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Scott McLemee Reviews Richard Wolin's "Wind From the East"
The Chinese revolution's influence on French thinking
"The Wind from the East" examines the effect on the Chinese Cultural
Revolution on French political and philosophical discourse, writes Scott
The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution,
and the Legacy of the 1960s
Richard Wolin, Princeton University Press
During even the coldest years of the Cold War, there were small circles,
far to the left of the communists, who warmed themselves with the
thought of revolutionary socialism. To be sure, they meant by this
something bearing no resemblance to the monstrosity embodied in those
regimes where May Day was celebrated with tanks and choreographed
expressions of obligatory mass cheer. Their egalitarianism was
essentially libertarian, and vice versa. In France, one such group was
led by Cornelius Castoriadis, who had, in the 1940s and 1950s, analysed
the Stalinist system as a form of what he called “bureaucratic
capitalism” – fit only to be abolished by revolts from below.
“On the Lower Frequencies of Art Basel, Miami Beach”
[Reblogger's Note: This text is a brilliant view-from-below of the Art Basel Miami Beach spectacular of December, 2009. Lyle, author of The Lower Frequencies, about the punk anti-gentrification struggle in San Francisco, documents the direct connection between art and real estate development in Miami and New York. Originally published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian
as “Clouds and Mirrors: A Trip through the Mirage of Art Basel in the Scarred Face of Miami” (http://www.sfbg.com
); I found it in an expanded form in Lyle's zine SCAM #7 at Bluestockings Books.]
Carl Fisher turned a mosquito-plagued, malarial sandbar into Miami Beach, "The Sun and Fun Capital of The World," in less than a decade — dredging up sea bottom to build the island paradise, an all-American Las Vegas-by-the- Sea, where Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason partied and Richard Nixon received two Republican nominations for president. Art Deco hotels lined the beach, bold as Cadillacs, defiant in the path of hurricanes, their confident Modern lines projecting postwar American power.
More Lennon than Lenin
Armin Medosch, The Next Layer
Reviewing Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life
By Stevphen Shukaitis
It is not often that left-wing politics is associated with attributes such as humour and wit. Stevphen Shukaitis' book Imaginal Machines (2009) is not only abundant with it but shows that certain strands of imaginative revolutionary politics in the 20th century were also endowed with those precious qualities. This journey through the radical imagination of the left, written in a compelling and entertaining style, is definitely worth a read for everybody interested in radical and antagonistic politics.
Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life by Stevphen Shukaitis is just out on Autonomedia (see event recommendation below). The book deals with the problems and difficulties of the radical imagination as a source for political transformation. Thereby, Stevphen Shukaitis walks a tightrope, avoiding the two-sided abyss of either outdated notions of revolution as "seizing state power" and the more recent 'tradition' which knows only cultural politics and has thereby absented itself from the larger question of the transformation of the political economy. The 'balance' that Stevphen Shukaitis finds is not so much in between those opposites but by intelligently weaving together a narration which shows different types of 'imaginal machines' in their historic specificity.
A review of H C Binswanger's Money and Magic: A Critique of the Modern
Economy in Light of Goethe's Faust (University of Chicago Press, 1994)
H C Binswanger is founder and director of the Institute for Economics and
Ecology at the University of Saint Gallen, Switzerland. Long an important
figure in the German-speaking world, his work has been too little known
among English readers. That alone makes this little volume very welcome.
The importance of his theme, and the scholarship and insight with which he
develops it, merits the widest possible readership.
The theme of the book is that mainstream economics is alchemy carried on
by other more effective means. Perhaps ecological economists should stop
using the term "mainstream economics" and substitute "alchemical
economics" as a more descriptive name for that which we are trying to
reform. This is by no means a mere rhetorical flourish. It is historically
and logically well founded. The prince of Orleans, like other royalty,
employed court alchemists in the hope that they would produce gold, with
which he could pay off his debts. But when the prince attracted Scottish
financier John Law to his court, he promptly dismissed his alchemists
because the paper money scheme introduced by Law was a more effective way
to redeem his debts. The goal of alchemy, to turn worthless material into
gold, remained unchanged. The worthless material of paper just proved more
receptive to transmutation than lead had been. The transmutation of paper
into money remains fundamentally a "chymical wedding" of mercurial, liquid
imagination (imagining it to represent unmined gold still in the ground)
and fiery, sulfurous impression (the impressive authority of the emperor's
signature on the note). But this is getting ahead of the story and into
The Truth About The Coming Insurrection
Or, the Misadventures of a 'Pataphysical Hoax
by The Indigestible
[Reposted from Not Bored]
A member of the College of 'Pataphysics, at which I have a seat on the Commission of Liceites and Harmonies (Usury Sub-Commission), I have judged the moment favorable, notably with respect to the most recent developments in the "Tarnac Affair," to make several clarifications concerning both the activities of the aforementioned College and the true motivations behind my text, The Coming Insurrection.
Who Were the Witches?
Patriarchal Terror and the Creation of Capitalism
This Halloween season, there is no book I could recommend more highly than Silvia Federici’s brilliant Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation
(Autonomedia 2004), which tells the dark saga of the Witch Hunt that consumed Europe for more than 200 years.
In uncovering this forgotten history, Federici exposes the origins of capitalism in the heightened oppression of workers (represented by Shakespeare’s character Caliban), and most strikingly, in the brutal subjugation of women. She also brings to light the enormous and colorful European peasant movements that fought against the injustices of their time, connecting their defeat to the imposition of a new patriarchal order that divided male from female workers. Today, as more and more people question the usefulness of a capitalist system that has thrown the world into crisis, Caliban and the Witch stands out as essential reading for unmasking the shocking violence and inequality that capitalism has relied upon from its very creation.
"Living on Third Street"
Reviewed by Claudia Costa Pederson, Liminalities
Living on Third Street: Plays of the Living Theatre, 1989–1992.
Hanon Reznikov. New York: Autonomedia, 2009. 208 pp.
Hanon Reznikov (née Reznick, 1951—2008) the producer, director and author of the productions of the Living Theater envisioned Living on Third Street as a document about the activities of the theater company that he helped run for twenty-three years. Published posthumously (Reznikov died in 2008) the book is an eulogy to his life work and to the theatrical encounter.
On Konrad Becker's STRATEGIC REALITY DICTIONARY
[Konrad Becker's new "Strategic Reality Dictionary" will be launched on
September 29 at Eyebeam in New York - a good occasion to freely distribute
the preface. As I page through an old tome from the annals of strategic
subversion, Marcuse's "Eros and Civilization," the closing lines of this
short text ring truer than ever. -- best, BH]
"Information is indeed 'such stuff as a dreams are made on.' Yet it can be
transmitted, recorded, analyzed and measured," remarked Karl Deutsch in his
1963 book The Nerves of Government. The Czech-American social scientist was
the leading Cold War specialist in "models of political communication and
control." The latter half of the twentieth century saw a world-wide
implementation of computerized social programming, aimed first at
instilling order and paranoid regularity into the chaos that followed WWII,
then increasingly, from the 1960s onward, at evoking febrile dreams from
populations whose new mandate was not to labor, but to invent; not to
produce, but to consume; not to fear, but to desire. By the late 1990s,
after the massification of the Internet had begun in the wake of the
integrated world spectacle of the First Gulf War, this condition was well
known by at least some of those on the receiving end. Tactical reality
hackers such as the Critical Art Ensemble, Arthur and Marielouise Kroker,
Luther Blissett, the Yes Men, the Association of Autonomous Astronauts,
Marko Peljhan and the Bureau of Applied Autonomy arose to infiltrate the
global information system and expose its (dys)functions with probes,
pranks, parodies and satirical jokes. All of these groups and individuals
operated in the tactical space of momentary incursion and instant retreat
that had been mapped out by Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Hakim Bey, in his
poetic anarchist pamphlet on the Temporary Autonomous Zone. The concerns of
this slim volume are different. With his seventy-two keys, Konrad Becker
aims to unlock the gates of strategic reality: its construction over
centuries, its imposition through stealth and force, its dull and laborious
maintenance, and its dissolution and destruction by those who can't take it
Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" Will Find a Ready Audience
When I first met Michael Moore more than 20 years ago he was showing a
half-finished documentary to a few dozen people in a classroom in Ann Arbor,
Michigan. It was funny and poignant and had a powerful message. He had taken
a second mortgage on his house - equipment for filmmaking was a lot more
expensive back then - and raised some money from like-minded locals for a
long-shot venture. We all loved what he showed us but thought he would be
lucky if a few thousand people got to see it.