Category Archives: books

Bad Marxism mini review on goodreads – thanks Malcolm

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Hand Picked Stimulus Respond

I’ve two short bits of writing in this elegant little book from Jack Boulton, Stimulus Respond and Pavement Books. ‘The Politics of Cats’ and the bus part of the intro to ‘Pantomime Terror


draft endorse for forthcoming book by Don Miller “Will to Win”

Will to Win
Don Miller used to set his students a ‘think piece’ instead of an essay question. His commitment to provocations has never waned, and this book on sport is of course about much more than sport – or ‘Sport’, capitalised. From the corruptions of commercial sponsorship, to the druggy self-deceptions of Lance Armstrong or the gladiatorial parallels of big business Olympian chauvinism: Sport as gambling, made for TV (the camera always knows where the action will be), amateur, spectacular, Wagnerian self-parody. The book canvasses topics as varied as the Vatican beautifying Italian victims of Ottoman raiders as intervention in anti-Islamic politics today, to the body-sculpting substance abuse of school kids that put cyclists on steroids to shame – each compared and contrasted to the Australian obsession with winners and losers in swimming, while quoting bush-ranger folk heroes (no need to acknowledge, ‘such is life’) and Georges Perec.
I remember when I was 11 years old and playing for The Rosellas under 12 football team in the Eastern Districts Footy League. It was three-quarter time in the preliminary final and we were one-point ahead. Our coach Mr Scanlon gathered us kids together in a huddle as we sucked at our sliced oranges and he told us: ‘boys, it’s not how you play that counts, it’s going out there to win’. I was shifted from ruck-rover to the back-line, took a lucky mark or two, no-one scored, and the final siren brought pandemonium and glory. We went on the next week to lose the grand final to our sworn enemies Knox Eagles, but even today I meet up with teammates who have lived fulfilling lives and we remember that moment. Sport is formative.
If I were critical, I would say Miller runs over some of the same ground more than once, developing his points, lapping himself perhaps, inspired by the logic of his opening parable about the alternative playbook of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’, so famous from the Kokoda trail (not track?). The problematic redeployment of the ANZAC myth and its ‘one day of the year’ jingoism is skewered here too, alongside duly ironic recognition of the  subcontinental origins of cricket and a judicious lambast of Bradman’s displaced militarism. These really are things to think with, and weighty matters are made light yet serous. Like Sport. Here are films, Proust, speed, repetition, Bentham and excess – the range renders Sport as complex as life. Sport as a labour of life, a play, to win or to lose, as serious as heck. A morality, a life lesson, a local-global parable for all times.


Books vs. Cigarettes 2 [Fuggle]

Sophie Fuggle’s post on the wider context of the Prison Book Ban from her blog Limit Experience is getting some traction on twitter and I was asked to repost it so you might read it too. At least to take a moment to think what kind of malignant and parasitic bureaucracy would sit back while the mugwumps implement their mugwump rule. The original is here.

Books vs. Cigarettes 2

Earlier this week, two news sites featured stories about the banning of books from inside UK prisons. The legislation brought in by Chris Grayling in November put a blanket ban on packages sent in to prisoners. As others who have now taken up the story pointed out – why did none of us pick up on this earlier? The ban of packages just before Christmas is akin to the measures taken by the French prison system in the early 1970s when it banned magazines and newspapers from prisons as well as the famous Christmas packages which allowed families to send in food parcels. This deliberately callous, heavy-handed action aimed at severing links to the outside world is often cited as one of several motiving factors for the work of the Groupe d’Information sur les prisons. To ban a child from sending a parent a homemade card because there might be some form of contraband hidden amongst the glitter and glue seems both archaic and futuristically paranoid. But I would suggest there is something else at stake here. As Charlie Gilmour’s article in the Standard last night points out – if you want to get rid of drugs in prison, get rid of the prison officers overseeing their circulation. Grayling is clearly basing his understanding of how contraband gets into prisons on having once watched The Shawshank Redemption. Moreover, the restriction on books now available in prisons as a result of banning packages should alert us to what is really going on within the prison system – instead of simply reiterating the myth of rehabilitation we have long held onto – we should look more closely at this myth. Why has it suited us, the UK public, to hang on to this myth when so much of what we hear about prisons suggests the opposite? For a start, it sets our prison system apart from what we see going on elsewhere, most notably, the U.S. but becoming a model increasingly transplanted to other Western countries. The warehousing of unwanted, unneeded labour. On a visit to Attica in 2012, I heard a Correctional Officer say ‘I don’t care if they get a degree or watch TV in their cells all day. As long as they don’t cause me any trouble.’ But at least there was the option of study. The prison library at Attica, from what I understand, is incredibly well-stocked particularly with law journals and even those in the Special Housing Unit (solitary) have access to the books via Mark Chapman, Lennon’s killer and self-appointed librarian for the SHU. But coupled with this refusal to recognize rehabilitation as possible within prison, there seemed to be an implicit understanding that people need to be given something to do and that not everyone wants to spend all day pushing weights. So what is different about Grayling’s prison industrial complex? On the one hand, he seems to be fully embracing a U.S.-inflected politics of fear – Grayling’s speech in October 2012, talks about the two strikes rule and evokes a similar right to bear arms (currently without the fire part) in order to protect one’s home and property beyond any reasonable force that led to Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of George Zimmerman in February 2012. What Grayling is telling us here is that not only do we have the right to violently and potentially fatally attack those we perceive as a threat, but that we indeed should react in this way. There are people out there who want to take things from us, our hard-earned things, and we should be scared. Moreover, the rising university tuition fees and culture of student debt in the U.K., mean this fear and anxiety extends beyond the mere encroaching on material space to one’s intellectual capital. Grayling expected his speech and seems to expect his subsequent responses to the literary community to be well-received by a wider public, terrified that those in prison will receive the same, if not better access to learning and training than that available to their own children. Immediately, following my visit to Attica in 2012, I was at a conference in Buffalo during which a discussion of degree programmes in prison came up. A member of teaching staff from one if the colleges in Buffalo told us that when she first started there she heard on the grapevine that there was a prison teaching programme offered by the college. She asked a professor in the department how she might get onto the programme and if it was worth her going to talk to the Dean about it. The professor told her to never speak of the programme again. Apparently, there was a time when the college put in proudly on their prospectuses in order to emphasize the role they played within the local community. However, this was received incredibly badly by parents of students who were paying upwards of $40k a year for the same degree. The programme was only able to continue as a result of total secrecy by those involved which meant precluding new members of staff from taking part thus limiting the scope of the programme. The logic amongst parents is fairly obvious: why should they bankroll a programme which would see criminals achieving the same degree as their own children? Why should they be instrumental in turning felons into graduates who would then be competing with their own offspring for jobs? It is easy to see how this logic will be increasingly applied in the U.K. as a means of justifying cuts to education programmes in prisons before seeping into mainstream education. I have heard middle class parents justifying their decisions to ‘remove’ their children from highly regarded state schools based on the argument that such schools do more for ‘underprivileged’ children than their own offspring. The Tory party’s education reforms are always largely taken up with how to privatize state education through the back door. Warehousing begins here. Yet, on the other hand, there is a sleight of hand going on here which means that Grayling is able to channel the notion of rehabilitation hence his use of the phrase ‘Rehabiliation Revolution’ in ways not possible in the U.S. supermaxes. This is why for authors and other writers to scream blue murder about the banning of books is an empty gesture if it is not supported by further analysis as to what is really going on here. A far stronger link between the myth of rehabilitation and prison labour is currently being developed within the U.K. If the prison labour force in the U.S. is increasingly becoming obsolete due to the decline in U.S. manufacturing and pressure of unions not to buy prison-made goods, in the U.K. a whole spate of prison training and apprenticeships are being rolled out which situate prison labour within the continuum of unpaid and underpaid labour which also includes the placements and internships universities charge their students to do in order to get a degree and the workfare programmes imposed on the unemployed. Grayling speech focuses in this respect of the creation of a Timpson’s shop inside a prison (the irony about lockpicking should not be lost here) with the aim of training inmates to work for Timpson’s on their release. This is effectively the state selling slave labour to private industry under the guise of rehabilitation. Grayling is as much an advocate of rehabilitation as Philip Pullman and all the other authors who have come to the rescue of the prison. Only here Grayling recognizes the need to more clearly define the parameters of what constitutes rehabilitation so that this comes to mean the ability to take part in the (unpaid) labour force. More sinister here, is the coupling of such labour with the recognition of the economic value of the criminal subject qua social outcast. Grayling begins his speech by talking about his visit to The Clink,a restaurant run by inmates from Brixton prison. This is not simply about training inmates to cook and wait on customers. This is about capitalizing on the inmate as commodity fetish. To eat at The Clink is to embark on a form of dark tourism lite – to pay top dollar for the frisson of coming into contact with individuals who might have done something terrible whilst legitimizing this voyeurism and vicarious sense of transgression with the feeling you have done something positive to help such deviants by allowing them to serve you and your repulsive, bourgeois friends. The game-show style television programmes which often accompany such initiatives affirm this conflation of prison industry with culture industry. As does the work of charities like the Koestler Trust. If their work seems to go against the grain of what Grayling is proposing, I think more critique is necessary. How is the offenders art programme actually run in different prisons? How much choice in what is produced is given to inmates? Do they even know they are being entered into its competitions? Are they given full ownership of their work or is it deemed to be Her Majesty’sproperty? Does the ability to sell artwork produced while you were locked up mean you will make it as an artist when you get out? I do not want to suggest inmates should not make art whilst in prison and definitely don’t want to endorse Grayling’s view that practical labour such as working in Timpson’s is to be preferred to reading a novel in your cell. What I do want to suggest is the way in which all these activities work together to produce a certain type of subject able to reproduce the myths and discourses of rehabilitation at the same time as be obliged to sell him or herself as a fetish object for consumption by a public unable to think past the looming presence of the prison on society’s bleak horizon.


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Pantomime Terror: Music and Politics by John Hutnyk (28 Feb 2014) 

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Celebrating Transgression by Rao Ursula and John Hutnyk (15 Dec 2005) 

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Dis-orienting Rhythms: Politics of the New Asian Dance Music by Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (1 Jan 1997)

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Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies by John Hutnyk (21 Jun 2004)

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Beyond Borders by John Hutnyk (July 2012)

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Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics by Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk (1 Feb 1999)

Pantomime Terror: MIA as Provocateur. Keynote address at International Centre for the Study of Culture, Giessen. 21 Nov 2013

Click on the image to get to Daily Motion to play. 55 mins. Thanks Raul Gschrey: it is on the same material as the last section of the book Pantomime Terror

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Pantomime Terror #music #politics

There’s a whole section on Wagner in this, and some humour. For the record… (you can preorder by clicking the cover):

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Trinkets in Critique of Exotica #trinketization

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Pantomime Terror – pre-order

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BLACK STAR – Anandi Ramamurthy

Get this book! My endorsement is truncated on the publishers web page, but I endorse this as absolutely necessary, absolutely needed. A must have to comprehend what needs to be done in these times, renew, learn from the past, reconfigure and invent…

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‘Black Star’s richly illustrated documentation of the political
struggles of the Asian Youth Movements proposes a national heritage
that would be something more than bland old Blighty (Vilayet). The
book’s archive speaks eloquently of a pressing Black politics, and
Anandi Ramamurthy cares for the lessons of anti-racist
anti-imperialist organising. The impasse of twenty-first century
war-on-terror murder-death-kill paranoid keep-calm-and-carry-on
proto-fascist anxiety is skewered by the sharp posters, the
enthusiasm, the dedication, the long vigils, and the styles and
phrasings of all those left-wing uncles and radical aunts who hoarded
boxes of leaflets and pamphlets in back rooms and in attics so they
could one day be retrieved as testimony to a difficult settlement in
multi-racial Britain. That this book retrieves this history as a
living, and urgent, heritage – with the principle of ‘self defense as
no offense’ still prominent – is a absolutely necessary triumph’ – John Hutnyk.

Foucault/Paul by Sophie Fuggle


Also  here.

Boucher writes

‘If materialism means anything, it is that concepts cannot grasp material particulars, qualitative differences and the embodied experience of the individual’


it is not ‘just a matter of coloring-in with different crayons’

Geoff Boucher 2013 Adorno Reframed p59.

Miller and ‘The Reason of Metaphor’

john hutnyk:

Claire aka reader aka Londoner, who may or may not live in ellowen-deeoen, now reads the preface to The Reason of Metaphor, which is the guide book that taught us where to go.

Originally posted on Into Ruins:


Which voice today, Reader, my apologies, which voice am I on?

The Reason of Metaphor: A study in Politics by Donald F Miller. What’s here?

“To him, the play of liminalities always retains the capacity, not merely to decompose a sterile world by decomposing its central metaphors, but also to generate new sets of metaphors that hold the promise of defining a new world.” This from the foreword by Ashis Nandy, p.9.

What a claim! But wait. This is not a claim about what Miller or his book has done, it’s a claim about what Nandy finds Miller to see in ‘the play of liminalities’. I’m pretty much against this phrase entirely, and spellcheck doesn’t like liminalities either, not that I’m siding with spellcheck from now on. Is this what Miller sees there? Is this what I see there? This ‘merely’, as though it would be something mere…

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Pavement Sumbissions

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Submission Guidelines

Pavement books is interested in hearing about any original book projects which eschew the dry, turgid and didactic along with journalistic drivel. Exciting writing with critical depth.

And no slogans or zombies.

We’re particularly interested in projects emerging out of the fields of cultural studies, continental philosophy, urban studies, architecture, visual cultures, literary and film criticism.

Proposals for single-authored and collaborative works should include the following information. Please do not send full manuscripts unless requested.

This should provide a clear indication of the area of focus and the contents of your book.

A concise introduction (1-2 pages) indicating aims, themes and scope of the book.

This should take the form of a table of contents with a short summary (1-2 paragraphs) for each chapter.

Number and type of illustrations proposed, if any. As a rule we do not publish texts in full-colour although may consider doing so in certain circumstances.

Please provide brief biographical details (no more than 100 words) of all authors, editors and contributors involved in the project.

The Market
What is the proposed market and intended readership for the book?

Are there any similar texts currently on the market? How does your book differ from these?

Length of Publication
How many words (including bibliography and index) will the book be?

Date of delivery
How soon can you deliver a complete manuscript?



Beyond Borders – order here

New book to get: Contract and Contagion – Angela Mitropoulos

Contract and Contagion: From Biopolitics to Oikonomia will be out in early October 2012, and can be preordered online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


Preface: The Liquidation of Foundations

I. Contingency, Necessity, Performativity

II. Oikonomia
Reading Xenophon in (post-)Fordist Times – Arendt, Foucault: Oikonomia, Biopolitics, or Oikonomia? – Intersection, Domos – Agamben, Foucault, and Dumézil – Locke’s Holy Trinity

Annotation: Insurance, Inoculation

III. Legal, Tender
Genealogy – The Limits of Right – Reproducing Race – Frontier Expansion – Queer Value? – Reproducing Labour-Power – Reproducing Value – Genealogy Otherwise

Annotation: Infrastructure, Infra-politics

IV. Unproductive Circulation, Excessive Consumption

V. Foucault, Neoliberalism, and (the) Intervention
Welfare/Warfare – The Disappearance and Reappearance of Foucault’s Genealogy – Colonial Properties – Household Property and Proper Homes – Foucault, Becker and the New Household Economics – The Re/Production of Human Capital

VI. Proliferating Limits
Points of Exchange – The Boundaries of Oikonomia – Polanyi and Marx – The Gift of Surplus Labour – Patterns of Re/Production – Emerging Markets, Frontiers

Annotation: Affective Labour

VII. Flora and Fortuna

VIII. Neocontractualism, Faith-Based Capitalism
Contagion and Plague – Moral Hazard and the New Covenant – Socially-Necessary Labor, Human Capital and Service Work

IX. Mutuum, Mutare
Usury and the Return of the Dark Ages – The Fordist Domestication of Liquidity – Marx’s Intermundia – Student Debt, Education Bubbles and Speculation – Financial Contagion, Loose Ties and Complex Systems – From Infinite Debt to Endless Credit – Clinamen


UPDATE – pre-order here

Beyond Borders book cover (book available soon)

and discount pre-order here.

book blurb and contents list here:

Beyond Borders book in the shops soon… here is the postcard.

The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza – Eyal Weizman (Verso, just out)

expect a review on NXRB soon.

The Life and Music of A.L. Lloyd. Book event 29 May 2102

Goldsmiths Popular Music Research Units presents

The Life and Music of A.L. Lloyd.

A talk by Dave Arthur to coincide with the publication of his book Bert: The Life and Times of A.L. Lloyd (Pluto Press).

Small Hall Cinema, Richard Hoggart Building

Tuesday 29 May, 5.00pm, followed by drinks in the Senior Common Room.

All Welcome.

Folk singer and folk music collector, writer, painter, journalist, art critic, whalerman, sheep station roustabout, Marxist, and much more – this is the story of A. L. (Bert) Lloyd’s extraordinary life.

A. L. Lloyd played a key part in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 60s, but that is only part of his story. Dave Arthur documents how Lloyd became a member of the Communist Party, forceful antifascist, trade unionist and an important part of left-wing culture from the early 1930s to his death in 1982. Following his return from Australia as a 21-year-old, self-educated agricultural labourer, he was at the heart of the most important left-wing movements and highly respected for his knowledge in various fields.

Dave Arthur recounts the life of a creative, passionate and life-loving Marxist, and in so doing provides a social history of a turbulent twentieth century.

Dave Arthur is writer, painter, singer and instrumentalist (guitar, banjo and melodeon), writer of plays for stage, community and puppet theatre and Director of the Society for Storytelling.

More details of Dave can be found here

Goldsmiths library houses the A.L. Lloyd Collection and Archive.

Link to Popular Music Research Unit –

Directions here


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