Malign Velocities

malignBenjamin Noys’ Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism (Zero 2014) is a really impressive little book not because it offers a scathing critique of the accelerationists – a panzer tank to squash a gnat anyone? – nor because it pierces the commonplace anxiety that everything is speeding up – in a stagnant phase of capital accumulation, that speed hype is particularly transparent. No, I like the book because Noys loves the word equivocation and uses it with dextrous abandon. First of all Marx on India, p9, equivocal it ‘appears’, on the results of British colonial plunder in India (the footnote to Aijaz Ahmad will be worth following up, since limiting Marx’s discussion of the subcontinent to only the first of a great many NYDT articles on India perpetrates a fraud). This pattern is established early – the accelerationists believe the worst will produce the good. Variations on the theme abound – and it cannot but leave us saying ‘yes, but’. BUT, the best parts of the book do not owe much at all to the avowed ‘enemy’ here – the discussion of Bataille and Godard – Bataille is ‘equivocal’ on 76 – is the shit. Literally, and the excremental analysis of capitalism accords well with, after all, Marx’s own assessment of economics – he wanted to be done with that shit. Then a chapter on Brecht and Benjamin – ‘equivocal’ on 90 – gives a deep and careful evaluation of the train brake metaphor, observing actual wrecks and actual saves where the brake interrupts disaster. That Benjamin can be offered as the theorist impatient with waiting, 92, is perhaps somewhat sad given his end, but there is much to learn about the more cuddly of the Frankfurt School theorists. A pity though that Adorno is described as ‘mordant’ (41) only to be (unintentionally) plagiarised later on where the two torn halves of a culture that cannot be put back together is lifted from Adorno’s critique of Benjamin without acknowledgement (98 – Adorno to Benjamin 18 March 1936). Equivocation indeed, but who can disagree with great bon mots such as ‘The “left” failing to go all the way to capitalism (and not all the way to the left…)’ that would exempt us from heading with Nick Land towards ‘neo-China’? Instead, this book will tarry with Lyotard, Sade, Stalin, Lovecraft, D&G, Gibson, Detroit Techno and Pynchon (with Adorno again too simply ‘pessimistic’ 45 – could we not be equivocal here too?). The lessons on the USSR and Trotsky are well-taken, the section on Lukács, HArdt/NeGri, Badiou impressive, the Benjamin heartfelt.  Noys’ will neither be rushing to the handbrake nor pushing the pedal to the floor – his opposition to privatization and outsourcing of services, for campaigns which offer a return to public control, to ‘protect benefits’, to ‘sustain social and collective forms of support’ and to ‘attack’ the way ‘work is supposed to account for our own self-reproduction’ and its ‘ideological and material role’ in the ‘validation of citizenship’ (99) all seem eminently reasonable and sound parts of a Marxist critique. It is not rocket science. My petty concerns about a citation for Adorno do not disqualify this as a near flawless book, except perhaps for the false publicity it gives the woolly thinking of accelerations, futurists and fascists beneath Noys’ elephant gun. Crush them in the egg I agree – I suppose there need be no equivocation there. This is a welcome call to join the struggle against the total commodification of our lives.

Time Served: Discipline & Punish 40 Years On. CFP

Hey, you might want to go to this, even give a paper at this… get in touch with Sophie here.

11-12 September 2015, The Galleries of Justice, Nottingham, UK

Call for papers
40 years after it was first published in French, the impact of Michel Foucault’s seminal text Discipline and Punish on theories of incarceration, discipline and power remains largely unchallenged. The aim of this conference is to revisit the text in light of the past four decades of penal developments, public debate and social consciousness on incarceration as it continues to constitute society’s mode of punishment par excellence.
In addition to thinking through the legacy of Discipline and Punish and its continued relevance today, specific focus will be given to the text itself, its position within Foucault’s wider critical project and its important relationship with his activism most notably the work of the GIP [Groupe d’Information sur les prisons] during the early 1970s. For example, the publication in 2013 of his 1973 lectures at theCollège de France on La Société Punitive, calls for a return to this period and a new engagement with Foucault’s work on prisons, not least in its pursuit of a more openly Marxist critique of the relationship between incarceration and bourgeois capital accumulation.
Here, attention should also be paid to Foucault’s methodology in researching and writing the text. Discipline and Punish marks his movement from an archeological to a genealogical approach towards what he terms the ‘history of the present.’ What is at stake in this shift and how effective is his genealogical method for thinking through the material and discursive structures of incarceration operating within our own society and moment? How does the juxtaposition set up between the torture and killing of Damiens and the prison timetable of the book’s opening raise important questions not simply about punishment but the role of representation – images and narratives of incarceration – in framing public consciousness about the space of the prison?
It is hoped that the conference will bring together a range of participants: scholars working in the fields of philosophy, sociology, criminology, urban geography, architecture, history, literature, media studies as well as artists, writers and activists involved in projects based in and about prisons and their conditions.
If you would like to offer a paper or other form of intervention, please send us a 250 word abstract along with your name, e-mail and (if relevant) institutional affiliation. If you would like to organize a panel of 3 or 4 presenters, please also send a panel title along with the abstracts and contact details.
Deadline for abstracts: 1 March 2015
The conference is organized by Nottingham Trent University and will be held at the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.

Campaign to change the street name of Karokkolhane to NUH KÖKLÜ Caddessi.

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Click on the image to see petition, in Turkish.

Campaign to Change the street name of Karakolhane to NUH KÖKLÜ Caddesi

On Tuesday night, February 17th 2015, our friend the journalist Nuh Köklü was stabbed because a snowball hit the window of a shopkeeper. The murderer is encouraged by a slogan of President Erdoğan, which says: ‘My local shopkeeper is soldier, police and judge, if necessary’. In Turkey people like Nuh are always under the threat of a government which legitimizes aggression against anyone with a point of view that does not conform. This is displayed even in street names.

We now want to change the street name of Karakolhane Caddesi, which refers to a prison famous for torture in the 90s, to the Name of NUH KÖKLÜ.

English (and German in comments) statement on horrific snowball killing here.

The informality of ‘free’ labour.

I am writing on the relation of illicit and informal labour to formal labour, the unpaid component of capital as embodied, lived, precarious and immaterially material as a way of keeping all workers in a kind of check – aspirations and opportunities limited by affective restraint, low horizons and opportunity. How this plays out in the informal and illicit economies of nightlife, port life, smuggling, contraband, covert and dysfunctional piracies…
Conceptions of ‘labour’ have relied for too long on an unexamined conventional definition based upon working hours which ignores Marx’s radical and innovative extended argument in Capital. Labour, in Marx’s unfolding presentation, is first of all labour-power, but in a changing sense. His analysis proceeds from simple reproduction to collective – a movement replicated in individual chapters and in the book as a whole. By the later chapters of volume one, the issue is the maintenance of a separation between productive consumption in the workplace and consumption that reproduces collective labour power. A distinction maintained by the wage form, with responsibility for reproduction – food, shelter, training, domestic life, childrearing etc – delegated to non-work or unpaid ‘free’ time.
Capital cannot exist materially without this immense trick of ‘free time’. In addition to receiving without fee the ‘surplus’ created above reproduction by labour in the workplace, capital also benefits in various ways from the materiality of unwaged time. The informality of this time of reproduction, of unpaid labour in the home, in training, in community, even in recovering, through sleep, for work the next day – all this time has become saturated with commodification, from school books and domestic appliances to therapies and alarm clocks. Nightlife and homelife become the shadowy extension of labour time (Adorno) subject to an affective recovery work, replenishing that which capital appropriates for free. ‘free in a double sense’ Marx says, and today, more than ever, all of our time is monetized as such ‘free time’
from this, from studies of the informal sector, it becomes possible to say…
…well, there will be a case study on informal economies in port cultures, piracy or some such. To be worked out closer to the date…

Precarious: on generalized unemployment and the conditions of street contestation.


What can we learn about contemporary politics of work, service economy and culture industry from an old book from 1867? We can read – precisely in Chapter 25 of Marx’s Capital – a long disquisition on the industrial reserve army (LW628 section three of chapter 25). Much of the chapter is also on wages (and therefor probably moved from the once promised book on wages) and was included to emphasise the trick of accumulated capital – as unpaid labour power of a collective kind. If today the contribution economy, algorithms of advertising and circulation, and struggles over democracy in the media and on the street are questions of precarious life, does it matter that many have misunderstood Marx’s argument, his movement from individual worker to collective worker, and simple reproduction to capitalist reproduction, in Capital? If his argument is credited, then the ‘prekärer’ is the condition of all precarious workers (P793 D669 LW640), and all reproduction within capitalism is precarious. We then have to consider the proximity of the floating, latent and stagnant reserve army that keeps everyone ducking and diving to stay in place, keeps aspirations in check, keeps wages down, and is an unavoidable question of inside and outside that must always be put under pressure. Where Marx calls for workers and unemployed to organise together, we miss a trick if the sociological analysis remains at the level of the individual not collective. In this analysis, Capital is many, but the ‘we’ is more. What does this mean 150 years later for the organisation of social movements such that may or may not be linked to Occupy (Gezi, Umbrella, Indignados, Dataran).

Earlier – here.

[notes] a much wider concept of labour power in the second half

Here are my notes, thinking out loud. Sorry if there seems like I am telling you what you already told us in your text – but there are things I need to clarify for myself, hence the ‘you said this’, then ‘this’ roundabouts. I think it is, well, you surely know already I think its great, so…

I think it is a really important thing to discuss this issue of reproduction first. Not third… and we should think of this challenge – to put reproduction at the centre of the analysis – as something that Marx does perhaps too slowly for readers today, but it is there in his Umschlag in the second half of the book. Umschlag is transformation, or tipping point, and there is a moment in the book – well, many really, but clear ones in chapter 16 – collective worker – and chapter 23 – where this is crucial. [and of course, as well as change, Umschlag is envelope, and all those associations of coat, skin, husk need to be held to the side].

We should dwell on what has happened here in terms of the unfolding analysis of capitalism in the book and why it matters for how we describe things – like commodification of all aspects of life, like labour power, like skills, training, discipline… I would risk, hesitantly, saying that I think Marx leads us to a possibly unavoidable misconstrual when he does not explicitly talk about reproduction of the class relation until section seven of Capital, and even there still sets aside the place of child rearing, women etc – he says he will come back to it… and perhaps does – this is not my main point here even as it is possible to make the case that though Marx several times mentions the matter of reproduction of the working class, he did not deal in detail until parts of volume 2 with the division 1 and division 2 of consumption/labour fund stuff, and even then… Nevertheless there are comments in several of the chapters in vol 1, especially at the beginning of chapter 17 where he notes the ‘great variations in the cost of reproducing the workers family’ (P.656 D.542) only to immediately exclude consideration till later…. then in chapter 22 consideration is required – ‘therefore we must take into account’ – of factors that impact upon the value of labour power: ‘the price and extent of the prime necessities of life’, as developed at a certain stage in history, the ‘cost of training the workers’, the ‘part played by women and children’ (P701, D.583)….

Bare me out, why I think your article is important, but why I think Marx leads us to a misconstrual – well, it may not matter that much, but it effects your phrasing a little and I am trying to get to that, however much I am convinced that the tone is right, that the total(litarian) commodification of reproduction – in the west, and the west in the east etc – has to be confronted. Let me try to be clear, it is where you write:

‘Under capitalism, we reproduce human beings as labour power, or as potential labour power. We reproduce people as workers. As class subjects – who are disciplined, educated, skilled and moulded – to as the saying goes “to know their place”. Be it to rule, to be the manager or to work like a dog for someone else’ (Barbagallo 2014).

My point is going to be that this is good, to talk of labour power, yet there is a problem as far as it stands for simple reproduction in the abstract individual sense – a mother wiping snot from a nose – and stands for simple production in the abstract (and fictive, necessary for the analysis) simple production of value for a single capital. The story unfolds though, that’s the point. Marx had to explain labour power first. He starts with the single labourer confronting the single capitalist in the market (actually he starts with the single commodity, then moves to market. He starts with simple production so as to explain labour power, in the chapter on the working day he moves from the voice of one worker to the workers banded together to demand the ten hour day. I am stressing a pattern here. So when he gets to talk about how a single capital must already find the worker in place, ready to sell labour capacity (and only having that to sell) there has been a similar shift from simple reproduction to complex reproduction, from one worker to the collective worker and from one capital to many capitals. This happens in chapters 16, 17, 22, 23, but it was already happening in Working Day, in Co-operation. – labour, whether paid or unpaid, is social.

It is in this sense that Marx then points out that the capitalist system must reproduce the whole capitalist system, inclusive of those who do not work, who themselves do not produce surplus value. It must find already available, more or less, many possible labour powers, ready in the market, but also supported already, by others who will not be waged, but who have ben produced by capital. The class relation is already there, and must be reproduced in all its horrific, violent gore – the best bits of your argument are those that recognise this violent fucked up ness of contemporary reproduction… but capital must find the socialised worker already in place, and then, hire only some of them. The rest, they also helpfully there, reproduced, but not for wages – they may be those who are part of the ‘collective labourer’ who merely facilitate another persons labour, eg teachers (when they are not selling a product, but teaching to improve skill levels in another), mothers (in all the ways you say), but also community, religion, neighbours etc (as I have said before) and it is also that they, some of ‘the rest’ may be actually unproductive, in that they will not find work, or only some work – latent, stagnant, floating, and so even will even not be trained, barely disciplined – but they will still – more or less usefully, be of use to capital – and will fall into the reserve army of labour – helping keep wages (costs to capital) down, through keeping everyone in work scrimping and saving and conforming to order because there is this reserve army ready to step in… All in all, the formation of class subjects is the formation of this multifariously directly productive, secondarily productive, and sometimes unproductive class subject – collectively, the class that the capitalists needs to have reproduced over and over. The class relation.
What I am getting at is that here, the notion of labour power – the entire labour theory of value – is Umschlag – it tips, does not work the same way from the perspective of the whole, from the perspective of the socialised collective labourer (that would include the wiping of noses alongside the operation of a drill). A transformation as Marx’s analysis adopts the perspective of the whole.
Social Reproduction means a wider concept of labour power, involving our collective social capacity, and, under Capital, our incapacities (proletarianisation of all via commodification, or the so-called culture industry).
Marx talks about the great deceit that has been perpetrated in which responsibility for this reproduction is placed upon the worker in so-called ‘free’ time, which is time outside of waged time. This trick is another part of that trick that perpetrates the myth that value is produced only in paid work time, and reproduction of labour capacity is unwaged. All the brunt of this was there in the discussions of training, child-rearing etc, but Marx in volume one might have been more explicit of the enormity of this – he does offer his examples about how even meals became the responsibility of the worker – no eating on the job. etc. But there he is too often still talking differentiated worker, not collective class that includes the reserve of floating, latent, stagnant labour etc that also makes up the class relation.
To say class subjects are those “who are disciplined, educated, skilled and moulded” then is to overstate the case in line with the trick that capital wants to pull. The pretty fucked up violence of capitalist reproduction as you rightly mention, is hidden right there in another version of that trick. That ‘we’ are all lovely skilled-up, ready-to-work, instruments of labour, when I think many of us are untrained, unmoulded, and otherwise unshaped so as to not be productive workers at all, to have ‘shit jobs’ in the DG sense, to be relatively dysfunctional for capital in terms of its myth of singular labour power. Yet Capital even uses this.  So that when we talk of really existing collective or socialised production under capital, the notion of labour capacity is something that has been replaced for many with a useless filler, so much flabby culture industry consumption, pointless activity, madness, indolence, alienated activity, deferral, delegation to paid ‘carers’ who do not care, and so on…
I totally agree with the direction of this and want to try and get it clear that the violence of reproduction is in this trick that suggests that reproductive work is not a part of the value creation of labour. What is often said is that such work does not produce ‘surplus value’ – but surplus value is the calculated theft of labour capacity in both the trick of the wage, which pays only necessary costs of reproduction of labour power, and the trick of leaving responsibility for reproduction of that labour power to unwaged time, and to the sphere of consumption by and large. Surplus value is a lie that serves capital in that it does not ‘pay’ for what it takes. And then, it becomes a double violence. If we think with the notion of collective labourer, which includes all those involved in the creation of value, waged or not, then the collective labourer is not fully recognised for their collective value producing capacity, only doled out the necessary costs of reproducing individual labour powers – a few are reimbursed, and even then efforts are made, with the pressure of the ‘rest’ to push those necessary costs – the wage – to its minimum. Then, with this minimum, having produced these commodities – and a surplus – through badly, and only partially remunerated, social collective effort, this collective social ‘worker’ then must buy back the commodities they have collectively made using the pitiful necessary costs given to the waged contingent of this social/collective labourer as a reword for the gift of value production of ‘surplus’ given for free to the capitalist.
You write: ‘

The task is to radically reorganise the work, to revalue it, to bring it to the centre of our lives and our struggles. This is as much to identify all that is wrong with currently existing reproduction as much as it is to reclaim all that is necessary. From Black feminist scholars – such as bell hooks and Patricia hills Collins – we can also think of reproduction as belonging to a radical ‘homeplace’ – a place that is necessary to nurture, to value and to support – as a place in which we can retreat to and recharge our bodies after the cruelties and harm of capitalist work – and crucially where we can make plans, learn from each other to have courage to resist, and to teach our children to not only survive capitalism but to revolt against its discipline, rhythms and institutions of power.” (Barbagallo 2014 FF)

Awesome. So when you say, and I am happy to see it stressed: ‘that the wealth of human society is not a collection of commodities – it just appears so. In fact, it is labour power, indeed it is humans and our activity and interaction with the world around us that produces the immense wealth of the world” – I want to say that use of labour power here can be a misconstrual if it is any one labour power. If we remember that the point of making that critique of the bad translation of the start of the English version of capital was to start out on recognizing that the trick of this appears – erscheint – is that the wage is also the ‘appearance form’ –erschienungsform – of value, and that by paying attention to the difference between Marx’s mode of presentation, which starts with the individual commodity, and the analysis, which moved from individual labour power to the social reproduction of the class relation, then when you say, ‘it is labour power, indeed it is humans’ the Umschlag  or transformation that matters is that its plural humans, it is our collective social labour power, not the labour power bought for a wage at pitiful necessary cost, that is expropriated by the capitalists, and so must be expropriated in turn. The humans are many, labour power as an abstract individualistic capacity, skill or formation is not the class version of labour power that Marx will recognise when the expropriators are expropriated and the surplus is used for (the care of) all, because it belongs to all
ahhh, fuck it, the muezzin is starting and I have again stayed up waffling on till the dawn call. I hope you have the good sense not to even bother reading all that. Lal salaam.

Just loving the anticipation as things heat up (notes for a critique of the Browne Review and an apocalyptic tone in advance of next week’s rampage and doom)

from the 9th of November 2010 – got nostalgia for the time…


The architecture of the university will become a market reorganised shelf by shelf upon the layout of the department or convenience store. Just by the check outs there will be chocolates and candy, children’s toys will be displayed at pram level, the tea and coffee arrayed alongside the biscuits and cakes. Wholesome foods, fruits and needed items that do not necessarily provide the market owner with a large mark-up are at the back of the store, they are not meant to be the target purchase, and are used to entice the shoppers to browse. Large signs will promote in-store deals and specials of the day – two-for-one philosophy courses taught by bright graduates and a discount weekend ‘walk in east London’ post-graduate certificate run by Ian Sinclair for a fiver a time (photography extra, and syndicated in 140 characters to the national press 2.0). On orientation day, tasty promotional cheese…

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Proletarianization for all! Shopping as civil war.

panorama battleSpeaking at the 4th General Assembly of the Chamber of Merchants and Craftsmen In November 2014, Tayyip Erdoğan said:

“For us, tradesmen and artisans are not merely the people who do business, buy and sell. In our civilization, tradesmen and artisans are soldiers when needed; they are martyrs who fall while defending the homeland, veterans and heroes,” … “They are the police who maintain security, judges and arbitrators who maintain justice”

I am teaching the death knell section of Capital this week. Local events have brought home very much the reactionary role of those petty traders that align with capital in a reactionary way. Here with Presidential approval, they claim the streets for a miserable cut-price commerce and little else (think shopping malls and security guards too). Alongside their marginal gains, they provide Capital with an obsolete but fascist patrol (as *in the *UK *too), always backed by violence, in uniform or not – a last ditch defence of marginal privileges that must be overcome. Shopping is not just civil war because the capitalists pass on our discounts as wage cuts to other workers, but also because smoothing the streets facilitates the enforced sale of commodified junk made by others so you can make commodified junk (and surplus) for capital – a double trick. The petty trader is a block, and a bloc, on the wrong side of the process. Speaking of the collective worker, paid and unpaid, the proletarianisation of all is socialised labour alongside the centralisation of capital in the hands of a few magnates, Marx adds a footnote to the Manifesto as he notes how this process of centralisation also turns the mass of the people into a class with interests diametrically opposed to capital – the contradictions expressed in crisis, and this low-level petty civil war is a crisis – the contradictions…

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So, you know, there a bits of Capital where Marx thought it was worth explaining a wider context for things he had written before, and I think there is something to be said for rethinking the terms used then in the terms used now because, uncanny repetitions, there is something in the way we are still all drawn into the proletarianisation game (even if Bernard Stiegler too often wants to point out Marx was wrong, it is interesting to see how much of what he said can help make sense of new circumstances).

Nuh Köklü. Statement from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması.


Can a snowball hurt you?


‘This ought to be a dream’ – Nuh Köklü’s dying words, after he was stabbed by a shopkeeper. The shop-keeper’s window had been hit by a snowball.

On Tuesday night, February 17th 2015, Nuh and his friends were taking part in a protest against the Internal Security package, which is in the process of being legislated by the AKP government. The Internal Security package threatens the democratic life of people, those who are not on the side of the AKP, by giving the police powers to counter unarmed protesters with live ammunition, and other measures.

The protest was not large – it was cold, peaceful, there were women in masquerade masks dancing, singing songs, talking. Amongst them was Nuh Köklü with his girlfriend and comrades from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması and Forza Yeldeğirmeni – local organisations, formed out of the Gezi-Park movement. Nearby a water cannon and a gang of police, greater in number than the protesters, ready to intervene – obviously they were expecting a much bigger protest, and therefore awkwardly standing around.

This took place in Kadıköy district of Istanbul, and afterwards Nuh and his friends were walking home, happy about the joyful and peaceful action, excited by the snow falling in thick flakes, they engaged in a playful snowball fight. The fun was suddenly stopped by a loud voice. The owner of a spice shop, his window hit – but undamaged – by a snowball, told Nuh and his friends to stop. ‘How dare they have a snowfight in the street near his shop’. Although the snowball hadn’t even left a trace on his window, the shopkeeper was furious.

Nuh and his friends were trying to calm the shopkeeper down, but he got more aggressive, swearing at the women of the group. This of course as everyone knows nowadays is a sensitive topic after the brutal murder of Özgecan the week before and the respective protests and comments of the President on equality and more. Next thing the shopkeeper took out a baseball bat from his shop, throwing himself at the surprised group. The group managed to take the bat from the shopkeeper’s hands, still trying to calm him down, ready to leave, but the shopkeeper got a breadknife from his store and advanced upon anyone in reach. A woman narrowly managed to duck from his knife, another friend of Nuh’s saved himself by throwing himself backwards, letting the knife only cut his coat. When the shopkeeper trapped a third person in a corner, chasing him around a rubbish bin, Nuh hit him from behind, but slipped on the snow and fell. The shopkeeper turned around and stabbed Nuh. Nuh stumbled away and his friends gathered around him, calling an ambulance, trying to stop the blood.

But the situation was far from finished. The shopkeeper didn’t seem to be surprised or shocked about what he had done, and continued to attack the people around him, shouting the words: ‘I have a psychology report, I will not be arrested and am going to walk free tomorrow.’ Then he retreated to his shop, washed the knife, talked on his phone, grinning self-confidently out through his window. By then Nuh was on the way to the hospital in a taxi, since neither ambulance nor police had arrived. When the shopkeeper came out of his shop again and was still aggressive against the gathering crowd of 150 people, he was restrained by the police.

Nuh Köklü died in hospital. His friends were questioned by the police. The shopkeeper was arrested. But still this terrible story is far from finished. During the questioning the police position towards the incident became clear and was expressed by some parts of the media the next day. The incident was portrayed as if a leftist group had provoked the shopkeeper, smashing his window, and the shop-keeper had stabbed Nuh in defence.

Nuh’s friends and their community are now beside themselves in grief. Organising commemorations and related events for Nuh, as well as insisting upon a true depiction of the incident and a just prosecution of the shopkeeper.

Security camera footage from the ATM by the shop is now unavailable, all that lawyers and the public can see is a recording from a student, showing Nuh defensively confronting the shopkeeper.

In Turkey today, Nuh is dead, our tears freeze in the cold, and the shopkeeper is comforted by a slogan of President Erdoğan, which says: ‘My local shopkeeper is soldier, police and judge, if necessary’

A snowball ended a life. A dream turned into a nightmare. But the ultimate responsibility for this lies with a government which encourages action, and even legislates police powers, which legitimizes aggression against anyone with a point of view that does not conform. This aggression not only stops playful fun in the snow, but also suppresses the aspirations of an entire generation – a generation able to see life in a society like this as a dream. A generation that wants to stay alive to dream a better world.

Let us support these people, let us remember Nuh Köklü, let us fight for just punishment of the murderer, let us throw snowballs at each other, not knives, water-cannon or bullets.

Please repost. Send consolidations, tweets, comments, pictures, anything related #NuhKöklü

Contact Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması via

Frozen tears.

It is stupid that someone can die from a snowball. A snowball cannot break a window, but it can break a heart.

I hang onto the idea that Nuh died at the height of something great, if small – just 30 minutes earlier the demo, singing revolutionary songs, dancing in the street.

There is more to say on this, but I don’t know if I can think of it yet. It is too early… But I am trying to make sense of how all politics seems to become stupid – the incident with the University Dean who had to resign because he mocked the Turkish army uniform that looks like a bathrobe, which does not seem that different to the madness of duck pond expenses scandal in the UK, or the hanging chad electoral scam for Bush in Florida. As if the stupidity of politics was making its point by mocking us. Absurd and terrible. Dead for a snowball fight.

Nuh died a few streets away. I don’t think there was a direct connection with the protest we had just left, but there is a strong link to the issues. It really was a joyous protest, with several of the woman protesting in masquerade masks in the snow. So, there is a sense that the fun of the protest spilled over into exuberance on the way home. The shopkeeper – a kind of deli/drinks/snacks/spice store owner is, according to one who runs the cafe I often sit in, a ‘crazy rich guy’ who owns a local shops, he had offered to rent premises to the cafe, but then jacked the price up massively between agreement and start of lease. So, even though I don’t know for sure, and the issue of psychosis is real, I do think this has some wider connection to the gerneral relations between youth and shopkeepers in the context of urban life and changes introduced by government authority – the snowball fight was a bit of fun that was considered disruptive by the shopkeeper type.

My friend Enis says this is some sort of conflict related to sexual repression. A part of the problem was the robust reaction of young men and women – after a demo about the Security legislation and just days after a terrible murder-rape remember – who politely but without backing down, affirmed their right to have fun in the street. A snowball fight met with baseball bats, and then escalating to a knife. Yeldegirmeni Dayanismasi are proud of their formation in Gezi and their sense of local community. So are the shopkeepers, but in a conservative patriarchal way.
A snowball hits a shop window.

The day after Nuh died there was a vigil. All through wednesday, and in the evening thousands of people packed the street to mourn for Lun. It was so sad and so cold for those standing on vigil all day, the comrades support each other but have lost their friend and only want him back. I found that frozen tears are an actual thing.

A mournful song was sung – the whole crowd singing in driving snow. Really heavy snow.

After the crowd had moved off, the windows of the shop were smashed in anger. Despite their grief, anger, loss and cold, women from Yeldeğirmeni formed a line across the front of the shop to stop it being looted in front of the cameras.

What to say to them? I did not speak to them more because they have plenty to cope with and do not need to be looking after some English-speaking whatever looking about trying to understand things from outside.

But I am standing there lost and alone among many people I care about. Trying to understand what I cannot understand. Trying to think of how this fits a wider pattern. Both these killings, Özgecan, Lun, have been in part about assuming a right to the street/space coming up against the conservative patriarchal Government-backed petty bourgeoisie and its control of space. Can we say a kind of civil war is going on? – of which the Gezi protests were a part I guess – why does the government encourage a civil war, the brutalisation of people, the desecration of life

Surely we don’t want to scrabble desperately to find a political angle for a stupid thing, but the stupid things are the shape of politics today. At the same time on tuesday night in the parliament the politicians were bashing each other with the speakers’ gavel. Stupidity again. Trinketization.

Frozen tears. Nuh, is it any consolation that there were revolutionary songs and laughter on your lips just so few moments before you died? Comrade, Red Salute. 

Statement from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması here

Snowball street name change campaign here.

Evaluation Workplace Inquiry in the University as thousand flowers

A draft abstract for a talk:

What would be a genuine radical example of the university evaluating itself? I propose that this would not be the blunt branding exercise of metrics, quality assurance, REF and league tables. This is a bureaucratic beauty contest of merely cosmetic interest, no intellectual merit and ethically corrupt. Instead, assume three things: 1) the university is its entire population, students, academic teaching and research staff, administrative, support, and infrastructure staff, and users, stakeholders, vested interests. 2) all these constituent groups are capable, and can be supported, probably for less cost than the current evaluations, to look at their own work and be researchers tasked, from day one, with participation in workplace inquiry and 3) a variety and proliferation of research styles, report modes, and transparencies are compatible despite their possible non-commensurability – that a thousand flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend need not add up to a single algorithm but can exceed present evaluations many fold. Drama Therapy, ethnographic film, counter-mapping, workplace inquiry – all these trading on resources already inside and outside the university and foregrounding the self-critical DNA of what the university mission should be all about. Not mere rhetorical support for the humanities or increased public understanding of science through promotion of a few media friendly dons, but a genuine radical effervescence of ideas, creativity and questioning of what the abundant potentiality of the social production if knowledge might be.

So I want to make three points.

1) That the university crisis is a consequence of a monetization of the university in the interests of industry and this is disguised in a pervasive, but wholly inadequate, discourse of accountability that does not have the resources to really account for the situation. REF, Hefce visit, SWOT analysis and audit surveys are ill suited to the extent of the crisis.

2) the departments and sections of the university have, each of them, been remodeled for pecuniary gain. A typology of the ways the commercial imperative can be presented, but is no pretty sight. A deep critical re-evaluation of the university is demanded, but any criticism or questioning of the path of managerialism is rapidly undermined.

3) solutions to this predicament already lie within the university and its communities, but it requires a radical transformation of all roles in the university to include self-auditing as robust research component of all jobs. Time for this must be allocated, funded from gains available once senior executive positions and moneys spent on consultancy and pointless audits are redistributed. Training of the workers in the sections for the new deeper critical auditing can be provided from budget lines freed up by departing executives.

Everyone agrees the crisis in higher education is never far off, but a strange kind of complacency looms. All manner of statistical and anecdotal evidence can be deployed to underline this proximity to crisis. Yet, the number of times the crisis has been forecast exceeds plausibility and is topped only by the excessive statistical data and ‘analysis’ that purports to explain it away. Discuss.

See also here and here for long forgotten past versionings.

Workers Inquiry refs and what not.

From 2012…


Talk for Future Tense and later expanded here: I want to focus primarily on the development of workplace or workers inquiry. First of all reference is to Engels The Condition of the Working Class in Manchester, then the huge chapter ‘The Working Day’ in Marx’s Capital, volume one, right through to very late in Marx’s life when he penned 100 questions for a ‘Workers Inquiry’ wanting to generalize the Factory Inspections of England to France, and beyond? Then trace this perhaps to  the Bolsheviks, and Lenin of 1902, the so-called Factory Exposures, to Mao in Hunan, and many other examples. Even that called a parallel sociology, owing debts to Adorno as well as Kracauer’s 1920s work on the Salaried Masses, through to the Italian post-war Marxist Operaist tradition starting with Panzieri in the journal Quaderni Rossi (Wright 2002:21) and the Workerism of Italian autonomia, on up to Negri…

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urban pathology

and while browsing back to 2005, there was this echo of the Rumour of Calcutta…


Rethinking urban theory as a pathology of trinkets.

Somehow I want to see a new psychoanalysis of urban space, but updated as a machinic ensemble of conceptual, informational inputs and outputs, internal cogs and gears of representation – a machinic ‘communication’ of a place in all its psychic, mythic and diverse ‘syptomologies’. Again I’d point in the direction of Derrida for this – his Archive Fever suggests the very beginnings of what could become a new urban version of psycho-geographic-analysis, of the spectral city in its multiple geo-psyche of sounds, spaces and represetation. The assemblage of all those snippets of info about a city is like the dreamwork that constructs a place from the pre- sub- or un-conscious babble that is city guide, A-Z, novels, bus routes, internet chat, traveller chat, movies, promotional ads, airline arrivals clips, local lore etc…

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Mobs, Gangs, Rogues… & The Lumpen

Lumpenization teaching this week, to this soundtrack… (reblogged from nov 2005)


As we approach the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the BPP it may be worth remembering that music and politics produced some fine and dandy sounds: Here they are (click the link) The Lumpen – a Black Panther Party Revolutionary Singing group

The Lumpen were: “comrades who liked to harmonize while working Distribution night in San Francisco to “help the work go easier” (another tradition). We had all sung in groups in the past, Calhoun having performed professionally in Las Vegas, and it just came naturally. I don’t remember just how it came about, but Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture, suggested that this could be formed into a musical cadre. Elaine Brown had already recorded an album of revolutionary songs (Seize the Time) in a folk singing style, and this quartet singing in an R&B or “Soul” form could be a useful political tool. Some folks don’t read, but…

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If we are all in this together,* these filthy UK posters need to be fucked up.


Not only because we can read in Chapter 25 of Capital, Marx’s long disquisition on the industrial reserve army (LW628 section three of chapter 25). Much of this chapter is also on wages (and therefor probably also moved from the once promised book on wages) and put here so as to emphasise the trick of accumulated capital – it is unpaid labour power of a collective kind. – the ‘prekarer’ precarious workers (P793 D669 LW640) the floating, latent and stagnant reserve army that keeps everyone ducking and diving to stay in work, and keeps wages down, are here and Marx actually calls for workers and unemployed to organise:

‘as soon as labourers learn the secret, how it comes to pass that in the same measure as they work more, as they produce more wealth for others, and as the productive power of their labour increases, so in the same measure even their function as a means of the self expansion of capital becomes more and more precarious for them; as soon as they discover that the degree and intensity of competition amongst themselves depends wholly on the pressure of the relative surplus-population; as soon as, by trades’ Union and c., that they try to organize a regular co-operation between employed and unemployed in order to destroy or to weaken the ruinous effects of this natural law of capitalist production on their class, so soon capital and its sycophant Political Economy cry out at the infringement of the “eternal” and “sacred” law of supply and demand. Every combination of employed and unemployed disturbs the “harmonious” action of this law. But, on the other hand, as soon as (in the colonies, e.g.) adverse circumstances prevent the creation of an industrial reserve army and, with it, the absolute dependence of the working class upon the capitalist class, capital [and the parsimonious Sancho Panza] … tries to check its inconvenient action by forcible means and State interference’ (LW640 P793).

* of course we are not all in this together – that piece of Government bile just emphasises the need to single out surround and, erm, re-educate a certain layer of abuser – the fat cat piggy pollie.

Riotinto’s Tonto Forest greed in Apache’s Arizona sacred site

your fuck off Riotinto Copper moment of the day:

I had missed this one from the Washington Post in December:

LAS VEGAS — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Saturday criticized a last-minute addition to a major defense policy bill that would hand 2,400 acres of land in Arizona to an Australian mining corporation.

The land, part of the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, sits atop one of the nation’s largest copper deposits. It would be given to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, the London- and Melbourne-based mining behemoth that produces aluminum, iron, copper, uranium, coal and other commodities across the globe.

But the land also includes sites sacred to the San Carlos Apache tribe, including Apache Leap, where warriors once leapt to their deaths rather than being killed or captured by U.S. troops moving west through the frontier.

The proposed land exchange had failed several times before, including once in 2013 when House Republicans scheduled a vote while Native American leaders were meeting with White House officials in Washington. Tribal activists pressured lawmakers into spiking the vote.

But it returned again this week, in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass bill that sets the nation’s defense policy. The exchange was among a handful of non-defense-related provisions in the bill, which would also create six new National Parks in states from Washington to Rhode Island to New Mexico, and 14 National Heritage Areas.

Jewell on Saturday called the land elements of the NDAA, many of which had been stalled in Congress for years, “a mixed bag.”

“I’m happy to see public lands bills make progress,” Jewell said. “The preference on public lands bills is that they go through a typical process of public lands bills and they get debate and discussion.”

But, she said of the Tonto National Forest land swap: “I think that is profoundly disappointing.”

Rio Tinto has been pushing for the land swap for years. The company says opening the area to copper mining will generate $61 billion in economic activity and 3,700 jobs over the next four decades, although environmentalists and those who oppose the deal dispute those numbers.

Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) backed a House version in 2013, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he would introduce companion legislation if it passed the House. The House passed the NDAA last week, and the Senate is expected to give final approval on Monday.

The Eastern Question

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Insane desperation of the stagnant economies, troubled in Europe by dominos starting in Athens but threatening to head west. To avoid a European revolution they would risk an even greater conflagration in a chaotic war in the East, not extending the failed and brutal turmoil of Syria into Turkey, but replaying the Crimean war games with what is now called Ukraine. Just as Sebastopol in 1856 was the site of a futile slaughter, with French, English and Russians wasting as much as the Ottoman Empire was paralysed, this gambit looks like a guaranteed failure and no-one, not even a diplomat, reading history should be surprised. As old beardo set it out in his articles on The Eastern Question… let us then hope that some repetitions are a little quicker in coming. The threats of Merkel and co echo those offered long ago. Marx wrote: ‘The very fact of the threat having been uttered may call forth insurrectionary movements’. It took some time, but the consequences of chaos have elements of promise. It will take some untangling to read these runes, but the situation is promising.