John Gruntfest’s and Richard Gilman-Opalsky’s Improvisations for the End of Time sounds like an overdramatic album title, but if you have the substance to support the drama, there’s nothing pretentious about it. Instead, as in the case of this album, you might get a strong, powerful statement that needs to be heard. I believe Improvisations for the End of Time is just such an album. Yes, it is powerful and expressive like a lot of music in its milieu, but when you listen deeply, you will hear a disarmingly profound collection of improvisations that really lives up to the declarations of this title.

What does that mean? First of all, John Gruntfest is the best alto saxophonist you've never heard of. You don’t believe me? Well, Gruntfest is a musician with an incredible work biography that goes back to the 1970s. His first two albums, Live at Panagea 1 & 2, were voted “Album of the Year” in 1977 by Cadence magazine, a small Oregon publication that mainly covered improvised music. He led various free jazz ensembles (perhaps most notably the Raven Free Orchestra for decades), played on the Berlin Wall when it was demolished, and was a member of the live ensembles Tuxedomoon and Snakefinger. As a musician, organizer and activist on the San Francisco scene, he was responsible for many artistic events imbued with the uncompromising radical thinking that ran through the avant-garde of its place and time. Attached to old-school revolutionary ideas, Gruntfest combines the influences of thinkers and creators from around the world, from Charles Ives to John Coltrane, from Buddha to Marx, from Emma Goldman to Guy Debord, from Walt Whitman to Artois. Like many good old-school radicals, Gruntfest has a history in poetry and political theater, and a few years ago combined poetry, music, painting and revolutionary politics in the Future Che project, which—especially by American standards—went very far towards the celebration of the communism embodied in the figure of Che Guevara.


Casa Invisible is here to stay!
Against the eviction of the Invisible, against Mall-aga, against the compliant city
Gerald Raunig

After two-and-a-half hours marching through the city, the protest took a turn onto Calle Larios, the central avenue of pomp in Málaga’s center, at 10 pm. A wave goodbye to the vehicle carrying the band that had been leading the protest for so long, and the march moves on into the pedestrian zone. Suddenly and with no announcement, the first seven rows of heroínas invisibles begin to run, not quite such “invisible heroines,” they overtake the six-man line of police and run the whole way to the Plaza Constitución, where the final rally is supposed to take place. Incompliant flight, breaking through the consumption and movement patterns of the expensive shopping mile, stares of disbelief from passersby and even most of the protest participants are astounded by what is possible on this day.

How is this possible in a city that has become more and more beholden to tourism? That caves in to the assignment and handing-over of the city center to speculation, gentrification and touristification? Culture instrumentalized as attraction in the competition amongst cities and as brand in the service of tourism – from the claim to Picasso’s birthplace to the countless museum institutions erected of mediocre quality? How is this possible, above all, in a city that is now also shedding its liberal cloak and attempting to evict the sole remaining sociocultural oasis in the thoroughly-touristified desert of its center?

Theses on Benjamin
Mario Tronti

1. The workers’ movement was not defeated by capital. The workers’ movement was defeated by democracy. These are the terms of the problem that the century puts before us. The fact, die Sache selbst, we must now think.

2. The workers’ movement balanced its accounts with capitalism. The grand historical confrontation of the 19th and 20th centuries. Alternating phases. Reciprocal instances of victory and defeat. But the workers’ labour power, an internal part of capital, could not exile itself. This is the obscure depth of the failure of revolution. Reasonable and crazy attempts to change the world, all fallen. The long march of reformism had no more success than the assault from the sky. But the workers changed capital. They forced it to change itself. Their defeat was never on the social plane. It was on political ground.

3. The 20th century is not the century of social democracy. It is the century of democracy. Moving through the era of the wars, democracy imposed its hegemony. It is democracy that won the class struggle. The authoritarian and totalitarian political solutions functioned in the end as the demonic instruments of a democratic providentialism. Democracy, like the monarchy of the past, is now absolute. More than the practices of totalitarian democracy there emerged a totalised idea of democracy. Paradoxically, this occurred contemporaneously with the dissolution of the concept of the ‘people,’ which was foreseen by the genius of Kelsen. After the defeat of Nazism and the failure of socialism, democracy rose up twice as the choice of value. Neither in the east nor in the west did the workers’ movement elaborate or experiment with its own idea of democracy. It did not cultivate or move through it as a field of conflict. The workers’ movement of the 20th century could be nothing but democratic. But the century of democracy killed it. This trauma lies, and acts obscurely, in the collective unconscious of the European left – in its militancy, leadership and culture.


Prison and Social Death
Joshua M. Price with Silvia Federici

February 15, 2016, 7PM
The Brooklyn Commons
388 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Sliding scale: $6 | $10 | $15

The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. To be sentenced to prison is to face systematic violence, humiliation, and, perhaps worst of all, separation from family and community. It is, to borrow Orlando Patterson’s term for the utter isolation of slavery, to suffer “social death.” In Prison and Social Death, Joshua Price exposes the unexamined cost that prisoners pay while incarcerated and after release, drawing upon hundreds of often harrowing interviews conducted with people in prison, parolees, and their families.

Price argues that the prison separates prisoners from desperately needed communities of support from parents, spouses, and children. Moreover, this isolation of people in prison renders them highly vulnerable to other forms of violence, including sexual violence. Price stresses that the violence they face goes beyond physical abuse by prison guards and it involves institutionalized forms of mistreatment, ranging from abysmally poor health care to routine practices that are arguably abusive, such as pat-downs, cavity searches, and the shackling of pregnant women. And social death does not end with prison. The condition is permanent, following people after they are released from prison. Finding housing, employment, receiving social welfare benefits, and regaining voting rights are all hindered by various legal and other hurdles. The mechanisms of social death, Price shows, are also informal and cultural. Ex-prisoners face numerous forms of distrust and are permanently stigmatized by other citizens around them.

A compelling blend of solidarity, civil rights activism, and social research, Prison and Social Death offers a unique look at the American prison and the excessive and unnecessary damage it inflicts on prisoners and parolees.

​​ "The Student Movement and the Practice of Popular Politics in South Africa"
​A Conversation with Camalita Naicker

Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 at 2:30pm​
The Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn,NY

Camalita is a student, ​​activist and researcher from Grahamstown, South Africa .​ She has been involved in the student movement there and more recently in the "stop-all-fees" mobilization. She will speak about student struggles in South Africa, as well as the practice of popular politics, and in particular land and urban occupations.

More information here, then search for Camilita.

2016 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints
Radial Heroes for the New Millennium!
James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective

Autonomedia's Jubilee Saints Calendar for 2016! Our 24th annual wall calendar, with artwork by James Koehnline, and text by the Autonomedia Collective.

Speech at Franco Berardi’s PhD Defence
Geert Lovink

Being a decade younger, I heard for the first time from him and his activities around 1980, when stories about Radio Alice were spreading throughout Europe. True, the Amsterdam free radio scene, operating out of the squatters movement of the time, had a multitude of (local) roots but Radio Alice was certainly one of them. The Bologna uprising of 1977, in which Bifo played a crucial role, predated our most tumultuous year, 1980, and was thus a an important source of inspiration for the revolts in Amsterdam, Zurich and Berlin. What we shared was our common desire to find out what ‘autonomy’ could look like in different parts of Western Europe which lacked any trace of its own ‘operaist’ workers movement.

Part punk and new wave, part rainbow coalition (feminism, anti-nuclear eco protests, anti-racism), part post-industrial turning techno, the sense of ‘no future’ in this late Cold War period was widely spread. The march into the institutions was over and doors were closing. Even the Situationists had closed shop. Being aware that well-meaning alternative proposals were no longer effective, we set up temporary encampments for anger & beauty. In these dark times of mass youth unemployment, the common language was one of refusal. After the lived utopia of the late 1960s with its failed experiments, my generation grew up in the shadow of armed struggles of others. Slowly but steadily we said goodbye to solidarity with the post-colonial national projects. After our own movements started to disintegrate, even our own militants went on a self-marginalising path (however, without taking other with them in their misery). By the second part of the eighties we were on our own, in a harsh neo-liberal technological world that inevitably forced the Media Question and the Globalization Question upon us. The ‘slow cancellation of the future’ (as Mark Fisher calls it in Ghosts of my Life) happened under our very eyes, leaving head space to dream how computer-aided social networking should look like.

I cannot but think strategically, in a political sense, about Berardi’s timely mapping exercise that he performed here. Every insight breathes the sense of intense debate and collective consideration, set in 1975, 1996, 2011, 2020 and beyond. Suffice to say, this PhD thesis has neither become a hermetic Hegelian Magnus Opus, nor a boring academic residue of an author’s wild years. Quoted sources are treated like equals. There are zero traces of a plagued genius or arrogant theory celebrity that suffers from melancholy. The tone remains urgent. We may or may not be depressed, but at least we’ve made the quantum jump to start studying depression. This is not become we indulge in our collective defeat, but we want to unlock the general sensibility. Let’s make our vulnerability unmanageable.

Review of Precarious Communism
John Asimakopoulos
Anarchist Studies

In Precarious Communism Gilman-Opalsky explains that the purpose of any manifesto, including his own, is to make manifest certain facts. Accordingly, he highlights the difference between Marx and ‘Marxism’ without engaging dead ideologies. He is a ‘precarious’ proponent of new theories void of historical baggage or loaded terms. This makes the book an excellent supplement to many social science and humanities courses.

Gilman-Opalsky situates Marx and ‘Marxism’ in the concept of precarious communism (autonomy) in an attempt to disentangle the terms ‘communism’ and ‘Marxism’ from past ideological purity and state practice. It is a way forward that allows for no single pure ideological possibility of social organisation, but rather many diverse possibilities for achieving a non-capitalist society that could be described generally as communal. Precarious Communism also demonstrates the ‘precarious’ position of the non-ideological communist seeking a way forward. It is within this context that Gilman-Opalsky attempts to situate the Communist Manifesto for today’s audience, realities, and experiences, using the methodological technique developed by the French Situationists (an artistic-political organisa- tion) under Guy Debord called detournement (meaning re-routing or hijacking).

One of the author’s major contributions is to update Marxist ideas, rather than ideology, showing their relevance both theoretically and as more accurate descriptions of conditions under late capitalism or neoliberalism. In fact, such critical analyses are more important and relevant than ever before given the expansion of capitalist co-optation and invasion into even more spheres of life than in Marx’s times. Gilman-Opalsky points out that globalisation is still based on the old city power centres around the world. In this sense, globalisation is a thinly veiled exercise aiming to further modern forms of neo-colonialism. More so, this is a ‘privatized’ globalisation, as he points out, where national governments have voluntarily privatised almost all of their functions leaving them as hollow ‘straw men’ for the elite to rail against, an ironic sight indeed since governments, having been co-opted long ago, are no more than political expressions of capital. He points out this contradiction where so-called liberals (basically the bourgeoisie) accuse the capitalist state of being Marxist.

2015 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints
Radial Heroes for the New Millennium!
James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective

Autonomedia's Jubilee Saints Calendar for 2015! Our 23rd annual wall calendar, with artwork by James Koehnline, and text by the Autonomedia Collective.

Hundreds of radical cultural and political heroes are celebrated here, along with the animating ideas that continue to guide this project — a reprieve from the 500-year-long sentence to life-at-hard-labor that the European colonization of the "New World" and the ensuing devastations of the rest of the world has represented. It is increasingly clear — at the dawn of this new millennium — that the Planetary Work Machine will not rule forever!

Celebrate with this calendar on which every day is a holiday!

32 pages, 12 x 16 inches, saddle stitched

isbn 978-1-57027-299-8 : price $9.95 : 32 pages

Buy two, and we will send a third calendar for free!

Lives of the Orange Men Review
Stewart Home
Art Review

Lives of the Orange Men: A Biographical History of the Polish Orange Alternative Movement
by Major Waldemar Fydrych, Minor Compositions

It is something of a cliché to say the Spanish experienced what the rest of Western Europe went through in the 1960s in the 1980s, after being freed from the yoke of Franco’s fascist dictatorship. The same might be said of Eastern Europe as it extricated itself from the clutches of Bolshevism. That’s certainly the impression created by this eyewitness account of the Orange Alternative by one of its prominent activists, Major Waldemar Fydrych.

The Orange Alternative practised what it dubbed ‘social Surrealism’ to parody the state capitalist dictatorship in Poland and its socialist realist art. This loose group of activists restaged the storming of the Winter Palace (a key incident in the Bolshevik seizure of power) using cardboard tanks and ships that the actors wore as costumes; likewise they handed out toilet paper in the streets when there was a shortage of this commodity. Fydrych explains his involvement in these actions in this way: ‘I make dialectical art… in other words I act upon consciousness and treat everything as a work of art.’ Many of the Orange Alternative’s actions echo neo-dadaist and related activity in the West in the 1960s. For example: ‘The day of the happening…was an evening full of surprises… the militia tried to arrest the Santa Clauses. The Santas were protected against easy arrest by being tied together with a rope. While the militiamen were untying them, the crowd sang Sto Lat (A traditional Polish song, similar to For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow)… the crowd… sometimes chased the militiamen… chanting, “What are we to think? Santa’s in the clink!” and “Release Santa!”... Since it was St. Nicholas Day, the militiamen also arrested professional Santa Clauses coming out of department stores with presents.’

This brings to mind the Black Mask intervention at Macy’s in the late 1960s where one member of the group dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out free toys to children. The kids were then treated to the edifying spectacle of seeing Santa arrested and having their toys snatched back from them by the cops. The stunt was repeated at Selfridges in London by the King Mob group.

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