We had taken the worst flight in the world and gone nowhere. The Redskins game was over and we didn't even know who won. As I passed up the aisle, getting off the plane, I noticed that the mayor had fallen out of his classic brace position and his neck was oddly bent. Mencken, on the death of William Jennings Bryan It was sometime around midafternoon on deadline day when the swine began pounding on my door. At first I thought it was the hotel Hunter S. Thompson 41 security people, or maybe the real police, coming to seize me on charges of defrauding an innkeeper.
The brainless editor had once again failed to cover my room-service bills for the week, and the desk was getting rude. We had been through this before, in better days, when I was keeping a rooftop suite at the Mark Hopkins. They whined like curs every week when the bill came in. And then they put commercial announcements on the radio, saying I spent all the money for buUwhips.
It was nonsense, of course, but so what? Something Hke , people heard it on the radio at least once, and when I tried to cash a check at the concierge's desk in the lobby, she laughed and called me a pervert. I'm going out to the Avenues to buy a hotel in the Yucatan. Strangers shoved envelopes under the door, and death threats came on the telephone. The hotel management became edgy with my situation. All day long strange people had been knocking and clawing on my door Hinckle's obituary was as tough and relentless as anything written about a dead man since H. Mencken wrote the notice for William Jennings Bryan.
We were all edgy. I had been on the road for too long, constantly doing business for reasons that were never made clear. There were bills for expensive motorcycle parts and an Oldsmobile windshield in Bir- mingham. By the time I started having trouble with the hotel accountants I was not in a mood to be reasonable. The pounding on my door on the day of the great expense account crisis was not, in fact, the cops or some vicious collection agency— but a blindly persistent geek from CBS-TV.
He had a camera crew in tow, he said, and he was ready to do the interview. It had something to do with The Examiner and new adventures in journaUsm, but I told him I wanted no part of it. I wanted no part of the New York Times story, or the Newsweek story, or McNeil-Lehrer, or all the other media pack rats who have been covering this newspaper to the point that it is interfering with our work.
I could see the CBS man through the warped convex glass of the peephole, and I yelled at him: "Get away from here, you giddy little creep! Never bother the working press. Spiro Agnew was right. You people should all be put in a cage and poked with sharp bamboo sticks. They took him away within minutes, still jabbering about freedom of the press. I went back to bed and smoked Indonesian cigarettes until the evening news came on. Hinckle and his animal had arrived about sundown, traveling nervous and semi-incognito in a white Mercedes sedan with the Mitchell Brothers and a woman from Oakland who said she was looking for work, and also that her husband wanted to stab me in the head if he ever got the chance.
The woman from Oakland was not a stranger to me, or to anyone else in the hotel. She had been prowling the hallways for days, spooking the maids and scrawhng pentagrams on my door. A few months earlier she had lent me her husband's motorcycle, and he went wild with rage when he came home and found it was gone. It was madness, but I felt I could handle it more or less by myself until she turned up at the hotel that afternoon in the same car with Hinckle and the infamous Mitchell Brothers.
They sent her away for a while, but soon she was pounding savagely on the door, a wronged woman out of control. We all cowered stupidly as the hammering on the door continued. Hinckle feigned sleep and Jim Mitchell called his wife on the phone. Thompson 43 Artie jabbered nervously about politics and morals in Utah. The dog started barking. The woman eventually left, but not without slipping another menacing letter under the door, saying she would be back later, and next time she would come with her husband, a known knife-freak about the size of the monstrous William Perry.
Work was impossible. The geeks had broken my spirit. They had done too many things wrong. It was never like this for Mencken. He lived Hke a Prussian gambler— sweating worse than Bryan on some nights and drunker than Judas on others.
It was all a dehumanized night- mare It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die Hke dogs, for no good reason. Which is more or less true. For the most part, they are dirty little animals with huge brains and no pulse. Gene Scott, who works like a sleepless ferret in the maniac bowels of Southern California.
But these are only the exceptions that prove the hideous rule. Mainly we are dealing with a profoundly degenerate world, a living web of foulness, greed and treachery. You can't get away from TV. It is everywhere. The hog is in the tunnel. I was reminded of all these things, once again, when I finally limped back home— after 15 days in the eerie confines of an airless cubicle in a high-rise on Market Street— to find the TV business working overtime in my front yard.
It was 9 o'clock at night, with a full moon, when we came up the driveway in Weird John's cab from the airport, and I felt the chill of winter. Daylight-savings time was over, the football season was half- gone, and there was frost on all the windshields. The Jeep and the Volvo were almost hidden in a maze of frozen weeds, and a big blue peacock was squatting nervously on the trunk of the Bavaria. There was no sign of the Range Rover, which meant that Jay had probably gone off to Texas with the Nazis. Years ago I made the decision to keep the whole place looking like an abandoned sawmill— which has worked out well for the trapping and disciplining of trespassers, but it is not a natural contexf for massive high-tech machinery.
It was the tallest thing on the ranch, a foot electric white Birdview dish antenna, perched on a jagged, grassy knoll about yards back from the main house and blocking my view of the mule pasture. Motorcycle tracks led back through the snow in the direction of the cistern, then veered off sharply toward the raw mud and concrete base of the new installation— which was in fact the full-bore all-channels satellite Earth Station that I'd ordered from the electric people, before I went to San Francisco.
I am, after all, the media critic; and TV falls into that category, so I thought I should have all the channels, including Spanish Reuters and the morning news from Bermuda, which is as far across the Earth's curvature as our commercial satellites can see. This had been my problem, all along. I was living too far up in the Rockies, with atavistic technology. The local cable company had refused to even talk about running a line up Woody Creek— as a "special favor" they said— for me or anyone else. Thompson 45 have our own professional reasons for needing total TV at all times, and especially on weekends for the games.
But the cable company said "NO. We need a hundred hookups for every two miles of line. You only have seven. Forget it. You will never qualify. The cable had passed us by; the dish was the only hope, and eventually we were all forced to turn to it. By the summer of '85, the valley had more satellite dishes per capita than an Eskimo village on the north slope of Alaska. Mine was one of the last to go in. I had been nervous from the start about the hazards of too much input, which is a very real problem with these things. Watching TV becomes a full-time job when you can scan channels all day and all night and still have the option of punching Night Dreams into the video machine, if the rest of the world seems dull.
This was the situation I found at my house when I got back from San Francisco. My friend Cromwell had installed a whole galaxy of wires and motors and screens and stainless steel TVRO with red lights and green lights and baffling digital readouts to compute things like spatial polarity and the uplink angle from London. I had all the latest equipment to watch any channel I wanted. There's a whole raft of things that you'll still be able to get— the Club, the Vast Brokers TV Auction," he said as he smiled in the manner of a raccoon. It would have croaked a weaker man, but Cromwell was still laughing as he staggered down the driveway to his power wagon.
I stayed up all night and drove down to the post office at dawn to pick up the official application form. There was only one press seat, according to the people at NASA, and the competition would definitely be fierce. Walter Cronkite was the natural choice, they said, but he was far too old for the weight training and his objectivity was suspect. Ten years ago, or more, Walter had taken a profoundly personal interest in whatever he perceived at the time to be the "U.
Walter was a true believer: He was "on the team," as they say in places hke Lynchburg, Va. I'm waiting for the phone call from the politicians of NASA. I know it will come at night. Most nights are slow in the politics business, but only lawyers complain. Never answer your phone after midnight, they say. Other people's nightmares are not billable time, and morning will come soon enough. Leave it alone, if you can; the slow nights are the good ones — because you know in your nerves that every once in a while a fast one will come along, and it will jerk you up by the roots.
Thompson 47 There are many rooms in the mansion, and weirdness governs in most of them. Politics is not just elections, and telephones are not just for reaching out and touching someone. If the telephone call doesn't come from NASA and they send Cronkite instead of me into space, then it will be time to deal with my notion of taking Vanessa Williams to Johannesburg for a casual Saturday night of dinner and dancing, which the Examiner contemptuously rejected for what I took to be blind-dumb reasons with roots in a classic psycho- expenso syndrome.
Which is not bad thinking, for a comptroller, but it is going to get in the way if we ever plan to start justifying the Examiner's "next gen- eration" format and the oft-implied promise of "a thinking man's news- paper" for the '80s. That would be a major move in any decade, but in this one it makes a certain amount of at least theoretical sense because we have what looks to me Hke a genuine Power Vacuum on our side. The only other newspapers that have caused any functional excitement in the business are the L. Times and the Boston Globe, and I think we should pay attention to both of them.
They are nothing alike, on the surface, but in some ways they share the same giddy instincts that we are just beginning to flirt with. They are both stockpiling talent at top-dollar rates, and planning to amortize their investment by reselling their talent — and the leverage that supposedly comes with it — via national or even international syn- dication arrangements, which in theory is not bad business.
It harks back to the basic difference between "vertical" and "horizontal" cor- porations: i. Ford and General Motors. And all I wanted to do here was make a pitch for going to South Africa, where TV cameras have suddenly become useless and print journalism has been elevated, by default, to a bizarre and critical level. I assume you've been following these ominous developments on TV — as I have, thanks to my recently installed TVRO "Earth Station" — which have effectively shut down all coverage of public violence in South Africa by our colleagues in the video press.
It is an impossible situation for the kinds of people charged with TV coverage in what amounts, now, to a war zone. They are the storm troopers of journalism, for good or ill. And in the main, they are very tough-minded neo-dimensional people whose only Hnk to the mandates of traditional journalism is to get the story and get the story out.
That is going to cause them trouble in South Africa. It is like telling fish to stay out of water, and the Afrikaners are serious. They are universally recognized — even among non-political travelers — to be The Worst People in the World. The last time I was here was in the spring — for the first Duran-Leonard fight — and the downtown streets were like sheet ice. Harold Conrad was dancing crazily in an after-hours club on St. Catherine Street, and when we went outside for some air, a French whiskey sot in a Z Camaro ran over two people in the narrow street outside the club and then tried to flee — but he panicked and crashed into a bread truck and an outraged mob chased Hunter S.
Thompson 49 him down and whipped him until he confessed. There was no need for police, until later. I was part of the mob, for some reason, along with Bill Murray and Bob Arum and a dozen or so punk rockers shouting things like "Bas- tarde! All memories are gray when the time comes to start sorting out details of mob violence. The truth is that we had gone temporarily wild like the others, behaving like beasts and borne along by a frenzied crowd.
The only certified loser was the driver of the bread truck, who had his whole load of croissants scattered like popcorn all over the street. But that was a long time ago, and we have all become older and wiser since then — even Sugar Ray Leonard, who lost to Duran in Montreal, then redeemed himself in New Orleans a year later. This time I was in town for very different reasons. The underlying theme was still violence, but now it had to do with Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and the threat of a nuclear war between the United States and Russia that seriously worries the Canadians — and whether Richard Nixon would become president in This was the subject of a talk I was scheduled to deliver the next day at Concordia University, and I was met at the airport by a student committee of two — Doug and Terrence.
Terrence is bright and ambitious, but he is cursed with a dark and twisted curiosity that all too often characterizes Canadians. I'd forgotten that trait since my last trip across the northern border, but it only took a few minutes with Terrence to remind me. In the course of our conversation on the way from the airport, I mentioned to him that I was on leave from my job as night manager of the O'Farrell.
This piqued his interest more than anything I'd said, and he insisted we pay a visit to Montreal's foremost adult theater to compare style. Like any responsible administrator, I agreed to go and check out the competition. Catherine, just down the street from the place where Conrad had spun into his dance frenzy on my last trip. According to my colleagues who run the Super Sexe, there are 80 dancers on the roster, but there were only about 20 still working this late on Thursday night. There was something unsettling about the crowd, which consisted of major pimps and boyfriends — wild-looking Canucks with karat gold chains and black biker sweat shirts with chopped-off sleeves and the dumb, nervous eyes of animals who sense they're in trouble but don't quite know where it's coming from.
There was also something unsettling about the dancers, which was so foreign I felt I should bring it up with the natives, just to be sure I wasn't ignorant about some bizarre Canadian tradition. Just about that time, a woman came to our table and offered to dance — Montreal's watered-down version of lap dancing. Terrence qui- etly decHned, and when the woman was a safe distance from the table, I leaned over and in a desperate whisper said to him, "Ye gods! Another woman with hairy legs. I have not been in the business this long for nothing, and my eyes at this range are like those of a snow falcon.
Do all Quebec women have hairy legs?
It was a. It was built about years ago on an ice- bound island in the St. Lawrence River by renegade Frenchmen who thought they had found the New World and would soon own it. This has not come to pass — or at least not yet, according to the hard rockers who speak for the Free Speech Quebec Separatist Party who identify mainly with the I. But they say it will happen soon — that the long screw of history is still turning and the war is not over yet. Thompson 51 As far as the French Separatists are concerned, with any luck at all, Reagan will go belly up when he meets Gorbachev in Geneva this week and Washington will be seized by a cabal of crazed generals in the style of "Dr.
It was a hard and irascible attitude to deal with when I went up on stage the next day to answer all the obvious questions about the U. It was a long afternoon, but finally a consensus emerged: Canada is doomed to the status of a nuclear chattel, regardless of what happens in Geneva.
Reagan will use the summit conference as nothing more than a flag-waving update of his TV commercials for GE in the good old days, and the winter book favorite to win the election has to be Richard Milhous Nixon. I left for the airport immediately, feeling lucky to get out of the country without being flogged. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die. He is not into small talk. But the few that eventually reach me are always serious. His recurrent themes are Death and Degradation, along with a lust for money so wild and raw that its intensity would shame the gamekeeper in Lady Chatterley's Lover.
Artists never write letters unless they are desperate, and by that time their brains have seized up. They lack the pure logic and focus of the literary life, and their eyes are rheumy with drink. I have had trouble with Russell before, and with Ralph for most of my life. They are rich and famous artists, two of the major talents of their time — but they would have long since been legally put to sleep in any properly organized society.
Instead, they are paid huge fees for their twisted works and they are honored all over the globe. Ralph lives like a caliph in a room castle about an hour south of London in the fashionable county of Kent, and rides now and then to the hounds. Russell carries a platinum American Express card, drives a Cadillac, and lives generally in the style of Sam Coleridge — an existence that not even his friends understand.
They are both shameless Sybarites, far gone in wanton abuse, but who am I to make judgments? We all have weird friends. Some call from jail at four in the morning and others write ominous letters. I drove down to the post office the other day and found only two envelopes in my box — Russell's and Ralph's, both of them crazy with anger. I turned Russell's over to the sheriff, but Ralph's had the tone of a serious medical bulletin, and it seemed to need a reply. Dear Ralph. I finally got your letter from the intensive care ward at Maidstone Hospital, but it was dated 20 March 85 and that was a long time ago, considering that you mailed it from the very lip of the grave.
You sound like an old woman, Ralph. I'm tired of your bitching and whining. Just because you got drunk and almost died is no reason to come jabbering at me about royalties and the meaning of life. Never mention either one of these things to me again, Ralph. Your questions are dumb and ugly, but so what?
We will take them one at a time: 1 There are no royalties on anything and there never will be. It is an ugly situation. My attorney will be in touch with you about the money and the slander problem. You are a full-blooded country squire, Ralph, a man of tweeds and art. Your neighbors don't want to know what you do to those animals that you catch in the spring traps; and they certainly don't want to think — when Hunter S. Thompson 53 they see you roaming your hedgerows at night with something that looks like a shotgun — that you have six fingers on each hand and your mind is a raging inferno of contradictions.
They would have locked you up, Ralph, if they thought you were desperately crazy. Take my word for it. Don't give them a handle. I know that man Narley who runs the Maidstone Pub, and I've heard the crude gossip he spreads. He is definitely not on your side. But don't worry, Ralph. I have the answer. My own life has been exceedingly strange, of late. I went through one of those giddy periods where I believed what people told me, and naturally it ended in grief.
The Night Manager is running a bit behind schedule at this point, because of my weakness for journalism. In addition to all my other jobs, titles and responsibilities, I am now a sort of neo-syndicated columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, the once-proud flagship of what was known as "The Hearst Empire. We have Warren on the night shift, whipping the police at all times, and I suspect there is life in the project.
You will be sent out on routine assignments like an ordinary journalist and your work will be treated like offal, but I think you can overcome it and perhaps do some unusual work. Let's look at Groundhog Day for your opening shot. We will get you a flat in the Avenues, my old neighborhood, and your first assignment will probably be the trial of Charles C. Ng, an alleged mass sex slayer from Calaveras County who will soon be deported from Canada to stand trial here in Fat City You will have to trust me on this one, Ralph. I know it sounds strange.
I have an acrobat's sense of these things, a higher and finer touch. So pack your bags and get ready to work on Groundhog Day. We will have a strategy conference at the Beach Boy Cafe and then we will creep out in the fog and do our filthy business. Welcome to the next generation. November 25, Revense of the Fish Heads "And a thousand thousand slimy things lived on; and so did I. It never ends. On some nights they gnaw on your doorknob, and on others they plot rotten lawsuits and fondle themselves like chimpanzees in rooms lit by watt bulbs. These things happen. Not everybody lives like the Cleavers.
Some people are bent like Joe Theismann's leg, but few of them work for the Redskins, and nobody takes them to a hospital when their bones erupt through their flesh. We are all victims of this slime. They squawk on our telephones and clog all the court calendars and fill our mailboxes with gibberish that would get them indicted if people had time to press charges.
There is no cure for it. Some god with a sense of humor like Ed Winn made them that way, for his own reasons. Only a few are really dan- gerous — maybe 1 or 2 percent — but these are the ones who go over the edge and kill and sHt and burn, or keep a hundred stray cats in their condos and worship yellowed photos of Susan Atkins.
Thompson 55 They also write letters, and I have had a lot of them recently. They are all from Miami, from fish heads and Jesus freaks and Nazis — and they are all connected, in one way or another, to the strange and frenzied cult of Dr. It was a fitting honor for the man. He is nothing if not a communicator. His frantic late-night commentaries on the high spots of his recent hur- ricane season were the hottest thing on the airwaves since Orson Welles did "War of the Worlds" in He drove millions of people crazy with fear and confusion.
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He is also — according to a man named Tex, from Coconut Grove — a lay preacher of some kind in the evangelical mode who once opened a crusade for Billy Graham. This may or may not account for his huge and rabid following in south Florida, where his doomsday-style warnings about impending hurricanes "with the energy of one of our early atomic bombs" has elevated him to the status of a holy man, a literal Messenger of God. More people have abandoned their homes and fled like rats to the high ground on the word of Neil Frank than ever ran blindly around the mountain and through the Red Sea with Moses.
All Frank really does is scare people to death and tell them to flee God's wrath. But the truth is that any baboon with a healthy heart and good diction and a contract with ABC's "Nightline" could do Neil Frank's job, and the same giddy people would worship him. An outraged couple named Kempker F. Neil Frank a great disservice with your ignorant and vicious criticism. May the Lord have mercy on you. Cotton-DeBoer South African massage organization called me a jackal with no feeling and said I was irrationally jealous of Neil.
The summit was over, the Broncos were beaten and the snow got deeper 56 Generation of Swine each day. Many animals died. But Russell Chatham ate most of them, and his mad-dog girlfriend got off with something like cured hides, which she sold on the street in Hollywood. Finally we had to put the Jeep in four-wheel low just to get over the long hill to the tavern. Frozen bulls blocked the road in front of Wayne's place, pissing and stomping on the terra. Some people stopped for the brutes, which is always a nasty mistake.
The only way to move them is to whack the lever into compound low and stomp on the gas. Go straight at the buggers and give them a taste of the chrome. Sometimes a long blast of the horn will panic the whole herd and you can chase them for miles at top speed. The tavern is normally calm on weekdays. It is a cowboy place, a small roadhouse far out on a back road down valley, the only neon sign within 10 miles in any direction. The local manager of the "Friends of Robert Vesco" group drove a Ferrari , and his wife is a deputy sheriff.
They claimed to be from Shelbyville, Ky. Australian animals, tan curs about 30 or 40 pounds with no brains at all and a serious killer instinct. Which is hokum, of course — but that was the price they announced. The buying and selling of dogs, especially working purebreds like dingos and Dobermans, is a treacherous and unstable business. None of these things mattered to the Friends of Robert Vesco. Most of them had dogs of their own, and they were here for their annual reunion. It was a mean crowd, by and large, in sheepskin parkas and eelskin cowboy boots, but they paid in cash and nobody had any trouble.
One man stabbed his wife in the parking lot, but it was only a scrape and she was on the first plane to Denver on Monday. December 2, Hunter S. Thompson 57 Apres Moi, le Deluse "It don't mean nothing till you prove it all night. Skinner called me from the senator's office late Thursday afternoon to say that he was no longer totally committed to his job as executive consultant with the Kennedy for President campaign. He's going on TV in Boston in 10 minutes to announce his final decision. The whole cam- paign staff is terminated as of 10 o'clock this morning.
People are weep- ing and clinging to each other. I jus. What's happening? By P. The first guy said he's either got AIDS or there was another body in the car. The second guy said it's some kind of scandal. The third guy was a friend of his and said there must be some family tragedy — his son has cancer again or some- thing Hke that.
The fourth person said he's getting remarried. It's that strong-willed Czechoslovakian woman he's going out with. It's Hke when Nixon resigned. You'd pick up the phone to make a call and you couldn't get a dial tone because all the circuits on Capitol Hill were tied up. It was a bombshell. You didn't know? His new superpower consulting firm that broke up two days ago — they didn't even know. When he and Doake and Shrumm split up, Caddell was in the other room screaming, 'It's a Kennedy plot; it's part of the Kennedy for President thing.
Jesse Jackson can be the nominee now. With the 15 58 Generation of Swine Southern states combining for Super Tuesday, you've got nine whites in the race, and Jesse. So Jesse wins 15 primaries on Super Tuesday. That's it. I've got nothing else to say. No more stories on the Kennedy thing. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts has suddenly decided to drop out of the presidential race where he is a favorite over all the other candidates? I'm going to the race track tomorrow," he said. It is an evil trade, on most days, and nobody smart will defend it.
But he is, after all. The President. He can drop bombs on any town in the world and have anybody who bothers him arrested. That is not a bad gig, in this world, and it raises certain questions about dumbness. It is hke calling Herschel Walker a fool for earning a million dollars a year for doing nothing at all. There is no need for the president of the United States to be smart.
He can be hovering on the grim cusp of brain death and still be the most powerful man in the world. He can arrest the chief of the Mafia and sell the Washington Monument to Arabs and nobody will question his judgment. Year-end polls show him always to be the "best- dressed," the most popular, and the most-desired donor to all sperm banks. They laughed at Thomas Edison, but they whimper Hke dogs when they come to the gate of the White House.
Frank Sinatra is said to be smart, but he was fired and cut off from every casino in New Jersey when he tried to play blackjack by rules he learned in Nevada. Get out of town by. We never really liked you any- Hunter S. Thompson 59 way. They chased him out like a wino. It was an ugly thing to see.
Yet even Frank Sinatra worships The President. He croons love songs to The President's wife, and his friends take tea in the East Wing. We live in troubled times. Bull fruits roam the streets of St. Lx uis and even the Secretary of State was threatened with being forced to submit to a lie-detector test for reasons of routine security. Mike Ditka is jailed for drunken driving in Chicago, on the day of the Bears' greatest victory since The Year of the Rat never ended.
Even his own staff people were shocked by his apparently sudden decision to pull out of the presidential race, at a time when even the GOP national committee had polls showing him as a 2-to-l favorite to finally win the Democratic nomination. Winter book numbers, at the time, had Kennedy at 44 percent, Gary Hart at 22 percent and Mario Cuomo at But nobody in the business would have bet on those numbers; two years is a long time to live as a front-runner in this league.
Many were cynical, saying they'd heard it all before — four times in the last 15 years — and that probably it was just another evil Kennedy 60 Generation of Swine trick. He'll be lying out there in the weeds, they said, waiting for the right time to pounce. Chappaquiddick was hard to explain — except as a flagrant and genuinely hideous example of bad driving. The details remain hazy, for reasons that were never made clear or even acceptable — but in the end it was mainly a matter of a grown man on his own turf in his own car, who couldn't drive in a straight line across a short bridge.
That was the nut of the problem. He could soar with the condors and crawl with the wildest of swine — but when the deal went down he was simply a bad driver. There are people in Washington who will tell you that Ted Kennedy would be president of the United States today, if he'd ever learned to drive. I have had my own problems with bad roads and wrong cars, from time to time, and tonight it happened again. The moon is full, and there is not a cloud in the sky. No stars are visible because of the deep white glow of the moonlight on the snow, which triples the ambient light and makes it possible to drive without headlights on these back roads.
Which is a good thing for mihtants, Indians and dope fiends. Not everybody needs headlights. There are those among us who can race through the frozen mountains like slot cars, with no lights at all, and never even drift on a curve, or come up too fast on a bull elk. There is no need to mention this business of driving without headhghts except that the lights suddenly went out on my recently rebuilt and totally overhauled Volvo tonight, and I had to run the last five miles to the ranch by nothing but the light of the moon.
It was one of those decisions that would probably make most people nervous. I was driving out from town, after dinner, with some people from Miami — and my first hint of trouble came when I sensed that the moon was brighter than my headlights. Which is wrong, as Mr. Nixon said, and it immediately raised ques- tions in my own mind about the true credibility of my night vision. When Hunter S. Thompson 61 your headlight beams start looking like the dim glow of some antique Aladdin's lamp — and then even dimmer, like votive candles — it is time to seek professional advice.
Never mind the unholy moonlight. What happens next week when it's gone? Not even Sitting Bull could drive at top speed in total darkness. Maybe the time has come to see an eye doctor; one of these quacks who runs ads on TV saying to come in and take all the tests. I was flirting with these ominous notions — too many years on dark roads, too many scars on the retinas — when my headlights went out altogether and the road became like the ocean, as if I were driving a boat. There are no street lights on the sea.
And yet, the real nature of the threat Trump poses can only be understood in a much wider context: that of the far-right populists who have been gaining strength in every major democracy, from Athens to Ankara, from Sydney to Stockholm, and from Warsaw to Wellington. Donald Trump in the United States, Nigel Farage in Great Britain, Frauke Petry in Germany, and Marine Le Pen in France all claim that the solutions to the most pressing problems of our time are much more straightforward than the political establishment would have us believe, and that the great mass of ordinary people instinctively knows what to do.
At bottom, they see politics as a very simple matter. If the pure voice of the people could prevail, the reasons for popular discontent would quickly vanish. America or Great Britain, or Germany, or France would be great again. This begs an obvious question. If the political problems of our time are so easy to fix, why do they persist? Since the populists are unwilling to admit that the real world might be complicated—that solutions might prove elusive even for people with good intentions—they need somebody to blame. And blame they do. The first obvious culprit often lies outside the country.
But their rhetoric has the same underlying logic. Like Trump, Le Pen and Farage believe that it must be the fault of outsiders—of Muslim moochers or Polish plumbers—when incomes stagnate or their identity is threatened by newcomers. And like Trump, they blame the political establishment—from Brussels bureaucrats to the mendacious media —for their failure to deliver on their outsized promises.
Establishment politicians, they say, have a misguided fetish for diversity. Or—simplest explanation of all—they are somehow foreign, or Muslim, or both. This worldview breeds two political desires, and most populists are savvy enough to embrace both. First, populists claim, an honest leader—one who shares the pure outlook of the people and is willing to fight on their behalf— needs to win high office. And second, once this honest leader is in charge, he needs to abolish the institutional roadblocks that might stop him from carrying out the will of the people.
Liberal democracies are full of checks and balances that are meant to stop any one party from amassing too much power and to reconcile the interests of different groups. But in the imagination of the populists, the will of the people does not need to be mediated, and any compromise with minorities is a form of corruption. In that sense, populists are deeply democratic: much more fervently than traditional politicians, they believe that the demos should rule.
The fear that populist insurgents would undermine liberal institutions if they came to power may sound alarmist. But it is based on plenty of precedent. After all, illiberal populists have already been elected to office in countries like Poland and Turkey. In each of these places, they took strikingly similar steps to consolidate their power: they ratcheted up tensions with perceived enemies at home and abroad; packed courts and electoral commissions with their cronies; and took control of the media. And yet, throughout the s, political scientists were bullish on its prospects.
According to their theories, Hungary had all the attributes that favored a democratic transition: it had experienced democratic rule in the past; its totalitarian legacy was more moderate than that of many other Eastern European countries; old communist elites had acquiesced to the new regime in a negotiated settlement; and the country bordered a number of stable democracies. The government peacefully changed hands. Its lively civil society featured critical media, strong NGOs, and one of the best universities in Central Europe. Hungarian democracy seemed to be consolidating.
They saw their identity threatened by the prospect though not the reality of mass immigration. When a big corruption scandal enveloped the ruling center-left party, their discontent turned into outright disgust with the government. He changed the electoral system to benefit himself, pushed out foreign corporations to channel money to his cronies, instituted highly restrictive rules on NGOs, and attempted to shutter Central European University. But, taken together, their effect slowly became unmistakable: Hungary is no longer a liberal democracy.
What, then, is it? At first he presented himself as an honest democrat with conservative values. Now, he states his opposition to liberal democracy loud and clear. Democracy, he vows, should be hierarchical rather than liberal. But though they are right to worry that his illiberal reforms may eventually allow him to disregard the will of the people, it is a mistake to think that all democracies must by their nature be liberal, or resemble our current political institutions.
Hierarchical democracy allows popularly elected leaders to enact the will of the people as they interpret it, without having to make allowances for the rights or interests of obstinate minorities. Its claim to being democratic need not be disingenuous. In the emerging system, the popular will reigns supreme at least at first. What sets it apart from the kind of liberal democracy to which we are accustomed is not a lack of democracy; it is a lack of respect for independent institutions and individual rights.
The rise of illiberal democracy, or democracy without rights, is but one side of politics in the first decades of the twenty-first century. For even as ordinary people have grown skeptical of liberal practices and institutions, political elites have tried to insulate themselves from their anger.
If the people should grow so restive as to ignore the sage advice proffered by elites, they need to be educated, ignored, or bullied into submission. Never was this attitude more starkly on display than in the early hours of July 13th, The Great Recession had saddled Greece with a vast amount of debt. Economists knew that the country would never be able to pay off everything it owed; most agreed that a policy of austerity would only serve to inflict further damage on a cratering economy.
And so technocrats in Brussels decided that, for the rest of the European monetary system to survive, Greece would have to suffer. But with the economy shrinking from year to year and youth unemployment spiking above 50 percent, desperate voters finally put their trust in Alexis Tsipras, a young, populist leader who promised to end austerity. Greece would have to persist in penury—or go bankrupt and leave the euro.
By the summer of , with a harsh bailout package on the table, Tsipras was down to two options: capitulate to the demands of the technocrats or lead Greece into economic chaos. The backlash was swift, and it was mighty. Political leaders from all over Europe called the referendum irresponsible.
Despite ominous warnings about impending doom, voters were unwilling to swallow their pride. They rejected the deal. Instead, the original deal was off the table—and the new offer imposed even greater hardships. When Tsipras stepped in front of the cameras in the early morning of July 13, his eyes red and his face ashen, it quickly became apparent that the night had ended in his capitulation. A little over a week after he had let his people reject an unpopular bailout deal, Tsipras signed off on an agreement that was, by any reasonable measure, worse.
The politics of the Eurozone are an extreme example of a political system in which the people feel as though they have less and less say over what actually happens. Unnoticed by most political scientists, a form of undemocratic liberalism has taken root in North America and Western Europe. In this form of government, procedural niceties are carefully followed most of the time and individual rights are respected much of the time.
But voters have long since concluded that they have little influence on public policy. In one case, the will of the people pushed aside the independent institutions that were meant to protect the rule of law and the rights of minorities. In the other case, the force of the markets and the beliefs of the technocrats pushed aside the will of the people. But Hungary and Greece are just two sides of the same coin. In democracies around the world, two seemingly distinct developments are playing out. On the one hand, the preferences of the people are increasingly illiberal: voters are growing impatient with independent institutions and less and less willing to tolerate the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
On the other hand, elites are taking hold of the political system and making it increasingly unresponsive: the powerful are less and less willing to cede to the views of the people. As a result, liberalism and democracy, the two core elements of our political system, are starting to come into conflict. Scholars have always known that liberalism and democracy could, at times, be observed in isolation from each other.
While they recognized that individual rights and the popular will may not always go together, they held fast to the belief that they are meant to. Where liberalism and democracy do meet, the story holds, they form an especially stable, resilient, and coherent amalgam. But as the views of the people are trending illiberal and the preferences of the elites are turning undemocratic, liberalism and democracy are starting to clash.
Liberal democracy, the unique mix of individual rights and popular rule that has long characterized most governments in North America and Western Europe, is coming apart at its seams. In its stead, we are seeing the rise of illiberal democracy, or democracy without rights, and undemocratic liberalism, or rights without democracy. Once upon a time, there was a very happy chicken. Every day, the farmer would come to feed the chicken. Every day, the chicken would grow a little more plump and a little more complacent. Other animals on the farm tried to warn the chicken.
All its life, the farmer had come to feed it, muttering a few friendly words of encouragement. Why should things suddenly be so different? Just as the chicken failed to anticipate that its world might one day crumble, we too may be blind to the changes that lie ahead. The answer might well be yes. There are at least three striking constants that characterized democracy since its founding but are no longer true today.
First, during the period of democratic stability, most citizens enjoyed a rapid increase in their living standards. From to , for example, the income of a typical American household doubled. From to , it doubled again. Since then, it has been flat. Today, that trust and that optimism have evaporated. As citizens have grown deeply anxious about the future, they have started to see politics as a zero-sum game—one in which any gain for immigrants or ethnic minorities will come at their expense. All through the history of democratic stability, one racial or ethnic group has been dominant.
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In the United States and Canada, there has always been a clear racial hierarchy, with whites enjoying myriad privileges. In Western Europe this dominance went even further. Founded on a monoethnic basis, countries like Germany or Sweden did not recognize immigrants as true members of the nation. To an extent we often prefer to disregard, the functioning of democracy may have depended on that homogeneity.
Decades of mass migration and social activism have radically transformed these societies. In North America, racial minorities are finally claiming an equal seat at the table. In Western Europe, the descendants of immigrants are starting to insist that somebody who is black or brown can be a real German or Swede.
But while a part of the population accepts, or even welcomes, this change, another part feels threatened and resentful. As a result, a vast rebellion against ethnic and cultural pluralism is gathering speed across the western hemisphere. Until recently, mass communication remained the exclusive preserve of political and financial elites. This allowed the political establishment to marginalize extreme views. Politics remained comparatively consensual. Over the past quarter century, by contrast, the rise of the internet, and particularly of social media, has rapidly shifted the power balance between political insiders and political outsiders.
Today, any citizen is able to share viral information with millions of people at great speed. The costs of political organizing have plummeted. And as the technological gap between center and periphery has narrowed, the instigators of instability have won an advantage over the forces of order. But if we take the major drivers of our populist age seriously, we should recognize that we need to take action on at least three fronts. First, we need to reform economic policy, both domestically and internationally, to temper inequality and live up to the promise of rapidly rising living standards. A more equitable distribution of economic growth, on this vision, is not just a question of distributive justice; it is a question of political stability.
Some economists have argued that we cannot have democracy, globalization, and the nation state all at the same time. And some philosophers have embraced the abandonment of the nation state, dreaming up predominantly international solutions to the economic problems we now face. But this is the wrong approach. To preserve democracy without giving up on the emancipatory potential of globalization, we need to figure out how the nation state can once again take control of its own fate. The promise of multiethnic democracy, in which members of any creed or color are regarded as true equals, is nonnegotiable.
Difficult though it may be for countries with a deeply monoethnic conception of themselves to embrace newcomers and minorities, such a transformation is the only realistic alternative to tyranny and civic strife. But the noble experiment of multiethnic democracy can only succeed if all of its adherents start to emphasize what unites rather than what divides them. This is a moral as well as a strategic mistake: The only society that can treat all of its members with respect is one in which every individual enjoys rights on the basis of being a citizen, not on the basis of belonging to a particular group.
As hate speech and fake news have spread, there have been calls for social media companies—or governments—to act as censors. There are many commonsense steps Facebook and Twitter can take to make it more difficult for hate groups to exploit these platforms. But if governments or CEOs started to determine who can say what on the web, free speech would quickly go out the window.
To make the digital age safe for democracy, we therefore need to shape not only what messages are spread on social media, but also how they are likely to be received. Back when we understood democracy to be a daring, fragile experiment, we invested vast educational and intellectual resources in spreading the good news about our political system. Schools and universities knew that their most important task was to educate citizens. Writers and academics recognized that they had a big role to play in explaining and defending the virtues of liberal democracy.
Over the years, this sense of mission has dissipated. Now, as liberal democracy is facing existential danger, it is high time to revive it.
Despite deep disagreements, partisans on both sides of the political battle line endorse the rules of play. They agree to settle their differences on the basis of free and fair elections, are committed to the basic norms of the political system, and accept that a loss at the ballot box makes it legitimate for their political opponent to take a turn at ruling the country.
As a result, the denizens of ordinary times recognize that every victory is provisional and that the loser of one political battle may yet live to win the war. Since they have it in their power to transform progress defeated today into justice delayed until tomorrow, they see every loss as but another reason to redouble their efforts at peaceful persuasion. In such times, the disagreements between partisans on both sides grow so deep and nasty that they no longer agree on the rules of the game.
To gain an advantage, politicians become willing to undermine free and fair elections, to flout the basic norms of the political system, and to vilify their adversaries. As a result, the denizens of extraordinary times start to regard the stakes of politics as existential. In a system whose rules are deeply contested, they have good reason to fear that a victory at the polls may turn out to be forever; that a loss in one political battle may rob them of the ability to wage the larger war; and that progress defeated today may turn out to set the country on a path toward perennial injustice.
Most of us have spent the bulk of our lives in ordinary times. When I was coming of age in Germany in the late s, for example, politicians were debating important questions. Should the receipt of welfare benefits be made conditional on good behavior? Might the state recognize same-sex partnerships in the form of civil unions? The answers they gave to these questions would, I was convinced, deeply shape the country in the years to come. The future was wide open.
On one side, there lay the vision of an open, generous, welcoming country. On the other, a closed, niggardly, stagnant one. As a member in the youth organization of a big political party, I spent a lot of my time fighting for what I believed to be right. At that time, I barely knew the United States.
Would millions of uninsured citizens get access to decent medical care? Could soldiers be thrown out of the army for being open about their sexuality? And should key parts of the welfare state be abolished? The answers to these questions, too, would deeply shape the country. They would make the lives of millions of people better or worse, more authentic or more dissimulating, more prosperous or more precarious. It mattered—deeply —which path the country would take. And yet, with the benefit of hindsight, I recognize that this was the stuff of ordinary politics.
The predicament in which we now find ourselves is so recent, and so scary, that nobody has managed to make real sense of it so far. Individual pieces of the puzzle are dissected every day in the newspaper, on television, sometimes even in the academy. But the more we obsess about these individual pieces, the less we see the overall picture.
In this book, I try to make sense of our new political landscape by making four distinctive contributions: I demonstrate that liberal democracy is now decomposing into its component parts, giving rise to illiberal democracy on the one side and undemocratic liberalism on the other. I argue that the deep disenchantment with our political system poses an existential danger to the very survival of liberal democracy.
I explain the roots of this crisis. And I show what we can do to rescue what is truly valuable in our imperiled social and political order.
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We have the immense fortune of living in the most peaceful and prosperous era of human history. Though the events of the last years may seem disorienting or even paralyzing, we retain the power to win a better future. But unlike fifteen or thirty years ago, we can no longer take that future for granted.
At the moment, the enemies of liberal democracy seem more determined to shape our world than its defenders. If we want to preserve both peace and prosperity, both popular rule and individual rights, we need to recognize that these are no ordinary times—and go to extraordinary lengths to defend our values.
He is so beholden to scientific doctrine that he disregards the evidence barreling past his eyes at thirty miles an hour. But I must admit to having a soft spot for him. For it was, I think, not the mathematical equations in his notepad that led to his absurd conclusion— but his all-too-human refusal to believe that his understanding of the world might prove quite so mistaken. And so it is hardly surprising that, as one political shock has followed the next over the past months, people who might once have seemed perfectly rational and pragmatic have come to resemble the young French engineer.
Pundits and political scientists alike told us that Brits would never vote to Brexit. They did. Pundits and political scientists alike told us that Donald Trump could never get elected. He did. Pundits and political scientists alike told us that democracy would never be in danger of deconsolidating. It is. We live in an era of radical uncertainty.
The range of possible outcomes is much wider now than it seemed to be a few years ago. Prediction is a more difficult game than ever. And yet, the one prediction that has reliably misled us—the assumption that things will forever remain the way they have always been—remains the most popular, even today. Might liberal democracies be less stable than we have assumed? And will the rise of populism lead to the decomposition of our political system? To think clearly about the perils facing liberal democracy, we need to understand what its constitutive elements actually mean.
This task is complicated by two facts. First, the word liberalism has different meanings when we talk about everyday politics and when we talk about the nature of our political institutions.
That is not what I mean when I talk about liberal democracy or use the word liberal. In this book, a liberal is somebody who is committed to basic values like freedom of speech, the separation of powers, or the protection of individual rights. In the sense in which I use the word, George W.
Second, because democracy has such prestige, we have fallen into the bad habit of expanding its definition to all kinds of things we like. The tendency to smuggle all desirable qualities into the very notion of democracy is most obviously true of philosophers who want to reserve the term for the most just regimes—those imaginary societies that would actually succeed in eradicating injustices like widespread poverty or rampant inequality.
But even political scientists who have self-consciously tried to devise minimalist conceptions of democracy elide the key distinctions between liberalism, democracy, and institutions like parliaments or courts. This makes it impossible to ask whether democracy and liberalism might be coming apart. By focusing on a particular set of historically contingent institutions, it also makes it difficult to ask whether these institutions actually allow the people to rule. In this way, the not-so-minimalist definition of democracy inflates the importance of our political institutions.
Instead of recognizing them as a means toward democracy and liberalism, it seems to imagine that they are ends in themselves. In my view, A democracy is a set of binding electoral institutions that effectively translates popular views into public policy. A liberal democracy is simply a political system that is both liberal and democratic—one that both protects individual rights and translates popular views into public policy. This allows us to see that liberal democracies might become perverted in two ways. Democracies can be illiberal. This is especially likely to happen in places where most people favor subordinating independent institutions to the whims of the executive or curtailing the rights of minorities they dislike.
Conversely, liberal regimes can be undemocratic despite having regular, competitive elections. This is especially likely to happen where the political system is so skewed in favor of the elite that elections rarely serve to translate popular views into public policy. That, I fear, is precisely what has happened in many parts of the world over the past decades. Liberalism and democracy, I argue, have been glued together by a contingent set of technological, economic, and cultural preconditions. That glue is now rapidly thinning. As a result, liberal democracy—the unique mix of individual rights and popular rule that has long characterized most governments in North America and Western Europe —is coming apart.
In its stead, two new regime forms are rising: illiberal democracy, or democracy without rights, and undemocratic liberalism, or rights without democracy. We—not the secret police, nor the party elites—are the People. Those who are opposing Merkel today, they were trying to say, are the rightful inheritors of the people who opposed the communist regime a quarter of a century ago.
And yet it did. When I tried to take a few photos, I was wordlessly shoved aside. The risk of being beaten up is too high. Few protestors were waving the black-red-golden flag of the Federal Republic, whose tricolor design invokes the universalist values of the French Revolution. That last one puzzled me. I could see why protestors who hated the United States and were afraid of ethnic diversity might identify with the American South.
But what did Japan have to do with anything? I approached the man holding the sign with a little trepidation, but he was evidently delighted to explain his reasoning. Japan, he told me, has the same problem as Germany: a shrinking population. Germany has let in a lot of immigrants in the hope that they will make up the shortfall in the labor force and pay into social security systems. But all of that has been a big mistake. It showed a crusader on horseback using his spear to repel a couple of Kalashnikov- wielding terrorists, the man clad in a traditional robe, the woman covered by a niqab.
So much of the angry energy that fueled these movements had been on display in the streets of Dresden that I could not help interpreting the events of and in light of what I saw there: the hatred of immigrants and ethnic minorities; the mistrust of the press and the spread of fake news; the conviction that the silent majority had finally found its voice; and, perhaps more than anything else, the hankering for somebody who would speak in the name of the people.
While their relative strength shifted from election to election, allowing the center-left to win office when the center-right had been in power for a while, and vice versa, the basic shape of the party structure was remarkably stable. In one country after another, political parties that had been marginal or nonexistent until a few short years ago established themselves as firm fixtures on the political scene. In the early s, a massive corruption scandal pulverized the political system.
Parties that had dominated Italian politics since the end of World War II disbanded or sank into the electoral abyss. The first person to exploit the ensuing void was Silvio Berlusconi, a businessman who himself faced corruption charges when he entered politics. Promising to clean up the system and make the country rich, Berlusconi swept to victory. Over the past years, as political newcomers have risen to power and influence across Europe, it has become obvious that it was anything but.
In Greece, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement PASOK , the major party of the center-left, and New Democracy, the major party of the center-right, traditionally took about 80 percent of the vote between them; but in January , the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, stormed into office under the leadership of Alexis Tsipras, winning an unexpected majority.
In Sweden, the Social Democratic Party has dominated politics for over a century, only occasionally ceding the government to a center-right coalition led by the Moderate Party; but in recent years, the Sweden Democrats, political upstarts with deep roots in the neo- Nazi movement, have risen rapidly, leading in some polls and taking second place in others. But after decades on the margins, Jean-Marie Le Pen unexpectedly beat the center-left candidate in the first round of the presidential election in , qualifying for the run-off against President Jacques Chirac; in , his daughter, Marine Le Pen, pulled off a similar feat, doubling the share of the vote he had received.
A similar story holds true in Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, and Germany: in each of these countries, far-right populists have celebrated unprecedented successes in recent years by intoning their support of the people. In fact, the vote share of European populist parties on both the left and the right has more than doubled over the course of the past decades. The defenders of populism have celebrated these movements as a sign of great health for our political system.
But they fail to appreciate—or to mention—how deeply illiberal a lot of the energy behind the rise of populism is. Though there is a genuinely democratic element to populism, it is also, in the long run, much more inimical to respect for the popular will than its defenders claim.
It would, then, be tempting to conclude that these new movements are diametrically opposed to democracy after all. Far from seeking to abolish democracy, they are impatient for the popular will to reshape the country in its own image. This is why the only way to make sense of these new movements is to distinguish between their nature and their likely effect.
To understand the nature of populism, we must recognize that it is both democratic and illiberal —that it both seeks to express the frustrations of the people and to undermine liberal institutions. A billion people have been lifted out of poverty. Literacy rates have skyrocketed while child mortality has fallen. Taking the world as a whole, income inequality has shrunk. In developed economies, GDP has grown rather more slowly.
As a result, many middle-class people in the traditional heartlands of liberal democracy have been treading water. And while global inequality has fallen because poor countries have been growing much more rapidly than rich countries, inequality within virtually every society—both in the more stagnant economies of the affluent West and in the most dynamic economies of the global South—has markedly increased.
There is globalization. There is automation. There is the shift from manufacturing to services. There is the rise of a digital economy that allows for massive economies of scale, channeling vast fortunes to a few corporations and their most highly skilled workers, while offering little to everybody else.
None of these changes is beyond the purview of politics. Even today, the right policies can help to redistribute wealth and boost the living standards of ordinary citizens. But the policies that are needed to do this are far from simple, far from immediate and, all too often, far from popular. Much of the time, I felt this way, too. He capitalized on public anger about immigration by promising a wall on the Mexican border. And he capitalized on the anguish in declining manufacturing towns by promising to raise tariffs on Chinese imports.
Experts kept repeating that the wall with Mexico would not stop the vast majority of undocumented immigrants, who simply overstay their visas, and that a trade war with China would not bring back the vast majority of manufacturing jobs, since those were lost to robots rather than to trade.
That is precisely why glib, facile solutions stand at the very heart of the populist appeal. Voters do not like to think that the world is complicated. They certainly do not like to be told that there is no immediate answer to their problems. Faced with politicians who seem to be less and less able to govern an increasingly complex world, many are increasingly willing to vote for anybody who promises a simple solution. Once they are in power, their policies are likely to exacerbate the problems that drove public anger in the first place. It would be tempting to assume that voters, suitably chastened by the ensuing chaos, would then return their trust to establishment politicians.
But the additional pain is likely to put them in an even more sour and restive mood. And as the history of many countries in Latin America shows, when one populist fails, voters are as likely to turn to another populist—or to an out-and-out dictator —as they are to return the old elites to power. Most of the time, populists levy both charges. But we have not yet fulfilled our electoral goal. Tomorrow, the government of the political caste will still be in power.
Rather, they claim that they harbor a special loyalty to the enemies of the people, making them more interested in advancing the interests of unpopular ethnic or religious minorities than in the fate of the majority. Donald Trump is, once again, as pure a case of this as one is likely to find. His first real foray into politics was to claim that Barack Obama had forged his birth certificate, was not a real American, and may even be a secret Muslim. But while populists tailor the identity of the betrayed majority and the despised minority to the needs of their local context, the basic rhetorical structure is strikingly similar everywhere in the world.
All it takes is common sense. If jobs are moving abroad, you have to ban other countries from selling their products. If immigrants are flooding the country, you have to build a wall. And if terrorists attack you in the name of Islam, you have to ban the Muslims. Engaging in activism is great. We can gain life-long friends, develop important skills and learn more about the world. But like most things worth doing, it comes with its own problems.
I was recently asked to be a guest speaker on an American live radio show to talk about the collateral damage of injustice and corruption in US prisons. The show is aired from Colorado Springs, so in order to be able to talk about local issues, as I usually cover correctional facilities in Florida, I set about researching prisons in Colorado — which also led me to Louisiana — and I came across a company formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America CCA that changed their name to Core Civic in October during ongoing scrutiny of the private prison industry in the US.
Last November saw climate activist attempt to use USA state elections in order to pass through a number of climate friendly referendums. However, those concerned with the fate of the planet had reasons to be optimistic, as climate change begins to emerge, as an issue on the USA political agenda. Unsurprising because for years some climate activists have been disillusioned with the notion of a top-down political solution to climate change because it is the political and economic elites who have been the architects of this economic and climate crisis, and who benefit from the current capitalist, neoliberal system.
But what about the fight for free education that has been active on our campuses since ? For many activists in the last few generations of students, it was the issue that brought us together and gave us the skills to take the fight to the powerful. Throughout the poems, there is an unexpectedness of themes and figures, from God to Buffalo. This shift is sudden, like a stream of consciousness or a narrative story. Moreover, the pieces throughout this book seem to have been produced in a more automatic manner: repetition in titles, along with numbers and extended use of brackets.
These automatic devices are sporadic and run parallel to themes of loss and nostalgia; both of which lead to a noticeable automatic writing style. You might even enjoy some canned ciders as you watch an animated speaker deliver one motivational speech after the next. Hitchcockian voyeurism aside, women also seemed to be adopting the strange, disciplinary mood. But where was the urgency? Previously, I wrote about five feminist picks at Vault Festival — an eight-week long festival full of theatre, comedy, spoken word, and more, held in and around The Vaults in London Waterloo.
Prison — noun — a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial. Number one is definitely the case, but what about number two? Well, based on the latest government figures in relation to self-harm, violence, and suicides, I would suggest that the Ministry of Justice is not delivering on one of its key strategic priorities.
Bananas have been part of our diet for thousands of years, and are the most popular fruit in the world, with over billion bananas eaten around the world every year. In the UK, each of us eats on average around 10 kg, or bananas, per year. Grown across the tropical regions of the world, banana export production provides an essential source of income for hundreds of thousands of rural households in developing countries.
However, many of the plantation workers who produce our bananas fail to earn a living wage and do not have their labour rights respected, while the intensive use of agrochemicals harms the health of workers and the surrounding environment. We are offered an insight into the world of the Anna Cathenka, and a number of other strange worlds, through the unfamiliar and occasionally confusing lens of biological ocean life.
Academics are often accused of failing to make their research matter to audiences other than themselves. Anthropologists are particularly criticized for writing theories and ethnographies that not only go unread by non-anthropologists, but are also too inaccessible to those they may be writing about. Here I hope to try and explain a central aspect of my PhD research in Papua New Guinea and share some of the ways it has got me thinking about politics and economics back in the UK.
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This is a legitimate argument which has to be taken seriously. Therefore, I self-consciously use some of my observations in Papua New Guinea enabled by the generosity of those who I lived with in PNG and the ideas of Western social theorists. The context must be taken into account here: these letters do not discuss Germany as it stands today, but rather what it represented under the Third Reich — fascism and the intolerance of diversity and dissent.
It started with this. When a woman in some foreign land Is stoned to death by law, Is buried to her neck in sand, Her naked face smashed — raw, When feminists get jailed, then hung When they fight for the right to exist, Speak out — Sing out their silenced song! The memorial itself is opposite Southrepps Hall and is made up of an avenue of Tilia Cordata — small-leaf lime trees — and three flag poles hosting the Union Jack, the Rhodesian flag and the original Southern Rhodesian flag. It would appear that the Sladden family built the memorial to commemorate their connections to the former country and to celebrate its memory.
All over the world we see grave injustices occurring and human rights abuses on mass scales. It only seems as though an international response is warranted, however, when these injustices reach some sort of pinnacle; often manifesting as the deaths of many thousands. We should be able to see the warning signs by now, and should be a year of working towards prevention, rather than mastering the art of tidying up the mess. On a recent trip to Bristol, I found myself in a pop-up art exhibition. The opening night was bustling with people, with on site screen-printing, music, and a generally chilled vibe.
The following are six artists from this exhibition that I was particularly drawn towards. It was a report in an edition of the Great Yarmouth Mercury. I have served as a prisoner for a good number of years at HMP Norwich, and as someone who has a complex mental health history, I came into contact with the mental health team on a regular basis. I was also a trained listener and would have dealings with the team as a third party on behalf of individual prisoners. Make no mistake — higher education in the UK is in crisis. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.
Government offices have been set on fire. Areas in Darfur have been burning for quite some time, though Western media no longer reports on it. The killings in Darfur that proved to be the initial acts of a campaign of genocide took place in This landslide victory against the Partido Revolucionario Institucional PRI , a centre-right party, has offered fresh hope for a country exhausted by corruption and fraud.
So where did the movement come from, where are they now, and what does this mean for indigenous rights in Mexico? This past year has seen a global increase in horrible news stories. Immediately prior to my last period of incarceration, I had hit what I thought was rock bottom and was left with two choices: in life, things are either growing or they are dying. I cannot lie and say that my first choice was not the latter. Christmas is rightfully criticised as an event of extreme consumerism and financially the most challenging time of the year for many, especially as satisfying the desires of children come with an increasingly steep price tag.
But it is also a time where everyone celebrating it demonstrates the capacity for generosity, self-sacrifice and thought for others. No doubt, the 20th and 21st century history of Christmas is one where people consume as much as possible, with little care for waste or the environment. It is also the time when people accumulate most of their debt, the time when drunk and disorderly behaviour in the UK sky rockets and domestic violence increases dramatically.
I am writing to you to regarding the imminent administrative removal or forced deportation of a Swansea resident, and Congolese National, Otis Bolamu Home Office reference number: HO-B He is an engaged member of the community in Swansea, has many friends, and has volunteered with Oxfam and Hay Festival since arriving in the UK earlier this year when he formally requested asylum. Over the last couple of years, student media outlets on our campuses have lost much of their political clout. This is particularly true of the two main student media outlets at UEA, and can be seen in how they handled the UEA management expenses scandal last month.
Crime is a constant in society. The effects seep into many different aspects, from devaluing houses on a street to scaring off tourists from a whole country. While we are accustomed to people getting away with burglaries, assaults and even murders, we are taught to believe that those who commit the gravest crimes will be punished. The title drew me in for personal reasons, having had my long-term relationship end last year. The plot revolves around a heartbroken ad copywriter who begins blogging about her life as a single woman, whose writing pastime turns into a huge success.
The English title bears little resemblance to the Spanish title, for which it was difficult to find a direct translation. There are few greater feelings than when an artist connects with their audience at a gig, something more than just applause and guitar chords.
Most people have, at some point in their lives, attended a gig which has stuck in their memory because of that very exchange between performer and public. This visceral communication is what propels music as one of the most important art forms; it brings people together in an ever-dividing societal sphere. In terms of reform and progress within our penal system, the proverb is about as much use as eating soup with a fork. For a start, how would you know? Unfortunately, we do need prisons. Ever since Eve — reportedly — ate the forbidden fruit from the garden of Eden, crime has been in existence in human narratives.
You may even pay higher insurance premiums due to crime. Crime affects all, therefore, crime is the responsibility of all, especially the prison system. On 13th November, he proposed a bill in the Commons to convert existing sites for Gypsies and Travellers into settled accommodation, remove any obligation on local authorities to build more permanent sites, and make unauthorised encampments a criminal offence.
The Earth is our nurturer, inspirer and protector, yet we are actively and consciously driving ourselves towards her and our oblivion. Recently I began to attend Spanish and salsa lessons at Battersea Spanish, where I got the opportunity to engage in their social programme, open to everyone. I particularly enjoy the film nights, which allow you to experience cuisine and movies from the country of origin. It is a tale of love and grief, underpinned by her experiences as a transgender woman and the transphobia she faces. Scions of the much-lauded South London guitar band scene Shame made their Norwich gig debut on Monday, captivating a packed-out Waterfront with their riotous stage presence and uniquely mesmerising sound.
Fantastic, on the face of it. On the face of it the mantra on which Facebook was built a rainbows-and-flowers deal, an altruistic gesture on behalf of the almighty Facebook to rescue the vulnerable and decrepit print journalism industry from destitution. This week it was revealed that the senior management team at UEA has been claiming ludicrous expenses whilst on business trips across the world.
This attitude to spending university money is absurd and distasteful, but it is not surprising. It is a predictable result of the changes that UK higher education has undergone over the past eight years. Both plays look at mass departures of people, engendering the ever present plight of refugees having to leave their homes. The protest, by a group called Unity UK, was opposite the Norwich town hall and was probably against immigrants, although most of the people there seemed to think it was in favour of Brexit and one chap wanted to Drain The Swamp an odd choice of slogan in a county that would be little more than Thetford and a lot of dry mud if we drained it, but I digress.
The US midterm elections will just about be complete by now and regardless of the outcome, something fundamental has changed. The will of the people how many times have we heard that will be followed but it is how the will of the people has been coerced that has changed. In the past, while campaigning has never been a polite business and politicians of all parties seek to undermine their opponents, the ultimate goal has always been the unification of a country, the understanding that whoever wins, the idea is to help the country achieve success and to help individuals thrive.
Yet this year, more than most, is seeing the accumulation of toxic politics, which may foreshadow how politics will be carried out in the future. However, as with all local music venues, on non-gig nights the atmosphere in these places is far less febrile and only dedicated drinkers and regulars frequent the venue. There is a challenge when it comes to depicting figures that are as familiar to us as Freddie Mercury. First meeting a young Farrokh Bulsara, we are endeared to him from the onset, and taken into his world in a way that means we feel for him, even when he acts out later along the line.
One institution in the North West and two in the South of England, all unnamed, are having to survive on short term loans in order to function on a basic level. Most concerningly, one of them is already in talks with insolvency lawyers, suggesting that it could be filing for bankruptcy before the academic year is out. Ever since I studied Frida Kahlo in class, I have been a fan. Self Portrait with Monkeys and The Broken Column always stood out in my mind from those years, the monkeys offering a protective symbolism, and the latter painting signifying a kind of strength through suffering.
Like Kahlo, I enjoyed painting self-portraits, and I found it difficult to paint other faces with the same accuracy. There are individual, form-based and contextual reasons the performance of Slam Poetry often goes viral — as a form it is rooted not in the appearance of words on a page, but in the exchange between poet and audience, the intense and intentional circulation of emotion between the two.
Fifteen Romani men, women and children were murdered in and because of their ethnicity. From Bulgaria to France, Roma as young as 13 and as old as 64 were shot, stabbed or beaten to death by racist murderers from across Europe. The campaign and its outcome stand as a test in seeing whether such restrictions could be a viable solution to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
The Day of the Duck, by Helen Stratford and Lawrence Bradby, takes form of neither a scripted play, nor a novel: intertwined with visual diagrams, elements of script and a simple, character-driven narrative, the book is a unique experience as opposed to a traditional novel. The story revolves around a Muscovy duck, the last of its species in a town heavily based on Ely in Cambridgeshire, whose goal is to discover why its brethren have all disappeared. Grade inflation is back in the headlines this week, with universities minister Sam Gyimah announcing that it will be incorporated into how universities are ranked under the Teaching Excellence Framework.
Whilst it is statistically true that grades are inflating at the university level, there are a number of issues with the current discourse around grade inflation that are not being properly addressed by HE decision makers. The concerns they raise however are based on false information. Nothing short of propaganda is used to disseminate this false information to the wider public. Earlier this week, the race to crown the next leader of the Wales Green Party kicked off. Mirka Virtanen, Deputy Leader since was the first to declare her candidacy.
Two other candidates were announced in an email to party members but, at the time of writing, neither have announced their candidacy publicly. Here, the lead singer takes on this dominant role, repeating the track title as drum beats build up and guitars join in until it becomes a scream. I was lucky enough to witness and be involved in one of the most powerful protests, on the final day of the conference, when Disabled People Against the Cuts DPAC led action against the continued rollout of the failing universal credit system and the ongoing cuts to benefits by the Department of Work and Pensions DWP.
Created as a collaboration between Menagerie Theatre Company and the University of Cambridge Geography department, The Great Austerity Debate is a collaborative experience aiming to bring the experiential and material consequences of austerity into focus through the life of one single mum, Megan. It has been announced by our most beneficent leader, Theresa Mary May, that on this two hundred and twenty second year of our Lord, a fayre of Britannic proportions shall be held, on every pleasant village green and suburban cul-de-sac, throughout this land of the South East of England.
Founded in , the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.
Some positive news! A solid step has been taken towards the wider global push for an increased protection of rural workers rights. With 33 votes in favour, 3 against one of which being the UK , and 11 abstentions, the declaration will now be taken to the 3rd committee session of the UN General Assembly in New York in October, where it will be open for adoption by all UN member states. Once adopted, it will serve to strengthen the obligations of governments in upholding the rights of its nations rural populations: of peasants, indigenous communities, migrant workers, and small-scale farmers alike.
Some argue that we must be wary of such expansions of rights. I disagree. Content warning: this article contains mentions of violence including police brutality , and structural discrimination. The lack of evidence to prove their nationality means these Roma are denied access to basic services such as healthcare, education, housing, and welfare, as well as to regular employment or for some, even something as simple as a mobile phone contract.
Whilst reports of fresh attacks came in over the summer, Roma living in settlements in Beregovo and Uzhgorod began to look abroad for the vital work which they needed to survive; work they were being denied by the far-right militias whom had driven them out of the cities.
Just before her thirtieth birthday, Ellen Forney is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo And Me is an autobiographical journey which follows her years-long exploration of medication, therapy, and how they affect her creative drive. This sentiment was unexpected given the online location. While the fight goes on, one problem is becoming increasingly apparent, not just in the UK, but globally; where is the opposition to the creeping right-wing politics that is slowly casting its shadow over the world?
Through the film, cleaners speak in their own words about the violence of the outsourcing model and how mistreatment at KCL is normalised. His distinctive style combines traditional skills and imagery, with a psychedelic twist. Norwich ended up as the twenty-fourth most popular city in that YouGov survey, and I was certainly amongst those who were a little disappointed with the result. I am a reluctant Welsh Republican. By this, I mean that I believe the realisation of an independent Welsh Republic will inevitably be the only way Wales can truly prosper and develop long term.
I doubt the competency of our devolved government, while I question the motives and sincerity of the British government. Consisting of both regular performers and occasional guests, such as Dolores Deepthroat, The House of Daze are following in the footsteps of previous Norwich drag collectives like The Rose Bud Club and such local drag legends as Luna Howl.
Last week the Spanish government approved the exhumation of the body of General Franco, the fascist dictator who ruled over Spain for most of the 20th century. Whilst this may not seem like a huge deal on the face of it, it is massive news in Spain and to those with an awareness of Spanish politics. This decision marks a major point of departure for the country.
The Brexit negotiations have long ceased to be about deal making and more about the imposition of values and principles. From the start, British values have been about finding someone to blame, a bogeyman. Islamists, immigrants, bankers, the EU; it really no longer matters who just as long as someone can be put against the wall and publicly and figuratively shot. The problem is that this has become such an intricately entwined aspect of British society that the ability to dispatch from the blame game and actually go about resolving an issue is fast disappearing from the national psyche.
Just below the surface however, simmers a violent and angry determination to enforce British values at all cost, threatening to overtake all sense of decency. The third and final instalment of a series of short summaries of a wide variety of performances, from the comedic to the dramatic to the bizarre, direct from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Each entry is preceded by the title of the work in question, and the venue s at which it is being performed as part of the Fringe.
The Tories are breaking apart just as national apprehension for Brexit reaches its peak and support for the Labour Party increases. As murmurs of another general election hover over the governmental rift, Labour could significantly strengthen its standing by explicitly promising to hold a second referendum as part of a game-changing manifesto. The second instalment of a series of short summaries of a wide variety of performances, from the comedic to the dramatic to the bizarre, direct from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Children have always had a pivotal role in the Horror genre. Often presented as the reason for the eventual defeat of the monster or villain, they demonstrate something we can physically see in our day to day lives and, for the most part, wholeheartedly love. However, children are not always the point of redemption in Horror. There have been a number of movies which juxtapose the role of the child against the norm, and present the child as the very reason that the horror exists.
In Series 2, Episode 4, which first aired in , arch gross-merchant Jay shouts the insult in question from the window of a moving car. The phrase is now firmly mainstream. May saw Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention uniting to take part in a hunger strike. The first instalment of a series of short summaries of a wide variety of performances, from the comedic to the dramatic to the bizarre, direct from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
To be part of wider movements, making friends with incredibly talented, dedicated and inspiring people and, in my own flawed, stumbling way, trying to make the world a little bit better, is an enormous joy and privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy. Owen Jones recently pointed out that the far right is now at its strongest since the s. This mindset has contributed to the election of far right governments in Poland, Hungary and Italy and demonstrates that we should not view these groups as fringe street-movements — they are effecting political change with horrifying efficiency through influencing voters.
Mainstream media is in on this, of course. The influence of mistruths presented in the media has led to vilification of refugees and migrants. Enoch Powell would be proud of us. We should all be fucking ashamed of ourselves. Over the years numerous heads of state have accepted these tempting offers, skimming a little off the top for themselves and their cronies, leaving the rest to fulfil some grand construction touted by politicians as intrinsic to ensuring the economic success and prosperity of their beloved country.
Home to the source of the river Nile, Uganda has had its fair share of such development projects, most commonly in the form of hydroelectric dams. Sometimes targeted adverts reveal to you more than you wanted to know. This eye watering example reveals both the current state of Higher Education financing and a frightening future that is increasingly intruding on the present. The environment is changing. All across the globe, weather patterns have shifted, resulting in abnormal meteorological behaviour and pushing society towards conditions it is not used to.
The UK has just come out of a record-breaking heatwave. Japan declared a national emergency after heatwaves there killed 65 people. Wildfires in Greece left over 70 people dead and in California, over a dozen people are missing as fires spread. The Norwich Radical aims to offer wide and fair coverage of both national and international politics, including elections, campaigns, and movements affecting local and wider scale policies. In light of this, we have contacted all the candidates standing in both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections for The Green Party of England and Wales, asking them to explain their vision for the Party and the country.
We will be publishing their responses over the week leading up to the elections. Political parties are increasingly viewed with contempt by many people. The point is that they are often so bizarre in behaviour as well as their politics that they are completely unrelatable to by millions of people. One Sunday, in the quiet folds of The Albany in Deptford, a group of womxn came together to talk about our place in the arts, and specifically poetry. We came to listen, to write, and to share our voices. In British politics at the moment nobody knows what is going to happen next.
This is before we all try and predict the impact of Trump, Russia and Climate Change. This is deeply unsettling for most of the public. What most people want whether they voted leave or remain is for politicians to get on and sort it out. To protect stability, prosperity and a general sense of everyone rubbing along without being too upset. Change is going to continue to come and the Green party is well placed to make a significant positive era to a new political and economic settlement.
In light of this, we have we have contacted all the candidates standing in both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections for The Green Party of England and Wales, asking them to explain their vision for the Party and the country. I am deeply disappointed at the current state of British politics. For too long we have allowed a Tory minority to undermine our NHS, social services, local government, emergency services and indeed the full plethora of public services. The Conservative policy of forcing up the costs of services by privatisation and then cutting those services in the name of austerity, is a fraud being perpetrated on the British people, which the mass media have singularly failed to call out.
Video media have always had a way of tapping into the current fears of the watcher. Be it in horror movies or films aimed at children, they show us topical fears in either exaggerated gory fashion or in subtle ways that stay with you well past the end of the credits. This has never been more true of the fear of screens. Over the decades, the screen has often been used on screen as a device that either projects our worst fears or captivates us and holds us against our will.
The fear of screens warping our minds is a form of mild technophobia, an attitude dismissed by many as socially conservative. Nonetheless, many filmmakers have used it to their advantage to create horror and thrills, as well as using it as a form of social commentary. In light of this, we have we have contacted all the candidates standing in both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections for The Green Part of England and Wales, asking them to explain their vision for the Labour Party and the country and we will be publishing their responses over the week leading to the elections.
We took seats from both Conservatives and Labour with our clear message that having a Green on your council holding them to account benefits everyone. We won votes from across the spectrum by showing our councillors are effective, principled and hard-working. July 14 is a day of mourning and remembrance for the punk community. Two years ago on that date, the folk-punk pioneer Erik Petersen passed away. Founding member and frontman of the iconic Mischief Brew, Erik Petersen was one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation.
His music will long be remembered for its infectiousness, its unique storytelling, its wit, its rawness and its inflammatory radicalism. I wanted to go to the Trump protests so I could say I did. It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green have brought together perspectives from across the sector to explore the possibilities of post-fees HE.
In the final instalment, the series editors summarise the visions for the next chapter of UK HE that the series has laid out. There is more energy, debate and innovation on the left now than there has been for decades. This series sought to capture the essence of some of this historical moment and direct it towards thinking about what we want our university campuses to look like, beyond the staple progressive policy of scrapping tuition fees.
A project in unashamedly utopian thinking, it recognised the very real possibility that free tuition might be a reality in the near future, and sought to explore how this requires the left to think practically about what comes after and where our energy should be focused next. Cooped up in an office in Uganda, inputting into what seemed like never-ending columns of cells in Excel spreadsheets, I would often ruminate about other jobs I could be doing which at that moment would be relatively more fulfilling and life affirming. One of the jobs I kept ending back at was as a member of one of the security teams responsible for the protection of the last northern white rhinoceroses Sudan, Najin and her daughter Fatu.
This is bad news for both the region and the global community. America has, over the past decade, became something of a pariah in the area. Its foreign policy, already distrusted by enemies and allies alike, has looked increasingly unclear and erratic under the current administration. On a recent trip to Mexico, I decided to take with me three books by authors of Latin American heritage, including two of Mexican background, and one Cuban. All were women. Aside from eating the most delicious chimichangas, learning about the ancient Mayan ruins, and climbing up the Ixmoja part of the Nohoch Mul, I spent a lot of my time reading these authors by the sea with a strawberry daiquiri.
Within just one week I had nearly consumed them all and discovered a new love of Latin American writing. Two weeks ago, Donald Trump signed an executive order bringing an end to the separation of undocumented migrant children from their parents. This was widely reported in the mainstream press as a win for those had publicly campaigned against this policy. The executive order did bring an end to the separation of children from their parents, but there has been no commitment to reuniting the families already separated.
You would be forgiven for thinking that any England football fan who decides to follow their team to the FIFA World Cup must be either crazy or a hooligan looking for trouble. UK Police Chiefs, senior MPs, sports experts, and — most perniciously — the British press, have all issued sombre pronouncements warning of the dangers awaiting any English football fan foolish enough to brave the shady hinterland of Mother Russia. People often broadly sweep Socialism into a single ideology, which is much maligned as an unworkable and authoritarian regime, seemingly unsuitable for the modern day, and unpopular amongst the electorate.
Because the premise of Socialism is generally one that I have to believe most people should aspire to in some way. Because Socialism is a general set of social, political, and economic views that places people first. This year I was determined to make the most of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, taking place from the beginning of May. Last year I found myself reading about projects and events that had already taken place. This banner, with all its laboured hours very much part of its fibres, would then be part of a nationwide procession in London, also taking place in Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.
But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions. Being a PhD student is an oft-frustrating experience. Despite these frustrations, I have recently come to appreciate how much I have learned in my years as a postgraduate. In terms of both scholarship and life experience, I have learned far more in my postgraduate mid-twenties than I ever did from my undergraduate years.
Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary.
When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity. Protests and demonstrations are an important part of democracy. They allow the people the opportunity to express their feelings about the behaviour of the state and its agents.