From blog to brain bucket: having a go at radical self-education

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Self-education on the cheap means articles, Youtube, and podcasts – lots and lots of podcasts.

Since this website is basically now just a bucket for me to empty my head into, I’m going to be using it to write about what I’ve been learning.

Over the years, I’ve realised I retain information best when I actually do something with it – and by summarising it here, I’m hoping it’s more likely to stick in my head. Continue reading “From blog to brain bucket: having a go at radical self-education”

I’ve realised blogging is a waste of time (about six years too late)

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I’ve been writing about politics on the internet for six years. This week I’ve been thinking about why I do it, and whether it’s done any good.

When I started, the loose idea was to write about issues I thought were important in accessible language.

Classically, the radical left has been good at theorising about capitalism and society, and atrocious at explaining its insights to people without PhDs. It’s managed to side-line the two biggest issues of them all – global poverty and the environment.

That was bad, the logic ran. An ignorant population equals dismal prospects for socialism. Inaction on climate crisis equals planetary devastation. A dead planet equals no anything. And by writing, I would try and help change all that. Continue reading “I’ve realised blogging is a waste of time (about six years too late)”

Why the Left ignores the global poor

For all their compassion, left-wingers are silent on the most crushing injustice of all

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Millions of people are dying, and you’re doing nothing about it. You could do – we all could. If enough of us did, every one of those deaths would stop. But you don’t. We don’t. And, as a result, in the next few years, hundreds of millions of people will die – of causes we could easily prevent.

Poverty is the single greatest crime one bit of humanity currently inflicts on another. It obliterates any claim we have to living in a civilised society. At very least, it accounts for a third of human deaths – 50,000 a day, 18 million a year, and, conservatively estimated, 400 million since 1990. Add up all those killed in all the wars of the twentieth century, and you’ll get a death toll half that number.

And yet we ignore it. Our ignorance and apathy subjects hundreds of millions to a level of human suffering that trivialises everything else. But when I say ‘we’, I don’t just mean catastrophically shallow, short-sighted, inward-looking, triviality obsessed modern society in general. I also mean the Left. Continue reading “Why the Left ignores the global poor”

Reflections on two deaths

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Last month my A-Level politics teacher dropped dead. Of the three lecturers I had at college, only one’s now still alive, and in the last week I’ve been thinking about the two that aren’t.

At the time, I took them completely for granted. I liked them, more than enough to want to keep in touch with them after I left, but in both cases I didn’t – I assumed they would be around forever. There was no rush to get back in contact, because they would always be there. And I only appreciated how much they’d impacted my life until after they were dead.

Benjamin died first. He taught me second year English Literature from 2008 to 2009, and was a kind, happy, sweet-natured man who brought gasket-blowing enthusiasm and an almost childlike sense of wonder to everything he did.

He was posh, floppy-haired and sheltered – his innocence and thorough-going ignorance of the modern world could range from quaint and endearing to borderline frightening. He was so utterly devoid of cynicism you worried someone would scam him or harm him or otherwise take advantage of his unsullied good nature. Sometimes I wondered how he’d made it to his late thirties without exposure to the grittier realities of life. Occasionally, it was annoying. More often than not, it made him an exceptionally pleasant person to be around. Continue reading “Reflections on two deaths”

The consequences of Brexit

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I don’t think I realised quite how much was at stake re: the referendum until the day itself. I hate the EU, even if I did vote Remain (reluctantly, weeks ago, by post). But the worst thing about what’ll happen now has very little to do with the practicalities of us leaving it.

The referendum has always been a sort of elite civil war – a split in the neoliberal governing class that’s been smothering us all for nigh-on forty years. Some see the EU as an excellent way of furthering the usual majority-squashing hyper-exploitative objectives of rampant corporate capitalism. Some see it as an obstacle.

Cameron and Osborne have been trying to turn Britain into a rights-less poverty wage-paying Indonesia of a country for half a decade. That’s been bad enough. Now, though, they’re sunk. They emphatically tied their colours to the Remain mast – and now they’re near-inevitably going to be replaced with people who are even worse. Continue reading “The consequences of Brexit”

Is there a progressive case for Remaining in the EU? Yes or yes, says Momentum

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The other day, I was in Bristol, mostly to see Mephistophelean magic man Derren Brown and eat curry until I passed out –  but I did, semi-reluctantly, drop in on a Momentum event about the Europe referendum.

Broadly, I hate the EU. Whatever the intention was when it was first established, today’s it’s about the neoliberal zombification of a continent, via financialisation, privatisation, and permanent austerity. I think it’s so utterly riddled with corporate corruption and contempt for democracy that it should be shut down, and that a fair few of the dead-eyed goons that run it should be thrown in jail for crucifying Greece in the name of the banks.

You’d be forgiven, then, for thinking that made me an obvious Leave voter – but I’ve been just about won round by the line of argument some have dubbed Brexiters for Remain. In a nutshell: the EU is terrible, we need to leave – but not now, when its few benefits protect us from the most despicably right-wing government in our history, and Leave politics is dominated by turbo-Thatcherite racists. Continue reading “Is there a progressive case for Remaining in the EU? Yes or yes, says Momentum”