Global General Strike, May Day 2012
5 DAY WEEKEND
Friday APRIL 27 – Tuesday MAY 1 , 2012
GLOBAL GENERAL STRIKE
While the mayor brags about the NYPD being his own private army, working people's indignities multiply. At work, under constant surveillance, we struggle for a daily wage, simply to increase the profit margins for our bosses. Previously, the ruling classes had slaves and indentured servants, forcing labor relations through brute force. Today they still have us as slaves and servants through wage labor contracts and fraudulent notions of debt. As we have all seen, debt can be forgiven, in the trillions, to those who own society; but for the rest of us debt is inexcusable, and our lives, our time, our futures, are always negotiable.
From Occupation to Communization
I first heard the slogan “Occupy Everything” in 2009 during the anti-privatization protests that shook the University of California, where I have been a graduate student since 2007. During the first weeks of the fall semester, that slogan gradually came to mean something specific, something razor-sharp, in a way that has been diluted in the present wave of protests. On September 24th, when students at UC Santa Cruz occupied the Graduate Student Commons, the words “Occupy Everything” could be seen spray-painted on the side of the building. The same moment saw the publication of pamphlets and websites devoted to theorizing and propagating occupations, bearing the slogan, “Occupy Everything, Demand Nothing.” But it was the slogan of a vanguard, not the broad majority of protesters, and referred to the controversial tactic of forcibly locking down campus buildings with bike locks and barricades without any provision of demands or benchmarks for de-escalation. Occupations were a contentious tactic both inside and outside the organizing coalition, especially since the point wasn’t to force a negotiation with the administration, it was rather to block business as usual—and also, at least in theory, to wrench a parcel of space and time free from the capitalist order. This last point proved to be an Achilles heel for the UC occupations, since the occupiers had to rely on the very structures and temporalities of student protest they aimed to supercede. What they wanted was a commune—to communize, more specifically—but this would remain an elusive horizon during the first two years of campus revolt.
Little Black Cart Starts a Publishing Wing
LBC Books is the new publishing arm of Little Black Cart distribution. We will be publishing at least one new book a month and will be helping a variety of other publishing groups with their material. We imagine a diverse and prolific publishing space of ideas, history, action, and polemics.
Reading: Richard Gilman-Opalsky “Spectacular Capitalism”
Friday, January 13th Bluestockings @ 7PM – Free
172 Allen St. New York, NY 10002
The ideas and practices of Guy Debord and the Situationist International have become a constant reference point for those involved in radical politics, the arts, and cultural theory. Drawing on the work of Debord, Richard Gilman-Opalsky’s latest book Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy argues that the theory of practice and practice of theory are superseded by social upheavals that do the work of philosophy directly. Reading, with discussion following.
A Movement Without Demands?
Marco Deseriis and Jodi Dean
The question of demands infused the initial weeks and months of Occupy Wall Street with the endless opening of desire. Nearly unbearable, the absence of demands concentrated interest, fear, expectation, and hope in the movement. What did they want? What could they want? Commentators have been nearly hysterical in their demand for demands: somebody has got to say what Occupy Wall Street wants! In part because of the excitement accumulating around the gap the movement opened up in the deadlocked US political scene—having done the impossible in creating a new political force it seemed as if the movement might even demand the impossible—many of those in and around Occupy Wall Street have also treated the absence of demands as a benefit, a strength. Commentators and protesters alike thus give the impression that the movement’s inability to agree upon demands and a shared political line is a conscious choice.
Rebel Studies Library is the first alternative non-commercial volunteer-based antiauthoritan diy library in the belarussian cultural zone (founded 05.12.2011). We provide free and open, non-commercial public space for reading books (in english, russian, ukrainian, belarussian, german, polish languages), watching movies and discussions. You don't pay money for using books and watching movies. Right now, we have about 400 books of relevant to the contemporary world literature (Fiction, Cinema, Theatre, Religion, Philosophy, Psychology).
Crisis of Everything Everywhere January 7th-15th
Crisis of Everything Everywhere is the potential name for a small scale / molecular / modular / horizontally organized effort to think, speak about, and speculate upon our present.
It will unfold over a period of 9 days, between January 7th and 15th. It will involve various groups and individuals who have explored or been directly involved in the movement of the squares, encampments and occupations of 2011.
It will involve artists, thinkers, writers, activists, occupiers, poets, programmers, workers, revolutionaries, students, debtors, laborers and laborless of all kinds into a focused yet open-ended conversation, collective research and analysis of our contemporary social-political movements / struggles.
Given the fact we are in New York, we will make a special effort to address and consider how those movements have impacted the political and cultural landscape of this city, region and country. And by connecting to other histories and places, to begin to build up an image of what kinds of struggles and challenges may lay ahead in the coming weeks, months, even years.]
A crisis in capitalism is stalking the world. Greed, ecological plunder, famine and displacement off the land increasingly mark the battle lines between the rich and everyone else. Enforced homelessness, social service cuts, and environmental disasters have become regular occurrences. But today we also see people in every corner of the world rising up against these injustices. We are inspired by this “indignant” moment, but we want to understand what lies beyond our collective “no!” to a future foreclosed by dispossession, debt and ecocide.
Fighting for safe food and housing, decent health, clean air and undeveloped spaces in nature have long given common cause to communities around the world. The “commons” refers to relationships based on shared resources, collective management, networks of mutual aid, respect and dignity. But these commons have either been captured by the market or are increasingly at risk of it. Taking back the commons means reclaiming community control over the parts of our lives that have been colonized by governments, markets, and corporations.
Can we recognize, reclaim and create alternative social realities that the elite tell us cannot possibly exist? A gathering is being organized to help us answer this question. The gathering will cover the themes of systemic crisis, economics, land, food, water, health, education, media, ecology, decolonization, migration and the history of the commons.
Walter Benjamin, The 120th Anniversary of His Birth
If 2012 is the year our world comes to an end, as
doomsayers predict, that will provide additional
employment for the angel of history, who observes the
past and the wreckage of humanity as described by
Walter Benjamin in his essay "On the Concept of
History." But if the world and its inhabitants continue
to exist, they will be able to observe, next July 15,
the 120th anniversary of Benjamin's birth. His
influence has only been growing in recent decades, and
his writings are increasingly the inspiration for
discussion and reconsideration.
The growing corpus of works about Benjamin is about to
be augmented with the publication, in January, of a
comprehensive study, "Walter Benjamin: A Philosophical
Portrait," by Prof. Eli Friedlander (Harvard University
Press ). Friedlander, head of the Philosophy Department
at Tel Aviv University, discusses Benjamin's approaches
to concepts such as history, mythology, language,
beauty and truth. His aim is to tie together the
threads of thought spun by the philosopher, who
committed suicide in 1940.
Plato’s Republic and Student Loan Debt Refusal
"Everyone would surely agree that if a sane man lends weapons to a friend and then asks them back when he is out of his mind, the friend shouldn’t return them, and wouldn’t be acting justly if he did." — Plato, Republic 331c.
Over the last few weeks I have been speaking in support of those who have pledged to refuse to repay their student loan debt once a million others have also pledged to do so (under the rubric of Occupy Student Debt, its website is www.occupystudentdebtcampaign.org). In the course of giving a number of presentations concerning this campaign I received many queries and criticisms. The queries were most often practical, e.g., “what about co-signers, what will happen to them if I refuse to pay when I become the million and first student loan debt refuser?” The criticisms were also practical, ranging from “why not organize people to refuse all debt?” to “if you refuse to pay student loans debt, wouldn’t the Federal Government stop supporting the student loan program at all and hence you would harm future students?” I was prepared to deal with these practical questions and criticisms on their own terms, with empirical evidence and political argument.