Radical media, politics and culture.


Occupy Author Examines Archeology of Debt
Ruth Krause

Few books have provoked the kind of media hype, discussion and praise
that David Graeber's "'Debt: The Last 5,000 Years" has in the past few
weeks. DW looks at the movement and the man behind the book.

He doesn't stay in one place for long. One minute David Graeber is in
London, where he teaches anthropology at Goldsmith College, the next
he's in Frankfurt at Blockupy, then in Cologne and Berlin for book
releases, next stop New York. It's no wonder that Graeber is so busy:
He's published three books in 40 days.

Everybody is now talking about the student debt crisis, but nothing is being done about it
Occupy Student Debt

Thanks in large part to the great public amplifier of the Occupy movement, this year’s presidential contenders have been forced to embrace student loan reform as a talking point in their respective campaigns. But the debt relief being pushed by the Obama administration is a token gesture, aimed at getting some traction on the youth vote -- especially the more disillusioned or alienated student constituencies. Recent bills introduced in Congress -- Student Loan Forgiveness Act (H.R. 4170) and the Private Student Bankruptcy Fairness Act (H.R. 2028) -- have zero chance of passing in anything like their current form. Practically speaking, no reform program of any substance is on the legislative horizon, least of all one that would regulate the predatory lending practices of Wall Street banks.

Save the Greeks from their Saviors!
Alain Badiou, Jean-Christophe Bailly, Étienne Balibar, Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Ranciere, Avital Ronell

[February 22, 2012. Translation into English by Anastazia Golemi.]

At a time when one Greek youth is unemployed. Where 25,000 homeless wander the streets of Athens. Where 30% of the population has fallen under the poverty line and where millions of families are forced to place their children in the care of someone else in order for them not to die of hunger or cold, where refugees and the new poor compete for trashcans at the public dump, the “saviors” of Greece, under the pretext that “Greece is not trying hard enough”, impose a new aid plan that doubles the lethal administered dose. A plan that abolishes the right to work and reduces the poor to the most extreme misery, at the same time as it makes the middle class disappear.

The Failure of Capitalist Production
Andrew Kleiman

Monday February 6th, 2012 @ 7:00 PM:
Bluestockings Books
172 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002

Andrew Kliman will discuss his just-published book, The Failure of Capitalist Production (Pluto Press 2011), and how he was frequently surprised by what he uncovered when doing the research behind it. Much conventional wisdom on the left attributes the Great Recession to free-market policies, “financialization” of the economy, and stagnant wages. Kliman himself is a leftist economist, yet the more he delved into the data, the more he came to reject such explanations. In the end, he concluded, Karl Marx’s theory of economic crisis fits the facts. The Great Recession and its persistent after-effects are the results of a half-century-long decline in profitability and the consequences of that decline––decades of weak investment, sluggish economic growth, and mounting debt problems. Kliman will also explore possible pathways out of this crisis of profitability.

Plato’s Republic and Student Loan Debt Refusal
George Caffentzis

"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.

The Economy of Abolition/Abolition of the Economy
Neil Gray in exchange with Marina Vishmidt

Marina Vishmidt’s article for Reartikulacija, ‘Human Capital or Toxic Asset: After the Wage’1, reflects upon, among other things, human capital exploited as investment portfolio in ‘The Big Society’; affirmation and negation as political potentialities; the fragmentation of the class relation based on waged work; financialisation and the collapse of social democracy; the politics of reproduction; and the imposition of, resistance to, and potential negation of debt. All this through the prism of the ‘communisation thesis’ which seeks to move within-and-against defensive ‘programmatic’ struggles that tend to reify (class) identities, towards everyday struggles that supersede value, exchange, market relations, and proletarian identity itself – in a constitutive rupture with its previous situation. Not just a change in the system, but a change of the system; not later on, but now. This thesis, which develops from a long-view structural perspective of post-Fordist/Keynesian conditions in the labour market, is fraught with difficulty given the seeming hegemony of neoliberalism and the evidential need for defensive strategies against market command. Yet the communisation thesis describes the problematic of the present class relation in an extremely prescient manner that takes us well beyond the rote formulas and responses of much of ‘the Left’2. The exchange below, with Marina Vishmidt and Neil Gray, aims to elaborate some potential lines of this debate with particular reference to the politics of reproduction and debt.

Kazakhstan: Stop police violence against strikers!

Police attack strikers.On Friday December 16th a celebration of Independence Day in the Western Kazakhstan city of Zhanaozen ended up with violent clashes between police and protesting oil workers who have been striking since May, demanding wage increases. It has been reported that oil workers planned to have a peaceful rally on Zhanaozen's main square but were attacked. According to report we have received, armed police were sent against the demonstrators. Some reports say the police used their weapons and some protestors were killed or injured.

Franco “Bifo” Berardi

A Talk at MoMA PS1
Saturday December 17, 4 pm, free
22-25 Jackson Avenue at 46th Avenue
Long Island City, NY

The concept of insolvency as it has been applied in the US and
especially in the EU has to do with economic debt, but also with the
symbolic debt implied in the capitalist process of exploitation. In
the EU, this symbolic debt is bound to tensions that haunted European
modernity—between Calvinist and Catholic, Baroque and Gothic, good
German laborers and bad lazy Mediterraneans. It is a subject often
avoided for being politically incorrect, because no one wants to see
the religious, anthropological, and aesthetic implications of the
crisis. But the concept of symbolic debt may also provide a way out:
What if debt as semiotization and insolvency could actually provide
autonomy from capitalist semiotization—a direct move from insolvency
to emancipation? What is the meaning of the word “revolution” anyhow?
Let us consider how the concept of emancipation will replace of the
concept of revolution.

This is the second in a season of talks and discussions presented by
e-flux book co-op at MoMA PS1. Hito Steyerl was the first to present
in the series, which will continue throughout the season with
presentations by artists, writers, and theorists such as AA Bronson,
Paul Chan, Sven Lütticken, Elizabeth Povinelli, and others considering
the recent intensification of political life.

Capitalism or Markets?: An Exchange
Bernard Stiegler and Scott Lash
Monday 9 January 2012, 5pm-6.45pm
Cinema, Richard Hoggart Building
Goldsmiths, London

What is critical political economy today? Has neo-liberalism produced a system of domination in which capital has reduced labour not just to an object but to what Heidegger called a 'standing reserve',: that is a Marxist ‘reserve army of labour’ that no longer has a stake in the productive system resulting in conflagrations like Tottenham 2011? Or does a new industrialism driven by technological media open up a possible political space of 'care', enabling open relations of bonding between humans and among human and code-driven machines? How would such a political economy address the emerging powers in an age when Obama is destined to be the last president of what will have been the world's most powerful nation? Is China (India) neo-liberal or is it possible to have the sociality of markets without capitalism? Is Foucault right to counterpose the positivity of a liberalism based in a classical political economy of Smith and Ricardo against the bio-poli! tical domination of a neo-liberalism and today’s neo-classical economics? Do we live in a post-industrial, knowledge society, or instead in the possibility of a new industrial order, in which industrial classes are pitted against the excesses of finance capital? Bernard Stiegler (Paris) and Scott Lash will address these and other issues in an exchange on 9 January in the second in the Goldsmiths’ Centre for Cultural Studies’ series of Interventions in Critical Political Economy.

Global Rebellion: The Coming Chaos?
William L. Robinson

As the crisis of global capitalism spirals out of control, the powers that be in the global system appear to be adrift and unable to proposal viable solutions. From the slaughter of dozens of young protesters by the army in Egypt to the brutal repression of the Occupy movement in the United States, and the water cannons brandished by the militarised police in Chile against students and workers, states and ruling classes are unable are to hold back the tide of worldwide popular rebellion and must resort to ever more generalised repression.

Simply put, the immense structural inequalities of the global political economy can no longer be contained through consensual mechanisms of social control. The ruling classes have lost legitimacy; we are witnessing a breakdown of ruling-class hegemony on a world scale.


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