Analysis & Polemic

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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.

“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.

In San Francisco's Mission District, the Black Bloc Breaks Some Windows and Fails to Make an Impact
Max Crosby

Gentrification is a process where a working class, low-income neighborhood is colonized by the affluent and transformed into a bourgeois area. The 'embourgeosification' of a formerly proletarian quarter often begins when authentically impoverished low-income artists and bohemians move in. Minimum-toil-culture types are drawn to a low-income area by cheap rents, and are also often animated by an authentic antipathy for the larger homogenous corporatized society around us. Their marginal presence is followed by a proliferation of artsy enterprises: high-end galleries, shops, bars and restaurants drawing mainstream prosperous types to shop and consume in an area once thought to be too dark, dirty and (usually) non-white for upper middle class tastes. The gentry come to shop and party, and end up moving in, driving up the cost of rental housing, annexing affordable housing altogether, helping to drive hardcore wage slaves and the poor out of their homes and remaking an area in the image of the gentry's grasping, conspicuously consuming, conformist selves.

A Post-Capitalist Farming Experiment
Potentials, Problems and Perspectives
Jan

Since one and a half years around 70 people are involved in a post-capitalist farming experiment. Situated in the middle of Germany a collective of 5 growers is feeding around 65 supporters, year-round with a full supply of vegetables. The production is organised along the needs and abilities of the community.

Internally the growers collective evaluates the needs of each "worker". Both in financial terms ("wage") and concrete needs (e.g. a place to live). Those needs have to be met in order to enable the individuals to sustainably organise within the project. This happens independently from the evaluation of the amount of time that each grower is willing to commit to the project ("working hours"). If both of this results in a feeling of enough resources to start growing, a budget is calculated summing up all production costs (including "wages") and running investments of a one-year production.

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).

No Poetry After Adorno
Niall McDevitt

10 Problems with Adorno’s Dictum “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben ist barbarisch” (To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric)

1. Adorno’s dictum is like Fukuyama’s ‘the End of History’, an infuriatingly untrue soundbite that only makes the philosopher look ridiculous. Melodramatic, arrogant, obsolescent, it looks ever more wrongheaded as the decades roll on. A groan of despair, it might have been excusable as a Facebook status update, but not as serious philosophy.

n - 1. Making Multiplicity: A Philosophical Manifesto
Gerald Raunig

Occupation without subject. Movement without subject. Asubjective composition. The current occupation movements are characterized by their dispensing with any subject. No unity, no wholeness, no identifiable class. Classical theories of revolution would see this as a problem, the (revolutionary) subject being a condition for the possibility of revolt, insurgency, revolution as a fixed component of a theory of stages: only once a uniform subject appears on the horizon, a molar block, the working class, a united front, only then – seen from this angle – can the revolution get going.

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