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.
Deleuze and Guattari and Occupy
Sat 25th Feb 2-5pm Occupy LSX / School of Ideas
Featherstone Rd Islington EC1Y 8RX
An afternoon of talks, about the relevance of Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas to Occupy.
Deleuze and Guattari’s writings are considered, by political activists, philosophers, artists and writers to provide the most insightful analysis of the crisis we face today. It is claimed that the rhizomic, nomadic and creative nature of Occupy is inherently DeleuzeoGuattarian. This afternoon of talks tests these claims and asks; does Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptual apparatus scythe right through to the heart of capitalist production: do they provide vitalist, non-paranoid, (entirely pragmatic) systems of thought around which both a world can be torn down and a new one built?
"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[Excerpts from an unpublished speech at the Odeon seminar in Paris, organized by Albert Dichy for IMEC, May 25th, 26th and 27th, 1991.]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 . . .
The Occupy movement is entering a new phase, one in which many of us feel the need to combine renewed engagement through direct actions and mobilizations with a deep reflection on the strategic objectives of our movement. In order to fulfill this need, the organizing committee of Making Worlds* is inviting Occupy supporters, sympathizers, and other organizations to participate in this Forum on the politics of the commons. In particular, we are interested in understanding how groups and communities working on housing, health care, education, food, water, energy, information, communication and knowledge resources can develop a vision of these resources as commons: a third form of social organization to the state and corporate capitalism. Making Worlds has the ambitious goal of articulating a strategic vision from and for the movement as well as specific political initiatives aiming at its realization.
The Making Worlds forum starts today in Brooklyn and runs until Saturday (with additional events Sunday). The following is the schedule of events which will take place at: The Church of the Ascension 122 Java St. (Greenpoint) Brooklyn, NY
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 Portland calls for a national day of non-violent direct action to reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations. We are rejecting a society that does not allow us control of our future. We will reclaim our ability to shape our world in a democratic, cooperative, just and sustainable direction.
We call on people to target corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council which is a prime example of the way corporations buy off legislators and craft legislation that serves the interests of corporations and not people. They used it to create the anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin and the racist bill SB 1070 in Arizona among so many others. They use ALEC to spread these corporate laws around the country. Read the full call to action here.
Squatting Europe Collective
New York City, February 23-27, 2012
Squatting Europe Kollective Convenes in New York City
For the first time ever, a group of activist researchers from the European squatting movement are gathering in New York City. They will make public appearances to speak about the decades-old movement of squatting and building occupations in their respective countries.
The tradition of political squatting is moving from the shadows into the light. With the world-wide rise of the Occupy movement, the deep reservoir of experience within the movements of political squatting have become suddenly significant.
Generations of activists have participated in occupations of vacant buildings in Europe, beginning in the 1970s. The best known early success was the famous “free city” of Christiania in Copenhagen. But every major city in Europe has experienced some version of politicized squatting, most recently in the form of social centers.
The members of SQEK – Squatting Europe Collective – have gathered for special sessions at the Association of Amerian Geographers' annual convention February 24. A public discussion, meetings, film and graphic arts exhibition are among the other activities planned for the meeting.
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.