Tag Archives: Rights

How to Avoid a Fascist Future

BOOK REVIEW

Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life, Author: Natasha Lennard.

By Bradley Babendir – This idea runs through Being Numerous, a collection of essays that seek to demonstrate and enact a means of non-fascist thinking. Lennard approaches a range of subjects as part of this project, from the controversy over someone punching Richard Spencer, to representations of dead bodies in media, to suicide. Each essay is rooted in Lennard’s foundational argument that “liberal, capitalist ideology … fails to address its own potential accidents and limitations.”

The first essay, “We, Anti-Fascists,” is a forceful piece in favor of anti-fascist organizing and thinking. Lennard opens the essay with an endorsement of the on-the-ground counter-violence of Antifa, and makes a convincing case for the necessity of such violence when traditional institutions cannot be trusted to protect counter-protesters. She also argues against the overreaction to Antifa by mainstream American media after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, after which, Lennard says, newspapers spent more page-space condemning anti-fascists than they did the white nationalists who had murdered the civil-rights activist Heather Heyer.

This defense of Antifa is perhaps the part of the essay that will grab most readers’ attention, but Lennard’s subsequent exploration of what she calls “fascistic habit” is its liveliest and most engaging section. more>

Common ground

BOOK REVIEW

Rebel Cities, Author: David Harvey.
Human Condition, Author: Hannah Arendt.

By Farhan Samanani – Depending on whom you ask, Kilburn is either one of the most vibrant or one of the most dysfunctional neighborhoods in London. When Kilburn’s residents do come together in public, clashes often ensue.

The public realm is full of confrontations. On Kilburn’s council estates, residents cast dark glances at groups of young men who gather to drink, talk and listen to music. Parks get commandeered for barbecues and seniors’ exercise groups, for football matches, family gatherings and groups of friends, and each of these groups might compete for priority. The streets bustle with pedestrians, rolling their eyes as they dodge mothers pausing for a chat over their prams, or are forced to sidestep the overzealous street vendors hawking batteries, flowers, handbags.

Within each of these encounters is a tug of war between different ways of thinking, not only about public space, but what it means to be a citizen. In a liberal political order, the paradigm of ‘rights’ tends to prevail.

From the French Revolution to the American Declaration of Independence, the history of democracy can be read as a story of the expansion of the state-guaranteed entitlements and privileges that accrue to individuals. As a consequence, we’ve shifted away from understanding the citizen as a node in a social hierarchy, to relying on the idea of a free person, defined by a universally shared set of rights.

The idea is that we all need access to public goods to live worthwhile lives – whether that’s parks in which to exercise, pipes to bring us water and take away waste, or libraries and museums to expand our horizons. more> https://goo.gl/wcMW4q