Is there only power or the wilderness? On Labour selecting a leader

Is there only labour

Instead of obsessing about taking power in five years, Labour should support projects of social transformation today. This is the kind of leadership Labour needs. In power or in the wilderness, the British Labour Party it would seem has two settings. Or, at least that’s what they tell us. The present struggle over leadership of the Party has brought these two settings to the fore … and while three candidates seem to think they can offer power, one candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, they tell us can only offer the wilderness. Across media and Internet, commentators argue over this depiction of Corbyn. Critics point to polls showing low general electoral support, the inability of left-​wing Labour leaders to get elected … think…

A Tangled Web: The Vested Interests of the EU Right

Corruption

UPDATED WITH ADDITIONS 14/​7 at 10:30am BST To understand the Greek crisis and the stream of ever worsening deals between the EU and Greece, it is essential to understand just how involved the EU main players have been in the creation of this situation over the past decade. Across much of the media there has been a focus on the character of Syriza as a movement and Tsipras or Varoufakis as politicians and economists. Again and again we have seen aspersions being cast on the credibility or competence of the left. Curiously, there has been little interest in the mainstream on the web of vested interests on the EU side. On The Automatic Earth Raul Ilargi Meijer celebrated the emergence of little ‘factoids’ which complicate…

Their Law: The New Energies of UK Squats, Social Centres and Eviction Resistances in the Fight Against Expropriation (Part 2 of 2)

TAA

The eviction resistances in London express the contestation of private re-​appropriation of homes through powerful displays of collective strength. They are an emergent movement that demonstrates an ever co-​dependant dance between law and protest. Private accumulation interjects in the business of making homes which ironically but unsurprisingly fails miserably because it actively seeks to remove people from where they live. But the huge property behemoths like ‘Lend Lease’ and ‘CapCo’ care not, because they want the ‘right people’ in their new builds, and to demolish and erase the lives already there. Sound familiar? Colonialism is colonising itself it seems. But these lives are vibrant, verdant, vital, and redolent, will not be wiped away and are time and time again coming…

Their Law: The New Energies of UK Squats, Social Centres and Eviction Resistance in the Fight Against Expropriation (Part 1 of 2)

IMG_0707[1]

For anyone old enough to remember themselves as a teenager during the nineties, with fond memories of piercing their own ears (multiple times) whilst listening to the second album of The Prodigy ‘Music for a Jilted Generation’ [self-​piercing nostalgia optional], they will recognise ‘Their Law’ as the musical response to the criminalisation of rave culture’s collective enjoyment of ‘repetitive beats’ directly legislated in Section 63(1)(b) of the Criminal Justice Act and Public Order Act 1994. The metallic screams and staples pulsate into an abrupt “fuck them and their law” where the Braintree boys quarterise their angry sentiment against enclosing law, the voice of a radical resistance felt in lower frequency bass, vibration, body, the tribe, the people — rave terms. I think of Their Law…

One no, many yeses! The Greek Referendum

OXI

A victory for OXI would not just help restore a sense of dignity to Greece; it would strengthen the ground for anti-​austerity struggles across Europe. Today, Greece has an opportunity to make history. The brave decision by Prime Minister Tsipras to call a referendum on the creditors’ inhumane ultimatums has turned the tables. The government’s steadfastness in the face of extreme pressures — both from abroad and from within — has given people across Europe a renewed sense of hope. It would have been easy to cave in to the financial asphyxiation of the creditors and the terror campaign of the domestic and international media. But so far Greece has held its ground, and today it stands firm and upright as millions take to the polls for the…

Sovereign Exception: Notes on the Thought of Giorgio Agamben

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Key Concept Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, the first book of his multi-​volume Homo Sacer project, urges a reconsideration of theories of sovereignty as put forward ‘from Hobbes to Rousseau’ (1998: 109). The theory of sovereign power offered by the book is based on the state of exception (as in Schmitt[1]) and the production of a bare, human life caught in the sovereign ban, which constitutes the threshold of the political community. Responding to Foucault’s theory of biopolitics, in which human life becomes the target of the organisational power of the State, Agamben argues that there exists a ‘hidden tie’ between sovereign power and biopolitics, forged in the exceptional basis of State sovereignty. Sovereign Power and Law Sovereign power,…

On Destroying What Destroys You: An Interview with Thomas Nail

Hostis

Thomas Nail is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver and author of The Figure of the Migrant (Stanford University Press, 2015) and Returning to Revolution: Deleuze, Guattari, and Zapatismo (Edinburgh University Press, 2012). His publications can be accessed at: udenver​.academia​.edu/​T​h​o​m​a​s​N​ail One may see the aims of Hostis* and feel a tinge of moral discomfort when it begins to ask questions regarding the status of migrants, of refugees, and of exiles,[1] if only for the very reason that there remains some commitment on our part to the idea that to be content with a politics of recognition and a strategy of representation perpetuates the illusion of emancipation when all that can be achieved is Statist inclusion. In other words, once recognition…

The Greeks Deserve Better from Europe

OXI

Greek Prime Minister Alex Tspiras announced a July 5th Referendum on whether Greece should accept the Troika’s final demand that Greece accept additional austerity measures in exchange for further loans. Countering the ‘shock and awe’ tactics of the Troika, the Greek leaders have drawn a ‘red line’ in the sand: democracy, not neoliberal hegemony, will decide whether Greece will accept further austerity or cut loose from a dysfunctional European monetary system that was still born in 1992.[1] As Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis stated: The Eurogroup Meeting of 27th June 2015 will not go down as a proud moment in Europe’s history. Ministers turned down the Greek government’s request that the Greek people should be granted a single week during which to deliver a Yes or No answer…

‘The Republic of Love’

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Almost a month has passed since the verdict of ‘Yes For Love’ was returned in the same-​sex marriage referendum in Ireland. For the people who drove the campaign; for those who canvassed during the hard emotional slog of its last month in particular; for all those who told their stories of hurt, of lives lived in closeted fear and repression in newspapers, on TV, across social media, to family and friends; for the LGBTQ young people who had not before witnessed the extent and depth of homophobia written in to longstanding norms as to what and who constitutes the ‘nation’; for those who had to face the harsh truth of homophobic discursive violence enacted under the guise of ‘democracy’ and ‘balanced…

The In/​determinacy of Human Rights: A Response to O’Connell

Paul O’Connell recently argued that human rights are not a trap for emancipatory and radical projects. They can be productively placed with different discourses like anti-​capitalism, anti-​racism or queer politics, generating productive moments of resistance. He argues against what he calls a ‘monolingual’ idea of struggle where movements can only engage with one discourse at a time. We can escape the dominant rendering found in international human rights law, and instead engage with an ‘emancipatory multilingualism’ where rights are joined with other counter-​hegemonic ideas. Wendy Brown is his foil here: Brown… argue[s] that in light of the renewed vigour of American imperialism, perhaps instead of human rights support for indigenous movements in post-​colonial societies,… other narratives would be more efficacious in resisting the…

Turkey Joins the Purple Wave in Europe: Striving for Democracy Amidst Hostility and Violence

Co-leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP)

The aspirations for greater freedom and democracy with the onset of the Gezi movement in 2013 had given way to despair in the face of increasing state repression and the absence of rule of law, that have by and large suffocated freedom of expression in the country. Indicating a clear move away from democratization efforts towards a form of competitive authoritarianism, many have questioned whether there was any room left for oppositional politics anymore in the Turkish political landscape. In timely fashion, the recent elections have reinvigorated hope and a sense of solidarity for those seeking an alternative future. In what has been considered as the most important elections in recent history, Turkish voters have expressed their discontent with the authoritarian tendencies pursued by…

Big Oil’s Ethical Violence

[BP_art

International attention has once again turned to the murky record of BP’s oil operations in Colombia. The High Court in London is to hear a case against BP, filed on behalf of Gilberto Torres, a former trade unionist who was kidnapped and tortured by state-​linked paramilitaries in 2002. In a trial in Colombia, the kidnappers said that they took direct orders from pipeline operator Ocensa, in which BP had a 15% stake. They stated that Ocensa paid them an extra $40,000 for the job. Legal cases such as this are vital: they aim to hold corporations to account and to contest systematic impunity. Torres’s London-​based lawyers hope the lawsuit will open the way to hundreds of other cases on behalf of community leaders, activists and…

Human Rights: Contesting the Displacement Thesis

As a general rule, the precise significance of historical shifts, developments or movements can take a long time to reveal themselves. This is no doubt also true for human rights. For good or ill, and in many ways that remains to be seen, the language of human rights has become ubiquitous in moral, philosophical and political discourse over at least the last thirty years. Over this period we can point to instances where the language of human rights has been used to mobilise support for political prisoners, to prevent evictions of shack dwellers and to advance the cause of same sex marriage. By the same token, there are numerous episodes where the language of rights has been used to consolidate corporate power…

Reforming the Welfare State for Saving Capitalism

[Given the recent success of Free Education movements and higher eductaion trades unions in blocking the ‘Teach Higher’ work casualisations proposals at the University of Warwick, we thought the below missive from Wildcat Germany was appropriate grounds for a pause. It’s a little old (1999) but a goody, particularly because it makes clear that the wage is but one side of the of worker’s role in capitalism, the other being that worker’s role in production. The argument runs in part that anti-​casualisation battles, which specifically focus on equal pay for equal work, separate the wage issue from the issue of control of the production process. From the perspective of production ‘casualisation’ is meaningless; what is happening is that labour is being organised in…

Gay Rights in Russia 

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Homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Russia — since 1993. In 1999 it ceased to be regarded as a mental illness. Indeed, Russian history has many famous homosexuals — the poet Alexei Apukhtin; Sergei Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russes; and of course the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The younger brother of Tsar Alexander III, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov, was famous for his homosexual exploits while serving as Governor of Moscow from 1891 to 1905. Homosexuality was legalised following the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. But in 1933, under Stalin, Article 121 of the Criminal Code made male homosexuality a crime punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment with hard labour. This anti-​gay law, like the prohibition of abortion at the same time, was strongly supported by…

More than “the icing on the cake”: Can conservative Christians legitimately refuse to create pro-​gay messages?

A Chronicle of England — Marriage of Henry V and Katherine of France

The legal drama over conservative Christian refusal to provide gay people with a printed or iced message has been seen as a political dispute between gay equality, on the one hand, and religious freedom or rights of expression on the other. This post argues for a different approach, focusing on the extent to which religious beliefs provide a legitimate ground for avoiding alienation. That people do work which is destructive, meaningless, insulting or exploitative should be of huge concern. However, equality’s terrain, in terms of the right to discriminate, should not be the one place where problems of alienation are legally and politically accommodated. A baker in Northern Ireland has contravened equality law by refusing to ice a cake with the words: “support gay marriage”.…

Critical Bibliographies: Human Rights

We regularly get requests from students and activists looking for suggested readings on particular topics, so I thought it might be a good idea to supplement our critical concepts page with critical bibliographies on various important subjects for critical legal studies. With Ben Golder, Jessica Whyte and some really helpful crowd-​sourcing from facebook, we have put together a first and entirely partial list of critical human rights books. Apologies for the books that we have missed. Please suggest the (no doubt many) titles that we have forgotten or missed in the comments. At some stage in the future I will revisit the page and consolidate and update, but I’m afraid it wont be very regularly. Finally, if you are interested, there are a few haphazard…

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,…