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About James Butler

James Butler blogs as Pierce Penniless and tweets @piercepenniless.

Articles by James Butler

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Radical media, #Novara10k and free communism: an interview with James Butler

In recent years, Novara Media has gained a significant cult following on the radical left. They are fundraising for £10k, so openDemocracyUK caught up with their co-founder.

Five thoughts on abolishing the Met

Whilst seemingly necessary and incisive, recent calls to 'abolish' London's Metropolitan police do not go nearly far enough.

Britain's housing crisis: on Novara Radio

We need homes, but why growth? The Novara radio show discusses the housing crisis in Britain. For more Novara radio episodes, go to the Novara Media website.

The crisis of European centre-left parties: on Novara Radio

The Novara radio show discusses the crisis of nominally left social democratic parties in Europe since 2008. For more Novara radio episodes, go to the Novara Media website.

The Lady is not Returning: Novara radio on Thatcher

The Novara radio show marks the death of Margaret Thatcher with nuanced, wide-ranging, radical analysis of the politician and her legacy.

Audio: New media and the British commentariat

The British media is exceptional in its status as part of the political class. But with the newsroom becoming defunct as a site of cultural production, and models of journalistic authority breaking down, this role is threatened. Laurie Penny and James Butler discuss, hosted by Aaron Peters.

Columnism, complicity and crisis

Comment by ‘radical’ young writers is cheap fodder for a media sector with no sustainable funding model that is turning its back on investigation and reflection.

Video, Up The Anti : Reclaiming the future - lessons of protest

A collection of speakers from an Up the anti conference discuss lessons to be learnt from the return of mass protest, and look at the challenges ahead in securing claims on the future.

Whose network?

Reflections on Paul Mason's new book, 'Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere'.

Three thoughts on #Occupy

I’ve not been to Wall Street. I don’t have to. Though separated from New York by an ocean, half a planet and a different political culture (one in which it is significantly less scandalous to talk about the obvious and total failures of capitalism), I can browse through any number of digital echoes and recordings, each with varying degrees of fidelity and spin. What has been most striking about the media reports from Wall Street is that – if you stripped away the inconsequential affect and incidentals – they really could have been written by anyone with an internet connection. This leads to the usual overhasty generalisations about the role of the internet and rapid distribution of callouts, data, plans, images, videos, plots, analysis, complaint, trolling and information that attends social movements. The obvious issue here is that these things don’t really transmit ideology, analysis or demand, they simply foreground the ease with which the method can be replicated. This method-as-meme is doubtless linked to the prominence of internet communication between activists and interested onlookers; its proliferation also speaks to a new interconnectedness felt by the disenfranchised, whether in New York, London, Barcelona or Athens. But as DSG point out in that link, the success or failure of a method is if it catches the zeitgeist, if it is passed between and above all replicated by a growing multiplicity of consumers.

Kettled Youth: the emergence of a new politics in Britain

A new polemic pamphlet reflects on the emergence of a new politics in Britain, through the lens of the police tactic of 'kettling' protesters

Image of the Year: the Royals photo symbolises the productive disorder of the student protests

The shocked faces of Camilla and Prince Charles as they are attacked by a group of student demonstrators is now an iconic image. It has come to symbolise the potential of protest to break with the illusion of the separateness of worlds upon which the structures of power are built.
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