In his well-known poem “Mending Wall” (1914), Robert Frost effectively depicted the act of walling:
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Brazil is at a critical juncture. Improvements in social welfare that have been achieved over the past two decades threaten to recede as the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT) is removed from power. Yet the goods that have been objects of Brazil’s various social programs recede and persist in different ways. Once given, some things are harder to take away.
Unsettled by Donald Trump’s bigotry and xenophobia, liberal pundits have struggled to understand his improbable anointment as the nominee of the Republican party. Many have sought answers in the experience and behavior of the white-working class, the bedrock of Trump support. Why, asks the New Yorker’s James Surolecki, would any working class person support Trump. Surolecki believes that part of the answer lies in the appeal of Trump’s nativist rhetoric. For William Galston, writing in Newsweek, working class whites vote for Trump because they “seek protection against all the forces that they perceive as hostile to their way of life—foreign people, foreign goods, foreign ideas.” And wary of Trump backers and their potential for violence if the Republicans lose the presidency, Salon’s Michael Bourne locates white working class anger in “1960s-era legislation for promoting the interests of immigrants and minorities over their own, just as they blame free-trade policies of both parties for sending their jobs offshore.” According to Bourne, they are either the hapless “victims of American progress or a bunch of over privileged bigots.”
The conference “Elections in central and southern Africa, dynamics of exclusion and participation,” at SOAS on 26 June 2015, prompts me to some personal reflections. Elections in central and southern Africa are marked by a paradoxical dynamic of participation and exclusion. Ostensible rituals of mass participation and of legitimation by civil power, electoral processes in the countries of the region have often made recourse to forms of exclusionary violence during campaigns. This is not, of course, unique—elections in Africa should not be seen as sui generis events. This exclusionary dynamic is well understood as a regional variant on a wider theme.
In 2013, Fagor Electrodomésticos, the home appliance division of the world-renowned Mondragón cooperative group, declared bankruptcy. The announcement disheartened coop advocates who consider Mondragón the most successful worker-owned enterprise in the world.
The literature on sustainable livelihoods in the field of development studies emphasizes the importance of fostering diverse sources of income for economic entities like individuals, families, and communities (Chambers and Conway 1992). Especially in rural areas, economic actors often cope with shocks and stresses by spreading their bets, using different forms of capital (such as human, economic, and physical) to produce specific livelihood strategies (Scoones 1998: 6–8). Some (see O’Brien Bernini 2015) have recognized the relevance of this approach to music making. Continue reading
The electoral win of Syriza in Greece substantiates cross-European objections to austerity. Contrary to recurrent warnings that have for years emphasized how Syriza’s electoral victory would jeopardize Greece’s future in Europe and plunge the economy further into crisis, the first weeks in government underline that Syriza’s rise to power may be just what was needed to return the political to European politics. People across Europe now go beyond mere solidarity with Greek efforts, as they call for collective action to revisit the question of how to deal with fiscal policies and indebted nations. The call is for people to come before profit, not a centralized subordination of policies to a very particular economic calculus and to technocratic power.