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Analysis & Polemic
Save the Greeks from their Saviors!
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell
[February 22, 2012. Translation into English by Anastazia Golemi.]
At a time when one Greek youth is unemployed. Where 25,000 homeless wander the streets of Athens. Where 30% of the population has fallen under the poverty line and where millions of families are forced to place their children in the care of someone else in order for them not to die of hunger or cold, where refugees and the new poor compete for trashcans at the public dump, the “saviors” of Greece, under the pretext that “Greece is not trying hard enough”, impose a new aid plan that doubles the lethal administered dose. A plan that abolishes the right to work and reduces the poor to the most extreme misery, at the same time as it makes the middle class disappear.
Do the right thing. 11 thesis on the conflict to come and the world to invent
Libera università metropolitana
1. «The world is all that is the case». Let’s start from Oakland.
On November 2nd a new era began for the #occupy movement and, more in general, for the indignados movement. The occupation of streets and squares –following the Spanish model and the example of Zuccotti Park – was accompanied by an extraordinarily powerful general strike. The port was blocked, public offices closed. Road transport and production came to a stop. Even the police folded their arms. Tens of thousands of people took to the squares, picketing the city, strengthening the paralysis of the port.
We look, with great admiration, to Oakland as to a prototype. It is no doubt an incomplete one, partially immature, yet capable of giving shape temporarily to much needed conflict, able to square with the new composition of labour and with the financial violence. Trade unions are not sufficient to organize a fragmented and widely precarious work force, immersed in the communication flow and forced to slavish job performances. If present day exploitation takes place on the grounds of financial accumulation, class struggle must involve social reproduction, life and extra-labour cooperation, entirely. However, as we feel part of the #occupy movement, we think that much more could be done. Its strength shows the crisis of liberal democracy before the arrogance of financial dictatorship, but does not yet indicate the way to “hurt the masters”, to hurt the bankers. It’s necessary to speak out and start “telling the truth to power”, but power must be sought in the net of metropolitan exploitation, in the theft of surplus value.
In this respect Oakland is a prototype, and in this sense we re-discover our republican inspiration with no shyness.
"Anarchy Can't Fight Alone"
Of all ideologies, anarchy is the one that addresses liberty and equalitarian relations in a realistic and ultimate fashion. It is consistent with each individual having an opportunity to live a complete and total 1ife, With anarchy, the society as a whole not only maintains itself at an equal expense to all, but progresses in a creative process unhindered by any class, caste or party. This is because the goals of anarchy don't include replacing one ruling class with another, neither in the guise of a fairer boss or as a party. This is key because this is what separates anarchist revolutionaries from Maoist, socialist and nationalist revolutionaries who from the onset do not embrace complete revolution. They cannot envision a truly free and equalitarian society and must to some extent embrace the socialization process that makes exploitation and oppression possible and prevalent in the first place.
"Ron Paul, Libertarianism, and the Anarchist Connection"
Let's face it, the dogged Republican quest to find the one "true
conservative" is beginning to look more and more like the search for the
Holy Grail. It's an article of faith for most Republican stalwarts that
there should be some such animal; but, it seems, the voters can't make
up their mind just which contender fits that bill of particulars. Mitt's
devotion to the ideal scores high in one primary; Santorum's in another;
then enter Newt, managing to capture some piece of primary fame and
glory. The series of Republican debates has become, in essence, the most
entertaining variety show since Ed Sullivan.
Standing quirkily apart, is Ron Paul: one time Libertarian Party
Presidential candidate (1988), gone mainstream Republican. I've always
thought of him as something of a cross between the kindly TV icon, Dr.
Marcus Welby, and the infinitely patient Fred Rogers, star of Mr.
Roger's Neighborhood. Except in Ron Paul's neighborhood, bankers don't
get bailed out and if you've got a prescription to be filled, don't
count on Medicaid to pay.
Starting from Year Zero: Occupy Wall Street and the Transformations of the Socio-Political
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.
"Tactfulness of the Heart: Jean Genet and The Black Panthers"
[Excerpts from an unpublished speech at the Odeon seminar in Paris, organized by Albert Dichy for IMEC, May 25th, 26th and 27th, 1991.]
When Jean Genet came to the USA in spring 1970, although it was our
first meeting with him, there were many of us Black Americans who
already considered him an ally because of his play The Blacks that had
showed in New York a few years before. The Black Panther Party invited
Genet so he could help them, holding conferences in different
universities over the USA. It was a major critical stage of the black
of struggle in the USA. I was in charge of translating his speeches,
for instance at UCLA where I was teaching philosophy. A party was
arranged for him in the house of filmmaker Dalton Trumbo in Hollywood:
many stars showed up and it helped raise funds to pay the imprisoned
Panthers' lawyers. David Hilliard, a member of the Black Panther
Party, largely mentioned in Prisoner of Love, told me Genet had
arrived with worn out clothes and was asked to get a bit dressed up.
He was taken to a San Francisco shop run by a Black man so moved that
Genet came to the USA to help the Panthers, he offered him a jacket, a
pair of trousers and a shirt. I remember him, so happy to wear these
gifts, and me, so excited to meet him. I knew his writings, he was a
mythical character to me but, face to face with him, I had an almost
motherly feeling. He was like a little boy, very kind and laughing a
lot . . .
Occupy Everything! Reflections On Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere
Penned after the 2010 European student unrest and before what is now commonly referred to as the “Arab spring” began to escalate, BBC Newsnight economist Paul Mason’s “20 Reasons Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere” sought to establish an understanding of the motivations behind these globally disparate, yet somehow connected struggles.
What roles do the “graduate with no future,” the “digital native” or the “remainder of capital” play in the current wave of unrest? What are the ideas, ideologies, motivations or demands driving these movements? How is struggle organized and coordinated in the age of memetic politics and viral ad campaigns?
This collection of essays (edited by Alessio Lunghi & Seth Wheeler) seeks to further explore Paul Mason’s original 20 Reasons in an attempt to better understand our turbulent present.
Occupy Oakland: Are We Being Childish?
“The Bay Area Occupy Movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground,” said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, speaking at a press conference Saturday evening after a day of demonstrations called by Occupy Oakland that saw approximately 400 arrests, multiple injuries, and numerous confrontations with police. She ticked off the damage that had been done when a group of protesters broke into City Hall, overturning a scale model of the building, vandalizing a children’s art exhibit, and burning an American flag. The next day in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, she returned to her talking point: “It’s like a tantrum . . . They’re treating us like a playground.”
For the first time since October when the Oakland police violently evicted the occupation from Frank Ogawa Plaza after renaming it in honor of Oscar Grant, Mayor Quan, her protesting days behind her, looked genuinely comfortable in the role of champion of law and order. It was as if by trashing City Hall, Occupy had done her a favor. She was the adult, genuinely concerned with the well-being of the city. We were children, playing childish games, oblivious to the serious real-world consequences of our actions.
"Waking Up, Walking Away"
John Michael Greer
Last week’s Archdruid Report post, despite its wry comparison of
industrial civilization’s current predicament with the plots and
settings of pulp fantasy fiction, had a serious point. Say what you will
about the failings of cheap fantasy novels – and there’s plenty to be
said on that subject, no question – they consistently have something
that most of the allegedly more serious attempts to make sense of our
world usually lack: the capacity to envision truly profound change.
That may seem like an odd claim, given the extent to which contemporary
industrial society preens itself on its openness to change and novelty.
Still, it’s one of the most curious and least discussed features of that
very openness that the only kinds of change and novelty to which it
applies amount to, basically, more of the same thing we’ve already got.
A consumer in a modern industrial society is free to choose any of a
dizzying range of variations on a suffocatingly narrow range of basic
options – and that’s equally true whether we are talking about products,
politics, or lifestyles.
Remembering Howard Zinn
[Editor's note: January 27, 2012 was the second anniversary
of the death of Howard Zinn. An active participant in the
Civil Rights movement, he was dismissed in 1963 from his
position as a tenured professor at Spelman College in Atlanta
after siding with black women students in the struggle
against segregation. In 1967, he wrote one of the first, and
most influential, books calling for an end to the war in
Vietnam. A veteran of the US Army Air Force, he edited The
Pentagon Papers, leaked by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and
was later designated a "high security risk" by the FBI.
His best-selling A People's History of the United States
spawned a new field of historical study: People's Histories.
This approach countered the traditional triumphalist
examination of "history as written by the victors", instead
concentrating on the poor and seemingly powerless; those who
resisted imperial, cultural and corporate hegemony. Zinn was
an award-winning social activist, writer and historian - and
so who better to share his memory than his close friend and
fellow intellectual giant, Noam Chomsky?]
It is not easy for me to write a few words about Howard Zinn,
the great American activist and historian. He was a very
close friend for 45 years. The families were very close too.
His wife Roz, who died of cancer not long before, was also a
marvellous person and close friend. Also sombre is the
realisation that a whole generation seems to be disappearing,
including several other old friends: Edward Said, Eqbal Ahmed
and others, who were not only astute and productive scholars,
but also dedicated and courageous militants, always on call
when needed - which was constant. A combination that is
essential if there is to be hope of decent survival.