Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague — Marc Perelman
Perelman’s book takes a subversive look at sport and global sporting events such as the Olympics to reveal their darker side. He argues that sport has become an instrument of political control and a vehicle for capitalist monoculture. This timely polemic offers refreshing reading to those looking for an antidote to this summer’s Olympian frenzy.
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism — Stephen Graham
This authoritative study examines the rapid and dangerous spread and normalization of surveillance and state policing in western cities and warzones alike under the guise of national security. As such it provides an unsettling and provocative insight into the global backdrop of the rising costs and militarization of London’s Olympic Games security operation.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain— Owen Hatherley
Hatherley’s critical tour of Britain’s urban centres incorporates the latest and most high profile attempt at regeneration offering a carefully considered indictment of the architectural and social failures of Stratford’s Olympic sites.
Are you drowning in deluded celebrations of a reactionary political system, a country facing economic collapse and a sporting spectacle sucking funds from our welfare system?
Are you disgusted by pleas for everyone to 'pull together in this time of austerity' when the only thing that isn't being cut is the Queen's flotilla?
After you've torched the street party and hung an effigy of 'our' monarch you may want to read these:
Inspired by Patrick Keiller's The Robinson Institute, currently on show at the Tate Britain, we present Verso's guide to political walking. We also draw influence from Will Self's Guardian article in which he pronounces that "walking is political" and suggests that the "contemporary flâneur" can be one "who seeks equality of access, freedom of movement and the dissolution of corporate and state control."
1. Wanderlust - Rebecca Solnit
The first general history of walking, Rebecca Solnit's book finds a profound relationship between walking and thinking, walking and culture, and argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in an ever more automobile-dependent and accelerated world.
2. Savage Messiah - Laura Oldfield Ford
Savage Messiah collects Laura Oldfield Ford's black and white, cut 'n' paste, punk fanzines that document her drift through London's margins. Illustrated with haunting line drawings of forgotten people and places, Oldfield Ford records the beauty and anger at the city's edges.
In his stunning, controversial recent article for the New York Times, author China Mieville describes the London Docklands, the definitive Thatcherite regenerated playground of the rich as "a thuggish and hideous middle-finger-flipped glass-and-steel at the poor of the East End, every night a Moloch's urinal dripping sallow light on the Isle of Dogs". London is a city being overbuilt for the advantage of someone, but that someone doesn't appear to be the people who make London breathe. As Mieville writes, "Everyone knows there's a catastrophe unfolding, that few can afford to live in their own city."
Reading Savage Messiah, Roz Kaveney finds moments of “inchoate skinhead anarchism,” sitting alongside moments of mixed-media art that, “approach the condition of poetry.”
Kaveney admires Savage Messiah for its ability to, “see in the scruffy and semi-derelict a sort of beauty, a prophetic apocalyptic sublime,” but worries that Laura Oldfield Ford’s London is,
a city of white working-class resistance; it is an able-bodied, exclusively heterosexual world in which the only ideology is a sort of inchoate skinhead anarchism devoid of theory.
Kaveney, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, describes the content of Savage Messiah as a series of, “collages, fragments of text, dingy-looking photographs, sketches of buildings, deliberately stylized portraits. She interprets Oldfield Ford’s low-tech approach as, “in part a deliberate rejection of the sort of psychogeography she associates with Iain Sinclair and Stewart Home, and sees as a deliberate packaging of the bizarre for middle-class consumers.” She highlights the ways in which the apparently derelict and run-down areas of London that are depicted in Savage Messiah become symbols of struggle against urban and political hegemony, writing that
[Oldfield Ford] sees temporarily occupied drinking dens, factories where alienated workers sabotage the machines that fill cheap chocolates with nasty fondant, high streets full of kebab and pound shops, as sites of resistance to the squeaky clean consumerism of contemporary Britain.