Monthly Archives: March 2013

Divisions beyond repair: Class warfare and austerity Britain

Although condemned for their free-riding of the state welfare system only recently, a horrific incident led to the massacre of six innocent children at the Philpott’s household when petrol was poured into their home, unleashing an uncontrollable blaze. 

However, as those who survived the blaze have to somehow rationalise and deal with this atrocity, Carole Malone – the notorious ultra-Tory who hates anybody that doesn’t have a 6 figure salary – argued on national television that it was, virtually, their own fault and they brought it on themselves.  “This family became a target a couple of years ago,” she argued on ITV’s This Morning; they had “probably upset a lot of people” by being a family of 17 who were receiving state benefits. “I suspect they have many enemies out there because they were seen to be on benefits,” she suggested. With the country in such a dire financial state, “People have seen families – maybe like this – wanting to take advantage.” Referring to the “culture of the family” and the fact they had brought “attention to themselves”, Malone concluded that “six innocent children have died as a result”. 

Although I won’t try and argue that there isn’t a free-rider issue, of course there is, it’s a basic economic issue when goods are provided free-of-charge, the way in which Malone attacked the family showing no compassion was completely outrageous and insensitive. Malone, after the Karen Matthews incident claimed to “live next to a council estate full of people like Karen Matthews” implying that they’re some kind of sub-human race. She later confirmed this view by saying that they are “sub (human) class that now exists in the murkiest, darkest corners of this country”, as though Karen Matthews is some how representative of all people in Britain. 

However, much like Mitt Romney’s facts and figures were inaccurate when attacking similar sects of American society, so were, too, Malone’s. A recent study showed that just 3.4% of families in long-term receipt of benefits have four or more families. So where does the real issue lie? 

Prejudice against those receiving benefits is rife in Cameron’s austerity Britain. Rather than attacking the root cause of the issue, Cameron turned attention to public spending as the cause of financial dismay. However, the issue arose when he had to justify cuts to welfare, and so a campaign of demonisation had to be enforced in order to crush sympathy.  A campaign of people scrounging from the state whilst taking multiple holidays on low-budget airlines whilst having several humongous TV’s paid for courtesy of the taxpayer. 

Yes, benefit fraud exists (and the government should know..). But according to the Government’s estimates it accounts for only less than 1% of welfare spending, but the absolute extreme examples are passed off as representative of the fraud. We’ve seen Sunday Times articles in which journalists have blazoned their perverse views of the benefit system and argued that they wish to turn disabled in order to earn as much as “they” do; when in fact this is all nonsensical propaganda. It’s belligerent journalism like this which leads to prejudice against the most indigent and destitute people who, without the support of the state, would simply suffer an unimaginable life. 

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Announcement: Women’s and Gender Studies Conference Today and Tomorrow!

AMS :: ATX

Today and tomorrow, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies presents “The Feeling Body—Feeling the Body, ” the 20th Annual Emerging Scholarship in Women’s and Gender Studies Conference. This graduate student run conference offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to share their research on issues in women’s, gender, and/or sexuality studies. The theme of this year’s conference addresses the relationship between feminist theory,  affect, and the body.

wgs

The following comes to us from the conference program:

Affect is an emerging new direction in feminist theory, generating fascinating conversations around the role of the body and feeling in producing knowledge. How are other disciplines writing about and engaging with affect? How might this new direction shift how we think about the role of the body in academic research? The panelists will examine these topics, exploring the ways in which the body shapes knowledge.

The conference will feature a…

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Israel: The New “White Man’s Burden”

Obama, in a recent visit to Israel, declared a solemn obligation to the safety and security of Israel as a nation. As much as I respect Obama and support him and his policies, I find the nature of his support to Israel somewhat precarious. Indeed, the Palestine/Israel conflict is something that needs to be addressed and ameliorated,  however I find issue in doing this by providing military assistance of anywhere up to an assumed £132 million – especially with such large debts. 

However, the issue doesn’t solely concern economical factors for me. America has a large industry and has illustrated signs of growth under the Obama administration. What I do find difficult to comprehend is this, perhaps false, ideology of equality that Obama preaches in his own country regarding race, sex, and age, but then when in Israel he clearly defines his agenda and support for one nation. Instead of finding a resolution he’s evidently supporting an aggressive and hostile regime – I’m not suggesting that if he supported Palestine, he wouldn’t be supporting a belligerent regime, I just think aid and funding can be offered in other areas such as rebuilding infrastructure. 

Moreover, I can’t understand Obama arguing against the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms – which endangers hundreds of citizens – I must clear up that I strongly disagree with the Second Amendment. He argues that a safer nature will be available if weapons are correctly and effectively managed and organised. Schools would be safer, streets would be safer, whole areas ridden with gun violence would be safer. Yet he contradicts and undermines his own argument by providing arms through the guise of aid to aggressive, war-ridden nations. The same was seen in Syria and Libya and it only exasperated deteriorating political conditions. 

This leads me to question Obama as an individual; are there ulterior motives in his leadership? Is he the libertarian American longs for? Or does he just conform to a long line of militaristic Presidents intent upon expanding America beyond it’s already conquered lands. Another country bound by economic pressure of America would benefit the American’s massively and I wonder if Obama’s front is beginning to wear thin in his second term. 

On the contrary, one might argue that Obama is simply trying to contain the mess which was created by previous administrations and that the effects are irreversible; however I think we have seen that this is not the case from the sheer magnitude of the money he has contributed. I fear the creation of another Al-Qaeda based group operating within Israel and Palestine. 

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Redefinition of the British Political System

I think it’s hard to really define our country as a democracy any more due to the nature of parliament. Although we see parties under the banner of Labour, Conservative, or Liberal Democrats, they’re essentially one amalgamation of common beliefs, those being: we’re a predominantly financial country that trades not in material goods, but relies wholly on a strong (or currently weak) financial center i.e. London.

Indeed, when the City was performing well, Blair hailed its performance and was a bulwark for the City. Now, however, we attack them and are willing to bludgeon the bankers that lost all our money – when it was the years of deregulation that allowed such a thing to happen. I am a strong supporter of Labour but I’m also a strong supporter of holding those accountable for allowing such disasters to happen – of course I blame the Conservative government, too, for becoming extremely reliant on and tied to the American economy and its financial sector. It’s a long-winded argument. 

Nonetheless, and perhaps too late on the matter, after the degradation of Britain’s AAA rating, Milliband (and Labour) had countless opportunities to land attacks on Osborne for his austerity plans and the route he’s taken so far. But, in typical Milliband style, instead of taking the opportunity to berate him with abuse and demand answers for reasons we’ve lost the AAA rating, Labour offered nothing and instead squabbled among themselves and offered no coherent alternative for what is happening. Ed Balls predicted that something along the lines of this car crash would happen and if he had stuck to that script then Labour would have had a clear stance in Parliament, but instead they remain ambiguous. The Tories, however, have made their stance perfectly clear which is to stick to the current austerity plan or cut harder and faster. Perhaps an approach similar to World War Two needs to be adopted which encourages an increase in demand and an answer to heavy unemployment. On the contrary, nobody is going to listen to Labour because they hit the poor end of 13 years of governing. 

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21st Century Feminism

An issue concerning, sadly, a minority of women is that feminism as an ideology has become dormant. Indeed, in America we see some support for movements which is certainly a sign that the movement isn’t completely dead, but it lacks widespread support from not only females, but males too. The notion of a man supporting feminism may seem somewhat absurd – and to some extent ironic and perhaps undermining. Some women feel the need for independence and to fight for their own rights as a single, united sex, rather than have a man attain it for them – I’m not suggesting they need male assistance, I just feel it’s not a black and white issue and an element of unity from both parties needs to be formed in order to gain complete homogeneity. 

In British Parliament and American Congress we see a great lack of female politicians and subsequently we see an under represented sect of society. Perspectives effect choices and where men feel they may be making the right choices on a woman’s behalf, they are, in fact, nowhere near what is wanted. D. H. Lawrence – and to some extent Gustave Flaubert – is a striking example of this. Using literature as a medium to explore the notion of individuality, repression of desires, and the oppression of a female, rather than exploring key themes of female subjection, his novel stemmed into personal exploration, rather than universal. Of course, it would be ignorant to suggest that the novels didn’t raise key issues to do with desire suppression, but the majority was concerned with the authors personal standpoint. 

However, the two raise salient issues regarding something which goes somewhat unnoticed in modern society as it isn’t widely recognized or, to my despair, heard of. Intersubjectivity is an interesting notion that asserts the individual is defined by a range of connections and relationships and the idea of complete autonomy is a deeply male orientated idea. I, personally, find this viewpoint one we must embrace as it incorporates the idea of universality, homogeneity, and, foremost, equality. It recognizes the need for each other as supporting parties, rather than two mutually exclusive groups that must constantly compete. Competition is, to some extent, necessary, but only in specific areas; areas which don’t concern a basic human right and a divine right, such as being able to achieve the same position of a man in a workplace, self-expression through fashion without judgement, and other issues which focus primarily on women and neglect men. 

Take a further read of continental feminism rather than remaining blind to it and perhaps the notions could be embraced with open arms, rather than misconstrued and thrown into a dark corner to be ignored. 

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