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Commentary Archive

Euro-Keynesianism?

The financial crisis in Europe
by / RP 175 (Sep/Oct 2012) / Commentary

Financial collapse is haunting Europe. The most immediate fear is that a small European state might default on its government debt, but several large European banks might go bust because of a deflated real-estate bubble in Southern Europe. Brutal austerity policies have been imposed on countries that are already in recession, but in …


Who let the dogs out?

The privatization of higher education
by / RP 174 (Jul/Aug 2012) / Commentary

In April last year, I framed my article on ‘New Providers’ in relation to the delay surrounding the publication of the government’s White Paper for Higher Education (HE). That was caused by a combination of factors, but chiefly the need to fix a hole in the proposals for student loan financing; and additional …


Moving Borders

The Politics of Dirt
by / RP 174 (Jul/Aug 2012) / Commentary

Who can move? Who can speak? Who can act politically? The struggles of refugees and migrants have problematized conventional answers to these questions in a profound manner. Their struggles have demonstrated that, despite the considerable risks and dangers, new political subjects are being formed within securitized sites and border zones. Struggles by refugees …


The poetry and prose of the Russian elections

by / RP 173 (May/Jun 2012) / Commentary

Between 10 December 2011, the day of the first mass protest against fraud in the recently held Russian parliamentary elections, and 4 March 2012, the day of the presidential vote, Moscow was a transformed place. The suffocating atmosphere of Putin’s rule was disturbed as if by a sudden breath of fresh air. People …


Pirate Radical Philosophy

by / RP 173 (May/Jun 2012) / Commentary

Pirate … from the Latin pirata (-ae; pirate)… transliteration of the Greek piratis (pirate; πειρατής) from the verb pirao (make an attempt, try, test, get experience, endeavour, attack; πειράω). … In modern Greek… piragma: teasing [πείραγμα] …pirazo: tease, give trouble [πειράζω].1

Much has been written about the ‘crisis of capitalism’ and the associated events known, …


Class warfare in the USA

Anti-unionism and the legislative agenda of the 1%
by / RP 172 (Mar/Apr 2012) / Commentary

The past year has brought an unprecedented series of attacks on public employee unions in state legislatures across the United States. The most dramatic such assault came in Wisconsin, where newly elected governor Scott Walker pushed through legislation that effectively eliminated the right to collective bargaining for his state’s 175,000 public employees.1 Yet …


Occupy Time

by / RP 171 (Jan/Feb 2012) / Commentary

Until recently a casual observer might have thoght that Occupy had developed a time-management problem: it was increasingly managed by movement a static, essentially timeless image of space. While Occupy Wall Street initially began with the declaration that 17 September would be the starting date and that it would continue for an unspecified …


The Chilean winter

by / RP 171 (Jan/Feb 2012) / Commentary

Since the beginning of 2011, student mobilizations in Chile have occupied the centre of public debate. On the one hand, most of the population, along with most of the political parties currently opposed to Sebastián Piñera’s government, agree on the crisis of secondary and higher education in a country that has been …


Ideas are bulletproof

by / RP 171 (Jan/Feb 2012) / Commentary

With the emergence of the worldwide ‘Occupy’ movement, at last there seems something we can write home about, something we can celebrate, salute, support. We can even don the mask ourselves, join in, grin that mischievous and devilish Guy Fawkes grin and affirm our own phantom-faced defiance of big money and big business. …


Net, square, everywhere?

by / RP 171 (Jan/Feb 2012) / Commentary

Since hackers led digital systems on a line of flight from their military origins the Internet has had an ambivalent political virtuality. In the mid-1990s the emergenceof the anti- or alter-globalization movement coincided with growing access to the Internet, open source software and creative commons production. The digital dissemination of the Zapatista …


The Valuation of Nature

The Natural Choice White Paper
by / RP 170 (Nov/Dec 2011) / Commentary

How to value biodiversity and the mutable thing called nature, in the context of biodiversity loss in the UK and elsewhere, is a question that has been vexing biologists, conservation groups, environmental lawyers and indigenous groups. The question is posed in the context of that modestly named ‘sixth mass extinction event’, the Holocene …


Euphemism, the university and disobedience

by / RP 169 (Sep/Oct 2011) / Commentary

Euphemism is the linguistic condition of contemporary society and spreads through the university as much as through any other institution. But what, exactly, is a euphemism? After having turned his attention to the different meanings of the Greek word from which ‘euphemism’ is derived, and having considered the fact that they seem to contradict each other and bring about a …


Devolving public universities

Lessons from America
by / RP 169 (Sep/Oct 2011) / Commentary

It is easy enough to be fatalistic about the current funding situation in higher education. US public universities have locked themselves into a model that has led to the slashing of public funding off and on for thirty years and that has been forcing public universities towards an ever-growing dependence on private money. …


The manhunt doctrine

by / RP 169 (Sep/Oct 2011) / Commentary

George W. Bush had warned us early on: the United States has launched itself into a new kind of war, a ‘war that requires us to be on an international manhunt’.1 It would be wrong to believe that Barack Obama’s ‘justice has been done’, echoing Bush nearly ten years later, will close what …


Vélorutionary?

by / RP 168 (Jul/Aug 2011) / Commentary

The Montreal cyclists who in the mid-1970s formed an advocacy group known as Le Monde à Bicyclette also referred to themselves as vélo-Quixotes and vélorutionaries.1 The bicycle, in its surprising persistence through the twentieth century, became an emblem of alternative ideas, and chronologies, of progress: how many other complex machines that approached their …


‘New Providers’

The Creation of a Market in Higher Education
by / RP 167 (May/Jun 2011) / Commentary

At the end of 2009, the Labour government commissioned a review panel, led by John Browne, formerly chief executive of the London-based oil and gas multinational BP, to report on the financing of higher education in England. Its basic remit was to devise a funding scheme that would open up more undergraduate degree …


The Smell of Power

A Contribution to the Critique of the Sniffer Dog
by / RP 167 (May/Jun 2011) / Commentary

On 8 July 2005, the day after the London bombings, the International Association of Chiefs of Police issued its new guidelines on the detection and prevention of suicide bombings. The IACP is the primary organization through which senior police executives across the globe try to coordinate their powers and practices, and it …


Keyspace

WikiLeaks and the Assange papers
by / RP 166 (Mar/Apr 2011) / Commentary

Years ago, Julian Assange considered solutions for an unusual problem, the kind of thing cryptographers discuss: how can you make sure a message only becomes readable at a certain time, not before, such that no human frailty or mechanical error interferes with the schedule? He came up with three answers, which display his knack for …


A tale of two worlds

Apocalypse, 4Chan, WikiLeaks and the silent protocol wars
by / RP 166 (Mar/Apr 2011) / Commentary

There is something eerie about the WikiLeaks logo. It works as a sort of graphic manifesto, an image of dense political content stating a notion of ample consequences…


Alternatives to austerity

The need for a public utility finance system
by / RP 165 (Jan/Feb 2011) / Commentary

The Great Credit Crunch of 2007–10 was, it is almost universally agreed, brought about by the irresponsibility and greed of bankers. But the huge public deficits needed to prevent a meltdown of the financial system are to be paid for by slashing public spending and shrinking social protection for many decades to come. The welfare …