On Starmer’s complacency and the potential of a new socialist party

Deliveroo workers strike in Liverpool (2019)

Keir Starmer’s assumption, as was Tony Blair’s, is that the left wing of the Labour party have nowhere else to go. The demographic of this ‘left’ has shifted, of course. In response to the so-called Red Wall’s collapse under Corbyn in 2019, LOTOs strategy (if it can be said to exist) has been shaped entirely by a genuflection to perceived social conservatism. Influenced by the psycho-social politics of cultural divide flogged so expertly by pop-psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Labour see their only route to power going through focus-group triangulation, either affirming Conservative policy (more police, more flags), or being outflanked by…


I finally managed to track down the films of Wong Kar-Wai. Much of world cinema, even if they’re considered classics, seem very difficult to get your hands on at a decent quality (at least in the UK). Herzog’s voluminous back catalog only seems to exist in fits and starts, and the only place to see Kori-eda’s older work seems to be in bad rips on Youtube. BFI came to the rescue in this particular case; they have a whole ‘World of Wong Kar-Wai’ rental collection, with most of his films meticulously remastered in 4K. …


I recently stumbled upon this clip of Paul Thomas Anderson explaining why he didn’t go to film school. PTA was part of the so-called ‘video store’ generation of filmmakers, which also includes such luminaries as Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, and Steven Soderburgh, who learnt their craft by, well, watching lots and lots of VCR films. He attended NYU’s film programme for two days before dropping out, using the reimbursed tuition to make his short feature, Cigarettes and Coffee (1993). “The mentality of film school”, he laments to Charlie Rose, “is we’ll start out with Potemkin. First day in class: Here’s…


I’m always struck by the strangeness of appeals to ‘aspirational’ voters in electoral politics. It is axiomatic that this particular group is vehemently opposed to any muscular redistributive programmes. The risk, of course, is these policies penalise people for daring to ‘make something of themselves.’ Quite apart from the nonsensicalness of much of its invocation (there is really no way John Doe is ever going to hit the tax bracket of Jeff Bezos, in part because Bezos’ wealth depends precisely on that fact) I’ve found it telling that, if we take aspirational to mean what it is, a desire to…


Hierarchies are not necessarily bad. There are indeed times whereby the imposition of strict equality seems to undercut the actual aim of the interaction. It’s hard to imagine a world where you and your doctor are on exactly equal footing; part of the reason why we have doctors is the recognition of the importance of that specialized knowledge for effective healthcare, which necessarily creates some sort of asymmetrical power relation. We would hope there wouldn’t be random patients arguing with the neuroscientist over how one repairs severe damage to the amygdala. …


Leviathan, an immersive, experimental documentary from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, and the hyperrealist photography of Andreas Gursky, are linked in their addressing of the same question: how should we think of the relation between society and nature?

Immersion is quite a buzzword in cinema presently. IMAX spectacles promise to make you part of the movie. But curvature of the screen is no replacement for a palpable visceral connection. Save for a few exceptions (Nolan seems to remain head and shoulders above the rest as a blockbuster auteur: Dunkirk’s beach scene, with the thudding of bombs and it’s temporarily expulsions of sand, which come down to land over the soldiers head, hands suffocating the ears, is one of the finest flourishes of the Big Screen in recent memory) enlarged does not necessarily mean engrossing.


How coronavirus unmasks our social illusions

One could argue we live under two central social illusions. Their specific historical origins are more or less indeterminate, but it is hard to deny their present weight. The first is what Marx calls capitalism’s unsocial sociality. The second is the category-mistake of what we may call the Machine. Coronavirus, in turning state-capitalism upside down in a world-historical inversion, unravels the threads of their falsity.

‘There is no such thing as society’, Thatcher once notoriously declared, ‘there are only individuals and their families.’ A crystal-clear reflection of her ideological atomism, it was also a statement of intent. For the structural…


The counter-revolutionary myth of meritocracy

Corey Robin, in his magisterial study of conservatism, The Reactionary Mind, defines its theoretical essence as counter-revolution. It bursts into life at the point where existing social hierarchies are threatened. But this impetus is not an unthinking reflex, and not necessarily defensive. Burke castigates the ancien regime almost as much as the Jacobins. And it’s tough to argue Friedman and Hayek did not possess a radical, constructive vision. It’s restorativism is concerned primarily with the transhistorical dynamic between the rulers and the ruled, a relation that transcends social categories and institutional modalities. If it is seen fit to dispense with…


On Political Impossibility

There’s a clip doing the rounds of Clinton discussing her campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2016 on the Howard Stern show. They jovially lambast Bernie for overpromising in a manner akin to a candidate for 5th grade class president. For the adult in the room, Stern notes, it’s hard to counter someone who just says ‘I’ll give you free everything!’. ‘Free chocolate milk for everyone!’ Clinton quips back approvingly. Aside from the contemptuous of denigrating basic citizenship rights like healthcare and education as puerile indulgences, there’s something more revealing going on here.

A common cause of popular scepticism toward…


Labour’s conference commitment to abolish fee-paying schools has opened up a controversial debate. What should we think of it?

The case for private school abolition is premised upon two central ideas. First, a notion of equality and social collaboration that states citizens, during their most formative years, should not be segregated according to their parents incomes. That society does better when its constituent elements understand, mix and identify with one another is eminently reasonable. Education, being a compulsory institution that all citizens must interact with, holds dramatic power in this regard. Our young years are when our ideas and characters are formed. Private schools, though, by dividing up the rich from the rest of us at the root, unconsciously…

Trey Taylor

21, studying Political Theory and Sociology at Cambridge University

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