John Harris

Journalist & Author

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The Tories are savaging libraries – and closing the book on social mobility | John Harris

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Since 2010, more than 478 libraries have closed in England, Wales and Scotland. It’s the old Tory con: talk up advancement, then attack the institutions that make it possible

If they weren’t already here, we’d have to invent them: public spaces, crammed with books, computers and information points, where events and meetings regularly take place, and children in particular get an early taste of the world beyond their own immediate experience.

Related: The UK no longer has a national public library system | Laura Swaffield

Related: No one needs libraries any more? What rubbish | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

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Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake: ‘You can’t avoid homelessness in Manchester. It touched us both’

Monday, December 11th, 2017

When the musician and the actor met in 2014, they ‘clicked straight away’, bonding over a mission to bring back socially conscious art. They talk about shamanic rock stars, working-class guilt and how their spoken-word album about homelessness strives to be a modern Cathy Come Home

Back in the autumn of 2014, Johnny Marr was about to release his second solo album, go on tour and get down to writing his autobiography. Maxine Peake, meanwhile, was playing Hamlet in a feverishly received production at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester. Marr had seen her in the film Keeping Rosy and enthused to an interviewer about the rarity of a “British suspense movie”. He added that she was “a good advertisement for British actors”. Peake sent him a thank-you letter – written on paper and put in the post.

Some time later, they arranged to meet in a city-centre cafe. “I still remember being stood outside where we were meeting,” she says now, “being on the phone to my fella – and, literally, there were beads of sweat on my top lip. I said: ‘I’ll probably only be 15 minutes.’ And then five hours later, I emerged.”

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Airbnb, Uber, eBay: in this intangible world workers must adapt to survive | John Harris

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

As the old forms of physical production fall away, the future looks bright for those who reinvent themselves – and ominous for those who can’t

As descriptions of capitalism go, it’s surely one of the best ever written: poetic, urgent, and as much to do with metaphysics as economics. According to the Communist Manifesto: “Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.” And then the kicker: “All that is solid melts into air.”

Related: Amazon is running its own hunger games – and all the players will be losers | Jathan Sadowski and Karen Gregory

Extend the notion of intangibles into questions of culture, and you have a key to what is unsettling western societies

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Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world? | John Harris

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

The Facebook chief executive doesn’t need to become US president. He is already way too powerful for that

The question is almost a year old, and not currently being asked in quite the feverish way it was over the summer. But let’s try it again: could Mark Zuckerberg run for US president? The founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook began 2017 by announcing his latest “challenge”: a pledge to visit the 30 US states he had never spent time in before, which has now been achieved. Along the way, he has made a point of meeting Trump voters, sampling the mood in post-industrial backwaters, and seeing at first hand evidence of his country’s opioid crisis. He now talks about the importance of community, and the need for his generation to find a collective sense of purpose, rather suggesting the leading actor in a school play about Bobby Kennedy.

Related: If Mark Zuckerberg runs for president, will Facebook help him win? | Katherine Haenschen

Related: Mark Zuckerberg says change the world, yet he sets the rules | Carole Cadwalladr

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Do we really want Mark Zuckerberg to run the world? | John Harris

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

The Facebook chief executive doesn’t need to become US president. He is already way too powerful for that

The question is almost a year old, and not currently being asked in quite the feverish way it was over the summer. But let’s try it again: could Mark Zuckerberg run for US president? The founder, chairman and CEO of Facebook began 2017 by announcing his latest “challenge”: a pledge to visit the 30 US states he had never spent time in before, which has now been achieved. Along the way, he has made a point of meeting Trump voters, sampling the mood in post-industrial backwaters, and seeing at first hand evidence of his country’s opioid crisis. He now talks about the importance of community, and the need for his generation to find a collective sense of purpose, rather suggesting the leading actor in a school play about Bobby Kennedy.

Related: If Mark Zuckerberg runs for president, will Facebook help him win? | Katherine Haenschen

Related: Mark Zuckerberg says change the world, yet he sets the rules | Carole Cadwalladr

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