Democracy, assemblies and environment policy

This article builds on a talk at Eco-cultures: Glasgow’s Festival of Environmental Research, Policy and Practice. It was in a round table session entitled Routes for collaborative research and activism in Scottish policy-making. The speakers were Patrick Harvey, Green MSP; Luke Devlin, Centre for Human Ecology; Penny Cole Assemblies for Democracy and anti-fracking activist; Helen Greene, Researcher in Geology, University of Glasgow. Continue reading

Big Brother is watching Glasgow (with technology tested in Gaza) by Graeme Arnott

In this blog first published on the website of the Scottish Left Project, GRAEME ARNOTT points out the human rights implications of increased surveillance in Scotland, much of it using technology first developed by the Israeli military and tested on Palestinians.

The [Investigatory Powers Bill provides us with] powers that I believe we need, whether on communications data, or on the content of communications, I feel very comfortable these are absolutely right for a modern, liberal democracy.” – David Cameron

In contrast to those who would prefer a revolution without a revolution, radicals are possessed by what Alain Badiou calls the ‘passion of the Real: if you say A – equality, human rights, freedoms – you should have to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A’. But what, if, rather than applying Badiou’s formula to the radical left, we apply it to Cameron’s unrestrained Conservative majority government? If you say A – inequality, loss of human rights, freedom of capital, freedom to privatize, deregulate, and exploit the planet – then you should have to say B – the terror needed to defend and assert the A.’ Then we see that when Jen Stout wrote in an earlier Left Project article that austerity and surveillance are the primary features of unrestrained Tory rule, she wasn’t simply stating an empirical fact about the government’s future policy plans but rightly setting out that both need to be regarded in their proper historical context. Whereas austerity is the unrestrained class war of A, the paranoid surveillance spy-state is the Tory terror that will be used to ensure its success. Continue reading

Digital – a doubled-edged sword

Digital- a double-edged sword powerpoint presentation

Digital: A double-edged sword
Graeme Arnott’s presentation in Glasgow

The title of my talk today is ‘Digital: A double-edged sword’. I’m grateful to the Working Group for the Assemblies for Democracy Scotland for providing the opportunity to give this talk and to Penny Cole for suggesting the talk’s title, which some of you will no doubt recognise as a Gramscian conception of literacy. Gramsci considered literacy to be a double-edged sword in that it can be used for the purpose of social empowerment and for the reproduction of repression and domination. And that raises the question about how we, as democrats, handle this sword in a digital age, and particularly with regard to the governmental release of data in digital form. The talk is in two parts but it would be simplistic to think that the double-edge of the sword is some sort of binary between good bits of digital (open data) and bad bits of digital (CCTV, for example). The double-edged sword is a much more complicated weapon than it might initially appear to be. Continue reading