What exactly is the EU and what is the effect of the EU on our national politics and economics? These questions — the most important ones facing the British Left in 2018 — have received little serious treatment across the political spectrum since the referendum. Costas Lapavitsas’ book, The Left Case Against the EU (Polity, 2018; ISBN: 9781509531066; 179pp.), addresses this gap by offering a direct class analysis of the European Union. It points to a clear and unequivocal conclusion: anyone on the Left has to be foursquare against the EU.

The question of whose interests the EU serves is…


The packed launch event of Lapavitsas’ The Left Case Against the EU earlier this week suggested that there is increasingly fertile ground for arguments against the European Union that appeal to Leftists. While these arguments have been made previously — indeed, nothing in what I’ve written here is new — it is crucial to continue to make them. As a second referendum looks ever more likely, socialists will have to arm themselves with a set of arguments aimed at convincing as many people as possible that the EU and democracy are incompatible.

The EU is incompatible with democracy in two…


Richard Tuck, Professor of Government at Harvard and a co-founding signatory of The Full Brexit, gave the 2019 Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre Annual Lecture at King’s College London last week. Audio of the following day’s panel discussion is here, while the video of the whole lecture is here:

Richard also has a book on democratic theory in the twentieth century forthcoming, more details of that hopefully soon. Below are some notes on the general argument of the lecture.

The status of democracy in both political theory and Western political culture has suffered a serious downgrading in recent years. In…


For a Left Populism by Chantal Mouffe (London: Verso, 2018; 98 pp.; ISBN 978–1–78663–755–0).

In her new book, the political theorist Chantal Mouffe aims to give a theoretical framework to “left populism”, a political strategy that she sees as embodied by a range of new leftist projects across Europe including (to different extents) Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise, Syriza, Podemos, Die Linke in Germany, and the Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal.

Mouffe is best known as the co-author (with Ernesto Laclau) of the enormously influential Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985). Hegemony and Socialist Strategy is one…


For more on Fisher’s Capitalist Realism see here (blog) or here (podcast).

The cultural theorist Mark Fisher, in a short piece on rave and its influence on art and culture, talks of rave as a baroque sunburst. He quotes Fredric Jameson in Valences of the Dialectic:

‘From time to time, like a diseased eyeball in which disturbing flashes of light are perceived or like those baroque sunbursts in which rays of light from another world suddenly break into this one, we are reminded that Utopia exists and that other systems, other spaces are possible.’

The ‘energy flash’ of rave, Fisher…


For a fuller analysis, see the latest episode of Aufhebunga Bunga, where we talk through the contemporary relevance of the idea of capitalist realism.

Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher, published in 2009, was one of the founding books of the Zero books imprint. Short (only 80-odd pages), well written, and full of cultural references, it was by far the most read cultural theory book of that time. It was the first book that a reading group of ex- and anti-PPEists I joined decided to read. It’s also one of a short number of books that I think I’ve given to…


Worst picture, worst director?

Winners and losers
The necessary winners won: The Shape of Water for best picture and Frances McDormand best actress for Three Billboards. It’s just a shame that The Shape of Water was the worst film of the year, filled with schlocky, clunking metaphors and a mute female lead. As Maren Thom explains on a recent episode of Aufhebunga Bunga, it’s the sort of film that a man (del Toro, who won the Best Director Oscar) trying to make a feminist film would come up with. Call Me By Your Name — easily the best film on the best picture shortlist (with…


In his Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life (London: Verso, 2017, 359pp., ISBN 978–1–78478–043–2), Adam Greenfield examines the technologies that are remaking our everyday lives in late capitalism. Greenfield’s account is engaging and deeply thought-provoking, highlighting the importance to social theory of an engagement with the concrete technologies that populate our lives. Greenfield provides a primer to some of the technologies that we frequently hear will change our lives and/or disrupt capitalism. Successive chapters here deal with the smartphone, the internet of things, augmented reality, digital fabrication, cryptocurrencies, blockchains, automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.


Christy Kulz’s Factories for Learning (2017, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 208pp., ISBN: 978–1–5261–1619–2) is an ethnographic study of a class, race, and social mobility in a London academy. It offers a critical analysis of the ‘mobility mythology’ that drives that academy’s success and that is often offered as the ideological justification for the academy project. Paul Willis’ Learning to Labour (1977) is an obvious point of reference. Willis investigates a specific group of ‘lads’ who form the school’s counterculture, and how they respond to the efforts of their teachers to impose discipline and impart knowledge. His main interest is, in…


2017 was a strong year for podcasts. Although the medium is yet to reproduce the mainstream success of the first season of Serial, this year saw the release of a wide range of high quality and listenable content. Two networks in particular, Gimlet (Crimetown, Homecoming, Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty, Reply All) and Radiotopia (99% Invisible, Criminal, Ear Hustle, Song Exploder), came out with a lot of successful and critically-appreciated content, while a number of ‘traditional’ media outlets (from the BBC to the FT and the New York Times) launched new podcast offerings.

Podcasting is an intimate…

George Hoare

New book: ‘The End of the End of History’ (https://tinyurl.com/5bkdxyfz) | georgehoare.com

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