Multiculturalism and its discontents: Left, Right and liberal

Attacks on multiculturalism from across the political spectrum reduce the complex history of settlement and interaction in the UK to a simple narrative of excessive British tolerance and increasingly disruptive immigrant communities. The liberal version of this ‘integrationist’ discourse emphasizes the Enlightenment values associated with secularism, individualism, gender equality, sexual freedom and freedom of expression…

Spooked: how not to prevent violent extremism

This Institute of Race Relations study of the UK government’s Preventing Violent Extremism policy criticized its sole focus on Muslim populations, the embedding of surveillance in community engagement with Muslims, and the background assumptions about the nature of extremism and radicalization. The paper was accompanied by a front-page report in the Guardian newspaper on the surveillance…

Islamism and the roots of liberal rage

As the neoconservative idea of a clash of civilisations is increasingly challenged, a number of liberal writers — Paul Berman, Nick Cohen, Martin Amis, Andrew Anthony, Bernard Henry-Lévy and Christopher Hitchens — are rethinking the ‘war on terror’ as a cold war against Islamism, defined as a totalitarian political movement analogous to fascism or Stalinism.…

Wired for War: military technology and the politics of fear

Through the influence of Project for the New American Century, the structure and thrust of US military power is being fundamentally reshaped, with massive increases in defence spending, the revival of ‘Star Wars’, the projected militarisation of space and constant technological innovation. The aim is ‘full spectrum dominance’ across the globe; one result is Iraq;…

An Unholy Alliance? Racism, religion and communalism

This October 2002 paper explored the contemporary trend in which the secular term ‘Asian’ was being displaced in the UK by religiously-coded definitions of identity, a process that was linked to the emergence of new, religious political/social movements and occasionally accompanied by violence between different South Asian communities in Britain. Potential links between Hindu and Sikh nationalist…

In a Foreign Land: the new popular racism

Published in October 2001, this paper explores the new common sense racism emerging through media and political discourses of asylum, particularly linked to the policy of dispersing asylum seekers out of London to other parts of England. Focusing on the ways in which an attitude of multicultural tolerance towards some racialised groups, seen as ‘settled’, appeared to…