Readers Meeting on: Bullshit Jobs and Robots – The Future of Work

6pm – 7.30pm Monday 1st June at Broadcasting Place (opposite the Fenton pub), Leeds LS2 9EN.

The Taking Sounding Reader’s Meeting will discuss the implications of technological developments on the future of work. Are we on the brink of a technological transformation on the scale of the industrial revolution? If most of us are no longer required to work for our material needs to be met, what will we do? How will the spoils of industry be shared amongst the population if work is no longer a viable basis for distribution?

Articles by David Graeber: ‘The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs’ http://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/
And John Lanchester: The Robots are Coming’ http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n05/john-lanchester/the-robots-are-coming
…will be our starting point for open discussion.

After the UK general election: what next?

Leeds Taking Soundings

Monday, May 11th,  6PM Broadcasting Place BPAG02 (opposite The Fenton on Woodhouse Lane)

After the Elections 2015

The results are in, the post-election political shenanigans have started. Who knows what will happen!

But we think it worthwhile to make an early stock-take of how these elections have affected the broad left. We have speakers who are in the Labour Party, the Greens and Yorkshire First to discuss how the political world looks to them immediately after these elections. Hopefully, with the battle for votes over and hangovers quelled, there’s time for a deep breath and some reflexive analysis.

(in alphabetical order)

Richard Carter (Leader, Yorkshire First). Actually we don’t know that much about Yorkshire First, but are interested in a local version of a progressive regionalism after the showing of the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

Tim Goodall (Green candidate Leeds North West). We’ve had Natalie Bennett speak to us in the past – the Green Party is a lot bigger now than it was then. We’re hoping for an analysis of where Green politics goes next.

Sarah Perrigo (Labour Party). Sarah is a long-term critical and reflexive  member of the Labour Party, so we are hoping for a reflexive account of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party performance and prospects.

All welcome. Contact Matthew Caygill (m.caygill@leedsbeckett.ac.uk) for further information.

Find the Leeds Taking soundings blog at: http://www.takingsoundings.org.uk/

Please follow the Leeds Taking Soundings Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leeds-Taking-Soundings

Education should not be a capitalist commodity

Students at the European University Institute have just published this measured indictment of what is happening to universities in many countries today. Referring to conditions for lecturers, students and support staff, it comprehensively indicts the neoliberal regime in our universities.  More here 

All the more reason to come to Martin Levy’s Taking Soundings talk on 15th June on the Anti-University of the late 1960s and early 70s.

Reminder: Hannah Lewis on migrants’ exploitation (25th Feb)

We posted this some time ago so it slips from the front of our blog – – don’t forget that the next Taking Soundings event is on Wednesday 25th February 2015 at 6pm:

‘Being permanently temporary’: poverty and exploitation of migrants in the UK – Dr Hannah Lewis

The current coalition UK Government has signalled its clear intentions to decouple migration from settlement. Through a variety of increasingly complicated measures, immigration policy creates a hierarchy of rights to work, welfare and residency that sub-divide and segregate different groups of migrants. The restriction of basic rights and separation of movement in the labour market from social citizenship is creating routine poverty for large groups of migrants and opens up the possibilities for, and risks of exploitation of migrants, including severe exploitation in forced labour.

Are migrants now expected to contribute their skills and expertise in the UK labour market while being pushed into living in a condition of being ‘permanently temporary’, not knowing if and when they will be required to move or leave the UK? This talk will consider how a range of measures introduced to limit rights to family reunion, restrict spouse visas, and to reduce leave to remain are driving temporariness into all migrant categories, including those such as family migrants, refugees, EU migrants and even new citizens not technically part of ‘temporary migration’ programmes.

Hannah Lewis is a Research Fellow at the School of Geography at the University of Leeds. She has recently published ‘Precarious lives Forced labour, exploitation and asylum’ with Policy Press, the first dedicated study to evidence forced labour experiences among people seeking asylum in the UK. Her research interests include community and social relationships, migration and refugee studies; immigration and asylum policy particularly in relation to destitution among refused asylum seekers in the UK; housing, volunteering, multiculturalism.

Hannah has been involved as a volunteer, practitioner, campaigner and researcher with a number of initiatives, movements and migrant and refugee organisations in the region such as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust Asylum Destitution Inquiry, the Leeds Better Asylum Housing Campaign, No to G4S, the Western Sahara Campaign, and the Leeds Solidarity Network. She is currently a trustee of Leeds Refugee Forum – the forum of refugee community organisations in Leeds.

Venue: Broadcasting Place, Leeds Beckett University, Woodhouse Lane (opposite the Fenton pub), Leeds LS2 9EN.

6pm Wednesday 25th February 2015

 

What is Plan C? Taking Soundings event on Monday 16th March

Please note: our next event is at The Tetley (not our usual stalking ground at Leeds Becket University). It’s in the centre of Leeds, close to Leeds Bridge and the Adelphi pub. We are experimenting with a more convivial location – The Tetley has wonderful art exhibitions and an excellent bar and restaurant. More about The Tetley here.  And it’s on a Monday, not our usual Wednesday. And we are starting at 7pm, not our usual 6pm, so you might get there early to use the facilities and chat. 

Dr Keir Milburn answers the question:

What is Plan C?

The main government response to the financial crisis that began in 2006 has been austerity and repression. The crisis of neoliberalism needs… more neoliberalism! Our political and economic elites, the dominant fractions of capital, are incapable of new thinking. For them there is only one plan, Plan A. More of the same. They cannot solve this crisis, they can only displace it. In response some propose a Plan B. Indeed there have been many. But most of these remain too trapped by the past. They seek a return to the postwar years, the Keynesian deal. Yet there is no route of return, the world is too altered, that vision of change is too limited.

If we reject Plan A and Plan B then what should we call Plan C? The reopening of strategy, the making of plans, attention to what’s necessary, a rethinking of means. We want to use these lenses (Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C) to have a conversation about austerity and the responses to it. If a course of action is objectionable then we must do more than just object. Instead we pose the question: how do we make it stop? How do we exercise power? How do we build something different? How do we start from where we are, so together we can decide where we are off to?

Keir Milburn lives in Leeds and works at the University of Leicester. His research takes place on the boundaries between organisational theory, political theory and cultural studies. His recent focus has been on social movement organisation. Keir is a member of Plan C.  More about Keir here  More about Plan C here 

Time: 7 – 9pm

Date: Monday 16th March

Venue: The Tetley, Leeds. Directions here There is good parking and easy bus access.

All welcome. Free – but there will be a collection.

The Anti-University and radical education (15th June)

Taking Soundings on 15th June 2015 will be at The Tetley, in Leeds city centre, from 7 – 9pm. Its location is described here 

MARTIN LEVY

RADICAL EDUCATION – WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE DIALECTICS OF LIBERATION AND THE ANTI-UNIVERSITY OF THE 1960s?

Outline of the talk 

Martin Levy will begin by saying something (briefly) about the origins of the Dialectics of Liberation congress, both in anti-psychiatry and in the free universities movement. Who were the main personalities?  (RD Laing, David Cooper, Joseph Berke.) What was the anti-psychiatric take on violence? How did it differ from other approaches? What were the congress’ central themes? (Speakers included Laing and Cooper, Stokeley Carmichael, CLR James, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory  Bateson.) What was it like to be there?

Then he’ll describe the birth of the Anti-university of London (in Shoreditch from about 1968-70 then in people’s homes). He’ll mention its origins in the Free University of New York, with some analysis of the important role played by Paul Goodman’s ideas. Who taught there and what? And again, what was it like to be there?

Martin will concentrate on their version of radical education and what can we learn from it?In what ways were the congress and the anti-university a success? What did the main players think? What did young people think? What did academics think? Was the Anti-University a genuine challenge? And if so, how did it compare to other attempts at a radical higher education?

Then he will conclude by asking what we mean today by ‘radical education’? Does ‘radical’ mean – as he will argue that it does in this context – outside of the conventional universities? This will involve reference to the nature of university education today.

Martin Levy says he’s not a regular scholar. The two books he’s written that matter most to him are an edition of the memoirs of the writer and royal mistress Mary Robinson (1994) and an account of the Hackman murder case (2004), both on eighteenth-century topics.

Three of his current projects are: writing a book about the Dialectics of Liberation congress (no publisher as yet), organising a three-day event on the theme of art and spirituality at Braziers Park, in Oxfordshire (November) and guest-editing an edition of the journal Self and Society on Paul Goodman (spring or summer 2016).

Martin lives in Halifax.

Venue Regular attenders at Taking Soundings will expect to be going to the Leeds Becket University’s Broadcasting Place. We’re now trying out a more convivial venue, hence this meeting is at The Tetley, in Leeds city centre. Its location is described here  There’s a new time, too: 7 – 9pm.

‘Permanently temporary’ – migrants’ poverty & exploitation (25 Feb)

Taking Soundings event on Wednesday 25th February 2015 at 6pm:

‘Being permanently temporary’: poverty and exploitation of migrants in the UK – Dr Hannah Lewis

The current coalition UK Government has signalled its clear intentions to decouple migration from settlement. Through a variety of increasingly complicated measures, immigration policy creates a hierarchy of rights to work, welfare and residency that sub-divide and segregate different groups of migrants. The restriction of basic rights and separation of movement in the labour market from social citizenship is creating routine poverty for large groups of migrants and opens up the possibilities for, and risks of exploitation of migrants, including severe exploitation in forced labour.

Are migrants now expected to contribute their skills and expertise in the UK labour market while being pushed into living in a condition of being ‘permanently temporary’, not knowing if and when they will be required to move or leave the UK? This talk will consider how a range of measures introduced to limit rights to family reunion, restrict spouse visas, and to reduce leave to remain are driving temporariness into all migrant categories, including those such as family migrants, refugees, EU migrants and even new citizens not technically part of ‘temporary migration’ programmes.

Hannah Lewis is a Research Fellow at the School of Geography at the University of Leeds. She has recently published ‘Precarious lives Forced labour, exploitation and asylum’ with Policy Press, the first dedicated study to evidence forced labour experiences among people seeking asylum in the UK. Her research interests include community and social relationships, migration and refugee studies; immigration and asylum policy particularly in relation to destitution among refused asylum seekers in the UK; housing, volunteering, multiculturalism.

Hannah has been involved as a volunteer, practitioner, campaigner and researcher with a number of initiatives, movements and migrant and refugee organisations in the region such as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust Asylum Destitution Inquiry, the Leeds Better Asylum Housing Campaign, No to G4S, the Western Sahara Campaign, and the Leeds Solidarity Network. She is currently a trustee of Leeds Refugee Forum – the forum of refugee community organisations in Leeds.

Venue: Broadcasting Place, Leeds Beckett University, Woodhouse Lane (opposite the Fenton pub), Leeds LS2 9EN.

6pm Wednesday 25th February 2015

 

 

Kincaid & Barker on crisis, austerity, resistance (23 Feb)

LEEDS TAKING SOUNDINGS PRESENTS:

CRISIS, AUSTERITY AND RESISTANCE: A PANEL DISCUSSION

 BPAG10, Broadcasting Place (this is part of Leeds Beckett University, opposite the Fenton pub on Woodhouse Street) , 6PM Monday Feb 23rd

Despite recession, ‘secular’ stagnation and deflation the capitalist system continues to exhibit a remarkable staying power. And in terms of the social costs the living standards for millions have fallen whilst the commitment to full employment and the welfare state have long been abandoned. Globally governments pursue neoliberal economic objectives that have resulted in the most grotesque inequalities combined with diminishing civil liberties and the virtual abandonment of representative democracy.

Yet with the results of the elections in Greece we might be seeing the stirrings of a mass rejection of austerity politics and with a coming general election in the UK against a shattered and discredited political system it is possible that opportunities for change are at last in sight. And to help socialists in Leeds to consider both the pitfalls and possibilities confronting us, two distinguished Marxist theorists will be proposing explanations of the crisis and examples for resistance in the coming period.

Jim Kincaid is an economist who devoted much of his time to the issues of poverty, welfare and social policy, but has been more recently grappling with Marxist political economy, especially its application in a financialised global economy. Most recently he raised eyebrows at a Historical Materialism conference where he drew attention to the persistence of puzzlingly high rates of corporate profits throughout a period of economic stagnation and recession. Jim is a member of Left Unity.

 Colin Barker is a political theorist and activist who has devoted much of his life to the study (and promotion) of radical and revolutionary movements of resistance and mass democracy. Among a large body of distinguished work is a recent collection on Marxism and Social Movements (available as a  Haymarket paperback). Until recently Colin was a member of the editorial board of theInternational Socialism journal but since June 2014 he has begun to fulfil the same role for the Revolution in the 21st century magazine. Colin is a member of rs21.

 

As founder members of the International Socialists in the 1960s Jim and Colin are old mates and it is in the spirit of fraternity that they will be offering their ideas from their respective perspectives.

 

We are looking forward to a relaxed and open debate which will allow us to think about the relevance of Marxist approaches to understanding the world today.

 

Are ‘we’ #Charlie Hebdo? (11th February)

ON CHARLIE HEBDO

The Taking Soundings readers’ meeting (11th February 2015) will discuss some of the articles on these traumatic events in Paris committee members have come across that we found useful. This is the current list, with the most likely candidates for discussion at the top. The list might change closer to the event, so keep watching this page. Max Farrar will introduce the discussion and he’ll refer to some of the things he’s written over recent years that he thinks are relevant (about radical Islam and its relation to multiculturalism in the UK). We hope readers will have had a good read of the top three articles. Some will read them all – but that’s not compulsory!

Pankaj Mishra reviews some of the responses and suggests a shift in the discourse – a ‘new Enlightenment’ (Guardian 20.1.15)

Tariq Ali provides a nuanced analysis of responses to Charlie Hebdo, concentrating on Muslim responses (London Review of Books 5 Feb 2015) Tariq Ali Charlie Hebdo and the Muslim Response

Some careful distinctions made here by Professor Mahmood Mamdani in The Hindu (newspaper)

http://m.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/charlie-hebdo-cartoons-are-bigoted/article6789470.ece/

Detailed critique of Charlie Hebdo, accusing it of acute Islamophobia, by a former member of its staff

Olivier Cyran originally published in Le Monde (5.12.2013) 

A Canadian defence of the content of Charlie Hebdo, really just saying we don’t get it, because we don’t understand the context or language

https://ricochet.media/en/292/lost-in-translation-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-and-the-unilingual-left

On the problem of “context collapse” in reading Charlie Hebdo

Dorian Lynskey on 33 Revolutions per Minute site

http://33revolutionsperminute.wordpress.com/author/33revolutionsperminute/

Will Self bit on Charlie Hebdo on BBC Newsnight

http://www.channel4.com/news/will-self-martin-rowson-cartoon-charlie-hebdo-satire-video

Close reading of the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo – the best and the worst in Western society

Max Fisher on his Vox blog-site 

‘As a Muslim, I am fed up the hypocrisy o the freedom of speech fundamentalists’

Mehdi Husan in the Huffington Post (13.1.15)

French Muslims explain why they are not #Charlie Hebdo

Kim Sengupta in the Independent (13.01.2015)

Lessons Jews might learn from the Muslims’ response to the Paris atrocities

Deborah Maccoby (Jews for Justice for Palestinians) and Jonathan Friedland’s article on this issue in the Guardian (9.01.2015)

A critique of Liberalism’s tolerance is at the root of Islamic fundamentalism’s resurgence – with some analysis of the ‘Last Men’ of capitalism and the ‘second-class’ men of Islamism.

Slavo Zizek urges us to think afresh (New Statesman 10.01.2105)

A series of meditations on violence (2013)

Introduction by Brad Evans on his website

Max Farrar’s work includes:

Islamist terror is derived from their study of modern revolutionary politics in the West

Max Farrar’s chapter in the edited collection ‘Islam in the West’ (Palgrave, 2013)

Critical multiculturalism’s response to diverse Islamic praxis

http://maxfarrar.org.uk/max-blog/writing/critical-multiculturalisms-response-to-diverse-islamic-thought-and-practice/

Reminding us of the revolutionary violence that was initiated by the European and American far left in the 1970s

http://maxfarrar.org.uk/max-blog/writing/revolutionary-violence-and-jihadi-islamism/

David Howell on Oswald’s Odyssey: Mosley and British Politics (21st Jan)

The next Taking Soundings meeting is on Wednesday 21st January 2015. Professor David Howell (Politics, York University) will explain the relevance for today’s turbulent times of the maverick British fascist Oswald Mosley.

At 6pm in Broadcasting Place, Room BPAG03 (ground floor) Leeds Beckett University, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds LS2 9EN (opposite the Fenton pub).

More detail here (downloadable flyer):

Oswald’s Oddysey