Christopher Silver

  • Can family and music help a country find its way back from crisis?

    Chris Silver has watched A FAMILY AFFAIR, our latest addition to the MOVING DOCS Home Cinema. 

    “In order to find yourself you need to get lost. But if you lose yourself you need to find your way back.”

    These words of wisdom are spoken by Cretan musical legend George Xylouris, to his son Nick, as they practice together in a cramped apartment while on tour in northern Europe during a scene in the Greek/Australian documentary A Family Affair.

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    The words are, no doubt, one of countless lessons that have formed part of the young man’s lifelong apprenticeship as a member Greece’s most renowned musical clan. Indeed, the wild, largely improvised traditional music of Crete of which they are exponents, is itself like a great rambling exploration of the wilderness – a journey that is never quite the same – but always finally returns to the village having learned something.

    This key fragment of fatherly advice also speaks to a searing question that the film asks – what does it mean to carry traditions into the future in a time of often troubling change? 

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  • Will basic income keep Europe together?

    In old factory towns, former mining villages, urban slums and rural hamlets across Europe,  a shared disillusionment with the political establishment has grown to a level that hasn’t been seen for over a century.

    The people who inhabit such places, whatever European nation they happen to reside in, are overwhelmingly those who lost out when the post-war economic settlement was dismantled and deregulated in the 1980s.

    Often geographically and socially isolated, they find themselves on the losing side of globalisation. In contrast, the elites live in a cluster of metropolitan cities that are ever more interchangeable: populated by highly mobile, highly skilled workers. These people are the winners in today’s great game of connection, the AirBnB landlord, the frequent Uber customer.

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    We might ask what, if anything, could unite these two groups? Even if it were possible to take the coder running a startup in East London and transplant her to the Welsh valleys, or the Barcelona PR specialist and ask him to operate out of a rapidly depopulating coal mining town in Asturias, there would still be the far bigger challenge of bridging the divide between the centre and the periphery of the wider European economy.

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  • For richer or poorer: Is the world really moving towards basic income?

    Recent years have seen a flurry of activity in media studios and government offices aimed at weighing up the pros and cons of basic income. Today, across Europe and North America, a number of countries are taking steps to launch investigate pilot schemes.

    There is no shortage of backing for such initiatives, from a wide variety of sources. From the French Senate to the Italian city of Livorno, from the New Zealand Labour Party to the Namibian village of Otjivero – we can see new a will to experiment with basic income.

    But despite the diverse spread of interest in making basic income a reality, the challenges, even of mounting a pilot scheme, are often formidable.

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  • Five reasons why everyone is talking about Citizen's Basic Income

    Since the 2008 financial crisis, big questions about inequality, rapid technological change, and the future of the welfare state have come to dominate politics across Europe and North America.

    Almost a decade later, the initial response of governments to that year’s events (top-down austerity measures, tax breaks and bank bailouts) has been credited with fuelling a rise in populism. So it’s not hard to see why progressives across both continents are engaged in a wide-ranging search for alternatives.

    Increasingly, centre-left politicians have started to give serious consideration to 'citizen’s basic income' as the cornerstone for a new social settlement in the twenty-first century. Only this week, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon included funding for research into the concept as part of her Programme for Government.

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