Monday, 30 March 2009
The next big event is the Yes We Can demonstration this Wednesday.
This is the only anti-war demonstration at the G20. It is the main chance we have to make sure that the G20 leaders can't avoid the massive opposition to their war policies.
The demonstration will assemble at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Sq, London W1A
2LQ. Nearest tubes Green Park or Bond Street.
We will hand in a message to Barack Obama and then march through central London to Trafalgar Square for an alternative summit.
Speakers include Arthur Scargill, Tony benn, Susan George, Lindsey German, Bruce Kent and Daud Abdullah.
5 REASONS TO DEMONSTRATE AGAINST WAR THIS WEDNESDAY:
* Barack Obama has just announced a surge of 23,000 extra troops for
Afghanistan. The British government looks set to send another 2,000.
* The murderous siege of Gaza continues. Israel is still bombing the tunnels in
* No date has been set for the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq.
* Both US and British projected military spending has risen on last year.
* Britain is still selling arms to Israel.
See the Wikipedia entry HERE
I am trying to find a blog on which we can register our support and solidarity. In the meantime you can comment on this blog which was set up to support our brave comrades.
HERE is another link with lots of information and ways to send your messages of condemneation (to the authorities) and support to those resisting and to those who have faced legal battles.
אם גם אתם מבינים שהכיבוש והמצור על עזה לא מוסריים,אם גם אתן לא מוכנות לקחת חלק במדיניות הדיכוי וההרג, אם גם אתם חושבים לא להתגייס, אם גם אתן רוצות להשמיע את קולכן ולפעול נגד הכיבוש ובעד שלום- הצטרפו למכתב
אנחנו, תלמידים ותלמידות י"ב ומתנדבים/ות בשנות שירות שאמורים להתגייס בשנה הבאה ושוקלים לסרב, לצאת על מצפון, או לצאת מהצבא בכל דרך אחרת, רוצים לשבת ולדבר עם כמה שיותר אנשים באותו מצב ולהחליט יחד איך אנחנו יכולים להשפיע
If you, too, understand that the occupation and siege of Gaza are immoral, if you, too, are unwilling to take part in the policy of oppression and killing, if you, too, consider not being drafted into the army, if you, too, want to sound your voice and to act against occupation and for peace - join the Shministim Letter, 2009-2010.
We, high school seniors and "national service year" volunteers (due to enlist next year) and consider refusing the draft, being recognized as conscientious objectors, or not to be enlisted in any other way, would like to meet and talk with as many people as possible who are in the same situation as us and to decide together how can we make a difference.
ايها الشباب :
إذا كنتم أيضا ، تفهمون أن الاحتلال والحصار المفروض على غزة غير أخلاقي ، وإذا كنتم أيضا لا ترغبون في المشاركة في سياسة القمع والقتل ، وإذا كنتم أيضا تفكرون بعدم الانضمام إلى الجيش ، وتريدون ان تسمعوا صوتكم ,وتنضموا للعمل ضد الاحتلال ومن أجل السلام -انضموا لرسالة الShministim 2009-2010.
نحن طلاب وطالبات في المدارس الثانوية ، و المتطوعين في سنوات الخدمة " , ومن المفروض ان نتجند في السنه القادمه , نفكر برفض التجند , ضميريا, أو الاستعانة بأي طريقة أخرى . نود أن نلتقي ونتحدث مع أكبر عدد ممكن ممكن من الناس الذين هم في نفس الوضع ، وأن نقرر معا كيف يمكننا أن نحدث تغييرا.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Read it HERE
Solidarity with the struggle for Peace and Justice in the Middle East
Come and hear elected representatives from the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon
HUSSEIN EL-HAJJ HASSAN MPLebanon’s Loyalty to the Resistance Parliamentary Bloc
HASAN KHREISHIVice President of the Palestinian Legislative Council
JEREMY CORBYN MPStop the War Coalition
JOHN REESVice President (Europe) Cairo Conference
DYAB ABOU JAHJAHInternational Co-Ordinator of the International Union of Parliamentarians For Palestine
SUKANT CHANDANEnglish Chair of IUPFP
Date: Monday 30th March
Place: Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London (nearest tube, Euston or Euston Square)
Monday, 23 March 2009
develop a case study along the lines of those presented in the lectures, one that deals with the ‘discursive’ approach to myth outlined in the course. This means you should take a particular instance of mythmaking—this can be anything from a political event to a form of artistic expression—and track the way in which it is created for particular discursive ends (to create, consolidate, or challenge a particular construction of identity, to establish a form of political or intellectual hegemony, or to authorise a particular worldview against others, for example).
Saturday, 21 March 2009
More vile slogans include "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him and "Bet you got raped!" next to a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises.
"These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable," "It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction."And sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of "Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military," said that the phenomenon is
"part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome - the calm that never arrived - led to a further shift rightward."
Thursday, 19 March 2009
For me, the purpose of education is to enable us understand and, therefore, attempt to transform the material world around us which, from a classical Marxist approach, will have an impact upon the ideological superstructure. My story, then, aimed to challenge the way we are conditioned to see things to help us understand contradictions in life which prevent us from making these changes.
This was not so much an exercise in l'ecriture feminine but rather an attempt at applying a semi-post-structuralist-realist(!) technique of literary practice to an analysis that employs a non-universalising materialist conception of the world as its theory. Realism as a literary genre is not intended to be realistic per se: by removing any fanciful extras I sought to provide a truthful rendering of typical characters under (fairly) typical circumstances in order to explore the conflict ridden and contradictory nature of social relations—of production and also sexual—by overemphasising the relationship between the unconscious and those relations.
I aimed to demonstrate this through both form and content.
The form was deliberately confusing. In the first instance I wanted the aesthetic quality of my myth to urge the reader to question the way we are conditioned to see things. The story (does not) start(s) with the interwoven secret 'thoughts to self/reader' which I hoped would compel the reader to emphasise with Demeter. In a post-structuralist fashion I played with the order of these interjections: the opening one spoke about a drought which had not yet happened, in fact the next section spoke about watering plants and tending fields which was the binary opposite of a drought. But to also highlight that these oppositions are not equal;one is always valourised over the other and in fact sets the limits for the oppressed other. The first part of the final interjections could have been placed near the beginning after he (who was he?) cooked the meal. I did this to illuminate that the unconscious fills in gaps and makes concrete that which is not and to show how dialectical processes are at play in that the reader imparts their own experiences on a text. They were not intended to be the story proper but rather constantly referring to something else to show that language is not always so clear cut. I did this to demonstrate that, in the words of Derrida, 'there is no outside the text'... It is often what we don't say that speaks volumes and this absence is still present in the text. I also employed labels at the bottom of the post to reinforce this. Finally on form, the myth was set a-historically to prove Levi-Strauss' proposition that the mind attempts to make sense of, and control, nature in exactly the same way across time thereby dispelling the myth of the pensé sauvage.
Content. I aimed to demonstrated how when the means of production, in this case the fields, are controlled individually by an elite, as opposed to collectively by those who operate them, ideology serves to fill the gap between being alienated from the means of production and the unconscious representation of it. By appropriating the land the ruling class accordingly altered the forces of production and transformed the relations of production and, if we accept the premise that the ideas of every epoch are those of the ruling class, we see how the lies about the bare land were implemented to justify oppression and divisions in society. I played with tropes of class and class division to highlight how they have an impact upon constructions of gender formation and divisions, sexuality and heteronormativity and to challenge other socially accepted norms such as what constitutes a 'family': who exactly were the 'four of us' who went to the city? Who did Zeus find on Demeter's breast? Even the concept of, or signifier, 'mother' is not concrete. Ownership of women is also shown here as an effect of the concept of land-ownership. And, finally, Demeter referred to god as both a transcendental god but also as the self-image of man. This contradiction again shows how ideology, in this case religion, is a necessary product of unfree social conditions (alienation from means of production and unconscious acceptance of oppressive property relations) as explained before.
When in the story I wrote 'I'm not sure if it's seeing me in pain or the milk that he loves but none-the-less I wish he would return to just cooking for us in exchange for sex', I aimed to retrieve Freud's analysis of the object of desire and to confront Lacan when he says that 'desire' is merely a desire for the others desire. Desire is always culturally and historically relative and partly because for Lacan desire has no aim it leaves the analyist to concentrate their psychoanalytic techniques on only the adjustment of the individual whereas for Freud changing the individual rather than the world was a neurotic response.
Another contradiction in a conflict ridden world is when Demeter went on sex-strike. This was, of course, a metaphor for the resistance to patriarchal rule but also highlighted how individual actions do not in and of themselves endure any permanent change. The struggle for emancipation can only be enacted collectively which is why at the end they didn't live happily ever after. They only 'live' which was intended to be a dangling signifier to indicate that the story was not complete (with no full stop) and this analysis also ends with no full stop since I do not believe that Marxism is a complete, universalising finished product and never will be.
On my analysis itself. I appreciate that there are many other points that I could have picked up on and analysed. Certainly my analysis would have been different if I had written it at the time of writing my myth. My plan for the form and content was there from the beginning; but to what extent were these conscious intentions? Has my recent essay on Levi-Strauss and further readings on Freud enabled me to prove what they propose?
And finally; my authorial intention was to 'cut out' that which would make my myth appropriate to my political beliefs. And further the dialectic of intertextuality shows how we are all connected in this world whether we like it or not...
Monday, 16 March 2009
Spread the word
Date: Thursday, 19 March
Room: KLT Soas
Thursday, 12 March 2009
We object to being objects.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Today we can safely say that the idea that 'the idea of communism' is old news is indeed old news. The fact that the impending conference On the Idea of Communism being organised by the Birkbeck Institute of Humanities (BIH) sold out within 24hrs, coupled with a return to radical actions in the form of student and workplace occupations, demonstrates a renewed interest in looking for another way to organise the world. Marx's Capital has seen a massive rise in sales and reading groups based around his ideas are back on the agenda. This resurgence has not come from nowhere: it is grounded in material conditions; in the recession beginning to take a firm group on society, in the recent collapse of the banks, and in public services including education being the first places to be hit with cuts.
It is with this in mind that I want to contextualise SOAS's recent activities surrounding the above conference. SOAS and Birkbeck have a relationship that sometimes frustrates students and academics from both institutions including people at the BIH. We have a distinct lack of space at SOAS to hold society meetings and have noticed that an increasing number of our rooms have been given over to Birkbeck for teaching. We are not best pleased with this. Birkbeck management on the other hand are not best pleased with us either. Our recent successful Justice for Cleaners campaign at SOAS has, as Bbk management said at a UL management meeting, 'opened a can of worms' and they are right: Birkbeck students have also initiated their own cleaners campaign.
Further, we are aware of the government's recent withdrawal of funding for ELQ's (Equivalent Level Qualifications) which has meant that roughly 75% of Birkbeck students are no longer eligible for funding. So, financially, Birkbeck as an institution has been hit hard. Although it is the government who are ultimately responsible we are not convinced that Birkbeck management had the political will to fight these cuts on any more than a financial basis. When we heard about an expensive conference being hosted by Birkbeck of course we thought that it was Birkbeck proper, and not BIH (in fact most of us hadn't even heard of the BIH!), attempting to claw back lost revenue. We see plenty of events hosted by Birkbeck promoting right-wing ideas so in our motion we said that the fact that there is an extortionate charge was 'politically motivated'. We are pretty sure that a conference entitled 'On the Idea of Capitalism' would be free-Birkbeck would probably sponsor it personally!
Initially angry SOAS students wanted to storm the stage of the Communism conference. We decided that this would not be the best approach because it would appear that we are attacking the left and we are fully aware there are plenty of people who do this already. So, with only 5 minutes to deadline, we wrote a fairly basic (and not correctly researched) motion. To be honest SOAS UGM's are fairly laid back and we thought that any mistakes would be ironed out in the meeting. No-one challenged the motion and therefore not much more thought was given to the inaccuracies. The person on the exec who was then supposed to carry out the action points went on holiday leaving the issue in the air. So we took the issue up ourselves.
Through a series of meetings and discussions we are now aware that BIH do not get a single penny from Birkbeck or any other sources. The conference was initially planned for a considerably smaller room of just 180. With tickets sold out within 24 hours a larger room was needed. This then expanded a third time to a room with a capacity of 933. With only a skeleton staff to carry out all re-organisation we totally understand how a rapidly snowballing conference places so much pressure on the overworked staff that some things slip through the net. I truly believe that because of this that it was an oversight an offer for 'each according to their means' was not made obvious.
The organisers are 'totally committed to the non-commodification of education', have been involved in student occupations in the 70's and many other activist based projects and are sympathetic with our method of resistance, although disappointed (this is not quite the word I am looking for-any suggestions?) by our not having contacted them first. They would like to organise a series of lectures with us which we will work on once the conferences are over.
It was a stoke of luck that our conference 'The Internet for Activists' is being held on the same day. Many of the confirmed participants, including a large group of Italian students who have also been in occupation of their universities over Gaza, have contacted SOAS to ask what they can do to get involved in the protest; they too could not afford the entrance fees. Partly because of our work in united front campaigns we are confident that we will be able to remove any further antagonism and tension.
Through our taking a stand we have ensured free places in an overflow room with video link-up and are thrilled that our conference will now be launching the Free Our Books campaign in the main hall of the Communism one. This has injected a well needed activism to add political credibility to the theoretical ideas being discussed and gives people from both conferences the opportunity to get together to discuss the best way to put our ideas into action. At the end of the day, as Marx said, the idea of communism can only fight the idea of capitalism. We need concrete actions to fight to change the ideas.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank all those involved, and there has been many, and especially the organisers for listening to our concerns. We have all learnt a great deal from this and hope that we continue to work together to fight for a better world.
Finally, we would like to invite all of you 1) to both conferences! And 2) to the SOAS common room on Friday for our Rhythms of Resistance music for St. Patrick's day and on Saturday for Ugandan food and music.
Read what Alex had to say in today's SW
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.
Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.
Mix some hot Chileans, cool Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.
Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.
Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
Then add to the melting pot.
Leave the ingredients to simmer.
As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.
Allow time to be cool.
Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
Note: All the ingredients are equally important. Treating one ingredient better than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.
Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and cause pain. Give justice and equality to all.
A campaign which combined practical action mirrored online has lead the organisers of the conference to do the following:
1) Organise an overflow room with live linkup
2) Provide time to launch the Free Our Books Campaign in Logan Hall at 1pm.
We would like to thank the organisers for being so understanding and for supporting our action.
More details soon.
I just need to do something but I will write a full report in a bit.
This event is being followed by BBC, the Independent, the Guardian, Socialist Worker, Indymedia and many more.
Now Miss Heythrop has been banned. Read Independent article HERE
SOAS from 7pm we have art exhibition, speakers and a final push to bring people to protest.
Protest from 10pm outside Crystal Club, Wells St, Just off Oxford St, London, W1.
Call 07958 034 181 if lost.
Monday, 9 March 2009
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Saturday, 7 March 2009
This is an absolute outrage. What sort of civil liberties do we have when a well known activist and columnist is charged with this farce of an excuse.
His blog will be updated soon.
We would like to send a message of solidarity to him and thank him so much for going out of his way to find time for us for our conference.
Please also send messages to: emailaprisoner.com
Once upon a time, the only way to read someone's writing was through the physical medium of books. That is no more.
Yet, new forms of electronic text distribution and use have not benefited those who fund majority of academic production. On the contrary, private companies have captured this largely publicly funded production. In the case of journals, vast sums of money are being acquired by these private companies, paid for once more, by the state funded universities, to enable its students and academics to have access to them. We, the citizens, through the state, pay for the academic books and research papers production twice, through academic salaries and through universities' subscriptions. This is how the the most fundamental principles of academia, to study and to share its findings, is hindered, and its operation is made far more expensive and cumbersome.
The SOAS Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies (CEMS) is hosting a chance for students to ask these questions and discuss contemporary policing with experienced and senior police from the Metropolitan and City Police.We didnt believe that it was this innocent so asked for more information.
SOAS activist disgracefully sacked. Other staff threatened with dismissal if they take industrial action
Please send messages of complaint to Paul Webley, Director and Principal of SOAS, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Julia Rapkin, Birkbeck Unison
Liam Taylor, Institute of Education student
Johnny Darlington, SOAS UCU
Ben Sellers, co-president, SOAS SU
Janet Lucitt, Birkbeck law student and London teacher
Dermot Bryers, English for Action
Luke Stobart, campaigns officer, Birkbeck Students Union
Katie Boothby, SOAS student
Sam O'Neill, UCL student
Richard Carabine, Birkbeck UCU
Sebilio Lillo, SOAS student
Naomi Bain, Birkbeck UNISON
Jesse Oldershaw, Birkbeck student and UCL UCU
Christophe Josiffe, Senate House Unison
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
Monday, 2 March 2009
Provisional Line up for conference
| || |
Room B102: workshops
Opening plenary: On the political uses of the internet
Speakers: Hicham Yezza. Ex-Nottingham student and Guardian columnist
Fiona Osler of Red Pepper and author of "The Activist's Guide to the Internet"
Dr. Kevin Gillan, Sociologist, http://www.antiwarresearch.info/
Speakers: George Danezis, Microsoft Research Security Group
Rep from the Open Rights Group
Effective online organisation:
Widgets, live and micro-blogging & co-ordination
Speaker by live link-up from Egypt: Hossam el-Hamalawy of Arabawy blog
Lunch. Available in common room
Please arrive by 13.00 as there may be unscheduled changes to this session.
Free Our Books Campaign Launch:
Speakers so far: Toni Prug. More soon.
More info will be added soon
Workshop: Using Humour Effectively Online
Speaker: Kate Smurthwaite, Cruella Blog
Blogging for Building Campaigns
Speakers: Richard Seymour of Lenin's Tomb
Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads
Laurie Penny of Penny Red
Workshop: Video Activism
Speaker: Ady Cousins
Bring equipment if you want to get started straight away
Effective Online Campaigning - Success Stories
Rep from Encyclopedia Dramatica on the anti-Scientology movement
Karin Robinson, Political Consultant, blogger and regional director of the Americans Abroad for Obama campaign.
Workshop: "Be the Media"
With members of Indymedia UK.
Laptop surgery will be run all day in SOAS JCR.
Please bring your own equipment to participate in the workshops and your own experiences or questions to participate in the plenaries.
Entertainment, food and networking in SOAS bar
Stalls and bookshops all day
Sunday, 1 March 2009
“Intellectual toughness does not mean dogmatism; grasping a changing reality does not mean vagueness. Our criticism of orthodox Trotskyism was conceived as a return to classical Marxism.” – Trotskyism after Trotsky
Pondering upon this, whilst trying to do my essays, I have discovered that not only is doing nothing practically impossible (ie how on earth can an activist switch off completely?) but, also, philosophically/biologically it cant be done. Has anybody ever written on this subject? Perhaps Alan Badiou? I would be interested to read.
Nothing, even in its state of being a big fat zero, is still doing something; not only to itself in whatever form it is ie lying on the piece of paper or being spoken out aloud, but also to the thing that receives said information; the person, animal, mineral etc. The point being that it hits the senses is one way or another.
To do nothing is to still to consume; oxygen for example, is still to interact and transform the material world around us; oxygen into carbon dioxide, and, to do nothing is, therefore, always doing something. We, as individuals, are never ever free-floating; we participate in the material world around us whether we like it or not.
All I can say is, in the words of my son, 'i not doing nuffin' forever...
Long live optimism.
Just found wikipage that explains how to do something nothingly but...