taCity

A site about the ephemerality of the socio-urban world


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Our Future in Common: 2030 and beyond

President AOC announcing the Green New Deal back in 2025

There are going to be plenty of these ‘New Year Resolution’ pieces in the next few days, particularly as we enter a brand new decade. But for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am not looking into the future with an existential dread.

There are plenty of examples of great things that have happened in 2029 that we can use as springboards to carry on through into 2030 and beyond; the implementation of universal basic income, rent control in our global cities, the four-day working week and free augmented reality implants for the over 55s. But there is only really one worth celebrating for sure: the IPCC reported climate change had been reversed. I’m going to write that again, climate change has been reversed. Well okay, that’s a bit optimistic, but what they did say is that CO2 levels had plateaued in the previous 24 months and are forecast to be go down in 2030. This year it is widely predicted to be the first year since the last the 1970s that the Arctic Sea Ice will actually recover this winter. Oceanic acidification is slowing, and the report from the Berlin Institute of Protein Farming of the first sighting of an insect from the Bombus family may well turn out to be true. Our climate may well be back on track.

It would be easy to celebrate that (and heaven knows I will!), but such celebrations would not be happening without the monumental shifts in global socio-politics over the last decade. Yes our environment looks like it may be stabilising, but it would not have been possible without a major destabilisation of what we considered to be unmoveable, unshakable and universal political truths. As 2029 comes to an end, we can look back at this year and say that it was the time in which we were victorious in fighting back against the powers that seek to separate, and in 2030, we can look forward to sharing in a common wealth for all. But where to start in telling that story? Of the seismic shifts that have happened in the world in the past 10 years or so, which is the one that we can point to as the one that brought us back from the brink of climate catastrophe?

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Why you should do Cultural Geography

Flowers planted in used tear gas grenades form a memorial garden on the spot where, in a 2009 demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil'in, Bassem Abu Rahme was shot and killed with a high-velocity tear gas grenade fired by Israeli soldiers, Bil'in, West Bank, October 4, 2013. The grenades are left over from clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians during the weekly protest in Bil'in.

Flowers planted in used tear gas grenades form a memorial garden in the West Bank village of Bil’in, source here

Given the state of the social, political and environmental turbulence in the world at the moment, many of us are keen to roll up our sleeves and get to work protesting the perceived injustices of more intense neoliberalism, creeping fascism, growing wealth and income inequalities, and further environmental degradation. Resistance to these large-scale ideological movements is in many, many forms; for example taking to the streets post-Trump’s election, the massive demonstrations in Seoul, industrial action from a host of public sector workers, organised campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, and a multitude of anti-gentrification campaigns; and these are just the few that have held my attention over the last few years – there are many, many more. Continue reading


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Brexitrump, neoliberalism and microfascism

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Fascism arrives as your friend….?

Fascism has been catapulted into the mainstream narrative of late, thanks to the election of a certain Mr. Trump to the position of ‘leader of the free world’ (perhaps the most oxymoronical statement of them all). The comparisons to Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s have not gone unnoticed, and the genuflection of the current administration to the ‘smooth transfer of power’ that is enshrined in Constitutional dogma has many rightly angry at their capitulation. There are obvious parallels with Brexit, and ominous precursors to what Le Pen, Wilders and others are attempting in Europe. The commetariat articulating the rise of fascism have much to be concerned about.

Furthermore, many MANY column inches (and whatever the online equivalent is) have been given over to how Brexitrump is a reaction to years of injustice; how many people (not just the working class of course) voted in reaction to the tyranny of the status quo. Neoliberalism’s limits have been reached; it is now the ideological enemy, and nationalist popularism is the remedy.

These two narratives are perhaps seen as distinct; in so much as neoliberal globalisation is being replaced by a proto-fascist authoritarianism. However, as I peruse the seemingly endless op-eds and blog posts (yeah, sorry for adding another….) I find myself returning to the seminal work of the philosophers Deleuze and Guattari and their warnings of how fascism comes into being, and how it relates to those who have theorised neoliberalism more recently. Wait, let me explain… Continue reading


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Activist Geographies Reading Group

For the first term of 2016/7, I will be convening an Activist Geographies Reading Group (AGRG) for undergraduates studying at Royal Holloway’s Geography Department – information re dates on the poster below.

Numbers are strictly limited, so if you want to come, I will be giving preference to students who can make ALL 4 sessions and who can demonstrate that they are invested in activism and activist scholarship more broadly. Do email me (or tweet me @olimould) if you want to know more.
agrg

 


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50 days of (Meat-free) Winter for the Jungle

Those who know me well, know that I like to eat quite a lot. At university, a verb was coined in my honour; to ‘Oli’ something was to eat a substaintial amount of food very very quickly. The foods I eat are also overtly meaty. I thoroughly enjoy a good steak, burger, buckt of fried chicken, bacon sandwich, rack of ribs, meat feast pizza, MSG-ridden Chinese buffet, you get the idea. There is often a running joke that I would not even last 24 hours without consuming some semblance of meat.and even being married to a vegetarian for the best part of a decade has not persuaded me to change my ways…)

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Me being particularly disgusting

Yes, it’s a bad habit I know, but one that is part of my lifestyle, routine and even my identity. I enjoy eating meat, and to give it up would be frankly really annoying and irksome.

However, difficult times call for impossible things. We’ve all seen the horrific scenes in the media of the state of affairs in the Calais Jungle. As winter draws in, the conditions are only going to get worse. The site is already toxic, with human and animal waste, refuse and chemical detritus clogging the land. Deadly diseases are inevitable. Whatever your politics, nobody deserves to live like that, so we need to act.

There are myriad people, institutions, charities, faith groups and companies helping people in the Jungle on a daily basis. They organise food & clothes deliveries, build shelter, offer health services and may other basic human needs. But they need financial support.

So, starting the 5th November, I am attempting to raise £500 (in the first instance, beyond who knows…) by not eating anymore meat until Christmas Day (in 50 days time). So for every £10 received, I will not eat meat for another day. The link to the funding page is here: https://www.gofundme.com/olimould

So you can prolong my annoyance, but at the same time, prolong someone else’s hope. 

I will donate the money to Guildford People to People who are doing fabulous work in organising deliveries and food collections. So please consider helping them out yourselves too.

Yes it may seem trivial, mundane, easy and even a bit pithy, but I’m doing something that I consider to be challenging, so please support me as best you can!


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The Spectacle Strikes Back: Using protests for commercial gain

A morning ritual which I can’t seem to break out of is looking at the BBC’s ‘newspaper front page’ section (you know, just to make sure I start the day with a bit of outrage). Perusing the website this morning, I scrolled down to see the front page of the Metro. Nothing particularly outlandish today, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the banner at the bottom. The red hues, the circular faux-painted logo with a single character, a flag fluttering in the background; the unconscious, half-second response was that there was some anarchist, revolutionary protest group that had found the funds to broadcast in the national media. However, it was very soon apparent that this was far from the truth… Continue reading


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#SaveILF

Last Wednesday, a group of disabled people occupied the lobby of Parliament. This unprecedented action was taken in response to the immanent closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF). The responsibility of financially supporting those with disabilities will pass to local councils, who are already struggling with national austerity policies. The real fear for those reliant on ILF is that there funding will be reduced, if not cut altogether. The protestors’ stand was a critical one, and want to explain why.

Notwithstanding the heavy-handed police presence that forcibly removed many of the disabled people from the Westminster lobby with unreasonable force that highlights the contempt at which vulnerable people are treated by authority, the policy of removing the ILF is one of the most regressive and undemocratic moves that the current government have engaged in. This is for the simple fact that disability itself is something that enables society to envision different ways of living, alternative modes of being and other means of moving forward. Let me explain why. Continue reading


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What needs to be done in the next 5 years…

The exit poll that the BBC announced at 10:00:01pm on Thursday started it. By midnight it wasn’t really sinking in. By 3am it was becoming increasingly apparent. By 6.30am, it was all but confirmed. By 7.30am, I was on my way to RHUL Towers with an overbearing sense of an impending macabre future. The 2015 general election result was one of the most surprising, but also most harrowing of my short voting life, not because of any party political allegiance I (don’t) have; but because of the knowledge that the preceding five years of feelings of injustice, frustration and disgust at the current state governance was going to carry on, and indeed intensify for the next five. The carcass of the political system is being picked over by the social media and op-ed commentariat, while no more than 5 days after the event, the harbingers of an evermore neoliberalised society are already in place (not least with some of today’s cabinet appointments).

For a few hours then over the weekend, I was giving some thought to emigrating, jacking it all in, giving up. But a series of conversations with colleagues, a few inspiring tweets (yes, they do exist) and a stiff drink or two later, it became clear that such a defeatist attitude went completely against the grain of my being becoming. In order to break the malaise and the lift the inner-pother that I certainly embodied over the last few days (and no doubt many other people from “across the political spectrum” (to use a horribly reductionist phrase)) – there needs to be a renewed vigour to encounter the oncoming deluge of marginalising and polarising policies and tests their limits of justice via empirical and theoretical contestation; there needs to be a groundswell of collective organising (of what Lefebvre has called autogestion) so that the formulation of predatory formations are not given the freedom to carry out their potentially domcidial tendencies; there needs to be unfettered rejection of the poisonous ideology of individualism; there needs to be a reclamation of civic life and the streets in which it is formed; there needs to be a realisation that it is those at the margins of society who most readily show us what future and progress looks and feels like, not those in the centre who champion more of the same; in sum, there needs to be a greater effort to enact radical democracy.

Easy to say of course, far more difficult to enact. Which is why, perhaps now, it is even more important to take that difficult decision to act, rather than to be passive. To go on that march, to join that collective, to help your neighbour, to question authoritarianism. So apologies if it all sounds a little preachy and ranty (maybe there’s an element of catharsis going on here), but ‘sticking your neck out’ is part and parcel of what needs to be done. So you may find me being slightly more vocal, active and yes, probably (even more) annoying in the next five years; and if you’re one my students reading this, I can only apologise…


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Students and their role in Critique

Occupied - Image used via Creative Commons. Taken from 'lusciousblopster' on flickr, URL: http://is.gd/j21AYs

“Occupied”- Image used via Creative Commons. Taken from ‘lusciousblopster‘ on Flickr

There is a current wave of student occupations across London. KCL, LSE, UAL, Goldsmiths  have all been targeted, and I’m sure more are brewing. The LSE occupation was the first (that I noticed anyway) and they are calling for a “Free University of London” and aiming to create an “open, creative and liberated space, where all are free to participate in the imagining of a new directly democratic, non-hierarchical and universally accessible education”. There has been plenty of coverage of these occupations in the relevant media outlets, not least UAL’s rather terse response in particular. Whatever the politics of these occupations and your views on the provisioning of higher education in this country (I happen to agree with their position), what I think is equally as important about these ‘events’ more broadly is that it is students as a cohort that are leading these protests.

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