Radical media, politics and culture.

Alan Moore writes

"This spring I took part in an exhibition at the Smart Museum in Chicago called “Critical Mass.” The show presented work by several artists and groups of artists who engaged in what they called “critical practice.” While this term is imbued with the typical art institutional vagueness, and the press releases smoke it up pretty good, the curators did assemble an extremely instructive bibliography of activist art practice and political art practice now and in the past. I post it with their permission as a public service.

See also -- a review of the April, 2002 “Critical Mass” exhibition in Chicago:
http://www.chicagoweeklynews.com/story.php?story=1 89

The activist art collective Temporary Services (more art than activist, actually) described their contributions to this show at the following page (scroll down to “Groupings”):

nolympics writes

Julian Stallabrass reviews Sam Williams, Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman’s Crusade for Free Software. From New Left Review. Stallamn is Mister Copyleft, a programmer and activist prominent in the free software and digital commons world.


Geert Lovink, Dark Fiber: Tracking Critical Internet Culture

Reviewed by McKenzie Wark

The book is becoming a residual art-form. Like carving in stone, it is a
way of presenting information for ritual occasions that might more easily
be conveyed in other ways. In his new book Dark Fiber, Geert Lovink is
well aware of the anachronistic quality of a book about net culture.
"Scholars are stuck between print and online forms of knowledge
hierarchies", he writes.

hydrarchist writes

Revolution is Ordinary
John Kraniauskas, Radical Philosophy, 115 (Sept. – Oct., 2002), pp. 40-42

John Holloway, Change the World Without Taking Power, Pluto Press, London
and Sterling, 2002. viii + 237 pp., £15.99 pb., 0 7453 1863 0 pb.

Steve Wright, Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in Italian
Autonomist Marxism,
London and Sterling, Pluto Press, 2002. ix + 257 pp.,
£15.99 pb. 0 7453 1606 9 pb.

In his recent anthology of Lenin’s conjunctural writings of 1917, Revolution
At The Gates,
Slavoj Zizek insists on the present need for new ‘forms of
politcization’ of the social, now globalized by network capitalism, which
contemplate capitalism’s end. Zizek himself looks, not quite to Leninism as
such (a Stalinist invention), but to Lenin’s exemplary ‘full subjective
engagement’ in a moment of catastrophe he makes his own, which was as much
existential as organizational and theoretical. Zizek refers to this form of
political engagement as a ‘Leninist utopia’. Such quasi-normative
reflections on revolutionary enthusiasm as a mode of individualized being
and becoming (arguably, a culturalist intervention in the realm of the
political overcoded in the language of a philosophy of will) are widespread,

suggesting a shared experience of political crisis.

The Nazi Connection

Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism 

by Stefan Kühl, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002

Reviewed by Nigel Hunt,

Human Nature Review  2002 Volume 2: 382-383 ( 17 September )

nigel hunt

This book is concerned with exploring the relationship between the eugenics movement in pre-war USA and the German National Socialist policies and experiments between 1933-1945. It has been widely known that the USA, particularly some states, had racist policies in place long before the Nazis came to power in Germany. The Nazi policy of mass sterilisation of mentally handicapped people followed very similar policies that were applied across the USA from the early years of the Twentieth Century. Bodies such as the International Eugenics Movement had a great influence in the USA and also on the policies of the Nazis that eventually led to the extermination programme carried out in Germany.


Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books, Sept. 19, 2002

The 'Criterion': Cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Interwar Britain
by Jason Harding | Oxford, 250 pp, £35.00

The Criterion, T.S. Eliot's periodical, ran from shortly after the First World War to the very eve of World War Two. Or, if one prefers, from one of Eliot's major bouts of depression to another. The two time-schemes are, in fact, related. In 1921, the business negotiations to finance the proposed journal had to be suspended when Eliot suffered a nervous breakdown; it was during his convalescence from this illness that he wrote The Waste Land. Though the breakdown had much to do with marital misery, it also reflects something of the postwar cultural crisis of which The Waste Land is itself symptomatic. It was as though the old 19th-century doctrines -- Romantic humanism, liberal individualism, dreams of social progress -- had all failed to survive the Somme; and Eliot, like his European Modernist colleagues, was dismayed by this spiritual devastation. Among other things, it raised the question of how they themselves were to write, bereft of a nurturing inheritance.


The Criterion pulled in writers such as Woolf, Lawrence, Yeats, Aldous Huxley, E.M. Forster and Wyndham Lewis, but also gave Proust, Valéry, Cocteau and other European writers their first airing in English. Conservative reaction, like socialist internationalism, was distinctly un-English in its lack of provincialism. If the journal espoused an unpleasant brand of right-wing Christianity, it was at least an intellectually taxing discourse centred on Dante, Aquinas and Parisian neo-Thomism, rather than the parochial pseudo-religiosity of a Philip Larkin. In the epoch of High Modernism, it was for the most part the radical Right, rather than the liberal or social democratic centre ground, that opened up cosmopolitan perspectives in a stiflingly claustrophobic England, as exiles and émigrés such as Conrad, Wilde, James, Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Lawrence, Eliot and Pound shuttled between cultures and languages in order to reap those symbolic resources for their art that England alone could not furnish.

Not all of these authors were right-wing; but the predominance of that outlook among them is nonetheless striking. In an epoch of cultural crisis, it was the displaced and deracinated who could respond to their historical moment in answerably ambitious terms; and it was these, therefore, who in raising the most searching questions about modern civilisation, were able to produce the finest literary art. But nobody is more in love with autocracy than the anxious and insecure. The fact that so many of these writers responded to the historical crisis with apocalyptic pleas for absolute authority and the violent exclusion of subversive elements is the price we have to pay for such art, if we should choose to do so.

full: eagleton

Great agit-prop art! Go to photo album and click on: start the slide show.

FAU Moers 2 faumo2 writes:

A report about the International Solidarity Conference (i2002)

Essen, Germany, August 29 - September 1, 2002


"ZECHE CARL" is a social and cultural center, within a former coal mine
complex, located in the former "red Ruhr region", in Essen. Perhaps
better called the "black-red Ruhr region", since the surrounding
industrial cities were the stronghold of anarchosyndicalism and unionism
at the beginning of the last century. At that time radical workers were
able to temporarily institute the 6 hour day in the Ruhr mines, before
their militias were broken up after 1920 on orders of the
social-democratic reaction.

It seems that the conference was rather
inspired by this space, to which the "Freie Arbeiterinnen Union" (FAU),
the German Section of the IWA, had invited them. 160 militants from 20
countries accepted invitations, some as groups, some as individuals.
Among them were, just to mention those who had the most miles to travel,
workers from Argentina, Australia, Japan and Siberia. Many more would
gladly have come, had they not been frustrated by the bureaucratic
hurdles of "Fortress Europa", or by the inability to raise the means for
the trip in the midst of a global capitalist crisis. Several instead
sent greetings to the conference, such as the exil region of the Spanish
CNT, the IWW and the WSA from the United States, the Syndicalist
Education Union from Australia, and many others.

Seumas Milne on Martin Amis in today's Guardian:

The Battle for History:

The now routine equation of Stalin and Hitler both distorts the past and
limits the future

Seumas Milne, Thursday September 12, 2002

It would be easy to dismiss the controversy over the latest Martin Amis
offering as little more than a salon tiff among self-referential literati.
His book, Koba the Dread, follows a well-trodden political path. An
excoriation of Lenin, Stalin and communism in general (interlaced with
long-simmering spats with his once communist father Kingsley and radical
friend Christopher Hitchens), it is intended to be a savage indictment of
the left for its supposed inability to acknowledge the crimes committed in
its name. Strong on phrasemaking, the book is painfully short on sources or
social and historical context. The temptation might be to see it as simply a
sign that the one-time enfant terrible of the London literary scene was
reliving his father's descent into middle-aged blimpishness.
That would be a mistake. Amis's book is in reality only the latest
contribution to the rewriting of history that began in the dying days of the
Soviet Union and has intensified since its collapse.



Alan Moore writes:

From Chicago, Greg Sholette sends this announcement of a new European website, Republicart.net. Here is the flak:

“The new website of republicart is now online. the transnational research
project on progressive practices in public art starts with a tool-kit
including manifesto, news, calendar and more about the discourse and
practices of participatory, interventionist and activist art.