“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city […] The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.” - David Harvey
What we’re reading :
Horan, H. (2019). Uber’s Path of Destruction. American Affairs.
This week we’re reading an article about the economics of Uber, a business model that Hubert Horan argues has no basis in economic fundamentals. As Horan points out, while the criticisms levied at the company in recent years have been focused on behavioural and cultural issues (all of which are justified), there has been comparatively little discourse surrounding just how unsustainable the company is in a purely economic sense. Namely, having relied upon investor subsidies to fund and cutting workers salaries to manipulate annual margins, all while relying upon PR, media narratives and political lobbying to distract from it, Uber is not a viable business (to the same extent that it is not ethical either). Perhaps the only area where Uber has proved useful, as he tells us, has been in doing the following : “Uber is unique because it is entirely exploitative […] The private wealth it has created comes entirely at the expense of the rest of society. In this, it at least helps destroy the last illusions that twenty-first century capitalism is being operated to serve the greater good.”
Akram-Boshar, S. and Bean, B. (2019). Massacre and Uprising in Sudan. Jacobin.
In light of the military-led attack on civilian protesters in Sudan this month, in what “could only be described as a premeditated massacre,” this week we’re reading an in-depth overview of the best organised and politically advanced movement in the region. The ongoing protests which began in December of 2018, led by an umbrella group of trade unions, is calling for the end of military rule in Sudan and a civilian-led transition government that would lead the way to fair and democratic elections. Two months ago, the protests led to the ousting of the former Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. Nonetheless, the movement now faces certain challenges with regard to external geopolitical forces and the interests of foreign powers : “massed forces of global capitalism, though sometimes in rivalry with each other, do not tolerate democratic movements like that which has flowered in Sudan’s streets since January.”
Starn, O and La Serna, M. (2019). The Shining Path : Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes. W.W. Norton & Co.
In The Shining Path, Starn and La Serna recount the tale of how a “ferocious group of guerrilla insurgents” known as The Shining Path launched “a decade-long reign of terror, and how brave police investigators and journalists brought it to justice”. The story of the Shining Path is one of a brutal Maoist insurrection in the remote Andes of Peru, set against the backdrop of socio economic upheavals at the time and their consequences. These events may be the most compelling chapter in modern Latin American history, as the authors tell us, yet the full story of which has never been told. Starn and La Serna’s work thus fills this void, by brilliantly chronicling the triumvirate's meteoric rise and catastrophic fall in a way not yet done before, making it a must-read of the week.
What we’re watching :
Film : (2002). The Weather Underground.
This week, we’re watching the 2002 documentary based on the rise and fall of the American radical organisation Weather Underground (WUO). The WUO was a radical left militant group active in the late 1960s and 70s, whose stated goal was to create a revolutionary party to overthrow U.S. imperialism.
What we’re listening to :
Podcast : (2019). "The Battle for Europe", The Daily (NYT).
In this five-part series, the Daily seeks to understand the sustainability of the European Union in light of the nationalist movements that have taken hold across the Continent in the last few years. The episodes look in depth at some of these nationalist movements and their causes, with two features on Italy and Poland, as well as focusing on the Yellow Vest movement in France and the widespread rejection of liberalism across Europe.