Link Roundup: July 8

Good morning, welcome to another week in hellworld. In case you missed it, the Labor Party is officially no longer an opposition party, although that can’t come as much of a surprise, can it? (Can it???) Ever sensitive to the needs of our listeners, we recorded a snap Floodcast on Friday evening, all about the structural decline of the ALP in light of their recent lurch to the right under Albo. I’ll edit that tonight and hopefully get it up later this week.

Some personal news: I’m heading overseas on Friday and will be away for about five weeks! Exciting for me, sad for you because I won’t be around to do link roundups. Luckily Floodcast contributor and expert content scout Maddy has volunteered to do a few while I’m away, so you won’t be left entirely out in the cold. We’ll also try to maintain a semi-regular publication schedule for longer pieces until my return in mid-August.

The student strike movement in Quebec is one of those lefty topics that I perpetually feel I should know more about, so luckily for me, there is a fascinating interview in Viewpoint with the organisers of the most recent student strike, which took place in mid-March. Their newest organising model centres on an analysis of unwaged work in the education system, and aims ‘to hone a feminist and anti-capitalist critique of the interface between the university system and labor markets, vindicating the value of student work and women’s work.” The debate between the ‘old-timers’ and the new organisers around the question of whether demanding wages = commodifying education was especially interesting to me (and reminiscent of Siliva Federici’s classic Wages Against Housework).

The commodification of education already took place a long time ago, and we want to show that school is a means of reproduction for capitalism, it has been for a long time ... Refusing to demand wages for the work that we are doing does not rule out or erase exploitation, but it increases that situation of exploitation in which students are placed – especially women, people of color, immigrants, students who have kids and go back to school.

This piece about the homelessness crisis in Byron is from 2016, but I can only imagine that things have got worse since it was written?? It is quite depressing to read, but also a really important illustration of why a tourism boom is often a poisoned chalice, and especially how Airbnb-type models actually suck resources away from where they’re needed and distribute wealth upwards like the disgusting scourges they are. Anyway. The less overtly political-economic companion piece is this recent Vanity Fair piece about the Instagram influencer mums of Byron Bay, which a friend sent to me, discerning (correctly) that I would find it equal parts horrifying and compelling. If you’re having a slow day at work, I really recommend this one.

Examining this issue (the housing/gentrification issue, not the Instagram mum issue) on an even bigger and more depressing scale is Julian Francis Park’s piece on homelessness in the Bay Area. There is just SO much in here (about homelessness, about policing, about climate change, about class war) that I am having a very hard time characterising it succinctly. Here, have a pull quote instead:

When people lose housing in the Bay Area, it’s a crisis on the level of a serious illness ... Many accept housing they can’t afford because it’s all they can find. Others move elsewhere, or become homeless. From San Francisco to Oakland and beyond, homeless encampments spill out of every underpass, or sometimes take up temporary residence on neglected city-owned land. In an absurd cat-and-mouse game, these encampments are periodically pushed from place to place by the police and the Department of Public Works. There’s no shortage of precarious service work, though, which manages to keep most Bay Area residents too busy to begin to do anything about how fucked it all is. Here in the home of Google, the most common thing for people to type into their search bar is “Should I move out?”

This piece on the Verso blog on ‘anticolonial activism in the heart of empire’, an excerpt from Priyamvada Gopal’s new book Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent, is well worth a read. “Black radicals, positioning themselves as both colonial and British in their London base, developed important tenets of anticolonialism,” writes Gopal, “which in turn shaped the approach of their metropolitan allies. They also sought to create institutions and formal networks which would facilitate anticolonial thought and work in the heart of empire. The theory and practice of self-emancipation now emerged as a necessary corollary to an uncompromising rejection of paternalism, while questions of ‘blackness’, indeed of race itself, became much more salient.” I WANNA KEEP READING. Maybe I will buy the book??? Stay tuned.

OK, full disclosure, this podcast episode is a) over a month old, and b) not listened to by me (yet), BUT I heard really good things about both this interview in particular and Bhaskar Sunkara’s book in general. Perhaps you, too, would be interested in hearing about the past and future of socialism and what the history of the socialist movement has to teach the movements behind Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders? I dunno, I think that sounds right up your alley.