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For most of us the election result was a shock, but in some ways it didn’t substantially change the nature of the tasks we face. We still need to find new ways of battling against an environmentally destructive and aggressively unequal capitalism - and the common sense that sustains it.

Article

David Featherstone, Deborah Grayson, Ben Little

Spring 2014

If the election on 7 May allows David Cameron to continue as prime minister it will be a disaster for the UK, but especially for the poorest and most vulnerable in society. Moreover it will sink any medium-term prospect of transition to a just and sustainable economy.

This article analyses the May 2015 UK general election from the perspective of conjunctural analysis – which seeks to understand how the deep structural movements in economy, society and culture are articulated together to shape any given political settlement.

Jo Littler’s interview with Nancy Fraser explores her approach to the hegemony of a liberal feminist model that allows privileged women to lead lives that she argues are socially male.

This article takes a critical look at the role of resilience in an age of austerity, from the meanings and practices it encompasses for grassroots groups to its rise to prominence across diverse policy fields.

As a further instalment of the Kilburn manifesto, Rustin and Massey extend their arguments on neoliberalism to the realm of international relations and emphasise Britain’s key role in supporting the spread of global neoliberalism.

New spaces of debate have opened up that are challenging the dominant narrative and informing new movements for change. Some of these spaces and alternatives are discussed in this issue.

Further developing the arguments of anthropologist and activist David Graeber’s article ‘On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’ this article takes Graeber’s insight as a starting point, using the concept of ‘bullshit jobs’ to draw out a central contradiction in neoliberal rhetoric.

This article recontextualises the way we think of the state, and asserts its continuing importance for the left. It argues that we need to re-imagine the state as a site of contestation and compromise, not a monolithic entity.

The authors point to the narrowness of the questions considered in mainstream economic debate, which has been reduced to a monitoring of a few indicators such as growth, inflation or GDP, without any consideration of deeper questions such as our manufacturing capacity, our needs and the sustainability of our way of life.

We start the issue with the two most recent instalments from the Kilburn Manifesto. Beatrix Campbell writes on the ways in which patriarchy is entangled with neoliberalism, while Ben Little writes on the ways in which generational politics is articulated to its project.

Discusses neo-patriarchy, the new gender settlement through which patriarchy is entangled with neoliberalism. Since the gains first made by 1970s feminism there has been little further advance; instead capitalism has adapted to new forms of gender power.

This article discusses how young people are one of the groups most affected by neoliberalism. This is not because of a wealth transfer from young to old, or a neglect of the interests of the young simply because they don’t vote: it is part of a strategic restructuring of how our economy and society work in favour of capital.

Article

Sheila Rowbotham, Lynne Segal, Hilary Wainwright, Pragna Patel

Spring 2014

Reflecting the point in history when they first became immersed in feminist and socialist politics, the authors of Beyond the Fragments - guest-featuring Pragna Patel - reflect on the heady days of the 1970s, and discuss what we could learn from those times.

The idea that we all share common-sense values, and that specific proposals self-evidently ‘make sense’ according to these precepts, is a powerful legitimation strategy. The assumption that everyone is obviously going to agree with what is being proposed is in fact itself a means of securing that agreement.

Key indicators for participation in political parties are at an all-time low. Much of the energy that once went into parties now finds itself in cause-based campaigns. This article asks how and if political parties can renew themselves.

This issue of the journal, as well as publishing two more instalments in the Soundings Manifesto, carries articles that engage with and extend its arguments in a number of different directions.

The language we use to discuss the economy shapes the way we think about it, and thus reinforces neoliberal values as common sense. The vocabulary of customer, consumer, choice, markets and self interest moulds both our conception of ourselves and our understanding of and relationship to the world.

This essay is primarily concerned with the kinds of relationship with others on which individuals depend for their well-being, through the various phases of their lives. It focuses particularly on the quality of our social institutions – in the spheres, for example, of health, education, work, criminal justice or citizenship – and argues that their quality depends substantially on what qualities of human relationship they facilitate.

The role of young people and horizontal movements in the crisis in Egypt is discussed. More than fifty per cent of Egypt’s population are under twenty-five, and they have formed a strong centre and identity within the opposition movement.

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