The Observer's Carole Cadwalladr asks a man on the street, 'What is a chav?'. He answers, "A chav is someone who wears a tracksuit, has an earring, and a haircut which is grade zero on the sides, grade three on the top."
This contrasts with Owen Jones's argument in Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. Arguing that the chav figure is a caricature that encourages the ridicule and hatred of working-class people, Jones states, "The 1980s saw a dramatic assault on all aspects of working class life, on unions, and council houses, and communities, and with it working class pride. It's been replaced by middle class pride, and the working classes have come to be seen as something to escape from." Calder discusses the media's role in caricaturing working-class people in this way Britain's TV:
To find what used to be termed "the respectable working class" you need to drive 10 miles from Brentwood, and travel back 30 years in time, to the other side of the county, and the other side of Thatcherism: to the Dagenham of Made in Dagenham... It's only here, in the past, that you'll find a world of proud and happy working class folk; people who are empowered by trade unions... who are diligent and law-abiding and happy to call themselves working class.
Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers are inspiring a new generation of artists, writers and activists. Nearly 1,000 people came to hear Tony Benn and Paul Mason discuss the Diggers and the legacy of English radicalism at the Southbank last month (to launch Verso's new collection of Winstanley's writings). Now the composer James Weeks has written a new choral piece inspired by Winstanley, which will be premiered at Spitalfields Music Festival on Monday 13th June.
Most brilliantly, squatters have returned to St Georges Hill, site of the Diggers' original land occupation, and now site of an expensive gated estate with golf course and private security. As reported on Ian Bone's blog:
‘A private estate that is home to a host of celebrities - including former Chelsea star Claude Makelele and Big Brother contestant Shilpa Shetty - is being taken over by a gang of squatters.
John Berger guested on BBC Radio 4's "Front Row" show yesterday to discuss Bento's Sketchbook, and how his relationship with Britain has changed since he moved to live in France.
Visit the BBC to listen to the interview in full.
Susan Mansfield interviews John Berger for the Scotsman. Discussing the relationship between Spinoza's philosophy, Berger's drawings, and ways of understanding the world, Mansfield questions Berger's understanding of hope:
Spinoza has been a favourite of Berger's since he was a teenager, "when I read not always understanding, perhaps very seldom". In the writing of the book, he regarded the philosopher more as a "companion" than a "master". Both Berger and Spinoza share a fascination with the nature of looking: Bento worked as a lens grinder in the new science of optics; both men liked to draw. "Right from the beginning, I didn't think it was a book about Spinoza. I thought of it as a book about the world we are living in, and which so often we refuse to look at, for the good and the bad. The project was to try to see the world today in which we are living."
In his introductory remarks at the recent Anarchist Turn conference at the New School, Simon Critchley, author of Infinitely Demanding, recalled being handed photocopies of a text from a then-virtually-unknown French journal called Tiqqun. At the time, the second New School student occupation was underway, and hundreds of polices officers had descended upon the school, pepper-spraying students, using force and arresting many. A few months later, Glenn Beck devoted one of his signature tirades to The Coming Insurrection (whose alleged authors have been associated with Tiqqun), which brought the group into the American public consciousness and made the book into a bestseller. “This is quite possibly the most evil thing I've ever read,” Beck had said.
Ed Cumming reviews Intern Nation for the Telegraph, calling the book "well-researched and timely." Describing how work experience and internship culture has recently become politicised in Britain, Cumming suggests that both Britain and the United States are
[S]uffering an epidemic of unpaid labour. With graduates more abundant than ever, and graduate jobs ever scarcer, it has become near compulsory for young people entering the labour market to suffer a period of working for low pay or, often, for none at all...
Parliament is accused of “jaw-dropping hypocrisy” about its army of free workers, estimated to provide 18,000 hours of free labour per week...
Intern Nation contains plenty of lessons for Britain. It was interesting to note that Germany and Switzerland, both of which have recovered faster than Britain from the recession, have lower rates of internship and higher rates of traditional apprenticeship.