Rosa now more than ever

Rosa now more than ever
Or why Rosa is someone who should be read at this point in time.
   To be a student of Rosa Luxemburg today is assisted hugely by the (hopefully ongoing) publication in English of her Complete Works, starting with the two volumes out so far on her anthropology studies and course on economics. This alone is enough to extend fourfold what most leftists might know of her, which is usually only a half-digested something or other about ‘spontaneity’ and a disagreement with Lenin.
   Now, over and over, more than ever, I see people worrying both about spontaneity and vanguards. They say it’s all terrible or it’s all fine (actually this borrows an early move from Mao, but still…). The communists hate the anarchists and the anarchists hate the communists, basically, for being too much like each other in all the ways that are wrong.
   My friend David Graeber for example says of the squares, Occupy, yellow vests and all future horizontal protests, that:
‘These new movements do not need an intellectual vanguard to provide them with an ideology because they already have one: the rejection of intellectual vanguards and embrace of multiplicity and horizontal democracy itself‘ infoshack, radioshackorsomesuch.com
Hence the need for Rosa. Against the idea that all we need is already delivered by those who say we don’t need the Party (albeit we don’t need some old fart Party, against the party I would lead, which would be available only to people who could name the stations of the Kronstadt). Anarcho adventures into the void will not do.
   At the same time, communist comrades are incensed that the anti-Leninist and verbose anarchists are undermining their theoretical primacy. Ha ha. Well overdue. As if their political, and philosophical, purity had been baptised and sanctified in previous militant vanguardist struggles such as … wait, I’m, where? When? Theoretical struggles perhaps. Bloody minded entryism, penetration and destruction. Fuck them too.
   So, Rosa for the Party and in symbiosis of a new moving type, moving with the masses – becoming masses, finding their unities, alongside and with Rosa, forming the Party that can keep forming across time. Since time is all the meantimes and meanwhiles where everyone but the caviariste class knows it’s long past the time when the shitty conditions in which most find themselves are such that with this up we cannot put.
Hence, Rosa now more than ever.
   A few brief words though. In common reception of Rosa, in particular with the spontaneity question, there really is a dangerous and defeating mistake made if Rosa‘s commitment to the masses is ever taken to mean no active organisation by the Party within the class forces. There were certainly, also shown in the Letters (same publisher, should be cheaper though), so many ways in which Luxemburg was committed to tendencies and factions within the Party, within the International and within the general Left movement. Her relationship with Kautsky grows fractious over time, her squabble with Lenin is really resolved by the time of the Bolshevik uprising, and between times Lenin had been visiting Rosa and stoking her cat – and being scratched by said kitten, because not all cats fell for Lenin right away. Though in due course…
   Luxemburg was well aware of the need for the class to be organised and able to move with the workers whenever the possibility presented itself, and without the ability to organise the Party to swiftly move into place alongside the ‘spontaneous’ uprising, there would be nothing afterwards. Listening to the sounds of adventurism crashing on the rocks – we need adventures and rock-moving teams (not rock spiders lying in wait with their entryism of doom). Rosa now more than ever. Albeit what organisation there was would be in large part itself only possible because of the tireless devotion of Luxemburg (or Cam) urging on the uprising at meeting after meeting. And indeed, what claim could she have for even being discussed by anyone other than adventurers at the barricades since we all know that her insurrection was crushed, she and her former lover murdered, by a repressive militarist counter-revolution. No, it would be dangerous not to realise that reaction is always already coming and that we also need to organise defense in offense. To say listen, stand aside, wait, all these give space for the reaction – fill the gap with forward and better, biger adn more power to the movements.
   Reading Luxemburg can show us why now more than ever. She does not come across in her writings, or even in her actions as revealed in her biography, or the letters, as someone with a blind faith in going out to the streets. She goes out in the streets. Also, she reads, she teaches, she deploys vast troves of footnotes and argument in an ongoing polemic that always sought to teach, but was always making space for contemplation, education and polemical life that was more than simple or naive spontaneity.
   Her effort was to make links with those on the streets, and she did this as a life-long commitment, and through long patient but urgent work, through talks, classes, writing and editorial meetings, with those inside workplaces and working class areas of the city so as to build the organisation around issues such as hours worked, wages, prices, subsistence, work organisation and justice for women, justice for murdered workers, justice for all. And forever pushing for a better argument and better outcome, aspiring to get the idea accepted that the communist dream was something that could be. Could be by force of her will perhaps, but as an illustration, and a model to be replicated, the path to a revolution that can be sustained is made clear.
   Her polemic with co-revolutionaries always strove towards improving her own as well as their capabilities, through argument to express her own will to clarify and build a revolutionary capacity. And to be able to present her ideas before the masses and at any time strive for the uprising that after-all was – and today has been for a long time again – well overdue. Listening all the time, she is never silent, since participation in the revolution comes from saying, loudly, what is happening, what you can see.
   And read, with care. Rosa does not say no to the Party, does not say no to Party organiser going out to talk to the masses, urge them with ‘fire in their bellies, and their minds’, but she does say no to a Party that is above the dictatorship of the class, no to the dictatorship of a Party or of a clique –yes to ‘dictatorship of the class’ which means dictatorship of the proletariat ‘in the broadest possible form on the basis of the most active, unlimited participation of the mass of the people, of unlimited democracy’ (On the Russian Revolution).
   Without the Party, Luxemburg is nothing, the revolution is nothing, and the masses have no voice. The Party is the organisational form that best coordinates the preparedness required to build alongside the spontaneous uprising of the masses when its best chances arrive. On many occasions the potential of such an uprising might seem more or less apparent, but without robust organisational preparation in place, the political movement will always lack consequence, be subject to fluctuations of spontaneity in the random sense – as opposed to the general sudden realisation that now is the time we have been preparing for, and when the Party serves the masses as a rallying cry, vehicle for articulation direction and aspirations for a path out of the horror of persecution, oppression and inequalities.
   Many skirmishes and test case battles prepare the ground for spontaneity of the revolutionary type. These disconnected struggles are the school for revolutionaries, the training and honing of skills in single issue campaigns, in local initiatives, in building comradeship and Party organisation. They cannot yet be the mode of transition to a communist future but they develop the possibility. Through local wins, and no doubt losses, coordinated battles and preparedness, anticipation, analysis and expectation – knowing perhaps a little more though this of what we might expect – the groups that work together learn together and will face down the tanks together. The Tanks are coming. Do not think Rosa now more than ever means they won’t – the ruling class will want to through us all in the canal. But we will swim. For this, reading, writing, distributing newsletters and papers, forums and research groups, all build – and crucially, reproduce – potential for spontaneity. Swimming in the spontaneous flow.
   The reading and research group is not the only form in which this Party as the vehicle of the wider class interests can articulate and hone its skill base, but it is all the more important because this form of organising has a role in defining and producing knowledge and analysis of the situations in which we are faced with oppression, exploitation, desperation and despair at the hands of capital.
   The urgency of the situation. it is never all day every day, and a part of it is reading, together. meet to plan and talk, if only over a paragraph n between urgent tasks and planning. This research group, that has read its way into a Marxist analysis will move forward and articulate further connections with the oppressed  and offer the classes knowledge not by telegraphing it in, or posting it on this blog, but by sharing not only knowledge as knowledge, but knowledge as a knowledge making process. A revolutionary act whose patron figurehead is also Rosa. Now more than ever. What then if in the current conjuncture those who rise up in protest do so on the basis of having come together over time to develop a shared analysis of the ways an exit from capitalism and oppression can be achieved with equally for all?

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

Abstract:

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.

GEORGE CAFFENTZIS PUBLIC LECTURE Thursday 31 Jan 2013 (note new time and date)

The making of a debt resistors’ movement: From Occupy Wall Street to Strike Debt //

The financial crisis in the US officially began in September 2008, but the
first mass street response arose in September 2011 with the Occupy Wall
Street movement. Since then Strike Debt, a debt resistors’ organization,
emerged out of Occupy. George Caffentzis will discuss debt resistance as a
working class project and the prospects of Strike Debt in the context of
previous debt resistance movements.

// TIME AND DATE CHANGE // 


Apologies for any inconvenience (please forward and share to help spread the word) – due to circumstances beyond our control and very much in the control of multi-national airlines, please be advised of
 
– NEW TIME AND DATE FOR GEORGE CAFFENTZIS PUBLIC LECTURE – 
 
THURSDAY 31st JAN
TIME: 6:30pm
VENUE: NEW ACADEMIC BUILDING, LG01
GOLDSMITHS COLLEGE

*This event is organised in collaboration with the Centre for Cultural
Studies <http://www.gold.ac.uk/cultural-studies/>, PM
Press<http://www.pmpress.org>and Common
Notions <http://commonnotions.org/>. *

*George Caffentzis* is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of
Southern Maine. He was a founding member of the Midnight Notes
Collective<http://www.midnightnotes.org/> and
coordinator of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa. He is the
author and editor of many books and articles, his latest is *In Letters of
Blood and Fire**: Work, Machines and the Crisis of Capitalism* (PM Press:
Feb 2013)

*Special Offer at the Public Lecture*: pre-order your copy of *In Letters
of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and
Value<https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=424>(Feb
2013, PM Press)
*by* *George Caffentzis and receive 20 % off and free postage.

*In Letters of Blood and Fire:*
Karl Marx remarked that the only way to write about the origins of
capitalism is in the letters of blood and fire used to drive workers from
the common lands, forests, and waters in the sixteenth century. In this
collection of essays, George Caffentzis argues that the same is true for
the annals of twenty-first-century capitalism. Information technology,
immaterial production, financialization, and globalization have been
trumpeted as inaugurating a new phase of capitalism that puts it beyond its
violent origins. Instead of being a period of major social and economic
novelty, however, the course of recent decades has been a return to the
fire and blood of struggles at the advent of capitalism.

For media, review copies or event enquires please contact Camille
Barbagallo camille [at] pmpress.org


Camille Barbagallo

PM Press
BM Box 5239
London WC1N 3XX
+44 (0)7981070417 | +44 (0) 203 222 5130
www.pmpress.org


PO Box 23912
Oakland CA 94623
+ 1 510 – 658 – 3906
info[at]pmpress.org

SURVEILLANCE CHESS Hijacking CCTV Cameras in London #goforgold #London2012

I have always said Chess would be my Olympic Sport. Here is how I want to play. #goforgold #London2012

SURVEILLANCE CHESS
Hijacking CCTV Cameras in London
___________________________________________________________

Equipped with an interfering transmitter !Mediengruppe
Bitnik hacks surveillance cameras in pre-Olympic London and
assumes control. The artist collective replaces real-time
surveillance images with an invitation to play a game of
chess. The security staff’s surveillance monitor located in
the control room becomes a game console.

HTTP://CHESS.BITNIK.ORG
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

London. On the brink of the Olympic Games. A tube station
in one of the most surveilled public spaces in the world.
!Mediengruppe Bitnik intercepts the signal of a surveillance
camera: Business people making their way to the Underground,
a man in a suit looking for the right exit. From the left,
a woman with a yellow suitcase walks into the frame of the
surveillance camera. She opens her suitcase and activates a
switch. This is the moment when Bitnik takes over. The CCTV
operator experiences total loss of control. The surveillance
image drops out, a chess board appears on the surveillance
monitor and a voice from the loudspeakers says: «I am
controlling your CCTV camera now. I am the one with the
yellow suitcase.» The image jumps back to the woman with
the yellow suitcase. Then the image switches to the chess
board.«How about a game of chess?», the voice asks. «You
are white. I am black. Call me or text me to make your move.
This is my number: 07582460851.»
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

SURVEILLANCE CHESS – THE VIDEO
http://chess.bitnik.org

ABOUT
http://chess.bitnik.org/about.html

EXHIBITION
Zürich, Helmhaus – from 28 July to 9 September 2012

WITH LOVE FROM ZURICH.
!Mediengruppe Bitnik

Newspeak – Ken Fero

Watch Newspeak: http://vimeo.com/34527445

Newspeak (25minutes/2011/Ken Fero/Migrant Media)

Truth is the first casualty of war and ‘Newspeak’ explores just how media is currently controlled in the UK through power structures like Ofcom. Using poetry and experimental visual techniques the film is a personal journey with filmmaker Ken Fero reflecting on how the radical content of certain images – deaths in police custody, Occupy London the invasion of Iraq, workers uprisings – remain hidden from UK audiences.

The film uses strong political statements to expose the forces seeking to censor the media. The challenging style of ‘Newspeak’ offers a visual essay that unites the mothers of those killed by the British police with the Palestinian children who were victims of Operation Cast Lead, exposes the bloodlust for oil that lead to British interference in Iran and shows how, in all these areas, there is always resistance, always survivors always a memory.

A Migrant media Production for News Anew.

Watch Newspeak: http://vimeo.com/34527445

We are 99% amazed

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/10/david-graeber-on-playing-by-the-rules-%E2%80%93-the-strange-success-of-occupy-wall-street.html

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2011

David Graeber: On Playing By The Rules – The Strange Success Of #OccupyWallStreet

By David Graeber, who is currently a Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths University London. Prior to that he was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University. He is the author of ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years’ which is available from Amazon.

Just a few months ago, I wrote a piece for Adbusters that started with a conversation I’d had with an Egyptian activist friend named Dina:

All these years,” she said, “we’ve been organizing marches, rallies… And if only 45 people show up, you’re depressed, if you get 300, you’re happy. Then one day, 200,000 people show up. And you’re incredulous: on some level, even though you didn’t realize it, you’d given up thinking that you could actually win.

As the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads across America, and even the world, I am suddenly beginning to understand a little of how she felt.

On August 2, I showed up at a 7 PM meeting at Bowling Green, that a Greek anarchist friend, who I’d met at a recent activist get together at 16 Beaver Street, had told me was meant to plan some kind of action on Wall Street in mid-September. At the time I was only vaguely aware of the background: that a month before, the Canadian magazine Adbusters had put out the call to “Occupy Wall Street”, but had really just floated the idea on the internet, along with some very compelling graphics, to see if it would take hold; that a local anti-budget cut coalition top-heavy with NGOs, unions, and socialist groups had tried to take possession of the process and called for a “General Assembly” at Bowling Green. The title proved extremely misleading. When I arrived, I found the event had been effectively taken over by a veteran protest group called the Worker’s World Party, most famous for having patched together ANSWER one of the two great anti-war coalitions, back in 2003. They had already set up their banners, megaphones, and were making speeches—after which, someone explained, they were planning on leading the 80-odd assembled people in a march past the Stock Exchange itself.

The usual reaction to this sort of thing is a kind of cynical, bitter resignation. “I wish they at least wouldn’t advertise a ‘General Assembly’ if they’re not actually going to hold one.” Actually, I think I actually said that, or something slightly less polite, to one of the organizers, a disturbingly large man, who immediately remarked, “well, fine. Why don’t you leave?”

But as I paced about the Green, I noticed something. To adopt activist parlance: this wasn’t really a crowds of verticals—that is, the sort of people whose idea of political action is to march around with signs under the control of one or another top-down protest movement. They were mostly pretty obviously horizontals: people more sympathetic with anarchist principles of organization, non-hierarchical forms of direct democracy, and direct action. I quickly spotted at least one Wobbly, a young Korean activist I remembered from some Food Not Bomb event, some college students wearing Zapatista paraphernalia, a Spanish couple who’d been involved with the indignados in Madrid… I found my Greek friends, an American I knew from street battles in Quebec during the Summit of the Americas in 2001, now turned labor organizer in Manhattan, a Japanese activist intellectual I’d known for years… My Greek friend looked at me and I looked at her and we both instantly realized the other was thinking the same thing: “Why are we so complacent? Why is it that every time we see something like this happening, we just mutter things and go home?” – though I think the way we put it was more like, “You know something? Fuck this shit. They advertised a general assembly. Let’s hold one.”

So we gathered up a few obvious horizontals and formed a circle, and tried to get everyone else to join us. Almost immediately people appeared from the main rally to disrupt it, calling us back with promises that a real democratic forum would soon break out on the podium. We complied. It didn’t happen. My Greek friend made an impassioned speech and was effectively shooed off the stage. There were insults and vituperations. After about an hour of drama, we formed the circle again, and this time, almost everyone abandoned the rally and come over to our side. We created a decision-making process (we would operate by modified consensus) broke out into working groups (outreach, action, facilitation) and then reassembled to allow each group to report its collective decisions, and set up times for new meetings of both the smaller and larger groups. It was difficult to figure out what to do since we only had six weeks, not nearly enough time to plan a major action, let alone bus in the thousands of people that would be required to actually shut down Wall Street—and anyway we couldn’t shut down Wall Street on the appointed day, since September 17, the day Adbusters had been advertising, was a Saturday. We also had no money of any kind.

Two days later, at the Outreach meeting we were brainstorming what to put on our first flyer. Adbusters’ idea had been that we focus on “one key demand.” This was a brilliant idea from a marketing perspective, but from an organizing perspective, it made no sense at all. We put that one aside almost immediately. There were much more fundamental questions to be hashed out. Like: who were we? Who did want to appeal to? Who did we represent? Someone—this time I remember quite clearly it was me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a half dozen others had equally strong memories of being the first to come up with it—suggested, “well, why not call ourselves ‘the 99%’? If 1% of the population have ended up with all the benefits of the last 10 years of economic growth, control the wealth, own the politicians… why not just say we’re everybody else?” The Spanish couple quickly began to lay out a “We Are the 99%” pamphlet, and we started brainstorming ways to print and distribute it for free.

Follow this link to read the full article and the huge – sometimes car-crash – comments discussion is absolutely worth a look too.

#occupy Dataran: Mask up for Malaysian New Year

 

This just popped up on you tube and I’d like a ticket. If you have a mask, and you are in KL, this is the new year party to ring in something special. (Londoners, see you at Holloway)

I do, like many of you, enjoy lepakking at home and watching TV.

I appreciate the comforts of every day routine, the security of familiar things, the tranquillity of repetition.
But in the spirit of celebrating the New Year, with much partying and revelry, I thought we could mark this December 31 with something special.
There are, of course, those who don’t want us to speak. I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way.
Why?
Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.
Words… offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen…the enunciation of truth.
And the truth is…there is… something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?
Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression.
And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.
How did this happen? Who’s to blame?
Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable.
But again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be?
MAY 13, RACE RIOTS, FEAR OF COMMUNISTS, OPERASI LALANG.
There are a myriad of problems which conspire to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.
Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to Barisan Nasional.
BN promised you order, BN promised you peace and all they demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
Today, I seek to end that silence.
2011 will go down in history as the Year of Peaceful, Non-Violent Revolutions. It began in Tunisia, culminating in Tahrir Square, Egypt.
Tahrir Square is now the symbol of human freedom and liberation in the 21st century.
We also saw the uprising of the Indignados, which occupied Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain, giving inspiration to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
This democratic wave, driven by ordinary peoples on the street – as opposed to leadership by elites the world over – is a major turning point in our time.
As the year draws to a close, dark clouds still hang over the Malaysian sky, no different from the previous years.
Repression of human rights continue unabated. Malaysians suffer these abuses in different forms and at different levels. It is often hard for the ordinary Malaysian to articulate and give voice to their suffering and plight.
We want every person to find his or her own voice, formulating his or her own demands.
Some of these demands may spring from a litany of injustices:
the repression of street protests (for example Bersih 2.0),
the passing of the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011,
the Lynas debacle,
the continuous land-grab of Orang Asli & indigenous land in Sabah & Sarawak,
corruption in government,
exploitation and repression of local and migrant workers’ welfare & rights,
deaths in the custody of the MACC and THE POLICE,
the suppression of academic and student freedoms by the UUCA.
And the list goes on!
So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain insignificant to you, then I would suggest that you allow the 31st of December to past unmarked.
But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me and wear you V Mask on New Years Eve at the stroke of midnight, at Dataran Merdeka, and give them a New Year that shall never, ever be forgotten.