Monthly Archives: June 2014

Lincoln Emery Alpern – says come to the 2014 Marx Trot (in this teaser from last year) #marx #london

Marx Trot 2014

Marx Trot IS on sunday 13 July, starts at 2.30 archway tube…

A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on Sunday 13 July. All welcome. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

Thomas Mouat Tate at The Basin Football Club 1968-1977

honor-board2

Marx Trot 2014

Marx Trot on sunday 13 July, starts at 2.30 archway tube…

Mshelfie

A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on Sunday 13 July. All welcome. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag - and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (possibly in a footba-oriented venue). The early part of our route involves considerable walking - on the heath - kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented - well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt - gespenst-like - in Soho. Mostly harmless, but its cup final night]

Previous trots = http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/marx-trot-this-sunday-2-30-archway-tube-2/ and http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/and here: http://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

Dancing the first international! http://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.co.uk/2009_10_01_archive.html

A pub crawl with Karl http://www.mytimemachine.co.uk/pubcrawl.htm

Trinketization

gvgTrinketization’s empty grandeur, its insistently vacant abundance, the warm hollow stare of a fickle devotion.

Forensis: The Architecture of Public Truth.

An impressive fat volume from the Centre for Research Architecture. Available here

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Counter-Mapping Universities

Good to see Ex-Zeppelin and new Hamburg students take up the QM Counter Map:

From the QM collective interview:

What has been the reception to this project, as best you can tell. Have there been unexpected or unintended responses? Has it inspired kindred projects/mobilizations?
The reception has been good, and quite diverse. Some people like the map, some the game, and people stress different aspects of both. In general people really appreciate the fact that it looks very different from most activist and political material. A staff member at Queen Mary in the International Student Admissions Office asked for copies to help her explain to her British colleagues the issues faced by many international students. A presentation to a group of professors highlighted how little our own lecturers knew about the difficulties faced by their own international students.

The game has worked very well as a tool that forces people to discuss their own and others’ experiences of education and border crossings. We specifically designed it as a relational device to get the players to share their experiences and frustrations, and to imagine alternatives. The colourfulness and playfulness of the map has brightened up many a grey bureaucratic political meeting, and inspired others to invent similar tools of mapping, acting and organising in relation to other institutions. We’ve had requests for people to use our InDesign files for making their own maps (the ‘code’ of the map is open and free), and given workshops to other groups making their own maps of the university.

Meeting tomorrow morning (22nd) near Hamburg hafen:

During this meeting we will be focusing on counter mapping using a map project that John Hutnyk presented to us developed by Queen Mary University PhD students a couple of years ago. He has recommended us the following ‘literature’, which we would kindly ask you to prepare for Sunday in case you are interested in taking part.

1) http://lateral.culturalstudiesassociation.org/issue1/content/countermapping.html

2) http://classwaru.org/2012/06/24/mapping-shared-imaginaries-for-anti-capitalist-movements-an-interview-with-tim-stallman-of-the-counter-cartographies-collective/

3) http://www.countercartographies.org/downloads/?dl_cat=2

Afterwards we are planning a small walk through the Hamburg Hafen with the focus on ‘contested spaces’ in order to link the breakfast session with Hamburg.

Originary accumulation Cap vol 1 page 752. LandW edn

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And crib notes for the class:

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Billboard wars UK.

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Fast Forward 2014: Demanding the Future

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FFW2014 is a weekend of discussions, plenaries, workshops, walking, climbing and socialising. We hope FFW2014 will contribute to building new relationships, new ideas, new energies and new strategies that help equip us to enact the future.

The central theme of the event is “Demanding the Future?”: We’ll be inquiring into what it means, and what it could mean, to make demands. Who makes them, and who are they aimed at? Can demands help us build our counter-power? What do they achieve? Can demands – possible and impossible – move us beyond a simplistic revolution/reform debate? The format for these discussions will be small group based facilitated discussions which will allow for lots of participation and engagement.

Alongside these core discussions on demands there will be focus sessions on particular topics and issues. There will be space alongside these focus group sessions to organise your own workshops, relax with friends new and old or simply to enjoy the brilliant location on our walking or climbing trips. In the evenings we are planning larger plenary events. We will be running a bar at the hostel and are hoping to arrange evening entertainment.

The full event programme will be released later in the Summer.
When? FFW2014 will take place between 12 pm (noon) on Friday 12th until 5pm on Sunday 14th September.

Where? FFW2014 will be taking over the whole of the YHA Edale in the heart of the Peak District: http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/edale

How do I get there? The YHA is a beautiful 30min walk from Edale Station, which is on the Sheffield-Manchester line (http://tinyurl.com/ksc79nv). There will also be a shuttle bus running from the station. There is some, but limited, car parking available at the venue.

Accommodation? All will have beds! Accommodation is in bunk rooms. There will be family rooms for those with children. We are also committed to providing women-only
accommodation. Some accommodation is step-free. You can tell us your needs on the ticket form.

Food? Drink? The event is fully catered with very nice food, and the cost is included in your ticket price. There will be a (cheap) bar.

Childcare? We are committed to providing appropriate and safe childcare which suits participants. We are also planning/asking for suggestions for activities in the day which all the children and young people who attend. There is space on the ticket application form to tell us what you need.

Cost? Tickets (all-in) are either (subsidised) £25, (cost) £50, or (solidarity) £75. We have adopted a three -tier ticketing system so that we won’t exclude anyone from participating for financial reasons.Please get in contact with us if you have other requirements.

What do I do now? – Click the image to go to Plan C and book.

If you have any other questions, please email festival@weareplanc.org. Hope to see you there!

Anthropology and the War Machine, winning.

It seems very wrong to classify this ‘jobs.ac.uk’ post under ‘social care':

Anthropologist
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – Behavioural and Cultural Systems Team
Location: Fareham, Portsmouth
Salary: £23,500 to £33,500
Hours: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Placed on: 13th June 2014
Closes: 18th July 2014
Job Ref: 1415972
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies and sometimes other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

This is a genuinely involving, unusual and rewarding anthropology role – it’s an opportunity to apply your expertise to inform the way the UK responds to security and defence threats.

You will be joining the Behavioural and Cultural Systems team within Dstl’s Strategic Analysis Group, a 50 strong group of specialists drawn from diverse backgrounds such as psychology, theology, war studies and law. Anthropology is an important element in the mix, as the UK’s ability to tackle future challenges depends on in-depth, accurate insight into populations and societies.

You will be supporting analysis at strategic and operational level, by drawing on a wide range of established and emergent human and social science theories. Your analysis, assessment and advice will be crucial to aiding our understanding of individuals, groups and organisational systems – relating to a wide range of social and cultural issues confronting Her Majesty’s Government. Ultimately, your contribution can help shape and influence government policy and UK Armed Forces operations.

It’s essential that you have an Honours degree in Anthropology or a related subject, and membership of a relevant professional body.

You need a proven record of using a variety of structured social science analysis / research methods to support decision making, together with practical experience of applying Anthropological principles in problem-sets.

You will be a customer-focused researcher who works well both independently and collaboratively.

An understanding of UK defence and security environments or experience of analysis on counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism is an advantage.

Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across the government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies … even other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

In return for playing your part in the UK’s defence and security, we offer extensive benefits that include everything from a pension and generous leave, to excellent learning and development opportunities – all in addition to a competitive salary. Our sites are equipped with gyms and restaurants. But it’s not just your working environment that we’ve thought about. Your home life is important too, which is why we offer childcare vouchers, a flexible work-life balance and even discounts on everything from bus tickets to the cost of a new bicycle. In short, we’ve done our best to ensure that our rewards reflect your talents.

To find out more about this role and the work of Dstl, please go to Civil Service Jobs https://jobsstatic.civilservice.gov.uk/csjobs.html/ and search for the vacancy reference 1415972. Follow the instructions to apply.

Due to the reserved nature of this role, it is only open to UK Nationals who have lived in this country for more than five years. All posts require standard Security Clearance (SC).

Closing date: 18 July 2014.

The Rumour of Calcutta

Really pleased that The Rumour of Calcutta is available again, and now with those soft buttery covers that I’d wanted when it was first published way back in 1996.

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Key ring terror distractor trinket

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Tucked in a side street in London Bridge today, a police stand handing out devices which I suspect.

I suspect an effort to distract from this evening’s BBCLondon report that Scotland Yard’s heavily redacted Operation Tiberius investigation covers up the exposure of 42 senior cops (and 19 former cops) for close links with drug crime and contract killings.

It is our duty, we are told: if you suspect it, report it.

J’suspect!

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On offer: this little show-bag of stuff from the dodgy non-uniform suits who refused to be photographed. I guess the key ring for terror is handy because I so want to be carrying that number around with me as a permanent anxiety reminder. That it came in what seems to be a used gram bag may only be coincidentally linked with the – let me repeat – exposure today that 42 members of the senior police were well paid crime syndicate stooges – as revealed in documents from Operation Tiberius previously heavily redacted by Scotland Yard but exposed tonight by BBCLondon.

The pen speaks for itself, was it previously used to sign payola cheques perhaps? I suspect it, so I report it.

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And this one just really is the perfect Fathers Day Trinket, no?

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FFS, I say, for fucks sake. Get these people a water cannon as soon as possible. Anyone need a news item to distract from the – did I mention – massive exposure of senior cops linked to crime syndicates?

Trinketization as damage control.

That new-ish mancy lefty writery group broadside text is now up on the AMM site, with AMM intro citing NXRB. A welcome provocation.

AMM Introduction

The AMM has been tagged as ‘anti-academic’, a stigma we wear with pride. However, that doesn’t mean we ignore how academic fads and fashions influence the world. So we applaud the advent of the Manchester Left Writers who – in their first ‘broadside’ – attack “symptoms of bad writing operating across contemporary ‘left’ academic discourse … because we feel that it needs to be rescued from itself”. This is an entirely necessary project. What we like about the MLW is that, though they are concerned with the degeneration of language and concepts in the postmodern humanities, their world is not defined by striking poses within that milieu. They are not aspirant alt.superstars vying for attention in the vile metropolitan limelight, but conscientious “autodidacts, libertarians and nonconformists“ as Liverpool AMMer Luke Staunton put it in a recent post (Derek Bailey: “free improvisation is better in the provinces”) . One of the MLW’s number, Robert Galeta, is actually from Bradford, but bothers to cross the Pennines to attend MLW meetings (metropolitan internationalism is a cinch; for a Yorkshireman to penetrate Lancashire takes REAL GUTS). Galeta is sufficiently unfazed by postmodern crapola to notice that Esther Leslie’s Derelicts “generously brings the Academy out through its doors” (New Cross Review of Books). That’s exactly why we published it: great reading material for precisely anyone. All hail MLW! May you flourish and prosper. THIS is how to rebuild the Left.

__________________

Manchester Left Writers on the State of Scripts

We want to provide a picture of what is wrong with ‘radical’ or ‘left wing’ academic writing, because we feel that it needs to be rescued from itself. What we have identified collectively are elements of ‘scripts’ that we fall back on when we are not utilising the full potential of our resources in the here and now. Scripts are all resources from the past. Scripts are always half bad style and bad meaning, ruts of lazy thinking which have congealed into dead literary-academic modes.

‘The left’ needs to reoccupy the present and future, actually, physically, and politically, but to do this we need to recalibrate writing so that it is symbolically fit for the scale of the task. This is the first utopian step. ‘Utopia’ is the unwritten no-place we have to move towards, but to do that we have to identify as many of the elements of the bad scripts as possible, the lazy, default modes of writing.

Otherwise, how can we write this no-place, how will we inscribe it with all the changes we desperately need? Scripts only allow us to produce something because the ego needs gratification. Scripts are not about exploring the representation and politics of life in 2014, in a new, risky or tentative way, because what is being produced has not yet been tried, and so is a little frightening. Scripts are about making ego-capital.

We wondered if we might get these reflections on scripts published in a ‘radical’ journal or philosophy magazine, but decided that most of them are probably far too enslaved by the lazy mental habits being described below. We are cynical about work being produced by a washed-up, London-centric, mediocre middle-class ‘autonomist’ scene. To get us started, here are some elements of bad academic scripts that we have identified, strung together as a loose narrative:

1. The Sanctimonious Style: a classic discourse of ‘traditional intellectuals’. An academic star system breeds noblesse oblige: ‘Here I am, fulfilling my “progressive” duties’, but in a self-indulgent windbag fashion, bound up with position and status. In fact, the tone of this script is produced by status, and a life essentially spent on a reservation. Ironically, this script is often replicated by admirers without that power. We can perhaps add to this the ‘Left Worthy’, where writers start to designate ‘the good socialist’. When this happens, be sure that all thinking has stopped. Some elements of this script reveal its emptiness, including…

2. The Tenuous Theoretical Inversion: ‘Aha! But is that the case? If we turn Habermas’s notion inside-out we get…’ not very much, usually. Inverting the ‘notions’ of others usually means that you have few of your own left.

3. The Abstract Expression: This has a long pre-history in leaden macro-Marxism, where everything is covered in ash, as thick curtains of theoretical fog obscure everything. We can include in this the excesses of Frankfurt School ‘totalizing’, and macro ‘up in the clouds’ views of vast swathes of countries and cultures. This leaves us with…

4. Opacity: The residual afterglow of texts that are meant to be complex, compressed, portentous, poetic or ‘deep’, but are actually just opaque. Some of us think that Calvino’s Invisible Cities falls into this category for much of the time, and is so celebrated that people shy away from describing it as such. We will add to this…

5. The Spurious Psychogeography: Accounts of vague wandering, accompanied by photographs of fetishised, aesthetic urban ruins, pierced by striking solipsistic outbursts, emptied of all politics.

6. The Foucauldian Cauldron and Deleuzian Eel Barrel: Power is everywhere and therefore nowhere, it is ‘between’. Everyone is oppressor and oppressed at the same time. This is correct in many ways, but nobody in this murky soup is ever prepared to identify ‘the enemy’, because nobody in it can actually see one. There is a related, but opposite risk here, in writing which posits all identities as ‘spectral’ on ‘our side’, yet ‘over there’ is a big slab of oppression called Capitalism, The Patriarchy, et cetera. These ‘slabs’ of oppression derive in part from Foucauldian and Althusserian anti-humanism. It was once said that Foucauldian theory is a giant ‘spider web without a spider’. If we’re just bearers of the structure, points of intersection, then the spectral spider becomes an abstract oppression, rather than something human beings do to each other (and some more than others). We need to identify the spider and pull its legs off. Then Deleuze arrived, and everything is unstitched, in a state of permanent exodus or ‘becoming’, nothing is one thing, everything is between states, or ‘problematic’ if it isn’t.

7. Kine-spew: Swallow a mix of pulped texts by Lacan and Deleuze. Find a film, cut it open, vomit in it. Type up the results and then publish it in a citation index journal. We can add to this…

8. The Pop Confection: Apply a random mix of theorists to an obscure corner of popular culture to simply describe it through the theory, in order to then have something to submit to a journal. I like this band or film or novel, and I like this theory, so even though there is no direct historical link between them, I’m going to mash them together and say that the cultural text conveniently reflects the ‘radical’ features of the theory. This is fandom writing itself into ‘academia’, the creation of product by re-describing other products. It is postmodern pick ‘n’ mix, which could only happen in better times. The recession claimed Woolworths.

9. Binaries, 010101: This is especially prevalent in subcultural circles of ‘third wave’ feminist and queer theory. The lived realities of oppression are seen through an abstraction that has taken binaries for reality. It would be bad enough if philosophical idealism was the only problem here: but it is not, the theory itself is also faulty. Distinctions are not necessarily ‘binary’. The dominant works in different, often contradictory ways. There are endless ‘radical’ propositions that exclaim ‘A-ha! this bit of the world undermines the binaries, which I’m assuming structure everything, so it must be radical!’ Suddenly, the world as described becomes a seething hotbed of queerness, and we can all relax and pat ourselves on the back. This goes some way to explaining the inane cultural populist radicalism of claiming that Lady Gaga is going to bring down Capitalism and The Patriarchy, or more to the point that she represents it apparently falling apart of its own accord.

10. The Trouble With Normal: The helpless confusion between a liberating left politics, which needs to posit desirable norms different to those we have, and countercultural transgression, which sees all norms as oppressive. ‘Radical’, ‘progressive’, ‘queer’, et cetera: there’s a total and convenient lack of specificity as to the political co-ordinates of the positions signified by the above countercultural confetti. Norm-bending becomes ‘radical’, and not just in what gets analysed by ‘left’ academics, but in their own writing. Every new book is about ‘radical’, shaken-up ways of doing theory. This starts to look a lot like the search for novelty in the capitalist marketplace.

11. The Affect Alibi: A trendy and vague contemporary script, which is yet another mirror of the personalisation of everything, and therefore the Americanisation of everything. It has become acceptable to form a worldview based only on your own immediate experience under the alibi of ‘affect’. This is a reactionary rebound from the theoretical weakness of ashen anti-humanism, heading straight back into romanticism, with its ‘immediacy’. We must add solipsistic forms of ‘experimental’ auto-ethnography to this. The deepest problem here is the utter confusion of ‘standpoint epistemology’, or so-called ‘strong objectivity’.

12. Undiplomatic Immunity: Smearing someone as transphobic, misogynist, or racist because their intellectual framework isn’t the same as yours doesn’t mean that you don’t have to engage with them, yet it’s a convenient way to shut down debate. David Harvey is often the victim of this kind of thing in the written ‘scripts’ we discuss, but it goes on at an everyday level too. It is the lurking, residual blunt instrument of 1980s identity politics, something supposedly abandoned in these more theoretically supple times. It is nevertheless a handy auxiliary club to beat people up with when they disagree with your work. If writers place themselves outside criticism nobody wins, but the writer is probably the worst loser of all, drifting off, unchecked. With well-known writers, this process is facilitated as much by their fans as the writers themselves. And they are ‘fans’. As you can see, the creation of ‘scripts’ involves both the consumers and producers of texts.

13. Don’t talk to us about Post-: Postmodernity and Poststructuralism were blind alleys. Poststructuralism has been extremely successful at becoming an authoritative discourse, rendering all other discourses relative and shaky, simply by saying that all other discourses are relative and shaky. Why? Because no-one explicitly talks about it as ‘current’ anymore. Its assumptions are now hegemonic, naturalised, taken for granted.

These are just a few examples of the scripts we have been discussing, at meetings and across them. Scripts are partly dead styles, and partly what some anthropologists have called ‘epistemological hypochondria’, sick philosophies. We are not saying that we can escape the historical repertoires of left discourses completely, nor should we try to. But we need to very carefully select resources from the past. Particularly script styles, because they frame so much, so subtly. All scripts need to strongly justify their direct relevance to the present as a resource now. If this is unclear, we should probably try to create differently.

We felt ourselves being pulled into a script when we caught ourselves thinking, out of nowhere, that we needed a ten-point manifesto, we do not. However, we also admit that this piece was written in a ‘mode’, a kind of script, because of course it is a satire, and therefore it reduces and ridicules in order to make its points. The broadside pamphlet also has a long history. But we think that these scripts have been carefully selected, because the one thing ‘the left’ and ‘radical’ academic writing is clearly in need of right now is sending-up. It also uses a cartoon version of the aphoristic style in its epistemological rubbishing, a little like Adorno in Minima Moralia, a wonderful work that is also opaque in places.

So you see, script problems aren’t always total. We admit that we are playing devil’s advocate in order to diagnose. We all seemed to be in agreement that Zizek’s book on film and Lacan, Looking Awry, was good, but it’s often what happens to these resources when they become lazy paths to nowhere that concerns us, and it concerns us as a group of writers. These are representational questions. It isn’t always the fault of Marx, Foucault and Deleuze, it’s what does or doesn’t get done in their names, although sometimes, the theory is simply faulty.

There’s an urgent, current need to start creating a new kind of attack in political writing. These bad scripts function, like any cliché, to block new associations and thoughts. ‘Critical theory’ which uses Marxist or other premises without any sincere interest or belief in social change, has become orthodoxy in many universities. What use is the obscurantist prose, the demand to go back and read some dead 19th century saint, or do closer research, or ‘problematise’ some incoherent juxtaposition of popular culture and some mishandled linguistic or juridical concept? It all actually seems to prevent people from engaging in politics. It polices knowledge, the right and wrong way to think, it doesn’t necessarily produce knowledge, particularly when its peddlers are professors or senior lecturers.

We need to make completely explicit the fact that these scripts are hegemonic within ‘left’ academia. Unquestioned. They are doxa. Meaning is so much assumed that thought stops, despite the constant claims that everything is being ‘re-thought’, a claim that has also become hegemonic. These terms are being used with only a vague, general sense of what they might mean. Writers simply cast the same scripted spells on everything they encounter, producing the same results every time, yet expecting something different to happen.

There is much more work to do here, and the biggest script myth of all is perhaps that of the ‘left’ and ‘right’ itself. This co-ordinate version of politics is often so much fairy dust, the geographical-spatial metaphor designating the places where the people wear white and black hats, and it is created and maintained by language. At the same time, this does not mean that we are ‘post-Marxists’, what we need to do is redefine the use of our terms to better fit where we are historically, and always be specific.

These scripts are magical acts, and the field we are critiquing is occult: In the 17th century, as alchemy became chemistry, much time and energy was spent in the blind alley of trying to isolate ‘phlogiston’, a supposedly elemental substance that causes things to burn. That’s what we’re stuck in, a massive waste of energy, analysis hamstrung by bad theory, a search for something that might ignite, but never will. Often, bad scripts simply chop up existing knowledge into even thinner slices and then re-circulate it. Their failure is confirmed by their inability to imagine or suggest any political alternatives. Even revolution in its most vague outline has been largely dropped. Instead, wherever one turns, careers are made and incomes sustained by an infinite pursuit of criticising the existing state of things. The urgent desire for change is there, but much of its energy is pulled into this collapsing star. In this universe, any real fruits we bear will rot on the vine.

There’s another way for left thinkers, we are sure of it. Left or radical academic writing needs to be saved from itself and the institutions and measuring systems which frame it and will continue to transform it in a bad order. Crucially then, we must scrutinise not only bad scripts, but also the institutional systems that frame them, not to mention their geo-political and economic surrounds. If we do not start working out how to transform these conditions in tandem with transforming left scripts, our intervention is just more bad writing.

We are not suggesting that these are new observations. Everybody involved that we speak to affirm it as a commonplace assumption, if not in an official capacity. This diagnosis could be depressing. But that we all seem to roughly agree on this is extremely exciting, because that means something is happening. The new crisis of the academy may actually be productive, although that also means we’re going to be poor. But being ‘outside’, even though that also means working for them, for many of us, at least at the moment, is going to produce new critical positions. We may actually be lucky not to have access to a stylish lift into a dead ivory tower.

There’s a broader and deeper dissatisfaction brewing against institutions of politics, education, policing, et cetera. The university is going through a major transformation, towards an even more marketised, profit-driven system. Outside, the rest of the First World resembles this in mirror image, with even more precarious and divided peoples. All of this is obvious, and has a much longer history, which pre-dates the 2008 crash. E.P. Thompson on Warwick and Althusser may be a useful service station back down that road

The changes made to the academy, and the ways in which knowledge is now weighed and judged, were in so many ways completely unnecessary, but they have all been underwritten by the post-Lehman Brothers crash world. As a group we need to concentrate on the question of institutions next. But these shifts in the fabric of the university mean fundamental changes to the calibration of academic writing. We need to take this moment as an opportunity to clean the epistemological stables.

Original post here

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