Theory

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Review of Communization and its Discontents
Published in Anarchy: A Journal Of Desire Armed #74

Anthologies are always tricky. The job of an editor includes surveying the intellectual landscape for as much of a similar understanding of the topic as possible, then finding the right contributions from the right authors, and gathering them together in as coherent a manner as possible. This doesn’t always work out the way the editor or a publisher might want. Anthologies are always a mixed bag as well, with some contributions making more of an impression and others being totally forgettable. Part of the challenge with an anthology concerning trends in this particular intellectual radical theory is that there are some seriously divergent understandings and theorizing about this communization stuff, both from inside and outside the tendency. Much to Minor Compositions’ and Noys’ credit, the essays in this anthology span a wide range of opinions and assessments about communization, from unqualified excitement through qualified enthusiasm to qualified skepticism, if not dismissal.

"It Is Simply All Too Much"
An Interview with the Italian Philosopher Franco "Bifo" Berardi
Tim Stüttgen

[Franco "Bifo" Berardi is an author, philosopher and media activist. Alongside Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Paolo Virno and Maurizio Lazzarato, he is one of the most influential proponents of so-called post-operaism. He was in charge of the magazine »A/traverso« (1975–1981) and associated with the left-wing radical radio station Alice (1976-1978). Like many other members of the Autonomia movement, he fled to Paris in the 1970s, where he made the acquaintance of Félix Guattari. With Guattari, he studied schizoanalysis, which led to experimental collaborations with many artists and activists. His most recent publications include "The Soul at Work" (2009), "Precarious Rhapsody" (2009) and "After the Future" (2011).]

Tim Stüttgen: Let us begin straight away with the theses put forward in your book "The Soul at Work".... In the book, you describe how all the characteristics of a person – language, creativity, affectivity – have been integrated into the working process of neo-liberalism, leading to new forms of alienation.

Franco Berardi: The most significant productive powers in our era are cognitive and affective forms of work. You can also call it semiotic work, as it mainly has to do with semiotic material. So the old concept of alienation moves away from its former Hegelian context and becomes relevant to a materialistic analysis of class make-up. Contemporary alienation is an effect produced by a combination of several factors: the technological acceleration of information combined with the neurotic compulsion to engage in economic competition, and the virtualisation of communication and the consequent isolation of bodies. In this context, alienation no longer means the loss of an allegedly human authenticity, as it did in the old humanist or idealist sense. Here, alienation means a psychopathological state, a psychological form of suffering, that has its roots in a new escalation of psychological exploitation.

"Preoccupied"
Occupied Times Interviews Michael Hardt

[Michael Hardt has combined his role as Professor of Literature and Italian at Duke University with political writings and activism. Together with the Italian Marxist Antonio Negri, he has produced an influential critique of our present time. Their trilogy of books – titled “Empire”, “Multitude”, and “Commonwealth” – have been described by Slavoj Zizek as a “Communist manifesto for the 21st Century.”]

The Occupied Times: In your recent work, Declaration, you and Professor Negri identified four political archetypes or ‘paradigmatic subjectivities’, as you call them, that you believe will be crucial to any political change. These are: the indebted, the represented, the mediatised and the securitised. In looking at the indebted, how can we transform what starts as consciousness-raising about the importance of ‘the debtor’ as a subject under post-Fordist capitalism, into a more viable means to challenge those who make us the indebted?

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Colectivo Situaciones Talk November 20th NYC
Between Impasse and Insurrection: Notes on the Crisis of Neoliberalism from Argentina 2001 to the Present
With Verónica Gago and Diego Sztulwark of Colectivo Situaciones, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tuesday, November 20th 7PM
Join us for a talk and discussion with Marina Sitrin, author of Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina.
Co-sponsored by the Committee on Globalization and Social Change | Graduate Center CUNY, Room 5307 | 365 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10016

The moments of political and economic crisis in Argentina in 2001, specifically the 19th and 20th of December do not merely mark an event, a day, or even a year. Rather 2001 is an active principle, a key to thinking about this past decade from the perspective of the crisis of neoliberalism between impasse and insurrection. It is a method, a way of looking by seeing the crisis in motion and in time. It becomes a premise with its multiple meanings, spaces, and temporalities.

This talk will be given by Verónica Gago and Diego Sztulwark, members of Colectivo Situaciones and of the Buenos Aires-based radical press Tinta Limón. Colectivo Situaciones is a collective of militant researchers based in Buenos Aires. For more than twelve years, they have participated in numerous grassroots militant-research projects with unemployed workers, peasant movements, human rights groups, neighborhood assemblies, and alternative education experiments. Their published works include several articles and books, among them Genocide in the Neighborhood (Chainlinks, 2010) and 19&20: Notes for a New Social Protagonism (Autonomedia/Minor Compositions/Common Notions, 2011).

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.

Reactivating the Social Body in Insurrectionary Times:
A Dialogue with Franco 'Bifo' Berardi

[An interview conducted with David Hugill and Elise Thorburn and first published in the Berkeley Planning Journal, 25(1).]

Abstract: The Italian theorist Franco “Bifo” Berardi has spent a lifetime participating in revolutionary movements and thinking through their complexities. He is best known in the English-speaking world for his association with the Italian autonomist movement Operaismo (“workerism”) and its prominent attempts to transform communist politics by resituating
the “needs, desires, and organizational autonomies” of workers at the foundation of political praxis (Genosko and Thoburn 2011: 3).

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New Culture Machine Issue on "Paying Attention"
edited by Patrick Crogan and Samuel Kinsley

How are the ways we understand subjective experience – not least cognitively – being modulated by political economic rationales? And how might artists, cultural theorists, social scientists and radical philosophers learn to respond – analytically, creatively, methodologically and politically – to the commodification of human capacities of attention? This special issue of Culture Machine explores these interlinked questions as a way of building upon and opening out contemporary research concerning the economisation of cognitive capacities. It proposes a contemporary critical re-focussing on the politics, ethics and aesthetics of the ‘attention economy’, a notion developed in the 1990s by scholars such as Jonathan Beller, Michael Goldhaber and Georg Franck.

The Revolution of Living Knowledge
Gigi Roggero

We’re living in a revolutionary situation. We could reformulate the classical definition in the following terms: the ruling elites of global capital cannot live as in the past; the workers, the precarious, the students, the poor, the living knowledge refuse to live as in the past. In the global crisis, the transnational struggles – from the North Africa insurrections to the acampadas in Spain or Syntagma Square, from the Chilean university movement to Occupy and the Québec uprising – are composed by the convergence of a downgrading middle class and a proletariat whose poverty is directly proportional to its productivity.

'Occupy' As a Business Model:
The Emerging Open-Source Civilisation
Michel Bauwens

Last week I discussed the value crisis of contemporary capitalism: the broken feedback loop between the productive publics who create exponentially increasing use value, and those who capture this value through social media - but do not return these income streams to the value "produsers".

In other words, the current so-called "knowledge economy" is a sham and a pipe dream - because abundant goods do not fare well in a market economy. For the sake of the world's workers, who live in an increasingly precarious situation, is there a way out of this conundrum? Can we restore the broken feedback loop?

Starting from Year Zero: Occupy Wall Street and the Transformations of the Socio-Political
Jason Read

To consider what Occupy Wall Street has to do with philosophy, to Occupy Philosophy, is already to depart from one of the longstanding dictums of the relationship between philosophy and political invents. I am thinking of Hegel, who as much as he argued that philosophy is its own time comprehended in thought, also famously argued that philosophy can only comprehend its own time retrospectively, can only paint grey on grey once the ink has dried. Occupy, or OWS to use a preferred moniker, preferred not because it ties the movement to the hashtag, making it one of the many instances of the supposed twitter revolutions, but because it abstracts the movement from a specific place making it a general political transformation and not a specific occupation, is very much an active movement. Any statement about it, about its ultimate meaning, possibility, or limitations, must confront the fact that it is still in the process of shaping and forming.

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