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As we put the pieces together, these truth seekers are being vindicated, and have grown in influence as a result. The queues and overflows for Noam Chomsky’s Olof Palme lecture in May (see “Don\’t mention (the reasons) for war“), the popularity of Michael Moore’s new film Fahrenheit 9/11 and the packed houses for the Tricycle Theatre’s dramatic re-enactment Guantanamo are all signs of a critical culture seeping through the Iraq-induced cracks in mainstream politics.
Initiatives coming directly from the movement are showing a new ability to break through. Thus, this month Red Pepper profiles War Times (“The voice of alternative America“), the impressive US anti-war tabloid. And we give a platform to the Refugees, Asylum-Seekers and the Media Project (“Truth can find asylum”, page 31 in our print magazine), which counters tabloid vitriol against immigrants, and brings refugee journalists together to strengthen an alternative view.
The mainstream media, meanwhile, is up to its old tricks: hyping up the UN’s imprimatur for the Bush-Blair Iraq escape plan, and ignoring the Iraqis” dissatisfaction with the proposals (see “Avoiding Vietnam in Iraq“). On the Red Pepper website, critical media analyst Rik Hine presents a collection of essays monitoring the media’s cosy, uncritical relation with government.
But it’s not enough to win the argument. Our next problem, starkly facing us after the results of last month’s elections, is how to turn critical consciousness into relentless political challenge.
The most effective left intervention in the elections was the stopping of the British National Party (BNP). We must not underestimate the strength of racism and little Englandism. The rise of the racist UK Independence Party, with Kilroy setting himself up as the British Pym Fortun, presents our most urgent challenge over the coming months. But in the local elections, the left’s ability to build broad coalitions, to work together consistently, avoiding public rows, was decisive in thwarting the BNP. We combined nationally researched information with knowledge of local issues to ensure that our message hit home. We reached out to people completely neglected by the Labour Party, and directly challenged the racism against which few politicians are prepared openly to stand. We reached people put off by boring meetings and hectoring leaflets, and drew young people to the anti-racist banner with style. Can’t we learn from this as we prepare for the next electoral challenge: the building of an effective green-left alternative to New Labour?
Planning for the general election starts now; not in a sudden turn to parliamentary politics, but in building the foundations for a common electoral strategy rooted in extra-parliamentary campaigns. We cannot afford to repeat the division of the left vote that occurred in the June elections between the Greens and Respect. Under some proportional electoral systems different parties can stand separately and then share second-choice votes, or work together after the vote, as with the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party. But if the radical left is ever to be a political force in England, we first have to make the initial breakthrough. Changes in the electoral system could follow.
To make that breakthrough, just as to halt the BNP, we have to build a coalition appropriate to the purpose with a manifesto of policies summing up opposition to New Labour, but which also imagines alternatives: we need to address the domestic and international questions on which we already regularly work together in many towns and cities. Come election time, we could use such coalitions to create a “mosaic” of electoral allegiance based on who supports this manifesto and who has the best chance of winning. The mosaic would include Labour MPs who have campaigned against the war and occupation, and who resist privatisation, student top-up fees, the government’s asylum policies, and so on. It would involve deals between Greens and whatever emerges from Respect or other independent left or trade-union electoral initiatives. October’s European Social Forum would be a good moment to consolidate this idea.
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