Solidarity, Labour, Law: Between Greece and Europe

Alain Supiot and Emilios Christodoulidis discuss the questions of solidarity and the protection of work in Greece. Emilios Christodoulidis holds the Chair of Jurisprudence at the University of Glasgow. Alain Supiot holds the Chair ‘Etat social et mondialisation: analyse juridique des solidarités’ at the Collège de France. Emilios Christodoulidis* (‘EC’): Alain, thank you for joining me in this discussion over the urgent questions that Greece faces today, with special reference to the questions of solidarity and the protection of work. It is often repeated now that Greece has run out of options and it is painfully clear that in “negotiating” its future with its partners it is running out of road. The EU’s unyielding stance in its collision course with…

I’m a feminist, could that make me an extremist? Yes, according to Theresa May’s new definition

police guarding westminster

Unfortunately it is still the case that some people, for whatever reason, are yet to catch onto the monumental importance of feminism. That being said, I’ve found that it’s extremely rare, in the course of serious conversation, to encounter any expectation that I should keep my feminist views to myself. I’ve always chalked this up to the fact that it is one of the principal goals of any self-​professed liberal society to protect the freedom to express such views. Observing Tory tactics with regards to counter-​terrorism in the last few years, however, I’ve begun to feel a bit on edge as a feminist. I know I live in a society where our recently re-​elected Prime Minister has stated that Britain ‘will never give up free speech’. However,…

The Militarization of Care: the Military-​Medical Gaze and the US-​Mexico Border

A view of the US-Mexico border in San Ysidro, California 2008.

The immigration crisis of summer 2014 made national news once more in February of 2015 when a federal judge granted an injunction on behalf of Central American mothers and children which ordered a stoppage to the Obama administration’s policy of detaining women and children refugees as a method of deterrence. The Department of Homeland Security argued that, because such refugees entered the country illegally, such refugees “…have extremely limited, if any, due process rights” in determining their custody and removal. Stating unequivocally that “(T)he Government is mistaken”[1], the court’s opinion held that the detention-​as-​deterrence policy – which includes a mandate for 34,000 beds for immigrant detainees — was “likely unlawful” and caused “irreparable damage”[2] to vulnerable populations who were being “…detained for the sake of sending a message of…

Left Thoughts from Podemos: Fear, Identity and Social change

podemos

A short while ago I spent a week in the United Kingdom, presenting Podemos in various cities, where I was able to discuss matters of major importance to Britain’s political tradition, such as the relation between parties and unions. The debate also got us involved in analysing the link between Podemos and social movements, and, above all, how the spreading and intensity of the crisis influenced the irruption of Podemos. In this context, one of the most repeated ideas was that in UK there had not been the same level of social mobilisation reached as had been achieved in Spain and Greece. They cited the general strikes and demonstrations, and they partly blamed this lack on the fact that the British left — both the Labour…

Why Muslims Can’t Trust the Legal System: The Lutfur Rahman Judgement and Institutional Racism

Richard Mawrey, QC, Deputy High Court Judge

Institutional racism: “The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.” (The Macpherson report, para. 6.34). “Let justice be done though the heavens fall”, Deputy High Court Judge, Richard Mawrey declared as he delivered a recent ruling which voided Lutfur Rahman’s reelection as Mayor of Tower Hamlets on 22 May 2014. Almost 37,000 people voted for Rahman in an election which saw a record turnout. In a 200 page judgement, Mawrey found Rahman guilty of a series of corrupt and illegal practices. But this…

The foodbank dilemma (part 2 of 2)

food-bank-queue

Read Part 1 here. A Last Resort While there are endless subtle varieties in the way different foodbanks operate, there is one fundamental similarity in the reasons why people use them. Professor Dowler and her colleagues, in their report to DEFRA, found that people turned to food aid as “a strategy of last resort”, when they have exhausted all other possibilities, including cutting back on food and turning to family and friends. No one I met used a foodbank lightly. Louise had been skipping dinners for months before she went to Coventry Foodbank. She finally attended so she could feed her children during the school holiday. Others displayed the emotional and physical efforts of their visits in a variety of different ways. In Edinburgh,…

The Foodbank Dilemma (part 1 of 2)

A food package, Lucie Stoddart

When I think1 about foodbanks now, more than anything else, I think about Louise.2 Louise was the first person I ever met who talked to me about her experiences of using a foodbank. Six months later, it is still my meeting with Louise I return to time and again. As if making sense of that meeting can somehow help me unravel all the issues that I have wrestled with in the months that have followed, as I have visited foodbanks, talked to the people who run and use them, interviewed food experts, and read books, reports and articles, trying to understand the foodbank phenomenon. I’m having lunch in the Hope Centre Café in Hillfields, a deprived area of North Coventry. The sun is streaming through the glass frontage…

Migrant Lives: Not A Commodity

Brussels, Belgium. 23rd April 2015 -- People hold various signs in front of coffins during a rally organizaed by Amnesty International against the deaths of migrants during the smuggling process in the Mediterranean Sea. -- A silent march was held to commemorate the victims of refugee smuggling in the Mediterranean Sea. The organization Amnesty International demanded more efforts to help and rescue victims.
Amnesty International action migrants in Brussels

This text is written by a group of people living in the United Kingdom who are migrants, students and workers. In the last few weeks alone we have witnessed the deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and we have mourned Pinakin Patel who died in detention in Yarl’s Wood. This, as we all know, is only the tip of the iceberg. It is the direct result of the UK and the European Union’s murderous migration policies. The framework underlying these actions is a capitalist conception of the value of life. We see this replicated on a daily basis in the discourse of politicians such as Ed Miliband and David Cameron, but also in the media and even in migrant rights…

Reflections on #FucktheTories

Photo Credit to Oscar Webb

To those who are arguing that people don’t have a right to protest against a government that was “democratically” voted in: Yes we do. This is a government which is waging war on the poor, the homeless, the disabled, the unemployed, immigrants, students, single mums and the unemployed, with devastating consequences. If you think that a party who was voted in by 24% of the electorate should somehow be untouchable to criticism, then you seriously need to reconsider what the hell you think democracy is. Not to mention the fact that some of society’s most vulnerable (e.g many people without citizen status) aren’t even allowed to vote. We need to abolish this ridiculous attitude that the sum total of democracy is a broken, unfair and…

On the Horns of the Moon: 5 More Years Of Pain

Muscular-Christianity

As I walked along the pavement early yesterday morning to get the papers, under the heavy grey sky, cussing the cold temperatures and contemplating all that a Tory majority will mean for the next five years, a few party volunteers (presumably Labour, given the neighborhood) stumbled past me, identity cards still around their necks, seemingly stunned from either lack of sleep, drunkenness, shock or a combination thereof. Stunned with the unexpected news of a Tory majority. They will have more power and more time to destroy the last vestiges of anything resembling the public provision of services. Cuts that even mainstream economists such as Paul Krugman have called counterproductive to the UK’s economic recovery. The phrase ‘Rainy Fascism Island’ came to mind. The polling companies have…

The Strange Lightness of History

Sea

Some people are just too small to be human, and maybe that has always been the case. But ever since Western modernity grew to span the world thanks to colonialism and capitalism, the contradiction between equal dignity for all human beings and the inhuman treatment of some social groups has taken the shape of an abyssal fracture, into which a lot of blood has been spilled and much hypocrisy distilled. The zones of sub-​humanity have been inhabited by a succession of populations — savages, indigenous peoples, women, slaves, blacks — but they never really came to an end; on the contrary, they were renewed by the influx of new populations that either joined or replaced the old ones. The most recent zone is that of undocumented…

Deterrence unto Death: Running fast into a neighbour’s knife

Ship with large number of undocumented migrants runs aground at Rhodes

Once gunships have driven them back to their shores, boats need to be confiscated and burned on a huge bonfire.” Katie Hopkins, UK Conservative Pundit (2015) We understand that by withdrawing this rescue cover we will be leaving innocent children, women and men to drown who we would otherwise have saved. […] when word [got] round they will think twice about making the journey. And so eventually, over time, more lives will be saved” UK Foreign Office Minister Baroness Joyce Anelay (2014) Days before around 900 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to get to Europe, Katie Hopkins commented in The Sun that such migrants are “like cockroaches”, “built to survive a nuclear bomb.” You are probably wondering who Katie Hopkins is. Well, I do not watch much…

Ferries not Frontex! 10 points to really end the deaths of migrants at sea

zx500y290_500603

On April 20, the Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council of the EU released a ten-​point action plan outlining their response to the recent deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Many other proposals have also been made over the last few days. We are activists who have been involved in the struggles against the European border regime for several years and who have been in touch on a daily basis with hundreds of people who have crossed the Mediterranean through Watch The Med and the Alarm Phone project. Faced with the hypocrisy of the “solutions” that have been proposed so far, we feel compelled to undermine their falsity and attempt to open up an alternative space for reflection and action. We…

The Atmosphere of Revolution?

1917-Russian-Revolution

I want to follow up on a post from last year about the general strike, using the idea of silence as that which binds it together in its negativity (or catastrophe as Sorel would say). As I reread that piece for a book that I’m trying to write about crowds, I realised that one of the key points is the atmosphere generated by a crowd-​in-​strike. The danger, however, of valourising atmospheres is that we begin to lose sight of the relation between the material political action and the atmosphere produced. Atmosphere becomes free foating, mysterious and unhitched from events. Lenin, Bataille and Luxemburg give us a clear sense of what is at stake. After the 1905 December revolution, Lenin harries the mensheviks for calling for the creation…

Teaching: Notes on the Thought of Luce Irigaray

silentium

One of the major concerns for Irigaray regarding education, and in my view perhaps the most important one, involves the absence of horizontal relations in the classroom. Indeed, Irigaray writes: Education is still based on the characteristics of the male subject, and seldom takes interest in the values of the female subject. Subject-​object relations, competitive relations with a peer, or peers, within a one-​many configuration, and hierarchical relations define the dominant model. What is lacking is a culture of horizontal relations between different subjects (Irigaray, 2008b, p. 210). Horizontal relations in the classroom involve relations between teachers and students, as well as relations among students, which do not just do away with projecting the subjectivity of a self in a position of power on an other,…

The Germanwings Disaster: A ‘Muslim-​Australian’ Perspective

Janus

The intentional downing of the Germanwings aircraft on 24 March 2015 triggered an urgent media inquiry into the identity and motivations of co-​pilot Andreas Lubitz. Armed with not much more than a grainy photograph of an unassuming man posing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, journalists pressed Marseille prosecutor Brian Robin for a positive identification of first Lubitz’s ‘ethnicity’ and then his ‘religion’ to which came Robin’s reply: ‘he is not listed as a terrorist, if that is what you are insinuating.’ With the media and the authorities scrambling to locate Lubitz’s hypothesised Muslim-​ness, I was reminded of the events in Sydney last year. When a Lindt cafe was stormed and besieged by Man Haron Monis, our Prime Minister soberly announced that Australia had…

Six Books: International Law, Human Rights and the Politics of the Turn to History

TWAIL-EVIL

What do we mean by the turn to history in international law? We are speaking about a growing body of scholarship that is engaged in the task of bringing history to international law in a number of ways: telling the history of international law, contextualising international law within modern history, bringing non-​Eurocentric philosophies of modern history and its crisis to bear on the theory of international law, and historicising international law discourse. It is also possible to say that we are experi­­encing a turn, or an intellectual shift, because the default position of international law theory has been, for centuries, a systemic and synchronic one, accompanied by a reluctance to deal with its own history and its embeddedness in the history of the modern world.…

JHRE Editorial: The Discourse of ‘Biocultural’ Rights

Anthropocene

There can be little doubt of the multiple complexities facing law in the twenty-​first century. Climate change alone presents a challenge of unprecedented global complexity for legal systems – a complexity arising, moreover, directly from the ‘complexity of the climate system [itself:] its myriad of parts, interactions, feedbacks and unsolved mysteries’.1 In the face of such complexities, law’s traditional institutional silos and path-​dependent responses (such as the institutional and doctrinal separation between, for example, human rights law and climate change law) seem increasingly exposed as inadequate. Law’s path-​dependent institutional and doctrinal structures relate to deeper conceptual tendencies. While law itself is a complex, multi-​layered phenomenon, it famously trades in binaries, taxonomies and other conceptual reductionisms. This – it is increasingly clear – is a deep-​seated orientation ill suited to the complexity…

Australians overseas are calling for international protests against mandatory detention of asylum seekers

Dear Australia

For decades Australia has been the subject of international institutional condemnation that has focused on Australia’s policies of mandatory detention and off-​shore processing of asylum seekers. In 2002 in the aftermath of Tampa, SIEV X, the spurious ‘children overboard’ allegations and beginning of the ‘Pacific Solution,’ the UN High Commission for Refugees articulated concern about the vilification of asylum seekers in public discourse and called on the government to provide more honest and accurate information. In July 2002, UN reports outlined that Australia had breached numerous international obligations including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In October 2012, the UN Committee on Arbitrary Detention stated in its scathing…