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« March 2017 »
Analysis & Polemic
The Economy of Abolition/Abolition of the Economy
Neil Gray in exchange with Marina Vishmidt
Marina Vishmidt’s article for Reartikulacija, ‘Human Capital or Toxic Asset: After the Wage’1, reflects upon, among other things, human capital exploited as investment portfolio in ‘The Big Society’; affirmation and negation as political potentialities; the fragmentation of the class relation based on waged work; financialisation and the collapse of social democracy; the politics of reproduction; and the imposition of, resistance to, and potential negation of debt. All this through the prism of the ‘communisation thesis’ which seeks to move within-and-against defensive ‘programmatic’ struggles that tend to reify (class) identities, towards everyday struggles that supersede value, exchange, market relations, and proletarian identity itself – in a constitutive rupture with its previous situation. Not just a change in the system, but a change of the system; not later on, but now. This thesis, which develops from a long-view structural perspective of post-Fordist/Keynesian conditions in the labour market, is fraught with difficulty given the seeming hegemony of neoliberalism and the evidential need for defensive strategies against market command. Yet the communisation thesis describes the problematic of the present class relation in an extremely prescient manner that takes us well beyond the rote formulas and responses of much of ‘the Left’2. The exchange below, with Marina Vishmidt and Neil Gray, aims to elaborate some potential lines of this debate with particular reference to the politics of reproduction and debt.
"Thank You, Anarchists"
It is becoming something of a refrain among the well-meaning multitudes
now energized by Occupy Wall Street that the movement needs to shed its
radical origins so as to actually get something done. “If they can avoid
fetishizing the demand for consensus,” James Miller wrote in late
October  in the New York Times, “they may be able to forge a broader
coalition that includes friends and allies within the Democratic Party
and the union movement.” According to some activists , groups like
Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream are poised to turn occupiers into Obama
voters. Especially as the 2012 election season starts, the thinking
goes, it’s time to get real.
"Occupy Wall Street, Act Two"
Peter Lamborn Wilson
"Money Has An Enemy." — Charles Stein
Some radical historians claim the entire Historical Movement of the Social went wrong in 1870 when the Paris Commune failed to expropriate (or at least destroy) The Bank. Could this really be so?
Since 1971 Bank Power — "Money Interests" as the oldtime Populists and Grangers used to say — i.e., the power to create money as debt — has single-handedly destroyed all chances to remake any world closer to our heart's desire. Some anarchist theorists hold that there can be no real revolution except the revolt against money itself — because money itself WANTS capitalism (i.e. money) to rule. Money itself will always find a way to subvert democracy (or for that matter any government power that opposes Money's interests) and to establish the rule of Capital — i.e. of money itself.
We Are Not Contingent: An Academic Manifesto
We are the non-tenure track faculty who now constitute two-thirds of the instructional workforce at universities and colleges across the nation. We are frequently invisible to administrators, yet we are the first professors and instructors that undergraduate students meet on their journey to becoming engaged learners. We are the majority. We have been silent too long, and it is time for us to reclaim our voices and outline our demands.
WE ARE ESSENTIAL. Words carry within them powerful connotations. Contingency implies that we, as non-tenure track faculty, are incidental or even accidental to the educational mission of the colleges and universities where we work. No employees, regardless of their field, would willingly apply this stigma to themselves. To continue calling ourselves “contingent labor” is to accept the fate that has been chosen for us by administrators who view us as easily disposable freelancers or potential tenure track faculty in a period of transition.
Despite his comparative anonymity, it may actually turn out to be James Alex, the blogger/artist who kicked off the recent pepper-spray cop meme, who becomes the more important model for the future of Occupy Wall Street than Kalle Lasn, the now-famous head of Adbusters. Let me explain why, through my own encounter with each of them. In Summer 2002, fresh out of liberal arts school, I was, like many, disheartened by emergent post-9/11 culture and ready for new surroundings generally. So I moved from the U.S. Pacific Northwest to Vancouver, Canada, where I pursued a graduate degree in Political Science.
In the wake of what had up until then been a steadily growing antiglobalization movement, it wasn’t long before the thought occurred to me that the skills I’d honed in the design and technology niches within which I’d involved myself might be useful at the city’s most impactful alternative media institution: Adbusters. So, I called them up, proposed to share my work, and following an affirmative response, made my way down to the headquarters in West Vancouver.
James Howard Kunstler
Question du jour: why is Jon Corzine still at large? In what fabulous
Manhattan restaurants has he been enjoying plates of cockscombs and
lobster with sauce hydromel and cinghiale ai frutti di bosco, while less
well-connected citizens of this degenerate republic have to order their
suppers from the dumpster in the WalMart parking lot where they have
been living lately.
Is there still an Attorney General in this country? Will somebody please
follow Eric Holder down a hallway and see if he leaves a trail of
sawdust on the floor. Or did congress just retract all the fraud
statutes by stealth in the same way that the Federal Reserve handed out
$7.7 trillion in bailouts back in 2008 (much more than the generally
accepted figure of the $800 billion TARP) without anyone finding out
until three years later when some Bloomberg reporters rooted the numbers
out of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) filing. And by the way, what
is the US Federal Reserve doing handing out billions of dollars to the
Royal Bank of Scotland? Was Scotland admitted to the Union by stealth,
too? Or did Jamie Dimon just buy it as a birthday present for Barack
Obama, who likes golf.
The Big Ideas of 2012:
Situating Occupy Lessons From the Revolutionary Past
Perhaps the greatest world historian alive today, Immanuel Wallerstein,
has argued that since 1789 all major revolutions have really been world
The French revolution might have appeared to only take place in one
country, but really it quickly transformed the entire North Atlantic
world so profoundly that a mere 20 years later, ideas that had
previously been considered lunatic fringe – that social change was good,
that governments existed to manage social change, that governments drew
their legitimacy from an entity known as the people – had been propelled
so deeply into common sense that even the stodgiest conservative had to
at least pay lip service to them. In 1848 revolutions broke out almost
simultaneously in 50 different countries from Wallachia to Brazil. In no
country did the revolutionaries succeed in taking power, but afterwards,
institutions inspired by the French revolution – universal education
systems, for instance – were created pretty much everywhere.
Theses for Discussion
1) CONTRACTING SOCIAL REPRODUCTION
The current crisis, on a world scale, began ca. 1970, as the postwar boom—reconstruction from the destruction of the 1914- 1945 period—exhausted itself, first in the US, and then shortly thereafter in Europe and Japan. Since that time, capitalism has struggled to “recompose” itself, through a grinding down of social reproduction, most importantly of the total working class wage bill (“V”) and aspects of constant capital (“C”),both fixed capital and infrastructure. It has done this by debt pyramiding, outsourcing of production around the world, technological innovation (in telecommunications, transportation and technology-intensive production), all having the same goal of transferring “V” and “C” to “S” (surplus value), while enforcing an overall NON-REPRODUCTION of labor power.
From Inoperativeness to Action: On Giorgio Agamben’s Anarchism
The recent publication by Stanford University Press of Giorgio Agamben’s What Is an Apparatus and Other Essays constitutes a very welcome occasion. The essays included in What Is an Apparatus? offer a very accessible pan over Agamben’s latest findings and give the readers an outline of the move from sovereignty to governmentality performed by Agamben in his 2007 The Kingdom and The Glory. Homo Sacer II.2, as well as providing some hints on the vectors that the announced Homo Sacer epilogue on forms-of-life will pursue. Yet, the importance of this book reaches well beyond Agamben scholarship: it provides also an opportunity to reflect on the status and on the mutation of critical theory today, as French can no longer claim any hegemony over it and as its most vital centers are now located across the Alps, beyond the Rhine, and on the other side of the Atlantic rather than in Rue d’Ulm or Saint-Denis. I will say something about the future of “theory” at the end of my essay. For now, I would like to start by briefly surveying what was left under-explored in Leland de la Durantaye’s recent and impressive introduction to Agamben, not to belittle his enterprise but only to sketch a complementary reading protocol. While de la Durantaye dismisses Agamben’s anarchic overtones, my intention is to show that anarchism lies at the heart of his philosophical project.
Some Critical Notes on the Occupy Movement's Recent Attempt at a General Strike in Oakland, California
My personal experience of the Nov. 2nd, 2011 attempted general strike in Oakland was a blast. The event was beautiful and exhilarating -- even the colors in the sky were perfect! More importantly, as the first attempt at a general strike in a U.S. city in sixty-six years, I hope Nov. 2nd in Oakland can stir a long-suffering and silent wage-earning class in the United States to see the collective power we can have when we use a mass-scale workplace walkout as a political weapon against the owners of America. This is a gift to our future from the Occupy movement as a whole, and in particular a tribute to the outward-directed and working class focus of Occupy Oakland. Today in the Occupy movement, Oakland leads the way.