Released in Summer 2011 and now in its second edition, Chavs is Owen Jones' attempt to help rescussitate debate around class within mainstream outdated concept and political discourse.
￼￼￼￼Broadly speaking, it is focused on the fate of working class communities in Britain since the Thatcher era and the disappearance of working class political representation, and puts forward some possible ideas to envision a renewed class politics for today. The book has proven a popular one and has propelled its author's public status as a prominent left-wing commentator, and one of the main voices of initiatives to reclaim the Labour Party as a working class organisation.
The Dublin Grassroots Network put a number of structures in place to avoid some of the pitfalls of dealing with the media. Perhaps the two biggest problems in dealing with the media are firstly that the media can, through the questions they ask and the pressures they bring, begin to set the political agenda of the group. Secondly servicing the media machine can take up all a group's time and energy (to the detriment of the other activity).
On one level the phrase "the media" simply refers to the various modern technologies for transmitting ideas to large populations, such as newspapers, television, magazines, radio and the new kid on the block, the Internet. These are extremely useful tools. They allow people to know what's happening in the world and hence share some common understanding with strangers. A fundamental precondition for achieving the type of revolutionary change that anarchists seek is that a large number of people actively desire it, or at the very least are open to it. Indeed, communicating "our beloved propaganda" to the masses has always played a major part in anarchist activity and hence we require the media. However, today, when we talk about the media, we also implicitly refer to the corporate machine that comes very close to operating monopoly control over mass communication.
It is unfortunate, if perhaps somewhat inevitable, that the now annual battles around the 'marching season' fall along religious lines. The Orange parades are being used to test the supposed neutrality of the northern regime and the RUC in particular. The losing side in this dangerous game however is likely to be the working class, Protestant and Catholic, as the confrontations and the sectarian attacks that occur around the Orange marches drive people further into 'their own' communities.
In this guest piece Damien Walshe, long term anti-racist activist, takes the opportunity to reflect on what happend in the last week when State authorities acted to take away blonde children from their Roma parents.
“Damned if they did something, damned if they did nothing”
A standard response (and the one trotted out by the Minister for Justice) is that it was best for the HSE/Gardai to err on the side of caution: “better be safe than sorry” has been the mantra. Okay, let’s have a look at that statement: What the danger was established in order to abduct the two Roma children from their families? Under the Child Care act children can be taken into care if a child has or is being assaulted, ill-treated, neglected or sexually abused, or whose health, development or welfare has been or is likely to be impaired or neglected. No one has remotely suggested this was the case for either child.
They say you can't judge a book by it's cover. The cover of the book, however, which has a picture of someone's buttocks with a circled A on one butt cheek and the squatter's symbol pretty much told me what was in store.
The eruption of conflict and intense rioting in Belfast over the last couple of months is a clear illustration that, no matter what lengths Stormont and the media circus go to to disguise the ugly reality of the ‘peace process’, the scars of the past and frequent eruption of sectarian conflict refuse to go away as political parties play the sectarian card to get one over on their rivals.
With over 300 police officers apparently injured so far this year, the honeymoon period following a 'successful' G8 conference has long passed - lifting the veil from a colonial sectarian settlement that has delivered a few crumbs to our class while the rich get richer. While at the same time our rulers in Stormont are busy stuffing themselves with £250,000 subsidised food expenses in 2012.
Over recent weeks we have seen leaders of Nationalism call for border polls while seeing leaders of Unionism once again using a flag to whip up the loyalist working classes. This further creates division and raises sectarian tensions between Catholic and Protestant neighbours. It also diverts attention away from the issues of socio and economic deprivation, poverty, lack of social and affordable housing and the bread and butter issues of life. Yet these are the issues that day and daily affect working class communities lives the most. Politician’s words promised delivery on such essential issues of concern. And words are all that many have heard, as little change can be seen within many working class communities The old adage of ‘you can’t eat a flag’ couldn’t be more apt at this time of recession, cuts, job losses and misery for many.
Kevin Higgins is a poet from Galway and a long-standing contributor to the independent left publication Red Banner Magazine. A former member of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party), he has played no small part in making the world of writing a more accessible and pleasant place to be in this country – not least for those who don’t normally find themselves welcome in the hallowed, middle class halls of Literativille.