”

Fisher had no patience for this kind of faux-populist tailing. He had a faith in the creativity of the working class that demanded better for and from it. Change — revolution — would not come from pandering but from the masses understanding their own power in all senses. “[T]here’s nothing ‘elitist’ about assuming intelligence on the part of an audience,” he insisted, returning over and over to a defense of a kind of leftist paternalism. (Paternalism, he knew, was the wrong word, but he didn’t quite land on a better one). “It is about having a wager that there is maybe a desire for the strange in people,” he wrote. “People don’t already know what they want and . . . the things which they really end up most valuing may be things which surprise them.”

Whatever we might call such a position, it’s one Fisher performed well. His love for a song or a film that sparks a feeling is contagious. Within a few pages of beginning the music section in the collection I was pulling up bands I’d forgotten or never known to soundtrack my reading. His hatreds — for Alan Moore, say — are not based in some High Culture snobbery but in a frustration with the mistaking of grimness, perhaps, or some other half-evoked emotion, for depth.

In goth, Fisher saw a subculture that could “teach us that egalitarianism is not hostile to, but relies upon, a will-to-greatness, an unconditional demand for the excellent.” The weirdness of Siouxsie Sioux and other such “painted birds” became, in Fisher’s hands, a feminist desire for bursting the confines of biological reproduction, to speed the destruction of a banal, boring world. It was no accident, he pointed out, that Marx himself was drawn to gothic metaphors for capital: “the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.”

Derrida’s “hauntology” threads through his work, a curious recapturing of a concept developed as part of an extended critique of Marx. In Fisher’s hands it bears the idea of a lost future, of a mourning for a thing that could have been. It’s fitting in a way for his readers now to be haunted by the things he’ll never write. His blog posts still have an immediacy to them, a tang that we’ve largely lost with the rise of the clickbait-fueled “thinkpiece.” Far be it from me of all people to argue that unpaid blogging led to better writing — this is the opposite of what Fisher himself said, insisting that having some security would allow us to produce better — but the shittiness of most of the hot-take era’s writing feels stark when reading a k-punk post on the page. It makes me long for a world where writing could be a form of play. Instead, the lazy bourgeois art that Fisher so despised has only spread; it deserves the tactical nuke he wanted to send down on Glastonbury.

Capitalist Realism exists as a tight little bomb of a book that no one really has any excuse not to read. But in case anyone hasn’t, the concept threads through the k-punk collection; the idea that we live under the shadow of “there is no alternative,” unable to imagine a better way to organize society, let alone to struggle for one. Such “realism,” Fisher explained, was deeply unreal, particularly as we all live in the shadow of climate catastrophe; the tsk-tsking of the centrist ruling class is death drive posing as maturity, and the power of capitalist realism an expression of class decomposition, the fading of class consciousness. Peering through this gloom, Fisher nonetheless glimpsed some endings. After 2008, he wrote, “Neoliberalism is finished as a project, even if it lurches on, thrashing around like a decorticated terminator.”

We might now be able to imagine the death of capitalism, yet one problem of capitalist realism remains: our inability to imagine what comes next. Instead, the left too often gropes for the past, a trend Fisher despised. He insisted that “we must have the courage not to be nostalgic for this lost Fordist world of boring factory work and a labour movement dominated by male industrial workers.” Even communist nostalgia was impossible: “our desire is for the future.” Following Stuart Hall, he pointed out that the left and the labor movement had been too slow to grasp workers’ desire for something better than forty years of forty-hour weeks on the assembly line. The Thatcherites and their ilk had seized the moment to paint their reorganization of the economy as liberation while too many leftists sung (and still sing) paeans to the factory floor. The urgent need now is for a working-class politics that doesn’t love work.

This is where, I suppose, the Vampire’s Castle comes in. Like everything Fisher wrote, his oft-cited “Exiting the Vampire’s Castle” goes hard, but unlike most of what he wrote, the slippage it makes between the nastiness of Twitter pile-ons and the problems of liberal identity politics does his criticism of either issue no favors. Everyone, as Fisher himself pointed out, “has chauvinistic potentials of one kind or another,” yet in the Vampire’s Castle — his name for the social media war of position often conducted via hyperbolic outrage and exhausting, disingenuous engagement — he assumes that only “identitarians” turn social media into traps constructed from the mutual fear of attack, an assumption immediately disproved with a few clicks on rose-emoji Twitter these days. There is just as much of a hipster’s desire to be part of the in-crowd among today’s new socialists, even if they throw the word “class” around more often.

But even when Fisher is infuriating, he is never dull, which is what makes attempts to claim him for normie social democracy so utterly repellent — said reactionary turn in socialist “thought” these days is above all else boring. Though Fisher wrote of the “the luxury of feeling bored” and its potential for sparking new ideas, he insisted upon respect for the intellectual capacities of the working class, insisted that “anti-intellectualism is a ruling-class reflex.” Yet those who see in the Vampire’s Castle a club to whack so-called “identitarians,” or simply anyone to their left, often wind up claiming precisely the opposite: that working-class people are too stupid to be challenged or to challenge our ideas of race, gender, and the fundamental orderings of the world.

We can find a more generous solution for the slash-and-burn tendencies of the would-be left in Fisher’s writings on mental health — particularly on depression, his own and everyone else’s — and his insistence that the left make political demands around it. The “realism” of depression, which “presents itself as necessary and interminable,” with its “glacial surfaces [that] extend… [more]
markfisher  2019  sarahjaffe  communism  marxism  neoliberalism  counterculture  labor  work  organizing  unions  mentalhealth  socialism  socialdemocracy  democracy  identitarians  socialmedia  politics  policy  culture  society  k-punk  liberation  economics  uk  us  fordism  class  realism  future  imagination  glastonbury  writing  howwewrite  subculture  alanmoore  music  criticism 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Why is life expectancy faltering? | Society | The Guardian
"For the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in western Europe – and doctors and experts believe that the impact of austerity is a major factor"
us  uk  austerity  economics  health  2019  lifeexpectancy  government  society 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Green New Deal: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - YouTube
"With the Green New Deal sparking a national conversation about all the ways to combat climate change, John Oliver looks at a few potential solutions."
greennedeal  2019  policy  climatechange  globalwarming  carbontax  emissions  billnye  humor  politics  us  canada  uk 
may 2019 by robertogreco
The Rebel Alliance: Extinction Rebellion and a Green New Deal - YouTube
"Extinction Rebellion and AOC’s Green New Deal have made global headlines. Can their aims be aligned to prevent climate catastrophe?

Guest host Aaron Bastani will be joined by journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot and economist Ann Pettifor."
extinctionrebellion  georgemonbiot  gdp  economics  capitalism  growth  worldbank  2019  greennewdeal  humanwelfare  fossilfuels  aaronbastani  climate  climatechange  globalwarming  mainstreammedia  media  action  bbc  critique  politics  policy  currentaffairs  comedy  environment  environmentalism  journalism  change  systemschange  left  right  thinktanks  power  influence  libertarianism  taxation  taxes  ideology  gretathunberg  protest  davidattenborough  statusquo  consumerism  consumption  wants  needs  autonomy  education  health  donaldtrump  nancypelosi  us  southafrica  sovietunion  democrats  centrism  republicans  money  narrative  corruption  diannefeinstein  opposition  oppositionism  emissions  socialdemocracy  greatrecession  elitism  debt  financialcrisis  collapse  annpettifor  socialism  globalization  agriculture  local  production  nationalism  self-sufficiency  inertia  despair  doom  optimism  inequality  exploitation  imperialism  colonialism  history  costarica  uk  nihilism  china  apathy  inaction 
april 2019 by robertogreco
The Making of a Democratic Economy | Ted Howard | RSA Replay - YouTube
"While not often reported on in the press, there is a growing movement – a Community Wealth Building movement – that is taking hold, from the ground up, in towns and cities in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in particular.

Ted Howard, co-founder and president of the Democracy Collaborative, voted one of ‘25 visionaries who are changing your world’, visits the RSA to share the story of the growth of this movement, and the principles underlying it. Join us to explore innovative models of a new economy being built in cities from Cleveland, Ohio to Preston, Lancashire, and to discuss how we might dramatically expand the vision and reality of a democratic economy."
economics  tedhoward  inequality  democracy  extraction  extractiveeconomy  us  uk  2018  capitalism  privatization  finance  wealth  power  elitism  trickledowneconomics  labor  work  universalbasicincome  ubi  austerity  democraticeconomy  precarity  poverty  change  sustainability  empowerment  socialism  socialchange  regulations  socialsafetynet  collectivism  banking  employment  commongood  unemployment  grassroots  organization  greatdepression  greatrecession  alaska  california  socialsecurity  government  governance  nhs  communities  communitywealthbuilding  community  mutualaid  laborovercapital  local  absenteeownership  localownership  consumerism  activism  participation  participatory  investment  cleveland  systemicchange  policy  credit  communityfinance  development  cooperatives  creditunions  employeeownership  richmond  virginia  nyc  rochester  broadband  publicutilities  nebraska  energy  utilities  hospitals  universities  theprestonmodel  preston  lancashire 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Equality Trust | Working to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing economic inequality
[See also:
(book) "The Spirit Level"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better[1] is a book by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett,[2] published in 2009 by Allen Lane. The book is published in the US by Bloomsbury Press (December, 2009) with the new sub-title: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.[3] It was then published in a paperback second edition (United Kingdom) in November 2010 by Penguin Books with the subtitle, Why Equality is Better for Everyone.[4]

The book argues that there are "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption".[5] It claims that for each of eleven different health and social problems: physical health, mental health, drug abuse, education, imprisonment, obesity, social mobility, trust and community life, violence, teenage pregnancies, and child well-being, outcomes are significantly worse in more unequal countries, whether rich or poor.[1] The book contains graphs that are available online.[6]

In 2010, the authors published responses to questions about their analysis on the Equality Trust website.[7] As of September 2012, the book had sold more than 150,000 copies in English.[8] It is available in 23 foreign editions.

"The Spirit Level authors: why society is more unequal than ever"
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/09/society-unequal-the-spirit-level

[follow-up book] "The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Wellbeing"
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/188607/the-inner-level/
Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? As this groundbreaking study demonstrates, the answer to all these hinges on inequality.

In The Spirit Level Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett put inequality at the centre of public debate by showing conclusively that less-equal societies fare worse than more equal ones across everything from education to life expectancy. The Inner Level now explains how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. It sets out the overwhelming evidence that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. A deep well of data and analysis is drawn upon to empirically show, for example, that low social status is associated with elevated levels of stress, and how rates of anxiety and depression are intimately related to the inequality which makes that status paramount.

Wilkinson and Pickett describe how these responses to hierarchies evolved, and why the impacts of inequality on us are so severe. In doing so, they challenge the conception that humans are innately competitive and self-interested. They undermine, too, the idea that inequality is the product of 'natural' differences in individual ability. This book sheds new light on many of the most urgent problems facing societies today, but it is not just an index of our ills. It demonstrates that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lays out the path towards them.

"Does inequality cause suicide, drug abuse and mental illness?"
https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2018/06/14/does-inequality-cause-suicide-drug-abuse-and-mental-illness

"“The Inner Level” seeks to push that debate forward, by linking inequality to a crisis of mental health. This time the authors’ argument focuses on status anxiety: stress related to fears about individuals’ places in social hierarchies. Anxiety declines as incomes rise, they show, but is higher at all levels in more unequal countries—to the extent that the richest 10% of people in high-inequality countries are more socially anxious than all but the bottom 10% in low-inequality countries. Anxiety contributes to a variety of mental-health problems, including depression, narcissism and schizophrenia—rates of which are alarming in the West, the authors say, and rise with inequality.

Manifestations of mental illness, such as self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and problem gambling, all seem to get worse with income dispersion, too. Such relationships seem to apply within countries as well as between them. Damaging drug use is higher in more unequal neighbourhoods of New York City, in more unequal American states and in more unequal countries. The authors emphasise that it is a person’s relative position rather than absolute income that matters most. A study of 30,000 Britons found that an individual’s place in the income hierarchy predicted the incidence of mental stress more accurately than absolute income did. And in America, relative income is more closely linked to depression than absolute income. It is not enough to lift all boats, their work suggests, if the poshest vessels are always buoyed up more than the humblest.

The fact that relative status matters so much is a result of human beings’ intrinsically social nature, Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson argue. Group interaction and co-operation have been an essential component of humanity’s evolutionary success; indeed, the authors say, its social nature helped drive the growth of human brains. Across primates, they write, the size of the neocortex—a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functions—varies with the typical group size of a species. Living in complex social groups is hard cognitive work. Survival requires an understanding of roles within the social hierarchy, and intuition of what others are thinking. Thus people are necessarily sensitive to their status within groups, and to social developments that threaten it.

Such hierarchies are found in all human societies. But as inequality rises, differences in status become harder to ignore. There is more to be gained or lost by moving from one rung on the ladder to another. And however much some maintain that disparities in pay-cheques do not correspond to differences in human worth, such well-meaning pieties feel hollow when high-rollers earn hundreds or thousands of times what ordinary folk take home. Money cannot buy everything, but it can buy most things. The steeper the income gradient, the less secure everyone becomes, in both their self-respect and their sense of the community’s esteem.

And so people compensate. They take pills, to steel their nerves or dull the pain. Some cut themselves. Some adopt a more submissive posture, avoiding contact with others. Yet such withdrawal can feed on itself, depriving recluses of the social interaction that is important to mental health, undermining relationships and careers and contributing to economic hardship.

Others respond in the opposite way, by behaving more aggressively and egotistically. Studies of narcissistic tendencies showed a steep increase between 1982 and 2006, the authors report; 30% more Americans displayed narcissistic characteristics at the end of the period than at the beginning. Scrutiny of successive American cohorts found a progressive rise in those listing wealth and fame as important goals (above fulfilment and community). Over time, more people cited money as the main motivation for attending college (rather than intellectual enrichment).

Domineering responses to anxiety are associated with loss of empathy and delusions of grandeur. Thus highly successful people often display narcissistic or even psychopathic behaviour. In surveys, the rich are generally less empathetic and more likely to think they deserve special treatment than others. Modern capitalism, the authors suggest, selects for assertiveness, for a lack of sentimentality in business and comfort in sacking underlings, and for showy displays of economic strength. From the top to the bottom of the income spectrum, people use conspicuous consumption and other means of enhancing their image to project status.

The least secure are often the most likely to exaggerate their qualities. For example, countries with lower average life-expectancy tend to do better on measures of self-reported health; 54% of Japanese say they are in good health compared with 80% of Americans, though the Japanese live five years longer on average. Whereas 70% of Swedes consider themselves to be above-average drivers, 90% of Americans do. Such figures cast declamations of America’s greatness, and the politicians who make them, in a new light."

"The Inner Level review – how more equal societies reduce stress and improve wellbeing"
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/20/the-inner-level-review ]

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmquJ7Ngvme/ ]
equality  inequality  society  trust  anxiety  well-being  stress  mentalhealth  uk  economics  community  socialmobility  class  education  drugs  drugabuse  health  violence  illness  consumption  hierarchy  horizontality  mentalillness  status  self-harm  gambling  depression  narcissism  schizophrenia  relativity  excess  cooperation  egotism  selfishness  empathy  dunning–krugereffect  greatness  politics  lifeexpectancy  japan  sweden  us  driving  capitalism  latecapitalism  fame  fulfillment  money  motivation  colleges  universities  exceptionalism  assertiveness  aggressiveness  richardwilkinson  katepickett  growth  erichfromm 
august 2018 by robertogreco
RWM - SON[I]A: #261 Jennifer Lucy Allan 01.06.2018 (46' 34'')
"#261
Jennifer Lucy Allan
01.06.2018 (46' 34'')

This podcast is part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Sound production commissioned to Tiago Pina. Editing by Matias Rossi.

The foghorn is a sonic marker used in conditions of low visibility to alert vessels of hidden navigational hazards. Part of the coastal landscape since its invention in the nineteenth century, foghorns became obsolete with the rise of automatic alert systems or simpler devices such as compressed air horns.

In 2013, the British writer and research Jennifer Lucy Allan, co-director of the record label Arc Light Editions, covered a performance of the 'Foghorn Requiem', a composition that marks the passing of the foghorn from the British coastal landscape. In her review she wrote: 'The foghorn symbolises the sound of industry, the hollering of an age of engines, machines and power, and also a sound that is intensely nostalgic. It suggests loneliness and isolation, but is simultaneously a wordless reassurance to those out at sea that there’s a human presence nearby.' The experience made such a strong impression on her that she ended up dedicating her doctoral thesis to researching the social and cultural history of foghorns, 'a sound that’s lost and not lost at the same time.'

In this podcast we talk to Jennifer Lucy Allan about metereology and aurality, about volumes, distance and communities, about sounds disconnected from their function, holes in YouTube and holes in official archives, and amateur archivists. And about the making of sensory records before the end of the twentieth century and how this archival memory can be interpreted.

Timeline
02:35 A 100-120 decibel steam powered horn on a coastline: how did that happen?
05:02 “Foghorn Requiem”, a starting point
08:45 A massive sound
13:32 Holes in official archives
21:01 Archivists: the invisible heroes
23:10 How it got foggy: the fallibility of archives, memory and sound
26:40 An individual character for every foghorn
28:28 Types of foghorns
30:26 A sound disconnected from its function
34:17 A sound that is lost and not lost at the same time
37:22 Meteorology and aurality
39:23 Music and foghorns: Ingram Marshall’s 'Fog Tropes'
40:39 Music and foghorns: Alvin Curran’s 'Maritime Rites'
43:34 Sensory experiences, language and documentation"
sound  audio  foghorns  podcasts  jenniferlucyallan  music  shipping  uk  aurality  2018  rwm 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Home schooling concerns rooted in class and ethnicity, say researchers
"
Class and ethnicity are determining whether parents who educate their children at home are treated as “lifestyle gurus or thought criminals”, researchers have warned.

Middle-class families who choose home schooling are often seen as “ahead of the game”, according to a major analysis by the Universities of Birmingham and Portsmouth.

By contrast, poorer families who make the same choice – particularly if they are from minority groups – are frequently regarded as problematic and even as threats.

These starkly opposing perceptions have developed from a misguided belief that risk “lies in type, not practice”, said research co-author Professor Kalwant Bhopal from the University of Birmingham.

“Class and ethnicity have become absolutely central to how policymakers and wider society perceive parents who choose home education for their children,” she said.

“One narrative revolves around a middle-class family’s leap into a world of adventure and freedom, as if they have made a challenging but inspired lifestyle choice.

“The other narrative revolves around a poor, inadequate and often marginalised family for whom home education is viewed as representing a kind of falling off the radar.

“In such instances families are seen as presenting some form of future risk – as shown, for example, by claims that Muslim children schooled at home could be radicalised.

“So on the one hand we have families who are practically held up as lifestyle gurus, and on the other we have families who are portrayed almost as thought criminals.

“In both cases home education is routinely used as a means of reinforcing racism and other biases that are related to notions of British identity and British values.”

The arguments are set out in detail in a new book, Home Schooling and Home Education: Race, Class and Inequality, which brings together extensive research.

One of the underpinning studies suggests that Muslim families are most likely to choose home education to save their children from bullying in the mainstream school system.

This contradicts recent concerns – as expressed by Ofsted – that home schooling could be used as a cover for the radicalisation of some Muslim youngsters.

Professor Bhopal, a Professor of Education and Social Justice at the University of Birmingham said: “The reality is that all families who choose home education are trying to do what is best for their children.

“What seems to be too easily forgotten is that some can make this decision as a lifestyle choice while others have to make it because they have no other choice at all.

“In other words, there are families for whom home schooling is one of many available options and families for whom home schooling is virtually the last option left.

“Policymakers should focus on distinctions like these, not distinctions that are based largely on stereotypes and ingrained biases, if they want to address this issue.

“Ultimately, the key risks around home schooling lie in the practice itself rather than in the people who choose to pursue it – and this is what needs to be recognised.”"
homeschool  class  race  unschooling  parenting  society  education  learning  children  alternative  policy  uk 
may 2018 by robertogreco
DAVID GRAEBER / The Revolt of the Caring Classes / 2018 - YouTube
"The financialisation of major economies since the '80s has radically changed the terms for social movements everywhere. How does one organise workplaces, for example, in societies where up to 40% of the workforce believe their jobs should not exist? David Graeber makes the case that, slowly but surely, a new form of class politics is emerging, based around recognising the centrality of meaningful 'caring labour' in creating social value. He identifies a slowly emerging rebellion of the caring classes which potentially represents just as much of a threat to financial capitalism as earlier forms of proletarian struggle did to industrial capitalism.

David Graeber is Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and previously Assistant Professor and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale and Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy (2015) Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011) and Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2004). His activism includes protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001, and the 2002 World Economic Forum in New York City. Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is sometimes credited with having coined the slogan, 'We are the 99 percent'.

This lecture was given at the Collège de France on the 22nd March 2018."
davidgraeber  care  caring  teaching  nursing  economics  capitalism  labor  work  employment  compensation  resentment  bullshitjobs  finance  politics  policy  us  uk  workingclass  intellectuals  intellectualism  society  manufacturing  management  jobs  liberalism  values  benefits  nobility  truth  beauty  charity  nonprofit  highered  highereducation  activism  humanrights  os  occupywallstreet  opportunity  revolution  revolt  hollywood  military  misery  productivity  creation  creativity  maintenance  gender  production  reproduction  socialsciences  proletariat  wagelabor  wage  salaries  religion  belief  discipline  maintstreamleft  hospitals  freedom  play  teachers  parenting  mothers  education  learning  unions  consumption  anarchism  spontaneity  universalbasicincome  nonprofits  ubi 
may 2018 by robertogreco
'The connection between education and democracy should be clear'
"Simon Creasey meets the academic calling for teachers to revolt against the ‘pedagogy of oppression’ and demand due payment for their overlooked role in underpinning democracy

Henry Giroux wants teachers to mobilise. He wants them to rise up and launch a revolutionary movement in order to eradicate what he calls a “pedagogy of oppression” that has permeated the education system, both in the UK and in his native US. Teachers and teachers’ unions should work with parents to pressure governments to focus education on creating “informed citizens”, he says, not learning-by-rote simply to get students to pass their exams and become workforce-ready.

This is a push for change that Giroux has been working on for some time. He currently holds the McMaster University chair for scholarship in the public interest, in Ontario, Canada. But he has been an education academic for decades and penned numerous books. He’s insistent on this course of action because “you cannot have a democracy without an informed citizenry”.

“We live in a culture that thrives on ignorance, refuses to invest in education, flees from the obligations of shared citizenship and ignores what it means to provide a decent life for everyone, especially children,” says Giroux.

“[In this environment,] politics degenerates into a pathology and education is reduced to a form of training.”

'We need to have a dialogue'
To emphasise his point, he cites the election of Donald Trump – a president who is on record claiming that he “loves the poorly educated”.

“[Trump’s election win] is not just about a crisis of politics; it’s about the crisis of education, it’s about the crisis of civic literacy,” he says. So, how do teachers contribute to putting this right?

As a starting point, he thinks a discussion needs to be had about the true purpose of education. “We need to have a dialogue about what teachers can do to, in a sense, ensure that education is viewed as a public good and that it is tied to a democratic project that would be used to prepare students to be engaged, critical and informed citizens,” Giroux says. “We’ve got to ditch this notion that the only purpose of education is basically to educate people for the workforce or that the most important aspect of education is learning 25 different ways to teach. That’s just silly, it’s reductionistic and it turns teachers into automatons.

“This type of educational reform is really about deskilling teachers and turning education into an adjunct of the corporate workplace. It kills any notion of the imagination, and what we usually end up with is people teaching for the test. We end up with people basically implementing what I call ‘pedagogies of oppression’.”

Giroux explains that a pedagogy of oppression is one that essentially “assaults” a student’s imagination. “It often emphasises memorisation; it places a strong emphasis on harsh forms of discipline; it can result in enormously unproductive and poisonous forms of racism; it usually teaches for the test,” he says. “It embraces standardisation as a measure of knowledge and it does everything it can to basically shut down any sense of curiosity and any sense of teaching students – and teachers for that matter – what it means to exercise a degree of civic courage, to take risks, to doubt, to in some way be critically conscious of the world, to explore the full capacity of their imagination, and to open the world and themselves in a way in which they can embrace and expand their capacity to be real social-political agents.”

Giroux believes that we should educate educators in a way that enables them to fulfil the “civic purpose” of education.

“I think that increasingly gets lost in the commercialisation, the corporatisation, the commodification and the standardisation of education,” he says. “These are forces that have been highly influenced by a corporate state that doesn’t really recognise the relationship – and doesn’t want to recognise the relationship – between education and democracy, and I think teachers need to seize upon and develop a new language for understanding the purpose of education.”

Giroux identifies another issue: the things that children are being taught in schools typically bear no relation to the world in which they live – a world that is heavily influenced by social media, popular culture and mainstream media.

“To me, this is tragic because when that happens, schools often translate into dead zones of education and spaces of abandonment,” he argues. “They become places that seem irrelevant to young people. They seem to have no meaning except for an elite who need the credentials to get into Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harvard.”

He is similarly depressed by what he perceives to be a “deskilling” of teachers that has been brought about by the “audit culture” that pervades the education system in the US and UK. Educators, he believes, should push against or ignore it.

“Teachers can’t just close their door and say ‘I’m going to do everything I can to avoid this’,” says Giroux. “They need to organise collectively. They need to bring the power of a collective teacher’s union, and the power of working with parents and young people, to begin to put pressure on governments because in the final analysis what is at stake here is changing policy. That is, changing policies that are oppressive and endlessly put into play.”

‘Great social movement’

What is important, he says, it that such a reaction is not politically aligned. Giroux explains that “the notion of creating informed and critical students cuts across ideological lines” and that it “should be attractive to anyone who believes that schooling is crucial to creating informed citizens”.

To do this, teachers need to have a clear idea of their larger role in society and this role needs to be self-defined. “Teachers have to become part of a great social movement in which they define themselves as a public resource,” says Giroux.

He argues that, as part of this movement, teachers should fight for policies that advocate more funding for education, more autonomy for teachers and higher pay.

“Teachers should be paid like doctors and they should be professionalised in ways that suggest they are a valued part of any society, which is what they are,” says Giroux. “Schools matter in a democracy and teachers should be one of the most valued groups of people that we have in our society, yet at the same time they are the most belittled, the most dehumanised and the most exploited among professionals – and I think that’s because we have no faith in democracy.

“We can’t seem to make the connection between teaching, education and democracy, and I think that teachers need to make that connection and they need to make it loud and clear. They need to talk about public schools and higher education as democratic public spheres and they need to make clear that what they do is absolutely vital to the nature of society itself – and they need to fight for it.”

Picking sides

Although he concedes that he is “utterly pessimistic” about the changes that have taken place to the education system in the US since the 1980s – the public schools sector in particular – he is quietly optimistic about the future. “I think we’ve reached a breaking point where many people are refusing to accept what we call the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” says Giroux.

“They’re refusing to accept the racism that goes on in schools with kids being expelled and thrown out of schools, and we have also seen this huge revolt in the US against teaching for the test. More and more people are now realising that education is one of the few protected spaces and battlefronts left over which we can defend any notion of a liberal education. An education that is engaged in creating critical citizens and furthering the parameters of a democratic society.”

Regardless of whether this change is happening as quickly as Giroux feels it must, he is clear that we are at a point where teachers need to pick sides.

“Democracy is in crisis around the world and to address that crisis, education needs to be reclaimed as a moral and political project willing to address the future with a degree of civic courage and educated hope,” he says. “In this case, the struggle to reclaim the democratic function of education is not an option, it is a necessity.”"
simoncreasey  henrygiroux  children  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  teachers  teaching  democracy  oppression  pedagogy  civics  politics  pathology  education  standardization  racism  race  rote  rotelearning  learning  corporatism  memorization  resistance  socialmedia  popularculture  society  elitism  credentials  us  uk  policy  autonomy  unions  organization  2018  sfsh 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Feral Studio
"Feral Studio is a Community Interest Company based in South West UK that initiates creative collaborations and partnerships in rural communities.

We align artists, designers and other creative practitioners with land stakeholders, educational establishments, rural agencies, small businesses and wider community members to produce innovative strategies that tackle challenges, build capacity and push boundaries."



"
During the past few decades, we have witnessed a rural narrative that has been characterised by on going crisis, decline and loss of identity. Once thriving communities have been severely impacted by multiple traumas in agriculture, austerity in public finances, limited infrastructure provision, migration of ambitious youth, constrained housing availability and the older generation lacking opportunity to transfer hard-earned knowledge. Impacts from energy insecurity, climate change and environmental degradation are being felt first hand.

Yet there has been a response.

There’s been a motivated, imaginative and committed response. Rural communities are now seeing a surging land-worker movement dedicated to sustainable agriculture. Alternative economies and resilience building are now commonplace. Innovation is flourishing and a recognition of the countryside from a cultural perspective is well underway. We are committed to embracing this momentum.

Established in 2014, Feral Studio is Community Interest Company (08936225). We work locally, regionally, online and beyond to commission short-term initiatives and long-term engagements that support sustainable, self-sufficient and locally distinctive economies and cultures.

Our approach values the importance of multi-disciplinary partnership working to explore and interpret the opportunities and threats that exist in the rural context. As such, we collaborate with a dynamic group of practitioners whose skills and knowledge base include (but not limited to) design, food production, architecture, research, filmmaking, policy, horticulture, education programming, contemporary art curating and ecology.

We undertake a range of socially engaged activities, research and commission projects that are appropriate, collaborative and leave an enduring legacy. These include residencies, workshops, events, installations, publications and internships.

While our programme is shaped by local priorities, we also recognise that a great deal of thinking, practice and policy influencing rural issues emanates from beyond its geography so we participate in dialogue and exchange ideas, techniques and practice with urban and international peers and networks as well as being supported by specialist advisors."

[See also: https://twitter.com/feralstudio ]
design  art  rural  education  architecture  local  feral  multidisciplinary  resilience  alternative  economics  alternativeeconomies  uk  lcproject  openstudioproject 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Show your support | Educationforward
"Education has to change – to move forward – so that our schools and students can face the unprecedented challenges of the future, with confidence, capability and compassion.

We believe:

1. That schools should be judged on a much broader set of outcomes (e.g. students’ resourcefulness; their ability to engage with political, economic and ecological issues; their confidence with digital technologies; their enjoyment of reading) than they currently face;

2. That the voices of parents, families, and students should be central to process of education policy formulation;

3. That students who neither want, nor need, to go to university should not be made to feel inadequate or failures by an overly narrow and overly academic curriculum;

4. That high-stakes testing has gone too far, has caused too much stress and anxiety to teachers and students, and is a wholly inadequate means of assessing a student’s full range of talents;

5. That the way teachers teach should foster more than the ability to recall snippets of knowledge – the future will ask students not simply what they know, but what they can do with what they know, how they critically evaluate data, and what to do when they don’t know what to do ;

6. That the knowledge that will matter to students in the mid-21st century will be very different to the knowledge that is currently considered core – re-thinking a curriculum fit for the future is an urgent, widespread concern;

7. That providing evidence of learning has attempted to become ‘teacher-proof’, whilst teaching to the test has become endemic. We have to trust teacher judgements more and invest in their professional development;

8. That too many people cast the debate around education in binary terms, despite the growing numbers of schools whose students get good grades and develop confidence, capability and self-direction in their learning.We need to learn from these schools so that their practices can spread like wildfire;

9. That politicians should focus their energies less on cherry-picking evidence to support their entrenched views, and more on the fundamental purpose of education. We need to improve, and deepen, the quality of public debate around schooling;

10. That we live in times of turbulence and anxiety, where truth is a casualty of intolerance. Education has to help people strengthen their dispositions to tolerate uncertainty, to think carefully about complex issues, to understand the position of others and, where necessary, to disagree gracefully. This matters – not just for our communities and our children’s well-being, but for the future of our world."
education  change  sfsh  outcomes  resourcefulness  policy  schools  acadmemics  testing  standardizedtesting  stress  anxiety  teaching  learning  society  howweteach  howelearn  knowledge  tcsnmy  openstudioproject  lcproject  curriculum  purpose  schooling  turbulence  intolerance  truth  uncertainty  complexity  understanding  grace  disagreement  uk 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Akala on Twitter: "So this has trended again this week i'd like to add some further thoughts from practical work in the streets/prisons https://t.co/jyySfaGZdK"
"So this has trended again this week i'd like to add some further thoughts from practical work in the streets/prisons ["Akala on N word" https://twitter.com/Dan_Soff/status/922544678909640704 ]

[See also (another): Akala on the N word https://twitter.com/Dan_Soff/status/922736966210383872 ]

I am not judging anyone because as you all know I used to use nigga every 4th work practically but just wana highlight some things...

Lots of young black men in particular will claim that 'nigga' is now a term of endearment but they/we do not truly believe this.. example..

I do lots of writing workshops in prisons here (invariably filled with young black men) and I do a social experiment with them..

When they finish writing their raps about how many niggas they will shoot I don't judge them I just ask the following question/scenario

I tell them 'my mums white scottish, Glasgow/Belfast both more violent than London what would u think if I rapped about killing honkies?'

Without exception every young black man I've posed this question to has either laughed at the absurdity of said 'nah fam that's racist'

The inference is clear that we - like racists - value white life more than black life, no matter how we dress it up/deny it.

What's more if the biggest black rappers on earth started rapping about killing 'racist cracker cops' instead of other niggas we know result

Remember when Ice T made 'cop killer' and the US govt stepped in?

So while I obviously don't subscribe to the idea that music causes violence it's also a cop out to say culture is not massively important

And I am also a hypocrite because I still love my Mobb Deep, DMX, Lox etc so again no judgement but we have to be honest it's problematic

if you are black and having a convo with a brother trying to tell you nigga is positive ask him if his gran is a nigga he'll get offended

It's revealing that forms of black music made in Africa & the Caribbean do use the word at all unless consciously adopting a US influence

The Richard prior talk highlighted in this thread is brilliant on this. However we try2 dress it up nigga is intrinsically de-humanising

Obviously stopping from addressing eachother as such will not overthrow shit material conditions either but these are my thoughts.

I personally stopped using the word also because it made me uncomfortable having white kids shout it back to me at shows

The truth is no truly self respecting people promote and sell their own death, let alone to those that benefit from it most.

Those of us that are not black Americans and thus did not live through Jim Crow, spectacle lynchings etc can't really explain why we use it

Other than cos we like US rap music. The most oppressive decade in British racial history (80's) produced Lovers Rock and Rare Groove

The trench town of the 70's produced us Roots Reggae, Apartheid SA Hugh Masakela & Miriam, Nigeria gave us Fela

So it's not hardship but rather an admission of defeat and desperation imo. End of thread. Safe

Again not judging any1 I used to use it all the time and was a very naughty/violent/angry man at one time in my life, I get it.

Actually I would like to add to this thread with a couple points about blackness and violence, which I'm writing about a lot at the mo...

In both Britain & American popular culture and law enforcement the idea of 'black on black' violence has become a 'credible' idea...

The phrase suggests that whole other humans are violent for real material/historical/political reasons black ppl r violent cos black..

This idea is rooted in 19th century pseudo science but it has. it stopped some, even some self hating folks from asking basic questions like

When 'black on black' violence became a buzz word in U.K. media Northern Ireland was still a war zone and Glasgow more violent than London

Even from tridents own reports we see that vast majority of the 'black on black' shootings were by British Caribbeans or Jamaican nationals

So how did it make sense that British Ghanaians and Zimbabweans get included racial osmosis for something they not part of?

But if we admit that the problem was mostly British Caribbeans - including mixed race - more so than Africans obvious questions arise

Like how come the black group that's been in Britain the longest is doing by far the worst of all the black groups?

How come Jamaica is about 30x more violent than Ghana even though half of JA is Ghanaian in origin?

How come that outside of South Africa there is never usually a single African city in world top 50 for murder rate? (US usually has 3/4)

Additionally in a U.K. context violent working class youth gangs have been a constant for well over a century but if u know no history...

See: Hooligans Or Rebels by Humphries

The worst hoods in the UK have historically been in Glasgow, some having life expectancy as low as mid 50's until recently...

Accra by contrast has many many many challenges but kids stabbing eachother over iPhones and postcodes is not one of them.

But by focusing on visible black boys in London rather than what is a UK wide problem the state can pretend teenage violence was imported

explaining why so many American hoods are so much more violent than than African ones is not something eugenics explanations can help with

Black Americans literally 'less Black' (one drop rule) than continental Africans so by eugenics logic Accra should be worse than Chicago

And if the Nigerian civil war was 'black on black' why was the Japanese rape on Nanking not 'yellow on yellow'?

Lastly roughly as many Russians alone died fighting Nazis ('white on white' crime) as all Africans in all wars on the continent since WW2

It's almost as if the violence of humans racialised as black needs a proper human explanation. Mad I know.

In truth 'gansta' rap and 'niggerisation' helps obscure all this and makes black death an attractive commodity.

If working class youth violence has been a constant in British history for 150 years it's really no surprise what's happening today...

And given that roughy 80% of black Brits live in the poorest wards of the county and middle class Zimbabweans not going going jail/killing🤔

By Zimbabweans I mean Zim immigrants to U.K. who we all know are mostly middle class professionals.

None of this is 'excusing' the youngers just as understanding 'The Troubles' is not excusing any killers there, it's just understanding.

For Americans and others that don't know in London we had a whole police department dedicated to 'black on black' crime until recently

Many of their most high profile cases where mixed heritage men (like Mark Duggan) showing the UK state also likes US1drop rule.

And in Tottenham (where Mark was from) everyone knows organised crime is as much British Turks as BritCaribbean but hey 'black on black'

But anyway. Have a good evening all. 👍🏾"
akala  language  history  race  racism  crime  data  bias  music  nword  rap  hiphop  uk  us  jamaica  caribbean  africa  ghana  glasgow  chicago  cities  violence  gangs  zimbabwe  belfast 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 68: Specific Diseconomy
"ON LONDON: Not surprisingly, I’ve been asked a number of times to reflect on my experience in London. There were the minor details, like how signing for a credit card now feels like the past to me, chip-and-PIN like the present, and contactless still feels like the future (and I’m sad that the utility of contactless is severely compromised in the US because tips aren’t normally included in bills). Between the Brexit referendum fallout, the snap election, the Manchester and London Bridge attacks, and the Grenfell fire, it felt like an eventful and consequential six months in the UK. But what was most striking to me about living in London was how steeped the city is in colonialism and empire.

Most of my days in London were spent on a north-south axis that ran from Somerset House on the bank of the Thames (where I was working with design consultancy Superflux and with collaborators at King's College London), through Holborn where my gym was located, to University College London (established 1826, ending the four-hundred-year duopoly in English higher education held by Oxford and Cambridge, and to which King's was established in response), and the British Library. A friend of mine laughed at this, noting that my stomping grounds would be instantly recognizable to Victorians.

The walk from my gym to Somerset House (built at the end of the 18th century, and the administrative centre of England and its empire during the 19th century) took me past India House, opened in 1930 to house the administration for the subcontinent. It’s decorated with crests for different regions, and I found the one for the North West Frontier Province, where my parents were born and where my father lived until Partition, when his family relocated from newly-formed Pakistan to newly-reconfigured India, as part of what is likely to have been the largest migration in human history. Between my family history and my own life in Canada and the US, I describe myself as a British colonial four times over, which no doubt shaped my perspective. As well as the gorgeous administrative buildings, the Victorian public engineering that Britons take justifiable pride in was paid for out of the coffers of Empire. Bazalgette’s pioneering sewer system for London (built between 1859 and 1865) was an enormous public good paid for with public funds, because of the success of the imperial project, although it was almost more depressing to learn that it's since been privatized as Thames Water. Nearly half of Brits are proud of colonialism and think it was a good thing, and it inarguably was, if you’re British. Estimates by historians suggest that India accounted for about a quarter of the world’s economic output before 1700; a few years after Independence, it had dropped to less than 5%. Even the much-vaunted Indian railroads were primarily a moneymaking scheme for British companies, who maintained ownership and kept the profits, while Indian taxes backed the returns guaranteed to British investors.

I’m most familiar with India, because of my family history, but by far the most telling indicator of how colonialism transferred wealth away from local populations to England is to look at the list of former colonies: with only a few exceptions, the former colonies that are wealthy (like Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand) are the ones where the original inhabitants and societies were largely wiped out and supplanted by Europeans. The rest of the former Empire, the places where descendents of the original residents still comprise the bulk of the population, are desperately poor. Even if you don’t look at any other metric, this is still prima facie evidence for colonialism as an unprecedented transfer of wealth.

[I don’t think I go a day without thinking about how my family moved from one type of colony to the other, how that means that I grew up with all of the benefits of being on the right side of Empire, and that my society is built on a hill of skulls.]

I worked out of the Science Reading Room at the British Library, across the hall from the Asian collection. There was a large sign that read, “Learn more about your ancestors in India!” I was halfway through the small text before I realised, tipped off by the references to baptismal and pension records, that they didn’t mean my ancestors. On the Tube, I’d see ads for Las Vegas, ‘where your accent is an aphrodisiac’ (which is utterly absurd until you realize that it's a vestige of imperial propaganda); for the Crown Jewels, ‘Every stone tells a story’ (Prime Minister David Cameron refused requests to return the Koh i Noor diamond to India, on the grounds that if the UK ‘says yes to one, you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty’); for Fever Tree tonic water, ‘We go to the ends of the earth’ to find the quinine (tonic water was created in the early 19th century to make the antimalarial palatable to British officials stationed in Africa and India). In front of the Tate Britain, a bollard at the edge of the Thames indicates where ships would tie up to transport prisoners to Australia from Milbank Prison, which was torn down to build the museum. Outside London, Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry has an entire floor devoted to ‘Cottonopolis’ and how the industrial production of the region was the source of much of England’s wealth, in which there is literally one sentence about slavery and no mention of the destruction of the Bengali textile industry (nor the larger deindustrialization of India). I posted an excerpt about the word ‘pukka’ from a book about stepwells in India on my Instagram feed, and a stranger demanded to know where Jamie Oliver got the word from if it was Hindi. [While many of my examples are from India, other parts of the world have their own stories.]

If you've followed the links, you'll see that almost all of my citations are UK news outlets; it's not that there aren't lots of people in the UK who understand the full impact of colonialism. It's just that it's hard for me to understand how, if you've ever seen a list of famines in India under British rule, you could ever believe that colonialism was a good thing, or that it should be reflected in ads to sell me tonic water."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:dc6ff8124465

"[M]y society is built on a hill of skulls" is the most visceral expression of this particular truth that I've ever heard. https://twitter.com/debcha/status/911689430347415558 "
https://twitter.com/jkriss/status/911691879799865344

"Of course, my joke cortex goes straight for this: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/things-this-city-was-built-on-besides-rock-n-roll "
https://twitter.com/jkriss/status/911695089134481408 ]" ]
debchachra  2017  london  colonialism  capitalism  india  uk  history  society  inequality  imperialism  england  canada  britain  britishempire  globalization  europe  globalsouth 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Y-Fi
"Experience Loading Animations / Screens in wifi speeds around the world. This website was inspired by this conversation I had on twitter. I was home (Nigeria) for a bit before I started work and was annoyed at how long I had to look at loading animations. I wondered how long people wanted to wait around the world screaming.

Notes / How this works

• Data about wifi speeds is from: Akamai's State of the Internet / Connectivity Report.

• I chose countries based on what suprised me and to get diversity across speeds.

• To get most data about loading times, I used a combination of Firefox DevTools and the Network Panel on Chrome DevTools. For Gmail I used this article on Gmail's Storage Quota.

• The wifi speeds and sizes of resources are hard-coded in so you can see them and the rest of the code at the repo.

• Any other questions / thoughts? Hit me up on twitter!"

[via: https://twitter.com/YellzHeard/status/890990574827851777 via @senongo]
omayeliarenyeka  internet  webdev  webdesign  wifi  broadband  nigeria  loading  speed  diversity  accessibility  paraguay  egypt  namibia  iran  morocco  argentina  india  southafrica  saudiarabia  mexico  china  chile  greece  ue  france  australia  russia  kenya  israel  thailand  uk  us  taiwan  japan  singapore  hongkong  noray  southkorea  perú 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Sherman, R.: Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence. (eBook and Hardcover)
"A surprising and revealing look at how today's elite view their own wealth and place in society

From TV’s “real housewives” to The Wolf of Wall Street, our popular culture portrays the wealthy as materialistic and entitled. But what do we really know about those who live on “easy street”? In this penetrating book, Rachel Sherman draws on rare in-depth interviews that she conducted with fifty affluent New Yorkers—including hedge fund financiers and corporate lawyers, professors and artists, and stay-at-home mothers—to examine their lifestyle choices and their understanding of privilege. Sherman upends images of wealthy people as invested only in accruing and displaying social advantages for themselves and their children. Instead, these liberal elites, who believe in diversity and meritocracy, feel conflicted about their position in a highly unequal society. They wish to be “normal,” describing their consumption as reasonable and basic and comparing themselves to those who have more than they do rather than those with less. These New Yorkers also want to see themselves as hard workers who give back and raise children with good values, and they avoid talking about money.

Although their experiences differ depending on a range of factors, including whether their wealth was earned or inherited, these elites generally depict themselves as productive and prudent, and therefore morally worthy, while the undeserving rich are lazy, ostentatious, and snobbish. Sherman argues that this ethical distinction between “good” and “bad” wealthy people characterizes American culture more broadly, and that it perpetuates rather than challenges economic inequality.

As the distance between rich and poor widens, Uneasy Street not only explores the real lives of those at the top but also sheds light on how extreme inequality comes to seem ordinary and acceptable to the rest of us."

[See also:
"Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich" by Richard V. Reeves
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/opinion/sunday/stop-pretending-youre-not-rich.html

"The Dream Hoarders: How America's Top 20 Percent Perpetuates Inequality" by Richard Reeves
https://bostonreview.net/class-inequality-education-opportunity/richard-v-reeves-dream-hoarders-how-americas-top-20-percent ]
economics  policy  politics  wealth  us  inequality  2017  meritocracy  richardreeves  class  uk  classnessness  uppermiddleclass  absolution  rachelsherman  ethics 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich - The New York Times
"Beneath a veneer of classlessness, the American class reproduction machine operates with ruthless efficiency. In particular, the upper middle class is solidifying. This favored fifth at the top of the income distribution, with an average annual household income of $200,000, has been separating from the 80 percent below. Collectively, this top fifth has seen a $4 trillion-plus increase in pretax income since 1979, compared to just over $3 trillion for everyone else. Some of those gains went to the top 1 percent. But most went to the 19 percent just beneath them.

The rhetoric of “We are the 99 percent” has in fact been dangerously self-serving, allowing people with healthy six-figure incomes to convince themselves that they are somehow in the same economic boat as ordinary Americans, and that it is just the so-called super rich who are to blame for inequality."



"Progressive policies, whether on zoning or school admissions or tax reform, all too often run into the wall of upper-middle-class opposition. Self-interest is natural enough. But the people who make up the American upper middle class don’t just want to keep their advantages; armed with their faith in a classless, meritocratic society, they think they deserve them. The strong whiff of entitlement coming from the top 20 percent has not been lost on everyone else."

[See also:
Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence, by Rachel Sherman
http://press.princeton.edu/titles/11096.html

"The Dream Hoarders: How America's Top 20 Percent Perpetuates Inequality" by Richard Reeves
https://bostonreview.net/class-inequality-education-opportunity/richard-v-reeves-dream-hoarders-how-americas-top-20-percent ]
economics  policy  politics  wealth  us  inequality  2017  meritocracy  richardreeves  class  uk  classnessness  uppermiddleclass  absolution  rachelsherman 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Running Free in Germany’s Outdoor Preschools - The New York Times
"Robin Hood Waldkindergarten, which opened in 2005, is one of more than 1,500 waldkitas, or “forest kindergartens,” in Germany; Berlin alone has about 20. Most have opened in the last 15 years and are usually located in the city’s parks, with a bare-bones structure serving as a sort of home base, but others, like Robin Hood, rely on public transportation to shuttle their charges daily out into the wilderness, where they spend most of the day, regardless of weather. Toys, typically disparaged at waldkitas, are replaced by the imaginative use of sticks, rocks and leaves. A 2003 Ph.D. dissertation by Peter Häfner at Heidelberg University showed that graduates of German forest kindergartens had a “clear advantage” over the graduates of regular kindergartens, performing better in cognitive and physical ability, as well as in creativity and social development.

The American journalist Richard Louv, who coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in his 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods,” is cited often by Robin Hood staff, as is “Coyote’s Guide to Connecting With Nature,” by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown. (“Savage Park,” by Amy Fusselman, is another book that chronicles uninhibited play and was inspired by a visit to an adventure playground in Tokyo.) The pedagogical philosophy of waldkitas, which privileges outdoor play and hands-on environmental learning, comes originally from Scandinavia, but, as one teacher put it to me, “they don’t make a big fuss about it like they do here.” The trend’s non-Teutonic origins are somewhat surprising: There might be nothing “more German” than a state-funded preschool based primarily in a forest.

Germany has nearly three times as much protected land as the U.S., proportionate to the countries’ sizes, a nontrivial fact that highlights the way much of the country thinks about nature and its role in the emotional health of its citizens. “It’s terrible that kids today know all about technology but nothing about the little bird outside their window,” Peters said, gesturing out toward the woods and sounding like any number of quotable Germans, from Goethe to Beethoven to Bismarck, all of whom have rhapsodized on the psychic benefits of spending time in the forest. He continued: “In life, bad things happen — you lose your job or your partner or everyone just hates you — but you’ll always have this.”"



"THERE ARE SCATTERINGS of forest kindergartens in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. Even in Japan and South Korea, where education is famously strict, waldkitas are becoming increasingly popular. They have spread mostly through word-of-mouth among parents. And in Germany, it’s not just the wealthy — or the eccentric — who send their children. Like all other preschools in Berlin, tuition at Robin Hood is covered by the government for kids aged 2 through 6 (apart from a 100 euro per month fee because it’s a private school). New York City preschools can cost upward of $40,000 per year."
forestschools  preschool  schools  education  learning  children  germany  parenting  2017  nature  richardlouv  sfsh  amyfusselman  peterhäfner  outdoors  nyc  southkorea  japan  uk  berlin 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Finally, a breakthrough alternative to growth economics – the doughnut | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian
"We cannot hope to address our predicament without a new worldview. We cannot use the models that caused our crises to solve them. We need to reframe the problem. This is what the most inspiring book published so far this year has done.

In Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, Kate Raworth of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute reminds us that economic growth was not, at first, intended to signify wellbeing. Simon Kuznets, who standardised the measurement of growth, warned: “The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.” Economic growth, he pointed out, measured only annual flow, rather than stocks of wealth and their distribution.

Raworth points out that economics in the 20th century “lost the desire to articulate its goals”. It aspired to be a science of human behaviour: a science based on a deeply flawed portrait of humanity. The dominant model – “rational economic man”, self-interested, isolated, calculating – says more about the nature of economists than it does about other humans. The loss of an explicit objective allowed the discipline to be captured by a proxy goal: endless growth."



"The central image in mainstream economics is the circular flow diagram. It depicts a closed flow of income cycling between households, businesses, banks, government and trade, operating in a social and ecological vacuum. Energy, materials, the natural world, human society, power, the wealth we hold in common … all are missing from the model. The unpaid work of carers – principally women – is ignored, though no economy could function without them. Like rational economic man, this representation of economic activity bears little relationship to reality."



"I see her as the John Maynard Keynes of the 21st century: by reframing the economy, she allows us to change our view of who we are, where we stand, and what we want to be.

Now we need to turn her ideas into policy. Read her book, then demand that those who wield power start working towards its objectives: human prosperity within a thriving living world."
georgemobiot  economics  politics  uk  growth  kateraworth  2017  sustainability  environment  prosperity  simonkuznets  wealth 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Being and Becoming Film
"Being and Becoming explores the theme of trusting children and their development, and invites us to question our learning paradigms and options.

The filmmaker takes us on a journey of discovery through the US, France, the UK and Germany (where it's illegal not to go to school.) We meet parents who have made the choice of not schooling their children, neither at school nor at home, but of letting them learn freely what they are truly passionate about.

It is a quest for truth about the innate desire to learn. It belongs to a wider theme than education, connected to a change in our belief system and to our society's evolution, as well as to the importance of reclaiming one's life and self-confidence."

[trailer: https://vimeo.com/91040919 ]

[See also: http://www.johnholtgws.com/pat-farengas-blog/2016/10/8/being-and-becoming-1 ]

[previously: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:54cb697e374d ]
sfsh  film  documentary  education  children  us  france  germany  uk  unschooling  deschooling  homeschool  learning  clarabellar  measurement 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Flatbread Society Seed Journey
"ABOUT

This journey to the Middle East can be seen as an awakening of the memory—the long journey the grain itself has taken—through the hands of time.

-Michael Taussig

Seed Journey is a seafaring voyage connected to a public art project* in the former port of Bjørvika in Oslo, Norway. Seed Journey moves people, ideas and seeds through time and space. This voyage—its crew and cargo—are agents that link the commons as they relate to local networks and a more global complex of seed savers and stewards of the land, air and water. A rotating crew of artists, anthropologists, biologists, bakers, activists, sailors and farmers join the journey and share their findings at host institutions along the route from small harbors to large ports from barns to museums (contemporary art, natural history and maritime) to social centers.

"NOT STUCK ON TIME"

Seed Journey departs from the port of Oslo, Norway beginning with a few key defining points and space for new stops and invitations along the way. The crew’s interests will influence the route, but ultimately grains are the compass. Seed Journey maps not only space, but also time and phylogeny: while the more familiar space yields a cartographic map, time yields history and phylogeny yields a picture of networks of relationships between and among living beings—relationships between cultural groups, but also between human and non-human living forms such as seeds, sea-life and the terrestrial species from the various places and times we will traverse.

****

FLATBREAD SOCIETY

Flatbread Society is a permanent public art project created in a “common” area amidst the waterfront development of Bjørvika, in Oslo, Norway. In 2012, the international arts collective, Futurefarmers formed Flatbread Society as a proposition for working with local actors to establish an aligned vision for the use of this land. The groups’ dynamic activation of the site through public programs, a bakehouse and a cultivated grain field has attracted the imagination of farmers, bakers, oven builders, artists, activists, soil scientists, city officials; while simultaneously resulting in the formation of an urban gardening community called Herligheten, a Declaration of Land Use, and a permanent grainfield and bakehouse.

Flatbread Society has extended beyond Oslo into a network of projects and people that use grain as a prismatic impetus to consider the interrelationship of food production to realms of knowledge sharing, cultural production, socio-political formations and everyday life.

Flatbread Society is part of Bjørvika Utvikling (BU) public art program Slow Space, commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling and supported by The Norwegian Public Road Authroities (Eastern Region)."
futurefarmers  seedjourney  michaeltaussig  art  norway  oslo  bjørvika  naturalhistory  flatbreadsociety  slow  baking  biology  science  classideas  activism  sailing  boats  anthropology  barns  museums  seeds  sailboats  spain  denmark  españa  vejle  london  england  cardiff  wales  uk  antwerp  belgium  asturias  lena  mallorca  rmallah  palestine  istanbul  turkey  johanpetersen  børrepetersen  carlemilpetersen  fernandogarcíadory  agency  didierdemorcy  amyfranceschini  marthevandessel  viviensansour  ignaciochapela  martinlundberg  alfonsoborragán  hananbenammar  joeriley  audreysnyder  annavitale  jørundaasefalkenberg 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Alternative Art School Fair Radio | Clocktower
"The Alternative Art School Fair at Pioneer Works presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world, November 19-20, 2016. The entire event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived on clocktower.org.

See the radio schedule below to plan your listening party. The live listening link can be found HERE.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

Listening Schedule:
November 19
Keynote panel -- 12:00-1:30PM
Carol Becker
Luis Camnitzer
Dorothea Rockburne
Victoria Sobel
Interviewer/Moderator: Catherine Despont

How can alternative systems impact traditional arts education? -- 2-3:30PM
Ox-Bow
Daniel Bozhkov
School of the Future
Interviewer/Moderator: Regine Basha

Art and Democracy -- 3:45-5:15PM
UNIDEE
The Black Mountain School
UOIEA (Anna Craycroft)
Interviewer/Moderator: Provisions Library

Self-Governance as Pedagogy: Of Other Spaces -- 5:30-7:30PM
Art and Law Program
Interviewer/Moderator: Associate Director Lauren van Haaften-Schick
Art & Law Program Fellows: Abram Coetsee & Alex Strada (Fall 2016), Damien Davis (Spring 2016)

November 20
Keynote -- 12:00-1:30PM
Dr. Craig L. Wilkins, PhD, RA

Hybrid Practice -- 2:00-3:30PM
SFPC
Zz School of Print Media
Southland Institute
Interviewer/Moderator: Archeworks

Responsive Programming: A Conversation Between The Ventriloquist Summerschool and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville -- 3:45-5:15PM
The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville

(Re)incorporating Art in Everyday Life -- 5:30-7:00PM
Chad Laird (Sunview Luncheonette)
Tal Beery (School of Apocalypse)
Tatfoo Tan (NERTM)
Moderator/Interviewer: Grizedale Arts"
tolisten  education  altgdp  openstudioproject  lcproject  sfsh  schools  artschools  2016  radio  art  pioneerworks  alternative  diy  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Alternative Art School Fair | Pioneer Works
[See also: The Alternative Art School Fair Radio
http://clocktower.org/series/the-alternative-art-school-fair-radio ]

"The Alternative Art School Fair
November 19-20, 2016

The Alternative Art School Fair presents an introduction to alternative art schools from around the US and the world.

Art education is a reflection of social and cultural evolution; it engages with structures of meaning-making and considers different frameworks for experience. The impetus to create an alternative art school is rooted not only in a desire to create “better” art, but to create the conditions for greater freedom of expression. Often run as free, artist-run initiatives, the values and visions of alternative art schools vary widely in methodology, mission and governance. But even when they are relatively small in scale they provide vital models of cultural critique and experimentation.

The Alternative Art School Fair event, including workshops, discussions, and keynote presentations by Carol Becker, Luis Camnitzer, Craig Wilkins and Dorothea Rockburne, will be streamed live and archived by Clocktower Productions on clocktower.org.

Media Sponsor:
Hyperallergic

Participating Schools

AAPG – Alternative Art Program Guatemala • AltMFA • Anhoek School • Archeworks • Arts Letters & Numbers • ASCII Project • Beta-Local • Black Mountain School • Brooklyn Institute for Social Research • Center for Art Analysis • COLLABOR • école de Hogbonu • Enroll Yourself • Free School of Architecture • Islington Mill Art Academy • Grizedale Arts • Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency • NERTM - New Earth Resiliency Training Module • Nomad/9 • Pioneer Works • School of Apocalypse • School of Critical Engagement - SoCE • School of the Future • School for Poetic Computation • SOMA • Sommerskolen • Spring Sessions • Sunview Luncheonette • The Art & Law Program • The Black School • The Other MA - TOMA • The Public School • The School of Making Thinking • The Southland Institute • The Ventriloquist Summerschool • The Zz School of Print Media • Thinker Space • Transart Institute • Uncertainty School • UNIDEE - University of Ideas • Utopia School

Presses, Libraries, Resources

Arthur Fournier Fine and Rare • Booklyn • Brooklyn Art Library • Common Field • Inventory Press • OSSAI - Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research • Provisions Library • Sketchbook • Project Zone Books

Saturday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Sunday Schedule … [with session descriptions]

Schools [and a few other things, as noted, website links to descriptions, and to each school’s site if there is one]

AltMFA
London, United Kingdom

Alternative Art College
United Kingdom

Alternative Art Program
Guatemala

Anhoek School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Antiuniversity Now
London, United Kingdom

Archeworks
Chicago, Illinois, USA

Arts Letters & Numbers
New York, USA

ASCII Project
Mohansein Giza, Egypt

Beta-Local
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Black Mountain School
Black Mountain, North Carolina, USA

GALLERY
Booklyn
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Brooklyn Art Library
Brooklyn, New York, USA

SCHOOL
Brooklyn Institute for Social Research
Brooklyn, NY, USA

NETWORK
Common Field
National

école de Hogbonu
Porto Novo, Bénin

Enrol Yourself
London, United Kingdom

BOOKSTORE
Fournier Fine & Rare
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Grizedale Arts
Coniston, Lake District, UK

PRESS
Inventory Press
New York, New York, USA

New Earth Resiliency Training Module [NERTM]
Staten Island, NY, USA

Nomad/9 MFA
Hartford, Connecticut, USA

RESOURCE
Open Source and Space Administration Institute for Alternative Research [OSSAI]
nomadic

Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency
Saugatuck, Michigan, USA

Pioneer Works
Brooklyn, New York, USA

LIBRARY
Provisions Library
Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Ricean School of Dance
Hydra Island, Greece

School of Apocalypse
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School of Critical Engagement [SoCE]
Los Angeles / Oslo / Accra

School of the Future
Brooklyn, New York, USA

School for Poetic Computation
New York, NY, USA

Shift/Work
Edinburgh, Scotland

Spring Sessions
Amman, Jordan

SOMA
Mexico City, Mexico

Sommerskolen
Stavanger, Norway

Southland Institute
Los Angeles, California, USA

Sunview Luncheonette
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Art & Law Program
New York, New York, USA

The Black School
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The Cheapest University
Paris, France

The Free School of Architecture
Los Angeles, California, USA

The Public School
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

The School of Making Thinking
Brooklyn, New York, USA

The School of the Damned
London, United Kingdom

The Ventriloquist Summerschool
Oslo, Norway

The Zz School of Print Media
Kansas City, Missouri, USA

ThinkerSpace
Brussels, New York City, Los Angeles, and elsewhere

TOMA
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom

Transart Institute
Berlin, Germany, and New York, New York, USA

Uncertainty School
Seoul, New York, International

UNIDEE-University Of Ideas
Biella, Italy

Union of Initiatives for Educational Assembly (UOIEA)
Sites vary

PRESS
Zone Books
Brooklyn, NY, USA"
altgdp  art  artschools  pioneerworks  2016  alternative  diy  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  small  democracy  local  play  self-directed  self-directedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  architecture  nyc  brooklyn  chicago  uk  guatemala  london  egypt  puertorico  sanjuan  northcarolina  portonovo  benin  statenisland  design  michigan  saugatuck  curriculum  pedagogy  learning  howelearn  organizations  cooperatives  publishing  networks  fairfax  virginia  losangeles  oslo  accrá  edinburgh  making  craft  mexicocity  mexicodf  df  mexico  noray  stavanger  paris  france  brussels  mutlidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  kansascity  missouri  seoul  biella  italia  italy  systemsthinking  socialjustice  independence  carolbecker  victoriasobel  reginebasha  transart  marywallingblackburn  craigwilkins  sheilalevrantdebretteville  michaelnewton  shannonharvey  hragvartanian  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  communication  technology  socialnetworks  artschool 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"



"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."



"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."



"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."



"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."



"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Don’t need no education: What Danes consider healthy children’s television | The Economist
"A DAY into my holiday (spent with my wife’s family) in Denmark, and the changes are striking enough to move me back to the keyboard. Perhaps it was the display of life-sized nude photographs of young women, kicking off discussion about whether the choice of bodies was representative enough. Or perhaps it’s the casual way Danes use the English word "fuck", not because they’re especially foul-mouthed but because the word was imported without much of its taboo force. On the flight over I heard a nicely dressed middle-aged mother use it with her young daughters, in mild irritation but not anger.

But perhaps the most striking raw difference is on television, and specifically Ramasjang, the public children’s television channel. (It is part of DR, Denmark’s equivalent of the BBC.) It is everything that American or British kids’ programming is not.

It is naughty. Perhaps its most beloved character is Onkel Reje (“Uncle Shrimp”), a sailor-themed character in a red suit with a scruffy beard. He picks his nose. His stinky socks tell each other jokes. But much more than that, in the best Danish tradition, he mocks beloved institutions: his grandmother lights a fart on fire. He says the worst gift he ever got for Christmas—from Queen Margarethe herself—was the washbasin she washes her bare bottom in. And God he says, lives in heaven with Santa Claus and their dog Marianne, implying that the Supreme Being is not only imaginary, but also gay.

DR should have known this is what they would get when they hired, for the actor playing Onkel Reje, Mads Geertsen, who had previously recorded as a kind of avant-garde musician under the name Je m’appelle Mads. It boggles the mind that the producers at Ramasjang saw this video—in which a mostly naked Mads offers rude tributes to Denmark like a dancing pack of cigarettes and a cow pooing—and said “let’s give that man a children’s show.”

Yet somehow it’s also incredibly wholesome. The adult actors are frequently fat or ugly, in a way they never would be in America. Some have tattoos or nose-rings, just as they do in the real world. The shows—mostly live-action or puppets, not animation—move at an unhurried pace, two or three characters on the screen at the time, with little frenetic music and infrequent special effects. Whether made in the 2010s or the 1980s, Ramasjang’s shows are downright languid. The contrast is all the clearer when a British or American animated show that DR has licensed comes on, with every corner of the screen buzzing with unnecessary and overstimulating movement.

Probably most striking, though, is another thing lacking: education. Quite simply, there is none, academic or moral. “Kaj and Andrea”, a pair of puppets, are sweet friends, but also goofily flawed: Kaj is terribly self-obsessed, Andrea is warbling and neurotic. When other characters do something wrong, there is little of the obvious consequence-and-lesson resolution of American shows; the results are usually left to speak for themselves. “Buster’s World”, a glacially slow live-action show from the 1980s, follows the title character through various realistic hardly-adventures in and around a country house. When an older boy bullies Buster’s sister, Buster, in revenge, sabotages the older boy’s motorcycle, causing him to go flying off it. This would only make it past American lawyers if a finger-wagging adult lectured Buster and the audience at the end. Instead, Buster finds that his revenge changed little, and the show wanders aimlessly on.

Finally, there is hardly any of the ABC-123 stuff that fills American public television like “Sesame Street”. Ramasjang is entertainment, not a replacement for parents or school. Parents are expected to know when to switch it off (but just in case, the characters go to bed at 8.00pm, and are shown sleeping until the morning) rather than pretend that it is self-improvement.

What’s the secret? DR, including Ramasjang, is a training ground for the much-admired Danish film and television industry. Though its budget is nothing next to the BBC’s or a big American broadcaster’s, it’s big for Denmark, meaning that it brings in the best young film-makers, writers and actors looking for experience. If this state-led approach seems typically Scandinavian, it is also Danish in the best sense of innovating constantly, while refusing to take itself seriously.

Danish kids begin school much later than they do in Britain or other countries pushing the beginning of formal education earlier and earlier. There is plenty of time for school, and when Danes get there, they end up doing rather well. But until then, they seem utterly unharmed by a childhood of hearing about the queen’s bottom and watching grandma light some bodily gas on fire."

[plenty of Onkel Reje on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Onkel+Reje ]
denmark  television  tv  education  parenting  society  via:tealtan  2016  us  uk  comparison  learning  animation  film  funding 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Why Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not prices - FT.com
"The city had more housing starts in 2014 than the whole of England. Can Japan’s capital offer lessons to other world cities?

It was the rapidity of what happened to the house next door that took us by surprise. We knew it was empty. Grass was steadily taking over its mossy Japanese garden; the upstairs curtains never moved. But one day a notice went up, a hydraulic excavator tore the house down, and by the end of next year it will be a block of 16 apartments instead.

Abruptly, we are living next door to a Tokyo building site. It is not fun. They work six days a week. Were this London, Paris or San Francisco, there would be howls of resident rage — petitions, dire warnings about loss of neighbourhood character, and possibly a lawsuit or two. Local elections have been lost for less.

Yet in our neighbourhood, there was not a murmur, and a conversation with Takahiko Noguchi, head of the planning section in Minato ward, explains why. “There is no legal restraint on demolishing a building,” he says. “People have the right to use their land so basically neighbouring people have no right to stop development.”

Here is a startling fact: in 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m), or the 137,010 houses started in the entire country of England (population 54.3m).

Tokyo’s steady construction is linked to a still more startling fact. In contrast to the enormous house price booms that have distorted western cities — setting young against old, redistributing wealth to the already wealthy, and denying others the chance to move to where the good jobs are — the cost of property in Japan’s capital has hardly budged.

This is not the result of a falling population. Japan has experienced the same “return to the city” wave as other nations. In Minato ward — a desirable 20 sq km slice of central Tokyo — the population is up 66 per cent over the past 20 years, from 145,000 to 241,000, an increase of about 100,000 residents.

[Chart: Change in house prices and population]

In the 121 sq km of San Francisco, the population grew by about the same number over 20 years, from 746,000 to 865,000 — a rise of 16 per cent. Yet whereas the price of a home in San Francisco and London has increased 231 per cent and 441 per cent respectively, Minato ward has absorbed its population boom with price rises of just 45 per cent, much of which came after the Bank of Japan launched its big monetary stimulus in 2013.

In Tokyo there are no boring conversations about house prices because they have not changed much. Whether to buy or rent is not a life-changing decision. Rather, Japan delivers to its people a steadily improving standard, location and volume of house.

In many countries, urban housing is becoming one of the great social and economic issues of the age. (Would Britain have voted for Brexit if more of the population could move to London?) It is worth investigating, therefore, how Tokyo achieved this feat, the price it has paid for a steady stream of homes, and whether there are any lessons to learn.

Like most institutions in Japan, urban planning was originally based on western models. “It’s similar to the United States system,” says Junichiro Okata, professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo.

Cities are zoned into commercial, industrial and residential land of various types. In commercial areas you can build what you want: part of Tokyo’s trick is a blossoming of apartment towers in former industrial zones around the bay. But in low-rise residential districts, there are strict limits, and it is hard to get land rezoned.

Subject to the zoning rules, the rights of landowners are strong. In fact, Japan’s constitution declares that “the right to own or to hold property is inviolable”. A private developer cannot make you sell land; a local government cannot stop you using it. If you want to build a mock-Gothic castle faced in pink seashells, that is your business.

In the cities of coastal California, zoning rules have led to paralysis and a lack of new housing supply, as existing homeowners block new development. It was a similar story in 1980s Tokyo.

“During the 1980s Japan had a spectacular speculative house price bubble that was even worse than in London and New York during the same period, and various Japanese economists were decrying the planning and zoning systems as having been a major contributor by reducing supply,” says André Sorensen, a geography professor at the University of Toronto, who has written extensively on planning in Japan.

But, indirectly, it was the bubble that laid foundations for future housing across the centre of Tokyo, says Hiro Ichikawa, who advises developer Mori Building. When it burst, developers were left with expensively assembled office sites for which there was no longer any demand.

As bad loans to developers brought Japan’s financial system to the brink of collapse in the 1990s, the government relaxed development rules, culminating in the Urban Renaissance Law of 2002, which made it easier to rezone land. Office sites were repurposed for new housing. “To help the economy recover from the bubble, the country eased regulation on urban development,” says Ichikawa. “If it hadn’t been for the bubble, Tokyo would be in the same situation as London or San Francisco.”

Hallways and public areas were excluded from the calculated size of apartment buildings, letting them grow much higher within existing zoning, while a proposal now under debate would allow owners to rebuild bigger if they knock down blocks built to old earthquake standards.

All of this law flows from the national government, and freedom to demolish and rebuild means landowners can quickly take advantage. “The city planning law and the building law are set nationally — even small details are written in national law,” says Okata. “Local government has almost no power over development.”

“Without rebuilding we can’t protect lives [from earthquakes],” says Noguchi in Minato ward, reflecting the prevailing view in Japan that all buildings are temporary and disposable, another crucial difference between Tokyo and its western counterparts. “There are still plenty of places with old buildings where it’s possible to increase the volume.”

Constant rebuilding helps to explain why housing starts in the city are so high: the net increase in homes is lower. Like our next-door neighbours, however, a rebuild often allows an increase in density.

All of this comes at a price, not financial, but one paid in other ways. Put simply, the modern Japanese cityscape — Tokyo included — can be spectacularly ugly. There is no visual co-ordination of buildings, little open space, and “high-quality” mainly means “won’t fall down in an earthquake”.

Some of Tokyo’s older apartment buildings give industrial Siberia a dystopian run for its money. The mock-Gothic castle is no flight of fancy: visit the Emperor love hotel, which (de) faces the canal in Meguro ward. Most depressing of all are the serried, endless ranks of cheap, prefab, wooden houses in the Tokyo suburbs.

“The Japanese system is extremely laissez-faire. It really is the minimum. And it’s extremely centralised and standardised. That means it is highly flexible in responding to social and economic change,” says Okata.

“On the other hand, it’s not much good at producing outcomes suited to a particular town in a particular place. It can’t produce attractive cities like the UK or Europe.” Okata wants to hand much more power to local government.

And yet. At the level of individual buildings, if you block from your vision whatever stands next door, Tokyo fizzes with invention and beauty. It is no coincidence that the country where architects can build has produced a procession of Pritzker prize winners.

Japanese urbanism, with its “scramble” pedestrian crossings, its narrow streets, its dense population and its superb public transport is looked to as a model, certainly in Asia, and increasingly across the rest of the world as well.

Most of all, Tokyo is fair. The ugliness is shared by rich and poor alike. So is the low-cost housing. In London, or in San Francisco, all share in the beauty, but some enjoy it from the gutter; others from high above the city, in the rationed seats, closer to the stars."
japan  tokyo  sanfrancisco  london  us  uk  housing  population  property  construction  development  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  california  zoning  homeownership  policy  england  economics  propertyrights  density 
august 2016 by robertogreco
These Policies Could Move America Toward a Universal Basic Income | The Nation
"As the economy continues to struggle, the debate over guaranteed basic income is back in the headlines. The idea is both simple and basic: Give people enough cash to eliminate poverty. A guaranteed check for, say, $12,000 a year per person would accomplish this. It could be arranged relatively easily through the tax code, without a large, stigmatizing welfare apparatus to go with it.

Yet this debate stalls because it directly challenges how we think about work and money. Won’t people simply sit around and play video games? Do we want to endorse the right to be lazy? A basic-income referendum was rejected overwhelmingly by Swiss voters in June, in part over such concerns. But proponents argue that a lot of labor—care work in the home, community work—is currently unpaid, and that the increasing mechanization of work might leave us with still fewer jobs. Experiments in Canada have shown that the fear that a guaranteed basic income would destroy all incentive to work is unwarranted. New experiments to further test its effects are being launched in Kenya and elsewhere.

Still, a guaranteed basic income would require a big shift in perspective among American voters. What we need is a policy (or perhaps several of them) that benefits Americans while destigmatizing the concept of giving people no-strings-attached cash. Think of it as a basic-income starter kit, which would also include things like a $12-an-hour minimum wage and generous paid leave. And there’s one policy in particular that should lead: a basic income for children.

Often called a “child allowance,” this would be a small cash payment made regularly to parents with children. We know that access to resources makes a major difference in the development of children. Yet 17 percent of children live in poverty according to the Century Foundation, with nearly 5 percent living in deep poverty (defined as just 50 percent of the poverty line). There are a lot of ways to structure such a program, but the idea is that any parents with a child would have a guaranteed level of income regardless of whether they work for wages. Unless you’re a stone-cold Randian, you probably don’t think 3-year-olds should survive only on the wages they can earn.

Since this allowance would be universal, it would avoid much of the stigma associated with the welfare system dismantled by former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Politically, it would counter the argument that people with basic incomes will frivolously play video games, cease contributing to society, and cause the decline of Western civilization. Practically, it would reward the essential labor that takes place within the household—work that the capitalist system relies on, but never pays for. Taking care of kids is hard work.

Such a program is clearly workable. Other countries, like Canada and England, have child allowances, and they’re very effective. Estimates from the Century Foundation argue that a $2,500-a-year child allowance would lift 5.5 million children out of poverty. That allowance would cost $100 billion a year—a hefty sum, but still less than 20 percent of the military’s budget, and about as much as it costs us to subsidize the wealthy by allowing them to pay lower taxes on capital income.

There are more programs we could add to this basic-income starter kit. Policies that encourage high wages and innovation will lead to further automation that could create the conditions for a “post-work” economy. This should be combined with the fight for fewer hours (paid at higher wages) for more people, thus avoiding conflicts and resentment between workers and nonworkers while shifting toward less work for all. President Obama’s changes to overtime regulations took a step in this direction: Rather than raising wages directly, they limited the number of hours that people work by requiring employers to pay extra for certain salaried workers after about 40 hours a week.

The arguments for a guaranteed basic income tend toward theoretical debates about the work ethic, even though the stakes are very high in practical ways. By enacting a basic-income starter kit, we can benefit from the most important elements of the concept while also making the broader case for why such policies would work in the future."
us  universalbasicincome  policy  poverty  2016  mikekonczal  canada  england  uk  switzerland  childcare  childallowance  labor  ubi 
august 2016 by robertogreco
When Did Americans Lose Their British Accents? | Mental Floss
"There are many, many evolving regional British and American accents, so the terms “British accent” and “American accent” are gross oversimplifications. What a lot of Americans think of as the typical "British accent” is what's called standardized Received Pronunciation (RP), also known as Public School English or BBC English. What most people think of as an "American accent," or most Americans think of as "no accent," is the General American (GenAm) accent, sometimes called a "newscaster accent" or "Network English." Because this is a blog post and not a book, we'll focus on these two general sounds for now and leave the regional accents for another time.

English colonists established their first permanent settlement in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, sounding very much like their countrymen back home. By the time we had recordings of both Americans and Brits some three centuries later (the first audio recording of a human voice was made in 1860), the sounds of English as spoken in the Old World and New World were very different. We're looking at a silent gap of some 300 years, so we can't say exactly when Americans first started to sound noticeably different from the British.

As for the "why," though, one big factor in the divergence of the accents is rhotacism. The General American accent is rhotic and speakers pronounce the r in words such as hard. The BBC-type British accent is non-rhotic, and speakers don't pronounce the r, leaving hard sounding more like hahd. Before and during the American Revolution, the English, both in England and in the colonies, mostly spoke with a rhotic accent. We don't know much more about said accent, though. Various claims about the accents of the Appalachian Mountains, the Outer Banks, the Tidewater region and Virginia's Tangier Island sounding like an uncorrupted Elizabethan-era English accent have been busted as myths by linguists.

TALK THIS WAY

Around the turn of the 18th 19th century, not long after the revolution, non-rhotic speech took off in southern England, especially among the upper and upper-middle classes. It was a signifier of class and status. This posh accent was standardized as Received Pronunciation and taught widely by pronunciation tutors to people who wanted to learn to speak fashionably. Because the Received Pronunciation accent was regionally "neutral" and easy to understand, it spread across England and the empire through the armed forces, the civil service and, later, the BBC.

Across the pond, many former colonists also adopted and imitated Received Pronunciation to show off their status. This happened especially in the port cities that still had close trading ties with England — Boston, Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah. From the Southeastern coast, the RP sound spread through much of the South along with plantation culture and wealth.

After industrialization and the Civil War and well into the 20th century, political and economic power largely passed from the port cities and cotton regions to the manufacturing hubs of the Mid Atlantic and Midwest — New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, etc. The British elite had much less cultural and linguistic influence in these places, which were mostly populated by the Scots-Irish and other settlers from Northern Britain, and rhotic English was still spoken there. As industrialists in these cities became the self-made economic and political elites of the Industrial Era, Received Pronunciation lost its status and fizzled out in the U.S. The prevalent accent in the Rust Belt, though, got dubbed General American and spread across the states just as RP had in Britain.

Of course, with the speed that language changes, a General American accent is now hard to find in much of this region, with New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chicago developing their own unique accents, and GenAm now considered generally confined to a small section of the Midwest.

As mentioned above, there are regional exceptions to both these general American and British sounds. Some of the accents of southeastern England, plus the accents of Scotland and Ireland, are rhotic. Some areas of the American Southeast, plus Boston, are non-rhotic."
us  uk  england  britain  history  language  accents  2016  english  networkenglish  bbcenglish  receivedpronunciation 
july 2016 by robertogreco
John Lanchester · Brexit Blues · LRB 28 July 2016
"I once asked Danny Dorling why, when I was at school, geography was about the shapes of rivers, but now all the best-known geographers seem to be Marxists. He said it’s because when you look at a map and see that the people on one side of some line are rich and healthy and long-lived and the people on the other side are poor and sick and die young, you start to wonder why, and that turns you towards deep-causal explanations, which then lead in the direction of Marxism. Travelling around England, I’ve often had cause to remember that remark. We’re used to political analysis based on class, not least because Britain’s political system is arranged around two political parties whose fundamental orientations are around class. What strikes you if you travel to different parts of the country, though, is that the primary reality of modern Britain is not so much class as geography. Geography is destiny. And for much of the country, not a happy destiny.

To be born in many places in Britain is to suffer an irreversible lifelong defeat – a truncation of opportunity, of education, of access to power, of life expectancy. The people who grow up in these places come from a cultural background which equipped them for reasonably well-paid manual labour, un- and semi- and skilled. Children left school as soon as they could and went to work in the same industries that had employed their parents. The academically able kids used to go to grammar school and be educated into the middle class. All that has now gone, the jobs and the grammar schools, and the vista instead is a landscape where there is often work – there are pockets of unemployment, but in general there’s no shortage of jobs and the labour force participation rate is the highest it has ever been, a full 15 points higher than in the US – but it’s unsatisfying, insecure and low-paid. This new work doesn’t do what the old work did: it doesn’t offer a sense of identity or community or self-worth. The word ‘precarious’ has as its underlying sense ‘depending on the favour of another person’. Somebody can take away the things you have whenever they feel like it. The precariat, as the new class is called, might not know the etymology, but it doesn’t need to: the reality is all too familiar."



"As for the economics of the post-Brexit world, the immediate chaos was both predictable and predicted. The longer-term picture is much harder to discern. It’s not all bad news: the weakened pound is a good thing, and the likely crash in London property was long overdue. It might even make property in the capital affordable for the young again, which would be a strong overall positive for our national life. The uncertainties around the immediate future are quite likely to make demand slow down so much that it triggers another recession. The primary victims of that will be the working-class voters who voted Leave; the recessionary shrinking of the tax take will target them too. The faltering economy will cause immigration to slow, which will further damage the economy.

Once the particularities of our post-Brexit arrangement have been established, we’ll know a lot more about where we are. A great deal of economic uncertainty will attach not so much to the issue of trade – since the advantages of the freest trade possible are clear to all parties – as to the status of the City of London. Nobody outside the City loves the City, but the tax revenues raised by London’s global role in financial services are very important to the UK. At the moment, the City is the beneficiary of ‘passporting’, which allows it to deal freely in services across the EU. That passporting is likely, highly likely, to be the subject of an attack by the combined powers of Frankfurt and Paris (and English-speaking, low-business tax, well-educated Dublin too). Other anti-London regulatory moves can be expected. That could prove expensive for the UK.

A reduction in the dominance of finance might be a net positive; we would have a smaller GDP, probably, but the country wouldn’t be bent out of shape – or not to the same degree – by the supremacy of the City. There’s a lot to unpick here, though. For one thing, the anti-London moves might well have been coming anyway: one finance-world Brexiter of my acquaintance was in favour of Leave precisely because a narrow win for Remain (which is what he was expecting) would in his view have encouraged the regulatory bodies to gang up and crack down on London. There are likely to be all sorts of unintended consequences to exploit, and the City is full of people whose entire working lives revolve around exploiting unintended consequences. The biggest source of finance in the world is Eurodollars, the confusing name for dollars held on deposit outside the US. That entire market was an unintended consequence of US banking regulation in the 1960s and 1970s. The Eurobond (a bond denominated in a currency not native to the country where it is issued) was a huge new market created in the City in 1963, long before the Euro was even a glint in Frankfurt’s eye. The City is creative, opportunistic, experienced and amoral; if any entity has the right ‘skill-set’ to benefit from the post-Brexit world, it is the City of London.

In addition, nervous governments, desperate for revenue, are likely to bend even further backwards to give the City the policies it wants. An early sign of policy direction was George Osborne’s announcement that he wanted to cut corporation tax to 15 per cent to show that post-Brexit Britain is ‘open for business’. Osborne has gone; the policy probably hasn’t. The business press has been full of speculation that the government will backtrack on its plans to crack down on non-domiciled tax status for ultra-wealthy foreigners. The need for revenues makes it important not to drive non-doms out of the country, one City lawyer told the FT. ‘We need a friendly regime.’ There will be plenty more where that came from.

None of this is what working-class voters had in mind when they opted for Leave. If it’s combined with the policy every business interest in the UK wants – the Norwegian option, in which we contribute to the EU and accept free movement of labour, i.e. immigration, as part of the price – it will be a profound betrayal of much of the Leave vote. If we do anything else, we will be inflicting severe economic damage on ourselves, and following a policy which most of the electorate (48 per cent Remain, plus economically liberal Leavers) think is wrong. So the likeliest outcome, I’d have thought, is a betrayal of the white working class. They should be used to it by now."
brexit  johnlancaster  2016  politics  uk  inequality  globalization  london  immigration  finance  class  middleclass  workingclass  england  wealth  geography  marxism  destiny  upwadmobility  society  elitism  policy  precarity  precariat 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit: why it may be the leftist, progressive vote. — Medium
"Ignoring the highly suspect post-vote media hysteria I thought I’d look at all the reasons why I thought, as a leftist, a vote to leave the EU was a positive step towards a more progressive world, and Europe.

Democracy.
The EU is not democratic, at least not the sense where people can actually direct it. It’s what Marx might call a bourgeoisie democracy, that works very well for the powers that be. This is set to become even more of a problem as the EU continues to move towards its own sovereignty. The 2007 Lisbon treaty also made it impossible for any member state to petition a law once it was put into force.

Austerity.
Austerity is official hard-line EU policy, that is it forcing on many of its states through various measures, punishing the most in need. Most leftists are anti-austerity. Yet a vote to Remain is a vote for the largest, most stubborn austerity campaign on the planet, that you can do nothing to change.

Visas.
You can get visas to live and work in other countries. You do not need the EU to do this. I’ve worked and lived on four different continents. I had to get a visa. The idea you will no longer be able to live and work in European countries is without any basis, especially if you hold a UK passport.

Neoliberalism.
Leftists and progressives are usually anti neoliberalism. EU is the neoliberal Prometheus. It is the neoliberal Hulksmash.

TTIP and CETA.
TTIP is a corporate assault on democracy, the environment, and the common people, yet EU bureaucrats are pushing TTIP in what has been called “open defiance of public opposition”. The leave vote mean UK has escaped any TTIP EU-US deal, but doesn’t mean UK won’t try to do its own. However, the Brexit may well have killed the EU deal dead too, something millions of signatures on online petitions was not doing. As in the words of one high ranking EU official working on the TTIP deal, “I do not answer to the people”.

Privatisation.
It may surprise UK citizens to know, but the EU is putting extreme pressure on European countries to follow the disastrous British system of privatising its rail networks, in place of the fantastic nationalised ones they already have in place.

Immigration.
Unlikely to change too much.

The Euro Currency.
It’s introduction overnight wiped out entire countries of small business owners, and is currently a failed currency, being propped up in big Southern European countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal by the North half of Europe. There is no end in sight for its demise either, as no one in Europe has any idea how to fix the fiscal dilemma in places like Spain and Italy. Rise of far-right extremist parties also closely tied to the forced acceptance of the single currency.

The Labour Party.
The Brexit vote seems to have cleared the decks of the horrible bunch of Blairites that were driving the party away from actual voters off the cliff to oblivion. Paving the way for a new party that could potentially be better, more in touch with real people, and with a direction, if all goes well.

Poor Towns That ‘Benefited’ from EU Cash Still Voted Out.
Poor towns whose very welcome signs let all people living there know that the EU were giving them money, still voted to leave. A commendable example, and tells you all you need to know about what they thought EU was actually doing for their lives.

Political Correctness and Bigotry.
Post-vote fallout has confirmed what many like me already suspected of many fellow ‘liberals’, the they are indeed some of the most bigoted, and intolerant of our society. The veneer of P.C has been shown to be a sham, as scores of proudly PC bros couldn’t wait to denigrate the old and the poor as dumb, stupid, scum, sub-humans and unworthy of a vote. PC culture has been thrown out with the bathwater, as ageism, sexism, elitism, classism, and racism has been on full display by card carrying liberals. Never again can these people pretend to be on the moral side of the debate.

Italy.
Only Zimbabwe and Haiti had lower GDP growth in Italy from 2000–2010. The country has been taken toits knees while in the EU, all stemming from the introduction of the Euro. Italy, a proudly European country, in ways that a Brit can never understand, where the EU anthem, Ode To Joy, is taught and memorised across schools, has somehow become the most Eurosceptic country in Europe.

The Environment.
I sweated over this one, and I’m still 50/50. But the Common Agricultural Policy has undoubtedly been disastrous for the environment, favouring intensive industrial farming over small farm owners and pushing up prices artificially for consumers. The climate change and renewable energy directives cost the UK upwards of £5 billion a year, but need to be kept on. The EU has done nothing to save the Polish forest, or fracking in the UK. And I believe independent initiatives and local government bodies and organisations do the most incredible work for the British environment. (also see: TTIP)

V.A.T
The EU does not allow the government to have no VAT on certain items or even lower the standard rate of VAT to below 15%. A leave vote opens the possibility of a socially progressive moves such as removing VAT from certain things (like energy bills) which would be a huge help low income families.

Internationalism.
The possibility is now there that UK may be able to allow more people from other parts of the world that are not EU be part of the country. It also makes international trade, something Britain has usually led the world in, which the EU actively makes difficult, much easier.

Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland.
As non EU members in Europe, these countries have some of the best most progressive living standards in the world. Iceland was the only country who put the bankers in prison, rather than bail them out. Norway will ban the sale of all fossil fuel-based cars in the next decade."
brexit  giggsboson  democracy  uk  austerity  pc  immigration  ttip  ceta  privatization  euro  labourparty  politicalcorrectness  bigotry  progressivism  environment  norway  italy  switzerland  iceland  liechtenstein  economics  ageism  sexism  elitism  classism  racism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Britain Exits, Democracy Lives, And Everything Has Changed
"This may have been Britain's last chance to exit peacefully and democratically from a democracy-destroying, elite-flattering, and inequality-producing machine. You can say that Britain finds itself in a constitutional crisis today, but that crisis was revealed, not created, by the referendum vote. Most U.K. citizens repudiate the claim of foreign bureaucrats to rule them, and yet, on what turns out to be the defining issue of British politics in this generation, 478 of its elected members of Parliament favored Remain, and only 159 Leave. That will change.

Britain is, as David Cameron said in his resignation statement, a "special country." Its citizens are going to pay a price for flouting markets and European bureaucracies. They have gambled that what they now recover—control of their own laws—makes that price worth paying. Look at their history. They are probably right."
brexit  europe  uk  elitism  democracy  2016  sovereignty  eu  via:ayjay 
june 2016 by robertogreco
‘Nothing in Britain is exactly as it seems’ – Tunku Varadarajan
"Contrary to reports in the press, not everyone who voted Leave is malign. For all its cosmopolitan aura and depth, Britain is a prickly place, a jealous guardian of itself. Yes, Britain embraced me — at high school, university, and then at the work-place — but always on its own terms.

These were mostly happy terms, of course. I had to become British. I don’t mean passports here, but a taking on of values and manners, an embracing of tolerance and irony, being able to take a joke in good humor, to down a few pints after work (and then a few more after that), to be conservative in speech and experimental in taste, and ever-vigilant against cant and bullshit. Most of all, I had to learn to accept that those who were not British were less fortunate than the British. This last thing came easily to me: It seemed so self-evident that it didn’t need to be spelled out. (Indians, like Americans, find it easier to see Britain’s virtues than any other people do; but that is a discussion for another day.)"
europe  brexit  2016  tunkuvaradarajan  uk  via:ayjay 
june 2016 by robertogreco
'If you've got money, you vote in ... if you haven't got money, you vote out' | Politics | The Guardian
"The prime minister evidently thought that the whole debate could be cleanly started and finished in a matter of months. His Eton contemporary Boris Johnson – and, really, can you believe that the political story of the last four months has effectively been a catastrophic contest between two people who went to the same exclusive school? – opportunistically embraced the cause of Brexit in much the same spirit. What they had not figured out was that a diffuse, scattershot popular anger had not yet decisively found a powerful enough outlet, but that the staging of a referendum and the cohering of the leave cause would deliver exactly that. Ukip were held back by both the first-past-the-post electoral system, and the polarising qualities of Farage, but the coalition for Brexit effectively neutralised both. And so it came to pass: the cause of leaving the EU, for so long the preserve of cranks and chancers, attracted a share of the popular vote for which any modern political party would give its eye teeth.

Of course, most of the media, which is largely now part of the same detached London entity that great English patriot William Cobbett called “the thing”, failed to see this coming. Their world is one of photo ops, the great non-event that is PMQs, and absurd debates between figures that the public no longer cares about. The alienation of the people charged with documenting the national mood from the people who actually define it is one of the ruptures that has led to this moment: certainly, wherever I go, the press and television are the focus of as much resentment as politics. While we are on the subject, it is also time we set aside the dismal science of opinion polling, which should surely now stick to product testing and the like. Understanding of the country at large has for too long been framed in percentages and leading questions: it is time people went into the country, and simply listened."
europe  brexit  uk  2016  inequality  economics  alienation  politics  policy  via:ayjay  johnharris  class 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The referendum, living standards and inequality - Resolution Foundation
"The legacy of increased national inequality in the 1980s, the heavy concentration of those costs in certain areas, and our collective failure to address it has more to say about what happened last night than shorter term considerations from the financial crisis or changed migration flows.

Those looking to draw lessons for the future should therefore focus on some of our underlying failures – ones which we should be addressing in or out of the EU and which require us to rethink the ease with which a flexible, globalised economy can generate prosperity that is widely shared. Some of that is hard, in fact much of it is. All parties will now be rethinking their policies on huge topics, from immigration to trade. But some of this is not hard, and on those topics the lack of action only reinforces the anger people feel.

If we have the will we can build more houses to reduce rising cost pressures families across the country face. If we have the will we can provide decent routes into careers for those that don’t go to university. And if we have the will we can spend less time marketing devolution, and more time supporting and delivering the real economic leadership geographies need to change their destiny."
uk  europe  brexit  2016  economics  prosperity  politics  policy  via:ayjay  torstenbell  inequality 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions
"IN SUM, THE West’s establishment credibility is dying, and their influence is precipitously eroding — all deservedly so. The frenetic pace of online media makes even the most recent events feel distant, like ancient history. That, in turn, makes it easy to lose sight of how many catastrophic and devastating failures Western elites have produced in a remarkably short period of time.

In 2003, U.S. and British elites joined together to advocate one of the most heinous and immoral aggressive wars in decades: the destruction of Iraq; that it turned out to be centrally based on falsehoods that were ratified by the most trusted institutions, as well as a complete policy failure even on its own terms, gutted public trust.

In 2008, their economic worldview and unrestrained corruption precipitated a global economic crisis that literally caused, and is still causing, billions of people to suffer — in response, they quickly protected the plutocrats who caused the crisis while leaving the victimized masses to cope with the generational fallout. Even now, Western elites continue to proselytize markets and impose free trade and globalization without the slightest concern for the vast inequality and destruction of economic security those policies generate."



"Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites — including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago — instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders, and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted, and amoral."



"BUT THERE’S SOMETHING deeper and more interesting driving the media reaction here. Establishment journalistic outlets are not outsiders. They’re the opposite: They are fully integrated into elite institutions, are tools of those institutions, and thus identify fully with them. Of course they do not share, and cannot understand, anti-establishment sentiments: They are the targets of this establishment-hating revolt as much as anyone else. These journalists’ reaction to this anti-establishment backlash is a form of self-defense. As NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen put it last night, “Journalists today report on hostility to the political class, as if they had nothing to do with it,” but they are a key part of that political class and, for that reason, “if the population — or part of it — is in revolt against the political class, this is a problem for journalism.”

There are many factors explaining why establishment journalists now have almost no ability to stem the tide of anti-establishment rage, even when it’s irrational and driven by ignoble impulses. Part of it is that the internet and social media have rendered them irrelevant, unnecessary to disseminate ideas. Part of it is that — due to their distance from them — they have nothing to say to people who are suffering and angry about it other than to scorn them as hateful losers. Part of it is that journalists — like anyone else — tend to react with bitterness and rage, not self-assessment, as they lose influence and stature.

But a major factor is that many people recognize that establishment journalists are an integral part of the very institutions and corrupted elite circles that are authors of their plight. Rather than being people who mediate or inform these political conflicts, journalists are agents of the forces that are oppressing them. And when journalists react to their anger and suffering by telling them that it’s invalid and merely the byproduct of their stupidity and primitive resentments, that only reinforces the perception that journalists are their enemy, thus rendering journalistic opinion increasingly irrelevant.

Brexit — despite all of the harm it is likely to cause and despite all of the malicious politicians it will empower — could have been a positive development. But that would require that elites (and their media outlets) react to the shock of this repudiation by spending some time reflecting on their own flaws, analyzing what they have done to contribute to such mass outrage and deprivation, in order to engage in course correction. Exactly the same potential opportunity was created by the Iraq debacle, the 2008 financial crisis, the rise of Trumpism and other anti-establishment movements: This is all compelling evidence that things have gone very wrong with those who wield the greatest power, that self-critique in elite circles is more vital than anything.

But, as usual, that’s exactly what they most refuse to do. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, they are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to de-legitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures that there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future."
glenngreenald  economics  europe  politics  brexit  2016  vincentbevins  michaelsandel  elitism  garyyounge  ianjack  jeremycorbyn  hillaryclinton  donaltrump  neoliberalism  policy  government  eu  uk  us  establishment  inequality  greatrecession  2008  freemarket  markets  finance  refugees  iraq  libya  tonyblair  financialcrisis  disenfranchisement  alienation  corruption  journalism  media  jayrosen  class  classism  globalization  insularity  oppression  authority  berniesanders  christopherhayes  capitalism  nationalism  racism  xenophobia  condescension  michaeltracey  authoritarianism  fascism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
I want my country back
"The Welsh have a word for this feeling. The word is "hiraeth". It means a longing for a home you can never return to, a home which may never have existed at all. The Welsh, incidentally, voted to leave the EU after decades of being ungently screwed by government after conniving Tory government; cackling and tearing the heart out of towns which were once famous for something other than teen suicide. Finally, someone gave them the opportunity to vote for change, for any change at all. When all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like David Cameron’s face."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-167 ]
uk  brexit  politics  lauriepenny  via:audreywatters  welsh  words  vocabulary  saudade  nostalgia  longing  government  2016 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Thoughts on the sociology of Brexit - Political Economy Research Centre
"1. THE GEOGRAPHY REFLECTS THE ECONOMIC CRISIS OF THE 1970S, NOT THE 2010S



But consider the longer history of these regions as well. They are well-recognised as Labour’s historic heartlands, sitting on coalfields and/or around ship-building cities. Indeed, outside of London and Scotland, they were amongst the only blobs of Labour red on the 2015 electoral map. There is no reason to think that they would not stay red if an election were held in the autumn. But in the language of Marxist geographers, they have had no successful ‘spatial fix’ since the stagflation crisis of the 1970s. Thatcherism gutted them with pit-closures and monetarism, but generated no private sector jobs to fill the space. The entrepreneurial investment that neoliberals always believe is just around the corner never materialised.

Labour’s solution was to spread wealth in their direction using fiscal policy: public sector back-office jobs were strategically relocated to South Wales and the North East to alleviate deindustrialisation, while tax credits made low productivity service work more socially viable. This effectively created a shadow welfare state that was never publicly spoken of, and co-existed with a political culture which heaped scorn on dependency. Peter Mandelson’s infamous comment, that the Labour heartlands could be depended on to vote Labour no matter what, “because they’ve got nowhere else to go” spoke of a dominant attitude. In Nancy Fraser’s terms, New Labour offered ‘redistribution’ but no ‘recognition’.

This cultural contradiction wasn’t sustainable and nor was the geographic one. Not only was the ‘spatial fix’ a relatively short-term one, seeing as it depended on rising tax receipts from the South East and a centre left government willing to spread money quite lavishly (albeit, discretely), it also failed to deliver what many Brexit-voters perhaps crave the most: the dignity of being self-sufficient, not necessarily in a neoliberal sense, but certainly in a communal, familial and fraternal sense.

2. HANDOUTS DON’T PRODUCE GRATITUDE



While it may be one thing for an investment banker to understand that they ‘benefit from the EU’ in regulatory terms, it is quite another to encourage poor and culturally marginalised people to feel grateful towards the elites that sustain them through handouts, month by month. Resentment develops not in spite of this generosity, but arguably because of it. This isn’t to discredit what the EU does in terms of redistribution, but pointing to handouts is a psychologically and politically naïve basis on which to justify remaining in the EU.

In this context, the slogan ‘take back control’ was a piece of political genius. It worked on every level between the macroeconomic and the psychoanalytic. Think of what it means on an individual level to rediscover control. To be a person without control (for instance to suffer incontinence or a facial tick) is to be the butt of cruel jokes, to be potentially embarrassed in public. It potentially reduces one’s independence. What was so clever about the language of the Leave campaign was that it spoke directly to this feeling of inadequacy and embarrassment, then promised to eradicate it. The promise had nothing to do with economics or policy, but everything to do with the psychological allure of autonomy and self-respect. Farrage’s political strategy was to take seriously communities who’d otherwise been taken for granted for much of the past 50 years.

This doesn’t necessarily have to translate into nationalistic pride or racism (although might well do), but does at the very least mean no longer being laughed at. Those that have ever laughed at ‘chavs’ (such as the millionaire stars of Little Britain) have something to answer for right now, as Rhian E. Jones’ Clampdown argued. The willingness of Nigel Farrage to weather the scornful laughter of metropolitan liberals (for instance through his periodic appearances on Have I Got News For You) could equally have made him look brave in the eyes of many potential Leave voters. I can’t help feeling that every smug, liberal, snobbish barb that Ian Hislop threw his way on that increasingly hateful programme was ensuring that revenge would be all the greater, once it arrived. The giggling, from which Boris Johnson also benefited handsomely, needs to stop.

3. BREXIT WAS NOT FUELLED BY A VISION OF THE FUTURE



Thatcher and Reagan rode to power by promising a brighter future, which never quite materialised other than for a minority with access to elite education and capital assets. The contemporary populist promise to make Britain or American ‘great again’ is not made in the same way. It is not a pledge or a policy platform; it’s not to be measured in terms of results. When made by the likes of Boris Johnson, it’s not even clear if it’s meant seriously or not. It’s more an offer of a collective real-time halucination, that can be indulged in like a video game.
The Remain campaign continued to rely on forecasts, warnings and predictions, in the hope that eventually people would be dissuaded from ‘risking it’. But to those that have given up on the future already, this is all just more political rhetoric. In any case, the entire practice of modelling the future in terms of ‘risk’ has lost credibility, as evidenced by the now terminal decline of opinion polling as a tool for political control.

4. WE NOW LIVE IN THE AGE OF DATA, NOT FACTS

One of the complaints made most frequently by liberal commentators, economists and media pundits was that the referendum campaign was being conducted without regard to ‘truth’. This isn’t quite right. It was conducted without adequate regard to facts. To the great frustration of the Remain campaign, their ‘facts’ never cut through, whereas Leave’s ‘facts’ (most famously the £350m/week price tag of EU membership) were widely accepted.

What is a ‘fact’ exactly? In her book A History of the Modern Fact, Mary Poovey argues that a new way of organising and perceiving the world came into existence at the end of the 15th century with the invention of double-entry book-keeping. This new style of knowledge is that of facts, representations that seem both context-independent, but also magically slot seamlessly into multiple contexts as and when they are needed. The basis for this magic is that measures and methodologies (such as accounting techniques) become standardised, but then treated as apolitical, thereby allowing numbers to move around freely in public discourse without difficulty or challenge. In order for this to work, the infrastructure that produces ‘facts’ needs careful policing, ideally through centralisation in the hands of statistics agencies or elite universities (the rise of commercial polling in the 1930s was already a challenge to the authority of ‘facts’ in this respect).

This game has probably been up for some time. As soon as media outlets start making a big deal about the FACTS of a situation, for instance with ‘Fact check’ bulletins, it is clear that numbers have already become politicised. ‘Facts’ (such as statistics) survived as an authoritative basis for public and democratic deliberation for most of the 200 years following the French Revolution. But the politicisation of social sciences, metrics and policy administration mean that the ‘facts’ produced by official statistical agencies must now compete with other conflicting ‘facts’. The deconstruction of ‘facts’ has been partly pushed by varieties of postmodern theory since the 1960s, but it is also an inevitable effect of the attempt (beloved by New Labour) to turn policy into a purely scientific exercise.

The attempt to reduce politics to a utilitarian science (most often, to neo-classical economics) eventually backfires, once the science in question then starts to become politicised. ‘Evidence-based policy’ is now far too long in the tooth to be treated entirely credulously, and people tacitly understand that it often involves a lot of ‘policy-based evidence’. When the Remain camp appealed to their ‘facts’, forecasts, and models, they hoped that these would be judged as outside of the fray of politics. More absurdly, they seemed to imagine that the opinions of bodies such as the IMF might be viewed as ‘independent’. Unfortunately, economics has been such a crucial prop for political authority over the past 35 years that it is now anything but outside of the fray of politics.

In place of facts, we now live in a world of data. Instead of trusted measures and methodologies being used to produce numbers, a dizzying array of numbers is produced by default, to be mined, visualised, analysed and interpreted however we wish. If risk modelling (using notions of statistical normality) was the defining research technique of the 19th and 20th centuries, sentiment analysis is the defining one of the emerging digital era. We no longer have stable, ‘factual’ representations of the world, but unprecedented new capacities to sense and monitor what is bubbling up where, who’s feeling what, what’s the general vibe.

Financial markets are themselves far more like tools of sentiment analysis (representing the mood of investors) than producers of ‘facts’. This is why it was so absurd to look to currency markets and spread-betters for the truth of what would happen in the referendum: they could only give a sense of what certain people at felt would happen in the referendum at certain times. Given the absence of any trustworthy facts (in the form of polls), they could then only provide a sense of how investors felt about Britain’s national mood: a sentiment regarding a sentiment. As the 23rd June turned into 24th June, it became manifestly clear that prediction markets are little more than an aggregative representation of the same feelings and moods that one might otherwise detect via twitter. They’re not in the business of truth-telling, but of mood-… [more]
uk  politics  brexit  future  willdavies  2016  policy  eu  data  facts  markets  neolibersalism  history  economics  class  classism  nationalism  racism  self-sufficiency  dignity  nancyfraser  jamesmeeksubsidies  rhianjonesopen  democracy  adamramsey  anthonybarnett  donaldtrump  marypoovey  stability  growth  destruction 
june 2016 by robertogreco
interfluidity » Attributions of causality
"Drum is certainly right to characterize the explicitly racist appeals of these movements as loathsome. But it isn’t enough to say “that’s where we are”. His interlocutors are right to point to economic anxiety and other disruptive changes rather than leave it there. We have to share the same world with every other human. Drum and I have to share the same country with Trump voters. We try to understand the world in order to better live in it. Explanations or assertions that don’t contribute to that are not worth very much.

How we attribute causality is a social choice, and it is a choice much less constrained than people who clothe themselves in the authority of “social science” or “the data” often pretend. Quantitative methods like instrumental variable analysis at their best indicate that some element is a factor in causing a measured phenomenon. For anything complex, they are rarely strong enough to even suggest either the necessity or the sufficiency of a factor. Social outcomes like susceptibility to racist appeals are affected by lots of things, and are probably overdetermined, so that one could generate equally strong results implicating a wide variety of different factors depending upon what is excluded from or included in ones model.

In political life, there are nearly always multiple reasonable models to choose from. Our choice of models is itself a moral and political act. For example, conservatives prefer cultural explanations for communities with high rates of young single motherhood, while liberals prefer economic explanations. These explanations are not mutually exclusive, both can be simultaneously true, but cultural explanations serve mostly to justify the social stratification that correlates with single motherhood, while economic explanations invite remedies. It might be true, and demonstrable in the usual statistical ways, that a certain neurological state “causes” the verbally expressed sensation of hunger. It might also be true and demonstrable that a prolonged absence of food causes the same expressed sensation. Both of these models may be true, but one of them suggests a more useful remedy than the other. And a more moral remedy. Prescribing a drug to blunt the hunger may yield a different long-term outcome than feeding food, in ways that are morally salient.

It may or may not be accurate to attribute the political behavior of large groups of people to racism, but it is not very useful. Those people got to be that way somehow. Presumably they, or eventually their progeny, can be un-got from being that way somehow. It is, I think, a political and moral error to content oneself with explanations that suggest no remedy at all, or that suggest prima facie problematic responses like ridiculing, ignoring, disenfranchising, or going to war with large groups of fellow citizens, unless no other explanations are colorable. It turns out that there are lots of explanations consistent with increased susceptibility to racist appeals that also suggest remedies less vague and more constructive than, say, “fighting racism” or censoring the right-wing press. With respect to Britain’s trauma, for example, Dan Davies points to Great Britain’s geographically concentrated prosperity, and the effect that has had on the distribution of native versus immigrant young people. I can’t evaluate the merits of that explanation, but it might at least be useful. It does suggest means by which the British polity might alter its arrangements to reintegrate its divided public.

I don’t mean to pick on Kevin Drum, whom I’ve read for more than a decade, and whom I really like a great deal. But it seems to me that the alleged “good guys” — the liberal, cosmopolitan class of which I myself am a part — have fallen into habits of ridiculing, demonizing, writing off, or, in its best moments, merely patronizing huge swathes of the polities to which we belong. They may do the same to us, but we are not toddlers, that is no excuse. In the United States, in Europe, we are allowing ourselves to disintegrate and arguing about who is to blame. Let’s all be better than that."
steverandywaldman  2016  via:tealtan  kevindrum  chrisarnade  uk  brexit  economics  disparity  inequality  labor  work  unemployment  disenfranchisement  racism  elitism  ageism  dehumanization  demonization  donaldtrump  class  classism  precarity 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Brexit: The System Cannot Hold | David Stockman's Contra Corner
"Talking about Farage, who’s not Tory, but Ukip, he’s done what he set out to do, and that means the end of the line for him. He could, and will, call for a national unity government, but there is no such unity. He got voted out of a job today -he is/was a member of the European Parliament- and Ukip has only one seat in the British parliament, so he’s a bit tragic today. There is no place nor need for a UK Independence Party when the UK is already independent.

Then there’s Labour, who failed to reach their own constituency, which subsequently voted with Farage et al, and who stood right alongside Cameron for Remain, with ‘leader’ Jeremy Corbyn reduced to the role of a curiously mumbling movie extra. So Corbyn is out.

Shadow finance minister John McDonnell has aspirations, but he’s a firm Remain guy as well, and that happens to have been voted down. Labour has failed in a terrible fashion, and they better acknowledge it or else. But they already had a very hard time just coming up with Corbyn last time around, and the next twist won’t be any easier.

Cameron, Osborne, Corbyn, they have all failed to connect with their people. This is not some recent development. Nor is it a British phenomenon, support for traditional parties is crumbling away everywhere in the western world.



The main reason for this is a fast fading economy, which all politicians just try to hide from their people, but which those same people get hit by every single day.

A second reason is that politicians of traditional parties are not perceived as standing up for either their people nor their societies, but as a class in themselves.

In Britain, there now seems to be a unique opportunity to organize a movement like (Unidos) Podemos in Spain, the European Union’s next big headache coming up in a few days. Podemos is proof that this can be done fast, and there’s a big gaping hole to fill.

Much of what’s next in politics may be pre-empted in the markets. Though it’s hard to say where it all leads, this morning there’s obviously a lot of panic, short covering etc going on, fact is that as I write this, Germany’s DAX index loses 6% (-16.3% YoY), France’s CAC is down 7.7% (-18.5%) and Spain’s IBEX no less than 10.3% (-30%). Ironically, the losses in Britain’s FTSE are ‘only’ 4.5% (-11%).

These are numbers that can move entire societies, countries and political systems. But we’ll see. Currency moves are already abating, and on the 22nd floor of a well-protected building in Basel, all of the relevant central bankers in the world are conspiring to buy whatever they can get their hands on. Losses will be big but can perhaps be contained up to a point, and tomorrow is Saturday.

By the way, from a purely legal point of view, Cameron et al could try and push aside the referendum, which is not legally binding. I got only one thing on that: please let them try.

As an aside, wouldn’t it be a great irony if the England soccer (football) team now go on to win the Euro Cup? Or even Wales, which voted massively against the EU?

Finally, this was of course not a vote about the -perhaps not so- United Kingdom, it was a vote about the EU. But the only thing we can expect from Brussels and all the 27 remaining capitals is damage control and more high handedness. It’s all the Junckers and Tusks and Schäubles and Dijsselbloems are capable of anymore.

But it’s they, as much as David Cameron, who were voted down today. And they too should draw their conclusions, or this becomes not even so much about credibility as it becomes about sheer relevance.

Even well before there will be negotiations with whoever represents Britain by the time it happens, the Brussels court circle will be confronted with a whole slew of calls for referendums in other member states. The cat is out of Pandora’s bag, and the genie out of her bottle.

Many of the calls will come from the far-right, but it’s Brussels itself that created the space for these people to operate in. I’ve said it before, the EU does not prevent the next battle in Europe, it will create it. EC head Donald Tusk’s statement earlier today was about strengthening the union with the remaining 27 nations. As if Britain were the only place where people want out…

Holland, France, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Hungary, they will all have calls for referendums. Greece already had one a year ago. The center cannot hold. Nor can the system. If referendums were held in all remaining 27 EU member states, the union would be a lot smaller the next morning. The Unholy Union depends on people not getting a say.

The overwhelming underlying principle that we see at work here is that centralization is dead, because the economy has perished. Or at least the growth of the economy has, which is the same in a system that relies on perpetual growth to ‘function’.

But that is something we can be sure no politician or bureaucrat or economist is willing to acknowledge. They’re all going to continue to claim that their specific theories and plans are capable of regenerating the growth the system depends on. Only to see them fail.

It’s high time for something completely different, because we’re in a dead end street. If the Brexit vote shows us one thing, it’s that. But that is not what people -wish to- see.

Unfortunately, the kinds of wholesale changes needed now hardly ever take place in a peaceful manner. I guess that’s my main preoccupation right now.

 

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
Yeats"
raúlilargimeijer  brexit  2016  economics  yeats  eu  growth  policy  uk  politics  inequality  elitism  centralization  davidcameron  society  labor  employment  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Few quick thoughts on Brexit — Medium
"Brexit is pushback against huge social and economic changes that have devalued a great many people.

They are changes that have demanded many people give up long standing notions of who they are, what is their place in the world, and questioned how they find meaning.

That same anger, and the reasons for it, is here in the US also.

I work with addicts these days and have spent the last five years driving all across the country, spending weeks/months/years in places many live in, but few visit. Places filled with poverty and addiction.

What I learned is that addiction is on the same spectrum as suicide. It is a slower form, but comes from the same place.

It led me to one of the first books to study suicide, by Émile Durkheim who wanted to understand why people would kill themselves.

He suggests people needed a sense of integration and regulation, to feel part of something that worked. They needed strong bonds to larger society. Without that, they often took their own life. He called that sense of isolation or disruption, Anomie.

I see Anomie wherever I go. The things that used to give people meaning: Their work, their union, their family, their church, their bridge club, their elks club, whatever, have been eroded. And often mocked.

We over the last 50 years have replaced that, and now demand that people be valued by their intellect, and their wealth. We have further diminished whole groups of people by increasing the amount we reward the new and few “winners.”

To make things even worse, we often outright mock anyone who can’t keep up, or doesn’t fit in with the new order. We call them dumb. Idiots. Religious freaks. Rednecks. Thugs. Hoodlums. Ghetto trash. White trash.

The language we use to talk about those who have been left behind is rife with nasty attempts to turn them into lesser humans. We use the tactics of racist, and apply it to economic losers.

And often they respond by joining racist groups. Or latching onto racist policies and agendas.

Which makes it easier to demean them, because racism is bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. And as a kid of a German Jew who barely made it out of Nazi Germany, as a kid who grew up in a small southern town. As a kid who had our car windows shot out (while his dad was in it!) because my dad was a “Nigger loving Jew”. Yes racism is awful. Bad. Disgusting. Nasty.

But racism, and fascism, are very successful scams that sell to the desperate. Fascism understands that people want to feel valued and integral part of something larger. Racism is, sadly, the easiest and cheapest way to do that.

So, yes push back against the racism. Loudly.

But offer something else, a way for others to feel included. Provide a process, other than getting an education in an elite school, that gives people meaning, solidarity, and value.

Simply saying they are not valid, or lesser, or they are stupid. Or they are idiots. That is racism’s ugly cousin elitism, so don’t turn it into a fight of the ugly. You think that is going to help people feel included?

If you hate racism, then you really really really should hate any economic and social system that creates and rewards massive inequality. Because when you get that. You get racism.

And that is the system we have built and now have. That is the system that most everyone screaming about the dumb racists is part of, usually supports, and wins from."
elitism  racism  politics  us  uk  brexit  chrisarnade  2016  anger  inequality  understanding  winners  losers  winnertakeall  economics  society  integration  regulation  community  belonging  addiction  suicide  émiledurkheim  isolation  disruption  anomie  work  rednecks  religion  ostracization  fascism  desperation  rejection  inclusion  inclusivity  socialinequality  economicinequality  incomeinequality  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Britain's Only Land Border with the E.U. Has a Complicated Future | Atlas Obscura
"The border of Ireland and Northern Ireland has, for years, been almost totally porous. There are no customs agents. There are no passport checks. In many places, you wouldn't even notice you were crossing between the two neighboring states. Essentially, there are no rules.

But that might have to soon change, after Thursday's historic vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. That's because Ireland will remain a part of the E.U., while Northern Ireland, a constituent part of the U.K., will not.

What could this mean? A lot of things, though any real changes to how the border is protected likely won't happen for years, if at all, in part because it will take at least two years for Britain to formally exit the E.U. Even then, some say a solution keeping the border mostly open could be negotiated.

But even the smallest changes could represent a huge disruption to the economies in both states, since up to 20,000 commute between the border daily, in addition to massive free trade of goods. And we haven't even mentioned the animals.

“There is constant daily movement of live animals for fattening, and dairy products, to name just two elements of the trading relationship," Phil Hogan, the E.U.'s agriculture commisioner said, according to the Irish Times.

Customs checks were removed in 1993 following the formal creation of the Eurozone, but even before that, and even during the height of The Troubles, you generally didn't need a passport to cross between the two states.

And in the wake of the Brexit vote, many—typically those who voted to leave the E.U.—have argued that this situation can remain the same, the two states' historic economic ties too strong and too important to sever. But many who voted to remain in the E.U. have argued the opposite: border patrols by definition will have to be stepped up, since the E.U. likely wouldn't allow one of its members to have a different immigration policy than the rest of the bloc.

Still, the border represents a real, and symbolic, divide on the island, between the predominantly Catholic Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is sharply split between Catholics and Protestants. Some worried that any heightened patrols at the border might revive old rivalries, officially settled by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

But others said that Brexit in the end might have a completely different effect: unification. Northern Ireland largely voted to stay in the E.U. and, as the Irish Times points out, reaps a huge number of economic benefits from its membership, especially for farmers.

And, on Friday, the leader of Sinn Fein, a major Irish political party that has supported unification, said he would call for a new referendum to decide the island's future.

The framework for unification is certainly there as each state just needs to approve unifying with a simple majority. A unified island, of course, wouldn't need to worry about the border at all."
borders  uk  europe  2016  ireland  northernireland 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The burning issue in Banksy’s Graffiti — Medium
"Over half term Banksy broke into Bridge Farm Primary School in Bristol and drew a giant image of a girl rolling a burning tyre away from a distant school house. Media coverage of this event has, perhaps inevitably, gravitated towards the price of the art work and the disciplinary implications of Banksy’s letter to the children telling them that it’s “always easier to get forgiveness than permission”. What is less covered, and what is perhaps more worthy of a national discussion, are the subversive criticisms of the state of formal education and the lives of children in the UK and around the world which are evident in Banksy’s latest piece of work.

Banksy’s painting depicts a 14 foot stick figure girl with her back to a school house. The school, also drawn in simple lines, appears small and insignificant in the background. Its windows are barred. The one element of the painting that appears vivid and real is the burning tyre, with smoke billowing up into the air. The girl holds a stick in her hand and is pushing the tyre along, away from the school and towards a solitary flower. Her expression is blank and somewhat confused. The game she is playing is hoop rolling, where children use a stick to tap a hoop or tyre along, rolling it forward and preventing it from toppling over. Children used to play it on the streets of England as early as the 15th century, though you are unlikely to encounter a hoop roller on the streets today. Children in many parts of the world, especially in less economically developed countries, can still be seen rolling and racing tyres down the road for fun. The difference in Banksy’s image is that the tyre is billowing in flames.

One’s initial instinct upon seeing the image may be concern for the child. The fire appears large and out of control and the girl is blindly ploughing forward pushing it away from the seemingly safe space of the school building. Does the tyre represent the world outside the school walls? Have we created a world that is so hostile to children that we have to keep them cocooned in schools for 13 years of their lives before they are equipped enough to survive it? Is this why we have created schools that compartmentalize and pre-package the world into safe and “useful” learning parcels rather than letting children learn and be inspired first hand?

Education and learning have always been around in one form or another, yet the ways in which we learned in the past were more diverse, local, contextual, culturally and ecologically sound. However mass compulsory schooling, the idea that every child must spend a vast chunk of their lives in an institution, is a very new idea. It originated in Prussia in the 19th century in order to produce obedient and disciplined soldiers following Prussia’s defeat in the Napoleonic wars. Men did not know how to fight, or perhaps did not want to fight, so they were bred to fight. The model worked well for the industrial revolution as well, freeing parents from childcare in order to work in the factories, and breeding children with basic skills and literacy who would follow in their parents’ footsteps, working for others. During the colonial era, education was used intentionally to wipe out indigenous cultures and create subservient clerks for the colonial administration. As Thomas Macaulay, who was largely responsible for the development of modern schooling in India put it, schools needed to create “a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect”. Today, we imagine that schools are more liberating and have a broader curriculum, but perhaps we need to look again.

I have a vested interest in the different ways formal schooling has been designed and accessed around the world. In 2004, fresh out of university, I went to work in Yemen, on the island of Socotra. I had visited the island in 1997 on a school trip from the capital, Sanaa, and it had left a deep impact on my learning. Socotra is an island of extreme botanical diversity and natural beauty, and one where traditional environmental management systems had maintained harmony between human needs and the balance of the ecosystems which sustained them. When I arrived, Socotra was going through its first real boom in development. An airport had been built, tourists were starting to arrive, and villagers and nomads were settling in towns and sending their children to schools. The schools that were being built were of two types: government schools that promised students a path towards a secure government or private sector job, or faith schools that promised parents and children a route towards a secure religious identity. Both types of schools removed children from the land, the forests, the streams and the beaches they used to roam, play on and learn from. Slowly, children who used to know the names of all the plants and their uses and who used to follow generations old customs to preserve the unique diversity of the island forgot the names of the plants, they forgot how to scramble up the mountains and dive for seashells, and they happily started driving their 4x4s, playing loud music and chucking litter out the windows. The new environmental management system for the island then had to be imported, with computers, international experts, degrees from western universities, and more 4x4s.

My experience watching this transformation in Socotra has remained with me. Since then, I’ve worked and visited schools in other parts of Yemen, in Jordan, in Morocco, in Chad, in India, in the UK and in refugee camps from Algeria to Palestine. Around the world, a similar story can be seen. A story where children’s connection to place and to community is being replaced by a connection to a very narrow idea of what success and happiness looks like. A vision of identity and status being linked to consumption, where learning “useful” knowledge is done in classrooms and not in the real world.

Children in schools today wear school uniforms, blazers, suits and ties. We teach them that in order to be successful they must sit behind a desk and use a computer. School children don’t wear dungarees as uniforms. Most don’t learn that they can be happy being woodworkers or growing food or fixing bikes. They by and large don’t get the chance to learn about deciduous forests by being in them, smelling them, feeling them and playing in them. They learn about deciduous forests by reading about them and answering exam questions about them. When we took a group of year 11 students from my school in London to the south coast, one of them looked at the English channel and asked “is that the river?” One in four of the children in my Modern Foreign Languages class had never seen the River Thames, despite living within a half hour’s walk from it. These children attend a school that sets very high expectations and cares incredibly about the wellbeing of its students. The same children would go on to achieve GCSE results which place them in the top 10% in the country. They are highly successful students.

Schools have discipline and authority. Some schools may have active student councils, but by no stretch of the imagination are our schools democratic structures. We tell our children that we live in a democracy but children know fully well that they have no power to change the status quo, or to challenge authority. I understood this very quickly teaching in London. The school rules stated that “I do as I’m asked the first time I’m asked”. There was no room for negotiation, it was for the greater good of maintaining discipline and not “disrupting learning”. The unwritten rules were even more disconcerting. I quickly learnt that as a teacher, if I were to witness a dispute between a teacher and a student, it was my job to back my colleagues regardless of the situation. It was for the greater good of maintaining discipline. Perhaps we need to look at these dynamics to understand why Britain is struggling to get its youth to vote in the European referendum.

We give lessons about sustainability, and some schools may even have recycling bins and green clubs, but the environmental footprint of schools from construction to transport, energy and water has a long way to go to meet sustainability parameters. Seeing the smoke billowing out of Banky’s tyre, one cannot but think of environmental damage, pollution and global warming. Does the tyre represent the environmental destruction that we as humans are creating? Does it represent the mindset that we instill in our children during their schooling where we are inherently taught to blindly plough forward, producing waste and consuming fossil fuels, because that is the path to growth?

In the international development agenda, the goal of ‘Education for All’ is inseparable from the development path of nations. Children have to learn their Maths and their English. They forget about traditional knowledge systems, local food sources, water resources, languages and community cohesion. The world is a competitive place and they must learn the skills to allow them to move to cities where they too will consume and fuel our endless growth and our endless piles of burning tyres. It is also clear that a lot of very well intentioned work is being done. For example, when I worked on education in refugee camps in Jordan, people were thinking about psychosocial care for children affected by trauma, on creating safe spaces and child friendly spaces for children and on equipping them with the skills they would need to move on after devastating conflict. All of this is important and invaluable work, but where are these learning models coming from? How do they connect to local identities, and what vision of a happy, successful and ecologically sound future do they aspire to?

Maybe Banksy was being kind by sending us a note along with his art. He gave us a red herring to tend to our sensibilities, in case we are not quite ready to face the art. But perhaps one can hope that, … [more]
education  unschooling  deschooling  rowansalim  colonialism  happiness  success  community  children  learning  culture  place  experience  2016  banksy  environment  development  summerhill  asneill  shikshantar  highered  highereducation  compulsory  schooling  schooliness  via:carolblack  society  nature  knowledge  ater  food  jordan  yemen  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  discipline  authority  negotiation  socotra  morocco  chad  india  uk  algeria  palestine  identity  status  consumption  economics  sanaa  thomasmacaulay  liberation  curriculum  sfsh 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Identity 2016: 'Global citizenship' rising, poll suggests - BBC News
"People are increasingly identifying themselves as global rather than national citizens, according to a BBC World Service poll.

The trend is particularly marked in emerging economies, where people see themselves as outward looking and internationally minded.

However, in Germany fewer people say they feel like global citizens now, compared with 2001.

Pollsters GlobeScan questioned more than 20,000 people in 18 countries.

More than half of those asked (56%) in emerging economies saw themselves first and foremost as global citizens rather than national citizens.

In Nigeria (73%), China (71%), Peru (70%) and India (67%) the data is particularly marked.
By contrast, the trend in the industrialised nations seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

In these richer nations, the concept of global citizenship appears to have taken a serious hit after the financial crash of 2008. In Germany, for example, only 30% of respondents see themselves as global citizens."

[See also: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/people-increasingly-identify-as-globalnot-nationalcitizens ]
identity  cosmopolitanism  nigeria  china  perú  india  spain  españa  kenya  uk  greece  brazil  brasil  canada  pakistan  ghana  indonesia  us  mexico  chile  germany  russia  ethnicty  citizenships  globalization 
may 2016 by robertogreco
James Meek · Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity · LRB 18 February 2016
"How like the Middle Ages, if it were so. Behind the twisted rhetoric of a hardworking majority oppressed by a welfare-mad government, a modern version of the medieval world has been constructed, one where the real poor are taxed more heavily than the rich; where most of those who are not rich are burdened by an onerous roster of fees and monopolies levied by remote, unaccountable private landlords; and where many of us live out our lives shackled to an endless chain of private debt.

Since the Thatcher revolution in 1979, British governments have boasted of how they’ve lowered taxes. And they have, except for one section of society: the poorest 20 per cent. In 1977, the least well-off fifth of households paid 37 per cent of their gross income in direct taxes (like income tax) and indirect taxes (like VAT), against 38 per cent for the richest fifth. In 2014, the tax take from the poorest group had gone up to 37.8 per cent, while the taxes paid by the richest had gone down to less than 35 per cent.

Not only does this understate the extent of tax cuts for the top 1 per cent; it shows only part of the burden borne by the least well off. Piketty writes that ‘modern redistribution does not consist in transferring income from the rich to the poor, at least not in so explicit a way. It consists rather in financing public services and replacement incomes that are more or less equal for everyone, especially in the areas of health, education and pensions.’ This is a very cautious definition of the modern social state. Health, education and social security make up the lion’s share of public spending, but they’re intimately linked to a wider set of networks that includes energy, water and transport and, some would argue, should include housing. What these networks have in common is that society has decided they’re essential, and therefore should be universal – that is, we think everyone should have access to them, all the time. The significance of this is that, on the one hand, society takes on itself the obligation to give its poorest members access to these networks, which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford; and, on the other, payment to use these networks, if it isn’t funded out of general taxation, becomes in itself a tax, particularly when that network is a monopoly. In Britain, many of these universal networks, such as electricity and water, have been privatised, often twice – once to put them on the stock market, once to put them into the hands of overseas owners. Bills for these services have increased faster than inflation, and take little account of people’s ability to pay. It is the poorest, then, who as well as paying the heaviest combination of indirect and direct taxation bear the brunt of such hybrid public-private taxes as the water tax and the electricity tax.

Other universal networks, such as health and education, haven’t been privatised, but have been through another process that makes them ripe for the introduction of flat fees for usage in future. This process really got going under Labour, and it is a sign of the liberal left’s failure to recognise what it has done that there isn’t a name for it. One word to describe it might be ‘autonomisation’ – the process by which state-run bodies continue to be funded by the state but are run autonomously on a non-profit basis. So state secondary schools become academies, NHS hospitals become NHS foundation trusts, and council estates are transferred to housing associations. The British state is in a condition of rolling abdication, leaving behind a partly privatised, partly autonomised set of universal networks, increasingly run by absentee landlords in the form of global companies and overseas corporate investors, that is disproportionately funded by the poorest payers of taxes, fees and duties, many of whom are also deep in debt.

There is a cynical view which says that as long as the majority of the population feel they’re doing all right, a democratically elected government is safe to squeeze the poor and pamper the rich. But cynicism is a risky thing to rely on when a government is simultaneously cutting spending and shedding control of the universal networks on which its entire population relies. As Hobsbawm writes in Bandits, ‘concentration of power in the modern territorial state is what eventually eliminated rural banditry, endemic or epidemic. At the end of the 20th century it looks as though this situation might be coming to an end, and the consequences of this regression of state power cannot yet be foreseen.’ We’re a long way from the return of the literal outlaw to Nottinghamshire. But we need to remember the insight given our ancestors when they saw through the illusion of the Robin Hood myth, when they saw that the strongbox of silver coins wasn’t just money stolen from each of them individually, but power robbed from them collectively, and that they needed to wield that power collectively as much as they needed their money back. For sure, freedom to choose is a grand thing, and the market will try to help you exercise it. With a bit of money in the bank, a middle-class family might choose to send their child to private school, provided by the market; but that same family can’t choose to build and maintain a universal education network by itself, and the market won’t provide it. With money, you can choose to buy a car, and the market will provide it; but you can’t choose, all by yourself, to build and maintain a universal road network, and the market won’t provide it. To make and keep universal networks requires the authority of the state, an authority that has been absent; and it’s hard to see where that authority might come from if the people don’t find a way to assert their kingship."
2016  jamesmeek  capitalism  politics  policy  welfare  poor  class  rich  wealthdistribution  inequality  taxes  taxation  health  education  thomaspiketty  neoliberalism  autonomization  housing  uk  finance  davidcameron  margaretthatcher  ronaldreagan  stephenharper  us  canada  australia  marcorubio  georgeosborne  power  money  economics  labor  erichobsbawm  government  markets  universalnetworks  infrastructure  via:anabjain 
april 2016 by robertogreco
collection – Newly Discovered 'Windrush' Photographs Revealed!!!
After over half a century in oblivion, the historic 'Windrush' negatives made by photographer Howard Grey of the arrival of the last West Indian immigrants before the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 came into force, have finally been expertly scanned and are published here for the first time. (Location: Waterloo Station. London UK - June 1962)

[via: http://cecileemeke.tumblr.com/post/134782113982/lostinurbanism-the-historic-windrush

http://lostinurbanism.tumblr.com/post/110459772018/the-historic-windrush-photographs-by-howard-grey
http://lostinurbanism.tumblr.com/post/110459800383/the-historic-windrush-photographs-by-howard-grey
http://lostinurbanism.tumblr.com/post/125837194073/windrush-the-last-arrival-photographs-by-howard ]
photography  immigration  1962  windrush  london  uk  westindies  howardgrey 
december 2015 by robertogreco
DYNAMIC AFRICA - Taking up Space
"Kenyan-British artist Marion A. Osieyo photographs women of colour and their daily acts of resistance. She is based in London, UK."
marionosieyo  occupation  takingupspace  resistance  england  oxford  diaspora  africanwomen  women  photography  art  feminism  uk 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Indian Summers | Programs | Masterpiece | PBS
"Set in a subtropical paradise during the twilight era of the British Empire, Indian Summers explores the collision of the ruling class English with their Indian subjects, and the intricate game of power, politics, and passion that ensues. Julie Walters (Harry Potter, Oscar® nominee for Billy Elliot and Educating Rita) stars as Cynthia Coffin, the glamorous doyenne of an English social club, and is joined by Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Jemima West, Nikesh Patel, Roshan Seth, and Lillete Dubey.

Told from both the English and Indian perspectives, the drama of Indian Summers unfolds as illicit agreements, romance, and revolution abound. Though the English socialites are having the time of their lives in Simla, the local Indians have started to call for national independence, a path which is quickly rendering the world’s greatest empire helpless. As pressure builds, the two sides alternately clash and merge in a passionate and dangerous game.

Indian Summers airs in nine sweeping episodes, and premieres on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE on PBS."
via:rinku  india  uk  towatch 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Stealing A Nation
[via: http://citizen-ex.com/stories/io ]
on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/17401157 ]

"'Stealing A Nation' (2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of the Chagos Islands, whose indigenous population was secretly and brutally expelled by British Governments in the late 1960s and early 1970s to make way for an American military base. The tragedy, which falls within the remit of the International Criminal Court as "a crime against humanity", is told by Islanders who were dumped in the slums of Mauritius and by British officials who left behind a damning trail of Foreign Office documents.

Before the Americans came, more than 2,000 people lived on the islands in the Indian Ocean, many with roots back to the late 18th century. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life. The islands were, and still are, a British crown colony. In the 1960s, the government of Harold Wilson struck a secret deal with the United States to hand over the main island of Diego Garcia. The Americans demanded that the surrounding islands be "swept" and "sanitized". Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress and in breach of the United Nations Charter, the British Government plotted with Washington to expel the entire population.

After demonstrating on the streets of Mauritius in 1982, the exiled islanders were given the derisory compensation of less than £3,000 per person by the British government. In the film, former inhabitants Rita Bancoult and Charlesia Alexis tell of how, in accepting the money, they were tricked into signing away their right to return home: "It was entirely improper, unethical, dictatorial to have the Chagossian put their thumbprint on an English legal, drafted document, where the Chagossian, who doesn’t read, know or speak any English, let alone any legal English, is made to renounce basically all his rights as a human being."

Today, the main island of Diego Garcia is America's largest military base in the world, outside the US. There are more than 4,000 troops, two bomber runways, thirty warships and a satellite spy station. The Pentagon calls it an "indispensable platform" for policing the world. It was used as a launch pad for the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The truth about the removal of the Chagossians and the Whitehall conspiracy to deny there was an indigenous population did not emerge for another twenty years, when files were unearthed at the Public Record Office, in Kew, by the historian Mark Curtis, John Pilger and lawyers for the former inhabitants of the coral archipelago, who were campaigning for a return to their homeland.

John Pilger first become aware of the plight of the Chagossians in 1982, during the Falklands War: "It was pointed out to me that Britain had sent a fleet to go and save two thousand Falkland Islanders at the other end of the world while two thousand British citizens in islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean had been expelled by British governments and the only difference was that one lot were white and the others were black. The other difference was that the United States wanted the Chagos Islands - and especially Diego Garcia - as a major base. So nothing was said, which tells us something about the ruthlessness of governments, especially imperial governments."

In June 2004, shortly before Stealing a Nation’s television screening, the British Government had issued an order-in-council, a royal decree using archaic powers invested in the Queen, bypassing Parliament and the High Court, to ban the Islanders from ever returning home. "The Queen rubber-stamps what in many cases politicians know they can’t get away with democratically," said Pilger. "Dictators do this, but without the quaint ritual."

In May 2006, the High Court finally ruled that the Chagossians were entitled to return to their homeland. However, in the summer of 2008, David Miliband and the Foreign Office began another appeal, to the Law Lords, against the High Court’s judgements. They found in favour of the Government.

In April 2010, the British Government established a marine nature reserve around the Chagos Islands. Several months later, WikiLeaks published a US Embassy diplomatic cable from 2009 which read as follows: "Establishing a marine reserve might indeed, as the FCO's [Colin] Roberts stated, be the most effective long-term way to prevent any of the Chagos Islands' former inhabitants or descendants from resettling in the [British Indian Ocean Territory]."

In the film, John Pilger concludes: "Why do we continue to allow our governments to treat people in small countries as either useful or expendable? Why do we accept specious reasons for the unacceptable? The High Court issued one of the most damning indictments of a British government. It said the secret expulsion of the Chagos Islanders was wrong. That judgement must be upheld and the people of a group of beautiful, once peaceful islands must be helped to go home and compensated fully and without delay for their suffering. Anything less diminishes the rest of us."

'Stealing A Nation' was a Granada production for ITV. It was first broadcast on ITV1, 6 October 2004. Directors: John Pilger and Chris Martin. Producer: Chris Martin.

Awards: Best Single Documentary, Royal Television Society Awards, 2005; The Chris Statuette in the Social Issues division, Chris Awards, Columbus International Film & Video Festival, Ohio, 2003."

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stealing_a_Nation
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176010/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Garcia
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/oct/02/foreignpolicy.comment
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/diego-garcia-a-shameful-history-that-keeps-repeating-itself/article12542074/
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/06/15/truth-about-diego-garcia-50-years-fiction-about-american-military-base
http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/04/16/399845336/hope-builds-for-islanders-displaced-in-shameful-chapter-of-u-k-history
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/2012314114930627518.html ]
film  documentary  johnpilger  chagosislands  diegogarcia  2004  us  colonialism  military  uk  imperialism  mauritius 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Blame Society, Not the Screen Time - NYTimes.com
"Even though multiple generations have now grown up glued to the flickering light of the TV, we still can’t let go of the belief that the next generation of technology is going to doom our kids. We blame technology, rather than work, to understand why children engage with screens in the first place.

I’ve spent over a decade observing young people’s practices with technology and interviewing families about the dynamics that unfold. When I began my research, I expected to find hordes of teenagers who were escaping “real life” through the Internet. That was certainly my experience. As a geeky, queer youth growing up in suburban America in the early 1990s, the Internet was the only place where I didn’t feel judged. I wanted to go virtual, for my body to not matter, to live in a digital-only world.

To my surprise — and, as I grew older, relief — that differed from what most youth want. Early on in my research, I met a girl in Michigan who told me that she’d much rather get together with her friends in person, but she had so many homework demands and her parents were often concerned about her physical safety. This is why she loved the Internet: She could hang out with her friends there. I've heard this reasoning echoed by youth around the country.

This is the Catch-22 that we’ve trapped today’s youth in. We’ve locked them indoors because we see the physical world as more dangerous than ever before, even though by almost every measure, we live in the safest society to date. We put unprecedented demands on our kids, maxing them out with structured activities, homework and heavy expectations. And then we’re surprised when they’re frazzled and strung out.

For many teenagers, technology is a relief valve. (And that goes for the strung-out, overworked parents and adults playing Candy Crush, too.) It’s not the inherently addictive substance that fretting parents like to imagine. It simply provides an outlet.

The presence of technology alone is not the issue. We see much higher levels of concern about technology “addiction” in countries where there’s even greater pressure to succeed and fewer social opportunities (e.g., China, South Korea, etc.).

If Americans truly want to reduce the amount young people use technology, we should free up more of their time.

For one thing, we could radically reduce the amount of homework and tests American youth take. Finland and the Netherlands consistently outperform the U.S. in school, and they emphasize student happiness, assigning almost no homework. (To be sure, they also respect their teachers and pay them what they’re worth.) When I lecture in these countries, parents don't seem nearly as anxious about technology addiction as Americans.

We should also let children roam. It seems like every few weeks I read a new story about a parent who was visited by child services for letting their school-aged children out of their sight. Indeed, studies in the U.S. and the U.K. consistently show that children have lost the right to roam.

This is why many of our youth turn to technology. They aren’t addicted to the computer; they’re addicted to interaction, and being around their friends. Children, and especially teenagers, don’t want to only socialize with parents and siblings; they want to play with their peers. That’s how they make sense of the world. And we’ve robbed them of that opportunity because we’re afraid of boogeymen.

We’re raising our children in captivity and they turn to technology to socialize, learn and decompress. Why are we blaming the screens?"
2015  danahboyd  teens  youth  freedom  internet  time  screens  screentime  online  social  socialmedia  freetime  homework  socializing  learning  technology  testing  safety  parenting  schools  education  society  us  finland  netherlands  anxiety  uk 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Schools monitoring pupils' web use with 'anti-radicalisation software' | UK news | The Guardian
"Software flags up trigger words and phrases such as ‘jihadi bride’, ‘jihobbyist’ and ‘you only die once’"



"Schools are being sold software to monitor pupils’ internet activity for extremism-related language such as “jihadi bride” and “YODO”, short for you only die once.

Several companies are producing “anti-radicalisation” software to monitor pupils’ internet activity ahead of the introduction of a legal requirement on schools to consider issues of terrorism and extremism among children.

Under the Counter-terrorism and Security Act 2015, which comes into force on 1 July, there is a requirement that schools “have due regard to the need to prevent pupils being drawn into terrorism”.

One company, Impero, has launched a pilot of its software in 16 locations in the UK as well as five in the US. Teachers can store screenshots of anything of concern that is flagged up by the software. Other companies offering anti-radicalisation software products to schools include Future Digital and Securus.

Impero has produced a glossary of trigger words such as “jihobbyist” (someone who sympathises with jihadi organisations but is not an active member) and “Message to America” (an Islamic State propaganda video series).

Schools involved with the Impero pilot already have contracts to buy or rent other software from the company, and are trialling the anti-radicalisation software at no extra charge. They are in areas including London, County Durham, Essex, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Yorkshire and Staffordshire.

A spokeswoman for Impero said: “The Counter-terrorism and Security Act places a duty on schools to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Since the introduction of the act at the beginning of the year we have had a lot of schools approach us requesting a keyword-detection policy focused on radicalisation.

“The system may help teachers confirm identification of vulnerable children, or act as an early warning system to help identify children that may be at risk in future. It also provides evidence for teachers and child protection officers to use in order to intervene and support a child in a timely and appropriate manner."
2015  edtech  education  children  islam  islamophobia  jihad  internet  software  monitoring  terrorism  extremism  schools  uk 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why boarding schools produce bad leaders | Education | The Guardian
"The elite tradition is to send children away at a young age to be educated. But future politicians who suffer this 'privileged abandonment' often turn out as bullies or bumblers. A psychotherapist explains why"



"Bullying is inevitable and endemic in 24/7 institutions full of abandoned and frightened kids. Ex-boarders’ partners often report that it ends up ruining home life, many years later. Bullying pervades British society, especially in politics and the media, but, like boarding, we normalise it. When, in 2011, Jeremy Clarkson ranted that he would have striking public-sector workers shot, he was even defended by Cameron – it was apparently a bit of fun. No prizes for guessing where both men learned their styles. And no wonder that the House of Commons, with its adversarial architecture of Victorian Gothic – just like a public school chapel – runs on polarised debate and bullying."
psychology  education  schools  2015  nickduffell  leadership  bullying  bullies  bumblers  childhood  uk 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Abandon hope (summer is coming) | k-punk
"So it was to be a re-run of 1992, after all. It seems that even elections are subject to retromania, now. Except, this time, it is 1992 without Jungle. It’s Ed Sheeran and Rudimental rather than Rufige Kru. Always ignore the polls, wrote Jeremy Gilbert late on election night. “You get a better sense of what’s going on in the electorate by sniffing the wind, sensing the affective shifts, the molecular currents, the alterations in the structures of feeling. Listen to the music, watch the TV, go to the the pubs and ride the tube. Cultural Studies trumps psephology every time.”

Contemporary English popular culture, with its superannuated PoMo laddishness, its smirking blokishness (anyone fancy a pint with Nigel?), its poverty porn, its craven cult of big business, has become like some gigantic Poundbury Village simulation, in which nothing new happens, forever … while ubiquitous “Keep Calm” messages, ostensibly quirky-ironic, actually function as They Live commands, containing the panic and the desperation …

England is a country in which every last space where conviviality might flourish has been colonised by a commercial imperative …. supermarket check-out operatives replaced by crap robots… unexpected item in bagging area… every surface plastered with corporate graffiti and haranguing hashtags … no trick missed to screw every last penny out of people… exorbitant parking charges in NHS hospitals (exact amount only, no change given), all the profits going to private providers …

Everything seen through a downer haze… “Mostly you self-medicate” … comfort eating and bitter drinking …. What’s your poison?"



"Blogs and social media have allowed us to talk to ourselves (but not to reach out beyond the left bubbles); they have also generated pathological behaviours and forms of subjectivity which not only generate misery and anger – they waste time and energy, our most crucial resources. Email and handhelds, meanwhile, have produced new forms of isolation and loneliness: the fact that we can receive communications from work anywhere and anytime means we are exposed to work’s order-words when we are alone, without the possibility of support from fellow workers.

In sum, the obsession with the web, its monopolisation of any idea of the new, has served capitalist realism rather than undermined it. Which does not mean, naturally, that we should abandon the web, only that we should find out how to develop a more instrumental relationship with it. Put simply, we should use it – as a means of dissemination, communication and distribution – but not live inside it. The problem is that this goes against the tendencies of handhelds. We all recognise the by now cliched image of a train carriage full of people pecking at their tiny screens, but have we really registered how miserable this really is, and how much it suits capital for these pockets of socialisation to be closed down?"



"The problem is that, in order to struggle against time poverty, the main resource we require is time – a nasty vicious circle that capital, with its malevolent genius, now has … This problem is absolutely immanent – writing this and the other posts I have completed this week has meant that I have fallen enormously behind on my work, which is storing up stress for the next week or so.

The first thing we must do in response to all this is to put into practice what I outlined above: try not to blame ourselves. #it’snotyourfault We must try to do everything we can to politicise time poverty rather than accept blame as individuals for failing to complete our work on time. The reason we feel overwhelmed is that we are overwhelmed – it isn’t an individual failing of ours; it isn’t because we haven’t “managed our time” properly. However, we can use the scarce resources we already have more effectively if we work together to codify practices of collective re-habituation (setting new rules for our engagement with social media and capitalist cyberspace in general for example).

Any way, here goes:

1. Talk to fellow workers about how we feel This will re-introduce care and affection into spaces where we are supposed to be competitive and isolated. It will also start to break down the difference between (paid) work and social reproduction on which capitalism depends.

2. Talk to opponents Most people who vote Tory and UKIP are not monsters, much as we might like to think they are. It’s important that we understand why they voted as they did. Also, they may not have been exposed to an alternative view. Remember that people are more likely to be persuaded if defensive character armour is not triggered.

3. Create knowledge exchange labs This follows from what I argued a few days ago. Lack of knowledge about economics seems to me an especially pressing problem to address, but we could also do with more of us knowing about law, I suspect.

4. Create social spaces Create times and spaces specifically dedicated to attending to one another: not (yet more) conferences, but sessions where people can share their feelings and ideas. I would suggest restricting use of handhelds in these spaces: not everything has to be live tweeted or archived! Those with access to educational or art spaces could open these up for this purpose.

5. Use social media pro-actively, not reactively Use social media to publicise, to spread memes, and to constitute a counter-media. Social media can provide emotional support during miserable events like Thursday. But we should try to use social media as resource rather than living inside it at all times. Facebook can be useful for discussions and trying out new ideas, but attempting to debate on Twitter is absurd and makes us feel more stressed. (He says, thinking of the time when, sitting on a National Express coach, perched over his handheld, he tried to intervene in an intricate discussion about Spinoza’s philosophy – all conducted in 140 characters.)

6. Generate new figures of loathing in our propaganda Again, this follows up from what I argued in the Communist Realism post. Capitalist realism was established by constituting the figure of the lazy, feckless scrounger as a populist scapegoat. We must float a new figure of the parasite: landlords milking the state through housing benefit, “entrepreneurs” exploring cheap labour, etc.

7. Engage in forms of activism aimed at logistical disruption Capital has to be seriously inconvenienced and to fear before it yields any territory or resources. It can just wait out most protests,but it will take notice when its logistical operations are threatened. We must be prepared for them cutting up very rough once we start doing this – using anti-terrorist legislation to justify practically any form of repression. They won’t play fair, but it’s not a game of cricket – they know it’s class war, and we should never forget it either.

8. Develop Hub struggles Some struggles will be more strategically and symbolically significant than others – for instance, the Miners’ Strike was a hub struggle for capitalist realism. We might not be able to identify in advance what these struggles are, but we must be ready to swarm in and intensify them when they do occur.

Summer is coming

The Lannisters won on Thursday, but their gold has already run out, and summer is coming. What we saw in the debates dominated by Nicola Sturgeon was not a mirage – it is a rising tide, an international movement, a movement of history, which has not yet reached an England sandbagged in misery and mediocrity. Comrades, I hope (ha!) for the sake of your mental health and your blood pressures that you didn’t see the right wing tabloids over the weekend (tw for class hatred): middle England crowing over its “humiliation” of “Red” Ed. Well if they think Ed was Red, wait until they see the coming Red Swarm. Outer England has been sedated, but it is waking from its long slumber, carrying new weapons …."

[via: http://stml.tumblr.com/post/118858720560/contemporary-english-popular-culture-with-its ]
uk  politics  2015  1992  care  activism  labor  government  money  capitalism  communism  resistance  conviviality  affection  time  timepoverty  work  neoliberalism  collectivism  popculture  media  power  humanity  humanism  socialization  social  society  k-punk  commercialism  automation  malaise  blogs  socialmedia  behavior  behavio  subjectivity  filterbibbles  markfisher 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Blackhorse Workshop
"Blackhorse Workshop is a new public space dedicated to making and mending, just half an hour from the centre of London. We offer open access to a fully equipped wood and metal workshop. Machinery support is on hand from our highly skilled technicians, and here you can build or fix anything from broken chairs to theatrical sets, bikes and furniture – and where you can grow your startup with the support of industry expertise and a community of makers.

You can come and use the workshop for half a day or sign up for a year. We welcome everyone from dabblers to professionals, and will help you wherever we can.

We also run courses and events, from basic DIY skills to the art of welding. We invite artists, designers, expert fabricators and craftsmen from a range of industries to talk about their ideas, – let us know if there is someone in particular you’d like to see!

Blackhorse Workshop was founded by the architecture and design practice Assemble,and has been developed by its Creative Director, Harriet Warden together with Toby Poolman, Rob Shaer and Sara Pereira. The project has received support from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund, the London Borough of Waltham Forest and match funding from Create, Legacy Trust UK and Arts Council England."

[An Assemble project: http://assemblestudio.co.uk/?page_id=235 ]
makerspaces  mending  blackhorseworkshop  workshops  openstudioproject  lcproject  london  uk  diy  welding  woodworking 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The things you keep On being a guest
"Yesterday I was standing in an immigration line at the tail end of a two-leg, 20 hour journey from London to Kuala Lumpur. As is to be expected under these circumstances, my patience level was critically low. As the line crept forward slowly, I noticed there were about 20 men without any carry-on baggage standing in front of me. They stood very close together, each clutching a piece of paper and a green passport, each with an expression of anxious uncertainty on their faces.

I quickly realized these little green books were the reason for the line’s glacial pace. These men were from Bangladesh, arriving in Malaysia to join the estimated 6 million migrant-laborer force that builds skyscrapers, roads, trains as well as cleans houses, bathrooms and shopping malls.

Border security guards are rarely known for their gregariousness, but those on duty yesterday at KLIA seemed downright hostile to this particular group. Each man was questioned and fingerprinted on finicky electronic machines. One guard reached over his desk and a knocked the baseball cap of a terrified Bangladeshi man to get his attention. Another unlucky fellow got chased through the arrivals hall for what I can only guess was entering the wrong way.

After the men made their way through the line, I approached a desk, said hello and handed over my UK passport. The guard didn’t even need to look at me. He stamped my little red book and waved me through in a process that took about seven seconds maximum.

Somewhat stunningly, one in seven persons in the world is a migrant. However, depending on if you’ve got the red book I had or the green one those men had, the way you experience being a migrant is wildly different. Malaysia is a perfect example of that expat versus immigrant divide. The security guards and housing staff at the complex where my cousin lives in Kuala Lumpur are one kind of migrant, who cater almost exclusively to the kind that lives within the security gates.

You’ll often hear people like those Bangladeshis referred to as “guest workers,” a preposterous euphemism if ever I heard one. As a nomad and writer—whether I’m reporting a story or crashing on a couch—I’m often a guest in people’s houses, apartments, cities, cultures, and neighborhoods. But because of the two very powerful passports I possess, I’ll never have to feel the kind of anxiety those men felt at the security gate when I arrive in these places. I will almost always be considered a guest, invited, welcomed.

There’s nothing more human than wanting to better one’s situation, to do whatever is in your power improve the life of yourself or your family. Anyone who has moved to another country can relate to that. What we can’t all relate to, is the experience we have once we get there."
guests  migration  immigration  passprorts  privilege  2015  bangladesh  malaysia  kualalumpur  london  uk  us  airports  nomads  nomadism  neo-nomads 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The male suicides: how social perfectionism kills | Mosaic
"Impulsivity, brooding rumination, low serotonin, poor social problem-solving abilities – there are many vulnerabilities that can heighten the risk of suicide. Professor Rory O’Connor, President of the International Academy of Suicide Research, has been studying the psychological processes behind self-inflicted death for over 20 years.

“Did you see the news?” he asks when I meet him. The morning’s papers are carrying the latest numbers: 6,233 suicides were registered in the UK in 2013. While the female suicide rate has remained roughly constant since 2007, that for men is at its highest since 2001. Nearly eight in ten of all suicides are male – a figure that has been rising for over three decades. In 2013, if you were a man between the ages of 20 and 49 who’d died, the most likely cause was not assault nor car crash nor drug abuse nor heart attack, but a decision that you didn’t wish to live any more.

In every country in the world, male suicides outnumber female. The mystery is why? What is it about being male that leads to this? Why, at least in the UK, are middle-aged men most at risk? And why is it getting worse?

Those who study suicide, or work for mental health charities, are keen to press upon the curious that there’s rarely, if ever, a single factor that leads to any self-inflicted death and that mental illness, most commonly depression, usually precedes such an event. “But the really important point is, most people with depression don’t kill themselves,” O’Connor tells me. “Less than 5 per cent do. So mental illness is not an explanation. For me, the decision to kill yourself is a psychological phenomenon. What we’re trying to do in the lab here is understand the psychology of the suicidal mind.”

We’re sitting in O’Connor’s office on the grounds of Gartnavel Royal Hospital. Through the window, the University of Glasgow’s spire rises into a dreich sky. Paintings by his two children are stuck to a corkboard – an orange monster, a red telephone. Hiding in the cupboard, a grim book collection: Comprehending Suicide; By Their Own Young Hands; Kay Redfield Jamison’s classic memoir of madness, An Unquiet Mind.

O’Connor’s Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab works with survivors in hospitals, assessing them within 24 hours of an attempt and tracking how they fare afterwards. It also carries out experimental studies, testing hypotheses on matters such as pain tolerance in suicidal people and changes in cognition following brief induced periods of stress.

After years of study, O’Connor found something about suicidal minds that surprised him. It’s called social perfectionism. And it might help us understand why men kill themselves in such numbers."



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you tend to identify closely with the roles and responsibilities you believe you have in life. “It’s not about what you expect of yourself,” O’Connor explains. “It’s what you think other people expect. You’ve let others down because you’ve failed to be a good father or a good brother – whatever it is.”

Because it’s a judgement on other people’s imagined judgements of you, it can be especially toxic. “It’s nothing to do with what those people actually think of you,” he says. “It’s what you think they expect. The reason it’s so problematic is that it’s outside your control.”

O’Connor first came across social perfectionism in studies of American university students. “I thought it wouldn’t be applicable in a UK context and that it certainly wouldn’t be applicable to people from really difficult backgrounds. Well, it is. It’s a remarkably robust effect. We’ve looked at it in the context of the most disadvantaged areas of Glasgow.” It began in 2003 with an initial study that looked at 22 people who had recently attempted suicide, as well as a control group, and assessed them using a 15-question quiz that measures agreement with statements such as “Success means that I must work even harder to please others” and “People expect nothing less than perfection from me”. “We’ve found this relationship between social perfectionism and suicidality in all populations where we’ve done the work,” says O’Connor, “including among the disadvantaged and the affluent.”

What’s not yet known is why. “Our hypothesis is that people who are social perfectionist are much more sensitive to signals of failure in the environment,” he says.

I ask if this is about perceived failure to fulfil roles, and what roles men feel they should fill? Father? Bread-winner?

“Now there’s this change in society,” O’Connor replies, “you have to be Mr Metrosexual too. There are all these greater expectations – more opportunities for men to feel like failures.”"



"If you’re a social perfectionist, you’ll have unusually high expectations of yourself. Your self-esteem will be dangerously dependent on maintaining a sometimes impossible level of success. When you’re defeated, you’ll collapse.

But social perfectionists aren’t unique in identifying closely with their goals, roles and aspirations. Psychology professor Brian Little, of the University of Cambridge, is well known for his research on ‘personal projects’. He believes we can identify so closely with them that they become part of our very sense of self. “You are your personal projects,” he used to tell his Harvard class.

According to Little, there are different kinds of projects, which carry different loads of value. Walking the dog is a personal project but so is becoming a headteacher in a lovely village, and so is being a successful father and husband. Surprisingly, how meaningful our projects are is thought to contribute to our wellbeing only slightly. What makes the crucial difference to how happy they make us is whether or not they’re accomplishable.

But what happens when our personal projects begin to fall apart? How do we cope? And is there a gender difference that might give a clue to why so many men kill themselves?

There is. It’s generally assumed that men, to their detriment, often find it hard to talk about their emotional difficulties. This has also been found to be true when it comes to discussing their faltering projects. “Women benefit from making visible their projects and their challenges in pursuing them,” Little writes, in his book Me, Myself and Us, “whereas men benefit from keeping that to themselves.”

In a study of people in senior management positions, Little uncovered another salient gender difference. “A clear differentiator is that, for men, the most important thing is to not confront impedance,” he tells me. “They’re primarily motivated to charge ahead. It’s a clear-the-decks kind of mentality. The women are more concerned about an organisational climate in which they’re connected with others. You can extrapolate that, I think, to areas of life beyond the office. I don’t want to perpetrate stereotypes but the data here seem pretty clear.”

Additional support for this comes from a highly influential 2000 paper, by a team lead by Professor Shelley Taylor at UCLA, that looked at bio-behavioural responses to stress. They found that while men tend to exhibit the well-known ‘fight or flight’ response, women are more likely to use ‘tend and befriend’. “Although women might think about suicide very seriously,” says Little, “because of their social connectedness, they may also think, ‘My God, what will my kids do? What will my mum think?’ So there’s forbearance from completing the act.” As for the men, death could be seen as the ultimate form of ‘flight’.

But that deadly form of flight takes determination. Dr Thomas Joiner, of Florida State University, has studied differences between people who think about suicide and those who actually act on their desire for death. “You can’t act unless you also develop a fearlessness of death,” he says. “And that’s the part I think is relevant to gender differences.” Joiner describes his large collection of security footage and police videos showing people who “desperately want to kill themselves and then, at the last minute, they flinch because it’s so scary. The flinch ends up saving their lives.” So is the idea men are less likely to flinch? “Exactly.”

But it’s also true, in most Western countries, that more women attempt suicide than men. One reason a higher number of males actually die is their choice of method. While men tend towards hanging or guns, women more often reach for pills. Martin Seager, a clinical psychologist and consultant to the Samaritans, believes this fact demonstrates that men have greater suicidal intent. “The method reflects the psychology,” he says. Daniel Freeman, of the University of Oxford’s department of psychiatry, has pointed to a study of 4,415 patients who had been at hospital following an episode of self-harm; it found significantly higher suicidal intent in the men than the women. But the hypothesis remains largely uninvestigated. “I don’t think it’s been shown definitively at all,” he says. “But then it would be incredibly difficult to show.”

For O’Connor, too, the intent question remains open. “I’m unaware of any decent studies that have looked at it because it’s really difficult to do,” he says. But Seager is convinced. “For men, I think of suicide as an execution,” he says. “A man is removing himself from the world. It’s a sense of enormous failure and shame. The masculine gender feels they’re responsible for providing and protecting others and for being successful. When a woman becomes unemployed, it’s painful, but she doesn’t feel like she’s lost her sense of identity or femininity. When a man loses his work he feels he’s not a man.”

It’s a notion echoed by the celebrated psychologist Professor Roy Baumeister, whose theory of suicide as ‘escape from the self’ has been an important influence on O’Connor. “A… [more]
suicide  men  via:anne  2015  perfectionism  roryo'connor  middleage  behavior  impulsivity  rumination  serotonin  socialperfectionism  responsibility  responsibilities  society  failure  judgement  urbanization  success  self-esteem  socialesteem  pressure  stress  gender  manhood  roybaumeister  martinseager  thomasjoiner  shelleytaylor  brianlittle  self-concept  korea  china  us  uk  kayredfieldjamison 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Black Books- The Story of Britain's First Black Bookshop on Vimeo
"This film delves into the radical history of Britain's first black bookshop which was founded by John La Rose and Sarah White in 1966. As well as creating a much needed space for black communities to access and publish their own literature, it helped support important campaigns such as the Caribbean Artists Movement, the Black Parents Movement as well as playing a pivotal role in the historic Black Peoples Day of Action.

Decades on, 'New Beacon Books' is still a functioning bookshop but in a world of Amazon and Kindles can it really survive forever?"
britain  uk  2014  documentary  booksellers  bookshops  1966  johnlarose  sarahwhite  activism  politics  lcproject  publishing  openstudioproject  optimism  1960s  change  arwaaburawa  bookstores 
may 2015 by robertogreco
BBC News - How did WW2 change the way people dressed?
"Despite air raids and austerity, style was not in short supply in World War Two. An exhibition at the Imperial War Museum looks at how conflict abroad meant fashion at home had to change."

"The Make-do and Mend credo - given official support by the Board of Trade in 1942 - tried to make people think differently about where they got clothes from.

With coupons limiting what could be bought in the shops, old garments at the back of wardrobes were adapted and given new life.

This woman's matching jacket and skirt may originally have started life as a man's pin stripe suit."
clothing  history  wwii  worldwartwo  2015  austerity  glvo  war  makedo  mending  uniformproject  uk 
march 2015 by robertogreco
If leftwingers like me are condemned as rightwing, then what’s left? | Tim Lott | Comment is free | The Guardian
"I am a “lefty”. I have voted Labour all my life. I believe in the abolition of public schools and the inviolability of the NHS, and that the renewal of Trident is a vanity project. I believe the state must work to ensure equality of opportunity for all: women, the LBGT “community”, those with disabilities, those of minority cultures and ethnicities, and the working class. The Guardian has been my newspaper forever. I was glad to see the back of the Sun’s Page 3, and I believe there should be more all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats. I believe immigration is more of a positive force than a negative one.

However, you might be less certain about my status when I finish laying out my stall. Because I find myself holding a “transgressive” body of beliefs and doubts alongside my blue-chip leftwing ones that are liable to get me branded a misogynist, an Islamophobe and a Little Englander – at least by people on my Twitter feed, and others of my peer group.

These “beliefs” are more like questions, largely about identity politics, those deep and dangerous rift valleys of the left. I believe the jury is still out about whether gender identity is entirely constructed. I question whether the gender pay gap in Britain is as large as is sometimes suggested, and wonder whether it may have as much to do with the way it is calculated and with the choices women make after having children as it does with patriarchy or prejudice (although the government could do more to close the gap by funding childcare better). There is huge work to do to liberate women from the very real yoke of patriarchy. But I would venture – checking my privilege – that this is not a crisis in Britain in way it is in the developing world.

I am not convinced jihadists have “nothing to do” with Islam – although this strikes me as a largely theological and semantic point. I am wary of even moderate Islam for the same reason I am wary of even moderate Christianity: because I am an atheist and a humanist and a social liberal, and consider most religions to be counter-rational and socially conservative. To acknowledge that grooming gangs and FGM and tendencies towards homophobia and gender oppression have arisen out of some of the matrices of Muslim practices and belief systems adds to my unease.

I believe more in free speech than I do in “safe spaces” in universities. I do not think people with unpleasant opinions should be prosecuted, or even denied a platform, unless they directly threaten to incite violence or lawbreaking. I do not think “political correctness” is a myth – although I would prefer the term groupthink – but that it is a system of thought that has a real impact on public policy and institutional behaviour.

I think of myself as English rather than British, and have some residual affection for my country – though for reasons of its humour, cultural imagination and common grassroots culture rather than its imperial past.

My stance on these issues makes some people in my “tribe” very angry. It is the anger of the pure believer towards the apostate. However, I can find echoes of my populist worldview in one strand of the left – that represented by the Spiked web magazine, which grew out of the ashes of Living Marxism and the Revolutionary Communist party, once known as the libertarian or anti-Stalinist left. Describing their philosophy as radical humanism, they poke and prod at the sacred cows of the left but from a socialist rather than a rightwing populist position. The fact that I enjoy Spiked – although I by no means agree with all of it – feels like dirty little secret. But that’s what the mainstream left specialises in: generating shame.

This shame comes from the phenomenon of what I call assumption creep – the assumption that if you believe one thing you probably believe another thing, which you are hiding. If you believe women behave differently in the real world from men, whether for cultural or biological reasons, you also (secretly) believe women are more suited for domestic life than careers.

That if you believe religion, including Islam, is the source of much conflict in the world you also (secretly) believe all Muslims are potential terrorists and you (secretly) dislike immigrants to boot. That if you have a particular attachment to your country, defined as England rather than Britain, you keep a St George’s flag and a knuckle-duster in the back of your drawer. These supposed secret assumptions are the primary source of censure from leftwing critics of the “paradoxical voice” – which is the term I use to describe the thinking of “non-pure” leftwing thinkers.

Assumption creep may be accurate in some cases. We all know about the “I’m not a racist, but … ” arguments. But more often than not, it simply isn’t true. To insist otherwise is lazy. It’s just a way of making sure people who have opinions contrary to your own stay safely in their boxes – the boxes marked “bad people”. To actually address the issues is thus avoided, because who needs to debate with a bad person? It’s enough just to condemn them.

One very key element of the liberal left has long been under threat: its liberalism – that is, its willingness to debate with anything outside a narrow range of opinions within its own walls. And the more scary and incomprehensible the world becomes, the more debate is replaced by edict and prejudice: literally pre-judging. Identity politics is one of the most significant developments of the last 50 years, but it has led to nerves being exposed in a way they rarely were by economic issues. Because identity is less about politics and more about that most sensitive of human constructions, the protection of the self – both group and individual.

And the more it becomes about the protection of self, the less it becomes about the back and forth of rational argument. All the beliefs, opinions and doubts I hold are just that: they are ideas, not ironclad convictions. I am not certain about any of them, and am quite willing to change my mind, as I have done many times in the past. But I will not alter them if I am faced with invective rather than debate; in fact, they will become more entrenched.

Nick Cohen, Christopher Hitchens, David Aaronovich, Julie Burchill, Julie Bindel and others have often been at the rough end of this debate, for daring to voice opinions of their own that do not fit the overarching narrative. David Mamet’s admittedly provocative essay, Why I Am No Longer a “Brain-Dead Liberal”, published in the Village Voice, must have cost him a fair few dinner party invitations. This marginalisation is invidious, not only because it violates the principles of free debate – we cannot suppress awkward questions lest it “give succour to the enemy” – but because it is bound to alienate the wider public.

Those who identify with the “paradoxical voice” self-censor because they know they are going to get rocks thrown at them – not by their enemies but by their friends. That’s not only a bad feeling; it’s a tendency that’s bad for democracy, for politics, and the wider movement we call the left. And the left – in its compassion, freedom and concern for social justice – is the only hope for the future of this country."
via:anne  debate  discourse  politics  identitypolitics  2015  timlott  politicalcorrectness  liberalism  uk  shame  shaming  privilege  left  assumption  assumptioncreep  leftwing  purity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Conversation in Truro about accent, dialect and attitudes to language. - BBC Voices - Accents and dialects | British Library - Sounds
[via: “Chacking to hear some Cornish dialects?”
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/sound-and-vision/2015/03/chacking-to-hear-some-cornish-dialects.html ]

[See also:
"The BBC Voices Recordings is an audio archive of group conversations made in 303 locations across the UK by BBC Local and Nations Radio in 2004 and 2005. The recordings involve 1,293 speakers discussing their words for 40 prompt terms (e.g. 'mother', 'tired' and 'to play truant') and exploring the language they use and encounter in their daily lives."
http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/bldept/socsci/research/voicesuk/voices.html ]

"Abstract
[00:00:00] Speakers introduce themselves. Discussion of words used to describe EMOTIONS. Comment that her hairdressing voice is very polite. Mention multiple meanings of hanging and minging. Discussion about speaking differently when talking to different people: friends/clients/parents, use of slang. Description of fathers Cornish accent, swear words he uses. Things that make them jumping (annoyed). Comment that she has picked up the Cornish phrase cheers my lover, used to address boyfriend, since moving to Cornwall.[00:07:38] Discussion of words used to describe ACTIONS. Anecdote about playing truant from school, playing truant from college during second year. Discussion about meaning, use and offensiveness of twatted.[00:11:44] Discussion of words used to describe CLOTHING. Description of clothes they wear when clubbing. Discussion about attitudes towards cheap, trendy clothes, designer labels and fakes; different fashion expectations for boys/girls, their shopping habits. Discussion of words used to mean lacking money/rich. Description of plimsolls, compulsory footwear for physical education when they were at school, comment that her six-year old cousin now wears Nike trainers for physical education at school.[00:17:58] Discussion of words used to describe PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES. Comment that as hairdressers they have to get used to using both right and left hands. Description of person who is hanging/munting/minging meaning extremely unattractive; clothes skaters wear which she thinks look awful. Discussion about subtle differences in meaning between pretty/attractive/stunning/gorgeous used to describe females, examples of women who fit each category. Description of how she reacts to rude customers.[00:28:00] Discussion of words used to describe WEATHER AND SURROUNDINGS. Comment that peoples speech reveals their age. Discussion about words they would/wouldnt use to describe different types of relationships with men, words used to describe promiscuous woman, words used to mean male partner. Discussion about what they would say to each other on seeing a man they really like in a nightclub, euphemisms used when working behind bar in nightclub; words used by men to describe women they like, how they would feel if these words were used to describe them; words used by males/females to describe wanting to have sex with someone, comment that females arent more reserved but they describe it more politely than males who use more boastful language, possibly because male/female sexual activity is judged differently by other people. Mention words used to describe being desperate to go to the toilet.[00:40:55] Discussion of words used to describe PEOPLE AND THINGS. Mention words used to mean father. Use and meaning of Cornish word dreckly.[00:49:25] Discussion about their attitudes towards the way they speak and the words they use, changing speech in different situations/when talking to different people. Attitudes towards regional accents, description of their own accents, attitudes towards Cornish accent, difference between accent of old/young Cornish people, Cornish language, accents that sound educated, how language relates to class. Comment that David Beckhams voice doesnt match his appearance. Discussion about other peoples attitudes towards and assumptions about Cornish accent, changing/losing accent over generations/when moving across country, future of Cornish accent/regional accents, regional accents on television, how accent changes across Cornwall, pride in their accents, pride in being Cornish.

Description
All three interviewees are hairdressers who are also keen clubbers and very good friends. BBC warning: this interview contains strong or offensive language. Recording made for BBC Voices project of a conversation guided by a BBC interviewer. The conversation follows a loose structure based on eliciting opinions about accents, dialects, the words we use and people's attitude to language."
truro  language  accents  dialects  english  cornish  2004  linguistics  slang  words  uk  cornwall  voices 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Seamless Transitions | booktwo.org
"Seamless Transitions is a visualisation of three spaces of immigration judgement, detention and deportation in the UK. Field House in the City is the home of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), designed around the presentation of secret evidence, Harmondsworth IRC at Heathrow is just one part of the UK’s detention estate, and the Inflite Jet Centre at Stansted is where I watched the deportation flights take place in December 2013 – and where they still carry on.

Each of these spaces is “unphotographable” in the traditional sense, so I used investigative journalism techniques, eyewitness accounts and other research to reconstruct each of them. I then took these plans to Picture Plane, a leading architectural visualiser about whose work I have written at length before. The resultant film – a walkthrough of the virtual environments created by Picture Plane based on research and investigation of real spaces – is a simulacram that nevertheless reveals a reality, one which has remained hidden behind law and indifference.

I have written more about the sites depicted for the Guardian newspaper [http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jan/27/hidden-world-of-uk-deportation-asylum-seamless-transitions ]:
Politicians on all sides – when it suits them – have criticised the current asylum system. Human-rights groups and courts have questioned the legality of many of its aspects. Successive reports over a decade have decried the conditions, management and humanity of the flights and detention centres. Newspaper stories every month recount a litany of abuses, deaths, broken families and traumatised individuals. But even if you don’t know these stories, just watching people of colour being loaded off buses by burly men in hi-vis jackets at night is enough to tell you something inhumane, morally embarrassing, legally questionable and fundamentally objectionable is going on.

And I wrote about the investigative process and the meaning of visualisation for the Border Criminologies blog of the Centre for Criminology [http://bordercriminologies.law.ox.ac.uk/seamless-transitions/ ] at the University of Oxford:
Seamless Transitions is not about the individual stories of immigrants and borders ― as necessary and important as those stories are. It’s about the unaccountability and ungraspability of vast, complex systems: of nation-wide architectures, accumulations of laws and legal processes, infrastructures of intent and prejudice, and structural inequalities of experience and understanding. Through journalistic investigation, academic research, artistic impression, and, I believe, the confluence of these approaches with new technologies, there is an opportunity to see, describe, and communicate the world in ways which have not been possible before.
"

[See also the video interview: https://vimeo.com/117787795 ]
2015  jamesbridle  immigration  deportation  uk  law  visualization  research  journalism  legal  architecture  seamlesstransitions  invisibility 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The BBC, the licence fee and the digital public space | openDemocracy
"The Controller of the BBC’s archive strategy maintains the institution’s fundamental role within the media ecology and argues that the Licence Fee should safeguard a new democratic digital public space."



"So what would the ‘Digital Public Space’ look like?

It should have all the original values of the ‘Analogue Public Space’, plus some amazing new features and services that were previously impossible or unimaginable:

1. It would ensure a guarantee of access to a protected allocation of internet bandwidth for every citizen, free at the point of use, at home and in key public places – conceptually similar to frequencies within the broadcast spectrum reserved for Public Service Broadcasting

2. The Digital Public Space will offer an ever growing digital library of digitised media and assets from our publicly funded organisations: our public service broadcasters, our museums, libraries and archives, our institutions of education and our public services.

3. The Digital Public Space will offer innovative products and services that allow people to access, contribute to and communicate with the public and cultural sectors

4. Users can be safe and secure to discover, use and share without fear of loss or theft or unintended exposure of their personal data and creative endeavours

5. The Digital Public Space works through unmetered consumption, free at the point, of use for every person, regardless of status or ability. The Digital Public Space will not require a broadband subscription. It will be available anywhere across the UK, at any time, to anyone.

6. And finally: the Digital Public Space cannot be taken away.

To get there, perhaps we may need help from the source that created the BBC in the first place – an ambitious desire for there to be an infrastructure constantly developed in the public interest. The combination of Real Thought and Significant Engineering. In fact we already have that remit written into the BBC charter. The sixth public purpose for the BBC states:

(f) in promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies ...

I believe that to understand the BBC’s relevance in the 21st Century, we need to ask, not just “what is the BBC for?” but also “what is the Licence Fee for?” They are not the same thing but, inadvertently, we have allowed them to be seen as the same.

I think we should go back to first principles and consider the emerging needs of all Licence Fee Payers – not only those who actually pay the fee itself – and ensure that in the future each and every one of us has guaranteed access to the public sphere, control over their own data and identity and enduring services that they can trust and depend on.

We used to be broadcast beings. We are now internet beings. However with more and higher barriers to entry to the digital realm we must work hard to ensure that nobody is stripped of the ability to be a citizen of the future.

I believe that is, and has always been, the higher calling for both the BBC and the Licence Fee."

[See also: “A digital public space is Britain’s missing national institution | Technology | The Guardian” (Jemima Kiss)
http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/05/digital-public-space-britain-missing-national-institution ]
2015  tonyageh  bbc  uk  digitalpublicspace  digitalsocialism  jemimakiss  history  television  tv  media  publicgood  publicspace  licencefee  web  online  internet 
march 2015 by robertogreco
A digital public space is Britain’s missing national institution | Technology | The Guardian
"An alternative to the internet as shopping mall is emerging – a place where creative assets can be redistributed for non-commercial use"

"A cynic might say that we have the internet we deserve. We were promised a democratic platform for change, for equality, for collaboration, yet are faced with a reality of weary cynicism, as author Charles Leadbeater wrote last summer, and an assumption that we cannot trust any organisation with our personal data.

We were told of flourishing startups and opportunities for all, yet the internet has amplified global inequalities, says Andrew Keen, a writer on the internet revolution, using the parlance of openness and opportunity to create an industry of disproportionately wealthy entrepreneurs.

And as the meaningful engagement of governments in the lives of citizens diminishes, we stare into a dystopian future described by Evgeny Morozov: Silicon Valley is heading towards a “digital socialism”, where benevolent corporations provide all the health, education, travel and housing employees could ever desire, negating the need for state provision. Ice that cake with the unpalatable truth about the reach of our government’s surveillance services and we might think our internet is already beyond help.

Commercial interests have shaped the internet, and have created such powerful organisations that governments now struggle to keep up – out-funded, out-lobbied and outwitted. Rather than reflecting the real world, the internet absorbs and amplifies it, re-presenting a version of our lives, our work and our culture, from the gross disproportion of privilege and access afforded to those even able to access the internet to the misogyny that cripples meaningful debate. Even acknowledging its infancy, the internet does not represent a version of ourselves of which we can be proud. From privacy and surveillance to our collective cultural record, where is the internet we are truly capable of? Quietly, excitedly, and in a modestly British way, there is an alternative emerging. Rather than the internet as shopping mall – defined and dominated by commercial interests – how could we build the public park of the internet?

Many of the concerns I have raised in this column – that we are primarily now consumers before citizens, that the ferocious disruption of technology is not being tempered with ethical oversight, about the failure of the BBC to embrace a digital future – all point in the same direction. We have a missing national institution.

The idea of a Digital Public Space was discreetly mooted by some of the BBC’s most overlooked and visionary staff as far back at 2010. February’s Warwick Commission report, a barometer for the UK’s cultural and creative health, picked out the project as one of six key goals, a digital cultural library of artistic and cultural assets.

What will be the digital legacy of the V&A, the British Library, the British Film Institute? These organisations at best are under represented in the digital world, at worst absent, outdated and woefully underfunded. The relentless, superficial, commercially motivated hyperspeed internet is built for the new, the now, the sellable – which is of course why these organisations need a digital manifestation more than ever. And that doesn’t mean being digitised by Google Books.

The internet is dominated by the US, and noisy voices of extreme libertarianism; witness Jimmy Wales on the Right to be Forgotten, who believes any accommodation of humanity by a search engine is censorship. Tell that to the wife of a murder victim, who asked that prominent mentions of her in outdated and disturbing articles about her husband’s death be de-indexed.

The Digital Public Space would be, in principle, equally accessible to anyone regardless of status or income, safe and private, and operating in the interests of users and not of the ecosystem itself. Creative assets – artworks, archives, films, books, photographs – could be reused and redistributed within the space, an antechamber to the main internet, but only for non-commercial use.

This is not a vision of the technological future imagined and engineered by the dominant young, white, male west coast developer who asks “can I build it”, rather than “should I build it”. There, the rule is build it first – ask questions about the social, cultural and ethical impact later. But this is public space by design, public by default, the internet at the service of the public.

With an intense and probably bruising runup to BBC charter renewal, the amorphous digital public space project still requires a leap of imagination. Given the mundanity of BBC priorities, it is unlikely to feature prominently in any negotiations and would not be BBC funded. But the BBC is only the shepherd of this project; this is a coalition of the willing, a call to action for the UK’s most powerful public institutions who can and will have a say in the future of the public internet. A more dynamic BBC might have already rebuilt itself as this kind of organisation, but it has fallen behind. Its digital executives wearily mourn the opportunity. “It hasn’t developed or kept pace with technology,” one says. “The UK deserves a world class digital technology brand without dominance of the US and with a crucial ethical underpinning. It’s our missing public institution.”

Leave aside our collective hangover about the power and impact of Britain’s voice, politically and economically, from a Victorian mindset about our rightful place in the world. Culturally, the UK is a powerhouse, and the best place in the world to start a meaningful discussion about the truly public, truly digital space that we deserve. It is the right time for that battle. Who is on board?"

[See also:
“The BBC, the licence fee and the digital public space” (Tony Ageh)
https://opendemocracy.net/ourbeeb/tony-ageh/bbc-licence-fee-and-digital-public-space
jemimakissa  digitalcommons  2015  uk  digitalpublicspace  bbc  2010  charlesleadbeater  digitalsocialism  publicspace  internet  online  commons  web 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Civic Workshop
"A group of people producing and making new culture - looking at ways to reframe our everyday local experiences with an awareness of our collective social and political future."



"The Civic Bureau is now open and the live data from the Census can be seen here.

Census statistics have been the core of social architecture for thousands of years and it is the key tool that directs huge amounts of public funding in both the UK and India. Between 2001-11 the UK census directed the allocation of £1 trillion worth of government spending but the questions, methods and format has remained the same for many years.

The Government has started to explore how to update the census to make better use of technological advances and data expertise.

We want to explore how the census can build a steady accumulation of civic records that can facilitate a different relationship between citizens and the state.

Our first experiment, the Civic Bureau begins at Somerset House, as part of the Civic Workshop residency. Over the coming months we will be inviting the public to take part.

We are interested in how the census can make better use of civic technology and what the census would look like if done at a City level, built on the idea of the city as a public good. This raises questions about how people participate and how often, what kinds of information people want to give towards a "public good" and what would feel representative of their everyday lives.

We have partnered with a team at the ICRI Cities lab at University College London, and will be showcasing Sens-Us, an interactive Citizen Census, at Somerset House. Sens-Us will be based on the VoxBox technology, developed at UCL, which is an innovative way to gather opinions through a “tangible questionnaire” as opposed to filling out forms.

The Civic Bureau will be open from January 15th for one month."
openstudioproject  lcproject  civicworkshop  cities  urban  urbanism  publicgood  culture  culturemaking  everyday  local  collectivism  census  uk 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
NINE WORLDS GEEKFEST
"As magic is easily seen as an allegory for money - magic means prestige, social capital, access to an entire *literal* world, as well as transport, enjoyment, learning - the use of the the same room in the Ministry of Magic as the setting for muggle-born hearings in OoTP clearly correlates to the hearings and judgments and approvals for benefits (the receipt of which often made the difference between ones’ ability to continue to be a part of society) in Muggle Britain. 

TL;DR - Voldemorts’ rise, and the accompanying social conservatism in the wizarding world - class hatred, allusions to racism, recession, a small but powerful government - actually tallies really well with what actually happened in Muggle Britain in the nineties."
jkrowling  uk  1990s  britain  class  economics  politics  via:tealtan  harrypotter  2015 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Guardian view on private schools: time for them to give back in return for their tax breaks | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Tristram Hunt is right to ask private schools to share their expertise with the state sector"



"Mr Hunt’s recognition of the social injustice embodied by educational privilege is welcome, and he clearly intends his proposals to reflect differences in resources within the private sector – between, say, a public school such as Eton and a small Christian primary. Not every independent school could run an inner-city academy. Some already do. But more of them could certainly do more than, say, invite local schools to the A-level art exhibition. Fee-paying parents who protest that that’s not what they’re paying for face paying a bit more to make up for the loss of business rate relief. Labour should brush aside claims that it’s anti-aspiration, or launching a new class war. Tackling entrenched privilege is nothing to do with the politics of envy. This move could be a small step towards a fairer society."
uk  education  privateschools  taxes  inequality  policy  publicschools  socialjustice  privilege 
january 2015 by robertogreco
'American Psycho' property promo pulled after Twitterstorm | Art and design | The Guardian
"The developer Redrow has deleted its latest aspirational video of a suave city boy looking down from his luxury penthouse after a web backlash. But it does show the psychotic nature of the housing market in London today"



"The whole thing is beyond parody; as if JG Ballard had been put in charge of the opening titles to the Apprentice. It portrays a world of hyper-luxurious emptiness and alienation, achieved by a relentless ambition to be the best and defeat everyone and everything else in the process. “It is a totally clear expression of the psychotic nature of housing in London at the moment,” says architect Sam Jacob, who made a mash-up parody of the video, cutting Patrick Bateman’s narcissistic monologues from the film American Psycho over the Redrow footage, producing an eerily accurate match.

“It plunges us back into the ultimate yuppie fantasy – the fact that the individual only exists in relation to the brands that they own, the things that they’ve bought. That property and housing is just about individual success, investment, money, achievement.”



"“It’s all part of the same narrative,” says Jacob. “The separation of the individual from collectivity, the fact that you rise above the city, the idea that the city is a kind of beast that is there to be beaten or to beat you. That of course means you’re separated from society and the things that really make a city exciting.”"

[See also:
http://russelldavies.typepad.com/planning/2015/01/how-long-before-property-ads-are-as-insane-as-perfume-ads.html
http://hautepop.tumblr.com/post/107130105697/violence-glass-steel
http://piercepenniless.tumblr.com/post/107101499087/violence-glass-steel ]

[via: http://notes.husk.org/post/107243158244/redrow-london-video
http://notes.husk.org/post/107242854169/not-quite-right
http://notes.husk.org/post/107242718439/redrow-property-london ]
housing  markets  capitalism  london  uk  advertising  promotion  success  money  property  society  individualism  collectivity  collectivism  cities  inequality 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers 'is heavy-handed’ - Telegraph
"Nursery staff and childminders are given 'duty' to report toddlers they suspect of being at risk of becoming terrorists under new Home Office measures"
children  education  government  terrorism  uk  2015  absurdity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
08 | November | 2011 | AN EMPIRE OF ONE
"Two recent books, Alan Moore: Storyteller (which my wife was lucky enough to win from this site) and Grant Morrison’s Supergods, have re-sparked a question I’ve had regarding the connection between England’s social welfare system and the Eighties invasion of American comics by British writers and artists. There’s no doubt there were several factors, with perhaps the emergence, in the late Seventies, of comics magazines such as 2000 A.D., Warrior, the Marvel U.K. line being especially important. But the most intriguing factor? The dole.

So what is my hypothesis? That comic book artists such as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison would not exist without having had the benefit of being supported for several years by the British unemployment benefits system, otherwise known as “the dole,” thus giving them time to develop their skills such that they could survive without the dole.

The evidence?

Alan Moore: Storyteller:
Moore left the financial security of the office job [in 1977] and signed on at the Department of Health and Social Security for unemployment benefits. (p. 44)

Grant Morrison’s Supergods:
Perhaps at last, this [ie, superhero comics as represented especially by Alan Moore’s version of Marvelman, which first appeared in 1982] could be a way of making enough money to quit the dole and get noticed doing something I loved. (p. 186)
At twenty-four [1984],… I was still on the dole and living at home… (p. 208)

I do not know if Morrison and Moore are typical or exceptions, but I’m leaning towards their being representative of the writers and artists who constituted the British Invasion of American comics in the Eighties. The unemployment system in the USA in the Eighties did not allow anyone to continue collecting benefits for several years and, unlike Alan Moore’s case, it was not possible to obtain benefits after quitting or refusing a job. Another requirement was to have worked (on the books) for a certain number of weeks during the previous x number of months. In other words, to qualify for unemployment benefits in the USA, you had to have been employed a minimum amount of time, laid off (not fired), provide proof every other week of looking for work during the previous two weeks, and, even if you could not find a job, after a period of about six months the benefits would cease. The British system appears to have been very different.

Imagine an Earth-2 where Great Britain had no unemployment benefits. Would Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have been able to become Alan Moore and Grant Morrison without the benefit of the dole?"

[Continue reading for multiple updates to the post.]
alanmoore  grantmorrison  welfare  creativity  imagination  2014  uk  thedole  labor  work  cognitivesurplus  comics  socialsecurity  unemployment  comfort  money  benefits  2011 
december 2014 by robertogreco
▶ BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4, Art School, Smart School
"Brian Eno, Grayson Perry and others reflect on the state of the art school.

British art schools have produced some of the world's most successful artists, designers, filmmakers and musicians. Britain has built up a strong reputation for creativity around the world and politicians are interested in capitalising on our creative brand.

Brian Eno was at art school at a particularly exciting time. In the sixties, art colleges were independent and experimental; students were challenged to rethink what art and art education were about. Brian relates his memories of Ipswich College of Art under the radical educationalist Roy Ascot, and reflects on the importance of this experience. But he also sounds a warning note - he says art schools are under huge pressures and the effects are threatening creativity.

This programme brings together artists, musicians, art tutors and archive recordings to explore the last half century of art education and the state of Britain's art schools today.

We hear the perspectives of high profile figures in art and design - Grayson Perry, Richard Wentworth, Eileen Cooper, Peter Kindersley, and Jay Osgerby to name a few.

Britain depends on its art schools if it's to sustain its reputation for creativity. But are art schools becoming too much like universities and excluding those very people who will produce the innovations of the future?

Produced by Isabel Sutton
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4."

[via: http://mrstsk.tumblr.com/post/104110161943 ]
art  arteducation  education  brianeno  graysonperry  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  creativity  design  uk  ruchardwentworth  eileencooper  peterkindersley  jayosgerby  ipswichcollege  filmmaking  music  2014  artschool  mia  artschools 
december 2014 by robertogreco
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