Analysis & Polemic

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Occupy The World! To the Barricades Comrades?
William Bowles

Four years ago in a Ministry of Defence Review, the Whitehall Mandarins,
more astutely than any so-called Lefty, determined the following:

“The Middle Class Proletariat — The middle classes could become a
revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by
Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of
national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’
attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and
a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel
disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are
likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as
the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins
to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes
might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape
transnational processes in their own class interest.” — ‘UK Ministry of Defence report, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036’ (Third Edition) p.96, March 2007

Yeah, I know, I'm always using this quote (I first used it four years
ago) but it illustrates the great intellectual divide between the
political class and the citizens they rule, including our Left, now made
so apparent by what the pundits are now calling the 'Occupy The World'
(OTW) movement. It seems that only our very own ruling class foresaw
OTW.

Objectives of The Debtor's Party
Dmytri Kleiner

In a private conversation on that great modern Stoa, Facebook, my friend Tiziana Terranova, endorsed the Objectives of the Debtors' Party, saying "there's nothing about these objectives I could not share," but went on to ask a rather pointed question:

"It is the notion of starting a political party that leaves me baffled, coming as you know from an autonomist political background that has been arguing for constituent power, that is the invention of new institutions altogether. Why try to reinvent an old formula like a political party?"

Why a Political Party?

The Fight for "Real Democracy"
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

Demonstrations under the banner of Occupy Wall Street resonate with so
many people not only because they give voice to a widespread sense of
economic injustice but also, and perhaps more important, because they
express political grievances and aspirations. As protests have spread
from Lower Manhattan to cities and towns across the country, they have
made clear that indignation against corporate greed and economic
inequality is real and deep. But at least equally important is the
protest against the lack -- or failure -- of political representation.
It is not so much a question of whether this or that politician, or this
or that party, is ineffective or corrupt (although that, too, is true)
but whether the representational political system more generally is
inadequate. This protest movement could, and perhaps must, transform
into a genuine, democratic constituent process.

Reflections for the US Occupy Movement
Peter Gelderloos

After the courageous revolts of the Arab Spring, the next phenomenon of popular resistance to capture the world media’s attention was the plaza occupation movement that spread across Spain starting on the 15th of May (15M). Subsequently, attention turned back to Greece, and now to the public occupations spreading across the US, inspired by the Wall Street protests.

The Awakening in America
Ken Knabb

"A radical situation is a collective awakening. . . . In such situations] people become much more open to new perspectives, readier to question previous assumptions, quicker to see through the usual cons. . . . People learn more about society in a week than in years of academic 'social studies' or leftist 'consciousness raising.' . . . Everything seems possible -- and much more IS possible. People can hardly believe what they used to put up with in 'the old days.' . . . Passive consumption is replaced by active communication. Strangers strike up lively discussions on street corners. Debates continue round the clock, new arrivals constantly replacing those who depart for other activities or to try to catch a few hours of sleep, though they are usually too excited to sleep very long. While some people succumb to demagogues, others start making their own proposals and taking their own initiatives. Bystanders get drawn into the vortex, and go through astonishingly rapid changes. . . . Radical situations are the rare moments when qualitative change really becomes possible. Far from being
abnormal, they reveal how abnormally repressed we usually are; they make our 'normal' life seem like sleepwalking." --Ken Knabb, The Joy of Revolution

* * *

The "Occupy" movement that has swept across the country over the last four weeks is already the most significant radical breakthrough in America since the 1960s. And it is just beginning.

The Peak Oil Initiation
John Michael Greer

I sometimes wonder what historians of the far future will think as they
pore over what's left of the records of our own time. It's unlikely that
they'll have a great deal more to go on than, say, Renaissance scholars
had when they started to piece together the story of Rome's decline and
fall; our civilization produces a much greater volume of records than
Rome did, to be sure, but most of them are in much more transitory
forms; parchment lasts for many centuries if it's kept dry and not
handled much, while a few decades at most - and in the case of the
internet, a few seconds of power loss - is enough to silence most of our
current information media forever.

Prospects for Eco-Socialism
Saral Sarkar

I. The Question

In Beijing, one of the listeners of my lecture on Eco-Socialism said after hearing me that he was fully convinced, but, he asked, “When will eco-socialism come?” It was a very difficult question, a short answer to which was not possible. I only answered that I was not an astrologer. It was, however, an interesting question, though not exactly in this form. It is better to ask: what are the prospects for eco-socialism? Or: are there indications today that give us hope that the majority of the people of the world or of some countries would in the near future embrace eco-socialism and transform their capitalist society to an eco-socialist one? It is a question worth reflecting upon because, as the world situation is today, it cannot go on like this for long.

A Call to the Army of Love and to the Army of Software
Franco "Bifo" Berardi and Geert Lovink

October 2011. The fight opposing financial dictatorship is erupting.

The so-called ‘financial markets’ and their cynical services are destroying the very foundations of social civilization. The legacy of the postwar compromise between the working class and progressive bourgeoisie has all but disappeared. Neoliberal policies are cutting back education and the public health system and is cancelling the right to a salary and a pension. The outcome will be impoverishment of large parts the population, a growing precarity of labor conditions (freelance, short-term contracts, periods of unemployment) and daily humiliation of workers. The yet to be seen effect of the financial crisis will be violence, as people conjure up scapegoats in order to vent their rage. Ethnic cleansing, civil war, obliteration of democracy. This is a system we call financial Nazism: FINAZISM.

Cognitive Capitalism and the University
Enda Brophy

[Foreword to “The Production of Living Knowledge: The Crisis of the University and the Transformation of Labor in Europe and North America” (Gigi Roggero, Temple University Press, 2011), http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/2134_reg.html ]

What is the status of the university in an era when knowledge, communication, culture, and affect have been “put to work” with unprecedented intensity? This is the question that Gigi Roggero’s text confronts, beginning with the premise that it is impossible to grasp the contemporary transformation of the university without considering the equally seismic shifts that are occurring in the condition of labor. The Production of Living Knowledge offers us the first extended analysis of the transformation of the university as read against the hypothesized emergence of cognitive capitalism and the forms of labor sustaining it. As such this book adds itself to a growing body of post-operaista (“post-workerist,” or autonomist) research that has been inquiring into this planetary, knowledge-intensive, and deeply unstable paradigm of capital accumulation over the last decade. Roggero’s critique of the contemporary university is a valuable contribution to the debates surrounding the politics of knowledge production within cognitive capitalism, and this introduction aims to offer the reader some context for his challenging book and the perspective that animates it.

Specificity: Demands vs. Claims

Yet there is a strong undercurrent in these accounts, including some sympathizers as well as critics, that the movement’s demands are unspecified, unclear, lacking in useful formulation, uncertain of actual and concrete goals.

Is that criticism justified? I think not, with one exception. I think it results from a misinterpretation of the movement’s sources and has political consequences that undermine the movement’s potential for desired radical change.

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