Monthly Archives: March 2009

Warm It Up Moloko-plus my little droogies – I could teach you, but I’d have to charge

mister-mayhem-415x248In another fine mess, the University of East London contributes to the escalation of madness that also saw Will Hutton foolishly pontificating against G20 protesters on the BBC two nights ago as part of a series of suits trotted out to do defensive work in anticipation of the coming protest. Lovely of the press to do this kind of warm up stuff when this kind of one-off event comes around. It adds a certain frisson.

People have asked me if I will be protesting against the G20 on April 1st, and I want to stress that I protest against them every day, and against the G50, G100 and any Gee whizz propaganda scam cooked up by the executive committee. I’ll be about of course, though I am also interested in building political outlooks and alternatives for more than a one-day carnival-cum-police training exercise in crowd containment. This 1 in 365 fractional theatre is no doubt striking, you’ve got to love these occasional stage-managed inversions of the bourgeois order, repleat with boarded up shopfronts, bankers wearing trainers, and anthropology professors outrageously suspended for giving puffed up interviews to local tabloids (its clearly mockery, viddy the picture, read the article). That said, the idea that the G20 protest might turn into a velvet revolution is intriguing, so do bring a snack for the lock down. There surely does need to be an alternative to this rotten, corrupt and unequal system – and although its going to take more than a street party on April Fools day, if we thought about it in terms of larger fractions and what is needed to win we might be getting somewhere (a party organization, overturning of class divisions, open borders, anti-racism that is more than wearing a badge, end of the arms trade, free education [hence this post's title - warm it up] and more). G20, G19, G18, G17… – how many days would it take to get all velvety? Arise comrades, another world is necessary.

In the meantime, Chris Knight needs to be re-ininstated, this sort of reaction is just mad. Again, check out the photo from the article that caused the furore – its clearly pantomime. And the ‘Guardian’s’ intrepid reporter seems to have a bit of the Will Hutton’s about him too – if you compare the ‘Evening Standard’ original article on Chris Knight – see comment one below for the text – I think you can clearly see that the process of escalation is carried out here too. Richard Rogers to the rescue. AwaY. With friends like these, who needs enemies…

Professor suspended over claims he incited G20 violence

• Interview creates trouble for anthropology expert
• Protest organiser revels in ‘perfect storm for enemies’

The G20 Meltdown protesters intend to converge on the Bank of England from four directions. Each group will march behind one of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse”.

Richard Rogers The Guardian, Friday 27 March 2009

One of the leading organisers of next Wednesday’s Financial Fools’ Day protests was last night suspended from his role as Professor of Anthropology at the University of East London, on full pay.

Chris Knight, who has been a lecturer in anthropology at the university since 1989, and professor since 2000, was informed of his suspension yesterday evening, and was told it was because of an interview he gave to a newspaper this week in which he is quoted as “inciting criminal action, specifically violence against policemen and women and damage to banking institutions”.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Knight was pictured with a placard bearing the slogan “Eat the bankers”, and quoted as saying: “If they [the police] want violence, they’ll get it”. He is also quoted by the Standard as advising bankers that on April 1 “if you’re thinking of coming in, my advice is don’t”.

Knight, along with fellow UEL anthropologist Elizabeth Power and former Liberal Democrat councillor turned activist Marina Pepper, set up the G-20meltdown.org website and began to host meetings to which they invited other green and anarchist groups.

Knight told the Guardian last night that he was doing everything possible to make sure there was no violence next week. He said he had set up the protest group with theatrical rather than violent aims.

“I’m doing everything possible to make sure that all the anger of the middle classes doesn’t turn into violence. That’s why we do all this play-acting. We’re being nice to the bankers – we’re burning them as effigies. Of course we don’t want violence. If there’s a huge ruck, the press will photograph it, and our vision about a different planet will not get reported.”

He added: “But it’s going to be hard. The message to police is ‘if you press your nuclear button, I’ll press mine’. It sounds like a threat? Well, yeah – don’t do it. If you want violence, you’ll get it.

“I know I’m in my own bubble. But in my bubble I’m predicting we’ll have a velvet revolution in the next week or so …The police, backed up by the army, will try to hold the ExCel centre. While they hold that, they will lose London. Then I think Gordon Brown will go.

“It’s a perfect storm for our enemies,” he added. “I cannot believe my luck. It’s happening 800 yards from my campus … The media are doing all our work for us.”

we are not bored, we are amazed

gates-devilArdent watchers of the Goldsmiths CCS website (get a life) will have seen that the student generated images we used to have up have been replaced by some sort of corporate gimmick-cum-hack. Possibly designed to upset us and cause controversy in some sort of twisted viral marketing scam. I’m sorry, I think its crap. I’ve written the ‘webteam':

For the CCS pages we used to have a set of student generated images appear on our website. These have been replaced by some corporate images that we do not approve. Could we please restore the images we had, and please advise us of how we can update these in due course.

We are quite amazed that anyone at Goldsmiths would think Bill Gates was a suitable representation for any part of the college, but the other images are fairly dire as well (though this last is my personal opinion – not backed up as yet by surveys and a campaign: though one could be arranged).

Your rapid attention to this would be welcome as it is causing us some embarrassment.

It has also been pointed out that Gates is the emblem of proprietary corporate software and there is insufficient support for freeware in the college. We would like to see some discussion of this on the part of IT – what is your position?

Fun huh. Did you ever read Kafka’s bank clerk correspondence – its what I aspire towards with this letter (but do not reach the heights). Yet with regard to this, there are some who do think this is a good opportunity to raise questions about IT support for Linux and other freeware. I agree, but am also concerned that we lost the good images we had before and it clearly emphasizes – despite our many moans against this – that we have no say in our representation. The default strategy is towards centralization and cretinization. I include the offending picture of gates as a cut-out-and-keep dartboard target, but also note some of the other images are appalling. Go have a look and help viral marketing do its job – pah!).

The point is that we used to provide the images – there were several great shots from students from a few years ago. So one of the main problems with this is that the images we had before by CCS students are gone and now once again we have no control over our own site. Today it would make sense to have a series of images from our publications – from the CCS nocturnal journal Nyx and from our books etc.

Its either a hack or there has been a centralized coup which must be reversed immediately. I personally have nothing against Gates, just his god awful charitable do-gooderness, his smarmy philanthropy, his rampant greed, his well-ugly fashion sense, and his vampire-like operating systems (and I do not mean windows, I mean capital).

Someone should start a facebook group to get him off site! That’ll work huh. And we are not even talking about the fine print – some sort of strange cut and paste about Hitler. If you search long enough also a swastika juxtaposed with the logo of IBM circa 1924 (about when William Burroughs dad had sold his shares in the company).

So I should also say: if this is indeed a ‘clever’ hack, or what for Goldsmiths art-types passes for a ‘political’ intervention, well more power to you. But go spend your time hacking the G20 Govt site, or the UK Border Agency Education devolvement plan (where we are to be asked to be the front line of the immigration crackdown). Double pah!

Update 27.3.09: Not a hack but Graham’s intended conversation starter. The criticisms stand though, having swastikas above our heads is offensive in the extreme.

Update 28.3.09: So thanks to Lisa, the webteam’s Tanith McCrindle has taken two of the images down: the Gates/Hitler text one and the IBM/swastika one (I am not contesting the validity of the intended critique of IBM or Gates, just its effectiveness in the context and the unintended juxtapositions it thereby achieved with staff photos smack underneath swastikas etc). I’m pleased these are gone but still pretty pissed I/we have no immediate control over what juxtapositions appear over my/our name/s and that I got calls from family, emails from college staff and questions from prospective students about this. It has only been, I think, a mildly damaging exercise for CCS – but its certainly not our most glorious chapter. That said, I agree the old images needed work, and also think Darren is right to ask, as he does in the comments below, ‘what happened to the new images that he and other students submitted for the CCS site just a few months ago, following a public solicitation from the department?’.

The Long Division of Labour

Seminar: ‘The Long Division of Labour: Storytelling, Trinketization and Machines’

Date(s): Weds 18 March 2009
Time: 16:00 – 18:00
Location: School Seminar Series
Room FB 4.08
The Francis Bancroft Building
Queen Mary, University of London
Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
speaker: Professor John Hutnyk, Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the politics of the new Asian dance music

Reposted from Dark Matter.

by Sanjay Sharma • 8 Mar 09 •

dis-orient
Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the politics of the new Asian dance music (1996, Zed books), edited by Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ash Sharma.

This book writes back the presence of South Asian youth into a rapidly expanding and exuberant music scene; and celebrates this as a dynamic expression of the experience of diaspora with an urgent political consciousness. One of the first attempts to situate such production within the study of race and identity, it uncovers the crucial role that South Asian dance musics – from Hip-hop, Qawwali and Bhangra through Soul, Indie and Jungle – have played in a new urban cultural politics …” (Back cover)

To celebrate the landmark edited collection being published over a decade ago, the whole text and individual chapters are available to download as searchable pdf files.

Note: Please be patient while the pdf files download (whole text will take a few minutes).

Dis-Orienting Rhythms – whole text (higher quality, 23MB):
Dis-Orienting Rhythms – whole text (lower quality, 11MB):

Individual Chapters (higher quality):

  • Introduction – Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma
  1. Sounds Oriental: The (Im)possibility of Theorizing Asian Musical Cultures – Ashwani Sharma
  2. Noisy Asians or ‘Asian Noise’? – Sanjay Sharma
  3. Asian Kool? Bhangra & Beyond – Rupa Huq
  4. Remixing Identities: ‘Off’ the Turntable – Shirin Housee & Mukhtar Dar
  5. Psyche and Soul: A View from the ‘South’ – Koushik Banerjea & Partha Banerjea
  6. Re-Sounding (Anti)Racism, or Concordant Politics? - Virinder S. Kalra, John Hutnyk & Sanjay Sharma
  7. Repetitive Beatings or Criminal Justice? – John Hutnyk
  8. Versioning Terror: Jallianwala Bagh & the Jungle – Koushik Banerjea & Jatinder Barn
  9. New Paths for South Asian Identity & Musical Creativity – Raminder Kaur & Virinder S. Kalra

The Very Idea of Communism.

draftprog-2tI am posting here this Open Letter from Raymond Lotta of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA to the attendees of the upcoming Birkbeck ‘On the Idea of Communism’ conference (see here) because I really like the critique implied in the phrase ‘back to the 18th century’ thinking. I can of course understand why the comm-fest programme could not be changed late in the day to accommodate BoB-thought. I mean, even Jean Luc Nancy seems to not have a formal place: in the program he just seems to be ‘in attendance’ – I hope he gets a chair to sit on, or maybe he has his own TV show and will do a roving reporter thing?? People have complained that its too expensive – 100 quid for a spot in a 900 seat hall, you do the math – but I think its a bargain just to be able to hear all these pundits, and to see letters like this appear as well. If we could just knock over a few of the big banks… [oops, the boards of directors of the banks already did that for themselves - 1.5 million a year ain't a bad salary - gnnng]

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SPEAKERS OF THE “IDEA OF COMMUNISM” CONFERENCE AT BIRKBECK COLLEGE, MARCH

13-15 Dear Colleagues, The convocation of an international conference on the Idea of Communism is certainly salutary.

The world cries out for revolution. It would only make sense that Bob Avakian’s new synthesis be part of a major discussion of the idea of communism. But thus far, a presentation about this new synthesis has been unacceptably excluded from the program of the conference.

Communism is at a crossroads.

In the face of the reversals of the revolutions in the Soviet Union and China, we have seen a range of political-ideological responses that tend to fall into three broad currents:

First, there are those who religiously cling to the experience and theory of the first wave of socialist revolution of the 20th century—not summing up problems and shortcomings, not moving forward, but circling the wagons.

Second, there are those who ignore or dismiss real scientific analysis of the contradictions of the socialist transition. They look for inspiration and orientation even further back into the past–to the 18th century and the proclaimed democratic and egalitarian ideals and social models of the bourgeois epoch. One has to ask what it signifies that at a conference ostensibly addressing the “idea of communism,” Rousseau, Kant, and Jefferson are defining reference points. Where does that take you in the world, and didn’t Marx (and Marxism) effect a rupture with all that already? The only difference is that now this is being labeled communism.

Third, there is what Bob Avakian has been doing. He is not only the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which has its sights set on the revolutionary seizure of power and the radical transformation of society, but also a visionary theorist. He has been acting on the understanding that communist revolution is the only way out of this madness and horror, and taking up the challenge of forging the path forward and further developing Marxism as a living and critical revolutionary science–so that communists are indeed a vanguard of the future, not a residue of the past. This involves a more scientific and visionary sense of communism, a reenvisioned model of socialist society and exercise of leadership, and related issues of epistemology and ethics.

For Avakian, there is both continuity with the first wave of socialist revolution in the 20th century, whose high water mark was the Cultural Revolution, and rupture with wrong conceptions and methodology. This includes continuation of Mao’s ruptures with Stalin but also, in some respects, rupture beyond the ways that Mao himself was influenced, though secondarily, by the dominant mode of thinking within the communist movement under the leadership of Stalin. Avakian’s writings and talks can be accessed at BobAvakian.net.

Given that the Idea of Communism conference is very much within this “back to the 18th century” framework, it would be highly important that a presentation representing Bob Avakian’s new synthesis be heard at this conference. It would also be highly important that other theorizations be interrogated and contested from this standpoint.

Again, the world cries out for revolution and the emancipation of humanity. What is the actual content of communism? What is the necessary theoretical framework for going forward? It is in this spirit of gaining clarity that I call on the conference organizers to include a talk on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis as part the formal program. I would be quite willing to give such a presentation. I also call on speakers and participants to bring their influence to bear.

For a new world,

Raymond Lotta

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