Can I blame Apple for the British Riots?

Conservatives in power, vicious cuts applied to the welfare state while regressive taxes increase, police violence perpetrated against the poor against a background of declining legitimacy. Yes, the parallels between 2011 and 1981 are irresistibly suggestive of a political explanation for the British summer riots. The triggers in 1981 were ‘heavy handed’ and often racist policing reflecting long running policing policies that systematically targeted young black men whose experience of state authority would likely have been unremittingly negative. This combined...

Reminder: the budget deficit was not cau...

The ConDems incessantly justify cut after cut with reference to Labour’s supposed welfare profligacy. So maybe its time to remind ourselves why the budget deficit has increased dramatically… Here’s a useful graph (from the BBC) that shows the fluctuations in the budget deficit since the 1980s, with the deficit expressed as a proportion of GDP. Prudence was Gordon Brown’s watchword as Chancellor and when Labour came into power in ’97 they quickly turned their inherited deficit around. It creeps up again after the invasion and occupation of...

‘Clicktivism’ talk at 6 Bill...

Here is the presentation from my talk at 6 Billion Ways, you can make it full screen and explore by clicking on items and zooming in and out (a scroll wheel is handy). Or use the controls in the bottom right corner to follow a pre-defined path. If it doesn’t seem to be working here, try the external link to...

The New Machine

In Times of the Technoculture, my old boss Frank Webster argued that current info society trends in the capitalist economy are largely the logical extension of trends that have been around more or less since the birth of capitalism. Specifically, Taylorism brought scientific management to the workplace, with surveillance and discipline hand in hand; but there were full on plans (through an organisation of engineers and capitalists called ‘The New Machine’) to take those advances in efficiency into the realms of politics and society where a (positive) form of...

Students take aim at the ‘Never Ha...

Today’s protests will be mainly read as anger at the hike in student fees resulting from the government’s massive withdrawal of funding from higher education. Very important issues, to be sure. But the issue at stake is broader, even, than the debate over whether higher education is a public good. Refusal to pay for higher education is just one part of an ongoing, broad-ranging assualt on future generations by those currently in positions of power. Lord Young’s panned comments that people had ‘never had it so good’ is revealing, not just of...