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The University ofWarwick’s international affairs magazine

Campus Voices Global Minds

warwickglobalist.com

Spring 2019 | Issue 11

Mankind and the Machine

Putting Students First? Mankind and the machine.indd 1

Venezuela and the New Cold War

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ur world is ever expanding. Though the discovery of new continents and countries may be far behind us, planet Earth feels like a constantly growing thing. Once, letters were our only connection to faraway places. Then there came railways, telegraphs, telephones, radio, television, airplanes, the internet, fibre-optic broadband, social media, and our own worlds exploded into a massive and incomprehensible size. More information than ever before, more inter-personal interactions than we could hope to have in a lifetime, more opportunities than could ever be experienced. Our worlds have become endless, not because the universe is everexpanding, but because we can no longer see or even grasp the peripheries of our possibilities. What is it that has caused such a phenomenon? advanced technology. With such changes of course come challenges. Such an expansive world brings with it migrations, both of people and of companies, which bring with it issues regarding labour, fair taxes, exploitation of workforces, global power and inequalities. People have railed against advanced technology; it threatens their livelihoods, whole sectors and industries even. Learning to adapt to such challenges is intensely difficult. Can we even imagine what ten, twenty or fifty years in advanced tech will look like? A force such as advanced tech appears as a difficult thing to embrace in our lives. But, with such challenges also come opportunities. Developments in medicine, environmental sciences, access to information, political activism, the spread of artistic and cultural endeavours and countless others have been instrumental in the bettering of our societies. Advanced technology is a controversial subject. Impossible to stop entirely, but perhaps something which we are able to adapt to and to utilise for bettering our worlds and strengthening ties between us. Such an opportunity cannot be overlooked in a time in which we are faced with forces which work to divide and polarise us. The challenges of advanced tech need to be discussed, and will be throughout this issue, however, it also has the capability of not only expanding the world but of connecting and bringing it closer together. Matilda Smith, co-Editor-in-Chief

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t’s the last issue of the year, and it’s a thrilling one. As technology becomes more and more advanced, yet the world becomes more unstable, it can seem as though ‘progress’ and ‘problem’ work in parallel with one another. Despite the great opportunities that advanced technology creates, it also changes social structures, and builds on existing lived realities. I really like this theme - not only because of my interest in science fiction - but because advanced tech is characterised by a fusion of unimaginable futures and incredible outlooks, with gritty, technical and hugely complicated processes that often go unseen when we are bombarded with advertisements. We interact with technology every day, to the point where its presence is so ubiquitous that we forget it’s there. However, the great thing about this term’s theme, is that we can highlight what goes on behind the scenes. We can give some detail, opinion, and analysis that will hopefully raise awareness of not only the intricacies of designing and building technologies, but also the social and global contexts that are often forgotten. However, sometimes, the relationship between exciting new futures and more contradictory realities is less global and more local. The University of Warwick has had its image, reputation and expertise tested through recent events. Events that have shown us how institutions can simultaneously be epicentres of advanced research, and insidious attitudes. As we present this issue as a symbol of an uncertain and rapidly shifting future, our current editorial team leaves the paper in the hands of future journalistic enthusiasts. We hope that our print edition and online content have left you excited and intrigued. But most importantly, we hope they’ve left you with your own ideas, questions and perspectives. Anita Slater, co-Editor-in-Chief

We would like to thank those who made this issue possible by contributing to our crowdfunder Special thanks to: Muhammad Akhtar Hugh Cameron Karyn Kersley Alpana Sajip Anita Slater Jane Smith Matilda Smith

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The Team Matilda Smith & Anita Slater

Editors-in-Chief

Andrew Kersley & Simron Gill Politics and Economics Editors

Ellen Rodda & Alpana Sajip Arts and Culture Editors

George Bailey Science and Technology Editor

Charlotte Wilson Perspectives Editor

Andrew Kersley Treasurer

Leanne Hemming Secretary

Yang Qin Graphic Designer With front cover artwork by Kassidy Dawn

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THE WARWICK GLOBALIST

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Themes Mankind and the Machine

06 Going for Green with Geoengineering Nathan Lavenstein

World of Warwick

Arts & Culture

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11 Sour-Puss the Opera Ceridwen Mitchell

Putting Students first? Anita Slater

07 New Tech, Old Problems Anita Slater

12 Culture or Couture? Simron Gill

09 Looking Back on Detroit: Become Human Andrew Kersley

image Pixabay | Seanbatty

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13 The Oscars 2019 Emma Worrall

image flickr | Ben Smith

image Diogo Duarte

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Politics & Economics

Science & Technology

Perspectives

17 Sweatshop Colonialism Kassidy Dawn

22 Rage Against the Machine George Bailey

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Learning the Lingo Euan McGinty

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Reflections on this Year’s Holocaust Memorial Day Naomi Awre

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Syhthetic Biology: Scientific Schemes and Despotic Dreams Sameda Velaj

19 Venezuela and the New Cold War Matilda Smith 20 The Nightmare in Honduras Scott Rose

image Pixabay | ID 12019

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23 The Antibiotics Crisis and You Matthew Dale 25 Fifty Years of Nothing? Tom Harrison

image Pixabay | deepakrit

image Euan McGinty

Book Review

31 The Dispossessed: An urgent read in today’s political landscape Alpana Sajip

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image flickr | noodlesthekuppy

Themes

Going for Green With Geoengineering Nathan Lavenstein discusses the innovative and radical solutions to climate change and Britain’s unique position in enforcing them Last year, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced we had until 2030 to take action to prevent an average global temperature rise of 1.5 °C, the news was greeted with resignation. Despite seemingly endless policy announcements, incentive schemes and helpful home tips (use LED bulbs! Eat less meat!) the pace of change is glacial, and although the UK has managed to cut its CO2 emissions by more than 40% since the 1990 baseline, significant issues remain. Much of the saving has come from the introduction of renewables to the grid and the phasing out of coal power – but there aren’t many more coal stations to shut down. We’ve done the easy bit, and we’re only half way to the overall target of an 80% reduction by 2050. At current rates we’re simply not going to make it, and that’s before we consider the rest of the world. At least, that’s the narrative as described. A certain fatalism has seemingly set in with regards to climate change, an older generation collectively shrugging their shoulders at the young’uns and saying, “Well, sucks to be you.” There is another view, however, which offers the chance of a last-minute reprieve. Given the inevitability of rising atmospheric greenhouse gases, the only solution is a technological one – the mass deployment of human ingenuity to maintain the earth’s existing climate despite our reckless pollution. This blend of environmentalism and science fiction is known as geoengineering, and it may be our best option to prevent the worst-case scenario. Geoengineering techniques have been sorted into two main categories. The first, Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), calls for the extraction of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. This can range from the simple planting of trees to pumping extracted carbon dioxide into geologically stable aquifers. Ideally, the world’s gross carbon emissions would be completely balanced out by the extrac-

tion of carbon from the atmosphere. None of these techniques are in widespread use, and all would require significant investment, but they are nonetheless being discussed. The IPCC, for example, has incorporated CDR into some projections in the form of biomass energy with carbon capture and storage, where crops are grown (hence absorbing CO2) and then burnt for power, the resulting carbon being sequestered underground. The second suite of techniques are known as Solar Radiation Management (SRM), and tend to be flashier. These techniques are more defeatist, accepting that CO2 levels in the atmosphere will rise to well beyond safe levels, how can we prevent a catastrophic rise in global temperatures? ‘Stick something between us and the Sun’ might seem a somewhat crude way to achieve this, but ways of doing it are being seriously considered by academics and policy experts alike. Some seem to belong to the realm of science fiction, such as the deployment of immense dust clouds or orbital reflectors. More prosaic solutions such as increasing the planet’s albedo through promoting cloud formation may grab fewer headlines, but nonetheless offer a chance to mitigate the effects of our actions. As these techniques leave greenhouse gases in the atmosphere they must be applied indefinitely to maintain their effect, which raises concerns over maintaining a presumably expensive and politically sensitive project over decades or even centuries. The primary concern with the application of geoengineering techniques is political - who would have control of such a powerful part of the Earth’s climate? Who is responsible for maintaining such systems, and who is to blame if they go wrong? Any single country developing the technology would in effect be forcing its will on the rest of the world, and it is therefore tempting to declare such systems must be placed under the control of the United Nations. But this is an in-

herently technocratic, perhaps anti-democratic argument, and it is hard to see how any meaningful global effort could be truly democratic given its impacts on every human alive. Quite aside from fears of a Bond villain cackling as he blots out the sun, any geoengineering project is bound to have unforeseen consequences, and it is difficult to predict public opinion of such a ceding of control. Would geoengineering be perceived as technological salvation or an interference with nature? Given the lack of conventional solutions we may soon be finding out. A second concern with even the research of geoengineering techniques is that of moral hazard. To promote geoengineering is to tacitly accept that there is no feasible method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to acceptable levels, and thus to in effect dismiss the option of a fundamental shift in society away from carbon-intensive lifestyles. Such an approach can draw attention away from steps we can take now to reduce our environmental impact, with truly aggressive decarbonisation options such as the phasing out of the internal combustion engine all but ruled out. Yes, such options would require immense political and social change simply not present in our society today – but would the shift needed before the adoption of geoengineering be much different? Any attempt to wrench the world onto a new course this late in the day will take immense effort, so preventing the worst effects of climate change before they have happened is a better use of political capital. By offering futures in which we can avoid the worst, whilst continuing to emit pollution, geoengineering runs the risk of encouraging complacency. Given the apparent inability of our capitalist world to take adequate measures against climate change, however, it may well be the only option still left on the table to avoid the consequences of our actions. So, where should we go from here? As the forebears of the industrial revolu-

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tion, the United Kingdom has a unique responsibility for climate change, but as an advanced economy we also have a unique opportunity to act against it. With proper research and funding, we can turn geoengineering from a nice idea to a fully-functioning solution and whilst the impacts of such a scheme must be considered, they pale in comparison to those predicted of unfettered climate change. Given the risks of not acting, taking the plunge appears to be the best option. Geoengineering techniques are in their infancy, and they certainly need to be better understood before any largescale deployment can be considered. Spaceship Earth is an incredibly complex system, and we unfortunately lack a second world to use as an experiment. There will be unexpected downsides from any geoengineering project, but these must be balanced against the undeniable damage resulting from climate change. The slow rate of change has led

Hyde-envHyde-env / Hyde EnvironmeHyde-env / Hyde Environmental / Hyde Inc Environmental Incntal Inc

Mankind and the Machine

image flickr | UK in Chile to us already reaching the stage of clutching at straws, and with few other options on the table, geoengineering must be taken seriously. We have already proved our power to inadvertently pull the world’s

levers – now, we must, carefully and with deliberation, push them back. Nathan Lavenstein is a fourth year Civil Engineering student

New Tech, Old Problems

Anita Slater looks into our increasingly technological future, concerned with its potential for reinforcing inequalities Pick a sci-fi film, any sci-fi film. Despite the wonderful variety that exists, I’m sure that you’ll initially picture some sort of robot, alien, invasion or attack. Some sort of human vs visualised other. Now wait a minute, what about the terrifying triffids, the scary soylent, insidious inception-these aren’t such obvious foes. This is true, but the commonality between scientific fictions is that ultimately, it’s us vs them, an imagined destruction vs an unassuming victim. Yet what scares me the most, both when I watch sci-fi or when I see new tech innovation, are the

small unassuming features. The quotidian, mundane aspects that go unobserved. It may seem a technophobic attitude to possess, to be concerned about the emergence of artificial intelligence, particularly when humans and other animals have been adapting to tech advancements in the form of motorisation, the internet, and countless others for a long time. However, the difference between these shifts and AI is that more advanced technology becomes less of a tool and more of a mimic or reproduction of human interaction and engagement. Through

image Pixabay | geralt the guise of efficiency, it is unassumingly etching away at spontaneity, irregularity and disorientation. It is seeking to cement the sensical in a world that is largely nonsensical. Amazon’s Alexa was released in 2014 and has since gained great popularity, at least in the Western world. It’s the recurrent control that Alexa has over things such as weather, traffic, music and news to name a few, that allows the device to normalise some realities and minimalize or trivialise others. Huge topics are Warwick Globalist | Spring 2019| 7

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Themes bite-sized into categories that can be consumed over our breakfast cereal, and nuances or different perspectives are replaced with definitions, micro-answers and a sprinkle of robotic charm. I’m not so concerned that Alexa will know all my biggest secrets and indiscretions. Instead I fear that I’ll no longer care about having anything to feel secretive or transgressive about. ‘Siri’ means secret in Swahili; it also means ‘beauty’ in Sinhalese and ‘beautiful woman who leads you to victory’ in Norse. So, Siri is essentially a coy, attractive and supportive woman. Some people say that AI is taking us into the fourth industrial revolution. What I see is the fourth stage of control over women. Trapped in a phone or container, woman’s most ‘appealing’ qualities are immortalised. More neutral voices do exist, but female voices are the most neutralising, as studies have shown a women’s voice is more passive, calming and persuasive. Man’s hierarchical relationship to machine, and to woman, is cemented in one virtual conversation. Virtual assistants also make invisible global-south labour. Transnational names and origins are utilised to exotify the technology, yet the design is credited to Amazon, Google and Apple (to name a few) and the product is consumed in the wealthiest parts of the world. The inequality gap is stretched to breaking point. A distinction is created between glossy, uniform technology, and human labour that is as hidden as the process of analog audio turning into digital signal. Artificial intelligence is also seeking to interact with our thoughts and feelings. Woebot is your ‘charming robot friend who is ready to listen 24/7’. A virtual creation characterised as a seductive all-listening thing reeks of the pornographic fantasy. The closest you can get to this in real life is the most expensive therapist, and even they need to sleep. Makers claim that virtual therapists will reduce financial inequality and improve mental health because most can afford to talk to their phone. However, this is really widening the gap: the masses are met with automated, streamlined responses, and the select few can talk to a therapist that can target the session to the individual patient. It makes therapy purely clinical, eradicating any possibility for the therapist to help the patient by understanding irregular situations or deciphering body language. Simone de Beauvoir most famously stated that ‘one is not born, but rath8 | Spring 2019 | Warwick Globalist Mankind and the machine.indd 8

er becomes, a woman’. A woman is constructed, an identity placed on her after she comes into existence. A car is an object whose properties are fixed by the kind of object that it is, by its very existence. An AI machine or gadget, however, is not clearly marked. It is created by human power and resources; however its skillset, knowledge, and ability to learn make its existence compound with its nature. It neither reverses the existentialist belief that existence is more fundamental than essence, nor does it confine to this belief. Whatever can be said about philosophical rhetoric or grand theory, it is very interesting to interpret AI through this lens. It makes us ask, are we really creating something new and self-defining, or are we just turning our old ways into tech form? Many believe in the possibility of the Singularity, the idea that artificial intelligence will lead to technological change so great that it becomes unstoppable, and it will adapt and shape itself. That advanced technological futures will eradicate inequality, because this compounding of man and machine, or perhaps the dominance of machine, will invent new ways of dealing with fatal problems. However, technology is not an isolated entity and the concentration of funding, conferences, educative spaces and tech spaces are made up by a patriarchal,

racialised population in the richest parts of the world. Dr. Felix Hovsepian, an AI specialist at the University of Warwick, believes that there is no shortcut to AI programming, and it will only achieve accuracy and ethical standing through rigorous training. Whilst this concern is well-intentioned, its perhaps misplaced. Greater expertise will only further the gap between a demographic that will be able to understand and decipher not only literal code but the educative language, whilst marginalised demographics will be side-lined further. A kind of irreversible singularity will form between technology and inequality, where inequality will be unstoppable in the face of a faceless creation. A rogue computer or robot foe is perhaps simpler than the superfluous, omnipresent technological future that we may be facing. This newer threat is smaller, more insidious, and packaged deceptively. It’s not the AI itself that worries me, but how humans will change, or rather how humans won’t change their old ways. Anita Slater is a fourth year Sociology student and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Warwick Globalist

image flickr | Bernat Agullo

image Wikipedia | NDB Photos 22/02/2019 15:17:56


Mankind and the Machine image flickr | steamXO

looking back on Detroit: Become human

Andrew Kersley takes us back to Quantum Dream’s magnum opus, and discusses what it means to be human Is gaming a form of art? This is the question that haunts games journalists far and wide. Seemingly asked on repeat, it is a debate that rages on eternally. The argument here is harder than it looks and a surefire way to send any reader to sleep. Thankfully I’m not here to answer that question per se. More to talk about one game: Detroit: Become Human. This two year project is the magnum opus of studio Quantic Dreams and its chief, the acclaimed David Cage. In the game you enter the world of a semi-futuristic Detroit, in the year 2038. With the creation of advanced android technology, the economy of America is growing but marred by massive unemployment as human jobs are increasingly being replaced by androids. It’s no coincidence the game is set in Detroit, a rust belt city suffering from the economic effects of its once colossal auto industry slowly becoming automised. Every inch of the city in the game holds that same feeling of downturn and abandonment that you can feel in many districts today. Synths themselves face daily abuses from humans who both resent them or use and abuse them mercilessly. The focus of Detroit is to create a narrative-centric game. Unlike Call of Duty, you don’t run around guns blazing. This is a game focused on storytelling, on weaving together a universe for the player to inhabit. Cage is famous for creating worlds, characters and by extension stories with an unparalleled attention to detail and sense of reality. Here was no different. Every minute feature was beautifully designed, and all covered in a graphics package almost unrivalled in gaming at the moment. Every word of dialogue felt intimately crafted, and every unique character a labour of love. Not to sound trite, but honestly calling it a game doesn’t do it justice. Yet rather paradoxically by forgetting it’s a game you miss its main appeal: you don’t just watch this story, but “play” it. Detroit is defined by decisions, a format

you can by and large only really find in gaming where the player controls the subject of the narrative. You impact every single part of the story, the universe and each person that inhabits it. In the very first mission your task is to save a child held hostage by a “deviant” synth discovering what actions and choices can lead to that and don’t lead to the child’s or your death is down to you. It has 45 full endings and hundreds of minor ones, and thousands more journeys to each one of these. No one player’s experience will completely mirror that of another. We are made to carve our own unique path. Reality is valued above everything: you’re constantly asked to make decisions and their impacts are permanent. There are no do-overs. There are no respawns. Death is permanent. The weight carried by each player; the power they hold, and the path they shape from it all, is where this game discovers its humanity. Fundamentally Detroit: Become Human is about finding that humanity. Playing as synths slowly gaining some “sentience” we are trying to discover our humanity. They seem lost as to what it means to “become human”, whilst the society around them, stuck between fear and confusion, hate and compassion struggles to understand what they are. They stubbornly refuse to believe that androids could ever become sentient, labelling all who display any shred of emotion as “deviants” who only mimic humanity. Humans too it seems are trying to “become human”; to understand what it means to be the species that we are. Everyone is lost and trying to find some answers. In Detroit, being or becoming, human is about agency. We all have to think, feel and decide, for ourselves. What it means to be a human is discursive. It is defined in each of us, in the words, ideas, decisions and morals that define each of us. Just take a look at the main menu. The android interface on there isn’t static and talks to the player based on their

decisions, and as the game goes on asks increasingly more pressing questions about you, and how you define humanity. As I loaded the game for the final time before finishing, it all climaxed. She begged me not to continue, worried of what may happen next. I think that more than anything else sums up Detroit: Become Human. What other game would the main menu urge you not to play on? It is rebelling against the cardinal rule of not just all art but all pastimes. Indeed this is a game all about rebellion. It’s telling that for most of the “deviants” it is the fear of deactivation, of death, that awakens them from their prolonged slumber. Whilst it is true that in the simplest sense this gains meaning in being the most visceral and fundamental of human emotions: the fight to survive, it too is demonstrative of this game’s depth. In a game about androids discovering their humanity, it is no coincidence that they do this through rebelling against the society and the reality that surrounds them. “They rebel therefore they exist” to paraphrase Camus. This deepens then the idea of the fight against death being fundamental to each android’s discovery of “life” as it were. It seems that what awakens their “humanity” was the ultimate most human rebellion of all: the eternal rebellion against life’s inevitable ending, death. In rebelling, redefining, and realising our own path we each find our own humanity. What we share are our differences, what we all own is our individuality. Maybe it’s not an intricate thesis on AI or some perfect scientific test of human nature, but its good enough for me. If any game has ever offered a more cogent interpretation of life, I’ve yet to see it. If that’s not art, I don’t know what is. Andrew Kersley is a third year History student and co-Editor of Politics and Economics

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World of Warwick

image Kassidy Dawn

Putting Students First? Anita Slater expresses her concern over the University of Warwick’s response to the group chat scandal and considers what this says about attitudes towards sexualised violence

During a Slutwalk in Vancouver in June 2015, Lauren Southern, a far-right political activist, interrupted the demonstration to proclaim, ‘There is no rape culture in the West’. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. The University of Warwick’s latest scandal, where 10 students were exposed for participating in a group chat that included outrageously sexist, racist, antisemitic and generally offensive content, has sparked fury and outrage. An appeal led to the University considering the return of two of the students later this year. Rape culture is visible not only in the West, but in our classrooms, on our campuses, and among students we assumed were socially conscious. It really puts into perspective the implications of Southern’s ‘West’ exemption. This categorization of the West as the epicentre of ‘modernity’, equality and progress is nowhere more fraught with contradictions than when see the distinction between the heinous group chat content, and the image the group aims to construct, of being prestigious, well-read and ‘enlightened’. The University’s disciplinary investi-

gation resulted in five suspensions, but it begs the question; why is the investigation so internalised? It troubles me that Warwick has repeatedly expressed its regret and concern over the actions yet has made no move to prevent any danger towards students. It’s deeply concerning that ‘Prevent’, a national counter-terrorism strategy, is training teachers to detect radicalised features in children as young as three. Yet this same state turns away from sexual violence and regularly cuts local services that disproportionately affect women, such as sexual health clinics. Whilst the Student’s Union have provided an extensive list of counselling and support services students can seek, this is treating the symptom not the cause. Whilst I would urge students to seek these valuable services, it places the responsibility on the victims to act on the consequences, rather than the perpetrators to change their behaviour. The women cited in the group chat, and most importantly threatened with violence, are expected to deal emotionally with the consequences, whilst the students involved are provided with multiple solutions that can ease them back into an

educative environment. In addition, the fact that the group chat targeted specific women to rape and attack, sheds a light on how space is navigated and controlled. Space becomes narrow and shrunken for women. Girls are taught to fear walking alone, to fear dark streets and to protect themselves from male attention. Yet for the men that the group chat represents, they make social spaces their field of play. This is clear in the odious comments, ‘rape 100 girls’ and ‘rape her in the street while everybody watches’, which stress the accumulative and public nature of the threats. The emphasis is on humiliation and power as the men claim the space around them as their default environment, whilst women are taught to become submissive, accommodating and altogether accepting of this violent and confined reality. As it’s clear that the group chat revealed real-life threats towards individuals, I am confused (yet ultimately unsurprised) as to why the University hasn’t taken this as any other threat with an intention to commit a violent crime. It baffles me that the acts of heroism, courage and collective action that students learn about in History seminars can conflict with a reality so vile. Therefore, if their lenient punishments are to help them pursue further study, it doesn’t seem as though the education is making a difference. A repeated statement I noticed when talking to people about the group chat, was that the students involved were universally considered nice, respectful and aware. The discrepancy between this presentation and the reality, a reality fraught with both hideous ‘jokes’ and outright threats, stresses the distinction between the University’s image and its lived reality. Warwick’s ongoing strategy is ‘helping to transform our region, country and world for the collective good’ . This distinction between a goal to promote morality, community and learning, and the reality that exposes how students who are ‘learning’ really think and feel, shows two sides to university life. The University of Warwick is ranked one of the best universities in the ‘West’, and in the world. Yet this prevalence of rape culture, and literal rape threats, makes me feel ashamed to be a student here. Anita Slater is a fourth year Sociology student and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Warwick Globalist

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Sour-Puss the Opera

diogo duarte

Mankind and the Machine

Ceridwen Mitchell explores an intimate new exhibition about the complexity of the female body at Birmingham’s Argentea Gallery. image Diogo Duarte A moment of stillness in a busy restaurant as a woman gazes downwards, head bowed in contemplation. An incongruous, green, thumbprint-sized stain marks her pale pink shirt. Sour-Puss The Opera is a photography series that presents the moments in which a person slips away from the frantic bustle of life and into the intense world of private rituals and ruminations. Sour-Puss The Opera is an interesting collaboration between Jessica Mitchell, a psychotherapist, and Image Maker Diogo Duarte. They have worked together over the course of two years as friends and colleagues to create the series. Duarte’s passion is clear: he notes that he is “driven by an urge to expand the boundaries of traditional representational photography to expose a person’s internal reality”. The intimacy of their close friendship and ongoing conversations between the two has produced a series of deeply personal psychological portraits that touch on universally human themes. In this series, Jessica’s body is the vessel for their joint exploration of gender, ageing, sexuality and alienation. Duarte specialises in psychological portraits that engage with the inner world of those he photographs. He says that his desire to make inner worlds ‘outer’ stems partly from his experiences of growing up gay in a conservative part of Lisbon. “I hated having to hide throughout my

youth, never having any role models – no one seemed to be having the experiences I was,” he says. “Jessica and I share so much of the same life history. We’re all humans so even though this series is told through a feminist lens, we hope that people can relate at a universal level.” In a photograph from Act I, SourPuss’ reflection fills a full length mirror. A green stain marks her red underwear. “Both of our interests lie in how human beings feel stained or that they are in some way faulty and are coping with their own private demons,” Mitchell says. Here the obscure becomes obvious. The stain becomes a palpable marker of the feelings of shame and fear of isolation that accompany expressions of eroticism and desire from women in their middle-aged years. Duarte and Mitchell’s series gestures towards a culture of shame and fear that exists around image Diogo Duarte

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sexuality. The images from Sour-Puss The Opera feel like a defiant refusal to hide the stains that this culture creates. “Diogo and I embarked on this collaboration when we started talking about how I felt about getting older,” Mitchell remembers. “Both of us share an annoyance over how women are regularly portrayed in the media, particularly in photography. Older women are often ignored or shown looking their ‘best’. We feel there’s very little room for women to just be as they are. In my fifties, I feel like a powerful, sexy, mysterious person, while also grappling with really human

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Arts and Culture ages in which the protagonist is searching for a sense of self on their own terms. Sour-Puss, spoken from the mouth of someone who is frustrated by the fact they are no longer in control of the way a woman is expressing herself, feels like an apt name for Duarte and Mitchell’s character. Sour-Puss The Opera presents the realities of growing older as a woman: the sleeplessness, the exhaustion, the frantic bursts of energy, the changing relationship with your body and the fear of running out of time. But this series also shows how these themes are universally human, and many will relate to SourPuss’ moments of melancholic reflection. The exhibition has been nominated for

the Photographic Prize by the Royal Birmingham Society of Art, and the award will be presented on March 8th, International Women’s Day. There are currently 21 images and two acts in the series Sour-Puss The Opera; neither Duarte or Mitchell know quite what is in store for Sour-Puss in Act III, but for now it is galvanising to see creative energy being directed towards a path less trodden. Diogo Duarte’s Sour-Puss The Opera is at the Argentea Gallery, Birmingham, 14th Feb - 9th March. Ceridwen Mitchell is a fourth-year English Literature student, recently returned from her year abroad in Berlin.

Culture or couture? Simron Gill explores the commercialisation of the Chinese New Year festival, both in China itself and here in the UK. “We are proud to show off 5,000 years of Chinese civilisation!” beams Mr Luo. “As more Japanese come to appreciate Chinese culture, they will naturally grow to love China.” Mr Luo Yuguan, along with millions of other people all around the globe, celebrated Chinese New Year last weekend. In China, the jamboree thrown by the China Cultural Centre in Tokyo featured ethnic Tibetan singers, Tsingtao beer and an exhibition featuring paintings with Buddhist themes. The air was infused with high spirits as the festival geared up for another annual display of Chinese exceptionalism. China is not one to follow in line with Western ideas about democracy. Indeed, President Xi Jinping rose to remind his American counterpart, Donald Trump, of China’s history as the world’s oldest civilisation. The rhetoric of national pride and identity has helped China forge its own development, its own unique path that in many ways does not align with the West. Yet, with a slowdown in growth, fears of trade wars and a growing

pessimism amongst many ordinary Chinese citizens, it is interesting to see how this culture can maintain its exceptional status. It is unclear when exactly the celebration of the New Year began in China. But it is a time that honours Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (which lasted from 206BC – 220AD), who initiated the solar base calendar used to measure a period of one year. Accordingly, it is this traditional Chinese calendar that is celebrated to this day: With millions celebrating the year of the earth pig, it is important to note the difference in celebrations within China and the rest of the world. Chinese families tend to gather in the evenings for an annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional to clean the house thoroughly in order to symbolically start the new year afresh. Moreover, many families will decorate their windows and doors with red paper cut-outs, light firecrackers and give out money in red paper envelopes. Many factories, businesses, banks, and schools also close during the build-up to

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issues, such as how to come to terms with difficult experiences from my past and my fear of getting older and dying. I have loved being part of a series that puts me out there, unadorned, unashamed and still very much a sexual being.” Mitchell has a striking presence in the images: her hair is cut short, and she is presented without the traditional props of femininity. The defiance of her gaze lies in its unwillingness to be overpowered by the spectator. In most of the images containing Sour-Puss’ face she is not looking directly into the lens or she has her eyes closed. Rather than gazing directly into the lens and searching the eyes of the viewer for feedback, Duarte and Mitchell have created a series of im-

New Year. Even after the festival ends, it can take a while before the economy returns to its normal capacity. As people prepare to go home for the holidays, Chinese New Year is seen as one of the year’s biggest shopping seasons. However, the economic slump continued this year, with sales in the retail and food-and-drink industries only growing by 8.5% to 1.005 trillion yuan ($149 billion) over the week-long holiday. This reflects the issues within China’s economy: according to the Ministry of Commerce, this was down 1.7 percentage points from 2018. Not only this, it was also the lowest growth rate in the data going back to 2005. With spending continuously in decline, the New Year celebrations create a pessimistic benchmark to analyse the economy for the rest of the year: “Everything’s too pricey for me,” said one 49-year-old man, a company worker from Shandong Province. “I’m just enjoying seeing the sights.” Despite an apparent falter within the domestic economy, a staggering 7 million

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Mankind and the Machine Chinese citizens have been reported to be travelling overseas during the holiday period. The amount spent abroad has not been accounted for by the Commerce Ministry’s report but given the nature of luxury taxes on Chinese goods, designer handbags, watches, and accessories tend to be at least 30% cheaper in Europe. Figures from forward flight booking data suggest that there was a 24% increase in bookings from China to the UK from 30th January to 12th February – this supersedes figures from last year. Celebrations of the New Year attract many visitors to the UK, with parades and performances in Birmingham, Leeds, London and even as far across as Edinburgh. Visitors from China account for the highest spending visitors in the UK, with an average of £2059 spent in a single visit. Therefore, it is no surprise that various parts of the UK host

extravagant fairs to help facilitate the demand of the culture. Facilitating and buying into the culture abroad emphasises this attraction to travel. This desire to not only spread awareness of Chinese heritage, but to cultivate a global interest in China’s exceptionalism is a sentiment that former president Hu Jintao advocated, stating that “getting other countries to like China was a national priority.” With the economy not growing as fast as many would like, China has an opportunity to expand its international cultural influence instead. Over the last decade, China’s Minister of Culture has invested in Confucius institutes that offer mainly Chinese language classes, with more than 500 universities around the world partnering in the scheme. Western scholars and politicians have argued that these schemes have worsened

rather than aided China’s image with issues concerning suppression of free speech and spreading Communist party propaganda. Indeed, in 2014, the American Association of University Professors expressed a grave concern and urged that Confucius institutes be shut down. Certainly then, under the guise of Chinese New Year, we can project a more inclusive, positive perception of Chinese culture. This image is important, especially considering the fragility of trade wars between the US and China. A global image of support and solidarity will likely help China fare better internationally; nevertheless, more is needed ahead of upcoming trade talks. Simron Gill is a third-year PPE student and co-Editor of Politics & Economics for Warwick Globalist

image Wikimedia | Georges Biard

The Oscars 2019 Emma Worrall discusses the various controversies that have dogged this year’s upcoming Academy Awards, and dissects the contenders nominated for Best Picture. It’s unfortunate that the Oscars ceremony this year seems like it will be defined not by the films it honours, but by the controversy around getting a host. As you might have seen, Kevin Hart pulled out after igniting criticism about his past homophobia. At the time of writing, no new host has been announced and it is looking increasingly likely that there may not be a host at all. Regardless, the show must go on. Here are some of the narratives behind the different contenders for Best Picture 2019. Netflix vs. the cinemas Netflix cemented its domination of television in 2013 when it achieved nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards for House of Cards. From then on, it has been trying to enter the cinema world the same way. In 2015, Beasts of No Nation was totally shut out but, last year, Mudbound nabbed three nominations. This year, for the first time, a Netflix original, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, has

been nominated for Best Picture. More than that, it tied with Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite for the most nominations this year at an astonishing 10. However, many people in the industry will be hostile to Roma’s success, fearing what it means for the industry. More and more audiences are turning away from cinemas in favour of home entertainment and on demand. Netflix has been criticised for not widely releasing Roma in cinemas before it was released on Netflix’s platform. It was turned away from the Cannes Festival competition for not releasing into cinemas. Critics argue that a film with the scale and cinematography of Roma needs to be seen in a cinema, and Netflix actively disincentivises seeing Roma on the big screen, even though it was released to select theatres to be eligible. Still, Roma has clearly succeeded. Some laud Netflix for making a blackand-white foreign language Mexican drama mainstream enough to be

nominated. It could be argued that Netflix users are much more likely to take a punt on something they wouldn’t usually see like Roma because it is available for free at home rather than going and buying a cinema ticket. But, in that case, where is the line for the Oscars? Will they become as dominated by streaming platforms as television has been? The Race Card The Oscars 2019 have been lauded as the most diverse ever and three of the best picture nominees tell black stories and are directed by black men: If Beale Street Could Talk, Blackkklansman and Black Panther. This is definitely something which will be highlighted by the Academy during the programme, especially three years on from the #OscarsSoWhite debacle. Indeed, films in the mainstream have felt much more diverse as a whole. One of the ‘snubs’ of the Oscars was the romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, though perhaps it was Warwick Globalist |Spring 2019 | 13

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Arts and Culture far-fetched to expect the Academy to reward a superhero movie and a romcom the same year. Black Panther is the first superhero movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture. Good job, Disney – you got one! While still being a somewhat safe comic-book movie, it is seen as creating an interesting cultural mashup between comic books, black American culture, science fiction and African demarcations. It is (rightly) being celebrated for bringing black voices into such a mainstream phenomenon. Blackkklansman also marks new ground for the Academy: director Spike Lee has never been nominated despite his decades-long career. But what a film to be nominated for! The film uses dark humour perfectly to make its based-ona-true-story buddy cop premise into something funny and terrifying. Some have accused it of being too overt in its political messaging: although it does occasionally feel clumsy, especially by ending with video of the 2017 Charlottesville protests, it pitches itself as a film of our times, which might be something the Academy wants to lean into. Nominating three black-centric movies does not mean the Academy is going to take them seriously. The Oscars are still dominated by the white and the old. Some have argued that many members of the Academy feel much more comfortable with Green Book, a film about an odd-couple relationship between a black man and his white driver. It is a film about race told from a white perspective and made by white people. The Woman Question Where are the women? Still not in the Best Director nominees, that’s for sure. In fact, none of the films nominated for Best Picture were directed by women. The anger at the Oscars for continuing to let women’s voices be excluded is justified. But let us not forget it is an endemic problem of the film industry as a whole. A tiny percentage of films are directed by women (4% of the top 100 grossing films of 2018). Some of the female-directed films which missed out on the shortlist are Can You Ever Forgive Me (nominated for its screenplay and performances), Leave No Trace, and You Were Never Really Here. Though not made by a woman (despite the fact that it was co-written by one), it is hugely exciting that The Favourite, a film entirely about the

relationship between three women, was tied with Roma for most nominations. It tells the story of Queen Anne and the women who love her and manipulate her. It is stellar filmmaking, with a humorous and interesting script, but what I will take away most from it is how unusual it still feels in 2019 to see a film about the relationships between women which are not filtered through men at all. It’s also great to see a period film about queer women, which are still passed over in stories about women today, let alone royalty in the 18th century. Through the three great performers Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, the women are all shown as very complex and nuanced, but are still allowed to be funny. Again, this wouldn’t exactly be ground-breaking if it were about men but is so refreshing to see with women. Swimming with the (main)stream It appears the Academy has made more of an effort this year to embrace films which are mainstream commercial successes after years of being criticised for being out-of-touch with the general moviegoing public. We have to remember that fifteen years ago films like The Lord of the Rings and Gladiator were winning Best Picture as well as being commercial triumphs. But in recent years, the Academy has mostly recognised films with a much lower profile. I think it might be a case of the Academy never really being able to win on this, because they will also get criticised for not featuring films that are more obscure and arthouse. Anyway, as discussed, the Academy honoured its first superhero Best Picture nominee, Black Panther, the highestgrossing film of 2018. As well as this, both A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody rank in the top 15. A Star is Born is the fourth remake of the same property and is seen as a very well-made version of a safe commercial romantic film. At one point, the hype was so big that it was seen as a frontrunner but now appears more in the centre of the pack. Bohemian Rhapsody, another behind-the-scenes music drama, is a lot more divisive. It was almost universally dismissed by critics but received a much more warm welcome by the public (including, it seems, by Academy voters). As well as being seen by critics as not particularly well-made, there has been outcry over how the film brushes over parts of Freddie Mercury’s life (especially his queer relationships). Furthermore, accusations of sexual

assault that have been levelled against director Bryan Singer could be hurting the film, too. So why did it even get nominated? Well, there was probably a lot of warmth towards Queen, especially as surviving members of the band have made several public appearances promoting the film. There has also been praise for Rami Malek’s performance as Mercury. So will this be the year in which the Oscars buck the critics in favour of a more populist Best Picture winner? The Verdict It feels like a weird year for the Best Picture race, though I couldn’t tell you exactly why. Maybe the films feel like much more of a hodgepodge bunch this year. Rather than the collection of lauded glossy dramas of the past, these nominees range from the blockbuster (Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, Black Panther) to the tonally avant-garde (The Favourite, Blackkklansman), to the traditional Oscar-style drama (Green Book,Vice), with foreign film tossed in there to boot (though directed by Academy favourite, Alfonso Cuarón)! And the strange thing is, there doesn’t seem to be a clear frontrunner. The usual way in which the field shrinks and pundits start figuring out who will win is by looking at the earlier award ceremonies and who is cleaning up. The problem is that there just isn’t a very clear picture forming. The Critics’ Choice top honour went to Roma, as did the Directors’ Guild, but the Producers’ Guild Award went to Green Book, as did the Golden Globe for Best Comedy. The Best Drama Golden Globe went to Bohemian Rhapsody, and the Screen Actors’ Guild for Best Ensemble went to Black Panther. By that quick rundown, it would seem that the frontrunners are Roma and Green Book. While Roma would make sense (though, as a foreign language film, would be surprising), the controversy and mediocre reviews around Green Book would make it a rather gloomy offering, out-of-step with the younger, more diverse Academy it is trying to present itself as. For my picks, Blackkklansman and The Favourite are two of the most innovative, taboobashing, bombastic films of the year and are what I believe the Oscars should be aiming for. Emma Worrall is a third-year English Literature student  

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Mankind and the Machine

Sweatshop Colonialism

Kassidy Dawn analyses the place sweatshop production has in our society and why this should end Without so-called “sweatshops”, factory workers would only be worse off – it’s a mantra that Western society has embraced and internalised. You may, at some point, have felt a pang of regret for the horrific conditions that your clothing was produced in. Everyone knows that conditions in sweatshops are bad; we’ve all seen the tragedies, such as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 and adverse health effects from chemical usage. All are a product of our insatiable desire for cheap clothing, but we continue to buy. As a society, we have justified this all as being the means to a better end and these concerns are quickly soothed by the expert economist, who’ll tell you through that these are necessary for economic growth. Supposedly there would be higher unemployment, fewer opportunities for women to enter the workforce and fewer chances for poor agricultural communities to modernise without these sweatshops. They’ll tell you that, if people are employed, spending increases, which, in turn, benefits local and national businesses. The poorest in society will at least have some money to spend and small business owners and industrious entrepreneurs will have opportunities to expand and grow. Economic growth will increase as a result and, as we all know, if the economy is growing, everyone will be better off. Over time, the economy will continue to grow and get better and, one day, it will be just like ours. Rostow’s development theory outlines how states go through progressive stages of growth,

eventually reaching a stage of ‘high mass consumption’, where they can then think about welfare and workforce protection. So really, we should support the fast fashion industry as much as we can. We’re helping these people to live better lives, just like ours. This is a lie. There are huge omissions in this explanation of economic theory as well contradicting empirical evidence. It puts forward a false idea of us choosing the supposed lesser of two evils. Most importantly, it misses out the thing that causes the suffering, suppresses change and incentivises horrific working conditions – us. There is a tendency, which I want to avoid, of shifting the responsibility to source products ethically from big business and policy regulators to the consumer. Most people do not want to hurt other people. If they could, they would always buy products that help others. But, when you’ve only got a budget of £20 for food each week, choosing between a £4 t-shirt from H&M and a £40 t-shirt from American Apparel isn’t really a choice at all. Furthermore, most consumers (and often even chains themselves) don’t even have access to information about who made their products and in what condition. Indeed, the Fashion Transparency Index rated only 3 of 42 fashion labels as having genuine transparency in the information provided to consumers. However, we do all have to recognise that we are in many ways complicit in a system that causes deep suffering in many developing countries.

Low-income consumers may not have the option to spend more on ethical clothing brands, but they do have the power to participate in public demand for accountability. One popular yet flawed assumption of the argument for sweatshops is that if such factories did not exist, there would be a significant fall in employment. Firstly, people in developing countries are perfectly capable of starting and growing business. Small, locally run businesses are very vulnerable to the competition brought by big international business. Large businesses have cheaper running costs, greater funds, sell cheaper goods and can easily outcompete small businesses. Evidence shows that, contrary to economic theory based on Ricardian comparative advantage, states develop more equally and sustainably while in isolation from Western hegemonic powers . Furthermore, exploitative trading relationships mean that established businesses are forced into a ‘race to the bottom’ in order to attract and maintain trading relationships. Factories in developing countries will not get business if their costs are higher than factories elsewhere. The documentary The True Cost outlines, through interviews the struggle of factory owners in attracting business as they are consistently pushed to lower costs . Furthermore, regional competition leads to cases of both international and interregional race-to–the-bottom . Thus, the presence of large multi-national corporations (MNCs) in developing countries contributes in itself to the suppression of development and entrepreneurship. Warwick Globalist | Spring 2019 17

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The Banana Republic

other than John Foster Dulles, Head of US State Department, was part of the United Fruit Company’s legal team. His brother Allen who headed the CIA was also on the company’s board of directors. When the Guatemalan government refused to compromise on both land reform and communist purges, CIA operation PBSuccess, an attempt to overthrow the Guatemalan president, was authorised by President Eisenhower. From recruiting, training, funding and arming anti-government guerrillas to engaging in one of the most widespread psychological warfare campaigns in recent history, US intervention was intense and led to Arbenz’ resignation on June 27, 1954. His resignation led with it the end of Guatemala’s Ten Years of Spring, the ten years Guatemalans had a chance at democracy. The ensuing civil war that would last until 1996 left up to 200,000 people dead or missing and included the Guatemalan dictatorship’s genocide of between 32,000 and 166,000 of the indigenous Maya population. The architect of this, what has been called “Silent Holocaust,” dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was supported both by the CIA and openly by Reagan, who met with, defended

A word from the Editor with Andrew Kersley There’s a dark history behind that common adage “Banana Republic,” and the nation that sprouted the phrase: Guatemala. The United Fruit Company, of Boston, owned half a million acres of land in Guatemala, the railroad, the port, and even all telecommunication lines. All of this while paying its farmers a pittance and often not in cash but tokens to United Fruit Company’s stores. In 1950, Jacobo Arbenz, promising to take on the UFC, was elected president. While in no way a Communist himself, he was elected as a part of a left coalition that included some. He enacted sweeping land reform, buying back fallow land at the value listed on the company’s tax returns to redistribute to the Guatemalan people. United Fruit Company, which had been systematically undervaluing their property to avoid Guatemalan taxation, was offered just over a million dollars for their fallow land. UFC claimed it deserved sixteen times that. None

to change. Legislation needs to be put in place to regulate the conditions under which the goods we buy are produced – not just agreements, but actual laws which incentivise businesses to produce responsibly or face real criminal consequences. This is not a question of what is possible, merely one of our society’s priorities. However, it requires us to stop accepting false arguments that frees us of any guilt and demand changes in legislation to hold businesses accountable. Kassidy Dawn is a second year PPE student

and sold $6 million of arms to Montt’s regime. American intervention crushed the dream of democracy for the Guatemalan people for another 40 years. This would be one in a long list of countries in “America’s Backyard” that received similar treatment. In the Cold War alone the US actively participated in some 22 regime changes, in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and more to replace democratic regimes with autocratic dictators. The dramatic irony of this Guatemalan intervention would come to bite America later. Many government supporters would be forced to flee after the coup, and one eventually ended up in Mexico City. His experiences in Guatemala would shape his beliefs and his future. That man: Che Guevara. image flickr | Marco Verch

overall – which is significant considering the undeniable trend of inflation in almost every other sector. This is not because of increasing efficiency; it is only a result of worse conditions, which allow for cheap and compliant labour. The conditions for workers in these factories are not improving, if anything year on year they get worse. There is a better option. Fundamentally problems with transparency in corporate supply chains, abuses of the workforce, MNC capital flight, lack of consumer information and lack of punishment for abusive companies are all things that be legislated against. However, for such legislation to be enacted, we need to make this issue get onto the political agenda. If fast-fashion brands are held accountable, they will be forced

rijans, Flickr

Moreover, the argument does not account for the fact that a significant proportion of profits made by MNCs are repatriated – with a surge in repatriation of profits to the US, following the Tax Cuts and Jobs act . While a small amount of money trickles back into the economy through wages, most of the benefits of businesses are brought back into the wealthy, developed nations from whence they came. Secondly, if costs of production rise in one region or country, companies tend to simply shift production to another. This causes policies in developing countries to be geared towards attracting big business, policies which can reduce growth or hamper development opportunities. These are policies such as low or no minimum wage, low corporation tax and few regulations or health and safety requirements. This is not the fault of developing nations. There are simply no other options but to play to the interests of big business. If production moves elsewhere then regions are simply left without prospects – not dissimilar to regions of the UK, still suffering from the closure of factories and mines in the absence of education and diversification programs. Thirdly, even if economies grow, it’s unlikely that the poorest in society will benefit. Clothing prices have deflated

image flickr | rijans

Politics and Economics

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image flickr | Marco Verch

image Wikimedia | Carlos Díaz

Mankind and the Machine

Venezuela and the New Cold War Matilda Smith discusses the crisis in Venezuela and its global relevance Every time I bring up the current political turmoil in Venezuela I am always met with some version of the phrase ‘I just don’t understand what’s going on’. There is a strong sense of dismissal in such a statement, a belief that the situation in Venezuela is not an important enough crisis to dedicate any time finding out about. Despite the distance, we must endeavour to understand the current crisis. In Venezuela we see the latest stage of a conflict we have long considered to be over. The Cold War, long believed to have been fizzled out, rears its ugly head once again. For those that are new to the Venezuela debate, here is a quick summary of what has been occurring in the last few years. The story begins with a devastating and almighty economic crash. As is the case with many oil-dependent economies, Venezuela’s infrastructure remained weak and underdeveloped and its economy not even slightly diversified. Since the 1920s what was one of the most affluent countries in Latin America has based its economy almost solely on the export of oil. In fact, oil sales account for 98% of export earnings and as much as 50% of GDP. This becomes a serious problem when oil prices fell and production in Venezuela began to plummet. This reached a new low in 2018 when GDP shrunk by double digits for a third consecutive year. Such a disaster resulted in levels of hyperinflation that we cannot even fully comprehend - more than 80,000 percent. Life and livelihoods cannot possibly function in any normal way with these economic conditions. Now 9 in 10 Venezuelans live in poverty, while 1 in 10 have fled the country. This economic disaster is coupled with a healthy dose of political authoritarianism from the “democratically elected” President Nicolás Maduro. Besides the fact that Maduro has stopped releasing Venezuela’s economic data since 2014, the President has been carefully scrap-

ing away at the democratic rights of the Venezuelan people. Despite the fact that less than half of Venezuelans voted in the country’s May 20th election, Maduro was still re-elected by a high margin over his opponent. The election was so problematic that opposition parties mostly opted to boycott the vote altogether. Months before the election, Maduro’s regime coerced citizens to register as Socialist Party members, used state food-handouts to lure hungry people into voting for Maduro and blacklisted opposition candidates. Most electoral officials are part of Maduro’s regime, and have previously ignored vote tampering and last-minute gerrymandering. Only Russia, China, Cuba and thirteen other countries have acknowledged the election results. During the election at least ten people were killed while participating in protests, two of whom were teenagers. In fact, between April 2017 when anti-government protests began in Venezuela, until July, 126 people have been killed in political skirmishes and protests. Enter the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaido, who declared himself President of the Interim on the 23rd January. His Party, Voluntad Popular or Popular Will, is centrist and social-democratic – something of an oxymoron, I grant you, but certainly not an especially terrifying stance in theory. Immediately recognised by the US, Canada and a number of Latin American Conservative governments, including Brazil and by the UK, France, Spain, Germany and other European countries after Maduro refused their demand to call for a new election, his image Wikimedia | Alexcocopro

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position was very quickly legitimised by much of the global community. Trump has asserted especially heavy policies and has imposed heavy sanctions against Maduro’s government, seized billions-worth of Venezuelan oil-related assets on US soil, and has made threats of American military intervention if Maduro continues to refuse to back down. Despite continued resistance from the Venezuelan people however, including protests that led to 14 more deaths, Maduro is showing no signs of backing down. China, Russia and Turkey, have all expressed their support for Maduro, which is unsurprising considering his deepening ties with them over the course of his presidency. These ties are based largely on economic dependency. China’s state banks extended 17 loans to Venezuela worth a total of $62.2 billion, which is more than it has loaned to any other Latin American country. Meanwhile, Russia’s state-run oil company Rosneft has a vested interest in Maduro’s government. In December 2016, Rosneft took a nearly 50% stake in Citgo, a U.S.based oil company owned by Venezuela’s state energy giant, PDVSA, as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan to Maduro’s government. In 2017 Russia even extended a lifeline to Venezuela by agreeing to restructure $3.15 billion of debt payments that it owes Moscow. However, Venezuela’s total debt to Russia could be much higher. But these ties are ideological as well as financial. Venezuelan links with Russia goes back to the presidency of Hugo Chavez. Venezuela was one of few countries in the world to follow Russia’s lead in recognising the Georgian breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent and has since backed Russia’s actions in Syria and the Ukraine. Meanwhile, Venezuela and China are only getting closer as Trump’s govern-

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Matilda Smith is a third year History student and co-Editor-in-Chief of the Globalist

The Nightmare in Honduras Scott Rose analyses the most dangerous country in the world and its place on the global stage

Recently, there has been no shortage of news detailing the political situation in Venezuela, as the United States and many other countries have declared the re-election of president Nicolas Maduro to be illegitimate. Protesters have poured into the streets of Caracas, supporting the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who the U.S. has recognised as the nation’s interim president. However, when a nearly identical situation occurred in Honduras at the end of 2017, it hardly received any media coverage. While the Organisation of American States questioned the validity of Juan Orlando Hernandez’s re-election, the United States accepted the results and offered little support to the thousands of Hondurans who had risen in protest. Government corruption isn’t new to Honduras, but the Hernandez presidency has taken dirty politics to new levels. The president was earlier forbidden by law to run for re-election, but the law was overturned by a ruling of five Supreme Court judges, all of whom had been appointed by Hernandez. The presidential election was held in November of 2017, pitting Hernandez against opposiCarlos Díaz, Wikimedia

If you enjoy drinking coffee or eating fruit, it’s highly likely you’ve consumed products exported from Honduras. Indeed chances are a good part of your wardrobe was cut and sewn there. Yet, many consumers would be unable to point out Honduras on a map. This small Central American nation has been a Western ally and trading partner for two centuries, but is facing a crisis. A crisis that, like the nation itself, is being largely overlooked by the international media. Ask ten people to name the most dangerous country in the world, and you’ll get a variety of answers, ranging from Syria to Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps viewers of Narcos would guess that it’s Mexico or Colombia. However, they would all be wrong. Honduras has the highest murder rate on the planet, and it’s getting worse daily. The violence isn’t limited to foreign tourists. Journalists, women, members of the LGBT community, and casual bystanders are all fair game in Honduras. Murder has almost become sport, and the nation’s government, theoretically a democracy, is far too corrupt to effectively do anything about it.

image Stand with JNU

by regimes with a litany of human rights abuses to his name. That does not mean that we must therefore support Trump’s heavy-handed approach, however. He is only exasperating the crisis (as he always does) and bringing everyone closer towards conflict. But the fact of the matter is Maduro does not stand for democracy, and an alternative to him, no matter how flawed, has to be put forward. If that someone is of Venezuela and generally supported by the Venezuelan people as these protests show, is that not a demonstration of self-determination, however imperfect? All in all, if Venezuela teaches us anything it’s that when democracy is broken, sometimes it’s a question of the lesser of two evils.

image Public Domain

policy of a Trump administration. The Soviet Union may have collapsed, but old friendships die hard and longstanding conflicts don’t just disappear, especially when they are based on ideology. In a world where we believe that the Cold War is over, Venezuela should be a wake-up call for all of us. Whilst the lack of an actual democratic mandate for “Interim President” Guaido isn’t ideal, it pales in comparison to the problems of letting Maduro stay. His election was completely crooked, and he has made repeated moves to make Venezuela a more authoritarian state from silencing opposition to shooting civilian protesters to death in the streets. Now people in his country face a level of poverty and desperation that we will never experience or comprehend. Day after day, Maduro evolves into more of an authoritarian, abusive leader backed up Alexcocopro, Wikimedia

ment continues to vindicate and threaten them both. It’s unsurprising therefore that the East Asian country is forging closer ties with America’s enemies. More than that, defending Venezuela plays into China’s longstanding and close-to-home foreign policy of enshrining national sovereignty even in cases of systematic state abuse of human rights. Turkey on the other hand has been forging closer ties with Venezuela since the 2016 coup attempt and government changes in Brazil and Argentina which have left Turkey with few allies in Latin America. So, as Trump asserts an increasingly aggressive policy against Venezuela and Turkey, Russia and China forge ever-tightening links with Maduro, the global community is forced into polarising positions. Positions that can only become more divergent when you factor in the heavy-handed conflict-risking

tion candidate Salvador Nasralla. As the votes were being counted, Nasralla was in the lead and headed toward victory before the counting was suspended, with Hernandez eventually being declared the winner. Hondurans went to the streets in protest, until the president ordered a military crackdown. A few foreign news services broadcast scenes of protesters being tear-gassed, but for the most part, the events went largely unnoticed outside of Honduras. An organisation called the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras reported that at least 22 people were killed while many others disappeared and haven’t been seen since. Upon being elected to his first term, Hernandez had talked tough, promising a zero-tolerance policy against gangs and narcotics traffickers. And yet, the president’s own brother, Tony Hernandez, was arrested by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Miami this past November, charged with trafficking cocaine into the United States. Tony apparently took a great deal of pride in his product, as each bag of cocaine was stamped with the initials, “TH.” Tony Hernandez was even heard on tape setting up protection for

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drug shipments within Honduras. Some of the shipments were escorted and protected by the Honduran National Police. On top of this, Honduran gang violence is out of control. The slums in the city of San Pedro Sula have become a hell on earth, as even young children are pulled into gangs, running errands before “graduating” into becoming fullfledged members. Robbery and kidnapping occurs openly on the highways and city streets. These are stories I have even heard firsthand, from relatives and family in Honduras. In one instance, my sister-in-law was robbed aboard a bus, along with all of the other passengers. For many, this is an everyday occurrence in the cities. On another occasion, the family was terrified that my wife’s brother had been kidnapped while on a business trip. After not being heard from for several hours, we breathed a collective sigh of relief upon learning he had merely been without cell phone reception. The threat of kidnapping is serious, especially for anyone who appears to have financial means beyond destitution. Nearly all private homes are protected by high walls with barbed wire or shards of broken glass on top to keep intruders out. Indeed this all plays out in a country with soaring economic inequality, where a vast majority of wealth is centralised, whilst huge swathes of the populace are destitute. It has the 16th highest inequality rate in the world (some 90 places above the UK) - with a GINI coefficient rating of some 50%. Cities like San Pedro Sula are defined by massive urbanisation, slum housing conditions and hugely widespread under-employment (some one third of the population). For its entire existence, Honduras has enjoyed a strong relationship with the United States and most other countries in the Western world. During the Cold War, Honduras was talked of by the

US as a beacon of democracy. However, what is occurring now seems to be a heinous perversion of that democracy. President Hernandez has gradually consolidated his power, appointing friends and family to key positions in the government. With such widespread corruption, for many citizens in Honduras democracy seems to offer no solution to their awful sociopolitical conditions. When elections like the one in 2017 don’t carry out the will of the voters, this feeling can only grow. The current situation in Honduras is eerily reminiscent of the Somoza dynasty in neighbouring Nicaragua. That corrupt dynasty would be toppled by the Sandinista socialist revolution, and followed

by years of civil war and human rights abuses. Whether such a future is in store for Honduras hangs in the balance. The question now then, is one of whether the struggling society of Honduras can avoid collapse without the help of an intervention to defend its democracy. For that to happen however, people outside Honduras need to start watching. 1. Jeff Ernst and Elisabeth Malkin, “Amid Protests, Honduran President Is Sworn In For Second Term” New York Times, January 27, 2018 2. Sarah Kinosian, “U.S. Recognizes Re-election of Honduras President Despite Fraud Allegations” The Guardian, December 22, 2017 3. Jeff Murdock, “Honduran President’s Brother Faces Drug Trafficking Charges in U.S.” The Washington Times, November 26, 2018 4. Gustavo Palencia, “Honduran President Sworn In Amid Protests After Election Chaos” Reuters, January 27, 2018 Scott Rose is an independent researcher and historian based in Durham, North Carolina

An invasion of innocents A word from the Editor with Simron Gill

It was only a few months ago that President Trump called out the “caravan migrants” seeking refuge in the United States by tweeting “many gang members and some very bad people are mixed into the caravan heading to our southern border and warning that our military is waiting for you”. Many of these migrants are coming from Honduras to seek a better life in the US. America has embodied this image of being this hegemonic, all-inclusive land of opportunities, but it is this exceptionalism that has come into question now more so than ever. Rather than continue to build on the land built by migrants, America has seeped into fearing those they deem different. Indeed, Trump’s isolationist position in the global sphere has helped to perpetuate derogatory rhetoric to these vulnerable individuals. We hear this slander towards Honduran migrants, but it is rare to hear the genuine troubled voices behind the stereotypes. Josue, aged 20, attested: “The situation here in Honduras has been bad for years. One tries to make

it north, that’s our dream, because here even when you do have work, what you get paid is only just enough to eat. There’s no way to earn enough to get a decent place to live. There are four of us in my family and we all live in a wooden shack. It’s dangerous here. Two rival gangs operate where I live, and both have tried to recruit me. They try to paint you a nice picture of gang life but I’m not stupid. I don’t want that life for myself. So, I have no alternative but to leave because I don’t want to get into trouble. God willing, I will make it to the US.” Perhaps if we heard more voices like Josue, we wouldn’t be as quick to judge. Chandran Kukathas in a principle of humanity suggests that very good reasons must be offered to justify turning the disadvantaged away. When we don’t understand something, we are quick to fall into our ignorance. By calling people rapists or murderers, we detract ourselves from the humanity of the situation. Indeed, we construct these homogeneous identities that distort the very nature of the desperate realities. Warwick Globalist | Spring 2019 21

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Science and Technology

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Rage Against the Machine

George Bailey on our long history of railing against technology and our future relationship with it Amazon using robots to move packages around their warehouses and, closer to home, Jaguar Land Rover having large portions of their car manufacturing being done by machines. These aren’t far-off ideas about the future; these changes are occurring now and robots are presenting the greatest economic threat to the human workforce since the Great Depression (the unemployment rate then was 24.9% in the US). It is no wonder that people, especially those in jobs easily replaced by robots feel threatened by them and therefore lash out at robots anywhere they can because we are hurtling towards a future where job advertisements will

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taking it out of commission. This string of occurrences, while disconcerting, highlights the socio-economic fears that humans hold about robots, which is understandable from a certain perspective as these robots were replacing the job of a security guard. Yet troublingly, this is not the only type of violence towards robots. In 2014, Canadian researchers created a hitchhiking robot and set it out across the American continent as a social experiment. The robot reached the border perfectly fine but when it crossed into the United States it quickly got dismembered and left on the side of the road. This highlights a disturbing hostility that humanity has for robots and its left social scientists and technology experts wondering why humans are so violent to robots. As mentioned earlier, one of the most understandable arguments is the socio-economic consideration of robots. Tech employment scholars argue that in roughly two decades 47% of all jobs in the US will be automated as everything from manufacturing jobs to truckers, warehouse workers to tax preparers and journalists to doctors are all threatened by the robotic tide of workers willing to do these jobs with far greater efficiency than humans and costing far less for companies in the long term. These changes are already occurring right now with Uber developing self-driving cars,

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When the First Industrial Revolution was taking off in England, many factories started replacing the men, women and children working there with automated machines. These machines were expensive but produced far more for far cheaper over time and this resulted in thousands being put out of jobs. In response to this a group of individuals under the leadership of a Captain Ludd broke into factories and destroyed the machines that put them out of jobs. These people were called Luddites and they were eventually tried on charges that equate in the modern day to terrorism. Now over 100 years later, Luddites have emerged, not necessarily in name, but certainly in practice. Violence against the robots is on the rise and this is proving problematic not only for the creators of these robots but also the general public at large. For the creators the rising violence is scaring off consumers from investing in new robots. Take for example in San Francisco where a pet shelter bought a security robot to reduce the number of break-ins. The result was the robot being kidnapped and having barbeque sauce smeared all over it. What is worse however was the rise in threats towards the pet shelter when the news of the kidnapping came out. Hundreds of messages that encouraged violence and vandalism towards a pet shelter simply because they had a security robot! It finally pushed the president of the pet shelter to return the robot to the manufacturer. This isn’t the only example of Knightscope’s security robots being targeted by random members of the public, as they have received reports on everything from childish vandalism of their robots to a drunken Californian man tackling the robot to the floor and 22| Spring 2019 | Warwick Globalist Mankind and the machine.indd 22

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Mankind and the Machine workers and specifically AI robots would be guaranteed under the same protections as humans. This would therefore reduce the rising violence as people could then be prosecuted for manslaughter, or more precisely robot-slaughter, if a robot were destroyed. This decision would generate significant backlash in political communities as well as religious communities across the world as it would be essentially stating that robots are on par with humans and for many that would be a step too far. A different solution to reducing robot violence has been shown to work in studies and it relies, ironically, on our own genetic programming. The solution: make robots look more human. Studies have shown that if you put eyes on a donation box, people will donate more simply because the eyes make us kinder. The robots, mentioned earlier, that were

attacked, looked nothing like a human and did not have ‘eyes’ necessarily and perhaps that is where the creators have gone wrong. Although the robots might be more inefficient looking like a human, it would provide a cheaper and quicker alternative to reducing the rising violence against robots. Hopefully humanity will finally be able to escape the shadow of the Luddites and take steps towards the new frontier for robotics. A future where humanity’s greatest problems, such as insufficient healthcare, food shortages and climate change, can be solved by harnessing the power of robots for good and without prejudice. George Bailey is currently on a year abroad in Arizona, is studying History and is Editor of the Science and Technology section

The Anitbiotics Crisis and You

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Matthew Dale tells us all we need to know about antimicrobial peptides, antibiotic resistance and why you should care about them In 1945, Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey, and Ernst Chain were awarded the Nobel Prize “for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases”. Penicillin, and the antibiotics that followed, is a jewel that shines the brightest in the crown of medicine’s achievements. Not only were once life-threatening infections made into routinely preventable diseases, but they fuelled other advances in medicine. A bloody history of surgery has been pacified in part by antibiotics, turning them from a last-ditch dice roll with death into standard procedures, and made entirely new procedures such as organ transplants possible. Antibiotics are also used in chemotherapy treatments, and a variety of chronic diseases to offset the threat of opportunistic bacterial infection. Nothing attests to its impact more than the fact that it had only been 3 years since the first patient was treated with penicillin, and they were already being awarded for its development with the highest honour in science. But long before their medals could gather up dust,

their work had already been squandered. By the 1950s, penicillin resistance was already rearing its head as a significant issue of medicine as doctors began noticing trends of penicillin resistance. In an attempt to avert such a crisis, many new antibiotics were discovered and developed but all have met the same fate [1]. Modern pharmacology has found itself in an arms race of antibiotics versus bacteria, and losing. Badly. Scientists are nothing if not obstinate though, and to prevent the Antibiotic Armageddon, some have looked to new classes of drugs that circumvent the mechanisms that bacteria have developed to our current antibiotics. Enter antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), a family of proteins that help prevent infection in organisms from all branches of the tree of life, with mammals, insects, plants, and bacteria all relying on their services. They’re small proteins that are typically 12 to 50 amino acids, found in cells of the innate immune system and bodily fluids like mucus, fighting at the front lines that are first exposed to pathogens.

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state ‘Humans need not apply’. However there is another theory to explain the rising violence towards robots. We are programmed to be violent towards them. One of the holdovers from Luddite ideology is that we hit machines all the time. Think about when your phone doesn’t work, or the printer doesn’t print or your car breaks down. We hit the machine much like we’d hit a human if they did something to annoy us but unlike humans there is no repercussions to hitting a machine, so it’s more acceptable and we do it more often. So does it being a robot make it any different to hitting and attacking any other machine, or is there something fundamentally different about robots as opposed to other technology? In short, should robots have rights? This would be a solution to human on robot violence as it would ensure robot

AMPs employ many methods to protect their host from a variety of microbes, which can be divided into two categories. There are peptides that directly attack the pathogen, and peptides which work as assistants to help the immune system target pathogens [4]. One tried and tested trick that can be used is disintegrating the membrane by punching holes in it. At its core, the membrane is a protective barrier just like the skin that covers our bodies so, unsurprising, it forms the focal point of attack [2]. These peptides have positive ends which can latch onto negatively charged parts of the membrane like a magnet. Peptides can insert themselves into the membrane, beginning a disembowelment of the invader that leads to its timely death [4]. Antiviral peptides have a similar mechanism of integrating themselves into the viral envelope – their equivalent of a membrane. Antiviral peptides can also block viruses from entering host cells. Lactoferrin is one such AMP which prevents herpes simplex viruses (which, as you can guess, Warwick Globalist | Spring 2019| 23

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causes herpes) from entering the cell by attaching itself to the virus’ receptors that bind to the cell. [2] AMPs are also able to infiltrate and bring down pathogens from the inside. Some peptides enter without causing membrane destruction and instead target DNA, RNA and proteins to pull apart their insides. This can prevent DNA and proteins from being made or inhibit enzymes that power processes to keep the cell alive [4]. Buforin II is an example of this. It diffuses into the cell, and blocks DNA replication by binding to DNA and RNA, preventing it from binding to the cellular machinery that translates it into the proteins it needs to survive [2]. Finally, some AMPs avoid the spotlight and work behind the scenes to help the immune system target the pathogenic invaders. AMPs help control the inflammatory response of the body that activates the immune system into battle. Pathogens will have parts of themselves that immune cells have been trained to recognise as foreign, and when they’re released, raise the alarms [5]. LL-37 is an AMP found in humans that controls production of chemicals that give orders to immune system cells, as well as being able to bind directly to immune cells. But they also inhibit other mechanisms in immune cells. It prevents too much inflammation that can cause sepsis, providing the balance that a successful immune response need [2]. Nisin is proof of the potential of AMPs, having been developed as a food preservative due to its action against food spoiling pathogens like S. aureus and Clostridium botulinum. Naturally, this has prompted Melting Greenland ice sheet the question about whether it can be used pharmaceutically. Some experiments have showed promise, both as treatments on their own and in combination with antibiotics to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria including vancomycin-resistant enterococci & MRSA. But many fail to clear trials like Pexiganan and Iseganan, both of which have failed Phase III trials twice [5]. AMPs face numerous obstacles ranging from high production costs to potential toxicity. For example, Nisin was identified by scientists in 1952 for a new treatment after penicillin resistance was first documented and showed promising results against numerous infections in mice

Resistance and Struggle food preservation supports this [5]. including S. aureus, and Mycobacterium In contrast, other sections of the tuberculosis. The reason I’m not writing community remain concerned about about nisin becoming the next stage of antibiotic drug development was because resistance. Colistin is another AMP derived antibiotic, used as a last resort of expensive developmental costs, and treatment against certain bacterial nisin was relegated in favour of new infections. A resistance gene was found antibiotics such as methicillin. in pig strains of E. coli, which has since Nisin’s other problem was its transferred to E. coli species in humans, instability. This menas that it moves raising concerns about the gene jumping too quickly from the blood to have a to pathogenic bacteria [5]. Further meaningful impact against pathogens. experiments with pexiganan found that, For a pre-genome age that had barely | NASA Earth Observatory | Joshuawere Stevens when E. coli and P. fluorescens discovered DNA, that was enough image to continuously exposed to it, 22 out of kill its pharmaceutical potential. Our 24 lineages developed resistance. The improved understanding of genomics authors argued that the reason this means this is potentially an issue of doesn’t fit a lack of resistance observed the past. But whilst there’s hope that naturally is because exposure is never continued research can offset these as consistent in nature as medicinal issues, a much broader problem is still exposure [6]. apparent, standing as the microscopic In nature, a pathogen has to chew elephant of the room. Is it possible on a [mixed bag] of selection pressures that microbes develop resistance to that could potentially kill it. Each time it antimicrobial peptides? invades a host for infection, it encounters This is a topic with no consensus, and different AMPs to fend off. The disagreements about the answer. Some constantly changing conditions doesn’t would argue that resistance is highly allow for the breathing space to adapt unlikely to develop because they can to a specific AMP, and mutations that induce multiple methods of resistance at confer resistance to an AMP typically once. Penicillin only prevents the crosscome with a trade-off like longer growth linking of different parts of the cell wall. rates. All of this prevents resistance Nisin has five-pronged arsenal to attack spreading across populations that will, at pathogens that includes forming pores in best, have low levels of resistance to any the cell wall, activating enzymes to break one AMP [6]. And the problem is further down the cell wall, and preventing the exacerbated as resistance to one AMP cell from making more parts of the wall. can mean resistance to several other It’s believed that developing resistance different AMPs [7]. to all these mechanisms simultaneously This logic is morbidly appealing would be improbable, and the lack of as you can see how it would not only resistance that’s arisen from 50 years of

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Mankind and the Machine

Science and Technology explain how AMP resistance hasn’t become widespread, but also why resistance to classical antibiotics such as penicillin wasn’t as widespread before its serendipitous discovery. The potential chaos to arise from AMP resistance is arguably greater our current antibiotic resistance. Not only would we be back at square one yet again in treating pathogens, but influence AMPs that are used naturally to support the innate immune system of humans and nonhumans alike. Will our immune system worsen? What will happen to animals like koalas, whose young are reliant on antimicrobials as pathogenic defenders when they don’t have a developed immune system? AMPs are one of the many potential tools we could use to develop our antimicrobial arms, as scientists are also exploring using metal nanoparticles, essential oils with antimicrobial activity

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from plants, and new sources of antibiotics from bacteria we’ve yet to study. As drug development costs have mysteriously dissuaded companies from investing in drug development (it’s almost as if their incentive is to make money rather than develop drugs), finding ways to re-invigorate research efforts is essential. But, far more importantly, it’s a reminder that it isn’t enough to build new tools. We can’t be content to find a new cure and behave just as we used to, and we can’t be complacent about our predictions. As important as it is to find new antimicrobial drugs, it isn’t enough. We need to change ourselves, too. As individuals, we can do our bit to educate ourselves and others about the importance of antimicrobial. Medically, we need to adhere strictly to good practice: that means not taking antibiotics on a whim for any cold, as

well as improving diagnostics technology. Collectively, we need to do more to ensure we reign in our over usage of antibiotics, especially in agriculture. 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC4378521/ 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC3873676/ 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC4109705/ 4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC6332049/ 5. https://0-link-springer-com.pugwash. lib.warwick.ac.uk/article/10.1007/ s12602-018-9465-0 6. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/ full/10.1098/rspb.2005.3301#d3e1086 7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ article/pii/S1368764616300024 Matthew Dale is a third year Biomedical Sciences student

Fifty Years of Nothing? Fifty years after it was signed, Tom Harrison examines the impact of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty and the future for nuclear weapons In ten seconds a fireball would engulf Westminster. Temperatures exceeding ten million Celsius. Wind speeds approach the speed of sound. Hundreds of buildings, tens of thousands of people, even the first few feet of the earth’s crust, vaporised. Virtually everyone in a five-mile radius; six or seven million people, dead in a minute, destroyed by the intense blast of energy. Further out in Wembley, Croydon and Dagenham, the blast would shatter every window, sending shrapnel flying out in all directions at the speed of a bullet. Moments later survivors would be engulfed by a firestorm with the intensity to burn anything that can; paper, clothes, hair. As far away as Reading, Brighton and Oxford people would suffer first degree burns from the intense heat. Hospitals as far afield as Bristol, Birmingham and Belgium would quickly be swamped by the injured. Thousands would linger under collapsed buildings for days, never to be rescued. That would be the impact of a Trident nuclear weapon being detonated on our

country’s capital. A single weapon capable of killing more people in an hour than every conflict since the end of the Second World War. One explosion wiping out more Britons than have died in war since the Vikings stalked our shores. Destructive power beyond comprehension. That is the power of just one modern nuclear weapon. Thankfully only two nuclear weapons have ever been launched in anger, the first on Hiroshima and the second on Nagasaki three days later. So destructive were the bombs that accurate death tolls are impossible but the combined total is at least 100,000, with upper estimates nudging 250,000 people. Since that first bomb dropped in 1945 technology has moved on. Those relatively crude devices that were dropped on Japan had a destructive capacity equivalent to 15 and 21 kilotonnes of TNT respectively, but today US warplanes routinely fly with multiple 1000 kilotonne bombs, submarines are routinely sent to sea with 10,000 kilotonne bombs and the largest bombs

in the global arsenal have a destructive power of 50,000 kilotonnes. Fifty years after the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nine countries currently possess nuclear weapons; Russia, USA, China, France, UK, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. The two Cold War powers maintain the vast majority with around 6000 each, significantly less than their combined peak of 64,000 but still comfortably enough to destroy any planet they may take a dislike to. A further five NATO countries host American weapons while Saudi Arabia is widely believed to have an agreement with Pakistan regarding the deployment of their weapons should the situation in the Persian Gulf deteriorate. The treaty had three aims; prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote peaceful use of nuclear technology and encourage disarmament. The key problem for disarmament is that making a nuclear bomb just isn’t very hard. A team of 10 or 15 competent physicists, engineers and technicians could easily produce a functioning bomb in a few months. The major stumbling Warwick Globalist | Spring 2019 25

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block would be acquiring the requisite high-enriched uranium to power the device. A viable device would only need a few kilograms but getting hold of that isn’t easy. It may be possible to obtain the fuel legally, under the guise of research, but the oversight on that amount of material would make nefarious use unlikely. Enriching uranium from ore is no simple task, it requires hundreds of centrifuges, large amounts of unusual chemicals and, as Iran found, enough uranium ore that the world is likely to notice. Even so, multiple countries are proof it’s not beyond the capability of the determined; uranium is highly abundant and the technology isn’t complex. By far the simplest way would be by smuggling. The once great Cold War arsenals have left a residue, particularly in Russia, where nuclear material is often left rotting in remote military bases, awaiting proper decommissioning. In 2012 Russian journalists were able to break into one such base through a hole in the fence and take a piece from a submarine undetected. Whilst they didn’t take any nuclear material, in the last 12 years the IAEA has confirmed 18 cases of loss or theft of high enriched nuclear material and the Geiger counters and X-ray machines at most ports are generally acknowledged to be less than impermeable to this sort of material; buried in a container of cat litter or a shipment of paving slabs high enriched uranium would be largely invisible, even forsaking the blinding effect of a few judiciously-placed dollar bills. Non-proliferation however, has been a qualified success. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall nuclear weapons have been most often only discussed in the context of three ‘rogue states’; Libya, Iran and North Korea. For these regimes a nuclear weapons programme is appealing, one weapon propels them on to the world stage, they have stood with Blair, Putin and Trump, not as a puppet in a subordinate state but as equal custodians of the same awesome destructive power. In North Korea the nuclear weapons programme has drained the wealth of the nation, brought its people to poverty, but, like unicorn blood, it has sustained the regime, allowing them cling to power, even when inches from death. The bomb has come to define that country; it’s a point of national pride, serving as a deterrent to invaders, whilst simultaneously allowing the state to use

disarmament as a bargaining chip for special treatment, a tightrope the Kim family has walked masterfully. They have watched as successive regimes have disarmed in a torrent of international assurances only to be quickly swept away: Libya, Ukraine, South Africa, Iraq, Syria and Myanmar. It should be no surprise that the current leader is being more than a little tentative. And this is perhaps the greatest failure of the NPT; far from incentivising disarmament it tacitly promotes at least a nuclear weapons programme. Since the Manhattan project first split the atom, at least thirty seven nations have at some point had some form of a nuclear weapons programme, mostly since the NPT was signed, and every one saw their diplomatic standing rise whilst the programme was active. Nothing gets a country noticed like a nuclear bomb. Proliferation has not, however, been the preserve only of states, building a bomb is well within the capability of a well-funded terrorist organisation. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, intelligence suggested Al Qaeda were actively seeking nuclear material for just such a purpose. There is evidence that, prior to their sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo Subway, Japanese death cult Aum Shinrikyo were involved in fairly advanced negotiations to purchase a device from the collapsing Soviet Union. Whilst those negotiations were unsuccessful, they were able to recruit a number of Soviet engineers for their own programme. They took up the lease on the vast Banjawarn sheep station in Australia, establishing a research station and beginning the mining of uranium. There is even a suggestion they tested a bomb; in 1993 a seismic disturbance was detected in the area, with the few eyewitnesses reporting seeing a fireball in the sky and a protracted low frequency sound, consistent with the detonation of a 2

kilotonne device. No treaty can control a terrorist group hell-bent on destruction, particularly when such a device is so relatively simple. In spite of this, the advocates often refrain that nuclear weapons have made us safer; maintaining an unstable peace and restraining the great powers from waging all out global war. They keep us safe, not because they will be used, but because of the implied bailment that no country could ever use a weapon so awful. So-called mutually assured destruction. An unstable peace maybe? Although the people of Angola, Vietnam and Nicaragua may justifiably disagree with this statement. Information on accidents is shrouded in secrecy, only a few of the more serious events were reported at the time but the US Air Force (USAF), who are responsible for around a third of the US’s deterrent, have released some limited records. Between 1950 and 1968 (after which events are classified) the US Air Force alone lost 43 nuclear weapons in 22 separate incidents with likely more lost by the other branches of the military. That’s an average of more than one incident per year and every one of those ‘mishaps’ was over friendly territory, one was even in Suffolk. America has nearly accidentally blown up its allies on a truly frightening number of occasions and we have no reason to believe the indiscretions of the more secretive nuclear powers are any less heinous. In 2009 British and French submarines famously collided in the Atlantic both with up to 16 weapons on board and while both were able to eventually return to port, 118 sailors perished when the Russian submarine Kursk was lost. Tom Harrison is currently studying part-time for an MSc in Sustainable Automotive Technology and runs a company called E.Mission which works to help people understand their carbon footprint and give them the tools to reduce it

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Mankind and the Machine

Learning the Lingo

Euan McGinty discusses the importance of language and how it shapes our world

Language can be thought of as the single most important tool created by humanity. A conventional structure of sounds and symbols, allowing for expression as well as a complex internal organization of thoughts and intentions. The variety of existing languages makes for differences in the way in which these thoughts and intentions are communicated. An example of this can be seen in Sam Griswold’s recent article for the Guardian. In it he conveys his dissatisfaction in English-speaking commentary coverage of Italian football league matches, describing the words as inadequate for the way in which the game is played there. As opposed to the more pragmatic and banal words used to describe football in English, Italians tend to employ more theatrical terminology to the game. Instead of a goal being scored it is ‘authored’ (l’autore del gol), players don’t have positions on the pitch, but rather, ‘roles’ (ruolo). As Griswold conveys in his article, language differences as well as differences in individual words have the capability to paint the same object in different lights. However, there have been much more insidious and far-reaching ways beyond the football field in which language has done this. One such example of this can be illustrated in a paper published by environmental philosopher John Callicott. The intention of the paper is to examine the historical baggage associated with the term ‘wilderness’, and how he believes it has contributed to what is known as the ‘received wilderness idea’. The paper frames the concept of wilderness as we know it to be an ethnocentric construct, viewing land we deem to be ‘wild’ for inappropriate uses and abuses. This wilderness concept can, for Callicott, be seen to be the root of the

‘biodiversity crisis’ we find ourselves in today. A legal definition of the wilderness is seen to encapsulate what is known as the received wilderness idea. The Wilderness Act of 1964 interprets wilderness as a contrasting area to where man and his own works dominate the landscape. In areas designated as wilderness: ‘man himself is a visitor who doesn’t remain’. Although this quote from the Act appears to have the intent of preserving wild spaces, the results are the opposite. To instruct man to ‘remain a visitor’ in locations deemed by the government to be ‘wild’, is to disregard the fact that people have lived there for thousands of year before the descendants of the lawmakers set foot in America. Also, legally distinguishing ‘wild’ land from ‘civilised’ land further cements a preDarwinian mindset of humans and nature as being separate. The origins of the concept can reach as far back as the first English translations of The Bible, which used the term ‘wilderness’ to describe the desert in which the temptation of Christ occurred. The Puritans who were among the first Western Europeans to settle in North America took this concept with them. Their view, largely based on scripture, held wholly negative

image Euan McGinty

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connotations. The prior inhabitants of the Americas found the wilderness concept applied to their homeland and they themselves were considered as part of the wild. Their foreign customs coupled with their ‘savage’ image established the acceptance of centuries of systematic genocide. This idea of the Americas as being discovered in a state of wilderness was a point of view only held by the new settlers to the continent. Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Oglala Lakota people writes: “We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth, as ‘wild.’ Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’ and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.” English-speaking philosophers also ran into trouble with the term when lecturing in other countries. In Callicott’s essay Holmes Rolston recalls a Japanese translator unable to come up with an equivalent word for wilderness. Roger

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Perspectives

image Wikimedia | Eekim

T. Ames, an interpreter of Chinese philosophy, also notes that in Mandarin there exists only terms for instances of wild things (wild man, wild woods etc.) but no term denoting a whole area of ‘wild-ness’ as in English. Following further research into the matter, it was found that even for most Europeans wilderness is a foreign concept. Similar perceptions of land have only been found in Norwegian and other Scandinavian languages, in which the northern part of their countries are made up of an Arctic frontier inhabited by the indigenous Sámi peoples. The consequences of this concept were not only disastrous for the native peoples living in the newly settled regions of America and Australia, but also for the land itself. The wilderness

Resistance and Struggle concept helped to propagate an attitude of ownership over the land. On this ideological basis European settlers built cities, railroads and engaged in agriculture and deforestation on an industrial scale. It was not until the wave of settlement had reached the Pacific coast that the desire to protect wilderness was established. Conservation projects, such as national parks, aimed to preserve areas for the sake of their beauty and for recreational purposes. Today however, the intent to preserve biodiversity is more broadly shared. In the conclusion of his essay, Callicott proposes changing the name of wilderness areas to ‘biodiversity reserves’. In doing so, he believes that the previously held conception of wild land will begin to transition into a

more scientific and environmentallyoriented one. My intention in writing this article however is not to advocate his proposition to rename wilderness areas. It is instead to emphasize the importance of language, and how deeply it is connected to our attitudes. Callicott highlights an overlooked aspect of the way semantic features of language permeate into social norms. The applications of which can also be seen in discourse relating to race and gender. Placed in the context of linguistic constructs, perspectives which have been seen to be integral to our cultural values appear more relative and capable of being progressed beyond. Euan McGinty is a third year philosophy student

Reflections on This Year’s Holocaust Memorial day Naomi Awre looks back on 2019’s Holocaust Memorial Day and discusses how we should best memorialise it On January 27th, Holocaust Memorial Day was commemorated. It marked the 74th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. This year’s theme was ‘Torn from Home’ which focuses on the experiences of those displaced because of persecution, an issue that is still upsettingly present in today’s world. This day in itself is an important reminder of an event of which all too many people still doubt the existence and severity of. According to a survey by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust of over 2000 people, 1 in 20 adults in this country do not believe the Holocaust took place. This statistic is scary but it becomes even scarier when we take into consideration that Holocaust education in this country is considered one of the best in the world. This is why we commemorate the Holocaust, and why days such as Holocaust Memorial

Day need to happen. We claim to learn from history, and this is championed as one of the reasons why we study the past. Apparently however, this lesson is only reaching a select few. In light of this, we can see why this year’s theme was chosen. To create an impact, it is necessary to emphasise the relevance of Holocaust education today. The theme ‘Torn from Home’ sheds light on this in two key ways: firstly, we need to remember to view all those affected by the Holocaust as people rather than just statistics. We may find it hard to relate to an event that happened 70 years ago and arguably has very little impact on our day-to-day lives. Yet many people across the world and in our own country still feel threatened in their homes and in their jobs. Although this represents a broad spectrum of circumstances, it demonstrates that we all have the

capacity to empathise with those most deeply affected by atrocities, then and now. In our presentation that was displayed on the Piazza screen during our Holocaust Memorial Day vigil we showed a UNICEF video that compared the plights of a child who had come to this country on the Kindertransport and a Syrian child refugee. The first time I saw this video I could not help but be moved by the bravery these two people showed considering everything they had endured. I was faced with the honesty of two people, who despite being separated by time, place and language, had both at too young an age been torn from their homes, and had been forced to find a way to carry on. We are lucky that this is not an experience many can relate to in this country, especially in our university environment, but video campaigns like this emphasise how ultimately we as

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Mankind and the Machine the Holocaust Educational Trust, and our task this Holocaust Memorial Day was to communicate this theme and its relevance. We did and are continuing to do this through a series of events we feel approach the topic from different directions and offer different views. During the week leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day we launched the Modern Records Centre exhibition, held a live stream of a survivor testimony and spent time on a stall raising awareness and asking people to sponsor candles for our candlelight vigil. Although in my position as an ambassador I have had the opportunity to think about the Holocaust in depth, I find that dedicating time to thinking about the Holocaust never fails to educate me in ways I do not expect. I was challenged to ask myself why it is important that we support and promote Holocaust education, especially when there are seemingly causes more relevant to the problems of today. I also felt called to evaluate my role as a bystander in light of everyday intolerance and hatred. These are difficult questions to grapple with, but I am thankful for every person I spoke to and for the opportunity to read materials that challenged me, as

it reminded me not to get complacent in my own knowledge and comfortable in my own circumstances. Over the next few weeks I challenge all of you to spend some time thinking about these questions, using the events that my fellow ambassadors are organising to help you do this. We have developed a pledge in coordination with the SU which offers opportunity for reflection: “We pledge not to be silent in the face of injustice; we will do our best to make ‘Never Again’ a reality.” Genocide did not end with the Holocaust, the world did not learn from its initial shock. Nearly 75 years on, we must ensure that we are doing all we can to raise awareness of this fact, giving as many people the opportunity to learn about some of the darkest corners of our past, so we can all work towards enlightening our future. Thank you to everyone who supported our events and sponsored candles. Naomi Awre is a third year Classical Civilisation student

Synthetic Biology: Scientific Schemes and Despotic dreams

image Flickr | Alexander van Dijk

humans are all equally vulnerable and we need to recognise this and all show compassion to those who are physically torn from their homes. Secondly, we must think about how we react to suffering of this scale. ‘Torn from Home’ encourages us to think about the aftermath and consequences of events such as the Holocaust. In the exhibition currently being held at the Modern Records Centre, pamphlets issued during and after World War Two are on display, highlighting how perceptions can alter when information comes to light after war. We cannot know the exact details of many of the atrocities that go on in this world, but we can pay attention and take seriously what we do hear. The Holocaust is evidence of what happens when we let ignorance, intolerance and fear control our actions. We are all accountable for how we respond to events such as this. As a country we are proud of the role we played in rescuing children during World War Two, and rightly so. ‘Torn from Home’ calls us to think and act this way again in light of situations tearing people from their homes today. I am part of a team of ambassadors for

Sameda Velaj gives us a detailed insight into synthetic biology, and the potentially bright and dark futures it has in store for humankind Synthetic biology is a relatively components, as well as re-engineer are sequences in DNA called genes that new interdisciplinary subject – an biological systems to produce a desired code for proteins - like lactase which amalgamation of engineering concepts protein, and perhaps the most ambitious breaks down lactose - or control your attached to the biology of the world. aim - to synthetically produce a whole body structure called homeobox genes SynBio is young in terms of progress and functional genome. The beauty of (hox genes). There is a gene for every research made; with this said once the synthetic biology is that once it is aspect of an organism’s functionality. research gains traction the developments completely standardised and better Some genes are highly conserved and could be incredibly rapid. Potentially understood, the applications are literally found in most organisms, like the hox mirrored by the developments in tech endless – biologically engineering genes, however some genes are specific engineering which gave rise to quantum new life as we know. Perhaps it could to a species or genus. Top-down genetic computers, the 3D printer, and artificial be considered a form of self-directed engineering is the insertion of a desired intelligence – all within the last 60 years. evolution. gene into a certain organism, allowing As it currently stands, SynBio aims to The central dogma to molecular certain proteins to be expressed by standardise and engineer biological biology is DNA > RNA > protein. There them. Synthetic biology is based on this, Modern left-wing organising on campuses should reassess how it uses social justice language. Warwick Globalist | Spring 2019 | 29 Mankind and the machine.indd 29

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Perspectives and is used to synthetically produce a biological system (which has a function that is not naturally observed alone) and insert it into an organism using tools like CRISPER-CAS9 or zinc finger nucleases. On the flip side, there is also bottom-up genetic engineering which refers to the engineering of a biological system from scratch, that could potentially be built upon to engineer new tissue or even, dare I say it, a whole new synthetic organism! The applications of synthetic biology, being diagnostic, discovery or therapeutic, are diverse, with the products of research having the ability to improve our healthcare and environment. In 2016, 28% of deaths in the UK were due to cancer. Synthetic biology could reduce mortality rates through synthetically-engineered systems that have a high specificity to cancer cells. Cancer is defined as the proliferated growth of abnormal cells and can spread to other parts of the body. Cancer cells are often proliferating under hypoxia, meaning they don’t require oxygen due to altered metabolism and lack of blood supply. Synthetic biology has exploited this hypoxic microenvironment and engineered a system that senses lack of oxygen and its output response is to invade and kill these cells. Cancer cells also have their own protein signature on the cell membrane which were engineered into a system to recognise these cancer cell signatures and cells with different signatures and is programmed to only induce apoptosis (cell death) of the cancer signature cells. The intensifying energy crisis is an area that would benefit immensely through synthetic biology. Currently, our main energy source is through burning fossil fuels – these hydrocarbon-based fuels release CO2 and contribute directly to climate change. Synthetic biology could provide an environmentally friendly alternative – high yields of biofuel from algae. Algae are diverse and some research has focused on microalgae as they’re easy and fast to grow and manipulate. They can grow on non-arable land that isn’t available for agriculture and despite algae having a high water demand, it can be met through waste or salt water. This makes algae desirable as a source for alternative biofuel as other biofuel crops, like corn or sugar require arable land and clean, distilled water for maximal 30 | Spring 2019 | Warwick Globalist Mankind and the machine.indd 30

growth. Furthermore, algae biofuels are carbon neutral as the only emission when burnt is CO2 which was taken in during its growth. Advancements in SynBio in biofuels could result in higher yields and cell density, as well as faster growth. A nature publication review by Ryan Georgianna estimates that 30 million hectares producing 1,200 billion litres is enough to replace fossil fuel use in the United States. A corn biofuel crop of 14 million hectares produced half of this yield, at 64 billion litres, of ethanol – the algae biofuel is more economically viable, if it functions as well as the theory. The applications of synthetic biology, based on the research we currently have, speaks volumes to the potential of this area of biology. Once we unlock the coding of our physical world, the potential it opens is immense. From engineering a skin suit for robotic AI to maybe living forever. The ageold question when playing with the fundamental core of life is - should we? Is it ethical? What are the consequences? Truth: We don’t know the consequences, if there even are any. As with genetically-engineered food there was once a movement against it in fear of its consequences, but now it is normalised and there are no seen negative consequences. Our fear is erratic, and the cause is the unknown – SynBio applications could save lives and help restore our environment. However, as with most products in science, the question is who will they be available to? Only those with the money? Big pharma has shown time and time again that it is okay with patients dying, as long as there are some paying up. As an example, Daraprim is used to treat toxoplasmosis and pneumonia in HIV/AIDS patients.

A pill of the drug used to cost $17.50. Today? $750 for a single pill. That’s an insane mark up of 5000%. Following this logic, with the advanced tech that synthetic biology requires the cost of the products in the healthcare market could make this life saving tech unavailable to a large proportion of the population. This economic exploitation of the products of synthetic biology are not the only downside. The potential for SynBio is diverse – even evil. Synthetic biology has the potential to produce bioweapons. Through SynBio tools, a virus or bacteria that is resistant to all antibiotics could be engineered which would devastate places hit; alternatively, a gut microbe that releases poison could be developed. The potential for bioweapons is just as wide as the potential in this field to do good. This issue is perhaps best dramatized by the Danish show, The Rain, which follows a group of survivors following a water-borne disease outbreak that causes instant respiratory failure and contextualises the impacts this warfare has on the environment and on people. While all this can seem scary, countries are developing their biosecurity and ensuring that their scientists are not developing this kind of technology. There will be regulations and guidelines to adhere to once synthetic biology makes major breakthroughs in the field of science. The potential uses of synthetic biology, in my opinion, outweigh the negatives. Nuclear warfare is scary, but nuclear powerplants still supply 30% of the world’s energy (data from 2016). Why condemn synthetic biology when it could make a huge impact? Sameda Velaj is a third year Biomedicine student

image Pixabay | Oranfireblade

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Book Review image Flickr | Simon Jones

The Dispossessed: Urgent Reading in Today’s Political landscape Alpana Sajip unpicks Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, asking us to consider what kind of society are becoming, and what kind of society we can be What makes a world? What makes our world? And what, in the end, will break it? These questions lie at the heart of Ursula K. Le Guin’s earth-shattering novel The Dispossessed. Indeed, they form some of the central concerns of science fiction as a genre. Our historical moment is one of crisis, and we must turn to speculative fiction in order to critically examine it. Considering alternative lifeworlds lets us radically rethink the socio-political structures that govern us. This novel is no frivolous intergalactic adventure, but a prompt to make us think about ecology, humanity, freedom and our place in the universe. The Dispossessed is the story of Shevek, a scientist who is creating a temporal Theory of Simultaneity that will enable instantaneous communication between worlds. Unable to find support from the scientific community on his native planet Anarres, Shevek becomes the first man to travel to Anarres’s sister planet, Urras. However, he soon discovers that Urras’s acceptance is a façade and he must find a way to escape before it’s too late. Originating as a colony of Urras, Anarres is the ‘ambiguous utopia’ of subtitle, an arid, barren world home to a small community of anarchists. Far from being chaotic, as many might imagine anarchy to be, the social organisation of life on Anarres implicitly brings the selfimposed inequalities on Earth into sharp focus. The ordered anarchy on Anarres contrasts strongly with exploitation inherent in Urras’ capitalist systems. Although it is far from perfect, the potentiality of anarchy and its relevance to contemporary settings should not go unnoticed. Gender equality is built into Anarresti social structures – Shevek’s bewilderment at the lack of women scientists on Urras interrogates our social preconceptions about women in

power and in academia. Moreover, on Anarres there is ostensibly no such thing as class. Property and ownership do not exist, nor is there even a linguistic way of communicating such ideas; this eliminates a host of problems like turf wars. Communality is key. Could be ideal, right? But is Anarres a planet any of us would want to live on? Probably not – primarily because of its natural landscape. Anarres is grey, dusty, bare, with none of the supreme natural beauty of Urras, yet it flourishes as a ‘utopia’ despite this. That’s not to say Le Guin glorifies the scarcity of resources quite the opposite. The ecological lessons to be learned from The Dispossessed are some of its most potent; the destruction of the planet Terra by its people, for instance, presages the impending and catastrophic environmental damage to our own Earth. “We multiplied and gobbled and fought until there was nothing left, and then we died,” says the Terran scientist Keng. “We controlled neither appetite nor violence; we did not adapt. We destroyed ourselves. But we destroyed the world first.” Is this where we’re headed? It seems that way, ecologically speaking – unless we can implement radical political changes. The politics of Anarres prove to be complicated. Le Guin is careful to explore the downsides to her ambiguous, anarchist utopia, and the ingenuity of the novel is realised in its acceptance of the impossibility of a ‘perfect place’. After all, human nature isn’t perfect – how, then, can any human society be? The laws of conventional behaviour act as walls – “the social conscience completely dominates the individual conscience, instead of striking a balance with it”, and as a result, the Anarresti tend to unthinkingly obey. Why do they accept certain social conventions as established truths? Why, indeed, do

we? Authority teaches us from a young age to accept its power and wisdom, working towards the disablement of a collective revolutionary consciousness. But, as Shevek points out, Anarres was conceived as a “permanent revolution, and revolution begins in the thinking mind.” Le Guin’s linguistic dexterity is most visible in Shevek’s stirring rhetoric about waking up to political realities, and his talk of changing the way power functions in society – it’s difficult not to be convinced by it. In a world that is becoming increasingly politically polarised, where disgruntlement has turned to anger and anxiety to fear, in an age where antiimmigrant sentiments, fake news and information overload have proliferated, it feels like any kind of stability is slipping through our fingers. Even the opening lines of The Dispossessed have taken on a sinister resonance in the age of Trump: “There was a wall,” notes the narrator. “Like all walls it was ambiguous, twofaced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.” Sure, those on Anarres are saying the wall is in place to keep threatening intruders out – but is disabling their escape really a way of controlling its own population? People believe that they need walls in order to protect themselves; Le Guin urges us to take the braver step by knocking them down instead. The Dispossessed, then, tackles the meaty stuff: political theory, class struggle, ecological destruction. Yet Le Guin masterfully balances the weight of such topics with a lightness of touch in her depictions of human relations - the tender love between Shevek and his partner Takver, the compassion and support that comes from his mentor Gvarab, and the endearing camaraderie between Shevek and other scientists at his Institute. Admittedly, Le Guin has been criticised for not exploring issues of gender and race as rigorously as she has done in her other works, such as The Left Hand of Darkness. Nevertheless, The Dispossessed remains as timely and important today as it did when it first emerged in the ‘70s – there is no doubt that it will continue to be so for generations to come. Alpana Sajip is a final year English Literature student, and is our new Arts & Culture co-editor

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the Warwick Globalist Issue 11 - Mankind and the Machine  

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