Click here to preorder: http://www.zero-books.net/books/pantomime-terror
Click here to preorder: http://www.zero-books.net/books/pantomime-terror
Reading Spivak’s Harlem for my class, there is also this:
Therefore Alice and I attempted teleopoiesis, a reaching toward the distant other by the patient power of the imagination, a curious kind of identity politics, where one crosses identity as a result of migration or exile…
Am more than half way through this… Again. Get this book. Believe the endorsement on the back!
Get it via the link here
Notes on the coming disturbance…
This is on page 26. Cop killer Cregan getting roughed up in the back of the prison van. Article appeared on the same day we have detailed reports on page one of Drummer Lee Ryan’s killers being approached by MI5 to work for them. Just busy traffic I guess. Hmmm.
This from Tom Henri. It looks to me to be an attempted State premeditated murder, aka Capital Punishment, for a minor offense. There is also an open letter to the Ministry of Justice, signed by various luminaries.
Daniel Roque Hall suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, this debilitating and fatal illness means he requires around the clock care. In 2011 Daniel pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine into the UK. The judge sentenced Daniel to three years in prison, on the proviso that a prison place could be found which would meet his health care needs. The Governor of Wormwood Scrubs (widely regarded as the London prison with the worst health facilities) stated that his prison could meet Daniel’s needs. After three weeks of neglectful treatment in the Scrubs, Daniel was rushed to hospital and placed on a life support machine. Without exaggeration, the care (or lack of) that Daniel received in prison nearly killed him. His man has a fatal degenerate disease, he requires full-time care, he is no harm to anyone else and he need to be with his family – NOT in Wormwood Scrubs. Earlier this week, Daniel and his family won a seven day reprieve on Daniel’s return to jail.
You can read more about Daniel’s story at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/02/disabled-daniel-roque-hall-injunction-return-prison
Abstract for Lisbon keynote – On the Life and Afterlife of the Popular 4.12.12
Two Augusts and Several Monuments
To evaluate the popular, and its returns, I will contrast two Augusts of recent English summers. In 2011 there were three nights of youth rioting, which might otherwise be called a popular uprising that was both an expression of anger at austerity, and not without links to the student protests of 2010 and the various events in the wake of Tunisia and Tahrir Square that pass under the name of Arab Spring. Whether in Tahrir Square or in London these popular uprisings were met with significant and unpopular police violence. In the subsequent period, across the Arab world, and in London in August 2012, the policing of the popular has taken divergent paths. In August 2012 London’s major security effort was the operation to protect the Olympic Games, universally recognised as a success (despite problems with G4 and much carping before the opening ceremony). In Libya, Syria, and arguably Egypt, a less popular mode of policing, indeed a counter-revolutionary war, has been the order of the day.
I cannot make a full assessment of the Arab Spring in this talk, but note it as a context for a possible angular appreciation of what the Olympic Games achieved for London. To make a point about the politics of popular festivals I will do a Vasco De Gama (viewed from the tower built for Expo 98) and take three examples from outside Europe, intentionally looking elsewhere for perspective, and finding it in carnival (Mela) films from India. With a historical perspective drawn from Indian film theorists like Madav Prasad and Arvind Rajagopal a possible critical perspective on the austerity cycle of power and performance, bread and circuses becomes more clear. The Ferris Wheel of the Chicago World Fair, the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye will be associated images.
abstract for an article with Tom Henri:
This paper discusses the events of August 2011 through our reading of a series of reports and responses by academics and commentators. These are critically and collectively evaluated as lacking insofar as we see the deployment of gang-talk, the promotion of role models, narrow-cast notions of race and platitudes about the justice system as a distraction from wider issues. Providing context for ‘reading’ the riots/uprisings, we suggest that at stake in each case we see the limits of a scholarly commentary that remains unprepared to address the conflict and turmoil of ‘Big Society’ austerity thinking.
The so-called riots/uprising of August 2011 may not have been provoked as a dress rehearsal for possible disturbances a year later at the Olympics, but no doubt there were some police commanders who thought there were lessons to be learned. Similar opportunism without regard to civil liberties will have been involved after the student and anti-austerity demonstrations of 2010.
If there was a Left resurgence (!) it might fight for the permanent dismantling of any possibility of such state renegade/retrogressive opportunist – training programme/pogrom) activity. Suburb by suburb activists would show that Government legitimacy and its Police backing is unworkable. The youth of August 2011 actually already showed that, irrespective of analysis and theory. But now, rather than a civil war and decline into chaos, as engineered in Libya, Syria etc., here the uprising must dismantle authoritarian rule by repeating the ‘riots’ – cops on the back foot etc. In the absence of any Left initiative on this, the olympic jingoism was an insult but probably deserved – a pause, and advert, a product placement interlude – so fake. But they got away with it – so far. My Lords, the Nuremberg rally at the end, with George Michael singing ‘Freedom’ (tell it to Helmand Province) and Eric Idle mimicking ‘Indian Dancing’ with his ancient bullshit only the PM likes. Yes, its an ideological war made of bread and circuses – the major initial targets must be the compliant press and complicit broadcast media. What would it take to really close the Games?
Note: Our examination and condemnation of self referential commentaries as merely promotional is not an anti intellectual position, so much as it is an attempt to question the ways in which intellectual declarations, including claims for more and better analysis, are often left unexamined as regards the privilege of making, or at least publishing, any analysis at all. We have no illusions that our own work, insofar as it can be valued as ‘work’, is also subject to a certain privilege, even if we are not put forward as talking heads on Newsnight or pundit-writers on the Guardian’s Comment is Free.
* image = while Gove sells off school playing fields for profit, the aberration that is Cameron declares real sport under threat from ‘Indian dancing or whatever’ (Guardian 14.August 2012). The man is unaware and un-fucking-coherent. As a certain ma-in-law said: ‘wouldn’t it be great if the second half of the #closingceremony had been some huge Bollywood number’ – instead of the caricature it was. Did David Cameron do PE at school, or was his idea of exercise running errands for the dominatrix prefect for which he was fagging? Sorry, I have nothing but contempt for the weed.
Some sentences/notes that will probably not make the final cut of an article on the August 2011 uprisings, with Thomas Henri:
Further work to be done on:
- the production of a class of pundit commentators more or less in the pay of property, capital, privilege and Bentham
- that a lumpen-proletarian street-level analysis and insight seized the day, and did not have, nor need, theorists to spell it out (of course the break of exchange value and use value had its opportunist and adventurist moments, but so?)
- that austerity as context is underpinned by a cynical neoliberal moralism where the coalition and its corrupt media mates in elite suburban and rural green zones, with draconian policing, prevail (as the Tory Taliban)
- that signs of organizational impact spread terror amongst the already anxiously-guilty ruling classes, and their liberal allies, which could only be soothed on the third day with the deployment of Jenkels (we also note massing of Jenkels at Nottinghill Carnival later in the summer: just saying)
- that there is an air of waiting, of anticipation, because everyone knows, with varied assessments, that this has happened before and can all easily happen again, and it’s the more likely consequence, and perhaps only the weather can save them
Something to poke in the eye with a sharp stick
(thanks Carlo for spotting this trinket).
these two screenings on police and deaths in custody in conjunction with the Centre for Cultural Studies, Capital course, Text and Image course and the No Borders Convergence. All welcome.
If you are gonna pull out your weapon, you gotta use it. For me, this means that there should not have been anyone arrested – those dragged off should have been retrieved. They let them off lightly – my meaning will become clear if you watch this all the way through, not just the first few outrageous frames.
If it will not show as an embedded frame, try: http://youtu.be/WmJmmnMkuEM
The micro drone is not the only sci fi spin off boggling the goggles these days (its a hunter-seeker from Dune). This below, at first, I thought was a put up job. I thought it was mad enough to be a photo-shopped diss, but it seems all too true: as this story from Harlem, of course, confirms.
I was alerted to this new fold in the panoptic street-scape by Jeff Heydon, who owes us more text soon (Jeff?). And am thinking we need to watch the Star Wars films again to learn the tactics and logistics needed to topple these monsters.
Movin’ On Upby Jeff Heydon
A significant amount of my research deals with surveillance and the idea of the panoptic. That it is the current model for most first-world prison systems or that it applies to the datafication of the entire populous of the planet under the weight of the digital revolution is well established. What I find fascinating is the way in which the idea of the panoptic can indeed conform to different national cultures.New Yorkers are so often derided for being obnoxious, Starbucks-swigging, quasi-cultured faux-European poseurs that it’s genuinely nice to come across an example that indicates the Big Apple is just as capable of fusing laziness, an unnatural attachment to Star Wars (think of the AT-STs from Empire), the automobile obsession and the assertion of freedom through overt dictatorial mechanisms as the rest of the country. The following photograph, taken by an ever-vigilant friend of mine, will better illustrate my point:
What we appear to be witnessing in this instance (and, to be fair, I haven’t been thinking about this object for a very long time) is the stop-and-search equivalent of the drive-thru window. The realization that the guard tower can now be driven to the point of concern and the dynamics of the total surveillance prison can be enacted anywhere on the street adjusts our relationship with systems of power in two ways.
The first is obvious: the ability of the police to view, capture and develop a case against a citizen is mobile, technological and allows the traditional, permanently fixed globe of the CCTV camera to shift from one location to another location. The physical aspects of the city are less stable than before – our relationship with objects that indicate power no longer fits to the object/stable – human/mobile dynamic … or not as clearly as before anyway.
The second is a bit more interesting. SkyWatch (the name of the tower) offers an opening in our understanding of urbanity from a public perspective. The necessity of a tower that is mobile might function as an indication of the fallibility of a power structure that encourages us to think that it is omniscient. There is a desperation that emerges from this thing; the need to turn the urban landscape into a potential prison block at the drop of a hat might indicate to us just how much of the landscape is a permanent blind spot on the security system’s radar screen.
The use of SkyWatch is problematic at best. The option to erect a guard tower anywhere on an urban map at the whim of the police puts all of us in the position of a potential prisoner. With that in mind, it might just be how obvious this thing is that makes me chuckle at it rather than feel a genuine sense of concern. More likely, though, that’s an indication that I’m becoming far too comfortable with the sensation of being watched at all times for no good reason at all …
Dan Cull has done the round-up, found thanks to a ping-back, its well worth circulating, for the record, so to speak. Thanks Dan. More news anyone? Look out for the next round up which surely has to be of prisoner support, and 10,000 articles condemning the Cameron-Clegg-Milliband-Robocop repression…
Chavez Campbell Predicted Trouble:
- I did predict a riot, the government should have seen it coming. (Guardian).
- Trouble isn’t over yet. (Guardian).
- North London – Tottenham Tottenham burning
- North London – Edmonton
- North London – Enfield Police monitor beaten in back of police van
- East London – Hackney (1) it’s all about class
- East London – Hackney (2) report from the Commune paper
- East London – Hackney (3)
- South London – Walworth
- South London – Catford rioting for fun and profit
- Salford and Manchester
The voiceless find their voice:
- ‘showing the rich we do what we want’ (BBC News)
- ‘no excuse’ (Sky News)
- I’m not law abiding (Sky News)
- Looters justify their actions (Sky News)
- a few members of Haringey Solidarity Group. Some thoughts about the Tottenham riots. HSG. Aug 12, 2011.
- Workers Solidarity Movement. London burns – causes & consequences of the riots – an anarchist perspective. Aug 13, 2011.
- Tower Hamlets ALARM. The story so far, in summary. Tower Hamlets ALARM. Aug 10, 2011.
- All London Anarchist Revolutionary Movement. Understanding the riots – where next? Tower Hamlets ALARM. Aug 12, 2011.
- Occupied London. Eyes wide open in London Aug 9, 2011.
- Fitwatch. A Fitwatcher’s view of the riots. Aug 10, 2011.
- North London Solfed. Statement about the riots. Freedom Press. Aug 9, 2011.
- Ian Bone. Fucking Hell!. Freedom Press. Aug 9, 2011.
- Ian Bone. The riot ‘Experts’ are among us. Ian Bone Blog. Aug 8, 2011.
- Porkbolter. Statement on riots. Aug, 2011.
- Solidarity Federation. Anarchists respond to the London riots. Libcom. Aug 9, 2011.
- An anarchist in Brixton. Criminality and rewards. Indymedia. Aug 9, 2011.
- Ron Jacobs. London’s Melted Furnace. Counterpunch. Aug 12-14, 2011.
- William Wall. Tottenham and beyond: neoliberal riots and the possibility of politics. Iceman Blog.
- David Harvey. Feral Capitalism Hits the Streets. Aug 11, 2011.
- Alexander Cockburn. Riots and the underclass. Counterpunch. Aug 12 – 14, 2011.
- david. AA+ for the rioters? The Free Association. Aug 8, 2011.
- Daniel Harvey. don’t moralise, don’t judge, don’t take pictures – it’s time fr the riot to get some radical politics. The Commune. Aug 9, 2011.
- David Broder. nothing to lose, nothing to win. The Commune. Aug 10, 2011.
- Joe Thorne. …or does it explode? The Commune. Aug 13, 2011.
- Socialism and/or barbarism. An open letter to those who oppose looting (part 1). Socialism and/or barbarism. Aug 9, 2011.
- Socialism and/or barbarism. An open letter to those who oppose looting (part 2). Socialism and/or barbarism. Aug 10, 2011.
- John Hutnyk. 11 notes on the disturbancesTM in London. trinketization. Aug 8, 2011.
- John Hutnyk. 11 more notes on the disturbancesTM in London. trinketization. Aug 10, 2011.
- Tom Fox. riots a grim mirror image of neoliberal britain. Red Pepper. Aug 10, 2011.
- Anti-Cuts Space. A message to a country on fire. Anti-Cuts Space. Aug 9, 2011.
- Carl Finamore. When is a “riot” a revolt? A view of the riots from the US. Truthout. Aug 12, 2011.
- Dan Hind. Nothing ‘mindless’ about rioters. Al Jazeera. Aug 9, 2011.
- Mohammad Abbas. London Rioters Resent Media Image of Hooded Teenage Thug. Reuters. Aug 10, 2011.
- Boff Whalley. ‘In defence of anarchy’ The Independent. Aug 12, 2011.
- Max Joseph. Some thoughts and responses. The Third Estate. Aug 12, 2011.
- Russell Brand. Big Brother Isn’t Watching you. Blog. Aug 11, 2011.
- Nathaniel Tapley. An Open Letter to David Cameron’s Parents. Blog. Aug 10, 2011.
- Vigilante tracks rioters using facial recognition software (yahoo news)
- Hackers hit Blackberry (BBC News)
- Blackberry’s blog defaced (Social Rupture)
- Social Media and the UK Riots (Indymedia)
- Too far (Indymedia)
Trade Union Response to Riots:
- RMT Stratford no.1 branch resolution – The riots. RMT London Calling. Aug 11, 2011.
Famous Academic Shows his Racist Side:
The first 11 notes were here.
12. It is too easy to complain that the ‘rioting’ youth are merely obsessed with trainers and plasma TV. To say this misses the point, but it is more difficult for journalists to parse the process by which circulation, valorization, exchange, value extraction, surplus labour, alienation, and the fetishism that disguises social relations as relations between things operates. The ‘reporter-campaigner’ press is no longer on the job.
13. The insurrectionary youth seem to understand better than most what these goods are – theirs. They grasp the fetish character of commodities and the theft of property as time. In a radical way, the youth grasp, and break, the distinction between use value and exchange value. Fat cat neoliberals have thrived off expropriation, but now as the roosting pigeon heads homeward, with them having mortgaged the future to short-term gain, they seem perversely ignorant of causes. The sorry spectacle has them flapping about trying to fix the leaks where they see their interests and profits must be defended, as ever with a bolstered repressive apparatus, and having ransomed everyone else for their sorry survival.
14. In this context, jokes about ‘aggressive forms of late night shopping’ (ex cop on TV) are hypocritical ventriloquy of ruling class ideas, in that nearly every ‘older’ person I’ve heard talking about this first wishes the youth had a ‘cause’ (like they do!) but then wants to know where to buy one of these cheap hot plasmas, though without having to go to Tottenham for the pick up. Distorted and alienated interests are interests nonetheless – they are not the interests of Capital. Cut through this phantasmal comedy and it’s illusions of civic responsibility, morality and myths of political representation – contemporary Capital is nothing less than theft and plunder and should be hounded into the annals of history.
15. Lack of role models! The role models aren’t Kate Middleton and knowing what she wore, nor Beckham and his grooming products – the parade of privilege and property has them only as a window-dressing facade. The weapons trade, the mining industry, the micro-processing and conductor sweatshops, the off-shore processing zones, the anti-union, tax-free, labour intensive low-wage hell camps… These are the role models, also critiqued by the broken windows – the targets are tangential, but the sentiment is shared. Some are making the connections, and they are not just crusty old Marxists.
16. The youth hate the cops with good cause. Deaths in custody is a trigger, but stop and search, surly attitudes, bus dragnets, corruption, payola and more are not endearing plod to anyone. Defending prime property while letting lesser capital burn is an outrage, but expected given where we are just now in the volatile process of cyclical accumulation. The valorisation/conversion of expropriated surplus value through circulation within a stag-flationary recession that favours write-offs and fire-sales (primark, tkmaxx, budget airlines, and now many so-called ma-and-pa shops) means petit bourgeois traders suffer while big capital strives to recoup what minimal profit can be scarpered away before the fire sale season ends. The super rich survive, only slightly singed by scandals (dear Rupert), to then pounce to buy up the scorched earth as a bloody trophy upon which a new phase of accumulation is inaugurated. Class and location maps onto race and privilege to differentiate the cartography of valorised capital under this restructuring, so-called ‘crisis’ we are all in together. Some zones of manufacture and circulation entail very small margins with very large numbers – ahh, plastic goods – and if this mode of production, and a sharp end understanding of it, isn’t political, then what is?
17. The technique is refined in war. Invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and gleeful opportunism after the Arab spring (Cameron visits an arms fair) follows the model of army and camp followers. The cowboy corporations rush to provide security services, building contracts, democracy-capacity-building workshops…
18. We do not necessarily need commodity chain analysis or a critique of colonial history to understand that here and there, local and global are co-constituted in an embrace of death. Seems like only the politicians have a vested interest in saying this is not political – and they criminalise all youth, and all revolutionary zeal, with the same golden Bullingdon toilet brush (I am still reeling at Boris Johnson’s image of Britain as ‘a broken washing machine with black fluid leaking out the back’ – even disavowing this version he reveals his gutter mind).
19. The looting is not political because the youth pick up on a general discontent, it is not political because police tactics are repressive and biased and will be extended on the back of this, it is not political because parenting and family values have been lost back in some nostalgic fantasy of the good war, it is not political because the cuts to services mean there’s nothing else for the youth to do. It is political because all of the above make it an insurrection. Our very own intefada part one.
20. It is not a blind passages a l’acte, comrade Žižek. In his book on violence, Žižek says (after the deaths of Bouna Toure and Zyed Benna on October 27, 2005 and the thousands of cars set alight): ‘the fact that there was no programme behind the burning Paris suburbs is thus itself a fact to be interpreted’ (Žižek 2008:64). That this might be described as a ‘blind acting out’ seems itself ironic and myopic, even when SZ is correct to mock the sociological ‘search for deeper meaning or messages hidden in these outbursts’ (Žižek 2008:65), especially if these searches are undertaken from the comfort of the television viewing room. Žižek himself spends two further pages explaining that the youth wanted to be recognized as French, and yet locates this events in a particular and peculiar way. I expand the parameters of the quotation already used earlier:
“The Paris riots need to be situated in a series they form with another type of violence that the liberal majority perceives as a threat to our way of life: direct terrorist attacks and suicide bombings. In both instances, violence and counter-violence are caught up in a deadly vicious cycle, each generating the very forces it tries to combat. In both cases we are dealing with blind passages a l’acte, where violence is an implicit admission of impotence. The difference is that, in contrast to the Paris outbursts which were a zero-level protest, a violent outburst which wanted nothing, terrorist attacks are carried out on behalf of that absolute meaning provided by religion” (Žižek 2008:69).
We cannot be sure Žižek has understood Paris here, nor should we be detained by his assertion that religion is the absolute designation of terrorism, but the ascription of ‘nothing’ as the meaning of the Paris riots certainly suggests some problems with commentary.
21 Media reportage as the official line, paving the way for more cops, more repression, less commentary, less critique – we have long known the idea of the independent campaigning journalist reporter has been swallowed up by embedded, churnalistic, press release and sub-tabloid eaves-dropper automatons. Recycled heavy rotation police reports and edits (let me see more of Mayor Johnson being hounded out of Clapham by rightly angry shopkeepers). That this 24 hr news cycle stresses recycle of items is just yet another cut in the stagflationary moment.
22. The ‘Lumpen R Us’. Well, not quite, but it does not hurt to have an aspiration. In his early text ‘A Report from Hunan’ Mao praises the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ (Mao Selected Works Vol 1 p29). The ‘riff raff’ are the ‘utterly destitute’ lumpen peasantry who we find in China as:
“completely dispossessed … People who have neither land nor money, are without any means of livelihood, and are forced to leave home and become mercenaries or hired labourers or wandering beggars” (Mao Vol. I P 32)
Mao then provides a detailed report on the achievements of these peasants as revolutionaries able to transform an uprising into Red self governance. Mao’s ‘Report from Hunan’ is a great example of engaged reportage and it provides a more balanced evaluation of lumpen elements. His amusingly titled section ‘“Its Terrible” or “Its Fine”’ is equally judicious. Mao is praising the ways the peasants had banded together to dominate the landed gentry in Hunan, how their organisation established the basic conditions for a defence of the gains, and the template for the pattern of protracted guerrilla war. His unconditional approval for the ‘Movement of the Riff Raff’ is unstinting in its praise for the violent suppression of counter-revolutionaries. He does not ever want to say they ‘go too far’ when they defend the revolution (Selected Works Vol. I).
Thus – build the revolution…
11 more points soon
The first 11 notes were here.
The best 11 you should know by heart – the point is to change it.