On March 27th, mourners from across the political spectrum gathered to bid farewell to Tony Benn. In order not to dilute his memory and political audacity into bland commemorative rhetoric, we publish an extract from Leo Panitch and Colin Leys’s The End of Parliamentary Socialism that highlights Tony Benn’s importance for the British Left.
If one were to list all the evils of capitalist society, the prison system would easily make it to the top. Prisons, rather than prisoners, are the main enemy of social emancipation. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's latest prison 'initiative' - to ban prisoners from receiving books – is petty and an appalling violation of prisoners' basic human rights. In prisons especially – where many prisoners have limited education – books are a way to improve understanding and literacy. Locked behind physical bars, they are now forced into further isolation – that of the mind.
Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform says in her piece on politics.co.uk: "These new restrictions relate to a downgrading of the system of rewards and punishments, ostensibly designed to encourage prisoners to comply with prison rules. Yet the ban on receiving books is a blanket decision, so no matter how compliant and well behaved you are, no prisoner will be allowed to receive books from the outside."
High profile writers have declared support for a campaign by the Howard League for Penal Reform urging the justice secretary to drop his ban on family and friends sending books and other essentials to prisoners. "While we understand that prisons must be able to apply incentives to reward good behaviour by prisoners, we do not believe that education and reading should be part of that policy," says a letter signed by more than 80 leading authors.
We are therefore proud to announce that a partnership between Verso and Haven Distribution, a non-profit charity distributing books to prisoners, has been launched. As a radical publisher, it is Verso’s commitment to fight for prisoners’ rights. Books should be the right of every person in this country – whether in prison or not.
"There are reports of sex workers facing increased violence on the streets... [and] it still puts sex workers in an adversarial relationship with the police. As long as their work is considered criminal, it can't actually be considered real work. I think the bottom line for me is: sex workers aren't supporting these proposals that are currently in front of the UK, or those in front of the European Parliament – in fact they stand quite opposed to these measures."
In late January the philosopher Alain Badiou was in Athens, where he gave three talks. The theme of the first of these was Plato, the second was on Lacan, while the third – the text of which appears below – was the most ‘political’. Each of the three talks had a packed-out audience. For this third talk, indeed, even the amphitheatre of the Law School did not suffice to contain the great number of attendees, with many of the large crowd of young people present filling out the stairs and floor. It took place on 25 January, and was jointly organised by the psychoanalysis review Alithia, the municipal elections movement Open City, and the SYRIZA youth organisation ‘Left Union’. It was supported by the Nikos Poulantzas Institute.
The principle that there is a single world does not contradict the infinite play of identities and differences
I would like to thank, and to salute, all our Greek friends, and beyond that all those who are today struggling against the terrible situation inflicted on the Greek people by the financial oligarchy that today holds power in Europe, in service of globalised capitalism.
The new front in the War on Terror is the "homegrown enemy," domestic terrorists who have become the focus of sprawling counterterrorism structures of policing and surveillance in the United States and across Europe. Domestic surveillance has mushroomed - at least 100,000 Muslims in America have been secretly under scrutiny. British police compiled a secret suspect list of more than 8,000 al-Qaeda "sympathizers," and in another operation included almost 300 children fifteen and under among the potential extremists investigated. MI5 doubled in size in just five years.
Based on several years of research and reportage, Arun Kundnani's new book, The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism and the Domestic War on Terror is the first comprehensive critique of counterradicalization strategies.
The Financial Times very recently reviewed the book, where Kundnani's riveting outlook is outlined: