Tuesday 30th January
Money, Wealth and a Society of Abundance with Mike Neary
In this talk, based on Karl Marx’s theory of Capital, Mike Neary explored the social life of money and how it has come to establish itself as the predominant social force. A part of this exploration is to reveal its real nature: as capitalist money, through an account of the significance of labour for capitalist society. Mike suggested another from of society where money and labour are not dominant, grounded in the satisfaction of needs and capacities: a society of abundance.
Tuesday 13th February
Neoliberalism- we’ve all heard it used, often with contempt, but what does it actually mean? How is it different to that other often-used, rarely-understood word: liberalism? And why does it matter, anyway?
We talked about the neoliberal project, how, from the 70’s onwards, it has radically changed society, economics and politics, with its full-frontal assault on the ideas of collectivism, social solidarity and state provision, what this means for our own lived experiences and what we can do about it. Issues raised included mental health, schools and education, and democracy.
28th November, 7pm at Mint Lane
Next session will be a practical look at land value tax, via The Landlord’s Game & Prosperity, games designed by the feisty and fascinating Elizabeth Magie.
Take a listen to this super-short reading – Kate Raworth giving a brief history of monopoly – read or listen here: https://aeon.co/ideas/monopoly-was-invented-to-demonstrate-the-evils-of-capitalism
Intrigued? More recommended reading:
Kate Raworth – Doughnut Economics (currently available from Lincoln Central Library, who helpfully bought this book for us!) http://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/
You’ll find a variety of boards and rules for early versions here: http://landlordsgame.info/
Social Housing and Homelessness in Lincoln (Lucy)
Discussion Notes: 14 November 2017 at Mint Lane, Lincoln
Reading: chapter 1 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Friere
Scholars present: Lucy, Phil, Mike, Louise, Eddie, Laura, Meredith, Sarah, Fen
Lucy offered to guide a facilitated discussion on Homelessness in relation to Chapter 1 of Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972), and with honesty, explained that when working as a Homelessness Support Worker was often frustrated that the role made her feel part of the problem rather than the solution. Unfortunately, this was because when trying to assist the homeless she also felt like an oppressor through ensuring they ‘complied’ with the defined (and punitive) supported housing rules, thus clearly identifying with Friere’s proposition of false charity. This unlocked a much
wider and diverse dialogue. Some of the key points and perspectives freely presented by scholars are summarised below:
Are we all part of the system anyway?
We can only be engaged with the reality that we are in… we can work and live within/without the system… we have choice, we are privileged to choose – we acknowledge that others do not have choice
There is always the possibility of hope… our frustration should not stop our perseverance to change the system
How we are educated (inculcated) via the system reinforces the system. Ditto being ‘treated’ by the NHS
There is alternative education – Freire’s purpose in educating peasants (Mike kindly gave useful insight in to Freire’s background and his lifelong determination to educate the oppressed, and ultimately the oppressors).
The current system constrains our abilities to offer help: employees “up against the wall”, “gagged by funders”
Oppression of workers in UK – are trade unions part of the problem? Are they bullies?
Elsewhere (non-UK) appears to have better cooperation between trade unions and employers
UK is poor relation – lack of labour, skills, worker’s right, zero hours contracts adds to causation of homelessness
Important to recognise the principle of trade unions – what brings them together = collective purpose
Identification of Squatting/Travelling movement as real self-organisation/help – creative pooling of resources
What is the definition of ‘Homelessness’? Does it have meaning? – defined by government (system)
Homeless/homelessness demonised; abetted by media perception: serves the system’s purpose?
Statistics report significant rise in homelessness – Universal Credit (UC) will make it worse
UC is a deliberately designed sanction to create forced employment – made to work therefore conform
Leads back to Freire’s perspective of Dehumanisation – work is part of the system = prostitution
Work equals humiliation, and is further entrenched and measured through work based appraisals
Creating temporary autonomous zones (i.e. alternative free festivals) offers fresh perspectives for the oppressed
Exilic Communities – mutual aid/liberation. See ‘Living on the Edges of Capitalism’ (Grubacic & O’Hearn, 2016)
See ‘Riot. Strike. Riot. The New Era of Uprisings’ (Clover, 2016). Undoing professionalism: hierarchical arrogance
Solution: our refusal to work – value comes from human labour – system requires surplus value to survive
Growth is essential for the system. When growth can not be met, it begins to asset strip, moves production out
Counteract by right to strike – withdrawal of labour; system would react by enforcing war to recreate status quo
We need to make a leap of faith. Consider occupation and cooperation to find alternative solutions
Work with the system to influence new housing projects which do not put property in landlord ownership
Better tenancy rights. More social housing. There should not be limitations who can access housing
Housing not allocated through the lens of the deserving and undeserving. ‘Ownership’ should be communal
Can we occupy the commons? There are alternative ways of living/being. Home ownership creates divisions
Follow Freire’s proposition – strive to make a difference through educating and learning – seek objectivity
Who is really homeless? Should we give money to the homeless/beggars? Opinions divided
Notes by Fen
Tuesday 5th December, 7pm Involve Centre, Mint Lane
Distress in a city: racism, fundamentalism and a psychosocial imagination
Professor Linden West, Canterbury Christ Church University
The lecture draws on my recent book to explore the diverse problems of a post-industrial city – Stoke, where I was born – taken as representative of many similar communities across the Western world (West, 2016). Using auto/biographical narrative research, I have chronicled the diverse stories people tell, in different ethnic communities, including the stories of those attracted to racist organisations and religious fundamentalism, and even to Jihad. There is also widespread resentment among the white working class at the failures and judgementalism of political, economic and cultural elites, which found expression in support for the BNP, EDL, UKIP, and the vote for Brexit.
The rise of racism in white working class communities, and of Islamophobia, is mirrored by pockets of Islamic fundamentalism in predominantly Muslim communities. Processes of social, cultural and intergenerational fragmentation, and the crisis of multiculturalism, connect with rapid economic decline, a malfunctioning representative democracy, an epidemic of mental illness and the decline of public space, all located within a more individualised, social Darwinist culture. To understand these dynamics requires, I suggest, an interdisciplinary psychosocial imagination, reaching back to the Chicago School of Sociology and forward to a more holistic appreciation of the importance of recognition in human well-being, encompassing intimate, psychological and socio-cultural worlds, and drawing on the insights of psychoanalysis and critical theory.
I will also refer to historical as well as contemporary research (West, 2017) to illuminate where resources of hope lie, which includes the past and potential role of universities in building a more democratised, inclusive and cooperative learning culture.
West L (2016) Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and democratic education.
West, L. (2017) Resisting the enormous condescension of posterity: Richard Henry Tawney, Raymond Williams and the long struggle for a democratic education. International Journal of Lifelong Education. Special issue, The Learning Adult. 36, 1 &2, 129-144.
Honneth, A. (2009) Pathologies of reason: on the legacy of critical theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rose, J. (2010) The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. 2nd Edn. New York: Yale University Press.
Professor Linden West works at Canterbury Christ Church University, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is the author of many books and articles, derived from auto/biographical narrative enquiry, and using an interdisciplinary psychosocial theoretical framing. The books include Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education; Doctors on the edge: healing and learning in the inner city; and Beyond Fragments, adults, motivation and higher education, a biographical analysis. He co-authored Using biographical methods in social research with Barbara Merrill and co-edited Psychoanalysis and Education, Minding a Gap, with Alan Bainbridge. He jointly co-ordinates a European Life History and Biography Research Network and is a registered psychoanalytical psychotherapist.
Here’s the reading for our next session in our new course on Housing & the Built Environment: Building Pro-sociality, with David McAleavey and Karolina Szynalska. 7pm at Mint Lane.
The new course kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday 17th October). It’s a great time for new members to come and join us at Mint Line Involve Centre, to introduce yourself, find out more about the SSC and forthcoming sessions & events, and help shape the coming course!