Radical media, politics and culture.

On Mike Davis' "Planet of Slums" Richard Pithouse

Nonfiction: Youthful Anarchy by Jim Feast, The Brooklyn Rail http://www.brooklynrail.org/2008/04/books/nonfiction-youthful-anarchy

Reviewing Richard Kempton, Provo: Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt (Autonomedia, 2007)

I came across the Net Artwork Norwayweb whilst receiving my usual mass of e-mails. Even though I usually use filters, far too much spam still gets through. So, like so many other's around the world, I have the arduous process of picking out what is deemed worth keeping. Lost in despair, numerous individuals choose to delete everything rather than cyphering through an ever expansive junk mail infestation. In 2004 yahoo found in their research "that the average British PC has nine 'sick days' per year, two more than the average for workers.

Capitalism: The Violence of Capital Michael Hardt, New Left Review

Michael Hardt on Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine. Neoliberal transformations, from Chile to occupied Iraq, as instances of a ‘disaster capitalism’ enabled by socio-economic and ecological trauma.

‘The London Hanged – Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century’, Second edition.

Peter Linebaugh, Verso, 2006, 492 pp.

ISBN 1-85984576-2 (pbk)

Published in Capital and Class, issue 92, Summer 2007.

Reviewed by Trevor Bark

Coming as it does at a time of international and domestic conflict and disputes over law – over competing definitions of ‘justice ‘ and ‘right’ – the reprinting by Verso of this exemplary work of historical materialism in the British Marxist Historian tradition is most welcome. Peter Linebaugh, a student and comrade of E.P. Thompson, has revisited here the political and economic transformations that were necessary to change feudalism into capitalism, which were not simply a question of regime or law and enforcement substitution, since these alterations happened on a piecemeal basis over centuries. The main story in the ‘history from below’ approach is the protest and resistance that the proto working class was engaged in during its struggles for survival.

NOT BORED! writes:

"The Worst Book Ever Written by a Situationist"

Not Bored!


A Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings: On the Sovereignty of Life as Surpassing the Rights of Man

By Raoul Vaneigem

"Nothing strengthens foolishness better than to honor it with a polemic." — Raoul Vaneigem, 2000.

Raoul Vaneigem's A Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings: On the Sovereignty of Life as Surpassing the Rights of Man [1] is easily one of the worst books we have ever read, and it is certainly the worst book ever written by a former member of the Situationist International (SI). Indeed, it is so bad that, were it not for the fact that we recently passed six months translating Vaneigem's superb book La Resistance de le Christianisme, [2] we would not have felt the need to write this review. We would simply have said "Avoid Vaneigem's book about human rights" and left it at that. But this would not have been intellectually honest nor particularly helpful to our readers: there is something wrong with Raoul Vaneigem. It isn't simply the case that some of his books are "good" and that others are "bad." It is almost as if there is Vaneigem, the author of a handful of great books, and then there is someone else who calls himself "Vaneigem" and writes books that would be unthinkable and even offensive to "the other Vaneigem."

The central thesis of A Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings is that "human rights" are a mere by-product of the rights that the State has accorded to the so-called free market. "The rights of man are no more than specific amplifications of a single right, which is the right to survive merely for the sake of working towards the survival of a totalitarian economy which was imposed untruthfully as the sole means of sustaining the human race," Vaneigem writes. As a result, "the rights of man sanction in a positive form the negation of the rights of the human being": that is, political freedom is a simple compensation for economic unfreedom. As a historical matter,

the upsurge of the rights of man stems from the expansion of free trade [...] The earliest charters of freedoms appear during the ferment of uprisings in the communes, from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, which opposed the entrenched agrarian situation and its parasitical aristocracy with the redoubt of the towns then in full commercial expansion. The air of city freedoms inspired the pre-industrial bourgeoisie to establish a right of recourse against the arbitrariness of the feudal regime, whose predatory parasitism widely hindered the free circulation of merchandise.

"Gypsy Caravan"

Louis Proyect, Unrepentant Marxist

Scheduled for theatrical release in June (NYC, the 15th; Los Angeles the 29th), “Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends” is a film that is very much in the mold of “Buena Vista Social Club” and just as likeable. It also evokes the 1993 “Latcho Drom” (”safe journey”), another great film about Roma music.

It documents a six-week tour in 2001 by some of the greatest Roma musicians in the world, who are seen performing, socializing with each other in hotels and on the bus, and participating in village life back home. It is directed by Jasmine Dellal, who directed “American Gypsy: a Stranger in Everybody’s Land” for PBS in 2001, and filmed by Albert Maysles, the legendary director of “Gimme Shelter,” a record of a Rolling Stones tour, and other works.

The tour was organized by the World Music Institute (WMI), a New York-based nonprofit whose concerts I have reviewed in the past and who I have contributed money to. Given New York’s relentless drive toward high-rise yuppie hell, the WMI is one of the remaining cultural artifacts that make life livable here. Furthermore, the culture of the Roma people is about as at odds with the profit-driven world of real estate and banking as can be imagined. Besides their cultural legacy of some of the world’s greatest music, these unfairly maligned peoples can teach us about how to live better lives. Macedonian Esma Rezepova, one of the tour’s starring performers, put it this way: “The Roma have never made war or invaded another country.”

"Lenin’s Return"

Paul Le Blanc


Lenin Rediscovered: ‘What Is to Be Done?’ in Context
by Lars T. Lih

Leidin/Boston: Brill, 2006
867 pages, including index. Hardcover, $181.00

James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left,
by Bryan D. Palmer
Urbana and Chicago: University of
Illinois Press, 2007
542 pages,including index. Hardcover $50.00.

Lenin Reloaded: Toward a Politics of Truth
edited by Sebastian Budgen,
Stathis Kouvelakis, and Slavoj Žižek
Durham: Duke University Press,
337 pages, including index. Hardcover $84.95, softcover $29.95.

About 40 years ago, my great-uncle (now long dead) gave me an old
handbill printed in red ink, issued by District 2 of the Workers Party,
which proclaimed LENIN LIVES! It urged us to “Come En Masse” to
Madison Square Garden to a Sunday afternoon event chaired by Ben Gitlow
(a central leader of U.S. Communism who later devolved into a
professional anti-Communist on the far-right), an event which included
the 400-voice Freiheit Chorus, a 100-piece symphony orchestra, and
speeches from William Z. Foster, C. E. Ruthenberg, Moissaye Olgin, and
Jack Stachel – for an admission fee of 50 cents (not a negligible sum
in 1925) and with an exhortation at the handbill’s bottom: LONG LIVE

The relevance of the handbill now, in relation to these three
remarkable books, is a reflection of the terrible times in which we

NOT BORED! writes:

One Step Forward, One Step Back
Not Bored

Reviewing the new edition of Ken Knabb's Situationist International Anthology

The Liberal International

Iain Boal & Michael Watts

Reviewing David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford UP, 2005

1917–21. 1944–48. 1968–72. Any accounting of the twentieth century worth its salt will hinge around the events — and ultimate defeats — of these pivotal years. No easy task, and one for forensic historians, since the forces of reaction buried the losers and the victims. Buried along with them were anticipations of a different world, glimpsed by the Kronstadt sailors, the council-communist partisans, and the autonomists of Mexico City and Bologna, among many. But whatever the effects of these quadrennial moments on individual human lives — and they greatly depended on accidents of place, family, and generation — we are all living in their long shadow.

As for the aftermath of the sixties, September 11th, 1973 now seems a date pregnant with history. It is clearly time to gauge the enormity of that watershed, when the neoliberal counter-revolution was given its first airing with the assassination of Allende and the delivery of the Chilean economy to the "Chicago boys". It is a foundational moment for David Harvey in A Brief History of Neoliberalism, one of the first sustained efforts to chronicle the new global landscape of capitalism.