When the full scale of the Coronavirus crisis first became apparent in the UK, one could have been forgiven for presuming that it signalled an existential blow to the global economic order as we know it. As the country began to comprehend the struggles we were about to face, surely the scales would fall from people’s eyes and the failings of Tory Britain, of austerity, of capitalism, would become self-evident and undeniable? The media-political apparatuses that sustain this orthodoxy could surely not compete with the lived experience of tens of thousands dying all around us, with everyday society as we know it ceasing to function, with long-observedcontradictions of capital approaching their limits. Might we be correct in the optimism of our intellect matching that of our will, for once?
At the onset of this disaster, we were inundated with suggestions that we are not simply facing a repeat of previous recessions or other crises of capitalism, but rather something far more profound and epochal. Yet despite this apparent need for profound change to the way we live in order to overcome this extreme threat to society, any sense of proto-revolutionary fervour soon dissipated. The full force of the state’s ideological arsenal – and the inhumane indifference of its current custodians – quickly became apparent, as did our inability to resist.
‘The crisis caused by coronavirus has triggered an unprecedented moment of introspection. Amid a growing consensus that we can never return to what we once thought of as normal, we asked some of Wales’ leading thinkers to suggest a single idea we need to consider, address or implement once lockdown is lifted.’
Gareth Leaman details the reasons why Wales as a partially devolved polity barely existed in the UK general election campaign. He describes the troubling dilemmas for parties who want to defend Wales against the depredations of a Tory-led British state. What can be learnt for the future?
There are numerous conflicting prognoses of Wales’ future, but in the present moment we know this much to be true: almost a third of children in Wales live in poverty; the rollout of the UK government’s latest punitive welfare regime will affect a third of Welsh households; a post-industrial plague of scarce, low-quality employment is leaving whole swathes of the country without basic means of survival. Within weeks, this same country can go to the polls and help hand power to a Labour government with the means and will to fundamentally reverse many of the political choices that have led to such cruelty. Whatever one’s long-term political project, this is not an opportunity to be spurned lightly.
To live and grow up in Newport is to be irrevocably intertwined with the historical forces that built this city. Symbols of the past are etched into the landscape: what we might call our ‘industrial heritage’ is all around us. But these totems are not fossilised relics, and they’re not engaged with passively: they’re the milieu of our everyday life.
If liberal politicians and media figures are to be believed, the most alarming phenomenon of contemporary British politics is an increasing polarisation and ‘political tribalism’, exacerbated on the right by the Brexit crisis, and on the left by the political possibilities introduced to popular discourse following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader. While often crudely labelled as a ‘populism’ in which the left and right are equal actors, what we are actually seeing here is the struggle for revived and emergent political movements to channel widespread-yet-inchoate demands into a tangible mandate for government.
We write as people who are not fluent Welsh-speakers to call on you to rename the National Assembly with the Welsh-only name “Senedd”.
We, as much as other people, want to see the Welsh language flourish and wish to see and hear it in our daily lives. We believe that giving our democratic body in Wales a Welsh name would send a message that the Welsh language belongs to everyone regardless of their background.
It is as clear now as 50 years ago: Welsh literature of any mode will never attain any cultural capital within the wider UK. There is, however, an ironic power in this. While the fragility of a culture under perennial threat is obvious to anyone invested in it, that it holds no value for a wider hegemonic literary culture is the very element which makes it so vital. We have our own literary culture, separate from and subversive to that which threatens it.
Yn y misoedd diwethaf, ar hyd ac ar led Cymru, daeth dau fudiad protest gwahanol ond rhyng-gysylltiedig i’r amlwg, gan ddod at ei gilydd yn ein prifddinas. Y cyntaf yw’r adain Gymreig i’r mudiad rhyngwladol Extinction Rebellion a fu allan ar y stryd yn protestio ym Mawrth ac Ebrill eleni, pan ddaeth ymgyrchwyr a disgyblion ysgol i’r Senedd i fynnu bod Llywodraeth Cymru’n cyhoeddi ‘argyfwng hinsawdd’. Yna fis Mai, cafwyd Gorymdaith dros Annibyniaeth ‘All Under One Banner’ yng nghanol dinas Caerdydd. Dyma’r digwyddiad mwyaf amlwg a fu hyd yn hyn gan y mudiad Cymreig diweddar dros annibyniaeth.
Jacques Ranciere’s Aesthetics and its Discontentssuggests that ‘the exploited rarely require an explanation of the laws of exploitation’, and that ‘the dominated do not remain in subordination because they misunderstand the existing state of affairs but because they lack confidence in their capacity to transform it.’ In Adam Price’s Wales: The First and Final Colony,the newly-elected Plaid Cymru leader diagnoses various such laws of exploitation imposing themselves upon the people of Wales, and identifies a lack of confidence as the prime reason for this continued plight. Yet his insistence on explaining the precise method of national subordination, along with his method of delivery, ultimately undermines his message.