John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for November, 2018

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The Beatles’ White Album captured the spirit of ’68, but it’s right for 2018 too | John Harris

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

The Beatles’ epic creation reflected the political darkness and disquiet of the time, which gives it surprising resonance today

Two months remain of 2018 – but if you view some of the events of this strange, volatile year from a certain angle, it might just as well be 1968. In the US, social and political divisions suggest a replay of tensions that exploded at the time of the Vietnam war, with a paranoid and unhinged president only heightening the similarities. Two weeks ago, African-American former athlete Tommie Smith was pictured recreating the clenched-fist salute that caused such controversy at the ’68 Olympics; today’s US athletes take the knee.

Across the west, there is rising anxiety – and no little deja vu – about Russia interfering in affairs beyond its borders. Earlier this year, student protests and strikes by railway workers and pilots in France triggered comparisons with the unrest that had gripped the country 50 years before. On and on the echoes go: the reactionary prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has told his followers that if next year’s European parliament elections go the way he wants, they will say “goodbye not simply to liberal democracy … but to the 1968 elite”.

Related: The spirit of 1968 rises again: can French students and workers triumph?

Related: Jesse Jackson on Martin Luther King’s assassination: ‘It redefined America’

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Tell us about the things you do that represent non-capitalist living

Monday, November 5th, 2018

From freecycling to volunteering, we’d like to hear about the things you do that go against the capitalist and consumerist grain

“Most of us would say, if asked, that we live in a capitalist society, but vast amounts of how we live our everyday lives – our interactions with and commitments to family lives, friendships, avocations, membership in social, spiritual and political organisations – are in essence non capitalist or even anticapitalist, full of things we do for free, out of love and on principle.”

The words are taken from Hope In The Dark, the massively influential book by the writer and activist Rebecca Solnit, and they go straight to the heart of something too often overlooked: the way that, in the midst of a culture too often reducible to shopping and spending, millions of people regularly do things that go against the capitalist and consumerist grain – volunteering, freecycling, making and growing their own stuff, sustaining large and small relationships that have nothing to do with money-making. In the digital era, moreover, these activities have another political element, albeit with a small ‘p’: emphasising human contact over screentime.

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