Articles

Notes from Non-Existence – Brexit vs. the Proletariat

Your country’s dead man, but your continent is soiled
– Triple Negative, Schengen Wasteman

Jay Gould may or may not actually have said ‘I can hire half of the working class to kill the other half’, but the proprietors of the UK have tested the theory successfully with their EU referendum. Not that you would know it from reading the Guardian, the Financial Times or even, sad to say, Counterpunch and the rest of the Left-wing blogobubble, where a chorus of Influencers is celebrating the 18th Brumaire of Nigel Farage.

Let me make clear what I don’t mean by that. Of course the likes of John Pilger, Michael Hudson, Tariq Ali and too many others to list are right in principle to celebrate a slap in the face of the EU manageriat and its unctuous cheerleaders. Who other than actual Eurostipendiaries would deny that the EU is an anti-democratic managerial machine built to hammer home labour discipline (sorry, ‘Competitiveness’) and ease cross-border financial looting?

But the point here is not really about whether or not the satisfaction of symbolically slapping a robot outweighs the harm done by an anti-immigrant plebiscite. What cries out louder for correction right now is the myth that the ‘leave’ vote is a victory for THE working class over ‘metropolitan elites’ and incorrigibly Scottish Scots. This matters a lot, because the metropolitan, multinational working class is being told by all sides, and at the worst possible moment, that actually we don’t exist. Worse still, myths like this tend to become self-fulfilling. Which is not to say they come true, but they become truisms to the point that they start having real effects. Like that old chestnut, ‘immigrants are to blame for other workers’ immiseration’, which we’ve just witnessed in action. [Read more →]

Education in England – An Update

[This piece is an update to the article The Marketisation of Mass Education in England published in datacide fifteen.]

“When it comes to K through 12 education (4 – 18 years old), we see a $500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be trans-formed by big break-throughs that extend the reach of great teaching.”

Rupert Murdoch, Press Release
November 2010

The opening up of the education market to private providers has reached something of a stand-still or a stand-off in England over the last year. A government White Paper in April 2016 proposed that all schools become academies by 2022. A few weeks later the government abandoned this because of enormous resistance to the idea amongst teachers, parents and local councils. However, there is still plenty of momentum to the ongoing outsourcing and diversifying of state social services e.g. Richard Branson’s ‘Virgin Care’ has been given a seven year £700 million contract for adult social care in Bath and Somerset by the National Health Service; this is the first time a council’s core adult social work services will be directly delivered by a for-profit private firm.
The great majority of secondary schools are now overseen by private organisations of one sort or another and not the local council. The next phase of this re-structuring of provision should be aimed at primary schools (only 13% academies in March 2016) but a number of factors have slowed down the rapid pace of reform.

Firstly, there has been a constant stream of lurid stories in the press about the mismanagement of academies and academy chains. In 2015 seven ‘financial notices to improve’ were handed out to academy trusts; in 2016 this number has risen to twenty five. The Times Educational Supplement had a feature recently (TES 14.10.16) about five academy head teachers who have all fallen from grace: [Read more →]

Datacide Sixteen Editorial

A short time after our last issue came out, the British population decided in a referendum to follow the lead of a section of ultra-reactionaries on the right wing of the Conservative Party and UKIP to leave the European Union. In prominent discourse, this development was attributed to some kind of working class revolt. Although there had been a call from sections of the left for a ‘Lexit’ (left exit), this wasn’t essentially an issue of the working class. Rather, it was undoubtedly put into motion by a conflict within the establishment, caused essentially by the fallout of the economic crisis and by their failing strategies to deal with it. Mainstream media – such as the Daily Mail and the Express (both famous for their relentless far right propaganda over the decades, which included support for Hitler in the 30s by the Mail) – managed to whip up xenophobia and managed to mobilise their constituency.

A similar mechanism seemed to be at work when Donald Trump was elected president in the United States. Much of the political class was gobsmacked, but the wanna-be stormtroopers on both sides of the atlantic felt empowered enough to let loose their pent up desire to commit hate crimes. Undoubtedly there is a rise of the far right, but in some ways it could be a golden opportunity for the left, if it is able to organise the resistance against it.

The leaders of the right – from Trump to Putin and Erdogan to Farage – all outwardly suffer extreme narcissistic personality defects and certainly lack any ability to solve even the most basic problems of the economic crisis, except when it comes to pushing aside opposition and profiting politically or even economically from the mess. What is happening isn’t fascism yet, but the tendency towards an authoritarian rule by decree. This is supported by those who used to be known as neo-Nazis, rebranded themselves as the ‘New Right’ in the late 60s, and more recently as the ‘Alt Right’. Many of these are people who hope to draw political capital from this climate. Since the 70s, the ‘New Right’ has been chiseling away at the gains the left had made in that period and has tried to create a discourse-hegemony promoting its racist ‘values’ and pseudo-science. Connected to this is the right’s ongoing fight to control women’s bodies, which makes these authoritarian movements comparable to Islamism, which, ironically, they claim to be fighting.

They are constantly decrying the supposed domination of the media by ‘liberals’, when a platform like Breitbart, which serves as a mouthpiece for the Alt Right, was living off mainstream advertising revenue. This included BMW, Lufthansa, T-Mobile, Visa, Zalando, and even Greenpeace and Oxfam – who all may or may not have known that their ads were featured via Google DoubleClick on the site. Whatever may be the case, the result was that the site appeared legit in a mainstream way.

Countering the apparent momentum of the right, there have been massive mobilisations and popular resistance. But it needs more for the left to come out of its crisis. Much of the traditional left is divided between bickering sects and outdated concepts, and even more so by the focus on identity politics, single issue campaigns, or, worse, the appeasement towards Islamism and other reactionary forces. There is also a widespread inability to see a perspective outside of the narrow perception of what the ‘left’ is. This manifests itself in the return of some left-Keynesian concepts, which are already seen as radical because they move away from the neo-liberal consensus, but they don’t abandon the terrain of capitalism, offering a different way of saving the system instead. A truly radical perspective would have to look beyond a world of commodity production, money and nation states.

One aspect that might well contribute to this weakness may be the fact that the precarisation that most of us are increasingly subjected to manifests itself not only in the conditions of labour, but also by the fact that millions voluntarily donate hours of unpaid work every day to companies like Facebook whose value depends on the participation of as many people as possible. If we add this un-activity to the work day, then little time and energy are left for actual organisation and struggles. We hope with our efforts with this magazine to contribute to meaningful discussions about how to counteract these developments.

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Datacide is a radical magazine covering the overlapping areas of countercultural noise & beats and (anti-) politics, critical theory, and post-situationist practice. The things that matter right now.
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Die Menschenhauttrommel (The Human Skin Drum, 1988)

Die Menschenhauttrommel (The Human Skin Drum) was first published in Flash Team Report (Vision 18) and reprinted in the Almanac for Noise & Politics 2016 as a companion piece to the article about the Vision label and to show a connection to the present, namely the release of ‘Skin Craft’ – RIND & NOL, works by Alex Buess and Daniel Buess on Praxis in 2016.

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