Benjamin 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.
Click on the image to see change.org 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. #NuhKöklü
Statement from Yeldeğirmeni Dayanışması here
Snowball street name change campaign here.
Originally posted on trinketization:
I don’t think the state of things is readily reducible to bite-sized explanation-metaphors, nor that whole eras of the capitalist mode of production (this is of course not just a metaphor) should be understood under sweepingly simple code-words, but, unfolding better explanations by deploying such code-words as efforts to get us to think differently and in detail is of great use. And the corresponding tactical 1,2,3-step is also helpful, even if ’tis not the whole struggle – so having Plan C post this is very welcome, even for those times when I am neither miserable, bored, nor anxious (‘he’s behind you’ – the pantomime reflex).
Not anxious, but I am amazed, often variously amazed – even at the idea of posting this:
“Today’s public secret is that everyone is anxious. Anxiety has spread from its previous localised locations (such as sexuality) to the whole of the social field. All forms…
View original 104 more words
I had noticed that the initials of “I Am Charlie” are an anagram of CIA, and yes, you can be a patsie and guilty, and for sure the death squads are tools of wider interests, but this is too hit and miss not to be disturbing. Which bits count as evidence, which speculation? Classified between zionist assets and conspiracy theory, these four items make it into the Pantomime Terror file. Thanks to DE, AW, SC and MB for them drawing my attention.