March 30, 2016 - March 23, 2016
Verso and Compass present: Our London
March 30, 2016 - March 23, 2016
6.30pm -
107 Charing Cross Rd
London, WC2H 0DT
A series of conversations in the run-up to the London Mayoral elections

London is the space where people from across the globe make their lives, histories and communities, creating one of the world’s great cultural hubs. But while our capital is one of the most exciting places to live, it’s also one of the most divided. 

Life in London is getting harder, with unaffordable rents, widening inequality and dangerous levels of pollution. On every level it is getting harder for us to live, move, work and play in this great city we call home – from the price of housing to the toll it takes on our mental health. We face a crisis for the future of our city as it is pulled apart by tensions of financial capital, policing and the enclosure of public spaces. 

In the run-up to the Mayoral and Assembly elections in May, Compass and Verso Books host a series of conversations looking at how we can turn this around. Themed around power, living, working and moving in London, the series asks: how could we organise our communities and our city differently?

Booking is now open from Foyles for 'Working', 'Living', 'Moving' and 'Power'!

Working – 16th March

Engaging in paid work comes at a high price, studies show, and Londoners are feeling the pressure. Waged labour – or the lack of it – defines a lot of our lives, regardless of the kind of labour we do, or whether we are in full-time or precarious work. It also defines a lot of our lives if we do not engage in paid labour. Technological advances threaten to make much human labour redundant. Phenomenons like gentrification are pushing sex workers out of Soho at the same time that austerity is pushing more women into sex work. It’s obvious that we need to rethink work. 

How should we respond politically? Is Universal Basic Income the way for us to all enjoy the gains made by automation? How can we move towards a future premised less on work?   

Join us for a discussion with Joanna Biggs, author of All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work discusses how we identify with our working lives; Will Davies, author of The Happiness Industry, explodes myths of well-being and workplace happiness; journalist Frankie Mullin discusses the impact of gentrification on sex workers, and Nick Srnicek, co-author of Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Workmaps a route to a post-work future. Emma Dowling, academic and author of the forthcoming Care – a book about care and emotion work – will chair the event.

Tickets: £8 full price, concession £5 (students & unemployed)

Living – 23rd March

One of the greatest aspects of living in London is its diversity, but at the same time the city is striated by racial politics. In London, as throughout the UK, people from BAME groups have been historically much more likely to be in poverty than white British people, as well as suffer from housing deprivation, homelessness and inferior access to healthcare and education. Meanwhile, racist violence is on the rise, with state racisms against ‘Muslimness’, an institutionally racist police and the ‘extreme centre’ of the British political elite enforcing tensions between race, class and nation in a context of increasing immigration and numerous global crises. 

In response to all of this, Novara Media, Verso and Compass will be co-hosting a panel that focuses on living in London and some of the intersecting oppressions that increasingly define it. Novara Media's Aaron Bastani chairs the panel and is joined by Liz Fekete, Director of the Institute of Race Relations and author of the forthcoming Fault Lines (Verso, 2017), Ash Sarkar, also from Novara Media, teacher and writer Lola Okolosie, and activist and academic Adam Elliott-Cooper

We remember those who died in police custody and ask: What does it mean to call London a multicultural – or even a post-racial – city in the context of neoliberalism? What is the relationship between race and class in the city in 2016 and how should mayoral candidates be responding to these issues?  

Tickets: £8 full price, concession £5 (students & unemployed)

Moving – 30th March 

London is a city of constant movement. People and capital have always flowed in and out of the city but London is becoming less accessible for many. Social mobility is decreasing and wealth and public funds are concentrated in London, a place that’s increasingly driving out people who can no longer afford to live here. 

London continues its long history of immigration since ancient times: in 2015, London’s population reached 8.6 million, with over 300,000 born in other places. But the dangerous distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ migrants has found a foothold in the popular narrative, leaving some vulnerable people with no recourse to public funds and growing anti-immigrant sentiment. So what happens when new people arrive here? And how do we start to reclaim the city for old and new Londoners?

Join Owen Jones, author of Chavs, journalist Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, New Humanist editor Daniel Trilling, currently writing a book about refugees in Europeand chair, journalist Rachel Shabi.

Tickets: £8 full price, concession £5 (students & unemployed)

Power – 6th April 

London can look the same as it did in Victorian and Edwardian times, with massive inequality and the majority of power to make decisions in the hands of a tiny group of people. Neoliberalism has successfully transferred our collective wealth to the super-rich and disguised that transfer and the power relations on which it depends. We live in the grip of a wealth-extracting, rent-seeking economy while the poor are demonized as scroungers and skivers. Neoliberalism has become an invisible part of the scenery, defining power and power relations in many different and complex ways. How do we start to understand and challenge the impact it has on London and its citizens? 

Join George Monbiot, author of How Did We Get Into This Mess?, Chido Dunnfrom Global Witness, Faiza Shaheen, director of CLASS, and chair David Wearing as they discuss the mechanisms of power in London and beyond.

Tickets: £8 full price, concession £5 (students & unemployed)