Lewisham Drift 3 March 2011

Lewisham Drift

A Collective Futures Event

Tuesday 3 March 2011
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Laurie Bath Hall CR Goldsmiths

The Arts Committee from the Goldsmiths Library Occupation will facilitate a workshop on banners, placards and slogan-making for the “Lewisham Drift” to take place in conjunction with future demonstrations in London (e.g. 26 March). You are invited to bring a selection of your favourite quotations from books, films, songs, etc. We will use the technique of detournement to turn the quotations into slogans that respond to the current situation of crisis and cuts. During the workshop John Hutnyk will talk about the first two issues of The Paper and of current modes of collective knowledge production as forms of resistance.

After the workshop we will bring the slogans into the streets, visiting places that are significant for people struggling against the cuts in the area. With the Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance we will visit the New Cross Library, which will be soon privatised, and the St James Family Learning Centre which will be closed down at the end of March. With Prof Les Back we will visit other locations in New Cross that have been sites of resistance during the past century. During the drift we’ll read some texts together, and music will be played by students from the Goldsmiths Music department, but feel free to bring your own favourite instrument.

The Lewisham Drift / Rehearsal for a Demo is intended as an attempt to open the University to its surrounding area, creating the possibility for a set of connections to take place in a collective (hopefully near) future.


Meetings at the Institute for Race Relations

The IRR is holding a series of seminars. The first will take place on 7 March 2011: ‘The Obama administration and the ‘War Against Terrorism”, the second will take place on 29 March 2011: ‘Where are we going on policing, counter-terrorism and civil liberties?’. To find out more about these events see:

Contemporary Africa on Screen programme: 25.2.2011

You are cordially invited to the next event in the  Contemporary Africa on
Screen programme.

Screening of

Join director Mohamed Osman-Kamara and journalist Ade Deramy to view their
latest documentary about Nigerian R&B band *P Square* during their trip to
the UK to perform. Among the biggest groups to come out of Africa today, P
Square are part of a new generation of African musicians who have
established themselves on the world stage through touring sell-out concerts
in football stadia across the continent.

In 2007, they released their best-selling album so far,* Game Over* which
sold 8 million copies worldwide. The screening is followed by a discussion,
led by Juma Bah of Community Action Southwark, examining the role of groups
like P Square in establishing a new kind of mass audience for
African-produced music.

Friday 25 February, 7pm, Free
South London Gallery
65 Peckham Road
London SE5 8UH

This event is part of CONTEMPORARY AFRICA ON SCREEN, curated by Jennifer
Bajorek, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the South London Gallery in
partnership with Juma Bah, Community Action Southwark

Screening and discussion are FREE, but booking recommended
On 020 7703 6120 or mail[AT]southlondongallery.org

Coming soon:

*Man Kenenki (Me, The Other).*

Originally scheduled for October, artist and feminist activist
Fatoumata Kandé Senghor presents a screening of her film *Man Kenenki (Me,
The Other).

Senghor lives and works in Dakar, Senegal and makes works in various media
including performance, film, video, photography and the written word. *Man
Kenenki* is the story of two brothers who travel between America and their
native Senegal, in a work which explores belonging, history, community and
identity. The screening is followed by a discussion of the issues raised in
the film and in Senghor’s new project, on young people in African cities,
with invited guests.

here and there: our leaders in the East

Angela Merkel in Saudi, Blair with Gadaffi, Obama with Mubarak, Cameron in Kuwait… presenting these pictures is also not without a certain exotica, but it tells a story that I think should be up front and centre – the uprisings in the Middle East are not just those people ‘over there’ struggling against ‘their’ despots, but must also become our revolutionary struggle against ‘our’ despots, who are in fact the same despots.

If its not that, it’s a kind of sick tourism. As Jody Mcintyre argued at Goldsmiths last night – the bullets killing protesters in Bahrain were ‘made in Britain’…

Middle East Arms Fair Oil Panic Crisis Endgame.

Note with contempt and scorn the efforts of the British Prime Minister to appear relaxed walking through Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the way to his important gloat over the first Gulf War, accompanying his arms-trader mates heading to a Lords-of-War fest in Abu Dhabi. View the PMs itinerary in the context of over a thousand UK weapons and ‘defense’ contracts signed in Kuwait since 2003, and recall that it was US tear gas used recently against protesters in Egypt, and that Libya’s Colonel was so recently embraced by Blair, Obama and, no surprise given the Pretorian angle, Berlusconi. Be amazed, but understand that with the current apoplectic convulsions of the Western elite vis a vis the people’s uprisings across the world – of course the right, just and timely thing to do now is visit a weapons sales conference! The consequences of the financial crisis, banking bailout and housing mortgage collapse means repressive gun-belt-tightening cut-backs at home, but it also entails a frantic drive for quick fire investment in unstable markets. Its an old play called cowboy capitalism, and the infamous likes of Halliburton, Blackwater (now Xe) and Aegis (formerly Sandline), are joined by the PMs own arms-‘trade delegation’ that includes manufacturers of attack planes, Riot control vehicles and CS gas, armaments and other radar, surveillance and secret ops specialists. Alongside Cameron on the trip are decorated scions such as: Ian King of BAE Systems; Charles Hughes, of defense/security service communications systems specialist and top 100 defense contractor, the Cobham Group; Douglas Castner of Ultra Electronics Airborne bomber designers with radio communications interests; and the managing director of military ‘nuclear market leader’ Babcock International, and more. Yes, of course these are the travelling companions you want with you when you head into Kuwait to commemorate 20 years of war with Iraq. Along the way, the discussion must turn to the volatile oil price, which bucks and trends with more than a little in-flight turbulence. What was conceived in one crisis plays out as a scramble for contracts during another – and the alibi of meeting a few ‘genuinely inspiring’ people who ‘have risked a lot for what they believe in’ while flanked by dodgy security grunts in Tahrir only reinforces the disingenuous hypocrisy of a man who believes in nothing but the short-term advantage for his gunslinger mates. If any tyrannical regime needs urgently to be defeated and changed, it is the ongoing market imperialism of the British Arms Industry, financed by bank bailouts and opportunist-militarist sales-talk even amidst cuts and crisis. These travellers should be kicked off the plane, the plane should be refused reentry and ditched, the PM dumped at sea. We need a Tahrir of our own, and it surely starts in Parliament Square SW1. -TW.

Universities UK and the hidden hand of terror/freedom of speech

In a convulsive act of responsive policy and positioning, a new publication on freedom of speech in Universities has hit the shelves. This, I suspect, is going to be interesting reading – it is from the Vice-Chancellor’s cabal we know and love as ‘Universities UK’ – a name for the infinite escalation of ego and salary combined.
I’m thinking repressive tolerance, containment and plea-bargain all in one neat dialectical formula – ‘freedom with constraints’. The context is – as ever – the security of the West but I suppose we could think of this as an example of touching base with the alumni gone wrong. In a fully understandable move given that a 2010 review cleared UCL of any role in radicalizing its students, it seems a working party was set up ‘following the arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the United States on Christmas Day 2009 for an attempted act of terrorism. Eighteen months previously he had graduated from UCL’
Let’s check that all the buttons have been pressed:
– Islamophobic identifier in the name ✔ [no mention of underpants]
– wholesome ‘our side’ values reference to christian consumer festival
– attempted act of terrorism, clearly foiled by our intrepid allies the US ✔
– absolution in the passage of time (eighteen months)✔
Another fine production by Crusader spin inc. ✔

And because no-one, simply no-one, can do anything without a podcast these days, there is also a youtube video, with the UCL Provost talking about how we dont want students spying on each other and the best way to ensure freedom of speech is to have ‘openness, publicity, transparency and challenge’. Hear Hear!

In the report, then, there is the mysterious hand of not-at-all openness (my italics):

Indeed, the setting up of the Working Group behind this report was prompted by the events of Christmas Day 2009 when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was apprehended in attempting to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Eighteen months previously he had graduated from University College London, where he had also been president of the student Islamic Society. An independent inquiry chaired by Professor Dame Fiona Caldicott concluded unequivocally that there was no evidence to suggest that he had been radicalised during his time as a student, and MI5 see the hand of the Yemen-based preacher Anwar Al Awlaqi in his conversion to violent extremism

The front cover of the report pictures a woman with a megaphone in a green jumper, and in front of her another woman reaching into her back-pack… [just sayin’, see here]
And then on Page 39, for those not wanting to read the entire thing, is a diagram about accepting bookings for rooms on campus. The shorthand box is that bookings will be referred to security and could be refused if the booking or group involves/raises:

Potential Controversial Issues:
• subject to adverse media attention
• Associated with a campaign or political pressure group
• A faith or belief group whose views may be deemed as being discriminatory or inflammatory to others

Great material here for my Pantomime Terror book!
Because there needs to be a critical voice on this, here is an invitation to comment on a few choice snippets from the press release that indicate the stakes in terms of knowledge production:

Prevent is the element of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy that has been most visible to universities. The Prevent strand aimed to support community cohesion and thereby deter or divert people away from violent extremism. The strategy is currently being reviewed by the Coalition Government and it is clear that its focus and approach will alter over the next few years

Universities UK, working with the sector, has also been examining issues relating to entirely legitimate research by academics into potentially sensitive areas, such as terrorism and extremism. The work has been looking at the handling of sensitive research materials, and how institutions might need to adapt practices and processes. UUK will publish a guidance note for institutions later in 2011

An independent review (headed by Dame Fiona Caldicott) into Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s time at UCL published its final report in  in October 2010. The central conclusion of the report was that there was no evidence to suggest either that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was radicalised while a student at UCL, or that conditions at UCL during that time or subsequently were conducive to the radicalisation of students

Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK

More to come…


Seems to be competing events at Goldsmiths on the 22nd.


Rally for an Alternative — For jobs, growth, justice

Tuesday 22 February 7pm–8.45pm

Refreshments, stalls and entertainment from 6pm
Goldsmiths College, New Cross

Brendan Barber General Secretary, TUC
Jody McIntyre Journalist and anti-cuts activist
Mick Burke Economist and journalist
Bindz Patel President, Goldsmiths Student Union
Doris Smith Lewisham Pensioners Forum and Save our NHS
Heather Wakefield UNISON Local Govt Nat Sec
plus local trade unions and anti-cuts activists

Go to Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre: access via gate at end of Laurie Grove, London SE14 6NH. Near New Cross stations and bus routes.

Organised by: Lewisham Trades Union Council with support of Goldsmiths Student Union.
For info email: no_cuts@yahoo.co.uk.
Or visit Lewisham says no to cuts — Rally for an Alternative on Facebook.

To download materials including an image to use on your website, visitwww.mulberrypromenade.org.uk/downloads.

Rally in support of the TUC national demonstration in London on March 26th ‘March for the alternative: jobs — growth — justice’, against the government’s draconian cuts and its effects on those least able to withstand them. We will hear from local and national campaigners about the alternative to cuts and how to build the broadest opposition and TUC demonstration.


Lewisham Carnival Against Cuts

Saturday 19th February From 11am, Lewisham, South East London

The largest community protest EVER staged in the UK! Dozens of demonstrations borough-wide, followed by one mass march. The day ordinary people become quite extraordinary. Saturday 19th February from 11am to 12 noon culminating in 2 minutes of noise from people banging on saucepans and kettles with wooden spoons and saucepan lids. OVER 100 community groups will stage protests at EVERY venue facing cuts or closure.

We will not let these cuts destroy our community.
We will not ignore this coalition’s policies.
We will not let Lewisham’s Labour Council continue on this path of waste, mismanagement and savage cuts.

  • Community groups opposed to library closures will organise carnival protests outside every threatened library.
  • Students will protest at every college across the borough.
  • Pensioners and others will be protesting outside Lewisham Hospital in support of the BMA objections to the changes to the NHS and creeping privatisation, and supporting concerns from nurses, Doctors, patients and healthworkers.
  • Young people will be protesting at youth provision venues facing cuts.
  • Residents associations & tenants groups will be organising an estate protest against council housing policy. No to 80% rent increases and loss of security of tenure.
  • Disabled groups will be protesting at community centres such as Open doors and Connexions facing closure and cuts.
  • Bank customers and UK Uncut will be protesting at banks opposed to our money being used to subsidise banks. Who in turn are paying out bonuses. What our government SAYS and DOES are two different things.
  • Transport – Public transport users will be protesting at selected rail stations in protest at the massive rise in the cost of travel while the train companies continue to make massive profits, exploiting peoples necessity to use public transport.
  • Allotment holders will be protesting against rising costs. Many may be priced out of their plots.
  • Unions will be organising action across the borough in support of hundreds of local workers facing job losses.
  • Local traders will be protesting against record increases in business rates, license fees and car parking charges for shoppers, whilst many shoppers will be protesting outside shops owned by companies who avoid paying tax in the UK
  • Teachers and parents will be protesting in support of the “No to Tidemill Academy Campaign” at Tidemill school in Deptford where the head teacher was paid over £240,000 last year, and £47,000 of our council tax was used to pay his pension contributions
  • Convoys Wharf development – in the largest development outside of the Olympics. Lewisham is set to get millions in planning gain money. The community will get almost nothing. Forty-four storey blocks will cut off the view of the Thames for local people. No jobs and no affordable housing are included. This is putting private profit before community need.
  • An armada of small boats will close the river Thames from Convoys Wharf and Canary Wharf to raise awareness of this extensive planning proposal that will see huge profits for the developers but no real community benefit for the people of Deptford.
  • Early Childhood Centres – parents and disabled groups will be protesting outside Amersham, Rushey Green, Downderry and Ackroyd  Early Years Centres and other services facing closure or cuts. There will also be protests at the loss of mobility allowance.
  • Homeless people and workers will be staging protests at hostels against 60% cuts to services affecting the most vulnerable people.

At 12.30pm people will start assembling from across the borough outside the Town Hall in Catford to march to Lewisham Town Centre for a short rally with guest speakers.

Goldsmiths will be holding a social event on the evening of the protest.

This will be the model protest for the rest of the country to follow.


Lewisham People Before Profit – Carnival Against Cuts
www.LPBP.org.uk www.CarnivalAgainstCuts.org.uk

This event has the support of:

  • Business leaders
  • Resident Associations
  • Commuter passenger groups
  • Keep Our NHS Public
  • Pensioners groups
  • Local Trader Associations
  • Disability Campaign groups
  • No to Academy campaigners
  • Youth leaders
  • All of Lewisham’s Unions
  • Political parties – Lewisham People Before Profit, Socialist Party, Green Party and others
  • Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance
  • Right to Work Campaign
  • UK Uncut
  • Goldsmiths Students and lecturers
  • Save Lewisham’s Libraries campaigns


Piracy as activism

Piracy as activism



In spite of its long and intense presence in the popular imagery, piracy is a concept that has only scarcely and timidly been linked to forms of political activism. Mostly seen through the lens of criminalisation and policing (including also the transgression of the existing order by the heroic pirates) piracy has rarely been analysed in relation to its influence in shaping the everyday life of contemporary communities. Mostly seen through the lens of criminalisation and policing (including also the transgression of the existing order by the heroic pirates) piracy has rarely been analysed in relation to its influence in shaping the everyday life of contemporary communities. Piracy, in the seas or lands or digital networks, encompasses a wide array of practices that shape, and often transform, these spaces and networks.



Claire Bishop, Con-Demmed to the Bleakest of Futures: Report from the UK / Journal / e-flux

A very handy bunch of linked articles at the end of Claire Bishop’s article in e-flux (thanks Josie) – which, spoiler alert!, is number-heavy depression-inducing state of the condemned world analysis we do need to read.

Claire Bishop, Con-Demmed to the Bleakest of Futures: Report from the UK / Journal / e-flux.

Gavin Butt, Being Boiled

Melanie Gilligan, Visits from the Future

Sabeth Buchmann and Jens Kastner, Snapshot, Austria: Class Struggle from Above Right

Tom Holert, Birth of the Rebel Citizen in Germany

Hito Steyerl, Right in Our Face

Brian Holmes, Total Corruption: Report from the USA

Paul Chan, Progress as Regression

Franco Berardi Bifo, Exhaustion and Senile Utopia of the Coming European Insurrection

Hito Steyerl, Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Postdemocracy

Nora Sternfeld, Unglamorous Tasks: What Can Education Learn from its Political Traditions?

Irit Rogoff, FREE

Isabelle Bruno and Christopher Newfield, Can the Cognitariat Speak?

Florian Schneider, (Extended) Footnotes On Education

Tom Holert, Art in the Knowledge-based Polisvia

(I am going to consume this lot, mix it with this http://wp.me/pcKI3-lg– and thereby maybe have something to talk about at the Goldsmiths Teach-in on 16 Feb. Also planning to show a short film made in Australia in 88 at an Education demo in Melbourne – Anatomy of a March [McQuire, Hutnyk, Phipps])

Whittington’s Cat notes for Panto Terror (redux)

Punch and Judy (redux from 27.08.08). The grim and glum reality of opportunism is today more and more prevalent, more and more accessed, acquiesced, more or more or less bad, worse than before. We are confronted on all sides by both overt and covert ‘research’ groups, by think tanks and lobbyists, who have decided – in a climate of total war – that we need to attend to (the control of) the global public sphere. The tanksters are interested in ideas, in projects and in strategies, they are interested in the management of feelings, the orchestration of responses, they are interested in refining a certain clarity of message. They bring us bread and circuses – both stale.

Their boosterism says nothing. The climate they encourage thrives on the sentiment of abstract disengagement – alongside the promulgation of procedure and the ‘dictatorship of the secretariat’ – they persuade us that we abjure our interest or involvement in political questions because a) things are too complex and b) complexity needs to be controlled.

These people are sceptics who rail against scepticism. They present themselves as those who present answers, but the way they do so cynically narrows the space of answers to a tightly controlled furrow. The engagement they favour is disengagement except on their own studiously abstract terms. There is no room for the questioning of sceptics in their cynical world.

And then they sometimes claim they are for democracy – but not broadband democracy or open debate – rather a pay-per-view, programme management, narrowcasting, niche-market democracy. Their democracy excludes debate, questions, objections and alternatives. They have long ago vetoed the possibility of thinking outside the box, for there lies danger, difference, a multiplicity that cannot be corralled. The box must always have a brand mark, a slogan, a font or a strapline – sometimes just a colour (the colour is always drab).

They promote their insights as research, as scholarship, as traditional values and as wisdom – but they are faceless, passionless, automatons – going though the motions (jack boots are not far away, but they forgo them for frequent flyer miles and airport lounge privileges).

I do of course think there are more than two sides – the lines shift and the players change, sometimes swapping, sometimes double agents. But there are some, the best you can say of them is that while they are one of ‘them’, they do at least talk like ‘us’. We should carefully watch these ones especially.

Who are they? In fact they are us. Turn again Dick Whittington, Turn again.


And why Dick Whittington? – see here for both the real and the Pantomime story, where a cloth-merchant adventurer pilfers some gold, travels to the orient to get rich, and returns to London to become Mayor. OK, this all happened 700 years ago, but the cat seems to have nine lives. These are notes for Pantomime Terror – inaugural on 30/09/08 (5.30, IGLT Goldsmiths).