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Staying abreast of political developments feels like a daunting task at the moment. In the space of three years we’ve seen the British state narrowly avoid dissolution, the hard right hideously hijack an EU referendum, and the crisis-ridden Labour Party dramatically recover thanks to a genuinely left-of-centre manifesto.
In this volatile environment, anti-capitalists need to not only be responding to these events but also driving the narrative with our own programme. There’s a good reason Jeremy Corbyn managed to win hearts and change minds over the course of the election campaign: his message resonated because people know in their gut that the system has failed them. We need to be confident in pointing out that wealth inequality, in-work poverty and strained public services are due to unfettered capitalism.
Broadly speaking, socialists down south have realised the importance of getting behind a left wing Labour Party now more than ever. But even the most rampant unionist can’t deny Scotland remains a different beast. Although the SNP are not a socialist party, a significant number of Scots joined their ranks as they were inspired by the more radical arguments offered during the 2014 independence referendum.
But polling data shows a significant number of Yes voters were also motivated by Corbyn to vote Labour in last month’s election. Consequently, Scotland finds itself a position where anti-independence socialists are voting Labour but pro-independence socialists are now split between Labour, the SNP, the Greens, the SSP, RISE and Solidarity (depending on the election).
Although some media outlets might think otherwise, left-wingers on opposite sides of the constitutional divide readily work alongside each other on a wide range of causes and campaigns. Activists in the areas of housing, welfare, the workplace and elsewhere are coming together and winning significant victories.
However, whether you’re a Momentum campaigner or an advocate of radical independence, there are no online spaces where this divide is breached. No single website can unite the left behind a single political project, but Scottish socialists urgently need a platform where they can debate key issues, share experiences or promote campaigns – and, most importantly, do so in a comradely spirit.
We intend Conter (Scots for ‘contrary’) to fill that void. The site will be a home for socialists of all hues to discuss the issues that matter. It’s to be split into two sections: Thought and Action.
The Thought section will carry socialist comment and analysis on a wide range of topics. We’ll be inviting writers and activists to give their perspective on current political topics, but we also want to hear from people with wider ideas on social issues, culture and arts, policy or strategy, no matter how creative or outside the box.
The Action section will promote the amazing work being done by individuals, unions and campaigns across Scotland. So, for example, that might be a video interview with someone campaigning on zero hour contracts or rent controls, it might be coverage of an event or rally, it might be an informative written piece outlining workplace rights in a certain area, or it might be a personal story on a specific issue.
We want Conter to be a dynamic space that’s accessible and easy to navigate, with a mix of multimedia content. But we also intend it to be intellectually assured and firmly rooted in socialist politics. We don’t want the site to simply ‘cover’ various causes and campaigns; we want to analyse our activism and discuss the best way forward for our movements.
The site is being launched by RISE activists, which we’re open about. It follows on from The Scottish Left Project, which was an attempt to bring together different socialist parties and group in order to challenge Scottish parliament elections. Although it isn’t currently an electoral force, RISE activists are involved in various social movements all over the country.
However, the site will have no party line. We’re in the process of setting up an editorial board that will include supporters of the various different aforementioned parties and organisations (or indeed none). The same goes for contributors: we want to hear from you regardless of political allegiance (the obvious exceptions being any organisations that promote racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia or transphobia in any forms, or if you’ve made personal comments in this area).
We launch soon, but this is very much a flexible, long-term project. We’re keen to hear your thoughts, ideas, pitches, projects and suggestions for content. If you want to get involved, please email email@example.com. We hope to hear from some of you – in the meantime, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter @ConterScot for regular updates.
In Scotland, socialists will be divided on independence, the EU, theory, strategy and many other things. But we’re united on class. Let’s collaborate and unite on the issues that affect real people every day. And let’s debate with each other on an amicable basis, even if that means taking the contrary position from time to time.
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Nick Dowson looks at the new wave of co-ops and community groups where people are building their own truly affordable homes
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun
Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh
With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook