Jim Wolfreys

Degrees of marketisation

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The new Higher Education White Paper marks a step change in the neoliberal transformation of universities. Jim Wolfreys looks at the ideology behind the government's plans, what it will mean for students, staff and the nature of teaching, and how we can resist

The government's Higher Education White Paper will disrupt and potentially break up the existing system of higher education in England, deterring poorer students from university, subordinating teaching and research to the logic of privatisation and competition, and paving the way for the closure both of courses and of entire institutions.

It makes claims about putting "students at the heart of the system" and "excellent teaching back at the heart of every student's university experience" that are flatly and comprehensively contradicted by the entire content of the document.

Ilham Moussaid: A proud tribune of the oppressed

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The candidacy of New Anti-capitalist Party activist Ilham Moussaïd caused controversy in France because she chooses to wear a hijab. She spoke to Jim Wolfreys about challenging capitalism and Islamophobia

Nadine Morano, a member of the right wing government of François Fillon, was questioned recently about the compatibility between Islam and the French Republic. She replied, "What I want from a young Muslim, when he's French, is that he loves his country, that he finds a job, that he doesn't speak back slang, and that he doesn't put his cap on back to front."

New party to unite the French left

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The birth of the New Anti-capitalist Party in France is a welcome development for those opposed to neoliberalism. Over 9,000 people from different political backgrounds have already joined up. Jim Wolfreys reports from its founding congress and looks at its prospects and challenges.

The founding of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA or New Anti-capitalist Party) in France last month marks a new stage in the search for a means of translating revolt against neoliberalism into a durable and effective political form. It comes at a time of renewed combativity against President Nicolas Sarkozy's attacks on public services and working conditions with 2.5 million people joining the strikes and demonstrations on 29 January that opposed the government's handling of the recession.

Reality Bites

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Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne talk to Jim Wolfreys about the solidarity that transcends the tragedies of existence facing their characters and their latest film, The Silence of Lorna.

An adolescent boy is asked to look after the family of an immigrant worker in whose death he has been implicated. A young woman wages a furious lone struggle to forge an existence. A couple's life is blown apart when their son is offered for sale. These stories, told by the Dardenne brothers since the mid-1990s, turn around the dilemmas faced by individuals in marginal social situations, forced to comply with the ruthless logic of the market or find another way to live.

France: One Year After the Riots

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In the autumn of 2005 the suburbs of Paris burned with anger at racism and poverty. Soon that rage spread across France and led to the most prolonged rioting the country had ever seen. Jim Wolfreys returned to Paris to find out if anything has changed.

On Saturday 28 October around 1,000 people gathered in Clichy-sous-Bois, an impoverished north eastern suburb (banlieue) of Paris. They met to remember the two teenagers, Bouna Traoré and Zyed Benna, who were electrocuted last year as they hid from police after being chased as they made their way home from playing football. Their deaths, and the police's refusal to apologise, set in motion the most sustained period of rioting ever seen in France.

The Dirty War

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Review of 'I Saw Ben Barka Get Killed', Director Serge Le Péron

Mehdi Ben Barka was one of the leaders of the anti-colonial movement which won Moroccan independence from France in 1956. Forced into exile under the repressive regime of King Hassan II, he was kidnapped in Paris in 1965. His body has never been found. Although French government archives on the case were recently opened, no conclusive evidence of what became of Ben Barka has been uncovered, making it - according to this film - the world's best kept state secret.

'I think they've identified the wrong war. They think it's between whites and Arabs. But above all, it's a war between rich and poor.'

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Faïza Guène grew up in Pantin, a banlieue north of Paris. Her first book, Just Like Tomorrow, sold over 200,000 copies in France. She spoke to Jim Wolfreys about being a French-Arab and the recent struggles that shook France.

In 2004, 20 year old Faïza Guène wrote Kiffe Kiffe Demain, the wry, sardonic story of Doria, a teenage girl growing up in the impoverished suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis north east of Paris with her Moroccan mother. The book, perkily translated and due to be published in Britain this month as Just Like Tomorrow, has become a publishing phenomenon in France, with over 200,000 copies sold. From September it will be a set text in French schools.

France: What Part of 'No' Don't They Understand?

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Opposition to the EU has shocked the French right.

A joyful No.' This was how dissident Socialist Party deputy Jean-Luc Mélenchon summed up the remarkable campaign that has developed against the proposed constitutional treaty for the European Union, the subject of a referendum in France on 29 May.

Mélenchon was speaking at a 6,000-strong meeting organised by the French Communist Party in Paris last month. It brought together as broad a platform of speakers from the left as any meeting held in France over the past decade.

The Patterns of Oppression

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Review of 'Pierre Bourdieu', Michael Grenfell, Continuum £16.99

Most of Bourdieu's work can be read as an attack on 20th century capitalism,' claims the author of this accessible study of a man who, by the time he died in January 2002, had become the most important intellectual figure in France. Grenfell's book provides a clear account of the development of Bourdieu's thought, from his work on Algeria in the early 1960s to the more overt political interventions of the last decade of his life.

France: Protests Escalate Against Public Service Cuts

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Over 300,000 public sector workers demonstrated throughout France last month as part of a week of action against attacks on public services.

Thousands of postal workers facing a restructuring programme involving tens of thousands of redundancies stopped work. This was followed by railway workers who took action against falling wages and ongoing job cuts. Then it was the turn of teachers, hospital staff and civil servants.

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