It’s Groundhog day. Again. Next week, UCU staff are balloting for strike action that, if successful, would take place before Christmas. We’ve been on the picket line twice in the last 3 years, and still, we have seen no progress in bettering working conditions and stopping the decimation of the pensions of university & college staff. University management has taken a lead from the prevailing winds of political change and taken part in what can only be described as disaster capitalism: using the confusion and exhaustion of the pandemic to ram through redundancies at Leicester, Liverpool and Goldsmiths to name but a few. What’s more, since we were on the picket line last (that was cut short because of the outbreak of covid), the government have fanned the flames of a culture war against universities; we apparently stifle free speech and ‘cancel’ people, and the daily rags of hate that do the government’s bidding continue to publish falsehoods and lies. We seem to be public enemy number 1. In short, it’s a bad time to work at universities.Read More
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. Read More
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… Read More
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.
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…)
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!
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… Read More
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. Read More
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…