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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Drawing on the work of Guy Debord, Gilman-Opalsky argues that the theory of practice and practice of theory are superseded by upheavals that do the work of philosophy.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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San Precario Network Screening + Discussion

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Categories: Events

San Precario Network Screening + Discussion
December 5th at 7PM
16 Beaver Street 4th floor, New York

Over the past fifteen years the idea of precarity has emerged as a key area of social conflict and political organizing. But what is precarity, and what does a focus on it mean for political organizing and social movements? Come join us for an evening of discussion with members of the San Precario network on the politics of precarious labor and what they could mean for US based movements and campaigns.

The San Precario network is an Italian group of activists, collectives, social centers and workers that is one of the main organizers of the Milan EuroMayDay Parade. They will be presenting materials from their campaigns and work. Continue reading →

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New Lines of Alliance, New Spaces of Liberty

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Categories: Antonio Negri, Current Publications, Félix Guattari

New Lines of Alliance, New Spaces of Liberty
by Félix Guattari & Antonio Negri

“The project: to rescue ‘communism’ from its own disrepute. Once invoked as the liberation of work through mankind’s collective creation, communism has instead stifled humanity. We who see in communism the liberation of both collective and individual possibilities must reverse that regimentation of thought and desire which terminates the individual….”

Thus begins the extraordinary collaboration between Félix Guattari and Antonio Negri, written at dawn of the 1980s, in the wake of the crushing of the autonomous movements of the previous decade. Setting out Guattari and Negri diagnose with incisive prescience transformations of the global economy and theorize new forms of alliance and organization: mutant machines of subjectivation and social movement.

Prefiguring his collaboration with Michael Hardt, Negri and Guattari enact a singular hybridization of political and philosophical traditions, brining together psychiatry, political analysis, semiotics, aesthetics, and philosophy. Against the workings of an increasingly integrated world capitalism, they raise the banners of singularity, autonomy, and freedom to search out new routes for subversion. Continue reading →

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Curating Resistance :: Aesthetics & Ethics in Social Movement

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Categories: Events

Curating Resistance :: Aesthetics & Ethics in Social Movement
:: October 25th, 2010:: University of Essex ::
:: Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall Seminar Room :: 1PM – 5PM ::

Participants: Paul Halliday (Goldsmiths) // Antigoni Memou (University of East London) // Matthew Poole (Essex) // Stefanie Tan (Glasgow)

Abstracts for the seminar are available here.

Avant-garde and social movement art production has long had a troubled and conflictual relationship with the museum and the archive. The call to abandon the gallery as a space for art separated from everyday life, one that all too often neutralizes the antagonistic energies of radical art, reverberates from Dada through Fluxus, the Surrealists to Reclaim the Streets. But in today’s post-Fordist creativity-fueled economy, the call to end this division rings hollow precisely because it has already been accomplished: the energies of insurgent creativity are rendered into forms of dispersed production for the net economy. The surrealist invocation of the marvelous is today’s advertising copy. Joseph Beuys’ proclamation that “everyone is an artist” has been realized in perverse form as “everyone is a worker,” where relationality is ‘socially sculpted’ through the circuits of an always present network culture as opportunities for capitalist valorization: all YouWork and MyProfit.

What might there be that could avoid these tensions and contradictions, or at least begin to suggest ways to work through and against them? Where does one go when life itself is both a direct producer of value and the substance of artistic production? To a gallery of the streets? Or maybe a university of trash? Is the archive of the undercommons a pile of zines sitting at the back of the infoshop? A pile of fleshy tissue inscribed on by a Kafka-esque writing machine? Perhaps it is all and none of these things. Thus we return to the question of the archive and history not to catalog social movement artistic production for a gallery-morgue or the productivity of the metropolitan factory, but rather to consider what an ethics and aesthetics of developing a living archive of experience and knowledges that can feed back into and through the fabric of everyday life might be. Continue reading →

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