Radical media, politics and culture.


The Scandal of the Word “Class”:

A Review of David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford UP,

David Harvey's new book has four faces on its cover: Reagan, Thatcher,
Pinochet and Deng Xiaoping. It makes one self-evident, yet strangely
scandalous assertion: the rise of neoliberal economics since the late 1970s
— or more precisely, since the bankruptcy of New York City and the
dictatorship in Chile — is the centerpiece of a deliberate project to
restore upper-class power. True to its title, the book presents a concise
but extremely well-documented economic history of the last three decades,
encompassing not only the usual G-7 countries but the entire world, with a
particular emphasis on the US and capitalist China.

It identifies
structural trends of neoliberal governance that, as the book nears
conclusion, serve equally to explicate the present crisis, both of the
global economy and of interstate relations. And finally it asks the
political question of how resurgent upper-class power can successfully be
opposed. Here is where the most benefit could be gained by examining the
aura of scandal that surrounds its central thesis.

The Truth About Networks

Trebor Scholz

Between the total hell of networked, salaried labor and the promises of the

In short succession the first two in a series of publications called "DATA
browser" were just released. Both start out with historical texts to search
for effective contemporary models of cultural production that merge
socio-technological with artistic critique.

"DATA browser 01" takes Theodor
Adorno's and Max Horkheimer's notion of the culture industry (1944) as a
departing point. "DATA browser 02" links to Walter Benjamin's essay "The
Author as Producer" (1934).

Let's start with Brian Holmes' essay "The
Flexible Personality," which contributes a rare meditation on today's
network society and sketches out an intellectual history of anti-systemic
movements that becomes the critical backdrop for both volumes of "DATA
browser." Here, the Paris-based art critic, activist, and translator Holmes
leads us into a social landscape of total network hell. Together with the
social theorist Maurizio Lazzarato, Holmes is not on board when it comes to
the techno-utopian celebration of the networked life style. Lazzarato thinks
that new networked techniques are even more totalitarian than the assembly
line. Brian Holmes includes a reference to Adorno's notion of the
authoritarian personality (1950), which is defined by its rigid
conventionalism, submission to authority, opposition to everything
subjective, stereotypy, an emphasis on power and toughness, destructiveness
and cynicism, and an exaggerated concern with sexual scandal. Holmes'
criticism of networked labor is sharp — he argues that distributed,
casualized labor is based on the ruthless pleasure of exploitation and soft
coercion that the laptop as portable instrument of control affords.

"Object a As Inherent Limit to Capitalism:

On Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri"

Slavoj Zizek

What makes Empire and Multitude such a refreshing reading (clearly the definitive exercises in Deleuzian politics) is that we are dealing with books which refer to and function as the moment of theoretical reflection of — one is almost tempted to say: are embedded in — an actual global movement of anti-capitalist resistance: one can sense, behind the written lines, the smells and sounds of Seattle, Genoa and Zapatistas. So their theoretical limitation is simultaneously the limitation of the actual movement.

Hardt's and Negri's basic move, an act which is by no means ideologically neutral (and, incidentally, which is totally foreign to their philosophical paradigm, Deleuze!), is to identify (to name) "democracy" as the common denominator of all today's emancipatory movements: "The common currency that runs throughout so many struggles and movements for liberation across the world today — at local, regional, and global levels — is the desire for democracy."1 Far from standing for a utopian dream, democracy is "the only answer to the vexing questions of our day, /.../ the only way out of our state of perpetual conflict and war."2 Not only is democracy inscribed into the present antagonisms as an immanent telos of their resolution; even more, today, the rise of the multitude in the heart of capitalism "makes democracy possible for the first time"3 Till now, democracy was constrained by the form of the One, of the sovereign state power; "absolute democracy" ("the rule of everyone by everyone, a democracy without qualifiers, without ifs or buts,"4 only becomes possible when "the multitude is finally able to rule itself."5

The Third Crusade

New Left Review

Richard Gott on Anthony Seldon, Blair. As ‘Iraq’ joins ‘Munich’ and ‘Suez’ in the lexicon of British foreign-policy disasters, does the Labour Prime Minister have his own neo-imperial programme?

Elections in Britain on 5 May 2005 brought a third victory to Tony Blair’s New Labour party, though with a much reduced majority in parliament, only 35 per cent of the popular vote, and barely a fifth of the overall electorate—the lowest percentage secured by any governing party in recent European history. ‘When regimes are based on minority rule, they lose legitimacy’, Blair had told an audience at the Chicago Economic Club in April 1999. He was thinking at the time of the former Yugoslavia of Slobodan Miloševic´ and of apartheid South Africa, but his warning could now be applied to his own regime. More people abstained from voting in May 2005 than voted Labour. Disgust, rather than apathy, was the root cause of the abstention.

Widely celebrated as the first, ‘historic’ occasion on which a Labour government had won three elections in a row, the Blairite success might more relevantly be described as the sixth victory of a British government operating under Thatcherite principles since Margaret Thatcher was elected prime minister in 1979. ‘Almost everything Blair has done personally—in education, health, law and order and Northern Ireland—has also been an extension of Conservative policy between 1979 and 1997’, argues Anthony Seldon in his exhaustive study, Blair, the largest and most useful of the raft of recently published biographies, most of which have been hagiographic but some more critical. Seldon’s charge is difficult to refute, and Blair’s relatively meagre showing in the election of 2005 had much to do with the disillusion of traditional Labour voters, finally obliged to admit that their party had been captured by the proponents of an alien ideology.

"Dr. Jeffrey Sachs’ The End of Poverty:

A Political Review"

George Caffentzis

"At length the term-day, the fatal Martinmas, arrived, and violent measures of ejection were resorted to. A strong posse of peace-officers, sufficient to render all resistance vain, charged the inhabitants to depart by noon; and as they did not obey, the officers, in terms of their warrant, proceeded to unroof the cottages, and pull down the wretched doors and windows, — a summary and effectual mode of ejection, still practiced in some remote parts of Scotland, when a tenant proves refractory."
— Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering or The Astrologer (1829)

Neoliberal globalization entered into its first major crisis seven summers ago, with the so-called “Asian Financial Crisis.” Since then the ideological power of this form of capitalism has been slowly ebbing. The once attractive image of the creative powers of humanity finally being brought together in the process of globalization for the “general welfare” by borderless transfers of money, capital and labor at the speed of light now seems to be a nostalgic relic.

Since 1997, along with the continuing economic crises and stagnation of Europe, South America, and Africa, neoliberal globalization has faced two major ideological reversals. The first reversal is associated with a city (Seattle) and the second with a date (September 11, 2001).

"Parecon and the Nature of Reformism"

Wayne Price, Anarkismo.net


Robin Hahnel, Economic Justice and Democracy: From Competition to Cooperation.
NY/ London: Routledge, 2005

The second most important problem for anticapitalist radicals is how to get from here to there; that is, how to get from a capitalist society to a good society. The first problem is where do we want to go — what we mean by a good, noncapitalist, society. Working together with Michael Albert, Robin Hahnel has spent years on this first problem, developing a model of what a good society might be like, or at least how its economy might work. In a series of books and essays (e.g., Albert 2000, 2005; Albert & Hahnel 1983, 1991), they have thought out how an economy might function which is managed by its people rather than by either private capitalists or bureaucrats — an economy managed through bottom-up democratic cooperation, rather than by either the market or centralized planning. They call this “participatory economics,” or “parecon” for short. Their model involves coordination by councils of workers and consumers to produce an economic plan. I will not go into it now; it is further discussed in Hahnel’s current book. In my opinion, their model has enriched the discussion of what a socialist anarchist society might look like

However, they have written little on the second issue. Having decided on a social goal, then what? Might it be possible to gradually, peacefully, and incrementally evolve through small positive changes from capitalism to antiauthoritarian socialism? Or must a mass movement, eventually, overturn the capitalist class, smash its state — against the will of its agents — dismantling its police, military, and other institutions, and replace them with alternate structures? This is, of course, the topic: Reform or Revolution? It leads to a certain focus on the nature of the state.

"The Wobbly Legend Lives On in Popular Culture"

Paul Buhle, Chronicle of Higher Education

No title seems more likely to cause an academic publisher to dolefully predict sales in the low three figures these days than one stuck with the word "labor." More often than not, it is slipped into the subtitle, as if arriving in disguise. And no wonder, from one perspective: The American labor movement itself has been on a downward spiral, as a proportion of the work force, for more than two generations.

The aura attached to working-class studies by scholarly generations of the 1960s through the 1980s has also now badly faded. Despite a trove of well-crafted monographs, specialty journals, and annual meetings of regional groups with healthy admixtures of nonacademic enthusiasts, the mood in the field is insular, a holding pattern. Today's students with uncles, aunts, or grandparents in the labor movement often don't even know which particular unions so occupied their time and energy.

And yet the Wobblies continue to evoke interest, on campuses and off. The Industrial Workers of the World, as the movement was formally known, never exceeded 150,000 members and sank into memory by the 1930s. But its luster has somehow survived, perhaps because it never really depended upon numerical strength or bargaining power.

"Branded For Life"

Andy Beckett, The Guradian


The Rebel Sell:
How the Counterculture Became Consumer Culture

by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter

352pp, Capstone, £16.99

Since Naomi Klein's bestselling anti-capitalist book No Logo was published
five years ago, its success in Britain and North America has been
accompanied by an intriguing political and economic mystery. While Klein and
her imitators have made sweatshops and bullying corporations and the other
costs of global consumerism into much more mainstream topics for public
discussion, this does not seem to have stopped many people from going
shopping. One conclusion you could draw is that political books are not as
life-changing as they were. A more provocative one would be that where the
dominance of modern capitalism is concerned, Klein's kind of thinking is not
part of the solution but part of the problem.

The Rebel Sell is a brave book. In places it is also unfair, light on
evidence and repetitively polemical. But the argument it makes is important
and original. Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, both young Canadian academics,
think that for nearly half a century critics of capitalism have profoundly
misunderstood their enemy. Worse than that, the authors argue, these critics
have — sometimes unintentionally, sometimes not — provided modern capitalism
with the fuel it runs on.

This was published a couple of months ago, but it's appropriately timed as Wu Ming's "54" has just been published in english. If you haven't already read "Q", an epic tale of adventure and revolt, fueled by the millenarian spirit and traversing seminal moments of european transformation (the birth of banking, early days of seditious books) then go and get it, and don't come out until you've read it;). You can find other issues of the Digest in english here.

#27 - The Fascists - 29 March 2005

0- Thank you + pieces of news

1- Getting Rid of the Constitution

2- The Fascists, a gonzoid story by Wu Ming 1

3- We Wonder if We've Answered the Question...


Here's a new issue of Giap/digest. Better
late than never. First of all, we would like to thank all the people
who, after our call for help, volunteered translation work. The English
language section of our website is getting richer and this newsletter
might even reach you on a less irregular basis. Some texts are already
on line, some are being edited, some others are still being translated.

The Times, London (UK),
May 14, 2005

Gang of five

By James Eve

Deep in the hills above Bologna a secretive band of writers has hatched
a truly evil plot — to overthrow the world of celebrity

If you believed everything that was written about the group of Italian
novelists known as Wu Ming, you would think that they were red-toothed
revolutionaries. Under their former pen name — that of the former
Watford and AC Milan footballer Luther Blissett — they published
Q, a sprawling, bloody spy story set in the religious wars of
16th-century Europe. It became a bestseller across the Continent, though
the group's non-literary activities, which according to several breathless
newspaper reports included hijacking a night bus in Rome, prompted as
much interest as the sales figures.


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