Latest

Our ruined, lifeless planet

James Butler

Bertrand Russell leading an anti-nuclear march in London in 1961

Extinction Rebellion’s strategy, though it appears to break a number of recent activist taboos, echoes the earlier strategy of the Committee of 100, the non-violent direct action group that emerged from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament under the tutelage of Bertrand Russell. ‘Our movement depends for its success on an immense public opinion,’ Russell told the Guardian in 1961, ‘and we cannot create that unless we rouse the authorities to more action.’ Ralph Schoenman, his secretary, saw the strategy as forcing the government to choose between ‘either jailing thousands of people or abdicating’.

23 April 2019

Margaret the Dragon Slayer

Mary Wellesley

From a 15th-century book of hours made in north-eastern France. British Library Harley MS 2974, f. 165v

In an 11th-century English life of Saint Margaret, or Marina, of Antioch, there is a moment when she gets the devil in what martial artists call a ‘submission hold’.

19 April 2019

On Waterloo Bridge

Anna Aslanyan

‘Where the fuck is the government?’ posters on Waterloo Bridge said. A road sign at the northern end flashed: ‘Global warming at work.’ 

18 April 2019

Sudan after Bashir

Alex de Waal

During his last years in office, Bashir used his formidable political talents simply to stay in power, and did nothing for the country. Anti-government protests erupted last December, first against the high prices of bread and fuel, and then against Bashir’s endless rule and the corruption that accompanied it. Despite weekly demonstrations in Khartoum and other cities, Bashir imagined he could outlast the protesters. He thought they lacked leadership and would be easily divided, bought off or demoralised. He was wrong. On 6 April the biggest ever crowds surrounded the Ministry of Defence and military HQ, and refused to disperse.

18 April 2019

Remember Oluwale

Tom Overton

Pages from the ‘Yorkshire Evening Post’

David Oluwale drowned in the river Aire on 18 April 1969. His body was recovered near Knostrop Sewage works on 4 May, and buried in a paupers’ grave at Killingbeck cemetery with nine others.

17 April 2019

Assange and Political Thinking

James Butler

Assange’s initial info-optimism looks fragile in an age newly sensitive to encroachments into the private realm by states and digital corporations, and when set next to his own sloppiness of redaction and politicised publication choices. The problem has never been just that there is a secret body of knowledge reserved to the state, but that our capacity to interpret and act on it is catastrophically limited. Mere facts do not suggest their own solution. Transparency is not an intrinsic good: the disgorgement of secrets may paralyse as much as catalyse. Only one person was prosecuted because of the video that Wikileaks released under the title Collateral Murder: its leaker, Chelsea Manning.

17 April 2019

Indonesia’s Queer Panic

Krithika Varagur

According to Human Rights Watch, Indonesia’s queer panic began in January 2016, when several prominent politicians, including the vice-president, issued strong anti-LGBT statements. They were reacting to queer student activism at the University of Indonesia but the discourse rapidly took on a life of its own. Indonesians went to the polls to elect a new president today. Neither the incumbent, Joko Widodo, nor his opponent has a significant track record of supporting LGBT rights. Queer activists have been at the forefront of the voter abstention movement. Early counting suggests Widodo will serve another five years in office.

Read More