a climate apocalypse .

Thinking back to part 2 of the Marxism series (bit.ly/3qe9hFX), we ended on a thought about where the earth would be in 2100. Let’s elaborate on that.

Political Pandemonium. Absorbed in self-interest, governments across the world sold absolute power to a confederacy of TNCs and social elites. The books didn’t need balancing any longer; they were thrown out. Free to do business with anyone, they determinedly went about stockpiling resources in preparation for the climate to deteriorate further. Inevitable in 2100; distinct possibility in 2020. Promised safety for their families, government officials cowered behind the elites in permanent retirement.

The seas rose, just as the scientists told deaf ears would happen. New capital cities were established and the cyber-authoritarian order of the mid-2000s began to crumble. Cities decentralised into street factions ran by elites; a postcode power hierarchy formed that dictated an individual’s social position. The police disappeared with the government; elites dictate and embody the law now.

Most millennials are dead, but many Gen Z’ers are enjoying late retirement. Or at least, the rich ones are. And they won’t be by the coast because all the once-idyllic beaches flooded decades ago. There’s no oil left either, other than a couple of elite-controlled reserves. Air quality is at an all-time low and 1 in 2 die from the respiratory diseases that thrive upon the unvaccinated lungs of the poor. After all, healthcare devolved without external funding.

As the few surviving corporations have gone virtual, the rest consumed by administration and mergers gone wrong, city centres lie ransacked and desolate. Meanwhile, on private concrete islands, server rooms span miles, nestled in the centre of the Western Atlantic. Some say that the elites moved underground, controlling the world remotely, others say that they managed to upload their consciousnesses online to truly dominate global marketplaces. Many proletarians have attempted to infiltrate them, but no-one has ever succeeded.

Meanwhile, the seas surrounding what earth is left lie starched; devoid of life. Landfill lines the sea floor several metres deep. Global ecocide. And on the surface, the only trees left have been genetically modified to the point that they grow and live online, vulnerable to pollution IRL. Virtual heaven lies exclusive to the 1% and their families. The rest in crumbling ruins; myriads of unresolved, irreconcilable micro-dictatorships.

insomnia .

Disclaimer: This post is one big anecdote.

I don’t sleep well but have no reason not to be. I go to the gym and walk a fair amount; avoid technology before bed; avoid caffeine after 11AM and have a consistent sleep routine. For the past year or two, I have even started taking melatonin tablets. I’ve bought a portable air-con unit and a massive fan to cool down our stuffy flat & actively keep busy during the daytime to ‘tire myself out’ before the mental tirade of night-time. It doesn’t work. It drives my partner nutty and I don’t blame them. Especially when I try and open the window in January to deal with extreme heat flushes. Or have night-long muscle spasms that create an avalanche of flailing bedsheets.

Every night is ritual at this point; whether hours of restlessness or severe over-sleeping. Both followed, by varying extents, with self-defeat. I often end up sitting in the cold at 3AM to give my partner space to sleep before their shift at 5. With a cigarette, if my mental health is especially bad; although I’ve been trying to quit for months and have cut down to one or two a month. The alternative; relocating to a friend’s sofa. I live in a studio flat & my partner sleeps lightly, so if we don’t separate ourselves, neither of us will sleep.

Why won’t my mind let me sleep? Is it temperature related, sensory, chronic health-induced or neurochemical? Maybe a mixture of these? Or none?

When you search ‘insomnia’ on Google, not so deep in the interweebs, there are about seventy million search results, right? Page after page of advice websites; advertisements; sleep hygiene infographics; subreddits.

Believe me, I’ve been on the first twenty-or-so search results during many a sleepless night. Melatonin helps a lot, but tolerance builds with long term use. One of few oral sleeping aids that are, a) relatively non-addictive, b) isn’t illegal to use, and c) don’t have many debilitating side-effects. Also, they don’t influence some bodies enough to make a difference.

Sleep deprivation is also affected by situational factors that are out of our control. Whether the world is going to pot, or we have many sources of distress to keep us awake at night, melatonin and the like can only temporarily mask the symptoms of a f*cked society. They don’t work 100% of the time & can affect your ability to wake up, refreshed, the next day. But sleep is essential for positive wellbeing, so maybe it’s worth it for the grogginess the next day. It’s your call.

In case Google failed to clarify it, insomnia is such a widespread issue. One that will never go away but is definitely worsened by the nature of the world we live in; a neo-liberal hellhole for most for the benefit of the 1% to have a comfortable lifestyle. Sometimes the causes of insomnia are obvious, but often-than-not, they are usually a complete enigma to the sufferer.

A successful political revolution may help a bit, but unrealistic in our lifetime, if ever. Not to sound pessimistic or anything, but have you seen the world that we live in? There are no magical solutions.

However, I’m not a doctor or a psychologist. Honestly, the best qualification I have in talking about sleep hygiene is my own experiences and a biopsych unit on my A-Level Psychology course. I got an A, not that that helps my sleep much! So please scrutinise what I say about melatonin. It works for me, but my body is not yours. And you know your body better than I do.

uni-cessibility .

Disclaimer: I’m not going to disclose what university I go to, nor its location, nor reference their accessibility practices (and/or lack thereof), as that would be inappropriate.

I’m also not going to name-drop unis that are a nightmare for anyone with disabilities (also known as impairments, a term I prefer to use) or favour certain universities for their ‘ranking’ relative to others, a system pioneered by Thatcher’s government with upper-class interests in mind. A cruel, brutal system that disproportionally affects folx with impairments as well.

Beyond academia, policymaking & liberation circles, not much is said around university accessibility. It’s something that the ‘average’ person generally takes for granted. Is there a hearing loop? Content warnings in videos? Voice-recordings of lectures available to students? Resources to catch up after a health-related absence? Easy-to-read text on slideshows? Wheelchair accessibility throughout campus?

Recent campaigns have drawn attention to ‘invisible’ disabilities, but equality for all forms of impairment is far off, especially in cases of rarer disabilities with less public awareness. Many university students & staff remain uneducated to the dimensions in which campuses are exclusionary, which is highly concerning when ableism can stem from a lack of awareness.

There are so many dimensions to university accessibility (see below). And I don’t pretend to know of them all. Some I can relate to, others I’m privileged not to have personally experienced.

  1. Curricula: Does it have content warnings within topics as appropriate? Can students physically access classes where the course is taught? Is the course taught in ways that are engaging and effective for all students? Is disability awareness promoted by university staff constructively & informatively?
  2. Assessments: Do they exist in a range of formats to give each student opportunity to thrive? Are they flexible to student access arrangements? Is assessment information available to all students for reference? Are extenuating circumstances considered when appropriate to?
  3. Buildings: Do they have ramps, suitable doors, lifts, braille, and induction systems? Are there accessibility-friendly rooms within student halls of residence? Are the university estates department amenable to modifying university infrastructure as appropriate?
  4. Policy & Systems: Does legislation support and protect students? Is any form of impairment overlooked or ignored? Does the university have internal systems in place to ensure that it is as accessible as possible for all students? Do students know staff whom they can talk to if accessibility issues arise? Is disability-related discrimination dealt with appropriately by staff?

And these are just a few examples. Issues activists confront daily. However, universities often won’t spend money on accessibility features beyond the legal minimum. Although the Equality Act (2010) now protects a student’s right to have their disability, or disabilities, accommodated by their university, many ‘duck and dive’ when the m-word gets involved.

Universities operate as for-profit ‘businesses’, and to make more profits, often prioritise income from tuition fees on marketing to attract future students, increasing annual turnover at the expense of students with impairments, who may need additional support or accommodations. With 8% of UK students possessing an ‘unseen disability’ (for instance, dyslexia) and approximately 6% with physical impairment(s), budget allocation in favour of marketing is clearly detrimental to students already enrolled.

Moreover, value-for-money is reduced further for students in unis with high levels of inaccessibility, a factor that affects working-class to the greatest extent in the long-term. Although a minority of universities have improved accessibility levels dramatically following Equality Act legislature, there is still much work to be done, especially in Russell group universities which are statistically likelier to be inaccessible to students. This is because of historic building design and archaic attitudes towards disability that are held by some senior staff.

However, with the power to re-allocate university budgeting in the hands of the people at the top of the hierarchy, should we really be surprised? While universities operate on a for-profit basis, accessibility will always remain low-priority to their management. Thus, for universities to become truly ‘accessible’, we need radical structural change. Universities as a place of learning, not of profit. It’s in everyone’s best interests, except for the Vice Chancellor and private investors of course!

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