London Anarchist Bookfair 2014

Room 3.15, London Anarchist Bookfair Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS

We'll be running six meetings from 12 – 6pm in room 3.15 at the Anarchist Bookfair. We will present on our currently favourite topics to critique, i.e. elections, universal credit, love, the domestic sphere, the Snowden leaks and the reaction to it and immigration policy.

Elections: The state is like 'hello', the people are like 'hi': elections

Regular elections are central institutions in democratic states. They are also often misunderstood as mere shams or are criticised on formal grounds such as being held not often enough to realise true democracy. In this workshop, we want to start differently and take elections seriously as a means of democratic rule. Our starting point is that democratic states want the consent of their citizens and that elections are means to reaffirm the unity of rule and its subjects.

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Universal Credit: welfare that works

Universal Credit, the new mechanism through which the state will manage useful poverty, merges 6 income based benefits for “working age” people in order to make “work pay, achieve fairness and simplify the system”. This workshop looks at: What does the design of universal credit show about the purpose of work. Why has the state to seek to ensure it is made to pay through a combination of financial support and sanctions. We look at how universal credit achieves fairness against the interests of those with and without work, and how simplification works without any reduction in rules.

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Finding love is the top priority for a lot of people in our society, judging by the never ending invention of match making websites. A failure of love is often blamed as the reason for tragic events like the Isla Vista killings. In this workshop we would like to look at why love is so important for so many people and how loving someone often implies a demand that is impossible to satisfy.

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Domestic Sphere: Why is there a domestic sphere?

Increasing attention has been paid to the nature of work carried out in the domestic sphere. This workshop wants to take a step back from this and ask the question: why is there a domestic sphere? We will argue that the domestic sphere has its basis in the institution of private property, that the domestic sphere is subordinated to the demands of the public sphere and that the poverty of workers ensures that the majority of 'reproductive' work will continue to be done privately.

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Snowden Leaks

Edward Snowden's leaks about NSA surveillance techniques showed that the US did their job: controlling their own citizens thoroughly and the whole world. It is nothing peculiar to the world power: every state wants to know what is going on with its people, even in the private sphere. That clashes with the self-understanding of democratic states to grant an ostensibly untouchable private sphere. Unfortunately, patriotic critics including Snowden argue that the secret services should receive better oversight – which leaves the state's demands against its citizens out of the picture and even affirms the principle of secret services.

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Immigration: 'Are you with us?' – About the state, its citizens and non-citizens

From EU immigration to the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK, hardly a day goes by without the public talking about the effects of immigration. We want to look at what it means for a state to differentiate people into citizens and foreigners and what it means for the people to be claimed as such. The state rules over its citizens in the interest of capital and nation. Based on this, we will argue that the policies on immigration and asylum reflect the state's demand against its own citizens, albeit with different consequences.

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