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« March 2017 »
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
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
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
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.
Class Wargames Book Launch London 25 October
Red Gallery 1-3 Rivington St, London EC2A 3DT
Class Wargames: ludic subversion against spectacular capitalism
“In a world become ‘game-ified’ against its will, Class Wargames provides the field manual for the only game that matters – that of history.” – McKenzie Wark
5.00-7.00pm: collective games playing
7.00-7.30pm: screening of Ilze Black's 'The Game of War' film
7.30-9.00pm: talks by Richard Barbrook, Fabian Tompsett and Kimathi Donkor
9.00pm until late: KCC & the Rocking Crew and Toi-Toi featuring Claus Voigtmann
Requisite fb event page
There will also be a book event at the London Anarchist Bookfair, 18 October at 5PM
"Ebola and NATO"
In a world that is increasingly more densely interconnected, and, theoretically, more informed, one can easily observe how misinformation/disinformation is easily spread around. It is also easy to observe that those who have the most to win from any given development shall resort to anything in order to ensure their own victory. In this kind of situation, sometimes described as a “crisis”, uncomfortable questions will tend not to be asked, and when asked the dominant profiteering mindset, centuries in the making, will likely lead to silencing any uncomfortable questions that might arise, and, naturally, the even more uncomfortable answers. To examine some of the origins and ramifications of this mindset would require much more space and time than this brief essay.
In order to understand the logic and reasoning coming out of an institution like NATO, one should understand how its rise is intimately connected to the history of how the United States was settled. In both cases, the central element is the conquest and shaping of power through military means. This process has led to an understanding and practice of justice, in the US and beyond its borders, determined by violence. Beyond its borders, NATO has become the most powerful instrument in the US military arsenal to impose its view of humanity, its understanding of justice. NATO has allowed the US and its allies to impose its own understanding and practice of justice by any means necessary, including circumventing the UN. The institutionalization of violence (through NATO) to achieve complete and total control over all segments of humanity has gone so far that the deep and wide historical interconnections between the expansion of NATO and the expansion of Ebola tend to be seen as having nothing to do with each other. The logic and reasoning operating in the mindsets of those who are in charge of NATO is no different from the logic and reasoning operating in the mindsets of any rapist anywhere in the world. In the process, collectively and individually, they tell themselves “nothing will happen to me”.
New issue of ephemera on ‘The politics of worker’s inquiry’
The Politics of Worker’s Inquiry
ephemera: theory & politics in organization
Volume 14, Number 3 (August 2014)
Edited by Joanna Figiel, Stevphen Shukaitis, and Abe Walker
This issue brings together a series of commentaries, interventions and projects centred on the theme of workers’ inquiry. Workers’ inquiry is a practice of knowledge production that seeks to understand the changing composition of labour and its potential for revolutionary social transformation. It is a practice of turning the tools of the social sciences into weapons of class struggle. It also seeks to map the continuing imposition of the class relation, not as a disinterested investigation, but rather to deepen and intensify social and political antagonisms.
Workers’ inquiry developed in a context marked by rapid industrialization, mass migration and the use of industrial sociology to discipline the working class. It was formulated within autonomist movements as a sort of parallel sociology based on a radical re-reading of Marx and Weber against the politics of the communist party and the unions. The process of inquiry took the contradictions of the labour process as a starting point and sought to draw out such political antagonisms into the formation of new radical subjectivities. With this issue we seek to rethink workers’ inquiry as a practice and perspective, in order to understand and catalyse emergent moments of political composition.
Including essays from Fabrizio Fasulo, Frederick H. Pitts, Christopher Wellbrook, Anna Curcio, Colectivo Situaciones, Evangelinidis Angelos, Lazaris Dimitris, Jennifer M. Murray, Michał Kozłowski, Bianca Elzenbaumer, Caterina Giuliani, Alan W. Moore, T.L. Cowan, Jasmine Rault, Jamie Woodcock, and Gigi Roggero; an interview with Jon McKenzie; and book reviews by Craig Willse, Stephen Parliament, Christian De Cock, Mathias Skrutkowski, and Orla McGarry.