Radical media, politics and culture.


Review of Paul Mason's 'Why It's Kicking off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions'
Mark Kosman

Some people may dismiss Paul Mason as just another journalist, especially since he advocated more effective policing to contain the 'Black Bloc' after the 26 March TUC demo.[1] Yet, this is no reason not to read Why It's Kicking off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions. Simply by bringing together insightful reports from the uprisings of 2010/11 - in Egypt, Greece, Israel, Spain, the UK and the US - Mason helps the reader get an overview of the present state of global class struggle. But, more than this, he puts these struggles in a historical and theoretical context and so provokes more interesting questions than any other recent book.

Queering Anarchism
Michael Truscello

review of Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson, eds. Anarchism and Sexuality: Ethics, Relationships and Power. Routledge, 2011. 232 pp.

It may surprise some people outside of the study of anarchism that, alongside race, sexuality is perhaps the least studied subject within anarchist scholarship. This absence in the scholarly literature is often mirrored in practice, and as such the recent publication of Jamie Heckert and Richard Cleminson’s Anarchism and Sexuality provides a necessary intervention. Judged on the basis of the editors’ intent "to craft a queer book, both in style and in content" (1), the result is an overwhelming success. Stylistically, the anthology darts from personal memoir to social scientific survey to literary analysis. In this sense, the anthology achieves what most interdisciplinary projects only gesture towards: a collection of writings (I intentionally avoid essays here, because the anthology includes "poetic interludes") that illustrate the dynamics of activists and intellectuals, public agonies and private abuses, philosophical excursions and tactical reminiscences. This may be the most diverse collection of writings I have ever read under one cover.

New Old Stories from the Other Situationists
Alan W. Moore

review of Expect Anything Fear Nothing: The Situationist Movement in Scandinavia and Elsewhere
edited by Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen and Jakob Jakobsen
with contributions by Peter Laugesen, Carl Nørrested, Fabian Tompsett, Gordon Fazakerley, Jacqueline de Jong, Hardy Strid, Karen Kurczynski, Stewart Home and the editors
Nebula (Copenhagen) and Autonomedia (Brooklyn), 2011

This book is a badly needed English language introduction to the stories of northern Situationism. While this political and aesthetic avant garde movement of the 1960s is most famous for the work of Guy de Bord (especially Society of the Spectacle, 1967), it had many other adherents and accomplishments, as the Expect anthology makes clear. Most notably for me is the description of a 1963 exhibition produced in Copenhagen in solidarity with a British direct action anti-nuclear group, “The Destruction of RSG-6.” But the northern Situationists also published an important artists' magazine, The Situationist Times, organized a commune in Sweden called Drakabygget, produced many short films and participatory art installations, painted slogans on drab public fences, and for years launched provocations against the smug consensus cultures of post-war Europe.

Since the 1970s I've had a sidelong relationship to the Situationists. They were really out there, politically, when I bought my copy of Debord's "Society of the Spectacle" published by the Detroit anarchist Black and Red house. Now there is a handsome MIT edition at many times the price of that pamphlet as the Situationist movement has emerged from the fog of the underground into the dry bright light of academic industry. In the 1990s, I used the resources of my artists' video distribution project to make pirate copies of De Bord's film for Bill Brown as he intervened in the commodification of the drunken sage's oeuvre.

"Facebook, or, The Impossibility of Friendship"
Franco Berardi (Bifo)

Financial capitalism and precarious work, loneliness and suffering, atrophy of empathy and sensibility: these are the themes that we may extrapolate from "The Social Network," the excellent movie by David Fincher.

The story that the movie is about is the creation and early diffusion of the social network Facebook: an enterprirse in the age of financial semiocapitalism. But the focus shifts on the psychological side of the evolution of the Internet, in the framework of the info-acceleration and stimulus-intensification that broadband has made possible. Love, friendship, affection — the whole sphere of emotionality is invested by the intensification of the rhythm of the infosphere surrounding the first generation which learned more words from a machine than from the mother.

Although the narration of the beginnings of Facebook, and the following legal conflicts and trials corresponds to the real story, biographical details (for instance the end of a love relation in the first scene of the movie) are not necessarily true, but they are useful for a full understanding of the affective side of social life of the cognitarian labor force.

Review of Gary Genesko’s Félix Guattari: A Critical Introduction
Isabelle Ruelland

Félix Guattari, A Critical Introduction is Gary Genosko’s third book on this radical French thinker. In this volume, Genosko first addresses a contextual portrait of facts that mark Félix Guattari’s life as an intellectual and militant. He outlines the different forms of social and political practices he engaged in, his theoretical and conceptual creativity, as well as the social movements and a variety of personalities whom he often opposed or was inspired by. Through chapters organized around key dimensions of his life and thought, Genosko delivers contextual material, explanations of concepts, and how the concepts are still relevant. According to the author, “the question of reading Guattari today is embedded in a longstanding problem within the secondary literature of Deleuze studies” (p.13). While the contribution of Genosko work is that it demonstrates Guattari was not an eccentric post-humanist or simply a minor theorist in Deleuze’s shadow, it is a work that assumes extensive knowledge of the poststructuralist epistemology he worked in.

Scott McLemee Reviews Richard Wolin's "Wind From the East"
The National

The Chinese revolution's influence on French thinking

"The Wind from the East" examines the effect on the Chinese Cultural
Revolution on French political and philosophical discourse, writes Scott

The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution,
and the Legacy of the 1960s

Richard Wolin, Princeton University Press

During even the coldest years of the Cold War, there were small circles,
far to the left of the communists, who warmed themselves with the
thought of revolutionary socialism. To be sure, they meant by this
something bearing no resemblance to the monstrosity embodied in those
regimes where May Day was celebrated with tanks and choreographed
expressions of obligatory mass cheer. Their egalitarianism was
essentially libertarian, and vice versa. In France, one such group was
led by Cornelius Castoriadis, who had, in the 1940s and 1950s, analysed
the Stalinist system as a form of what he called “bureaucratic
capitalism” – fit only to be abolished by revolts from below.

More Lennon than Lenin
Armin Medosch, The Next Layer

Reviewing Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life
By Stevphen Shukaitis

It is not often that left-wing politics is associated with attributes such as humour and wit. Stevphen Shukaitis' book Imaginal Machines (2009) is not only abundant with it but shows that certain strands of imaginative revolutionary politics in the 20th century were also endowed with those precious qualities. This journey through the radical imagination of the left, written in a compelling and entertaining style, is definitely worth a read for everybody interested in radical and antagonistic politics.

Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life by Stevphen Shukaitis is just out on Autonomedia (see event recommendation below). The book deals with the problems and difficulties of the radical imagination as a source for political transformation. Thereby, Stevphen Shukaitis walks a tightrope, avoiding the two-sided abyss of either outdated notions of revolution as "seizing state power" and the more recent 'tradition' which knows only cultural politics and has thereby absented itself from the larger question of the transformation of the political economy. The 'balance' that Stevphen Shukaitis finds is not so much in between those opposites but by intelligently weaving together a narration which shows different types of 'imaginal machines' in their historic specificity.

I am not suggesting that Morgenson and Rosner pull their punches. To
the contrary, the authors deliver enough knockouts to be contenders with
Taibbi as world champions in exposing the reckless fraud that the US
financial sector and its regulators now epitomize.

The financial crisis, which is very much still with us, did not result
from accident or miscalculation; neither did it result because of a flaw
in Alan Greenspan's theory, as he told Congress when a feeble effort was
made to hold him accountable. It was the intentional result of people

Paul Goodman: Recounting Forgotten Man on the Attack
Richard B. Woodward

Even by the obstreperous standards of other New York intellectuals, Paul
Goodman (1911-72) was a special kind of troublemaker.

Anarchist, utopian, World War II pacifist, pied piper of the '60s youth
revolt, urban planner, Gestalt therapist, uncloseted bisexual and
crusader for gay rights, advocate of sustainable farming, gifted poet
and novelist, he exhibited a wayward independence that made him a party
of one in the American political arena but that also earned him the wary
respect of his peers. Susan Sontag called him one of her heroes. Alfred
Kazin and Lionel Trilling, neither one a fan of Goodman's theoretical
writings, confessed to a secret envy over his "scandalous reputation."

On "Critical Strategies in Art and Media"
Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook

Hello All,

After asking [Nettime] permission to publish our book review in May 2011 and being slightly rebuked, we wondered if it even made any difference to share our hope for a contemporary approach to insurrection. We had taken our own surrender to heart and decided to wait. Recent events have shown our skepticism to be unfounded and we are sharing this now only to support those in the Occupy*, especially Occupy Wall Street, who have thus far refrained from naming demands — from, as Foucault put it, "demand[ing] of politics that it restore the ‘rights’ of the individual, as philosophy has defined them." No demands, no checklist, no politics as usual. "The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals, but a constant generator of de-individualization." Occupy EVERYTHING. No demands. Occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy,
occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy, occupy...

In solidarity,
Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook

“Originally published by Theory in Action, Vol. 4, No.2, April 2011 (©2011) DOI:10.3798/tia.1937-0237.11017 www.transformativestudies.org
(The text below is pre-editor copy, apologies for errors)
Thanks to Eva Swidler, Book Review Editor, for requesting our review and John Asimakopoulos, Editor in Chief, for publishing it.

Critical Strategies in Art and Media.
Edited by Konrad Becker and Jim Fleming. New York: Autonomedia, 2009. 182 pp. Paperback $12.95. ISBN 978-1570272141.

Eleven years into the new century, it may be time to discuss terms of surrender. Not a surrender to any civilization but the surrender of civilization to those in control who would use any political participation as a crutch for their failure. The question is not if but when giving up on civilization will be seen as the only rational political stance. Currently, the critical strategy of removing oneself from a failed situation and ceasing participation in a bankrupt enterprise is rarely given serious thought1. Giving up is constantly under attack from politicians and those who benefit from the current situation. Activists remain in the service of an imagined future that only extends the crisis, unable to wean themselves from strategies already four decades old. This is the case in the discussion documented in Critical Strategies in Art and Media, a new book from Autonomedia that documents a conference of the same name. From the predictable return to 1968 as a vague yet singular moment to the insistence on optimism — recuperating even hopelessness and pessimism for continued production and activity — the most common strategies discussed are pragmatic approaches to working with those who fund art projects. Little discussion occurs concerning critical art practice beyond hopeful slogans that parallel Nike’s “Just do It”.


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