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Radicals in Conversation
'Radicals in Conversation' is a monthly podcast from Pluto Press, one of the world’s leading independent, radical publishers.
Sep 27, 2021
Fighting for Climate Justice and a People‘s Green New Deal
Throughout 2021 we have witnessed a number of devastating and deeply disturbing extreme weather events across the globe. From flooding and forest fires, to soaring temperatures, it is abundantly clear that global warming is accelerating faster than anticipated, and our window of opportunity to combat its worst effects is shrinking commensurately. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) takes place in Glasgow at the end of October, but many of us would question whether the process is capable of delivering the radical emissions reductions we need in the timescale required, or indeed if any process so dominated by the rich nations of the global north is likely to result in an agreement that has the principles of climate justice at its core. Training our gaze elsewhere, this month we consider the framework of the Green New Deal, in its myriad formations: from largely status-quo visions of green capitalism, to the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez GND resolution, to more radical programmes founded on the principles of anti-imperialism, agroecology, and just transition. Joining us on the panel are: Max Ajl, author of A People’s Green New Deal; Chris Saltmarsh, author of Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice; and Adrienne Buller, a Senior Research Fellow at Common Wealth, and author of the forthcoming book The Value of a Whale: On the Delusions of Green Capitalism (Manchester University Press, 2022).
Aug 31, 2021
In May 2021, Pluto published a new edited collection from Jules Joanne Gleeson and Elle O’Rourke, titled Transgender Marxism. The book offers a groundbreaking synthesis of transgender studies and Marxist theory. Exploring trans lives and movements, the collection’s contributors delve into the experiences of surviving as transgender under capitalism. They explore the pressures, oppression and state persecution faced by trans people living in capitalist societies, their tenuous positions in the workplace and the home, and give a powerful response to right-wing scaremongering against ‘gender ideology’. Joining us on the panel to discuss the themes of the book, are: Jules Joanne Gleeson, a writer, comedian and historian who has published essays in outlets including Viewpoint Magazine, Invert Journal and VICE. She has performed internationally at a wide range of communist and queer cultural events, and is co-editor of Transgender Marxism; and Farah Thompson, a Black, bisexual trans woman who lives in San Diego. She advocates for anti-imperialism, LGBT rights, decriminalisation of drug use and sex work, and self-determination of Black and colonised peoples. Farah is the author of one of the book’s chapters, titled ‘The Bridge Between Gender and Organising’. Listeners of Radicals in Conversation can get an exclusive 50% off Transgender Marxism through plutobooks.com. Just enter the coupon PODCAST at the checkout.
1 hr 9 min
Jul 27, 2021
Gypsies, Roma and Travellers: The Policing Bill and Institutional Racism
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a far-reaching piece of legislation that would, if passed into law, result in an enormous and unprecedented extension of policing powers, severely curtailing the right to peaceful protest. Over the summer, many people have taken to the streets in #KilltheBill protests to voice their opposition and alarm. One aspect of the Policing bill that is perhaps less discussed is the manner in which it will specifically threaten Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. In this episode we look at the histories, identities and lived realities of GRT people in Britain today, and the ways in which anti-GRT racism is already manifested institutionally. This episode is structured in two parts. Firstly we have an interview with Jo Clement, Managing Editor and Creative Director of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine. Jo is also a Roma Gypsy and a member of the Drive2Survive team - a grassroots campaign against Section 4 of the Policing Bill, that threatens Gypsy, Roma and Traveller life in Britain. In the second part of the show we are joined on the panel for a more in-depth discussion with two fantastic guests: Luke Smith, a Romani-Gypsy activist and founder of GRT Socialists; and Ben Smoke, Politics Editor at Huck magazine, and one of the Stansted 15.
1 hr 5 min
Jun 23, 2021
Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism
'Work hard, get paid.' It's simple. Self-evident. But it's also a lie - at least for most of us. For people today, the old assumptions are crumbling; hard work in school no longer guarantees a secure, well-paying job in the future. Far from a gateway to riches and fulfillment, 'work' means precarity, anxiety and alienation. Discussing everything from the history of work under capitalism, to social reproduction and the trade union movement, our panel are: Amelia Horgan, author of Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism; Sarah Jaffe, a reporting fellow at Type Media Center and the author of Work Won't Love You Back; and Orlando Lazar, a political theorist and college lecturer at the University of Oxford, whose research focuses on power and domination at work.
Jun 9, 2021
Dark Academia: How Universities Die
Content warning: suicide Academia was once thought of as the best job in the world - a career that fosters autonomy, craft, intrinsic job satisfaction and vocational zeal. And yet you would be hard-pressed to find a lecturer who believes that now. Indeed, there’s a strong correlation between the marketisation and commercialisation of higher education over the last 30 years and the psychological hell now endured by its staff and students. In his new book, Dark Academia: How Universities Die, Peter Fleming delves beyond the glossy brochures of smiling students, and lingering misconceptions of intellectual life in the ivory tower, into the hidden underbelly of the neoliberal university. It is a world dogged by mental illness and self-harm, authoritarian managerialism, students as consumers and ever-more competitive individualism which casts a dark sheen of alienation over departments. We are joined on the panel by Peter Fleming and Simon Lilley, Professor of Information and Organisation at the University of Leicester’s School of Management.
May 13, 2021
'Border Nation' and the Case for Abolition
Borders are more than geographical lines - they impact all our lives, whether it's the inhumanity of deportations, or a rise in racist attacks in the wake of the EU referendum. Border Nation, the new book by Leah Cowan, shows how oppressive borders must be resisted. Laying bare the web of media myths that vilify migrants, Leah dives into the murky waters of corporate profiteering from borders by companies like G4S, and the ramping up of everyday borders through legislation. She looks at their colonial origins, and explores how a draconian approach to border crossings damages our communities. This month we are joined on the show by Leah, for a discussion all about borders: their history, whose interests they serve, and how people are actively resisting them today. We also talk about the compelling case for border abolition. Find out more about the book: https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745341071/border-nation/ Listen to the unabridged version of the podcast: https://www.patreon.com/plutopress
Mar 23, 2021
Empire's Endgame: Racism and the British State
We are in a moment of profound overlapping crises. The landscape of politics and entitlement is being rapidly remade. As movements against colonial legacies and state violence coincide with the rise of authoritarian regimes, it is the lens of racism, and the politics of race, that offers the sharpest focus. The 'hostile environment' and the fallout from Brexit have, over the last few years, thrown the centrality of race into sharp relief, and yet discussions around racism have too often continued to focus on individual behaviours. Empire’s Endgame foregrounds instead the wider political and economic context, and the authors trace the ways in which the legacies of empire have been reshaped by global capitalism, the digital environment and the instability of the nation-state. We are joined on the show this month by four of the co-authors of Empire's Endgame - Gargi Bhattacharyya, Sita Balani, Nadine El-Enany and Luke de Noronha. Our discussion covers the state's deployment of racialised 'folk devils', the persistent allure of nationalism, a collective longing for authoritarian state intervention and the role of gender and sexuality in how the performance and functions of the state. Find out more about the book: https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745342047/empires-endgame/ Listen to the unabridged version of the podcast: https://www.patreon.com/plutopress
Feb 22, 2021
Where Grieving Begins: Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb
In the early hours of the morning of the 12th October 1984, a bomb exploded in the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Five people were killed and many more were injured. The bombing was an attempt by the Provisional IRA to kill the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and her cabinet. Patrick Magee, the man responsible for planting the bomb, was eventually apprehended, put on trial and imprisoned. He was released in 1999, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. The following year he met Jo Berry, the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry MP, one of the 5 people killed at Brighton. The conversation they started at their first meeting had a profound impact on both of them, and it has continued ever since. Their ongoing dialogue, and their friendship, is now more than 20 years in the making, and an extraordinary example of what is possible, even in the face of profound differences, when there is a genuine commitment to honesty, inclusion and dialogue. This month Pluto publishes Patrick Magee’s memoir, Where Grieving Begins: Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb. The book recounts the influences and events of Patrick's life, reflecting on his motivations and the political context in which he acted; on armed struggle, the peace process and the legacies of the conflict. The book’s foreword is written by Jo Berry. This month we're joined on the show by Patrick Magee and Jo Berry, to talk about the Troubles, the Brighton Bomb and healing the wounds left by the conflict. --- Building Bridges for Peace: http://buildingbridgesforpeace.org/
1 hr 36 min
Jan 27, 2021
The Truth About Modern Slavery
In 2019, over 10,000 possible victims of slavery were found in the UK. From men working in Sports Direct warehouses for barely any pay, to teenaged Vietnamese girls trafficked into small town nail bars, we're told that modern slavery is all around us, operating in plain sight. But is this really slavery, and is it even a new phenomenon? Why has the British Conservative Party called it 'one of the great human rights issues of our time', when they usually ignore the exploitation of those at the bottom of the economic pile? In January 2021, Pluto published a new book by writer and activist, Emily Kenway, called The Truth About Modern Slavery, in which she reveals how modern slavery has been created as a political tool by those in power. We are joined on the podcast this month by Emily Kenway; Ella Cockbain, Associate Professor in Security and Crime Science at University College London, and author of Offender and Victim Networks in Human Trafficking; and Molly Smith, co-author with Juno Mac of Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights. The unabridged version of this podcast is available via patreon.com/plutopress --- Kalayaan - Justice for Migrant Domestic Workers kalayaan.org.uk SWARM - Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement swarmcollective.org
Dec 15, 2020
Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine
For decades we have spoken of the 'Israel-Palestine conflict', but what if our understanding and framing of the issue has been wrong all along? That’s the argument of a new book published in January 2021, Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine. Joining us in conversation this month is the author, Jeff Halper, former Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a founding member of the One Democratic State (ODS) Campaign. We discuss the characteristics of a settler-colonial project, the unfeasibility of a two-state solution, Palestinian refugees' right to return, and the ODS campaign's call for a decolonial approach and a single democratic state. The unabridged version of this podcast is available via patreon.com/plutopress --- Find out more: onestatecampaign.org plutobooks.com/9780745343396/decolonizing-israel-liberating-palestine/
Oct 31, 2020
The Brutish Museums: Decolonisation and the Benin Bronzes
Walk into any European museum today and you will see the curated spoils of Empire. They sit behind plate glass: dignified, tastefully lit. Accompanying pieces of card offer a name, date and place of origin. They do not mention that the objects are all stolen. Few artefacts embody this history of rapacious and extractive colonialism better than the Benin Bronzes - a collection of thousands of brass plaques and carved ivory tusks depicting the history of the Royal Court of the Obas of Benin City, Nigeria. Pillaged during a British naval attack in 1897, the loot was passed on to Queen Victoria, the British Museum and countless private collections. Now, more than 120 years later, the story of the Benin Bronzes sits at the heart of a heated debate about cultural restitution, repatriation and the decolonisation of museums. In November, Pluto releases a new book on the subject, The Brutish Museums by Dan Hicks, in which he makes a powerful case for the urgent return of such objects, as par…
Sep 30, 2020
Workers Resisting Amazon
Amazon is the most powerful corporation on the planet. Now with a net worth in excess of $200 billion dollars, its CEO, Jeff Bezos, has become the richest person in history, and one of the few people to profit from the global pandemic. Amazon’s dominance is so profound that it has reshaped the global economy itself: we now live in the age of 'Amazon Capitalism'. Servicing the expansion of its e-commerce empire, Amazon has in turn become one of the world's largest logistics companies as well, and its highly profitable Amazon Web Services (AWS) now accounts for more than half the world’s public cloud infrastructure market. Covering some of the corporation’s uniquely troubling facets - including automation, surveillance and the disruption of local democracy - we also discuss Amazon workers' resistance and organising over issues such as pay and working conditions, and developing networks of international solidarity. On the panel are: Jake Alimahomed-Wilson, Professor of Sociology…
Aug 18, 2020
Vagabonds and the Revenge of Capitalism
A global pandemic; the onset of a massive economic crisis; and the reinvigoration of a powerful social movement for racial justice - these are just some of the seismic events that have defined 2020, a year that still has several months to run, and yet already has few historical parallels. In July, Pluto launched a new series of short books, 'Vagabonds'. Intended as radical pamphlets to fan the flames of discontent, these books delve into the urgent questions of healthcare, racial injustice and capitalism in crisis, that have come to define 2020. This month we speak to two people who have been instrumental in the creation of Vagabonds: Max Haiven, Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice at Lakehead University in Canada, and director of the ReImagining Value Action Lab (RiVAL). Max is the series editor for Vagabonds and his most recent book is Revenge Capitalism: The Ghosts of Empire, the Demons of Capital, and the Settling of Unpayable Debts (Pluto, 2020). Cassie Thornto…
Jul 10, 2020
A People's History of Tennis
Pristine lawns, tennis whites, strawberries and cream - tennis is synonymous with the upper echelons of society, but scratch beneath the surface and you'll quickly discover a different history, one of untold struggles on and off the courts. From the birth of modern tennis in Victorian Britain to the present day, A People's History of Tennis lays bear struggles around sexuality, gender, race and class that have transformed the nature of tennis and sport itself. In this episode of Radicals in Conversation, we speak to David Berry, author of A People's History of Tennis; Emily Bootle, Editorial Assistant at the New Statesman; David Cohen, Investigations and Campaigns Editor at the London Evening Standard; and Niek van der Spek from Smashing Pink Tennis Club in Amsterdam, Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ tennis club. --- Podcast listeners can buy A People's History of Tennis with 50% off, via plutobooks.com/podcastreading. Use the coupon 'PODCAST' at the checkout. The full, unabridged version…
Jul 1, 2020
The New Intellectuals: The Rise of the Right in Latin America
In this episode, Jordan T. Camp speaks with popular educator Stephanie Weatherbee Brito about the rightwing turn in Latin America and its connection to U.S. and imperial interests in the region.
Jun 24, 2020
Pandemic Solidarity: Mutual Aid during the Covid-19 Crisis
'Mutual aid, solidarity and commoning become most visible during periods of deep crisis. This is when the structures of the state and of capitalist markets not only fail to address the emergency situation, but they often show their complicity in making it worse. When solidarity is revealed to the majority as the practice that makes a difference, it is as if society en masse were to whisper in our ear its desire to evolve: "I want to evolve, I want to evolve, but my evolution depends on you," says society. And again: "Make this relational care embedded in solidarity the new gravitational point around which a new world is built."' - Massimo de Angelis This month we are joined by three contributors to the new book, Pandemic Solidarity, about which the above words were written. The book brings together a collection of stories from around the world, revealing what an alternative society could look like, post-pandemic, and what skills and relationships we need in order to create that societ…
Jun 1, 2020
The New Intellectuals: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi
This month Jordan T. Camp talks to actor and director Sudhanva Deshpande about his new book, Halla Bol: The Death and Life of Safdar Hashmi (LeftWord Books).
May 18, 2020
Hidden San Francisco
This month we join San Francisco-based historian, tour guide and author Chris Carlsson in a discussion centered around his new book, Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes and Radical Histories (Pluto, 2020). Chris is in conversation with fellow historians Nicole Meldahl, Liam O'Donoghue and LisaRuth Elliott. They discuss the genesis of the Shaping San Francisco project in the '90s, what it means to engage in 'history from below', the power of podcasting, how to do oral history, and why you should interview your family. They also highlight some of the key grassroots movements in the city's history: from the Save the Bay and Anti-Freeway movements, to the successful 1950's campaign to stop a nuclear power plant being built on the San Andreas fault. --- Podcast listeners can buy Hidden San Francisco with 50% off, via plutobooks.com/podcastreading. Use the coupon 'PODCAST' at the checkout. The full, unabridged version of this episode is available exclusively…
May 1, 2020
The New Intellectuals: The Civil War in the United States
Jordan T. Camp is joined by historian Andrew Zimmerman to discuss his edited volume of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' writings, The Civil War in the United States (International Publishers).
Apr 16, 2020
'Split: Class Divides Uncovered' with Ben Tippet, Grace Blakeley and Emily Scurrah
Covid-19 has thrown the idea of class, and class society, into sharp relief, ridiculing many of our economic system’s foundational premises - for one, the idea that as a worker, your pay cheque is a reflection of your value to society. Facing the possibility of economic collapse and a new great recession, the overton window has shifted dramatically on state intervention in the economy, the value of public services, and the credibility of ideas such as universal basic income. But how is the current crisis likely to shift the balance of power between capital and labour? How can working people build class power amidst the lockdown? And how can we express meaningful solidarity, at the community, national and international level? In our latest episode of Radicals in Conversation, these questions are foregrounded, amidst a wider discussion of the meaning of class today. Joining us on the panel are Ben Tippet, author of Split: Class Divides Uncovered; Grace Blakeley, author of Stolen: How…
Apr 2, 2020
The New Intellectuals: Race for Profit
In the first episode of The New Intellectuals, Jordan T. Camp's guest is scholar-activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who discusses her new book, Race for Profit: How Banks and Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (University of North Carolina Press, 2019). --- The New Intellectuals is a monthly interview podcast produced for Pluto Press and The People’s Forum. Hosted by author, editor, and TPF director of research, Jordan T. Camp, it features interviews with intellectuals invested in the struggles of the poor, working class, and the dispossessed in North America and the world. Inspired by Antonio Gramsci, it identifies 'new intellectuals' as the authors, scholars, organizers and permanent persuaders of political and social movements.
Mar 16, 2020
'Feminism, Interrupted' with Lola Olufemi, Jade Bentil and Gail Lewis
Celebrating the launch of her new book, Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power, Lola Olufemi guest hosts this month's episode of Radicals in Conversation. She is joined on the panel by Jade Bentil, a black feminist historian and PhD researcher at the University of Oxford, and author of the forthcoming book, Rebel Citizen: A History of Black Women Living, Loving and Resisting (2021); and Gail Lewis, a black feminist and former Reader in Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College. Their discussion covers a range of subjects treated in the book, including the history of black feminist organising, grassroots activism, liberal feminism, sex work, the nation state and state violence, gender, trans and queer life, intersectionality, and art. --- Podcast listeners can get an exclusive discount on Feminism, Interrupted and other books related to this episode, at plutobooks.com/podcastreading.
1 hr 3 min
Feb 17, 2020
Labour: Rebuilding After 2019
The more radical orientation of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership attracted many activists back to the party in 2015. Nearly five years later, with 580,000 registered members, it has become the largest political party in Europe. Yet in spite of this groundswell of grassroots support, the 2019 General Election handed Labour its worst defeat since 1935. Dogged by accusations of antisemitism, attacked for its drifting position on Brexit, and failing to offer a credible, clearly articulated vision through its manifesto, Labour was unable to build on the successes of 2017. The Party clearly needs to reflect on what went wrong, in order to rebuild. With the Corbyn project arguably at an end, and with the leadership contest underway, the big question is 'what needs to happen next?' Joining us to discuss what went wrong in 2019, and what Labour needs to do differently in 2020, are: James Meadway, former advisor to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and former chief economist…
Jan 21, 2020
Unis Resist Border Controls
The ‘hostile environment’ - the anti-migrant policy announced by then-Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012 - has extended border policing into universities, healthcare, schools, and other sectors, forcing workers in those sectors to enforce immigration policy. Within higher education, international students and staff now face regular passport checks, and an obligation to report their exact whereabouts daily or weekly. Unis Resist Border Controls (URBC) is a national campaign made up of British, EU, non-EU, migrant students, lecturers and university workers opposed to Home Office surveillance and border controls on UK campuses. Advocating for free movement and free education, in the belief that all migrants matter, and that borders kill knowledge, URBC has been working to resist these increasingly draconian measures. We are joined this month by Sanaz Raji and Caoimhe Mader McGuinness, from URBC, to talk about the impact of border controls in higher education. --- For an exclusiv…
Dec 2, 2019
Exploring the Radical Politics of James Baldwin
James Baldwin left an indelible mark on the face of Western politics and culture. Novels like Go Tell it on a Mountain, Giovanni’s Room and Another Country were groundbreaking when they were first published in the 1950s and '60s, and Baldwin’s work continues to resonate. The 2018 cinematic release of If Beale Street Could Talk, based on Baldwin's novel of the same name, is the latest testament to his enduring relevance and popularity. Our final episode of the year features Bill V. Mullen, author of James Baldwin: Living in Fire (Pluto, 2019) in conversation with Megan Maxine Williams, a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Purdue University. Bill and Megan explore the evolution of Baldwin's radical politics - expressed both on the page, and in his activism as a public intellectual - and consider his renewed relevance in the context of Black Lives Matter and police violence. They consider his early advocacy of an 'indigenous' socialism in the US, his role in the civil rights mo…
Nov 11, 2019
Rojava and the Kurdish Women's Movement
Few political projects in recent years have been a source of greater hope and inspiration than Rojava - the Kurdish region of north-eastern Syria. Inspired by the political philosophy of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Rojava embodies a radical ecology, direct democracy and a deep commitment to gender equality. Although always threatened by a hostile regional geopolitics, the Kurdish people’s revolutionary social and political experiment finds itself now under renewed bombardment. On 6th October Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from the region, effectively giving the green light to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to invade, under the auspices of creating a buffer zone in which up to a million Syrian refugees who had fled to Turkey might live. Just a few weeks on and hundreds of Kurds have been killed, and hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes. On 2nd November we spoke to two activists from the…
Oct 14, 2019
Sex Education Transformed
There are few subjects more personal, and more political, than sex. Sex education, as it’s taught in school, has always been a source of controversy, and amongst the pupils subjected to it, a great deal of embarrassment as well. But while national contexts may differ, it is perhaps the inadequacy of sex education that emerges as its most defining trait. It is often heteronormative in its assumptions; overly biological in approach. Many young people emerge from formal sex education knowing how to put a condom on a banana, but without a full understanding of what constitutes consent. In March 2017, the UK government ruled that by September 2020, sex and relationship education will be compulsory. But big question marks remain over what it will look like in practice. Joining us this month to discuss how both schools and society could benefit from a radical and inclusive approach to sex education, are: Natalie Fiennes, author of Behind Closed Doors: Sex Education Transformed, Lydia Hu…
Sep 2, 2019
Art the Arms Fair with Peter Kennard
On 10th September one of the world’s largest arms fairs returns to London. The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) will feature hundreds of exhibitors, including many of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers - BAE systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and many more besides. Also attending, at the invitation of the UK government, will be countless national delegations, including those from authoritarian regimes, countries in conflict and countries identified as having major human rights concerns. This is no ordinary industry event, and the arms fair has faced increasing censure and resistance every time it comes to town. In 2017, this resistance took many forms. One of the most exciting was Art the Arms Fair (ATAF) - a volunteer-run gallery, comprised of donated artworks from a diverse array of artists. With an original work by Banksy among the pieces auctioned off, ATAF raised over £200,000 for Campaign Against Arms Trade. This year, as the arms f…
Aug 12, 2019
Queer Tours and Rebel Footprints
History can often feel remote - its subjects separated from us by the barriers of time and geography. And more often than not, those of class, gender, sexuality and race as well. But history doesn’t exist in a silo, and it is hardly remote, if you know where to look. With the prevalence now of People’s History or history-from-below, we have a subject that lives and breathes. And not just in books, but in the architecture around us, the places we meet, and the social movements we build. Nowhere is this intersection of history with geography and with politics more keenly perceptible than right here in London. This month we are joined in the studio by two people whose work uncovers and celebrates the individuals, communities and movements that have shaped the city: David Rosenberg, an educator, tour guide and author of Rebel Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London's Radical History; and Dan Glass, an award-winning activist, mentor, performer and writer, who founded Queer Tours o…
Jul 15, 2019
The last 12 months has seen the unprecedented resurgence of public engagement with green politics. Climate Change - although of course it never actually went away - is back. Extinction Rebellion; Greta Thunberg; the Green New Deal - words that would have failed to register only a year ago have become household names. The urgency with which we need to act in order to prevent the worst effects of runaway global warming is now widely acknowledged. But the big questions remain, of what that action should be. Is a renewable technology revolution adequate, if the logic of market capitalism remains intact? Are we all in this together? Or does the softness of our governments’ emissions reduction targets point to the expendability of those in the Global South? Joining us to discuss the climate crisis, and a vision of climate justice, are: Chaitanya Kumar, Senior Policy Advisor at Green Alliance; Simon Pirani, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and author o…
1 hr 9 min
Jun 12, 2019
In the early hours of the morning on 14th June, 2017, a faulty refrigerator on the 4th floor of Grenfell Tower, situated in the North Kensington area of West London, sparked a fire that quickly grew into an inferno, engulfing the whole building. At least 72 people died - though the number may be higher - and 70 more were injured, as fire fighters attempted to extinguish what was soon to become the deadliest fire in Britain for over a century. But as it transpired in the days and weeks that followed, the fire was no mere tragic, unforeseeable accident: the building had only one stairwell, no sprinklers, and its exterior was encased in a highly flammable cladding material, installed as part of a recent ‘refurbishment’, for no other purpose than to make the tower block more aesthetically pleasing to the borough’s affluent onlookers. In short, the fire, and the terrible extent of its devastation, were the result of a long history of negligence, structural violence and inequality; a…
May 10, 2019
On 18th May, millions of people around the world will tune in to the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest. Last year, Israel’s Netta Barzilai won the competition with the song ‘Toy’, scoring a comfortable 93 point margin over runner-up Cyprus. As a result, Eurovision 2019 broadcasts from Tel Aviv, and in doing so, wades deep into political controversy. Netta’s victory in 2018 was seen by the Israeli government as something of a diplomatic triumph; reinforcing the narrative of Israel’s LGBT and Queer-friendly credentials. But the Palestinian reality of continued occupation and apartheid has not been elided, and accusations of ‘pinkwashing’ and ‘artwashing’ - along with calls to boycott Eurovision - have gained considerable traction in the last few months. Discussing this unlikely flashpoint in the history of the Palestinian struggle and the BDS campaign, we are joined in the studio by Hilary Aked, a London-based writer, researcher and activist, who is currently writin…
Mar 27, 2019
Deportation Charter Flights and the 'Stansted 15'
In March 2017 a group of activists surrounded a plane at Stansted Airport in a peaceful protest, to stop what they believed was the unlawful deportation of 60 people on a charter flight to Ghana and Nigeria. Charged with ‘endangering safety at aerodromes’ - an obscure piece of anti-terror legislation brought in after the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing - the 'Stansted 15' faced maximum possible sentences of life imprisonment. After a protracted and high profile court case they were all found guilty. Sentences were handed down in February 2019 - in the end, all non-custodial. The heavy-handed prosecution of the Stansted 15 feels emblematic of our dark political times. But equally, the group's story shows the importance, and efficacy, of solidarity through direct action. This month we are joined by Lyndsay Burtonshaw and Laura Clayson, two of the Stansted 15. We talk about the government's deportation charter flights, the colonial mentality underpinning the 'hostile environment', and what…
Jan 31, 2019
Healthcare and the Hostile Environment
As the UK hurtles towards the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, the chaos engulfing Parliament has all but eclipsed any other political issue. And yet there are cruelties being enacted through policy that predate the current political crisis, which demand our attention and our resistance. This month we discuss healthcare and the 'hostile environment' - the 'sprawling web,’ as described by Liberty, ‘of immigration controls embedded in the heart of our public services and communities.’ Covering the Windrush scandal, privatisation, and the impact of Brexit, we unpick the policies and hear the stories of the people most affected by them. We are joined in the studio by three guests who are all working at the intersection of healthcare, human rights and the ‘hostile environment’: Guppi Kaur Bola, Director at Medact; Minnie Rahman, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants; and Bethan Lant, Casework Manager at Praxis Community Projects.…
Dec 6, 2018
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)
On 1st December, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO) was inaugurated as the 58th President of Mexico. A progressive politician often compared to Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, AMLO's campaign for office galvanised people across Mexico. His decisive victory in July speaks volumes about the corrupt state of the Mexican political elite and the temperament of the people, and has potentially huge implications for the country, for the United States, and for the international progressive Left. It remains to be seen, in the coming weeks and months, how much his presidency will mark a rupture, rather than a continuity, with the decline of the ‘pink tide’ in Latin America. Discussing this moment of excitement and hope in Mexico, as well as the realities of the difficult road that lies ahead, we welcome onto the show John Holloway, author of Change the World Without Taking Power and Crack Capitalism among many other books; and Raquel Gutierrez, Professor of Sociology at the Autonomo…
Nov 15, 2018
This September, Pluto relaunched the Left Book Club, a project originally founded by Victor Gollancz in 1936. The aim of the Left Book Club was simple, to popularise ideas of the left and combat the rise of fascism. By the eve of the Second World War, the LBC had reached a membership of nearly 60,000 - with 1,200 reading groups scattered around the country. What made the LBC so necessary in the 1930's are the same things that make its relaunch so important today. In a context of rising ethno-nationalism and an economic system that fuels inequality, we need a space outside the mainstream media that doesn’t simply reinforce the values of the ruling elite and the status quo. Mirroring the story of the LBC, and returning to the fray this Autumn is another revitalised, octogenarian institution of left media: Tribune - Britain’s oldest, democratic socialist publication. This month, we are joined by three members of Tribune's new editorial team: Kheya Bag (Associate Publisher), Owen Ha…
Oct 11, 2018
'Staying Power' with David Olusoga
'There were Africans in Britain before the English came here.' In a special Black History Month episode, we are joined by David Olusoga - a broadcaster, historian and author of many award winning books, including Black and British: A Forgotten History (2017), and Civilisations: First Contact / The Cult of Progress (2018). Celebrating the recent re-publication of Peter Fryer's Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain, we discuss questions of racism and identity; the link between the slave trade and the British Empire; and explore the book's enduring legacy in the context of Brexit and the Windrush scandal. Staying Power was first published in 1984. The new edition, featuring a foreword by Gary Younge and a preface by Paul Gilroy, is available now from plutobooks.com as well as all good bookshops.
Sep 11, 2018
The Housing Crisis
There are over 11 million private renters in the UK, accounting for 20% of all households. For many, life as a tenant is precarious, unsafe and increasingly expensive. Londoners face some of the highest rents in Europe, beholden to a housing market stacked in favour of landlords and investors. But communities and campaigners are fighting back against the many injustices within the housing sector: from social cleansing and gentrification, to deregulation and ‘no fault’ evictions. We are joined in the studio by Katya Nasim, a founding member of the London Renters’ Union, and Becka Hudson, Co-ordinator of the Radical Housing Network, in a conversation about the current housing crisis, dissecting its origins and offering an alternative vision for tenants across the UK.
Aug 8, 2018
Decolonising the University
In 2015, students at the University of Cape Town demanded the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, the imperialist, racist business magnate, from their campus. The battle cry ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ heralded an international movement calling for the decolonisation of the world’s universities. Over the last three years this movement has grown, voicing a radical call for a new era of education, and an end to coloniality both inside and outside the classroom. Unpacking the 'decolonise' framework, and exploring questions of curriculum, neoliberalism and the legacy of empire, we are joined by Gurminder Bhambra, Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies at the University of Sussex, and Dalia Gebrial, a PhD student at the London School of Economics, and an editor at Novara Media, who was formerly involved with the Rhodes Must Fall campaign at Oxford University. Decolonising the University is published on 20th August 2018.
Jul 9, 2018
Today’s global economy relies on the steady flow of goods, products and raw materials around the world. Companies like Amazon have become so massive that they now ship as many as 400 packages per second. But this all depends on the labour of millions of workers in docks, warehouses and logistics centres. If the global supply chain is broken, capitalism grinds to a halt… Discussing the power - both potential and realised - of these logistics workers around the world, we are joined by: Jake Alimahomed-Wilson, Professor of Sociology at California State University, Long Beach, and co-editor of Choke Points: Logistics Workers Disrupting the Global Supply Chain (Pluto, 2018); Katy Fox-Hodess, a lecturer in work, employment, people and organisations at the University of Sheffield; and Kim Moody, a founder of Labor Notes and the author of a number of books on US labour, most recently On New Terrain (Haymarket, 2017).
Jun 6, 2018
Cracks in the Wall - Pluto Live
On 22nd May, we held the first ever 'Pluto Live' event with Ben White and Karma Nabulsi. Hosted by Amnesty International in London, the evening comprised of a wide ranging discussion around the themes of the new book Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel. From the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, to the growing polarisation of US politics over the question of Israel/Palestine, this special episode of Radicals in Conversation explores the emerging 'cracks in the wall' of traditional support for Israel in the Trump era. Recorded shortly after the massacre of protesting Palestinians in Gaza on May 14th, the discussion acknowledges the grim reality on the ground in 2018, as well as reasons for hope.
May 8, 2018
Repeal the 8th
The Republic of Ireland is one of the last places in the EU in which having an abortion remains a criminal offense. Every day, an average of 12 people in Ireland have an abortion - either by travelling to the UK, or through using illegal abortion pills bought online. On 25th May, voters in the Republic will go to the polls in a referendum to decide whether or not to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution, which has kept abortion illegal under almost all circumstances since it was first introduced in 1983. The campaign to 'repeal the eighth' has gained a huge amount of traction across the country in recent months. Just a few weeks ahead of the crucial vote, we invited Maev McDaid, an activist with Alliance for Choice, and Lewis Kenny, a Dublin-based artist and activist, to join us in a discussion about the history of abortion in Ireland, and why a 'yes' vote is so crucial. For more information about the campaign to repeal the eighth, go to: https://www.togetherforyes.ie htt…
Mar 5, 2018
End Immigration Detention
At a time when EU nationals are being deported for sleeping rough; when banks, landlords, schools and even the NHS are deputised in the hunt for 'illegal' immigrants; and when detainees are forced to go on hunger strike to protest the failures and abuses of the Home Office, the issue of immigration has clearly never been more urgent. Chris Browne is joined by Gracie Bradley from Liberty, and Luke Butterly from Right to Remain, in a timely discussion about the UK government's 'hostile environment' policy, the horrors and injustice of the immigration detention system, and the community groups and campaigners who are trying to put an end to it. For more information, and to get involved in the fight to end immigration detention, go to: liberty-human-rights.org.uk/campaigning detention.org.uk
Feb 6, 2018
International Women's Strike
Chris Browne and Emily Orford are joined by special guests Camille Barbagallo and Tithi Bhattacharya, national organisers for the Women's Strike in the UK and US respectively. Focusing on the upcoming International Women's Strike - which takes place on International Women's Day (8th March) - the episode's discussion covers everything from the limitations of 'Lean In' feminism and the January 21st Women's March, to social reproduction theory and #MeToo. For more information about the International Women's Strike go to: https://womenstrike.org.uk/ https://www.womenstrikeus.org/
Dec 14, 2017
Sexual Harassment from Harvey Weinstein to Higher Education
Neda Tehrani is joined by Hareem Ghani, National Union of Students (NUS) Women's Officer, in a discussion about sexual violence and misconduct in higher education. We look at the specific case of universities, and the ongoing Staff-Student Sexual Misconduct Survey being conducted by the NUS, as well as the wider international context of the #MeToo campaign. For more information about the NUS's Sexual Misconduct Survey, go to www.snapsurveys.com.
Nov 17, 2017
We discuss new forms of union organisation undertaken by workers today – and how new types of employment, from zero-hours contracts to the gig economy can actually pave the way for creative, successful forms of organisation. We also discuss the Picturehouse and Deliveroo strikes, (anti-)trade union law, Corbynism and renters’ unions. With special guests Callum Cant, a former Deliveroo rider and organiser from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB); Kelly Rogers, one of the key organisers in the ongoing Picturehouse strike; and Jamie Woodcock, author of Working the Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centres. For more information about the Picturehouse strike, go to: picturehouselivingwage.com
Oct 25, 2017
We talk to special guests Matt Myers, author, and Malia Bouattia, former president on the NUS, about Student Revolt: Voices of the Austerity Generation - a lively oral history of the '2010 Generation', bringing together activists, students, politicians and workers. We discuss the significance of the 2010 student protests and how, seven years later, they continue to reverberate through UK politics - both in Parliament and on the streets.
Oct 4, 2017
Books for Prisoners!
We talk to special guests Charlie Gilmour and Luke Billingham about the importance of reading for prisoners. Luke works for Haven Distribution, a charity that provides books to prisoners, and Charlie spent time in prison after protesting at a student demonstration in 2010. We discuss the politics and the pitfalls of the UK's prison system and how books can 'open windows' to those inside. For more information about the important work Haven does, go to havendistribution.org.uk. CW: suicide
Sep 19, 2017
Voices from the 'Jungle'
This episode features the story of 'Africa' - one of the many people who lived, for a time, in the Calais Refugee Camp - the 'Jungle'. Africa grew up in Sudan. He tells us about his childhood and adolescence as a student in Africa; his journey across two continents, and ultimately about his experiences of life in the 'Jungle'. It is a story of terror and lost dreams, as well as of solidarity and community. The podcast is narrated by Dr Tahir Zaman. Voices from the Jungle: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp is available from plutobooks.com
Sep 6, 2017
Homeless in Cardiff
Tom Hall, the author of Footwork: Urban Outreach and Hidden Lives, reads an extract from his book. Footwork is a street-corner ethnography of the homeless living in Cardiff in Wales, drawing on the themes of urban regeneration, lost space and the 24-hour city. It’s an insightful and at times very funny portrait of hidden lives, an ‘erudite book about city life that exudes a deep but irreverent sense of humanity.’