Category Archives: events

Pantomime Nationalist distractions and puppet-targeting

Notes on the coming disturbance…

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Brazil event video from Canallondres tv

A TV report on the Brazil conference 22.5.2013 Centre for Cultural Studies Goldsmiths
A cultura brasileira no exterior vídeo do… by Sputnyk10 A cultura brasileira no exterior vídeo do seminário Panoram Brasil em Movimento organizado pela pesquisadora brasileira Rosana Martins na Goldsmiths University de Londres – Video Dailymotion.

Docklands Cinema Club with CCS sun 26.5.2013

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Sun 26 May, 2-4pm (15)
Winner of the Best Actor and Best Screenplay awards at Cannes 2005, Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut follows the story of Pete Perkins,
a ranch foreman in the high desert of west Texas who undertakes a dangerous and quixotic journey into Mexico.

© BBC Film Council / The Kobal Collection

Venue Museum of London Docklands see here.

London’s South Bank offers the exciting opportunity to explore and discover amazing Bangladeshi creativity and culture, from the UK and beyond!

Click here to check out our promo video / http://www.oitijjo.org.uk/

Shahidul Alam, Enamul Hoque, Akram Khan, Zoe Rahman, Rezia Wahid, Shapla Salique, State of Bengal and Kishon Khan with Lokkhi Terra join other artists, designers, makers, musicians, speakers and  writers for the UK’s biggest ever celebration of creativity and culture from Bangladesh and by UK Bangladeshis.

London’s South Bank will play host to the UK’s biggest and most vibrant showcase of Bangladeshi creativity next month when a three-day celebration of art, craft, design, fabrics, fashion, literature and music takes place at the Bargehouse from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 February.

Book your tickets now. Don’t miss out. Don’t be disappointed. Go to: http://paraa.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=ec095b9801c6777473f66d745&id=4658df3bcc&e=b0e6fa1edf

Inline image 2

Find out the latest by liking the facebook page: Oitijjo London  and via Twitter @oitijjo 
Help us #spreadoitijjoy by passing this on to friends, family and to your wider network.
Watch this space for more amazing updates and be part of something amazing!
For more information, please contact:

Ruhul @ ruhul.abdin@hotmail.co.uk / 07794968658
Maher @ mailto:bbflondon@btinterent.com/ / 07932944506

Federici at Goldsmiths Centre for Cultural Studies – audio

“GOD IS NOT DEAD!” 8.10.2012 Goldsmiths NAB LG02 Film and Q and A with the director and others

“GOD IS NOT DEAD!”

EUROPEAN/WORLD PREMIERE – Monday 8 October 2012 6:30

GOLDSMITHS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, CENTRE FOR CULTURAL STUDIES

THE FILM

Directed by young Turkish filmmaker Bahar Kılıç, “GOD IS NOT DEAD!” is a journey that cuts across the realms of music, politics and intercultural dialogue.

Shot in London, Berlin, Frankfurt and Istanbul, the documentary investigates European Muslims’ resistance against the epidemic of “Islamophobia” and their endeavour to transform the demonized visage of Islam in the West through music, creative expression, political activism and redefining the concept of “hybridity”.

The incredibly diverse stances, creative practices and routes of thinking displayed by the people in focus of “GOD IS NOT DEAD!” demonstrate a wealth that is unknown not only to the Western world who is prone to be infected by the virus of cultural exclusivist discourses but also to the Orient who’s suffering from amnesia.

“GOD IS NOT DEAD!” features exclusive interviews with and footage from Fun^Da^Mental and Aki Nawaz, The Kominas, Poetic Pilgrimage, Mecca2Medina, Mohammed Yahya, Nomadic Poet (The Planets), Quest Rah, Style Islam (Melih and Yeliz Kesmen), Sayfoudin (Germany) and Professor John Hutnyk (Goldsmiths, University of London).

THE EVENT

The European & World premiere of GOD IS NOT DEAD! will take place on October 8th, at Goldsmiths, University of London Centre for Cultural Studies.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A Session with the director, the creative staff and featured names.
The event is FREE OF CHARGE.

All free thinkers and “rebels with noble causes” are welcome to join us. New Academic Building LG02

(Goldsmiths NAB LG02 – that’s the big newish building on the hill behind the back field. Walk through the main building and up the path, and up the stairs beside the gym. In the door, and downstairs to the big auditorium. NAB LG02 New Academic Building LG02. See you there.)

http://www.gold.ac.uk/calendar/?id=5707

Federici 12.11.12

CCS event:

Dear friends and comrades (please forward to other groups and networks and help spread the word)

Save the date: Monday 12 November – 6.00pm
Goldsmiths University
New Academic Building, Room LG02
New Cross, London

Public Lecture by Silvia Federici
and launch of her new book – Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (PM Press, 2012)


Written between 1974 and the present, Revolution at Point Zero collects forty years of research and theorizing on the nature of housework, social reproduction, and women’s struggles on this terrain—to escape it, to better its conditions, to reconstruct it in ways that provide an alternative to capitalist relations. Indeed, as Federici reveals, behind the capitalist organization of work and the contradictions inherent in “alienated labor” is an explosive ground zero for revolutionary practice upon which are decided the daily realities of our collective reproduction. Beginning with Federici’s organizational work in the Wages for Housework movement, the essays collected here unravel the power and politics of wide but related issues including the international restructuring of reproductive work and its effects on the sexual division of labor, the globalization of care work and sex work, the crisis of elder care, the development of affective labor, and the politics of the commons.

About Silvia
Silvia Federici is a feminist writer, teacher, and militant. In 1972, she was cofounder of the International Feminist Collective, which launched the Wages for Housework campaign internationally. With other members of Wages for Housework, like Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James, and with feminist authors like Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Federici has been instrumental in developing the concept of “reproduction” as a key to class relations of exploitation and domination in local and global contexts, and as central to forms of autonomy and the commons. She is the author of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (Autonomedia, 2004)

In the 1990s, after a period of teaching and research in Nigeria, she was active in the anti-globalization movement and the U.S. anti-death penalty movement. She is one of the cofounders of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, an organization dedicated to generating support for the struggles of students and teachers in Africa against the structural adjustment of African economies and education systems. From 1987 to 2005, she also taught international studies, women’s studies, and political philosophy courses at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

Her decades of research and political organizing accompanies a long list of publications on philosophy and feminist theory, women’s history, education, culture, international politics, and more recently on the worldwide struggle against capitalist globalization and for a feminist reconstruction of the commons. Her steadfast commitment to these issues resounds in her focus on autonomy and her emphasis on the power of what she calls self-reproducing movements as a challenge to capitalism through the construction of new social relations

Tommy Smith, Peter Norman and John Carlos.

Let the Olympiss games begin – remember Tommy Smith and John Carlos showing support for Muhammed Ali’s anti-Vietnam war stance, against poverty and lynching, for Black power, part of the Olympic Project for Human Rights – see http://www.good.is/post/fists-of-freedom-an-olympic-story-not-taught-in-schools/ - which also brings to light a little known factoid making it worth remembering that the white guy who came second in the 200 metres that day was a runner from Melbourne named Peter Norman. Norman supported the protest, citing Australia’s mistreatment of indigenous people, by ‘pinning an OPHR patch onto his chest to show his solidarity on the medal stand’.

I like this because solidarity is not showboating, its standing alongside in support. Smith, Norman, Carlos: 1,2,3.

Remember Peter Norman:

http://blackathlete.net/artman2/publish/Cubefour_3/Remembering_Peter_Norman_2426.shtml

Joy Devotion

http://www.joydevotion.com/2012/06/joy-devotion-july-19th-at-xoyo-in.html

 

 

Joy Devotion: A Year in the Life of a Rock Shrine at the Ian Curtis Memorial Stone On July 19, 2012, XOYO Gallery is proud to announce the opening of a new show, Joy Devotion: Trash, Trinkets and Tributes at the Ian Curtis Memorial Stone.

Taken on the 18th of every month for a year between 2009-10 (including the 30th anniversary of Curtis’s death), Joy Devotion documents the evolution of death- and of memory. The trinkets, tributes and trash on the Curtis memorial stone is in constant flux, reflecting the ever migrating myth of the vocalist himself- a harsh and glaring contrast to the finality of death. Joy Devotion captures for the first time the year in the life of the rock shrine- existing almost as a destination unto itself. With each visitor, identity, ‘memory’, meaning and the legacy of Curtis and Joy Division changes and flows- similar to the seasons rotating, the movement in the landscape of the cemetery itself.

Located just over 15 miles outside of the English hub of Manchester, Macclesfield was the home of the late singer and lyricist Ian Curtis, front man for post-punk pioneers Joy Division. The ashes of Curtis are now buried minutes away from where he lived, at the Macclesfield Cemetery and Crematorium. Though it has been over 30 years since he took his life, an estimated 2,000 people annually make their way to the small, quaint Northern town, on a quest to pay homage to Curtis. Travelling from as far flung destinations as Japan, Texas and Australia, fans embark on sonic pilgrimages to walk the streets that inspired Curtis, see the house where he once inhabited- and pay their respects at Curtis’s memorial stone.

As a part of her PhD research, photographer Jennifer Otter captured images of fans, flowers and fauna every month over the course of a year. Joy Devotion marks the first time the pictures have been showcased together on display for the public.

For more information, please contact Jennyo@JKOMedia.com or go to http://joydevotion.blogspot.co.uk. XOYO Gallery is located at 32-37 Cowper Street, London EC2A 4AP, http://xoyo.co.uk/gallery

Joy Devotion

http://www.joydevotion.com/2012/06/joy-devotion-july-19th-at-xoyo-in.html

 

 

Joy Devotion: A Year in the Life of a Rock Shrine at the Ian Curtis Memorial Stone On July 19, 2012, XOYO Gallery is proud to announce the opening of a new show, Joy Devotion: Trash, Trinkets and Tributes at the Ian Curtis Memorial Stone.

Taken on the 18th of every month for a year between 2009-10 (including the 30th anniversary of Curtis’s death), Joy Devotion documents the evolution of death- and of memory. The trinkets, tributes and trash on the Curtis memorial stone is in constant flux, reflecting the ever migrating myth of the vocalist himself- a harsh and glaring contrast to the finality of death. Joy Devotion captures for the first time the year in the life of the rock shrine- existing almost as a destination unto itself. With each visitor, identity, ‘memory’, meaning and the legacy of Curtis and Joy Division changes and flows- similar to the seasons rotating, the movement in the landscape of the cemetery itself.

Located just over 15 miles outside of the English hub of Manchester, Macclesfield was the home of the late singer and lyricist Ian Curtis, front man for post-punk pioneers Joy Division. The ashes of Curtis are now buried minutes away from where he lived, at the Macclesfield Cemetery and Crematorium. Though it has been over 30 years since he took his life, an estimated 2,000 people annually make their way to the small, quaint Northern town, on a quest to pay homage to Curtis. Travelling from as far flung destinations as Japan, Texas and Australia, fans embark on sonic pilgrimages to walk the streets that inspired Curtis, see the house where he once inhabited- and pay their respects at Curtis’s memorial stone.

As a part of her PhD research, photographer Jennifer Otter captured images of fans, flowers and fauna every month over the course of a year. Joy Devotion marks the first time the pictures have been showcased together on display for the public.

For more information, please contact Jennyo@JKOMedia.com or go to http://joydevotion.blogspot.co.uk. XOYO Gallery is located at 32-37 Cowper Street, London EC2A 4AP, http://xoyo.co.uk/gallery

Stephen Turner at Goldsmiths 26.6.2012 at 5pm

New post on University For Strategic Optimism

The Indigenous Commons // 26/06 5pm // Goldsmiths

by flashbank

EVENT: The Indigenous Commons

26th June // 5pm // RHB 251 // Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr. Stephen Turner (University of Auckland)

In association with Centre for Cultural Studies and Centre for Postcolonial Studies 

No registration necessary, Drinks to follow

 

The Indigenous Commons of Aoteroa New Zealand

In the context of the worldwide Occupy movement, what does it mean to occupy an already occupied country?  It suggests a recovery, however temporary, of common space, which in Aotearoa New Zealand is inseparable from a notion of an Indigenous commons. The basis of such a commons is the long history of Maori inhabitation of the country, which encompasses the short history of non-Maori (Pakeha) occupation.  The ontological substrate of long history, encompassing multiple lands, peoples and histories, asks everybody to consider the grounds on which they stand.  At base, these are grounds of Indigenous right which cannot be extended by the nation-state, whose authority is questioned on the still-existing grounds of long history.  Based in reciprocity rather than rights, relations not entities, attributes not properties, Maori sovereignty suggests a right way and right-of-way – tikanga. Tikanga (tika means ‘right) does not imply human rights but the right way to go about the place, in terms of which the ordinary people of the place (‘Maori’ means ordinary) consider that they flourish.  The idea of an existing law that would, and did in retrospect, secure that ‘right’ is what I call ‘first law’, following Maori commentators; its latter-day expression is the possibility of a ‘full law’, which binds material and spiritual worlds in the mind-heart of Maori community. The mind-heart of place-based community, and the host-guest relation that initiates strangers, is what non-Maori (Pakeha) are asked to subscribe to as second-comers.

 

Collective well-being, now inscribed in the Indigenous-minded constitutions of Bolivia and Equador, depends more deeply on a sense of injury and lack of care than a violation of more instrumental human rights. In New Zealand the deficits of settler ignorance are threefold: a constitutional deficit, due to an acknowledged but unenforceable nineteenth-century Treaty; an historiographical deficit, where long history is read in terms of short history of a nation-state coming-to-be; and an existential deficit, where majority Pakeha act out of dread and, more recently, terror, in the face of Indigenous claims to independence. As against an economistic political economy of settler identity, where property and individual rights follow the nation-state’s self-assertion, I pose the challenge of consubstantial sovereignty, and post-capital politics. Occupy in New Zealand recalls an already occupied country, an Indigenous commons, today shared by others, but rent by parliamentary enclosure and representative segregation. Granting Maori an ontological alterity is insufficiently attentive to this commonly shared place, and to the non-state grounds of its political constitution. Nor does collective well-being oppose capital as such, but rather opposes settler-centricity and claims to co-equal indigeneity. I thereby consider the political, cultural and economic implications of attribute- rather property-based Indigenous rights.  And because the constitution of the state refuses the ontological substrate of long history, which is its whole human inhabitation, I consider the possibility of constitutionalising non-state Indigenous relations, as a means of exit from the compulsory nationalism of settler-colonialism.

Stephen Turner

University of Auckland

 

Part of the Postgraduate Conference: Taking Up Space

Taking up Space  – Cultural Studies Postgraduate Event 
25th – 26th June 2012

Centre for Cultural Studies (CCS) / MA in Cultural Studies

A one/two day conference exploring the meaning and understanding of space in its physical manifestations as well as in its discursive forms; through which identity, meaning, value and authority can be mapped in particular ways.

http://takingupspace2012.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Goldsmiths location and campus map: http://www.gold.ac.uk/find-us/

Enquiries: john.hutnyk@gold.ac.uk

flashbank | June 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/p1dbfG-h7

 

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Bombing of Poems in London 26.6.12

Deptford & New Cross Virtual Social Centre. Film Night. Housing. 17.5.2012 7.30PM

Hi,
Just a reminder about tomorrow’s film night:
Subject: New Social Centre / Film night starts May17th at NX Library

Deptford & New Cross Virtual Social Centre present
Films to change the world with: Housing

Films about ordinary people’s direct solutions to housing crises -  from
rent strikes to squatting

@ New Cross People’s Library Thurs 17th May 7.30

283 New Cross Road SE14 nearest station New Cross Gate on London
overground from Dalston Junction etc and train from London Bridge

please publicise through all relevant channels!

Thanks

May Day London 2012

MAYDAY-FLYER-A5-2012

May Day has been celebrated in London since the 1880s. The Committee has ensured this key day of international solidarity is marked every May 1st. Despite often being ignored by the mass media, the celebrations have maintained the traditions of unity and solidarity in London.

The London May Day has been a unique bringing together of trade unionists, workers from the many international communities in London, pensioners, anti-globalisation organisations, students, political bodies and many others in a show of working class unity (see our supporters list). The whole theme of May Day is unity and solidarity – across the city, across the country, across the world. Three constant calls have been made – trade union rights, human rights, international solidarity. We have been proud that a vital and major part of the March are workers from the different international communities in London – a practical expression of working class solidarity. Along with the solid support of trade union organisations, these have been the bed rocks of LMDOC

We continue the demand, adopted by the whole trade union movement in the 1970s, for May 1st to be a public holiday. The Labour Government of the time imposed the divisive decision to make the nearest Monday a Bank Holiday. This created many difficulties and separated Britain from virtually every other European country that celebrates May Day on 1st May. The anti-union laws of the Tories further pressured the movement and made participation in May Day difficult. But in the last 5 years May Day has been growing.

We have held a major march each year, whether going to Wapping in the mid-80s, supporting Sky Chef workers or Rover & Ford workers in 2001 and 2002. LMDOC also responded quickly to the fascist bombings in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho in 1999 by involving those communities in the March, showing in a clear practical way the solidarity of the organised trade union movement, an important message to the right.

In 2001 we tied up with key sections of the anti-capitalist globalisation movement who had been campaigning on May Day. The common concerns about exploitation around the world, the role of multinationals and the advocates of aggressive free trade agendas meant there was the basis for unity – the basis of May Day. In 2001 and 2002 this swelled the ranks of the demonstration and introduced new aspects of May Day. Each year May Day in London has sought to unite with different campaigns and activities to keep the action very relevant to current challenges and expand those getting involved in May Day. A key victory of 2002 was getting use of Trafalgar Square on working days and the encouragement of the Mayor to make the Square a focus of activity for Londoners, as it has been since it was created.

2004 saw the Rally followed by an anti-racist festival with ARA; a joint May Day with the TUC in 2008 against the antiunion laws; each year focussing on key issues for workers – in London and across the world.

Clandestino X – Gothenburg, Sweden

No Borders Convergence

also here

No Olympics

this one was made by the Nomadic Action Group for the campaign against having the olympics in Melbourne in 1988

To which (via Simon S) we can now add some London related resources:

Anarchist alternative art for the Olympics….
Report backs on a ‘Countering Olympics’ conference held recently….
I guess Occupy Olympics was an obvious alliteration.  Not a lot going on here at the moment….
….but the powers that be are obviously concerned about this kind of development….
Atos Origin is the Games’ IT Partner.  (something for Anonymous to look into perhaps?)…..
Disabled rights protests against Atos and their involvement in the Olympics have already started (nice link to Bhopal too)…..
Nothing on the games yet but worth keeping an eye on this group….

Neil tours us round Deptford.

Why thanks Neil:

http://transpont.blogspot.com/2011/09/convoys-wharf-latest.html

Transpontine: South East London blogzine – things that are happening, things that happened, things that should never have happened. New Cross, Brockley, Deptford and other beauty spots. EMAIL US: transpontine@btinternet.com Transpontine: ‘on the other (i.e. the south) side of the bridges over the Thames; pertaining to or like the lurid melodrama played in theatres there in the 19th century’.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Convoys Wharf Latest

The future of Convoys Wharf, site of the former Royal Dockyard on the Deptford riverfront, has been discussed here before. A revised planning application for the site has recently been submitted by News International (former owners of the site) and Chinese property developer Cheung Kong (current owners).There is a lot of local concern about the plans – not just about the impact of what is proposed, but in relation to the loss of the potential once in a hundred years opportunity to do something special here that makes a positive difference to people in Deptford. Challenging these plans, put forward by two of the world’s most powerful conglomerates in the world, is a daunting prospect.Enter Deptford is…, ‘a group of local residents who want to ensure that the redeveloped Convoy’s Wharf offers the best for Deptford and its future. We are NOT affiliated to any political party, commercial interest or quango’. This Saturday 24th September, 10 am to 12 noon, they are organising a ‘planning objections workshop’ in the Blue room at the Albany, Douglas Way.They say ‘Many local residents are worried about the impact of the redevelopment, and are keen to ensure that their concerns are heard by the council. But the planning documents are numerous and complex, and many people who want to respond to the application simply don’t have the time to read them fully. Even those who do have time to read the documents may not know enough about the planning system to be able to write an effective response. So we are holding an URGENT planning objections workshop THIS SATURDAY MORNING at the Albany theatre in Deptford, to provide help and advice to people wanting to comment on this planning application’.

Is that all there is?

A couple of weeks ago I took a group of visitors to Goldsmiths on a guided walk around New Cross and Deptford, focusing on the history of the area and some of its buildings. It was an interesting group, mainly from USA and India, including among others critical architects, a photographer, a film maker and a singer/theatre writer.

The theme of their meeting was globalisation and preservation and this seemed very apposite to Deptford. After all it is arguably one of the birthplaces of a kind of globalisation, the East India Company having been based here, and various colonial and slaver expeditions starting out from the Deptford shipyards. And ‘preservation’ is part of what the argument about Convoys Wharf is all about – how can or should any development reflect the site’s history and preserve the memory of shipbuilding and migration (as for instance Shipwright’s Palace argue)? And what about the site of the historic Sayes Court garden?

One thing that is very striking about the area, looking at it through the eyes of visitors, is just how much it is a zone in transition. I kept finding myself saying on the one hand, ‘until recently this was here’ and on the other ‘soon there will be a new tower block here’. Another feature for an area so tied up with its riverine history is how cut off much of Deptford is from the river itself, not least by the walls around Convoys Wharf. The current planning application promises to restore public access to the river, and that is essential. But does that mean we should just accept any scheme that offers a view of the water?

Another theme that emerged from chatting to the visitors was how similar the experiences of urban development, and specifically riverside development, are across the world. Unimaginative identikit schemes, often by the same architects and developers in different countries, with ‘luxury flat’ tower blocks and sterile semi-public spaces. Is that all there is?

Shopping Žižek – a commentary on a commentary (an addendum to ✪ 11 more notes 12&3 on #LondonRiots etc)

Slavoj Žižek’s commentary on the #LondonRiots indented, with my intemperate interjections interspersed in smaller italics (not indented). i – i – i – i. What I have done is copied the entire text from his LRB article (available free) and entered that here, in original order, nothing excised, so I could then add my own commentary, in italics, between the lines, So to speak. If you want to read the unadulterated version go direct to theLRB link here. Why do this sort of interruption – especially of someone from whom we learn a lot? Maybe I thought the joke title was only a little bit funny…

Shoplifters of the World Unite

Slavoj Žižek on the meaning of the riots

You are invited to read this free essay from the London Review of BooksSubscribe now to access every article from every fortnightly issue of the London Review of Books, including the entire archive of over 12,500 essays and reviews.

Repetition, according to Hegel, plays a crucial role in history: when something happens just once, it may be dismissed as an accident, something that might have been avoided if the situation had been handled differently; but when the same event repeats itself, it is a sign that a deeper historical process is unfolding. When Napoleon lost at Leipzig in 1813, it looked like bad luck; when he lost again at Waterloo, it was clear that his time was over. The same holds for the continuing financial crisis. In September 2008, it was presented by some as an anomaly that could be corrected through better regulations etc; now that signs of a repeated financial meltdown are gathering it is clear that we are dealing with a structural phenomenon.

So this is a familiar and yet slightly weird start. SZ has this bit about the much beloved Hegel, but he well knows the Marx routine from the Eighteenth Brumaire, which glosses the repetition of events and adds ‘but Hegel forgot to say that they happen the second time as farce’. SZ used this quip as a book title: ‘First as Tragedy, Then as Farce’ in 2009, and explained the gloss on Marx as an IQ test for those who might think a discussion of a return to communism after a century of totalitarianism was bad comedy – of course anyone who reacted like that should be forcibly dealt with, and he suggests confiscating the book from them. It turns out the book was a thoughtful commentary upon Sept 11 2011 and the 2008 financial crash… along the way providing some choice critiques of Hardt and Negri, democracy, liberals and so on, teaching us that: ‘we live in apocalyptic times … each of the three proceses of proletarianization refer to an apocalyptic end point: ecological breakdown, the biogenetic reduction of humans to manipulable machines, total digital control over our lives … at all these levels, thinGs are approaching a zero-point: “the end of times is near”‘ (p92-93)

We are told again and again that we are living through a debt crisis, and that we all have to share the burden and tighten our belts. All, that is, except the (very) rich. The idea of taxing them more is taboo: if we did, the argument runs, the rich would have no incentive to invest, fewer jobs would be created and we would all suffer. The only way to save ourselves from hard times is for the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer. What should the poor do? What can they do?

Yes, nice words, nice questions. In an earlier commentary, on the French youth uprising in 2005, SZ mocked the ‘‘search for deeper meaning or messages hidden in these outbursts’ as an ‘hermeneutic temptation’ that ‘needs to be resisted’(Žižek 2008:65). Well and good. Do not offer us the meaning of the riots then – something like Mao’s advice to the Vietcong when they asked for assistance, Mao said ‘tighten your belts’. Ho Chi Minh replied ‘please send us belts’. Some advice misses the mark, but of course we are on the way to Paris…

Although the riots in the UK were triggered by the suspicious shooting of Mark Duggan, everyone agrees that they express a deeper unease – but of what kind? As with the car burnings in the Paris banlieues in 2005, the UK rioters had no message to deliver. (There is a clear contrast with the massive student demonstrations in November 2010, which also turned to violence. The students were making clear that they rejected the proposed reforms to higher education.) This is why it is difficult to conceive of the UK rioters in Marxist terms, as an instance of the emergence of the revolutionary subject; they fit much better the Hegelian notion of the ‘rabble’, those outside organised social space, who can express their discontent only through ‘irrational’ outbursts of destructive violence – what Hegel called ‘abstract negativity’.

This rabble comment – intentional cheap provocation – is pretty unwelcome alongside the reference to Paris, which is surely there to remind us that after the death of Bouna Toure and Zyed Benna, Sarkozy had called the rioters a rabble – or racaille. And why is it so hard to grasp the uprising in ‘Marxist terms’ – as if these were some fixed codec, always the same, never to be worked out anew in each contingency. Here we have people – well, so-called ‘rabble’ – breaking the bond between exchange value and commodity and its hard to see a Marxist angle? I find that pretty strange. Best look more closely for what is really going on. Let us how we don’t get some smuggled in parable about perception and the jedi mind-trick parallax wheelbarrow syndrome… oh no, its roll out number 346 of the barrow gag:

There is an old [old and worn - ed] story about a worker suspected of stealing [spurious accusation against the worker here] : every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he pushes in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards find nothing; it is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves [the worker makes the wheelbarrows, the theft is by the factory owner who employs guards to ensure that the worker offers labour for free]. The guards were missing the obvious truth [truth, or 'hermeneutic temptation at play here], just as the commentators on the riots have done [yes, we can agree perhaps that the commentators are the guards... stupid guards] . We are told that the disintegration of the Communist regimes in the early 1990s signalled the end of ideology[votextual shift of analytical level - I like it] : the time of large-scale ideological projects culminating in totalitarian catastrophe was over; we had entered a new era of rational, pragmatic politics. If the commonplace that we live in a post-ideological era is true in any sense, it can be seen in this recent outburst of violence. [here comes the zero-degree point again] This was zero-degree protest, a violent action demanding nothing.[nothing?] In their desperate attempt to find meaning in the riots, the sociologists and editorial-writers obfuscated the enigma the riots presented.

At one level, anything becomes enigmatic if you squint at it long enough. But I have been looking at this Zero degree point a long time and SZ has said some enigmatic things that keep on repeating. We should ask how the riots are a ‘violent action demanding nothing’? We can go back a bit to and earlier ‘event’ horizon and hear SZ say something that is now becoming very familiar. In his book ‘Welcome to the Desert of the real’, again citing Hegel, he had discussed New York on Sept 11 2011, suggesting ‘‘the ultimate aim of the attacks was not some hidden or obvious ideological agenda but – precisely in the Hegelian sense of the term – to (re)introduce the dimension of absolute negativity into our daily lives’ (Žižek 2002:142). Basically, the attackers had no message, and no list of demands:  “The spectacular explosion of the WTC towers was not simply a symbolic act (in the sense of an act whose aim is to ‘deliver a message’): it was primarily an explosion of lethal jouissance, a perverse act of making oneself the instrument of the big Other’s jouissance” (Žižek 2002:141). Later, in the book ‘Violence’, SZ calls terrorist attacks and suicide bombings a ‘counter violence’ that is a ‘blind passage a l’acte’ and an ‘implicit admission of impotence’ (Žižek 2008:69). We might pass over the curiosity that Žižek chooses the infirmities of blindness and impotence to characterise the terrorist suicide bomber, as if the twin towers indicated a doubled scene of masturbation (too much and you lose your sight) and castration (impotence, symbolic castration of the towers, mummy daddy, invocation of old psychoanalytic staples). But the task of a critical commentary is not just to stop and stare at the primal scene of nothing.

The protesters, though underprivileged and de facto socially excluded, weren’t living on the edge of starvation. People in much worse material straits, let alone conditions of physical and ideological oppression, have been able to organise themselves into political forces with clear agendas. The fact that the rioters have no programme is therefore itself a fact to be interpreted: it tells us a great deal about our ideological-political predicament and about the kind of society we inhabit, a society which celebrates choice but in which the only available alternative to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out. Opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst. What is the point of our celebrated freedom of choice when the only choice is between playing by the rules and (self-)destructive violence?

No organization? And ‘the rioters have no programme’? ‘Opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself”. This blind acting out, deployed to the WTC in New York or to London, and similar to SZ’s view of the slums, where people are  ’in dire need of minimal forms of self-organization’ Parallax View (Žižek 2006:268),  is deeply problematic – why would we not diagnose this as a distortion of a kind of vanguardism, as an ego-driven projection on the part of the commentator who wants to critique the commentators, in a sub negative dialectic?

Alain Badiou has argued that we live in a social space which is increasingly experienced as ‘worldless’: in such a space, the only form protest can take is meaningless violence. Perhaps this is one of the main dangers of capitalism: although by virtue of being global it encompasses the whole world, it sustains a ‘worldless’ ideological constellation in which people are deprived of their ways of locating meaning. The fundamental lesson of globalisation is that capitalism can accommodate itself to all civilisations, from Christian to Hindu or Buddhist, from West to East: there is no global ‘capitalist worldview’, no ‘capitalist civilisation’ proper. The global dimension of capitalism represents truth without meaning.

Badiou? He too thinks there is no message: Badiou writing of September 11, 2001, starts his essay on ‘Philosophy and the War on Terror’ by saying ‘It was an enormous murder, lengthily premeditated, and yet silent. No one claimed responsibility’ (‘Polemics’ 2006:15). The fundamental lesson is not to see any of this as programmatic, until I tell you too. The main contradiction is here – no to the mute terrorists, rabble, rioters, commentators, yes to wordless world ‘events’ as interpreted by the blind jouissance of those who would still, despite all this, draw fundamental ‘lessons’ from globalization. Indeed, lessons, but not truth without meaning – rather, an analysis of contemporary capital that cuts.

The first conclusion to be drawn from the riots, therefore, is that both conservative and liberal reactions to the unrest are inadequate. [Yes, agreed]. The conservative reaction was predictable: there is no justification for such vandalism; one should use all necessary means to restore order; to prevent further explosions of this kind we need not more tolerance and social help but more discipline, hard work and a sense of responsibility. What’s wrong with this account is not only that it ignores the desperate social situation pushing young people towards violent outbursts but, perhaps more important, that it ignores the way these outbursts echo the hidden premises of conservative ideology itself. [yes,and with reactionary ultra-punitive 'fightback retribution when the ideological goes wrong].When, in the 1990s, the Conservatives launched their ‘back to basics’ campaign, its obscene complement was revealed by Norman Tebbitt: ‘Man is not just a social but also a territorial animal; it must be part of our agenda to satisfy those basic instincts of tribalism and territoriality.’ This is what ‘back to basics’ [is this a cimena reference to the Christina Aguilera video?] was really about: the unleashing of the barbarian [Conan!] who lurked beneath our apparently civilised, bourgeois society, through the satisfying of the barbarian’s ‘basic instincts’ [more film refs!] . In the 1960s, Herbert Marcuse introduced the concept of ‘repressive desublimation’ to explain the ‘sexual revolution’: human drives could be desublimated, allowed free rein, and still be subject to capitalist control – viz, the porn industry [see, its was always heading to video]. On British streets during the unrest, what we saw was not men reduced to ‘beasts’, but the stripped-down form of the ‘beast’ produced by capitalist ideology [and some sort of 'Wild in the Streets' scary Zombie movie]

What SZ surely means is not what ‘we’ saw, but what the press and the commentators and the conservatives saw. What we saw was a lot different. From looting and violence to laughter and excitement, from community solidarity and euphoria to reactionary not in my back yard nimbyism. Maybe SZ means ‘what we were made to see’ when he refers to the stripped-down beast here. Surely he is not saying this was the ontological status of the streets at the time. This so-called beast was laughing, chanting, organized…

Meanwhile leftist liberals, no less predictably, stuck to their mantra about social programmes and integration initiatives, the neglect of which has deprived second and third-generation immigrants of their economic and social prospects: violent outbursts are the only means they have to articulate their dissatisfaction. Instead of indulging ourselves in revenge fantasies, we should make the effort to understand the deeper causes of the outbursts. Can we even imagine what it means to be a young man in a poor, racially mixed area, a priori suspected and harassed by the police, not only unemployed but often unemployable, with no hope of a future? The implication is that the conditions these people find themselves in make it inevitable that they will take to the streets. The problem with this account, though, is that it lists only the objective conditions for the riots. To riot is to make a subjective statement, implicitly to declare how one relates to one’s objective conditions.

Who is this ‘we’ you talking about white man? David Starkey and the stench of bourgeois race supremacy lines up alongside this kind of comment – what we can imagine about them others, them beasts, them out on the streets. Time to take a walk outside SZ. Am I too ‘cynical’ [its coming] in thinking that the madness of actually hearing from the youth is possible, necessary even. A grime track listing anyone? For starters. Who ‘we’?

We live in cynical times, and it’s easy to imagine a protester who, caught looting and burning a store and pressed for his reasons, would answer in the language used by social workers and sociologists, citing diminished social mobility, rising insecurity, the disintegration of paternal authority, the lack of maternal love in his early childhood. He knows what he is doing, then, but is doing it nonetheless.

Imagine a protester.. you may say I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one who thinks it might be possible to do more than offer an easy mind game that does ventriloquy for social work – the catch here is the last clause of the above paragraph – the fetishists dilemma – knowing what’s going on and doing it nevertheless.

It is meaningless to ponder which of these two reactions, conservative or liberal, is the worse: as Stalin would have put it, they are both worse, and that includes the warning given by both sides that the real danger of these outbursts resides in the predictable racist reaction of the ‘silent majority’. One of the forms this reaction took was the ‘tribal’ activity of the local (Turkish, Caribbean, Sikh) communities which quickly organised their own vigilante units to protect their property. Are the shopkeepers a small bourgeoisie defending their property against a genuine, if violent, protest against the system; or are they representatives of the working class, fighting the forces of social disintegration? Here too one should reject the demand to take sides. The truth is that the conflict was between two poles of the underprivileged: those who have succeeded in functioning within the system versus those who are too frustrated to go on trying. The rioters’ violence was almost exclusively directed against their own. The cars burned and the shops looted were not in rich neighbourhoods, but in the rioters’ own. The conflict is not between different parts of society; it is, at its most radical, the conflict between society and society, between those with everything, and those with nothing, to lose; between those with no stake in their community and those whose stakes are the highest.

They are ‘both worse’ is Lenin, not Stalin – ‘both are worse’  from ‘What is to Be Done’ part 1, where Lenin is talking about two competing resolutions of the Jewish Workers Union in 1901. Surely a good Leninist should not mischievously be laying traps like this – checking to see if we are paying attention, misattributing classic quotes from the Vlad to Jo. SZ had already attributed this to Stalin in ‘Welcome to the Desert of the Real’ so I suspect its a moment of digital apocalypse cut and paste. The demand to deliver text in a rush. And I am doing it here – cut and say, paste and pay. But this is in the LRB, for which we are encouraged to subscribe. 

Zygmunt Bauman characterised the riots as acts of ‘defective and disqualified consumers’: more than anything else, they were a manifestation of a consumerist desire violently enacted when unable to realise itself in the ‘proper’ way – by shopping. As such, they also contain a moment of genuine protest, in the form of an ironic response to consumerist ideology: ‘You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly – so here we are doing it the only way we can!’ The riots are a demonstration of the material force of ideology – so much, perhaps, for the ‘post-ideological society’. From a revolutionary point of view, the problem with the riots is not the violence as such, but the fact that the violence is not truly self-assertive. It is impotent rage and despair masked as a display of force; it is envy masked as triumphant carnival.

Perhaps the problem with the commentaries are that they are not riotous enough, not triumphant, not able to see a revolution in carnival, in a moment, in assertion, even if not the ‘true self’ of the ideology carrying (where did you get that lovely outfit) demonstration of ‘irony’ is lagging behind.

The riots should be situated in relation to another type of violence that the liberal majority today perceives as a threat to our way of life: terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. In both instances, violence and counter-violence are caught up in a vicious circle, each generating the forces it tries to combat. In both cases, we are dealing with blind passages à l’acte, in which violence is an implicit admission of impotence. The difference is that, in contrast to the riots in the UK or in Paris, terrorist attacks are carried out in service of the absolute Meaning provided by religion.

This is a cut and past of the exact words from SZ’s book ’Violence’ that I discuss as note 20 in the second of 11 Notes (here). I could cut and paste to here, but then, nah. I repeat often enough as well. Its also not a crime, nor blind act, and certainly not religion.

But weren’t the Arab uprisings a collective act of resistance that avoided the false alternative of self-destructive violence and religious fundamentalism? Unfortunately, the Egyptian summer of 2011 will be remembered as marking the end of revolution, a time when its emancipatory potential was suffocated. Its gravediggers are the army and the Islamists. The contours of the pact between the army (which is Mubarak’s army) and the Islamists (who were marginalised in the early months of the upheaval but are now gaining ground) are increasingly clear: the Islamists will tolerate the army’s material privileges and in exchange will secure ideological hegemony. The losers will be the pro-Western liberals, too weak – in spite of the CIA funding they are getting – to ‘promote democracy’, as well as the true agents of the spring events, the emerging secular left that has been trying to set up a network of civil society organisations, from trade unions to feminists. The rapidly worsening economic situation will sooner or later bring the poor, who were largely absent from the spring protests, onto the streets. There is likely to be a new explosion, and the difficult question for Egypt’s political subjects is who will succeed in directing the rage of the poor? Who will translate it into a political programme: the new secular left or the Islamists?

This, though it might seem so to some, is not off message. The link to Egypt is not over cooked, the implications are important, there is something to learn. The pity might be that we do not also get a commentary on Libya, where another part of this struggle is being played out, not between Islamists and army in cahoots, but NATO imperialism and an opposition, a cruel twist on the colonial project, very useful for those keen to not, especially not, allow any links between the spirit of Tahrir Square, and Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, … Athens… Madrid… Malaysia… Do you remember how very very keen the British police were to not permit a Trafalgar Square occupation? However rife with contradictory forces these events were, they have meaning, and meanings struggled over, and changing, on the streets and in the commentariat, but also, perhaps, too early to tell.

The predominant reaction of Western public opinion to the pact between Islamists and the army will no doubt be a triumphant display of cynical wisdom: we will be told that, as the case of (non-Arab) Iran made clear, popular upheavals in Arab countries always end in militant Islamism. Mubarak will appear as having been a much lesser evil – better to stick with the devil you know than to play around with emancipation. Against such cynicism, one should remain unconditionally faithful to the radical-emancipatory core of the Egypt uprising.

Yes. Zindabad! But also the radical emancipatory core of the London uprisings. Even if this is still to come (yes, reference to Derrida intended – we are not abandoning reading theory, of course we are not – we will read it in the afternoons, between the square and the shops, in the breaks between the meetings.

But one should also avoid the temptation of the narcissism of the lost cause: it’s too easy to admire the sublime beauty of uprisings doomed to fail. [special pleading]. Today’s left faces the problem of ‘determinate negation’: what new order should replace the old one after the uprising, when the sublime enthusiasm of the first moment is over? [change of tone?]. In this context, the manifesto of the Spanish indignados, issued after their demonstrations in May, is revealing. The first thing that meets the eye is the pointedly apolitical tone: ‘Some of us consider ourselves progressive, others conservative. Some of us are believers, some not. Some of us have clearly defined ideologies, others are apolitical, but we are all concerned and angry about the political, economic and social outlook that we see around us: corruption among politicians, businessmen, bankers, leaving us helpless, without a voice.’ [How is this apolitical? THe 'square' is doomed when it become a paragde ground for the trooping of uniform ideas. The square is a debate, and struggle, a contest of interpretations. SZ has a role here]. They make their protest on behalf of the ‘inalienable truths that we should abide by in our society: the right to housing, employment, culture, health, education, political participation, free personal development and consumer rights for a healthy and happy life.’ Rejecting violence, they call for an ‘ethical revolution. Instead of placing money above human beings, we shall put it back to our service. We are people, not products. I am not a product of what I buy, why I buy and who I buy from.’ [Who calls this? A Manifesto? There are many - were there not many different calls? What is the emancipatory core here?]  Who will be the agents of this revolution?[Indeed]. The indignados dismiss the entire political class, right and left, as corrupt and controlled by a lust for power, yet the manifesto nevertheless consists of a series of demands addressed at – whom? Not the people themselves: theindignados do not (yet) claim that no one else will do it for them, that they themselves have to be the change they want to see. And this is the fatal weakness of recent protests: they express an authentic rage which is not able to transform itself into a positive programme of sociopolitical change. They express a spirit of revolt without revolution.

Yes, this gets towards the core problem of the square. The need for a vanguard party. But what sort of party? A party of the celebrity academics interested in parading the ‘idea’ of communism? Or a communist party made in the square (the square, you hippy dip, is a metaphor, gettit?]. I’ll be for the political party, though perhaps I won’t join, and I’ll not want to join the sectarian slagging match of fraction and faction, or rather, waferism – ever smaller slices of who has got the quotes on the Krondstadt (or on what Lenin said when) just so. But still, a party of the new type, I’ll support. Also of the old type. Get out your Mao. Read it in the square, fellow travellers.

The situation in Greece looks more promising, probably owing to the recent tradition of progressive self-organisation (which disappeared in Spain after the fall of the Franco regime). But even in Greece, the protest movement displays the limits of self-organisation: protesters sustain a space of egalitarian freedom with no central authority to regulate it, a public space where all are allotted the same amount of time to speak and so on. When the protesters started to debate what to do next, how to move beyond mere protest, the majority consensus was that what was needed was not a new party or a direct attempt to take state power, but a movement whose aim is to exert pressure on political parties. This is clearly not enough to impose a reorganisation of social life. To do that, one needs a strong body able to reach quick decisions and to implement them with all necessary harshness.

I’m sorry. Are there not also contradictions in Greece? Is there not also a racist, rightist, nationalist element in Syntagma Square? This ending is weird, not because of the call for a Party and the denunciation of ‘putting pressure’ on other parties – yes, yes, of course, of course – but that this scene of self-organising is more promising than Spain or Egypt or London. Why? Is it because there are no Islamists as there are in Cairo? (I am sure there are some). Is it because there are no overly inclusive manifestos as in Spain? Ha. Is it because the Greeks are not shopping as in London? bargain! No, I think there are deeper reasons as to why the commentators are concerned with their distance from meaning. I have learnt a lot from reading these laments, but I think the special pleading to be allowed to say – the ego investment in having a sponsored paywall ad say – is to be studied as well. This too is a question of the kind of organization and kind of leadership there must be in the party to come. Yes, take a ticket and wait your turn. I took mine, in italics. Thanks.

UfSO

a posh hypocrite takes time out from selling guns to murderous dictators in order to encourage popular uprisings against a vicious and corrupt elite, clinging to power without democratic legitimacy… well, you heard him!

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