Culture and Crisis
Paul Werner

I] Whew! that was close! I had planned to give this lecture in French; fortunately, the organizers contacted me and asked me to lecture in English instead; and there's no equivalent for "Big Bird" in French. So. Welcome, Everybody! Hello! Hello!... Hey, kids! Can you say PRODROMIC? Prodromic: It's a historian's term, as well as medical. It means that certain events can give a sense of how later events are going to unfold, without necessarily suggesting a cause-and-effect relationship. A prodrome is purely heuristic… never mind.

An Enclosure Called Politics. Surrealism and Electoral Politics
Bernard Marszalek

The quadrennial abuse visited upon us by the boosters of the State, and their supplicants, grows worse. This electoral circus (to be clear, I am not limiting my scorn to that baroque institution, the Electoral College, ridiculed by all, even those, worldwide, who genuflect to what they perceive to be more sophisticated governing structures), this circus, I repeat, solidified after years of debate in the United States at the end of the 18th Century, when the assumption that control of unruly social forces belonged to wealthy white men (who, alone, had the franchise), was imposed, though not necessarily obeyed (rebellions repeatedly threatened the new rulers of the former colonies), and amounts to nothing more than a counter-revolutionary culmination of a bloody uprising – erroneously termed The American Revolution – that, itself, foreclosed Thomas Paine’s revolutionary vision.

Ten Years After and a Global Crisis Later… – Preface to Indian Edition of ‘Hotlines: Call Centre, Inquiry, Communism’, by Kolinko
Guragon Workers News

Call centres were the archetype of a workplace for the capitalist cycle between the early 1990s and late 2000s. Located in the dominant sectors of the cycle in the global north, e.g. banking, insurances and personal services, they were able to absorb and combine both surplus capital (which had escaped the shrinking profit margins in the industries); and surplus labour (in form of the unemployed graduate and dismissed industrial worker). Call centres became de facto outsourced university departments where students were forced to work off their student debts and get used to their future perspective as precarious wage dependents. The call centres’ outer-face resembled less the factories of the past; but rather their culture of ‘work-time/leisure-time’-balance was supposed to turn the collective experience of work into a question of individual life-management. They formed part of the general propaganda proclaiming the ‘end of the working class’, which prevailed since the 1980s – while at the same time concentrating and ‘proletarianising’ large sections of previously ‘white-collar’ workers under one roof and subjecting them to a Taylorised ‘factory-mode’ of production. Instead of individualising neo-liberal subjects, call centres simply extended the industrial system into the office world and collectivised a section of the working class who previously saw themselves as ‘educated employees’, such as bank clerks or administrators. As a labour intensive and mobile industry, call centres quickly combined labour in different parts of the globe.

A Rioter's Prayer
Pussy Riot's Yekaterina Samutsevich on Protest, Art, and Freedom

Ekaterina Samoutsevitch of Pussy Riot was freed under "conditional liberty, " on October 10, 2012 and on the 12th gave a radio interview on “Echoes of Moscow,” part of the Gazprom Media group. It is translated from the French and edited by Iddhis Bing.

The two other members of Pussy Riot have subsequently been sentenced and shipped far from Moscow: Maria Alyokhina to a women's prison camp in Perm in Siberia and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to Mordovia. Both are mothers and both camps are reportedly among the harshest in the Russian system. It remains to be seen if they will serve the full two-year sentences. A recent Russian visitor to the commune where I live in Paris had this to say about dissent in her country: "There is freedom of expression in Russia. You can go out to the street and say whatever you want but as soon as you get organized, Putin will find a way to flatten you. Any time forces coalesce, you will be crushed." Still, one tries to be hopeful and remembers Anna Akhmatova’s great lines on the five year imprisonment of the poet Joseph Brodsky. “What a biography they’re fashioning for our red-haired friend!” she said. “It’s as if he’d hired them to do it on purpose.”

Preoccupying
Alan Moore

[Alan Moore is a writer and anarchist, and the author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Having written for the Occupied Times back in January, he returns to OT to discuss anarchy, war, and the roots of the modern education system.]

OT: Having previously suggested that many of the problems humanity faces flow from a tiny number of “leaders” and the current political and economic system they maintain, what do you identify as the main problems in the political and commercial makeup of our society?

AM: I think that with the inevitable erosion of those false certainties which shored up the reality of previous generations, we have seen a subsequent collapse in our sense of societal significance and, not entirely unconnected, in our sense of personal identity. We are no longer certain what the social structures we inhabit mean, and therefore cannot gauge our own value or meaning in relation to those structures. Lacking previously-existing templates such as blind patriotism or religion, it would seem that many people mistake status for significance, building their sense of self on what they earn or on how many people know of their existence. This appears to lead to a fragmented and anxiety-fuelled personality as the most readily-adopted option, which it may be imagined is a desirable condition for those seeking to herd large populations in accordance with their own often-depraved agendas.

Another World
Michelle Kuo talks with David Graeber

[David Graeber talks with the Editor-in-Chief of Artforum about philosophy, totalities, insurrectionism, baseline communism, and his book Debt.]

MICHELLE KUO: Many artists and critics have been reading your work on everything from the long history of debt, to anarchism, to culture as “creative refusal.” That interest seems to be a reflection of how the art world, at this moment, sees itself in parallel to politics and economics. Why does the art world want to call on economic theories of immaterial labor, for instance, or strategies of resistance tied to such theories and worldviews? We love to import terms from outside our discipline and, frankly, our comprehension. The misprision can often be productive, but it can also be very frustrating.

DAVID GRAEBER: Yes, it’s similar to the relation between anthropology and philosophy—as seen by anyone who actually knows anything about philosophy.

"Open Letter to Critics Writing About Political Art"
Stephen Duncombe & Steve Lambert

Last weekend Creative Time held their fourth annual summit on the current
state of artistic activism. Over two days, scores of political artists from
around the world gave short presentations and organized longer workshops. Hundreds of people participated.

The critical response, so far, has been underwhelming: few critics
attended and those that did had little substantive to say. It would be easy
to account for the overall silence and dismiss the surface commentary with
some snarky criticism of our own about a bullshit art world with their
head up their ass who can't recognize that something important is
happening right in front of them. And while this may be self-righteously
satisfying, it is not very helpful. We want to help.

WikiLeaks and the Anarchistic Roots of Global Uprising
Nozomi Hayase

There has been increasing interest in anarchism, with people around the
globe writing and talking about it. A whole new generation is beginning
to discover anarchists from the past like Emma Goldman and Alexeyevich
Kropotkin and a new documentary is in the works. The word anarchy is
swimming through twitter feeds and Facebook shares, coursing through
avenues of the public mind. Ideas of mutual aid and voluntary
association are becoming more and more relevant as the world stands in
dire need of solutions to the current ballooning crisis of economic and
political corruption.

Discussions have covered a range of topics.

- The struggle for land as a central focus of class struggle in an age of resource peaks.
- The limitations of ‘clean’ energy and the critique of technological fixes. Ie. Indigenous resistance to windfarms in Mexico to strikes in the German wind sector. Solar panel toxic-waste struggle in China.
- ‘Green’ capitalism’s ability ( or not ) to adapt to climate crises and create new forms of accumulation.

“We Are Witnessing the End of an Era”
Interview with Silvia Federici by Max Henninger

[A conversation about pauperization and the Occupy movement in the USA]

Max Henninger: According to figures published by the US Census Bureau in September 2011, 46.2 million US citizens were living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published. How visible is the increase in poverty and how do those affected respond to their situation?

Silvia Federici: Undoubtedly the figures are correct, but it is not just poverty that is in question. What is happening is a dramatic policy shift whereby the rights and entitlements the US working class has fought for and come to expect are now declared to be, for the foreseeable future, unreachable and unjustified. To put it in media terms, it is “the end of the American dream,” signifying the historic severance of US capital from the US working class, in the sense that US capitalism is becoming completely de-territorialized and is now refusing any commitment to the reproduction of the US workforce.

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