Random thought: Over a period of thirty or forty years, the university student has been reduced in circumstances and privilege so as to now be quite a bit closer to the proletarianized worker, themselves increasingly digitized as precarious labour, data input or call sector workers or shopping till operators. This trajectory of concurrence occurring while at the upper echelons an opposite pattern ensures the non-convergence of previously highly-privileged professionals with the wealthy and rich in business. Indeed, the Professors look set to become little more than petty bourgeois shopkeepers, and their departments more like merchandise stores, while University heads, and no doubt in other service sectors the upper managements as well, become robber barons paid and six figure sums with benefits. We are not talking social class here, since the quality of the wine is still a marker, but we are talking class formation nonetheless.
Some insane dialectics for xmas – time to think about those cash cards and all the pressure the commodity fest puts upon your wallet, then see also the beautiful blue sky and think of warmer places far away, and then remember this is England and the borders are secured by the UKBA. Massive conflicts here – blue sea, blue sky, narrow thinking, repressive apparatus.
Azure [ˈæʒə -ʒʊə ˈeɪ-]n1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Colours) a deep blue, occasionally somewhat purple, similar to the colour of a clear blue sky2.Poetic a clear blue skyadj1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Colours) of the colour azure; serene2. (History / Heraldry) (usually postpositive)Heraldry of the colour blue[from Old French azur, from Old Spanish, from Arabic lāzaward lapis lazuli, from Persian lāzhuward]
So, having consulted the deep meaning of this lovely cultural festival and holiday time, and considered the Persion roots of the word of choice for describing the sky, it comes as no surprise that pleasure in the blue is corrupted and destroyed by institutional abuse and feckless Government wastage, compounded by an inability to consider humane ways of welcoming those ready to brave the cold hard graft of life in ‘blighty. While ‘For everything else there’s Mastercard’, for asylum seekers there’s just the insult and injury of the Azure card (Scrooge is alive and well in the UK):
A cashless society: the other side of the coin …
By Anne Singh
22 December 2010, 10:00pm
As the seasonal festivities get into full swing, campaign and support groups are stepping up their lobbying against the Azure card – a cashless payment system for asylum seekers – which leaves thousands in extreme poverty.
‘SECTION 4 support’, as set out in Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, provides for limited financial support to be provided to asylum seekers whose claim has been refused but who are still unable to return to their country of origin and who would otherwise be destitute. In order to receive this support, refused asylum seekers must move into accommodation provided by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). At the end of June 2010, 6,750 people plus their dependants were in receipt of Section 4 support.
A voucher scheme for refused asylum seekers was (re)introduced at the end of 2005. The vouchers were accepted in a limited number of stores to pay for ‘essential’ goods (food, toiletries) only, and could not be exchanged for cash. The principle behind the voucher scheme was to make failed asylum-seekers’ lives as intolerable as possible to ‘encourage’ their voluntary return.
The voucher system was heavily criticised by campaign and support groups as causing considerable hardship and distress as people had no cash to pay bus fares to see their legal representatives or attend health care appointments and were unable to buy food that met their dietary, religious, or cultural requirements.
In late 2009, the voucher system was abolished principally on the grounds that it represented poor value for money and, according to the UKBA, was open to ‘abuse and fraud’. The ‘abuse and fraud’ complained of by the UKBA was principally national and local charities and support groups – including the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) – who would exchange vouchers for cash to relieve the worst excesses of hardship.
The Azure card was introduced in November 2009 to replace the use of supermarket vouchers. It was introduced without any pilot but was proclaimed the definitive solution to the problems with vouchers. However, the Azure card has done very little to resolve these problems, continuing to restrict where and when people are able to shop, what they are able to buy, and often not working at all. From the start, the payment system was exposed as costly, inefficient and ineffective. The JRS highlighted this anticipating that, in addition to implementation costs, it would cost £200,000 per annum just to administer.
The Azure card is topped up ‘automatically’ each week by the UKBA and can be used in a limited number of supermarket outlets…
Read the rest of this article here: http://www.irr.org.uk/2010/december/ha000020.html
by Dr. Yojo Queequeg
In 2009, after the kettling tactics and violence used by police on the day of the G20 protests in Central London, Duncan Campbell asked if this signalled the future of demonstrating in the UK: “Does this mean that anyone wanting to go on a demonstration in the future needs to be prepared to be detained for eight hours, photographed and identified?”
The events of the last few weeks have shown that the answer to Campbell’s question is an unequivocal affirmative. The movement of thousands has been halted, squeezed, pushed back and paralyzed. Not only this, but this movement has been quantified and criticised through public discourse; it has been claimed that certain minorities have gone too far, have pushed things to the extreme, and have provided a legitimate grievance with an illegitimate platform. These certain few have been held up as the justification of acts of state vengeance, in which young people are beaten as a result of demanding the right to their freedom of movement. There has been an unhappy tension propagated between the ‘heartening’ sight of so many thousands taking up the flag for higher education and the state of the nation, and the ‘disheartening’ revelations of acts of violence at the centre of these protests. “There are a few violent troublemakers who are ruining it for the rest of you” has echoed through and insinuated itself firmly into the public discourse of middle-Britain. The violence of this view is clear: it attempts to measure an appropriate level of anger for the unapologetic decimation of public services in the UK, to gather the fraying rope in order to tighten the knot around our necks.
The view above is diversionary; media engines sniff salaciously around students regurgitating this very line, producing the facile narrative of the solitary unhappy protestor condemning the broken windows, graffitied vans and black-eyed police officers. However, such a narrative obscures …
You can read the entire article here: The Kettle (1)
That interview with the Iranian News Agency retooled as an article for California and for translation in a Bengali paper.
Originally here on Dec 13th
The unrest in Britain is described in the media as about fees, but not a single student I have talked to, nor member of staff or other supporter of the anti-cuts campaigns, has failed to point out that its not primarily about fees but about a generalized attack by the neoliberal capitalist ruling class upon a very wide range of people.
The betrayal and hypocrisy of some politicians of course attracts some anger, but few people really have any faith that the parliamentary officials offer real alternatives – the chant on the streets is for ‘revolution’ – though of course there are many, many other chants. Some are personal – ‘Nick Clegg shame on you, shame on you for turning blue’ is one polite one – others are less polite. Some evoke the horrible days of Margaret Thatcher. Maggie Maggie Maggie, out out out! Possibly the most commonly mentioned reference points for current feeling in the UK are Thatcher’s Poll Tax riots, the 1930s anti-fascist actions in Cable Street East London, the Suffragettes fighting for the women’s vote at the start of the 20th century, the Chartists fighting for voting reform in the 19th century, or the support for the Jacobins (Coleridge and so on) in the 18th century – all of this is interesting, but in new circumstances with new tools. For example video sites and social networking as a mode of organising is well advanced. What the campaigns really need however is to link up more with international movements, such as those in Palestine, Iran, Nepal, South America and so on.
An analysis of why the Government are implementing these cuts now which is also very important in international terms. The deficit is not the largest the UK has had, but the neoliberal capitalists are taking the opportunity of a coalition government to implement a wide restructuring – a kind of structural adjustment – that will destroy the welfare state compact of the post WW2 period and further open the way for global corporations to profit, while ensuring increasing restriction and hardship for most. In some sectors this situation is also seen by Government as an opportunity to introduce restrictive and draconian – even proto-fascist – policies. This happens in several areas in different ways, and with different levels of party support. For example around immigration, using the justification of the imagined threat of ‘terror attacks’ – which of course is a racist coding, by an old imperial power keen to continue colonial politics where it can – the restrictions are cross-party, which is to say, each of the parliamentary parties is vying to see just how racist they can be. It appears to be slightly different on housing, which in the hands of the Con-Dem coalition is a sort of ‘ethnic cleansing’ programme for the reserve army of labour, who are to be consigned to the northern telemarketing work camps. On education and education funding specifically, as many have noted, none of the mainstream parties are truly unable to offer a progressive position. This is not yet to begin to address the scandals of banking bailouts, corporate bonuses and tax avoidance, rampant greed, the global mining and military industry death machine – and shareholdings in such – and other ruling class atrocities. The parliamentary path will not address such concerns, if anything is to be done they must be swept aside.
Police reaction to the students has been quite extreme, very violent provocation, use of horse charges, batons, beatings, very aggressive so-called ‘tactics’, named after kitchen appliances, but clearly designed to escalate tensions. In a time of cuts to all social services the police have an interest in making themselves seem useful. They have colluded with the press to find ‘front page’ sensation images, such as relatively insignificant anarchist actions, or the sacrificial offering of the Prince’s ride (the Royal vehicle) which was allowed onto streets in full knowledge that that was where militants were rampant. It can be assumed this was not merely a communications error, but rather a gamble that a dint in the rolls Royce would make a better cover story than the pictures of Santa Clause trying to break into the treasury (during, it must be said, a recession). Of course the violent attacks on students, the vast majority of them teenagers, was an error of judgement on the part of the police (as the BBC reporter quipped about the Prince, ‘heads will roll’), but the scandal of the Royal car was a fairly tame incident – it was not after all St Petersburg!, nor was it Cromwell helping execute another Royal called Charles in 1649. The repaint job done on the Prince’s ride has of course been seized upon by desperate politicians. Even the Prime Minister has been caught out in a lie about what was happening, saying that Police had been pulled from their horses and beaten at parliament – when video footage shows the policeman who fell from his horse was trampled by his own animal, with no students near him at all. The massive numbers of injured protesters – including one who had to have 3 hours of brain surgery – suggest the police have been the instigators of violence. I have witnessed this in person – in every protest it is the police that have been looking for a fight. As I suggested before, it is in their interests to seem to be needed.
The protesters are angry for sure – and the reasons are clear. Many accept the need for direct action, ranging from graffiti on state buildings, statues, occupations of colleges, to actions in shopping centres and commercial businesses, because this is proven to be the only way to be heard. 2 million people marched in London (1 out of every 30 Britons) against the invasion of Iraq and Tony Blair did not listen at all – instead lying his way toward war criminal infamy. He will not be tried in the international criminal court until there is a mass movement demanding a different kind of Government in the UK. It may be starting here – Blair was Thatcher’s child and now his party is in power, disguised as a coalition, but dragging all politicos into exposure. An alternative is in the offing. It is certainly necessary – the only kind of democracy worth fighting for is the one that fights at home – not bombs other countries on suspect whim and because Jesus has chosen you for a sunbeam!
This is the documentary to watch, harrowing stuff, do not put an axe through your screen – though it may seem to suggest you need to do this.
watch the video here: http://svt.se/embededflash/2258254/play.swf
Apparently this vid version is only going to be up till January or so.
A search engine for wikileaks would of course be handy and lo and behold: But apparently the searches are a bit ‘hit and miss’. Nevertheless, developing search engines for the leaks is clearly good – the issue will be algorithmic I suppose as the volume of leaked pages rises… do add more search options as you find them:
Wikileaks ‘Cablegate’ search engine: http://cablesearch.org/
download PDF here: fees