Affective Politics & the Imagination of Everyday Resistance
Wednesdays 4–6 PM from July 15th – August 26th
172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington, NYC •
Instructors: Jack Z. Bratich & Stevphen Shukaitis
Recently, “affect” has been a key concept for research in politics, aesthetics, marketing, neuroscience, and sociology. This course seeks to draw together some of the more innovative work within this “affective turn,” focusing on the political composition of subjectivities, especially via cultural practices. After a survey of some conceptual foundations of affectivity, we explore its relation to group-formation, labor, technology, value, passions (fear, panic, trauma, joy, love), actions, and creativity. The course will feature guest speakers engaged in affective politics and involve group discussions on the affective nature of practices participants are involved in.
For more information / readings: http://stevphen.mahost.org/affectivepolitics.html
Loren Goldner and Howie Seligman, NYC Summer Study Group on Capitalist Crisis
Howie Seligman and I will be doing a 9-week study group in the New York City area on Marxian theory and the current crisis. If you are interested, read on. As the group is limited to 15 people, we will give priority to "advanced beginners" rather than to the pros who tend to predominate on Meltdown. But all applicants are welcome.
SUMMER STUDY GROUP ON MARX’S CAPITAL AND THE CURRENT CRISIS
Loren Goldner and Howie Seligman will be organizing a weekly study group in July and August for New York City-area people on Marx’s Capital (and other writings), linking Marx’s critique of political economy to the current crisis of the world capitalist system.
The group will meet every Tuesday in from July 7 through September 1, 7-10 PM, in an East Village location.
For purposes of both space and group viability, the group will be limited to 15 people.
If you are interested in participating, please contact Loren Goldner asap at
Participants should be committed to regular weekly attendance and to keeping up with 50-100 pages per week of reading. Barring a need to change venues, the meetings will be free of charge, except for occasional contributions for photocopy expenses, refreshments, etc.
Readings will consist of selections from Marx’s Capital, and articles (to be decided in consultation with the group) on contemporary developments.
Brainless Text Culture and Mickey Mouse Science
Review of Stefan Weber, Das Google-Copy-Paste-Syndrome: Wie Netzplagiate Ausbildung und Wissen gefährden. Heise Verlag, Hannover: 2009.
The Google-Copy-Paste-Syndrome: How Web-Plagiarism endangers Education and Knowledge, written by Stefan Weber, deals with the influence of the ever-increasing internet use on the prevalent culture of knowledge. Austrian media scholar Weber states that the soaring spread of the new media results in a “text culture without brains.” Stefan Weber decided to become a plagiarism-scientist after he discovered that a theologian from Tübingen has written off 90 sites of his own dissertation. Since that he has collected 14 folders with over 60 cases of plagiarism which build the base of his work. Internet enhances plagiarism in schools, journalism, the arts and especially at universities. Weber criticizes current media and cultural studies programs which ignore the augmented emergence of plagiarism due to an exaggerated optimism towards new media, thereby enhancing the problem by spreading their infinitely technophile theories.
A Somali Pirate Story
Jordan Zinovich with Hans Plomp
Once again the West prepares to demonstrate its confused notion of moral superiority. On Monday, 18 May 2009, five alleged Somali pirates faced a preliminary hearing in Rotterdam accused of attempting to hijack the freighter Samanyolu, which on January 2 was sailing in the Gulf of Aden under the flag of the Dutch Antilles(1). The trial is scheduled sometime this autumn, but during the preliminary hearing defense lawyer Willem-Jan Ausma called the five men modern-day Robin Hoods who “attack ships of rich countries to give the ransom to poor families.” He insisted that they act out of “desperation and poverty,”(2) and Haroon Raza, who represents one defendant, said poor social, financial, and political conditions in Somalia were the root causes of piracy.(3)
World Leaders Thank Arrestees, Avert Climate Disaster
In a front-page ad in today's International Herald Tribune, the leaders of the European Union thank the European public for having engaged in months of civil disobedience leading up to the Copenhagen climate conference that will be held this December. "It was only thanks to your massive pressure over the past six months that we could so dramatically shift our climate-change policies.... To those who were arrested, we thank you."
There was only one catch: the paper was fake.
Infrapolitics & the Nomadic Educational Machine
“Stay just as far from me as me from you.
Make sure that you are sure of everything I do.
’Cause I’m not, not, not, not, not, not, not, not
—Mission of Burma, “Academy Fight Song”
Anarchism has an ambivalent relationship to the academy.(1) This is, when one takes a second to reflect, not so surprising. How can one maintain any sense of ethical commitment to non-hierarchal, non-exploitative relationships in a space that operates against many of these political ideals? And how to do so without creating a space or knowledge that can be turned against these political goals themselves? As Marc Bousquet and Tiziana Terranova remind us,(2) the institutional setting of the university is not a location outside the workings of the economy (i.e., it is not a bubble nor an ivory tower), but is very much a part of it, existing within the social factory and producing multifarious forms of value creation and the socialization of labor (the development of ‘human capital’ and the ability to brandish forth credentials to obtain employment, practices of knowledge, information, and organization that are used throughout the entire social field).(3) This is the case, broadly speaking, both for the classical university, which played an important role in the process of state building and the creation of national culture, and for the neoliberal university, which is more geared to the development of new forms innovation and creativity. That is to say, of course, innovation and creativity understood primarily as those forms that can be translated into new intellectual property rights, patents, and commodifiable forms of knowledge and skills. Thus, there is no ‘golden age’ of the university that one can refer to or attempt to go back to; it is not a ‘university in ruins’ that can be rebuilt to return to its former glory precisely because it is a space that has always played a role in creating and maintaining questionable forms of power.(4)
Anarchism, except for perhaps a few strains of individualist orientations, cannot find a home in such a space without betraying itself. But the realization that anarchism can never really be of the university does not preclude finding ways to be in the university and to utilize its space, resources, skills, and knowledges as part of articulating and elaborating a larger political project. As Noam Chomsky argues, “It would be criminal to overlook the serious flaws and inadequacies in our institutions, or to fail to utilize the substantial degree of freedom that most of us enjoy, within the framework of these flawed institutions, to modify or even replace them by a better social order.”(5) While the extent of this ‘substantial degree of freedom’ might very be debatable within the current political climate of the university and more generally, the point nevertheless remains: that one can find ways to use the institutional space without being of the institution, without taking on the institution’s goals as one’s own. It is this dynamic of being within but not of an institutional space, to not institute itself as the hegemonic or representative form, that characterizes the workings of the nomadic educational machine.(6) It is an exodus that does not need to leave in order to find a line of flight.
SOAS Occupied Over Retaliatory Deportation of Cleaners
Free SOAS Cleaners
Students and allies at the University of London’s School of School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have occupied the university today to protest against managers’ attacks on migrant workers. Nine cleaners from the university were taken into detention after a dawn raid by immigration police on Friday. Five have already been deported, and the others could face deportation within days. One has had a suspected heart attack and was denied access to medical assistance and even water. One was over 6 months pregnant. Many have families who have no idea of their whereabouts. The cleaners won the London Living Wage and trade union representation after a successful “Justice for Cleaners” campaign that united workers of all backgrounds and student activists. Activists believe the raid is managers’ “revenge” for the campaign.
Immigration officers were called in by cleaning contractor ISS, even though it has employed many of the cleaners for years. Cleaning staff were told to attend an ‘emergency staff meeting’ at 6.30am on Friday (June 12). This was used as a false pretext to lure the cleaners into a closed space from which the immigration officers were hiding to arrest them. More than 40 officers were dressed in full riot gear and aggressively undertook interrogations and then escorted them to the detention centre. Neither legal representation nor union support were present due to the secrecy surrounding the action. Many were unable to communicate let alone fully understand what was taking place due to the denial of interpreters.
The Internet as Playground and Factory
New School University, NYC-- November 12-14, 2009
Today we are arguably in the midst of massive transformations in economy, labor, and life related to digital media. The purpose of this conference is to interrogate these dramatic shifts restructuring leisure, consumption, and production since the mid-century. In the 1950s television began to establish commonalities between suburbanites across the United States. Currently, communities that were previously sustained through national newspapers now started to bond over sitcoms. Increasingly people are leaving behind televisions sets in favor of communing with -- and through-- their computers. They blog, comment, procrastinate, refer, network, tease, tag, detag, remix, and upload and from all of this attention and all of their labor, corporations expropriate value. Guests in the virtual world Second Life even co-create the products and experiences, which they then consume. What is the nature of this interactive ‘labor’ and the new forms of digital sociality that it brings into being? What are we doing to ourselves?
City from Below Issue of the Indypendent Reader
The new issue of Baltimore’s Indypendent Reader, which comes out of the recent “City from Below” gathering, has been released. Information about it below.
This special national issue of the Indypendent Reader comes out of a conference held in Baltimore this March called the City From Below, which was co-organized by the Indyreader, Participation Park (a political project centered around a community garden on a reclaimed vacant lot in East Baltimore), and Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, a worker-owned and democratically managed collective project in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood. The conference came out of our recognition that all of our projects were in very concrete ways focusing their energies on what might be called a politics of urban infrastructure – working towards a media platform for Baltimore’s social movements, creating a public space and sustainable urban agricultural alternative, building a business oriented not towards profit but towards social justice, and the distribution of radical information – and in a way such that all of our individual projects reinforce each other through the larger horizontal networks of social movements we all exist within.
For us and our projects, this kind of mutually reinforcing dynamic is one of the most exciting things about this kind of city-centric activism and organizing – it’s not only that we’re working to make the cities we live in a better place, but in some sense, it’s the city itself that’s working towards this goal. Taken to its limit, it’s a vision of urban democracy where the city’s inhabitants themselves directly control the way the city works and how it grows – not in the sense that they get to elect a mayor or a councilperson once every few years, but that they actively participate in a thriving fabric of locally controlled projects and initiatives which build and manage the urban environment.
Interview with Julien Coupat
Here are the responses to the questions that we [Isabelle Mandraud and Caroline Monnot] posed in writing to Julien Coupat. Placed under investigation on 15 November 2008 for “terrorism,” along with eight other people interrogated in Tarnac (Correze) and Paris, he is suspected of having sabotaged the suspended electrical cables of the SNCF. He is the last one still incarcerated. (He has asked that certain words be in italics.)