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David Edgar considers the contemporary legacy of the movements of 1968.
Wendy Brown, Jo Littler
Wendy Brown discusses Trump and ‘libertarian authoritarianism’; #Metoo and neoliberal feminism; and political theory and cultural studies. She argues that, in the contemporary moment, we need ‘grit, responsibility and determination instead of hope’.
Scotland’s oil should be left under the seabed.
Grime politics articulates new forms of cross-race working-class identities.
A selection of poems from the first in a new biannual series of anthologies, Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons from prison arts charity the Koestler Trust.
Roshi Naidoo reviews Alexandra Stein, Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in cults and totalitarian systems, Routledge 2017
Sylvia Walby explores what economic growth for people would look like.
Michael Rustin, Myra Barrs
The first instalment of the Soundings Futures analysis of education.
In the international media, the current situation in Catalonia is often explained with reference to the Franco era and the suppression of Catalan language and culture during that time. Commentators also refer to the fact that during the Spanish Civil War the majority of Catalans fought on the side of the Republican government, which meant that after Franco won the war, oppression in Catalonia was especially brutal: large numbers of Catalans were imprisoned, disappeared and killed by the Franco regime.
How do we build on the hopes raised in the June election? Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign, and its outcome, is without doubt the most positive development that has taken place in British politics for more than twenty-five years - since Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party. The reason for this is that it is the first substantial challenge to neoliberalism that has emerged from Labour in all those years. Corbyn’s campaign has now demonstrated that a politics based on the rejection of neoliberalism - the contemporary version of ‘full capitalism’ - and the development of an alternative to it - is capable of electoral success.
Rebecca Bramall, Joe Painter, Ash Ghadiali, Ewan Gibbs, John Barry, Kirsten Forkert
We invited a range of contributors to reflect on the results of the June 2017 election, to think about what the results mean for the future of the country, and what we might do to consolidate and develop the gains they represent.
Ben Little, Alison Winch
In this first instalment of our Soundings series on critical terms, we look at the idea of ‘generation’, a term which has become highly prevalent within political discourse since the financial crisis.1 As with all the concepts in this series, the idea of generation is differently mobilised by different political actors. Right-wing thinkers use generation in a sense that can be traced back to Edmund Burke to mean the transmission of property and culture through time, while other commentators draw on meanings derived from Mannheim to refer to the experiences of particular cohorts at times of rapid political change. For activists on the left, it is important to distinguish between these different connotations of generation. The Burkean approach has regressive implications, for example in the justification of austerity as a way of protecting future generations from debt; and the Mannheimian understanding, although not as conservative, needs to be connected to an intersectional analysis that looks at other identity markers alongside those of age - such as class, race, gender and sexuality - so as to avoid flattening differences within cohorts and impeding solidarities between generations.
Trump is a particular type of reactionary American populist. The article tracks the history of American populism beginning with the formation of the People’s Party (also called the Populist Party) in 1891 as an agrarian movement based on anger of the Little Man against the western elite.
Sirio Canós Donnay, Marina Prentoulis, Jeremy Gilbert, Kevin Morgan
A discussion on what kinds of politics can create the best challenge to the right. The first contribution charts the successes and failures of the popular front policies of the 1930s, which were based on three key ingredients: narrative, organisation and the will to believe. The popular front narrative was based on the defining nature of the struggle of democracy against fascism; the organisation was largely provided by the Communist Party; the will to believe was more problematic, and poses the question of whether it is possible to construct a form of populism that does not involve costs that are scarcely less disastrous than those of fascism. The discussion then moves to parallels between the Popular Front in Spain and Syriza in Greece, both governmental alliances against a threat from the right. The question is posed of what kinds of alliances are acceptable in such situations, but there is also a discussion of how to construct a national popular politics: this is always something that emerges through a political process including the process of making alliances. Podemos is then discussed as a populist party that is actively seeking to construct a people – which for Podemos includes the act of constructing an enemy. Finally the discussion moves to a consideration of cross-class alliances, which are often seen as betrayals of the working class. One of the problems with this approach is that class structure is extremely complex, and it is difficult to read off what a pre-given class politics might consist of. It is also difficult to construct an alternative politics if factors other than class identification – for example nationalism – are discounted.
We are living in an era that can be defined as populist – and that includes both right- and left-wing populism. The populist era signals the end of the neoliberal era and is formed directly in response to it. Populism is strongly linked to the idea of sovereignty, the idea that a people should be in control of a territory and the way it is governed. This is in contrast to a globalised world with no boundaries and hence no forms of protection against global flows. Globally orientated liberal politics was formed in opposition to what its theorists saw as the statism and authoritarianism of the social democratic era. But liberalism is itself now being superseded. The idea of popular sovereignty has been foundational to the left, and the left today needs to embrace this part of its heritage and forge a left populism that is capable of defending people against global capital. If it does not do so, right-wing populism will prevail – a populism based on nationalism and ethnicity, opposed to the other, as opposed to a left populism based on equality and opposed to global capital.