Soundings

Articles from No. 57, Summer

Beyond Bullshit Jobs: Why Do Pointless Jobs Continue to Proliferate in These Lean Times?
In the summer of 2013, the anthropologist and activist David Graeber coined an unlovely yet highly resonant term: 'bullshit jobs'. Writing in the online magazine Strike!, he recalled the prediction by John Maynard Keynes that by the end of the twentieth...
Crisis and Regime Change in Britain
The slump of 2008-9 was deeper than any since the 1930s, and the subsequent recovery slower. Does this mean there is a prospect for regime change in Britain? The responses to the crisis have not so far produced much in the way of new ideas: policies...
David and Dave
Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, Allen Lane 2013 I recently had mice in my flat. Despite our difference in size, those flitting brown shapes terrorised me completely until pest control came...
Implausible Promises: The Information Revolution in the NHS: Information Technology in the NHS Is Indissolubly Linked with Marketisation
Information is the panacea for all that ails the NHS--or so the policy-makers would have us believe. The white paper that preceded the 2012 Health and Social Care Act announced an 'information revolution' that would result in a wide range of benefits:...
Opening Up the Debate: Jon Cruddas and Michael Rustin Discuss How We Can Work Together to Strengthen the Left
Jon Over the last fifty years a body of ideas broadly associated with the New Left has dominated the left's interpretation of crises and historic turning points. And you've been involved in all of them, Mike--first in the late 1950s, at the time of...
Out of the Mire: Arguments from the Greek Left: Syriza Has Given Us Not Only a Sophisticated Analysis of the Current Crisis but Also Renewed Hope for a Revival of Radical Politics in Europe
The current crisis of capitalism is clearly as profound as those of the 1970s and the interwar period. Measures adopted within the Eurozone in response have included a stronger commitment to preserving the euro, the European Central Bank's commitment...
Rebuilding a Radical Tradition: Can We Recover Our Egalitarian Spirit?
Each generation has its never-to-be forgotten memories that mark its people's lives. I cannot recall where I was when I heard of John Kennedy's assassination, but I shall always remember the moment when I heard the results of the 1945 British election....
Religion in New Times: New Forms of Religion Require New Ways of Thinking
Today we occupy a curious vantage point when it comes to the question of religion. The great thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries predicted its inevitable demise. And in the twenty-first, self-styled 'new' atheists such as Richard Dawkins...
Remaking Scotland: Can the Common Weal Project Make a Difference in Scotland?
What would happen if Eskimos had no words for snow? For thirty-five years we've had a UK political system that has no word for 'left'. Labour gave up the right to be a movement that could capture this meaning a long time ago. The word 'socialism' has...
Rethinking the Collective
Jeremy Gilbert, Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in an Age of Individualism, Pluto 2013 Common Ground begins in familiar territory: the failure of our democratic institutions, designed for an era of homogenous lives and bloc interests,...
Spaces for Debate
Across Europe, what Christos Laskos and Euclid Tsakalotos call 'a general lack of plasticity' has been a central feature of government reaction to the financial crisis. Seeking a return to business as usual via austerity measures has been a more or...
State of Independence: The Rise of 'Third Scotland': The Referendum Campaign Has Opened Up Exciting New Spaces for Politics in Scotland
Scotland has become another country. The transition points were not sudden or clear; this is a process that has gradually taken place over many decades and even centuries. It began long before the Thatcher and Blair eras. It is rooted in the post-war...
States of Imagination: The State Remains Crucial for a Left Politics, but Needs Radical Rethinking
Does everybody hate the state? It often appears so. Neoliberals detest the state and aim to downsize it or even make it wither away. And defending it certainly raises problems. Many people disenchanted by formal politics no longer look to the state,...
The Gezi Resistance and Its Aftermath: A Radical Democratic Opportunity? the Spirit of Gezi Continues to Animate Turkish Politics
In spring 2011, when Tunisia, Egypt, Spain and Greece were in the throes of mass public dissent, some of us sarcastically joked that Turkey would be next. We were convinced it could not happen and discussed how and why the Turkish situation was different....
The Indignados and Us: Olga Abasolo Discusses the Indignados Movement in Spain, and Jeremy Gilbert and Hilary Wainwright Respond
'We were asleep, now we are awake' Olga Abasolo For many activists and Spanish people, the Indignados movement has been the most exciting, interesting and astonishing political development of the last decades. There was a slogan circulating at the...
The Problems of Islamophobia
Deepa Kumar, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, Haymarket 2012 Arun Kundnani, The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism and the Domestic War on Terror, Verso, 2014 In basketball, an 'alley-oop' is a play that occurs when one teammate...
Three Poems
In October 2011, writer and political activist Enoh Meyomesse unsuccessfully ran for the presidency of Cameroon. A month later, while Meyomesse was abroad, gendarmes broke into his home without a warrant and confiscated documents, photographs and other...
Whose Economy? Reframing the Debate: We Need to Completely Transform the Way the Economy Is Discussed
It is often argued that the United Kingdom economy is in a mess, a mess from which it must be rescued. We agree. However, in the Kilburn Manifesto we want to take issue with the way in which, in most political debate, this situation is usually understood....
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