Michael Chanan's video blog: Protest Chile

FILM: What happens when you turn education into a business?

Since May, university and secondary school students in Chile have been involved in occupations and mass demonstrations calling for the return of free public education. Chile's education system is the most heavily privatised in the world, with the state contributing no more than 15 per cent of the budget of the public universities, forcing students and their families to finance their education by means of debt. Is this the future for education that the Coalition Government in Britain dreams of?

But Chile's model neoliberal democracy is beginning to unravel. With huge popular support, the student movement has radically shifted the political agenda by challenging the consensus of both government and opposition parties who both accommodated to the Constitution, still in place, that was imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980.

With interviews filmed in Santiago during November, this video incorporates footage shot mainly by postgraduate film students over the last few months, portraying the dynamics of the movement and the profound issues it raises about actually existing democracy in Chile.

Michael Chanan is professor of film at Roehampton University. His NS video blog documenting the UK's anti-cuts movement lead to a full-length documentary, "Chronicle of Protest". Buy it on DVD here.

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Donald Trump's inauguration signals the start of a new and more unstable era

A century in which the world's hegemonic power was a rational actor is about to give way to a more terrifying reality. 

For close to a century, the United States of America has been the world’s paramount superpower, one motivated by, for good and for bad, a rational and predictable series of motivations around its interests and a commitment to a rules-based global order, albeit one caveated by an awareness of the limits of enforcing that against other world powers.

We are now entering a period in which the world’s paramount superpower is neither led by a rational or predictable actor, has no commitment to a rules-based order, and to an extent it has any guiding principle, they are those set forward in Donald Trump’s inaugural: “we will follow two simple rules: hire American and buy American”, “from this day forth, it’s going to be America first, only America first”.

That means that the jousting between Trump and China will only intensify now that he is in office.  The possibility not only of a trade war, but of a hot war, between the two should not be ruled out.

We also have another signal – if it were needed – that he intends to turn a blind eye to the actions of autocrats around the world.

What does that mean for Brexit? It confirms that those who greeted the news that an US-UK trade deal is a “priority” for the incoming administration, including Theresa May, who described Britain as “front of the queue” for a deal with Trump’s America, should prepare themselves for disappointment.

For Europe in general, it confirms what should already been apparent: the nations of Europe are going to have be much, much more self-reliant in terms of their own security. That increases Britain’s leverage as far as the Brexit talks are concerned, in that Britain’s outsized defence spending will allow it acquire goodwill and trade favours in exchange for its role protecting the European Union’s Eastern border.

That might allow May a better deal out of Brexit than she might have got under Hillary Clinton. But there’s a reason why Trump has increased Britain’s heft as far as security and defence are concerned: it’s because his presidency ushers in an era in which we are all much, much less secure. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.