The world is facing a wave of uprisings, protests and revolutions: Arab dictators swept away, public spaces occupied, slum-dwellers in revolt, cyberspace buzzing with utopian dreams. Events we were told were consigned to history—democratic revolt and social revolution—are being lived by millions of people.
In this compelling new book, Paul Mason explores the causes and consequences of this great unrest. From Cairo to Athens, Wall Street and Westminster to Manila, Mason goes in search of the changes in society, technology and human behaviour that have propelled a generation onto the streets in search of social justice. In a narrative that blends historical insight with first-person reportage, Mason shines a light on these new forms of activism, from the vast, agile networks of cyberprotest to the culture wars and tent camps of the #occupy movement. The events, says Mason, reflect the expanding power of the individual and call for new political alternatives to elite rule and global poverty.
The spectacle of representative democracy is fully underway in the UK, and what a ride it's been so far! Declaring low taxation at the heart of his political beliefs (no shocker there), David Cameron has come up trumps with his frankly laughable comments on high tax being “morally wrong” and there being “no such thing as public money”. Nigel Farage managed to up his campaign of hate and racism with his thoughts on "health tourism" and the NHS, centering his focus on HIV-positive migrants (killing two birds with one big hateful stone there, I suppose). Meanwhile, over in camp Labour, the jury's out on whether Ed Miliband can convince the public with his “Hell yes, I’m tough enough” routine. Perhaps that wasn’t his first choice of catchphrase, but that’s the magic of live TV. And all cower behind Nicola Sturgeon, maybe the most dangerous woman in Britain.
In light of this we present a reading list featuring leading voices and books dealing with the key issues in British politics today. As an election present from us to you, they're all 50% off until the election, with free shipping worldwide, and bundled ebooks where available!
Economically, the country is far from the visions of recovery and renewal promised by the Coalition and its media retinue. If anything, conditions are getting worse for the majority, while markets remain volatile. Underlying this trend is a continuing engrossment of wealth and privileges enjoyed by the rich. As pointed out by countless observers, while the earnings of the average employed person are either static or declining, the salaries and bonus options of the 1 per cent continue to rise. In this extract from The Extreme Centre, Tariq Ali critiques the politics of Thatcher and Blair.
The origins of the new politics are firmly rooted in Thatcher’s response to Britain’s decline. Unemployment was ruthlessly held above three million for ten years, enabling the Conservatives to push though a programme of social re-engineering – deploying state resources to crush the unions and initiate the privatization of public utilities and housing, in hopes of creating a nation of ‘property-owners and shareholders’ – that transformed the country.1 The defence industry was ring-fenced while the rest of manufacturing was handed a collective death warrant. The defeat of the miners’ strike obliterated any possibility of resistance by the trade-union leaders and the rank and file. The triumph of finance capital was now complete. The decline of large parts of the country continued apace, and in turn, the country became increasingly restive.