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« March 2017 »
Analysis & Polemic
New issue of ephemera on 'the atmosphere business' released
The contributions collected in this special issue of ephemera question the underlying ideologies and assumptions of carbon markets, and bring to light many of the contradictions and antagonisms that are currently at the heart of ‘climate capitalism’. They offer a critical assessment of the political economy of carbon trading, and a detailed understanding of how these newly created markets are designed, how they (don’t) work, the various actors that are involved, and how these actors function together to create and contest the ‘atmosphere business’. In 5 notes, 6 articles, 1 interview and 3 book reviews, some of the most prominent critical voices in debates about the atmosphere business are brought together in this special issue.
Back to 1911
Temporal Autonomous Zones
Peter Lamborn Wilson
Reversion to 1911 would constitute a perfect first step for a 21st century neo-Luddite movement. Living in 1911 means using technology and culture only up to that point and no further, or as little as possible.
For example, you can have a player-piano and phonograph, but no radio or TV; an ice-box, but not a refrigerator; an ocean liner, but not an aeroplane, electric fans, but no air conditioner.
You dress 1911. You can have a telephone. You can even have a car, ideally an electric. Someday, someone will make replicas of the 1911 “Grandma Duck” Detroit Electric, one of the most beautiful cars ever designed.
1911 was a great year for Modernism, Expressionism, Symbolism, Rosicrucianism, anarcho- syndicalism and Individualism, vegetarian lebensreform, and Nietzschean cosmic consciousness, but it was also the last great Edwardian year, the twilight of British Empire and last decadent gilded moments of Manchu, Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, French and Ottoman monarchy; last “old days” before the hideous 20th century really got going.
The italian operaismo of the 1960s starts with the birth of Quaderni rossi and stops with the death of Classe operaia. End of story. Thus goes the argument. Or alternatively—si le grain ne meurt—operaismo is reproduced in other ways, reincarnated, transformed, corrupted and . . . lost. This text originally sprang from the urge to clarify the intellectual distinction between operaismo—‘workerism’ the inadequate but unavoidable English translation—and post-operaismo, or the autonomia movements of the late 70s and after. Then the sweet pleasures of remembrance did the rest. Whether this ‘rest’ is in good taste or of any use today will be for its readers to judge. This is my truth, based on what I believed back then and which I only see more clearly today. I don’t want to provide a canonical interpretation of that project; but this is one of the possible readings, one-sided enough to support the good old idea of partisan research, that indigestible theoretical practice of ‘point of view’ that formed us.
Occupy the US! Horizontal Decision Making in the Occupy Movement
The year 2011 has breathed new life into horizontal models of democratic decision-making. With the rise of the 15 May movement and the occupy movement horizontal decision-making became one of the key political structures for organising responses to the current global economic crisis. While this decision-making process has arguably never been as widely practiced as it is today, it has also never seemed as difficult and complicated as it does today. At its height there were 5,000 people at the general assemblies in Placa Catalunya in Barcelona and even more in Madrid. It is no longer just activists trying to use and teach each other these decision-making processes but it is hundreds or thousands of people who have a far greater disparity in terms of backgrounds, starting assumptions, aims and discursive styles. This is incredibly good news, but it is not easy.
Worker Co-operatives and Democracy
Members of worker co-operatives necessarily live schizophrenic lives. On one hand, we must function as owners of small businesses and contend with all the insidious forces of capitalism – the anti-ethic of profits before people. At the same time we are members of an egalitarian corporate entity that most people can’t imagine existing, much less thriving. Here we are, a diverse group – some friends, some OK folks and some who we don’t socialize with after hours – working together day-in-and-day-out dealing with all the tensions arising from individual personality quirks, the aforementioned forces of the marketplace, unexpected emergencies, and, when everything else is under control, the boredom of daily tedium.
A collective life like this for those who have drunk the Kool-Aid of individualism – also called the Great Ape theory of human nature – think that it must be hell. Of course, when we face “challenges” in our co-operatives, especially during contentious meetings, the thought crosses our minds that, in fact, hell is other people. We all have doubts and wonder, at times, if we have taken the wrong fork on the path of life and have foolishly placed ourselves on a trajectory heading towards a nervous breakdown. Luckily for most of us, this fear passes and we realize that we wouldn’t want to trade our bizarre lives for confinement in a cubicle of some “friendly fascist” enterprise – even if it paid more.
'Occupy' As a Business Model:
The Emerging Open-Source Civilisation
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?
Reassessing Recomposition: 40 Years After the Publication of Anti-Oedipus
Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi
The process of subjectivation is based on conditions that have dramatically changed in the forty years since the publication of Deleuze and Guttari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Reading that book was a defining moment in my intellectual and political experience, in the first years of the 19070s, when students and workers were fighting and organizing spaces of autonomy and separation from capitalist exploitation. Forty years after the publication of that book the landscape has changed so deeply that very concept of desire has to be re-thought, as it is marking the field of subjectivation in a very different way.
The proliferation of sources of enunciation in this age of the networks, the globalization of the economy and the media, was predicted and in a sense pre-conceptualized Deleuze and Guattari, but they could not know in advance the effects that global capitalism has produced on the unconscious and the dynamics of desire. As production, media and daily life have been subsumed into the sphere of semiocapital we need to reconsider the unconscious from this transformed position.
My starting question is thus: what is capitalism and what is schizophrenia after the psychosocial landscape has been reshaped by the tendencies described by Deleuze and Guattari?
Hakim Bey: Intellectual Magician
I cannot think of Hakim Bey as anything other than an intellectual magician.
This review of his book of ‘new poetic rants and prose poems’ from 2008 is belated, but the book deserves reviewing not least because of what’s happened to Western civilisation since he wrote it. No collection I’m aware of is more ‘on the money’.
As with his book Millennium from 1996 which was so prescient in its vitriolic musings about Capital and Jihad, Bey was once again just ahead of his time, as a good weatherman should be. As Millennium was a useful companion during Y2K and 9/11, so Black Fez Manifesto &c. is a lyrical guidebook to the current meltdown, and a really funny consolatio. Some of the poems in the generous 100 page volume must have been written before late 2007 when the shit hit the fan, and certainly before 2008 when it began to spatter ubiquitously. He is laughing in advance at the botched alchemy of America and its spiritual colonies.
"Enter the Swarm: Anonymous and the Global Protest Movements"
In the course of just one year, using the identity “Anonymous,” highly
efficient digital attacks have been carried out against global
corporations and national governments. All in the name of freedom
of speech and social justice. The media coverage has done little
to clarify the events, rather, contradictory characterizations of
Anonymous have been espoused, ranging from an elite hacker conspiracy,
to a loose network of ignorant teenagers, from a major cyber-terrorist
threat to a mere nuisance driven by sophomoric humor. None of these
characterizations is entirely incorrect, because each captures some
fragments of the phenomenon, but they all miss the central element of
Anonymous, namely that it is not one, but many, and that it is not a
group or a network, but a swarm, or to be correct, multiple swarms
that feed off each other.
An Absolute Refusal? Notes on the 12 February Demonstration in Athens
Pavlos Hatzopoulos, Ilias Marmaras, Dimitris Parsanoglou
1. The 12th February demonstration in Athens, consolidated, what is becoming clearer in the past weeks: a growing majority of the Greek people support the refusal of the memorandum no.2 no matter what. In spite of the fear mongering spread by the pro-memorandum forces that a negative parliamentary vote would entail an immediate euro exit and the ensuing Africanisation of Greece, the popular support for the new EU-ECB-IMF loans and the correlated austerity measures is waning significantly. The formal political debate is increasingly based on a politics of fear: the government’s and mainstream media’s principal argumentation is stripped, on the one hand, to the bare threat of what a disorderly Greek bankruptcy would entail -invoking often assumed similarities with Greece’s plight during the World War II occupation by German and Italian troops- with basic food and medicine shortages and a lack of basic public amenities like gas, heating, electricity; on the other hand even mainstream media cannot but be critical vis-à-vis the most dismantling provisions of the memorandum no.2 for any sign of consensual legitimacy, such as the automatic decrease by 22% of minimum wages, the content and scope of collective bargaining and so on, insisting however ‘in the final analysis’ that the dilemma posed leaves only one choice.