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"Two years on from the Arab Spring, I’m clearer about what it was that it inaugurated: it is a revolution. In some ways it parallels the revolutions of before – 1848, 1830, 1789 – and there are also echoes of the Prague spring, the US civil rights movement, the Russian ‘mad summer of 1874’ … but in other ways it is unique. Above all, the relationship between the physical and the mental, the political and the cultural, seems to be inverted. There is a change in consciousness, the intuition that something big is possible, that a great change in the world’s priorities is within people’s grasp."
In the UK this month austerity has revealed itself to be in the mode of naked class war. Monday began with welfare reforms, the introduction of the notorious bedroom tax and reductions in the access to Legal Aid. These attacks will be followed in the coming weeks by the replacing of disability living allowance with a personal independence payment policed by Atos, the reduction in the 50p tax rate (providing tax cuts to the rich) and the introduction of the controversial Universal Credit scheme. Combined with other aspects of late capitalism (from food prices to housing shortages) the reality of life in austerity Britain is uglier than it has been for some time.
With textbook ideological manoeuvring these assaults have been accompanied by a rhetoric designed to divide the working classes between “workers and shirkers.” To the chorus of the right wing press, statements, such as this one by Liam Fox or this from Iain Duncan Smith, ultimately aim to crush the possibility of an organized resistance. Most revealing this week has been efforts by the right wing to frame the horrific Philpott manslaughter as a result of ‘benefit dependency.’ Almost beyond belief, this story’s beginnings in the Daily Mail and right wing blogs were reinforced yesterday with this statement from the grubbiest man on earth: Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
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Paul Mason won "Specialist Journalist of the Year" at last night's Royal Television Society Television Journalism Awards, against strong competition from the BBC's Jeremy Bowen and Faisal Islam of Channel 4 News. Commenting on Mason's extensive coverage from Egypt, Greece, the UK and further afield, the RTS said:
Night after night he has provided compelling coverage of one of the biggest stories of the year: the economic crisis and the meltdown in the Eurozone. On the road and in the studio he has combined brilliant reportage with thoughtful and original analysis. With his knack for getting to the heart of the story and his ability to explain and illustrate a very complex world, Paul Mason is an outstanding winner.
Visit the RTS website for more information on the awards.
Paul Mason comments on the way in which the global crisis has been dealt with by politicians in a discussion with Gillian Tett for the Guardian.
It's a problem of the sclerosis of politics. I despair of the level of political leadership ... Never in any of the policy actions do you see the seeds of the new, the basis for a new version of capitalism
Asked whether the reforms introduced by European governments will be effective in tackling the crisis, the author of Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed and the forthcoming Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions answered that in all likelihood in the next months we will see "the emergence of mainstream politicians saying this far and no further, protectionism, roll back the free market." In his view, the situation will quickly reach the boiling point:
I was leaked some bank research and the sliding scale of banks that went bust was so frightening I decided it was impossible to report without causing panic.