We Are Not Rats is restarting – as a quarterly publication that provides space for debate, radical thinking and creativity around building a world fit for humans, not rats. We are a collective looking to challenge the acceptance of competition, individualism and profit as driving forces in society, believing that they restrict creativity, community and humanity. Our aim with We Are Not Rats is to advance discussions and debates which will allow us to become agents for change rather than products of a flawed society.
We believe that We Are Not Rats, and independent media generally, are necessary for two key reasons; the first relates to education and the second to the media.
The value placed on independent thought in education is in decline, and has been for many years; an increasing obsession with exams and targets has resulted in the domination of an education style based on memory and regurgitation. This comes at the expense of imagination, autonomy and critical awareness. The absence of space to think, and encouragement to do so, results in a lack of confidence to consult, and challenge, our own minds. This pattern is sometimes broken at the level of higher education – but there, ideas and critiques often remain confined and sidelined within academia, their relevance to contemporary society unexplored. Beyond education, in a world where conformity is apparently easy, giving voice to critical thinking becomes even harder. Students with radical ideas become graduates in the rat race. By thinking critically, exchanging ideas and responding to them actively, we can challenge the hegemonic thinking and capitalist mechanisms that rule our society. We Are Not Rats hopes to provide a platform for debate which challenges conformism and examines new avenues for social change.
The media wields huge power in shaping our perspectives; this is problematic given the selectivity and short-term memory span of mainstream, commercial, journalism. Issues such as the planned privatisation of the student loan book, or our almost-but-not-quite intervention in Syria disappear from the collective consciousness as the news cycle churns rapidly onwards. Critical examination of events in relation to the structures and ideologies dominant in society is minimal. Alongside the growing ranks of quality independent media, We Are Not Rats hopes to develop awareness about current issues and enduring structures, encourage critique and analysis and in the process strengthen movements in order to change the damned system!
Perhaps controversially, in the year of Scotland’s referendum, we have chosen to expand the scope of this publication to the North of England. This should in no way be seen as expressing an editorial position on independence, or denigrating its value. Rather, we have seen how the North, too, suffers from the UK’s cultural, economic, and political London-centricity. When, in a colonial turn of phrase, Tory Lords call for fracking in the ‘Desolate North-East’, we believe there is a clear need for the North, too, to have more autonomy – and yet little cross-border solidarity, or debate, is taking place.
The theme of our first issue is referenda, which can be approached or ignored in any way you see fit. We will publish both short articles and long articles, of up to 3,000 words. The extended deadline for the first issue is Friday 18th July. Questions, queries and submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.