In A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Owen Hatherley skewered New Labour’s architectural legacy in all its witless swagger. Now, in the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, he sets out to describe what the Coalition’s altogether different approach to economic mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the places where the British live.
In a journey that begins and ends in the capital, Hatherley takes us from Plymouth and Brighton to Belfast and Aberdeen, by way of the eerie urbanism of the Welsh valleys and the much-mocked splendour of modernist Coventry. Everywhere outside the unreal Southeast, the building has stopped in towns and cities, which languish as they wait for the next bout of self-defeating austerity.
Hatherley writes with unrivalled aggression about the disarray of modern Britain, and yet this remains a book about possibilities remembered, about unlikely successes in the midst of seemingly inexorable failure. For as well as trash, ancient and modern, Hatherley finds signs of the hopeful country Britain once was and hints of what it might become.
National commemorations of major historical events usually offer an incredible opportunity for the Right to showcase its jingoistic logorrhea about national identity and patriotism. Starting this coming August, the First World War centenary will most likely be no exception.
The Conservatives are battling on two different, though not unrelated, fronts. Contrary to what Max Hastings argues, it is the Right indeed who is “making an ideological argument out of World War I, as it does out of almost everything else in history.”
In a Telegraph article, David Cameron puts particular emphasis on commemorating, and even celebrating the break-out of World War I as a moment of national unity and cohesion, “a fundamental part of our national consciousness.”
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.
Enter this month's competition to win Philosophy Football's new Eton Rifles T-shirt and a copy of four of the outfitter's favorites from Verso's 2012 catalogues.
The self-styled "sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction," aka Philosophy Football, recently launched the Eton Rifles T- shirt. The song Eton Rifles was cited by David Cameron as one of his favorites, the lines of which include:
Thought you were clever when you lit the fuse
Tore down the House of Commons in your brand new shoes
"Which part of it didn't he get?" Paul Weller responded, "It wasn't intended as a f-ing jolly drinking song for the cadet corps." Weller has since not been awarded a knighthood in the New Years Honors List.
We have five of the T-shirts to be won in the January competition, with one lucky winner also getting a copy of School Wars, The Rebirth of History, A New Kind Of Bleak and In Defense of The Terror.
To enter simply answer this question: Eton Rifles was inspired by Eton schoolboys abusing an early 1980s Right to Work March. In the 1930s the Communist Party led a mass movement against unemployment spearheaded by the Hunger Marches. These marches and the direct action that supported them were organised by the NUWM- what did the letters 'NUWM" stand for?
Email your answer with your full name, address and preferred T-shirt size to email@example.com. No purchase necessary to enter. Entries close 31 January 2013.