Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
As with the upsurge of UK student resistance at the end of 2010, Fight Back! is unruly, immensely creative, inconsistent and a freestyle of accounts from the movement. A collage of essays and articles from social, alternative and mainstream print media, it offers a whirlwind tour of the demonstrations that took the UK by storm. The book, produced by openDemocracy’s UK section OurKingdom, reads like a collection of short stories and fresh first-hand reports interwoven with in‑depth and theoretical deconstruction.
In the foreword, ‘Fight for the Future’, author Anthony Barnett states that ‘the most important question’ of the book ‘is whether something new started that will last’. The protests have only recently subsided and the white paper on higher education funding is yet to be released. Issues of fees, funding and fightback remain live, which makes answering such a question in a compilation of this kind all but impossible. Rather, Fight Back! contains a handful of exceptionally well thought-out pieces born out of struggle. It is not comprehensive and doesn’t claim to be, and that’s what makes it so attractive.
However, the book fails to reflect the diversity of the movement. The editors, when not focusing on UK Uncut and social media in a rather self-congratulatory way, attempt to be the ‘voice of the voiceless’. The other networks, groups and actions in the movement are parcelled into the nameless/faceless/voiceless ‘other networks, groups and actions’ category. What remains is the angst of largely white, middle class and university-educated voices whose emotions explode from every page. Reading Fight Back! one could easily assume that the movement was sparked by a Facebook event and thrived exclusively through the conduit of a university occupation, and not necessarily as a consequence of courageous school students walking out at the risk of arrest and loss of their education maintenance allowance (EMA).
Allowing for these deficiencies, the book reads rather effortlessly. It is clear to anyone involved in the protests that Fight Back! still comes closer than any other reports to capturing the ups, the downs and the exhilaration that marked the period between 10 November and 9 December 2010.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
How can the heavily-armed Israeli state claim to be victimised by one teenage activist? By Richard Seymour.
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism