The Making of a Long Life

This is an afterword to my father’s  memoir which I have just edited  for forthcoming publication by eyeglass books.

I thought that the reader might  be interested to know a bit more  about the biographical background to this memoir, what motivated and influenced my father to write it,  its relation to other books about life in the Gorbals, and finally what was at stake for me personally in editing  the text.… Read the rest


 What follows is from a forthcoming publication  with the above title by eyeglass books  which  contains extracts from my lockdown diary. 

Home is wherever what is to hand feels familiar and trustworthy. Unlike the Archbishop   cited by Lewis Carroll,  we instantly know what it is and where to find this or that . That sense of secure dwelling is often embodied in objects, which remain faithful to their location, unless some outside disruptive force intervenes.… Read the rest

Political Mindfulness and the Pandemic : an interview

In this interview  Phil Cohen discusses his latest project and two linked publications from the Left wing think tank Compass.

How did this project come about?

For me the starting point in this journey  goes back to the 1980’s , the Kinnock years, when having abolished the Young Socialists  because it was controlled by Trotskyists, they launched an initiative called Labour listens to Youth.… Read the rest

Political Mindfulness: Fresh Perspectives on Multiple Crises’

By Phil Cohen

The text assembled here represents a thoughtful attempt to begin to find a way out of the current impasse in which progressive politics finds itself.

The collection explores the connections between the personal and political dimensions of mindfulness and how this might help us build strategies capable of winning the battle for hearts and minds in a post Brexit, post pandemic Britain.

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Compass Webinar – Living Maps – June 17th

A Compass Webinar, in association with Living Maps
Pausing for Thought: Mindful Perspectives
on a Multiple Crisis.

Wednesday, June 17th 18:30 – 20:00    
Sign Up Here!

First there was Brexit. Then the Labour Party goes down to a historic defeat with its most radical Social Democratic agenda since 1945. Then widespread floods across the country presage an environmental apocalypse to come unless climate change is properly addressed.

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The Pandemonic Dialogues

1. We don’t want to be  heroes, even for one day

We are not heroes. We do not want to be fallen  martyrs. All this war imagery  makes us very uncomfortable. It distract people from the reality. We are ordinary people who have chosen to  become  health workers and carers. We are professionals and highly trained. All we want is to be given the tools we need to do our job properly, to look after people in a safe environments.… Read the rest

Mapping the Pandemic

There Must Be Some Way Out of Here



Published on line by Compass  Wednesday June 24 2020

This essay  looks at a  range of public, personal and governmental responses to the pandemic for what it tells us about the kind of society and culture we live in. Drawing on insights from anthropology and psychoanalysis a model of risk perception is outlined   and applied to understanding the forms of social solidarity which have been  invoked by the government’s confused and often contradictory  public health messaging.… Read the rest

SAID THE JOKER TO THE THIEF Political Mindfulness and the Crisis of the Left Part 2

There must be some way out of here

The title of this discussion  might at first sight appear to be a plea for some kind of radical escapology.  We are in a mess, how do we get out of it?  There are currently a number of escapisms on offer on the Left. An escape into the past via  nostalgic evocations of a world  of working class community  support which has been  lost .… Read the rest

Politics’ Other Scene : some reflections on the times of Brexit

On Mindfulness [i]

We are living through a conjuncture which almost defies conjunctural analysis, where politics are taking an increasingly toxic turn and we are indeed entering uncharted waters. Against this background, the propagandists of neo-liberalism urge us to cultivate ‘resilience’ and ‘mindfulness’ as a way of seizing and surviving the present moment. Mindfulness in particular has been popularised as a kind of do-it-yourself therapy, a way of promoting well being by enabling people suffering from anxiety or depression to become more aware of internal mental states and their relation to external circumstances.… Read the rest

Mapping the Anthropocene: Some reflections on a short story by Barry Lopez


Today we are all too familiar with  the two cultures of cartography, belonging to the worlds of science and art .  Digital mapping technologies produce   ever more precise   and dramatic visualisations  of big  quantitative  data  sets generated by  the procedural methodologies  of natural and social science. The map’s power to abstract and totalise has never been greater, or more accessible.… Read the rest