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Analysis & Polemic

"For a New Europe: University Struggles Against Austerity"
Edu-Factory Collective

The common statement from the recent Paris meeting, now in English,
French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Turkish and Korean.

We, the student and precarious workers of Europe, Tunisia, Japan, the
US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Argentina, met in Paris over the
weekend of the 11th-13th of February, 2011 to discuss and organize a
common network based on our common struggles.

Anarchism in Indonesia

Can you tell us about the history of anarchism in Indonesia?

MT: As far as I know from my friends' stories and from what I’ve learned, the origin of anarchism in Indonesia came together with the arrival of punk music around 1998. At that time anarchy was synonymous with punk and some people in that community began to delve deeper into anarchic ideology and values. Since that time anarchist discourse began to develop amongst individuals or collectives in the punk / hardcore community, and later to a broader range of groups such as activists, students, workers; essentially reaching a wider public with different backgrounds.

Along with the spread of anarchic discourse, many discussions on this topic began to occur, and anarchy began to be debated, analysed and criticized more deeply (and this process continues until today, now with a wider arena of different analyses). The next step was to bring it into praxis, for instance forming collectives with anarchic principals and values (decentralized, non-hierarchical & consensus). Despite the many problems these collectives faced, collective models like this could be seen as something different, a counter to the model of groups which always seek to dominate (both in the political sphere and the non-political) through their hierarchical, centralist, and authoritarian forms or structures.

Actions such as Food Not Bombs can be regarded as one of the early forms of direct action emerging from an anarchic praxis here, along with producing zines and other publication such as newsletter, pamphlets, etc. At first the themes and issues of zines were mostly about the punk / hardcore surroundings, but as time went on and the process developed, more varied themes and issues were presented such as feminism, anarchy values, anti-capitalism, global & social resistance, varients of anarchism, environmental and animal movements, political news , and others. The progress of anarchy is also helped by the increasing levels of Internet access; internet media are used by our friends to disseminate information about anarchist discourse.

"Piracy, Control Practices, and Alternatives"
Alex Galloway, with Pavlos Hatzopoulos and Thanasis Priftis

[From "Piracy as activism" special issue - http://www.re-public.gr/en/]

P.H. - T.P.: With what types of practices would you relate the concept
of piracy in networks? Is it problematic, from a critical standpoint,
to confine piracy to file-sharing?

Alexander Galloway: The pirates are on the rise. With their black
markets and black hats, pirates commandeer ships and copy DVDs. They
crack software systems and resell them under the counter. At the same
time immaterial goods proliferate in file-sharing networks, many
thousands labor away on their contributions to open source projects,
and millions more labor away in online games.

So perhaps to begin one might make a basic distinction between piracy
and the kind of collaborative sharing we associate with culture and
community. In a strict sense piracy is a form of commerce, illicit to
be sure, but commerce nonetheless. Something is stolen and resold via
the black market. Pirates are above all businessmen. Contrast this
with the anti-market activity of sharing, borrowing, or stealing. The
continuum is broad here-for example one is free to endorse sharing
while rejecting stealing-yet it is clear that such activities are
not black-market activities in any traditional sense. In fact I
would guess that very little real piracy takes place in file sharing
networks. It's mostly sharing, borrowing or stealing.

I include stealing here simply to appease the right. I personally have
very little against these kinds of activities and find it difficult
to label them "stealing" in any real sense of the word. In fact there
are lots of cases in which borrowing or even stealing is justified,
particularly in today's economy in which so much of human life is
stolen and debased by commercial and state interests. Reverse stealing
is often a necessity.

"Art and Liberty: Surrealism in Egypt"
Don LaCoss

Egyptian surrealism broke above ground in late 1937 in Cairo, midwifed through the efforts of Georges Henein, Ramsīs Yūnān, Kāmil al-Tilmisāni, and the brothers Fu’ad and Anwar Kāmil. Throughout the Second World War, the group attracted the involvement of native Egyptians and European expatriates; they propagated a program for the revolutionary defense of the imagination, free expression, and social freedom. Their approach was consistent with ever other surrealist group in the world: a challenging blend of libertarian anti-capitalism, Freudian theories of the unconscious, and wild, poetic subversions of the sort found in the pages of Rimbaud and Lautréamont. In addition to targeting the moribund cultural values of academicism and conservative pharaonicism that dominated Egyptian intellectual and artistic production at the time, the surrealists also critically attacked fascism, the British military occupation, Egyptian monarchists and the liberal bourgeoisie, Muslim nationalism, the brutal persistence of landowner feudalism, and the institutionalized exploitation of women and industrial workers. The Egyptian surrealists were active for the best part of the decade before being dismantled by Egyptian police and British military occupation authorities in the first days of the Cold War.

Bright Sky over North Africa
by Christopher Z. Hobson

The sky is bright over northern Africa, not only because of the burning government buildings and police stations, but because of the new dawn of mass struggle and potential liberation. Since Jan. 14, less than three weeks ago, the Ben Ali dictatorship in Tunisia has fallen and its successor regime has been shaken up several times, the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt has suffered a mighty blow from ever-growing protests seeking the president’s downfall, and more restrained demonstrations have started against the Saleh dictatorship in Yemen. The situation changes hour by hour and people all over the world hope for the protesters’ success. Here are a few notes in summary form.

1. It Can Be Done. No one would have said in December that the people would rise up, destroy one dictatorship, and threaten a second. The Tunisian overturn started with the protest by suicide of a single street vendor. Tens of thousands of ordinary people—workers, students and graduates, neighborhood residents, caravans from provincial cities—brought the government down within a month. Ordinary working and poor people, invisible and despised in “normal” times, are in fact the decisive force in history. Without their actions all reforms turn out empty. When they act, they can shake heaven. And they can win.

"Sharing the Pain: The Emotional Politics of Austerity"
Jeremy Gilbert

“Keep Calm and Carry On” was the fashionably arch, post-ironic catchphrase for Phase One of the Financial Crisis. Its popularity as a motif first on posters and then on every conceivable kind of merchandise peaked during the period following the critical moment in September 2008 when Lehman Brother collapsed and the entire international banking system teetered on the edge of an abyss.

Technically, this was a piece of nostalgic kitsch. The design came from an obscure home office poster prepared in 1939 for use if the Nazis had invaded the UK. Given such an eventuality, ground combat in the coastal regions would have placed considerable physical and emotional demands on the the rest of the country, and the poster was designed to steady the national nerves should those trying circumstances arise. Thankfully, they never did, and the poster was not distributed during the war, but was rediscovered and reproduced for its comedy value only in 2000, becoming a popular ironic decoration in many workplaces during the early years of the twenty-first century. It’s a powerful image: on the one hand, a clichéd yet outmoded expression of ‘traditional’ English stoicism, on the other hand an example of emotional exhortation by the state, whose almost Orwellian tones render it both anachronistic and vaguely sinister.

The peculiarity of such a slogan in today’s unstoical world - where we are all supposed to value ‘emotional literacy’ over reticence and calm resolve - and its apparent naiveté in the face of the perpetual crisis of late capitalism, are certainly enough to raise a smile in anyone. But it’s hardly hilarious enough for that to explain its extraordinary popularity. To understand the latter, I suggest, we have to consider the ways in which this slogan - ‘keep calm and carry on’ - condenses and expresses perfectly the parameters and constituent elements of the whole affective regime through which emotional responses to the crisis of neoliberalism are being organised by powerful forces today.

Tactics Against Debt Jeffrey J. Williams, EduFactory

What does student debt feel like?

The Knowledge Movement Franco 'Bifo' Berardi

Since the beginning of the modern age autonomy has been a defining feature of scientific progress and of the institution of university. It is not only a formal juridical aspect, but an epistemological prerequisite that prevents knowledge from beginning a purely instrumental technique.


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