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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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Six Impossible Politics Before Breakfast

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Categories: Events, Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

Six Impossible Politics Before Breakfast: A Discussion on Art & Politics in an Age of Austerity
Wednesday July 6, 7:30 PM @ Post-Museum 107+109 Rowell Road S209033

‘Be realistic, demand the impossible’ is one of the most famous slogans to come out of the May 1968 student movement. It marked a shift away from a politics of pragmatism, away from already existing institutional and political forms, and towards a demand for giving power to the imagination.

Over the last forty years later the situation is both radically different and strangely the same: the impossible is still demanded, but this time it is demanded of us. Immense efforts are mobilized to stabilize capital (bailing out the banks), while declarations of austerity are used to justify cuts to social welfare, pensions, and virtually any forms of public good that still exists. Perhaps the slogan for today should be something more like ‘be impossible, demand the realistic’ – but even this would a ‘realism’ where the horizon of possibility seems to have shrank. Continue reading →

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Spectacular Capitalism

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Categories: Current Publications, Richard Gilman-Opalsky

Spectacular Capitalism: Guy Debord and the Practice of Radical Philosophy
by Richard Gilman-Opalsky

Despite recent crises in the financial system, uprisings in Greece, France, Tunisia, and Bolivia, worldwide decline of faith in neoliberal trade policies, deepening ecological catastrophes, and global deficits of realized democracy, we still live in an era of “spectacular capitalism.” But what is “spectacular capitalism?” Spectacular capitalism is the dominant mythology of capitalism that disguises its internal logic and denies the macroeconomic reality of the actually existing capitalist world. Taking on this elusive mythology, and those who too easily accept it, Richard Gilman-Opalsky exposes the manipulative and self-serving narrative of spectacular capitalism.

Drawing on the work of Guy Debord, Gilman-Opalsky argues that the theory of practice and practice of theory are superseded by upheavals that do the work of philosophy. One could ask: Who better raises questions about public and private spheres of influence and control, Jürgen Habermas or the water war activists who made a rebellion in Cochabamba, Bolivia in the spring of 2000? Or, has any sociological theorist done better than the Zapatistas to reframe and raise questions about indigenous identity? Spectacular Capitalism makes the case not only for a new philosophy of praxis, but for praxis itself as the delivery mechanism for philosophy – for the field of human action, of contestation and conflict, to raise directly the most irresistible questions about the truth and morality of the existing state of affairs. Continue reading →

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A Users Guide to (Demanding) the Impossible

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Categories: Current Publications, Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

A Users Guide to Demanding the Impossible
by the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination

This guide is not a road map or instruction manual. It’s a match struck in the dark, a homemade multi-tool to help you carve out your own path through the ruins of the present, warmed by the stories and strategies of those who took Bertolt Brecht’s words to heart: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

It was written in a whirlwind of three days in December 2010, between the first and second days of action by UK students against the government cuts, and intended to reflect on the possibility of new creative forms of action in the current movements. Continue reading →

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Reconsidering Commodities & Markets

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Categories: Events

Seminar: Reconsidering Commodities & Markets
Wednesday May 4th, 2011 @ 1pm
University of Essex Room 3.108

Seminar presentations by: Cecelia Cassinger (Essex), Emma Dowling (Queen Mary), Stephen Duncombe (NYU), George Tsogas (Cass)

What would commodities say if they could speak? Marx’s question can seem playful in some registers. And yet, objects voice themselves not only through our playful – or rueful – gaze.  If Marx had listened long enough, these talking commodities would have announced the traumas of their exploitative and violent birthing to him. Likewise the rise of consumer culture, the proliferation and intensification of the commodification, can be understood as the expansion of the violence of accumulation all across the social field. Today the critique and denunciation of these forces have become yet another commodity in the spectacle; something we witness today in the backlash against banks, bankers and speculators and all the glorified preening of capitalist consumption they stand for. Is this trend, then, the ‘new spirit of capitalism’? Continue reading →

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New Lines of Alliance, New Spaces of Occupation

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Categories: Events

New Lines of Alliance, New Spaces of Occupation
May 30, 2011, 7PM @ xero, kline, & coma 
258 Hackney Road London E2 7SJ

At the dawn of the 1980s, in the wake of the defeat of the autonomous movements of the 1970s, Félix Guattari and Antonio Negri embarked on an extraordinary collaboration to rescue communism from its own disrepute: to rethink categories of economic analysis and political organization. Today we find ourselves in a situation where such a rethinking is needed more than ever.

From anti-austerity struggles and university occupation movements to the circulations of the Arab spring and the revolts of Wisconsin and Greece: what new lines of alliance and spaces of liberty might be emerging within the present? How can we move from the occupation of a particular space (whether the university or the factory) to a general occupation of the social factory, to reclaiming the collective wealth of social imagination and time for life? Continue reading →

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The Occupation Cookbook

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Categories: Current Publications

The Occupation Cookbook
or the Model of the Occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb

Introduction by Marc Bousquet
Translated from the Croatian by Drago Markisa

The Occupation Cookbook is a “manual” that describes the organization of the student occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences that took place in the spring of 2009 and lasted for 35 days. It was written for two reasons: to record what happened, and to present the particular organization of this action in such a way that it may be of use to other activists and members of various collectives if they decide to undertake a similar action. Continue reading →

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I’m so broke I can’t even pay attention

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Categories: Events

I’m so broke I can’t even pay attention: Rethinking Social Wealth In & Against Times of Austerity
March 27th, 2011, 1PM @ The Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago

Tom Waits once quipped that he was so broke that he couldn’t even pay attention. While Waits is not typically thought of as a theorist of crisis, in a strangely prescient way this describes condition of economic and social crisis that we live through today. It gestures not only to the apparent lack of financial resources used to justify the imposition of austerity measures, but also corresponding a lack of time, affect, and care. We find ourselves not only struggling to keep up with bills, debt, rents, and work – but the intensification of these dynamics leaves us with less time and energy for relating as social beings rather than economic agents. Thus a financial crisis becomes an economic crisis, and then a crisis affecting the very fabric of social relations.

Economic and social crises are not only moments of rupture, upheavals in daily life, but also moments that clarify what is truly important. For economic elites this means reinstating forms of class power that had been held in check, but from a different perspective or it represents a reclaiming of enclosed resources and commons. It is to declare, as the slogan goes “We won’t pay for your crisis.” But in confronting the declaration that we live in times of austerity, it is not enough to simply denounce them (as important that is), but also to rethink what is important. Continue reading →

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