ANNA VALL reviews the Waterstones event ‘Turning the Political Into Fiction’. When asked why he chose to engage so deeply with the political in his novel White Highlands, author John McGhie responded in his characteristically self-effacing manner: ‘if not us… well, who else?’ He reflected a sense of obligation, of necessity almost, for fiction to engage with politics. While fiction certainly is not required to mingle with politics, when it does so successfully it can yield remarkable results. In an evening of discussion at Waterstones Gower Street titled ‘Turning the Political Into Fiction,’ four authors shared insights into the role of the artist in politics, as well as the power political works of fiction can have in the modern world. While their novels and concerns were often dissimilar, they shared one common thread: the idea that political fiction can be used to promote understanding and unite people in turbulent times.…Continue Reading

Turning the Political into Fiction

MONTY SHIELD looks at the historical importance of Malet Street as a space of student protest. On dreich winter days, Malet Street stands largely deserted, save for the odd huddle of students or a solitary parking attendant. But on others, it is radically transformed. Thousands of activists have found themselves entwined with this place as a political battleground. It was recently the meeting point for the last major dispute between campus workers and university management prior to the Corbyn surge: an arena for thousands of students to build up energy and march on Parliament. I’ve been lucky enough to have been thrown into some of these movements since arriving as a student in London in 2013. On arrival at UCL, as an earnest young revolutionary with little experience of activism and labour struggle, I joined the 6am picket line of the ‘3 Cosas’ (Three Things) strike. This campaign, organised through the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain…Continue Reading

A Place of Pickets and Protest

ALEK ROSE explores how politics and fashion have been linked in Russia since the revolution.  After being associated with social and criminal deviancy for the majority of its existence, the tracksuit has recently become a staple of international fashion weeks. Routinely hitting the catwalk for Gosha Rubchinskiy, the tracksuit is equally a regular feature of Supreme and Palace collections. This resurgence suggests that there has always been an underlying and enduring artistic value to the tracksuit. In an attempt to (maybe unnecessarily) intellectualise the tracksuit, I look to Russia – arguably the country most heavily associated with the the birth of the tracksuit – and also with Constructivism. Constructivism is an artistic movement that originated in Russia in the early 20th century. The movement was dedicated to bringing art, which had previously been considered something only for the elite classes of society, to the ordinary people of the modern world. It evolved into…Continue Reading

Constructivism and the Tracksuit

ISY MOISY discusses whether women have a unique role to play in the battle against climate change. Is it plausible to claim that women have a more insightful understanding of environmental damage and are therefore more uniquely positioned to fight its effects? To see the effect environmental damage has, we can look to Ecofeminism, a theory that grew during the 1980s among women from the anti-nuclear, environmental, and lesbian-feminist movements. It is clear that environmentalism and feminism are both conspicuous, contemporary issues that cannot be understated, and that gender discussion should be integrated into discussions about environmental reparation. Ecofeminism sees a critical connection between the two, as both having been caused by a result of patriarchy – and wants to say more than just that women are more affected by environmental damage.  The Chipko movement in India accomplished a victory in 1980 when Indira Ghandi, the leader at the time, issued a…Continue Reading

Rethinking Ecofeminism

TOMMY WALTERS introduces ‘Back In House’, a workers’ campaign to end outsourcing and zero-hours contracts at the University of London. It seems almost too fitting that Senate House, the building that inspired George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, is today living up to its connotations of exploitation and hypocrisy. In Orwell’s 1984, the slogan ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY’ is ironically plastered across the walls of the ‘enormous pyramidical structures of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air.’ In our parallel universe, workers at the University of London are given the supposed freedom of flexible contracts when outsourced to private contractors, but are in turn underpaid, overworked and deprived of their basic working rights. On Tuesday 21st November, to coincide with the University of London’s Foundation Day dinner attended by Princess Anne at Senate House, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) staged a strike and a simultaneous public protest demanding an end to…Continue Reading

Bring them Back in House

ETHAN RHYS-JENKINS’ short is a punchy and enlightening advert for the Rent Strike protest. He is in conversation with HASSAN SHERIF to explain where the film fits into the larger movement, and where the movement itself is currently headed.  With Cut the Rent’s Free Ed demo racing towards us on 15th November in London, we revisited Ethan Rhys-Jenkins’ short, ‘Rent Strike’, which documents the student effort during last year’s movement. ‘I was working very closely with Rent Strike at the time’, he explains, ‘so this is my contribution to them – a sort of advert/infomercial just about the campaign, which is in dozens of other universities as well. The idea was to have this floating around, spreading the word.’ As a first year student, I was not acquainted with quite how widespread the multi-university movement really is. Ethan’s film (as well as Selma Rezgui’s article last year) pinpoints the massive successes developed over several years…Continue Reading

Cut The Rent

WAFIA ZIA argues that the government’s anti-terrorism scheme is isolating young Muslims and doing little to combat radicalisation. The narrative starts off the same. Hands on the prayer mat, whispering three times while in a sajdah. But this time, like many others, is slightly different. An elderly woman from outside of the hospital prayer room begins to scream and shout, calling to us. The peace that once occupied the space has now been replaced with a numbing shrill. ‘You’re all disgusting, disgusting, disgusting’. The words echo in my head as she leaves. Sitting up, I turn to my friend as she mutters: ‘ugly cow’. I smirk. But there’s a nagging, guilty feeling in my throat. Why is it that the people who are often the most hurt are also those who suffer the most interrogation? The truth is that everywhere you go as a Muslim, you will find hatred. Institutions that…Continue Reading

The Prevent Scheme

  ALASTAIR CURTIS reports on the pro-EU campaign Best for Britain, Gina Miller, and their impact on the General Election result.  The result of the General Election seemed a dead cert in April. Few doubted its outcome, least of all Theresa May. She announced the election from the steps of Downing Street, flushed with confidence and safe in the knowledge that June 8th would deliver a Tory majority of 100 seats, if not more. The plan: Labour, then faltering in opinion polls, would be crushed, and plunge, perhaps irreparably, into civil war. Dissent amongst Remainer Tory backbenchers over the terms of the Brexit deal would be stifled. Energised by her election victory, May planned to arrive in Brussels for the Brexit negotiations armed with a blank cheque. The result of this election—which then seemed irrevocable—would be a Hard Brexit, difficult to negotiate and damaging to the British economy, to business…Continue Reading

Best for Britain