Fresh from shouting "how can people take you seriously?" at the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as he arrived at the Cannes G20 summit, Paul Mason has also clashed with French President Nicholas Sarkozy. As Mason writes for the BBC News website, Sarkozy fumed when the journalist, during the press conference, asked him
It's evident that you and Mme Merkel, the two most powerful governments in Europe, are trying to change the governments of Italy and Greece. How is that just? And once it's started, where does it stop?
Sarkozy bitterly retorted that Mason does not understand "the subtleties of the European construction" because he is "from an island."
John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and author of The "S" Word: A Short History of an American Tradition... Socialism writes on the three things Occupy Wall Street have gotten right from the start, and where to go from here.
Via Stephen Squibb, a photo of Verso titles proudly stacked on the Occupy Boston Library milk crates:
Books in the photograph:
Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation, by Sujatha Fernandes
I'm with the Bears: Stories from a Damaged Planet, with contributions by Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, T.C. Boyle, Toby Litt, Lydia Millet, David Mitchell, Nathaniel Rich, Kim Stanley Robinson, Helen Simpson, and Wu Ming 1, and with an introduction by Bill McKibben
An extract from an article originally published in the New Statesman
It was a few days before Margaret Thatcher marched into Downing Street in May 1979, but as far as the then Labour prime minister, James Callaghan, was concerned, the game was already up. "You know, there are times, perhaps once every 30 years, when there is a sea change in politics," he told his adviser Bernard Donoughue. "It does not matter what you say or what you do. I suspect there is now such a sea change - and it is for Mrs Thatcher." His pessimism was well founded. The postwar consensus, with its pillars of a mixed economy, strong unions and high taxes on the wealthy, was coming to an end. Callaghan could no longer preserve the disintegrating centre. What became known as Thatcherism - or neoliberalism - emerged victorious.
As I stood in Finsbury Square just outside the City of London, on Sunday 23 October, I could not help but be reminded of "Callaghan's Law". Around me was the first offshoot from Occupy the London Stock Exchange, a protest camp set up eight days earlier. A couple of dozen tents were neatly arranged in rows (apparently to comply with health and safety regulations) and several protesters were dancing cheerfully as a brass band called Horns of Plenty belted out left-wing anthems. It was just the latest addition to the fastest-growing political force on earth: the Occupy movement, which now has a presence in up to a thousand cities. Was this the most compelling sign yet of a "sea change" - of a global repudiation of the neoliberal order that began teetering when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008?
This drive to seize and hold urban space for political ends was born during the Egyptian revolution this year. Unlike the occupants of Finsbury Square, the Egyptian people directed their fury chiefly at a tyrannical regime, rather than the financial elite; but the images of defiant crowds occupying Tahrir Square beamed across the planet have inspired a new generation on every continent.
Laura Oldfield Ford's Savage Messiah, collecting issues of her acclaimed art zine that charted her psychogeographic drifts through a decaying city, has been reviewed by Bidisha for Notes on Culture, her new online magazine. Bidisha praised the book, describing it as "reportage turned into art of breathtaking precision, political sensitivity and power." In a rich and engaging review, Bidisha gave her thoughts on the nature of Ford's artistic project in Savage Messiah and why the zines are so effective.
Ford observes, sketches and photographs these areas, which are simultaneously forgotten and earmarked for exploitation, making notes and speaking to residents. The result is not straight reportage or urban landscape recording but reality with the zoom lens sniper eye tuned to the max. The cracks in walls, the scrubby greenery growing between slabs, the broad backs of massed riot police and the sad, scratchy graffiti cut into the page with intense monochrome menace. There is, appropriately, a savagery and sharpness underlying Ford's work, equal parts anger, despair, love and urgency. The images are beautiful and terrible: fantasy figures of fashion brand advertising on hoardings next to blocks of flats with smashed out windows.