Teen Vogue labor reporter Kim Kelly talks about writing about labor for glossy magazines, reporting on direct action, how unions should respond to the climate crisis, and why Teen Vogue needs a labor column
Los Angeles may seem a long way from Glasgow, but with a century of vibrant civil rights struggle against exclusionary housing policies and recent attempts to displace communities for boutique hotels and lofts, its current patterns of development may seem all too familiar. We would like to invite you to a launch of City of Segregation: 100 Years of Struggle for Housing in Los Angeles, where author Andrea Gibbons will explore some of the rich lessons from LA’s social movements and housing justice struggles against changing forms of exclusion, privatisation and gentrification. The talk will explore how race and class have historically come to underpin property values and definitions of community in the US, and how this continues to inform the intensifying efforts of business interests to push people from the city centre – yet LA’s residents refuse to move. This is a story of state-supported segregation, violent grassroots defense of white neighborhoods, police oppression, and growing political and economic inequalities. We must fight these racist ideologies for a different vision of housing, and justice at the soul of our cities.
The book is a product of both research and her seven year’s experience working as a tenant organizer in Central and South Central LA. Mike Davis has called City of Segregation ‘A Landmark Study’, and Junot Diaz calls it ‘Astute, passionate, radical, and utterly invaluable’. We hope you will join us for a discussion bringing it all back to Glasgow.
Mon 19 August 2019
6:30pm, Free (unticketed), Clubroom
0141 352 4900
So the idea here is while we are being bombarded with junk news, fake news, propaganda or whatever we choses to call it, you would imagine all sorts of alternative media springing up all over the place. Well, there is. I look at it every day to see what is happening in the world. Unfortunately most of it is aimed at obsessives like myself, groups, activists, students, academics and such like.
But most ordinary people still rely on the tabloids, TV, and sites that are more orientated to what is wrong in the world and little about ideas to try to put it right.
So the proposition here is how do we engage communities in Glasgow to produce their own news outlet. An educational or learning process of mentoring and sharing of skills. Setting up a working class journalistic institution, built on the pragmatic questions that really need addressing, such as. How do we encourage more people to become engaged in activism and public life.
So we are putting the question up there. Is this already happening and we don’t know about it? So what are the possibilities of collaboration and interests on this? Interested? Some ideas for structure
Some Recent videos late 2018
The above is not just about the eviction of the vulnerable. This is the neoliberal project ramping up and testing our resistance. This is a message being sent out to all of the vulnerable in our city and in our country. Neoliberalism flexing its muscle, in this particular area, to see how much we will take and what they can get and where they will go next.
It is not only about asylum, but to create fear in all of those in the grip off housing systems run by the psychopaths of business, who should be nowhere near providing social housing. That’s the councils job. But then, it is not a problem of Serco, the council or the government. It is a problem for the people who “make Glasgow” and is a plague on all of our houses. Because if it isn’t Serco, or Carillion, it would be some other parasite. Some other group of business hyenas, nipping at the heals of our public services, pensions, wages, working conditions, environment, education and commons, for a way in, till there are no public services left. When their work is finished after exploiting and wringing dry the safety nets afforded to poor and destitute, then they will come for the middle classes. It needs to be remembered, that middle class aspirations are as meaningless to neoliberalism, as are the mass evictions of poor families. The fight back should not wait till it comes to the doors of out houses but should start at the front end of the wedge with those who suffer most. Continue reading
My shame as a Glaswegian, is not caused by Serco. I know what Serco do and their ambitions. My shame lies in the fact that many in our city, who have the power to do otherwise, can stand back and watch these things unfold, then throw their hands up in disbelief, in feigned ignorance. It is the misconceived idea that people might think it will not affect or has nothing to do with them.
Asylum seekers are not weak, people. They are many courageous, strong and not faint of heart. The experience of their journey should tell us that. They are the kind of people whose experience we need on our side. They know what struggle means. They know how the system works, here and from where they have come from. That is why they need to be made weak, through racism, no right to work and scapegoated by Murdock’s press. And of course helped along by the stupidity and deniability of the polity and those who believe that they still have some power over corporations like Serco. This is something the various administrations gave up long ago when they agreed to the neoliberal projects terms. And why many fade into the background, richer, after their term of office.
Unlike short term party politics, neoliberalism, like rust never sleeps and if ignored continues to eat things away in the background throughout multi administrations, till eventually they collapse. Then we are left with the usual party games of “It wasn’t us it was them”. “He said she said” and on and on.
As the cliche goes. You can not keep doing the same thing over and over and expect something different to happen. We do not have any rights, whether you are an asylum seeker or are comfortable off with a job and house. Having and defending rights is an activity not a given. They do not come through protest, prophetic speech, bursts of energy, Facebook, voting, your council, government, or speaking truth to power. These things are helpful to a point, but are just a cop-out if not connected to organising.
Something different is beginning to happen. Many of our young folk are beginning to see through the overgrowth of fakery, the technological overkill that smothers thinking that has been such an influence so far on their lives. The idea that People do make change if they can become involved. And that becoming involved is about face to face communications.
Something different happens through diligent organising. Straight forward communication with those you find around us. Not just speaking to our friends, fellow activists, those you like, agree with, or those who have already been convinced. But to people who can expand and increase activism across the community. Struggle is continuous and there is a need to invest in building the institutions that can sustain the efforts of struggle against the Serco’s of any other name and their apologists. Proper organising, cooperation, and the ability to work together which many find difficult, is the elephant in the room.
The email list needs to get bigger every week as do the amount of people needing to be spoken to. Not just through email, but face to face. Community members need to be invested in personally, they need to be encouraged on board, they need to be encouraged to be the new community leaders. Those that live and work in the communities to be organised. Whoever they may be, locals, unemployed, homeless, asylum seekers and those nearest the destitution line. This has always been the case for organising, since the days of collectively protecting ourselves from the sabre tooth tiger. Today the predator is the warfare state.
One thing the right, the hate speechers, the racists and distributors of fake news understand is that. When ordinary people get organised they are less likely to be lied to. And when they do get organised they soon realise that they have more in common with asylum seekers and all others who suffer through the same generic persecution tactics, of divide and rule, and that the enemy is above us, not below us.
But how do ordinary people progress to something better through the constant and persistent brain scrambling media noise, of junk news, product placement and the advertising industry, rendering their brain only capable of thinking, survival?
How can they organise?
How does the young university trained activist and others, born with a keyboard in their hand, social media savvy, demonstration ready and a degree under their arm, understand about what is happening in a community? (remembering all communities are different, different needs.) How do they organise? The answer should be obvious if we juxtapose this and the last paragraph.
But not on Facebook
Many are realising. Facebook is the disease, not the cure. Which is why the far right like it. How can people organise around something that keeps moving and is designed to do the complete opposite to organisation?
2.2 billion people use Facebook and according to Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy and is probably the worst place to start to understand things.
“Facebook is a terrible place to deliberate about the world. It’s a really effective place if you want to motivate people toward all sorts of ends, like getting out to a rally. But it’s terrible if you actually want to think and discuss and deliberate about the problems in the world. And what the world needs now more than anything are more opportunities to deliberate calmly and effectively and with real information. And Facebook is working completely against that goal.”
Some of us may know all of this. But where do ordinary working people stand? The need for re-humanising and face to face politics has never been greater. The politics of how we communicate ideas, come to decisions and act on them. The idea is not to just defend ourselves when the Serco’s of the world decide to attack. But to build the kind of understanding, awareness and resistance that will deny this kind of tyranny over us and to stop our governments continued reliance on their services. This kind of learning needs proper discussion, not something that passes on a Facebook feed.
We see all around us the efforts of individuals, unions, pressure groups and all kinds of activities. We are ready to go. But we need to go together. The recent action against Serco is heartening and smaller victories can lead to bigger ones, when we understand the important roll solidarity plays in them. We need to each join something, talk to people, enroll a neighbour, get out, show up. It is the only way we have win things before and the way to win things again, if we can build on victories. We do not need to be party reps to knock on doors, talk to folk and find out what they are thinking. This old idea seems to be reinventing itself and should be built upon, like Living Rent, and so on. And while we do this, we need to rethink alternatives to the out sourcing madness and rentier culture that has replaced good governance and the prospect of a decent life for ordinary people. People do make Glasgow. But they need to start believing it and acting accordingly.
The mad people are running out of ideas for containing us. The young are getting smarter. This could be the time
“It may be easier than we think.” Ralph Nader
The Radical Imagination Project
Start of some videos talking about power structures with an emphasis on “people power” in building self determined communities
As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwidth. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.
In December the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to repeal already compromised regulations that are in place to maintain a semblance of “net neutrality”. Its chairman, Ajit Pai, and the corporations that are internet service providers want to sweep away these rules, just like the banking sector got rid of financial regulations so it could inflate our economies into giant ponzi schemes.
That could serve as the final blow to the left and its ability to make its voice heard in the public square.
It was political leaders – aided by the corporate media – who paved the way to this with their fomenting of a self-serving moral panic about “fake news”. Fake news, they argued, appeared only online, not in the pages of the corporate media – the same media that sold us the myth of WMD in Iraq, and has so effectively preserved a single party system with two faces. The public, it seems, needs to be protected only from bloggers and websites.
The social media giants soon responded. It is becoming ever clearer that Facebook is interfering as a platform for the dissemination of information for progressive activists. It is already shutting down accounts, and limiting their reach. These trends will only accelerate.
Google has changed its algorithms in ways that have ensured the search engine rankings of prominent leftwing sites are falling through the floor. It is becoming harder and harder to find alternative sources of news because they are being actively hidden from view.
Google stepped up that process this week by “deranking” RT and Sputnik, two Russian news sites that provide an important counterweight – even if one skewed in its pro-Russia agenda – to the anti-Russia propaganda spouted by western corporate media. The two sites will be as good as censored on the internet for the vast majority of users.
RT is far from a perfect source of news – no state or corporate media is – but it is a vital voice to have online. It has become a sanctuary for many seeking alternative, and often far more honest, critiques both of western domestic policy and of western interference in far-off lands. It has its own political agenda, of course, but, despite the assumption of many western liberals, it provides a far more accurate picture of the world than the western corporate media on a vast range of issues.
That is for good reason. Western corporate media is there to shore up prejudices that have been inculcated in western audiences over a lifetime – the chief one being that western states rightfully act as well-meaning, if occasionally bumbling, policemen trying to keep order among other, unruly or outright evil states around the globe.
The media and political class can easily tap into these prejudices to persuade us of all sorts of untruths that advance western interests. To take just one example – Iraq. We were told Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaeda (he didn’t and could not have had); that Iraq was armed with WMD (it wasn’t, as UN arms inspectors tried to tell us); and that the US and UK wanted to promote democracy in Iraq (but not before they had stolen its oil). There may have been opposition in the west to the invasion of Iraq, but little of it was driven by an appreciation that these elements of the official narrative were all easily verified as lies.
RT and other non-western news sources in English provide a different lens through which we can view such important events, perspectives unclouded by a western patrician agenda.
They and progressive sites are being gradually silenced and blacklisted, herding us back into the arms of the corporate propagandists. Few liberals have been prepared to raise their voices on behalf of RT, forgetting warnings from history, such as Martin Niemoller’s anti-Nazi poem “First they came for the socialists”.
The existing rules of “net neutrality” are already failing progressives and dissidents, as the developments I have outlined above make clear. But without them, things will get even worse. If the changes are approved next month, internet service providers (ISPs), the corporations that plug us into the internet, will also be able to decide what we should see and what will be out of reach.
Much of the debate has focused on the impact of ending the rules on online commercial ventures. That is why Amazon and porn sites like Pornhub have been leading the opposition. But that is overshadowing the more significant threat to progressive sites and already-embattled principles of free speech.
ISPs will be given a much freer hand to determine the content we can can get online. They will be able to slow down the access speeds of sites that are not profitable – which is true for activist sites, by definition. But they may also be empowered to impose Chinese-style censorship, either on their own initiative or under political pressure. The fact that this may be justified on commercial, not political, grounds will offer little succour.
Those committed to finding real news may be able to find workarounds. But this is little consolation. The vast majority of people will use the services they are provided with, and be oblivious to what is no longer available.
If it takes an age to access a website, they will simply click elsewhere. If a Google search shows them only corporately approved results, they will read what is on offer. If their Facebook feed declines to supply them with “non-profitable” or “fake” content, they will be none the wiser. But all of us who care about the future will be the poorer.