Radical media, politics and culture.

Alan Moore writes:

"Culture Jam 101" at Grassroots Media Conference

Alan Moore

I visited the NYC Grassroots Media Conference, an annual gathering of community-oriented media in New York City (April 9-10, 2005; http://www.nycgrassrootsmedia.org/) at New School University just for the panel called “Culture Jam 101: You Are a Thinly Veiled Threat.” This was William Etundi Jr., of Complacent.org, Swoon who is with Toyshop, and Reverend Billy (Bill Talen) and his partner Savitri D. Promo:

“Here we are in the thick of a culture grown complacent on consumerism, complicity and coercion. A sustainable movement is empowered by confronting and evolving the cultural assumptions of the moment – a goal not easily achieved through traditional protest. Here lies the world of culture jam, of renegade art, of guerrilla actions aimed at shaking the foundation of Apathetic America. This hands-on workshop will ‘teach’ you nothing. Our goal is to awaken the brilliance you already have. Short video introductions and brief anecdotes of our experiences in the street will open to an interactive dialogue on the logistics, challenges and possibilities in cultural evolution. We will explain the tools we use while working with you to build your own seditious solutions – after all you are not a consumer, you are a thinly veiled threat.”

John Doraemi writes:

Achilles’ Heel(s) of the US War Machine

John Doraemi

Recently I was introduced to Gene Sharp's manifesto on "regime change"
called: From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation
(1993). This
— along with U.S. overt and covert "aid" — has brought down
at least three governments to date, including Serbia (Milosevic), Georgia (Shevardnadze),
and the Ukraine (Yanukovych). [1]

I found the book on a web page, available through Google, if you type in the
title. The book is used by US imperial "soft power" forces such as
the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute
(IRI), and "Freedom House." It was published through the Albert Einstein

George Soros has been responsible for some of these US adventures in non-violent
overthrows of regimes deemed unacceptable to US power brokers.

'Still, the book itself is a manual on how to overthrow dictatorships, military
non-democratic despots, the sort of which we are becoming here in the U.S.

"In Central Park"

Hal Foster

"The Gates", the orange portals and banners that punctuated many of the paths in Central Park from 12 to 27 February, were greeted with great delight. People were first softened up by the numbers – 7532 portals, 5290 tons of steel, 60 miles of vinyl tubing, 116,389 miles of pleated nylon, 23 miles of trails, $21 million in costs – and then worked over by all the wacky presentations by the Bulgarian-born Christo and his French-born partner Jeanne-Claude (she of the punk-red hair). Contemporary art is big, bright, expensive and eager to please, right? So maximise these qualities, involve as many people as possible (640 paid workers to assemble the gates and 340 volunteer ‘ambassadors’ to open them), and you have a winning formula. Scale of work and size of audience will trump everything else (the hero of the piece might be the head engineer), and the piece will triumph as spectacle. If the actual location of The Gates was the park, its effective site was the global media (including the souvenir market online): that is to say, its site was everywhere.

"Hack License"

Simson Garfinkel


A Hacker Manifesto

McKenzie Wark

As cultural critic and New School University professor McKenzie Wark
sees things, today's battles over copyrights, trademarks, and patents
are simply the next phase in the age-old battle between the productive
classes and the ruling classes that strive to turn those producers
into subjects. But whereas Marx and Engels saw the battle of
capitalist society as being between two social classes — the proletariat
and the bourgeoisie — Wark sees one between two newly emergent classes:
the hackers and a new group that Wark has added to the lexicon of the
academy: the "vectoralist class."

rwnorris writes:

Vietnam War Conscientious Objector Republishes Memoir

Robert W. Norris, a native Californian and Vietnam War conscientious objector (CO) now living in Japan, understands what many of the Iraq War generation are going through. Thirty-four years after being court-martialed as a CO, Norris has republished his first novel in order to give them an alternative viewpoint.

Looking for the Summer, published January 15, 2005 by Lulu Press, tells the story of a Vietnam War CO's adventures and search for identity on the road from Paris to Calcutta in 1977.

"Marketing and Digital Play"

Julian Kücklich

Reviewing Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture and Marketing

Stephen Kline, Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter

Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press 2003. 368 pp. 24.95 USD. ISBN 0-7735-2591-2

Writing about the Web in 1996, science-fiction author William Gibson predicted that it would "evolve into something considerably less random, and less fun" [1]. The same seems to be true for digital games. As the industry tries to minimize the risks involved in game development, it churns out sequel after sequel and licenses everything that appeals to the masses. While this is hailed by some as the way to a broader audience for videogames, and thus more diversity and innovation, others take a more pessimistic view. From their perspective, the games industry is caught up in a downward spiral that leads to a prevalence of violence over variety, spectacle over depth and commodification over play.

s0metim3s writes

Australia on the edge

Angela Mitropoulos, reviewing Allaine Cerwonka, Native to the Nation: Disciplining Landscapes and Bodies in Australia, Borderlines 21, University of Minnesota Press, 2004.

Allaine Cerwonka’s Native to the Nation explores the everyday details of claims to ownership of — as well as and belonging in — Australia's postcolonial landscape. The attention to that detail is impressive.

So too are the analytical connections made between landscape, spatial control and geopolitics as Cerwonka puts some of Foucault’s concerns to work in examining how 'contemporary state power depends on the disciplining of territories and 'the production of docile bodies.' What makes Native to the Nation much more than another textbook Foucault is the attention to those details of contingency that Foucault insisted on, in this case: the specificity of the postcolonial territory of Australia, always located precariously on the edge of both ownership and beloning.

Seth Sandronsky writes:

"Critical Whiteness Studies"

Seth Sandronsky


Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past

David R. Roediger

University of California Press (2002), 288 pp. $16.00 pb.

David Roediger’s most recent book, Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past, is a gem. This collection of readable essays helps us to better appreciate what W.E.B. Du Bois, the African American scholar, called the “color line” in the U.S. Colored White builds on two earlier collections of Roediger’s essays. The first is The Wages of Whiteness: Race & the Making of the American Working Class (Verso, 1991). That was followed by Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, & Working Class History (Verso, 1994). Roediger is arguably America’s top scholar of critical whiteness studies.

"Children of a Lesser Marxism?"*

Steve Wright, Historical Materialism


Futuro anteriore. Dai "Quaderni Rossi" ai movimenti globali: ricchezze e limiti dell’operaismo italiano
G. Borio, F. Pozzi & G. Roggero

Rome: Derive Approdi, 2002.

La nefasta utopia di Potere operaio. Lavoro tecnica movimento nel laboratorio politico del Sessantotto

F. Berardi

Rome: Castelvecchi. 1998.


While it has inspired more than its share of critical essays and polemics over the past forty years, the political tendency of operaismo (workerism) has been the subject of few book-length analyses in Italy or elsewhere. Perhaps this is less surprising in the English-speaking world, where for whatever reason, Italian workerism has commonly been passed over in discussions of postwar marxism(s).(1)

In Italy’s case this is a little more perplexing, given operaismo’s influence for many years within the local left and labour movement. Back in the late seventies, it is true, there was a collection of papers from a conference organised by the Istituto Gramsci. There leading Communist party (PCI) intellectuals — many of them former workerists — grappled with the tendency’s historical significance, as well as its meaning for their own political commitments of that time.(2)

Interestingly enough, the conference in question also allowed a certain space for contributions from workerist intellectuals deemed ‘to reek of autonomia’,(3) at a time when that movement and the PCI were themselves daggers drawn. In any case, the arrests of 1979 onwards, led by Judge Calogero (himself close to the PCI), both put the final nail in Autonomia as a mass phenomenon, and marginalised operaismo as a current within Italy’s cultural and political life. To use a much-quoted phrase of Primo Moroni and Nanni Balestrini, the years that followed were ones of ‘cynicism, opportunism and fear’,(4) granting little time or space for dreams of a life beyond capital and the state.

"Suppressing a Sacrament?"

Joe McNally, Fortean Times/i>


The Ibogaine Story: Report on the Staten Island Project

Paul de Rienzo, Dana Beal, et al.

Autonomedia, pb, $20 , pp348, illus, appendices, index, refs, bib.

Fortean Rating — 4/4

Highly recommended.

Research into chemically altered states of consciousess seems to breed evangelism. One only has to look at the likes of Terence McKenna and his relentless proselytising on behalf of dimethyltriptamine (DMT) or the late D. M. Turner, and his boundless enthusiasm for almost every psychedelic under the sun, to see how workers in this controversial area seem to acquire an almost religious zeal for their particular substance of choice.

All this leads one to a certain scepticism when yet another chemical miracleworker comes along with their latest wonder soma. As forteans, however, we should feel obliged to assess each claim presented to us on its evidence; in the case of The Ibogaine Story, that evidence makes for compelling reading.