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Lessons of 2011: Three Theses on Political Organization

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Categories: Events, Interventions

Seminar on Political Organization  March 12th
March 12th, 4PM-6PM @ University of Essex Room 5N.7.23
Centre for Work, Organization, and Society 

Rodrigo Nunes, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande Do Sul

With the Arab Spring, the Spanish indignados, Occupy and so much more, 2011 is likely to go down in history as a very special year – perhaps even the beginning of something. But what would that something be? This presentation attempts to draw some conclusions about the present state and future of politics and organization by examining the practices of the movements that erupted in the last year. Thinking beyond their usual representation by the media, trying to avoid either describing them as something entirely new and unheard of or as manifestations of an ultimately non-political culture, what can be the lessons of 2011?

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Occupy Everything! Reflections on why it’s kicking off everywhere

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Categories: Alessio Lunghi & Seth Wheeler, Current Publications

Occupy Everything! Reflections on why it’s kicking off everywhere
Ed. Alessio Lunghi & Seth Wheeler

Penned after the 2010 European student unrest and before what is now commonly referred to as the “Arab spring” began to escalate, BBC Newsnight economist Paul Mason’s “20 Reasons Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere” sought to establish an understanding of the motivations behind these globally disparate, yet somehow connected struggles.

What roles do the “graduate with no future,” the “digital native” or the “remainder of capital” play in the current wave of unrest? What are the ideas, ideologies, motivations or demands driving these movements? How is struggle organized and coordinated in the age of memetic politics and viral ad campaigns? Continue reading →

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Walking Archives: The Soy Children

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Categories: Current Publications, Eduardo Molinari

Walking Archives: The Soy Children
Eduardo Molinari

“Eduardo Molinari has produced a compelling document demonstrating that the process of recombination can be wrenched from capital’s oppressive grip, and put to use to expose and critique its expansion from modern imperialism to a molecular invasion that establishes full spectrum biocolonization. Juxtaposing fragments of political and cultural history, political theory, mythology, and ecological study, in conjunction with personal memories and observations, Molinari produces an associational web that yields a long-awaited radicalization of relational aesthetics.” – Critical Art Ensemble

Who are children of genetically modified soy production? What disowned bastards are produced by the hybridization of agri-business, biotech, capital, and culture?

To answer these questions the Archivo Caminante (Walking Archive) embarks on a trip through the opaque and strange world of genetically modified soya plants in Argentina in search of its inhabitants, forms and structures, languages and narratives: the forces that swirl around the soya rhizome.  In the style of Gulliver’s Travels it makes visible some of the routes in the soya chain giving shape to a new international division of labor food policy in global semiocapitalism. Continue reading →

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The El Martillo Project

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Categories: Current Publications, Eclectic Electric Collective

The El Martillo Project
Eclectic Electric Collective

In 2010 an inconspicuous looking suitcase was sent from Berlin to Mexico City containing a 39-foot tall inflatable silver hammer. Thus began El Martillos odyssey to protest the United Nations Climate Conference in Cancún. El Martillo’s short, but glorious life, climaxed when protesters from Marea Creciente (Rising Tide) stormed the conference complex fences, gigantic hammer above their heads. In full view of the press Mexican police tore the inflatable to pieces. Within an hour global the media corporations declared El Martillo a symbol of the climate changes protests as its image traveled across the world.

The El Martillo Project documents the whole process from its conception and construction to the media flurry it sparked off. Included are numerous full color images and documentation of the project; texts and analysis by David Graeber, Alex Dunst, and Cristian Guerrero; an interview with John Jordan from the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination; and a fold out technical manual and plan for creating giant inflatable hammers. Continue reading →

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19 & 20: Notes for a New Social Protagonism

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Categories: Antonio Negri, Colectivo Situaciones, Current Publications, Michael Hardt

19 & 20: Notes for a New Social Protagonism
Colectivo Situaciones
Translated by Nate Holdren & Sebastián Touza
Introductions by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri

An 18th Brumaire for the 21st Century: militant research on the December 19th and 20th, 2001 uprisings in Argentina

In the heat of an economic and political crisis, people in Argentina took to the streets on December 19th, 2001, shouting “¡Qué se vayan todos!” These words – “All of them out!” – hurled by thousands banging pots and pans, struck at every politician, economist, and journalist. These events opened a period of intense social unrest and political creativity that led to the collapse of government after government. Neighborhoods organized themselves into hundreds of popular assemblies across the country, the unemployed workers movement acquired a new visibility, workers took over factories and businesses. These events marked a sea change, a before and an after for Argentina that resonated around the world.

Colectivo Situaciones wrote this book in the heat of that December’s aftermath. As radicals immersed within the long process of reflection and experimentation with forms of counterpower that Argentines practiced in shadow of neoliberal rule, Colectivo Situaciones knew that the novelty of the events of December 19th and 20th demanded new forms of thinking and research. This book attempts to read those struggles from within. Ten years have passed, yet the book remains as relevant and as fresh as the day it came out. Multitudes of citizens from different countries have learned their own ways to chant ¡Qué se vayan todos!, from Iceland to Tunisia, from Spain to Greece, from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park. Colectivo Situactiones’ practice of engaging with movements’ own thought processes resonates with everyone seeking to think current events and movements, and through that to build a new world in the shell of the old. Continue reading →

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12/12 Seminar: Models for a Peer-to-Peer Society

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Categories: Events

Models for a Peer-to-Peer Society
A seminar with Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation
Monday December 12th at 2pm in the Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall Seminar Room
Centre for Work, Organization and Society, University of Essex

Many observers argue that the change induced with the internet is on a par with at least the effects of the printing press, which was instrumental in creating a cascade of changes such as the renaissance, the reformation and the Enlightenment, culminating in the replacement of feudalism with capitalism. It is therefore reasonable to posit a phase transition this time as well, but what kind of transition and on which timescale? This is the question we want to address. Our first answer is that the emergence of a new hyper-productive mode of value creation, i.e. commons-based peer production as, a new ‘mode of production,’ and its co-emerging institutional framework, illuminate us about the incipient ‘patterns’ of the emergent new social order.  Continue reading →

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Communization and its Discontents

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Categories: Benjamin Noys, Current Publications

Communization and its Discontents: Contestation, Critique, and Contemporary Struggles
Edited by Benjamin Noys

Can we find alternatives to the failed radical projects of the twentieth century? What are the possible forms of struggle today? How do we fight back against the misery of our crisis-ridden present?

‘Communization’ is the spectre of the immediate struggle to abolish capitalism and the state, which haunts Europe, Northern California and wherever the real abstractions of value that shape our lives are contested. Evolving on the terrain of capitalism new practices of the ‘human strike’, autonomous communes, occupation and insurrection have attacked the alienations of our times. These signs of resistance are scattered and have yet to coalesce, and their future is deliberately precarious and insecure.

Bringing together voices from inside and outside of these currents Communization and Its Discontents treats communization as a problem to be explored rather than a solution. Taking in the new theorizations of communization proposed by Tiqqun and The Invisible Committee, Théorie Communiste, post-autonomists, and others, it offers critical reflections on the possibilities and the limits of these contemporary forms, strategies, and tactics of struggle. Continue reading →

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Revolutions in Reverse

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Categories: Current Publications, David Graeber

Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination
David Graeber

Capitalism as we know it appears to be coming apart. But as financial institutions stagger and crumble, there is no obvious alternative. There is good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism will no longer exist: for the simple reason that it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet. Yet faced with this prospect, the knee-jerk reaction is often to cling to what exists because they simply can’t imagine an alternative that wouldn’t be even more oppressive and destructive. The political imagination seems to have reached an impasse. Or has it?

In this collection of essays David Graeber explores a wide-ranging set of topics including political strategy, global trade, debt, imagination, violence, aesthetics, alienation, and creativity. Written in the wake of the anti-globalization movement and the rise of the war on terror, these essays survey the political landscape for signs of hope in unexpected places. Continue reading →

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Undressing the Academy

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Categories: University for Strategic Optimism

Undressing the Academy, or The Student Handjob
University of Strategic Optimism

The weary student handbook genre is in need of a belligerent mauling. This is our crack at the job. We don’t want to talk down to anyone, but neither do we want to chat them up, so this is an attempt at thinking out the university from our own perspective, that of students. Here we air our dirty snapshot of the academy, at least semi-naked, just as we come across it.

This potted guide is our pot shot at undressing and dressing down this place, the university, and understanding our place within it: its problems and potential, its power-relations and its possibilities for politicisation. It is not an outpouring of theories, more stories – a collection of experiences and practical tips, observations, suggestions and clues – a thinking (and occasional fantasizing) out loud. This is our attempt to share some of the knowledge to be gleaned in the university, but a knowledge that is rarely measured on any certificate come graduation day. Continue reading →

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Markets Not Capitalism

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Categories: Current Publications, Gary Chartier & Charles W. Johnson

Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty
Ed. Gary Chartier & Charles W. Johnson

Individualist anarchists believe in mutual exchange, not economic privilege. They believe in freed markets, not capitalism. They defend a distinctive response to the challenges of ending global capitalism and achieving social justice: eliminate the political privileges that prop up capitalists.

Massive concentrations of wealth, rigid economic hierarchies, and unsustainable modes of production are not the results of the market form, but of markets deformed and rigged by a network of state-secured controls and privileges to the business class. Markets Not Capitalism explores the gap between radically freed markets and the capitalist-controlled markets that prevail today. It explains how liberating market exchange from state capitalist privilege can abolish structural poverty, help working people take control over the conditions of their labor, and redistribute wealth and social power.

Featuring discussions of socialism, capitalism, markets, ownership, labor struggle, grassroots privatization, intellectual property, health care, racism, sexism, and environmental issues, this unique collection brings together classic essays by leading figures in the anarchist tradition, including Proudhon and Voltairine de Cleyre, and such contemporary innovators as Kevin Carson and Roderick Long. It introduces an eye-opening approach to radical social thought, rooted equally in libertarian socialism and market anarchism. Continue reading →

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