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The Left Brain Rationale

Sam Mandi-Ghomi delves into Left Brain's reasoning, goals and everything in between.

When Nathan and I were first conceptualising what is now Left Brain Media, the text you see on the ‘About’ page came to us like a bee to a flower. It was us justifying our idea to ourselves, giving us a reference point to anchor ourselves to through what was inevitably going to be a drawn-out building process. It is an incredibly pretentious, third-year-of-uni block of text that we love dearly and have carried with us through a total rebrand, adding snippets as we’ve developed the concept further.


I’ve come to realise snippets don’t quite cut it, and have deemed it necessary (in my own head) to delve deeper into the heart of Left Brain Media. Who are we? What do we care about? What are we doing?


At the micro level, Nathan and I are sociopolitical theory nerds, keen on writing, but tired of shouting into the ether. Years of solo blogging has come to feel like muttering under our breath in public: people might notice and have questions, but, ultimately, it doesn’t achieve all that much. And thus, a collective is born.


At the macro, the standard of opinion journalism in the UK is in the bin. Journalism doesn’t necessarily need to disguise bias or agenda, but it does need to be less shit. It’s at best useless, and at worst harmful.


If it’s not treating the Westminster system like it’s the only thing that could ever matter, then it’s giving puff pieces to untalented career MPs.


If it’s not touting blatant transphobia at 11am on a Tuesday, then it’s talking about other countries like they’re a 90s fantasy novel.


If it’s not blindly celebrating the releases of union-busting summer blockbuster franchise instalments, then it’s ex pro-footballers delivering analysis like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen a ball kicked around a pitch.


I’m sick to the back teeth of it.


So what’s the Left Brain approach to politics, culture, and entertainment?


Politics

I have no great love for the Westminster system. Frontline British politics is a mess, but intrigue lies in its failings. Frontline politics, British and beyond, will always be discussed on Left Brain because it remains important regardless of the mess it’s in. We have just had a new Prime Minister uninstalled, after a week of tanking the pound, forcing the Bank of England to bail out failing pension funds, starting a spin job on energy prices for the winter, and sacking the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And now for a new one who lost a vote of party members to that recently-binned Prime Minister only last month! The storylines will only keep on rolling and it’s important that we analyse them.


Contrarily, the Labour Party have taken a 20+ point lead in all polls following Liz Truss’s month from hell. In this period, it’s important that we look at the trends of what Labour are saying and doing, why they are doing it, and what it might mean for the future of British politics. Obviously, Labour are closer in political thought than the Conservatives to what Left Brain Media wants to house, but there is a clear discrepancy between us, and forcing that Party to be a force for progressive good is something that we will strive towards.


Credit: Alba_alioth/Shutterstock

Off our island, the fire that’s been burning since the world’s been turning continues to blaze. In Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a major world power has brought its own status into question through hard military power for the first time in a generation. Because of this, international order is set to change dramatically over the course of the next year. We are already seeing the residual effects of a declining belief in the Russian monolith, with escalations in conflicts on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan border occurring hours after Russia suffered serious losses in control over Ukrainian territory in mid-September.


Simultaneously, Myanmar is in open civil war, with no less than 14 insurgent groups possessing some territory somewhere in the country. Ethiopia too, with a recent ceasefire being broken and fighting in the Tigray and Amhara regions intensifying to its worst in a long time. Yemen, meanwhile, sits in a shaky ceasefire, with territorial control at a complete stalemate.


In November, the USA will hold its midterm elections. It’ll be an opportunity for us all to see what the public thinks of President Biden, and will control how much he’s actually able to do in the final two years before the next Presidential election. After that there will, of course, be the Republican Party choosing its own Presidential candidate, and the probable return of a certain blonde toupee. The changing nature of international order is something we are incredibly interested in here at Left Brain, and would encourage submissions and analysis on it from a structuralist perspective.


Labour relations and worker’s rights struggles have also re-entered the public consciousness in Britain, in no small part due to the mass industrial action taken by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). This is coupled with the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) weighing up walking out over the NHS pay dispute, something the union has never had to do in it’s 106-year history. We at Left Brain deeply support workers aiming to improve their conditions, and would welcome all analysis of industrial issues across the globe.


Every day, progressive political battles are fought to establish a better world and better lives for all of us. Transphobia is rife in the British media and opposing the mere existence of trans people is treated by certain outlets as the single most important issue of our times. This is coupled with a rise in blatant homophobia, misogyny and racism to extreme levels. Left Brain Media is committed to the belief in freedom from oppression, and aims to house writing and social analysis from queer, anti-racist and feminist perspectives.


Culture

To us, culture covers a large variety of things. The death of Queen Elizabeth II provides an interesting example of this, with the ability to analyse the post New Elizabethan era from a progressive perspective, and the position that a constitutional monarchy has in the society we are trying to achieve.


There are also policy-based issues that have basis in culture more than ‘politics’, per se. For example, Nathan has a keen academic interest in drug policy and drug policy reform, with a focus on harm reduction. There is an essay from him already on this site on the topic, which I would implore you to seek out as a golden example of policy issues from a cultural perspective. Left Brain would be interested in publishing more writing like this, on education policy, policing, the environment and climate change, the housing sector and rental reform, necessary transport reform and urban design, just to name a few.


Fans of Tunisian football club, Africain, unveil a banner reading ‘Created by the poor, stolen by the rich’ before a pre-season friendly game against Paris Saint-Germain, who were purchased by the Qatari state in 2011.

The 2022 World Cup is a perfect example of Left Brain’s interest in cultural analysis. Notoriously, host nation Qatar have faced heavy scrutiny for allegations of bribery securing them the World Cup, and the human rights violations that have taken place in their ten-year effort to build and renovate twelve stadiums in time for this November. The issue of LGBT+ fans attending games has long been discussed, with homosexuality illegal in Qatar. Organisers have played down the risk to fans but the result is yet to be seen and many remain, understandably, incredibly concerned. As such, there have been widespread calls for a full boycott of the tournament, from participating teams, to attendees, to individuals watching on television.


With a month to go, the tournament is almost certainly going to take place in full, and the results on the pitch will also provide opportunities for sociocultural analysis. Team performances at World Cups have contributed to changing dynamics in countries for a long time, such as France’s celebrations of diversity following their World Cup victories in 1998 and 2018, and how short-lived they were on both occasions. Two of the pre-tournament favourites, Brazil and England, are both facing surges in nationalistic tendencies, and their team’s performances at this tournament will undoubtedly have effects on the psyche of their nations going forward. This is as good an example of cultural analysis that we here at Left Brain are interested in as I can imagine.


Entertainment

A stage performance of Nineteen Eighty Four in 2017
A stage performance of Nineteen Eighty Four in 2017. Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Film, television, music, video games, theatre, performance, literature and art are all forms of entertainment that we are interested in at Left Brain Media. As you may have already seen on the site, this can take the form of traditional reviews of entertainment media, or criticism of art and performance. However, we understand that just because the arts have the ability to further progressive issues in both the mainstream and subculture, that doesn’t mean they always do so. We are open to publishing heavy criticism of pieces of art that fail progressive issues just as much as we are positive reviews imploring people to seek out art that has inspired you.


But art writing isn’t just about criticism. We are also interested in the sociocultural implications of art, and the way in which non-progressive society may interact with pieces of art that break down barriers. A good example of this is the already-uploaded article on Don’t Worry Darling and the scandal surrounding it, discussing if scandal is of any use in the current entertainment landscape.


This isn’t a catch-all of everything we’re willing to publish on Left Brain Media, but is merely an attempt to delve deeper into why we’re even doing this in the first place from an editorial perspective.


If you have been intrigued or inspired by any of the above then we would, of course, love to receive submissions on the topics. But we will expand far, far beyond just these topics. If it’s progressive, interesting and will educate/challenge the way readers look at the state of the world, then it’s something we are interested in.


If you have a submission, send it to leftbrain.enquiries@gmail.com. If you have an idea and want to flesh it out a bit more, we are always available by our individual emails (sam.leftbrain@gmail.com or nathan.leftbrain@gmail.com) or in our social media DMs, @leftbrain_media on Twitter and Instagram.


The long term aim for Left Brain is to develop a sustainable subscription model, keep the site financially viable, and pay our writers for every article published on the site. If you are able to, please consider subscribing for as little as £1. You can do this through the ‘Subscriptions’ section on our website.


Thank you for even giving us a chance.


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