communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

Month: February, 2014

Human history is not a very cheerful affair

Paul Mattick Jr dropping science

Brandon Jourdan: I can’t really remember—oh, so there was, really, one kind of fun moment for me at the conference  in the Q&A, when you were asked: “What do we have to do?”—and so I’m just going to ask you that again.

Paul Mattick: The question was what would I like to see happen—and my answer was the abolition of wage-labor and the destruction of the state, which is of course a kind of a flippant answer.  But what I mean to say is that I really think there is no solution to these problems, but one which is as fundamental as that.  Now it seems like a weirdly old-fashioned thing to say, but that might just be because of my age, maybe now for many younger people it isn’t old-fashioned anymore: to say, “You really have to get rid of capitalism.  Capitalism cannot deal with these problems.”  Even if capitalism manages to grow again, I do not think that the economy will be able to grow at a rate which will make possible high enough employment levels to sort of afford lives to people that workers got used to in the developed countries in the 1950s and 60s and even 70s.  So I think from the economic point of view, the medium- and long-term perspectives are very bleak, and I think from the ecological point of view, the medium- and long-term perspectives are catastrophic, and there simply is no possibility to get out of this without actually changing the social system.

And that means that you must end the ownership and control of the productive system on which human life depends by that minority of humans who control it, and for whom everybody else has to work if they are lucky enough to be able to do so.  There is no way out of it.  So that’s why, when somebody said at the conference “But what, short of that, could you do?”, the only thing that I could think of to say was: then you have to try to get a job, because other than that you have to survive as well as you can.  Those are the choices: either on an individual basis or on a national basis or a group basis, you know, if you are white people, or men, or Europeans, or Northern Europeans, you can try—maybe you can do better than some other group.  Or as a particular individual, you might be able to live better than another individual.  So you can try to do as best as you can for yourself as an individual, or you have to somehow, together with other people, fundamentally alter the existing social system.  And by alter, I mean really destroy it and create a new system: a system of a radically different type, which would be based on the collective democratic control of the interaction of human beings with nature—that the economists call “production”, but which you could also call the “daily life.”

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Yes, the Greens have quite a presence in Germany.

 GERMANY G8 DEMONSTRATION

Alle Grüne sind Bullen

Future Suspended

Future Suspended (english) from Ross Domoney on Vimeo.

How does a global financial crisis permeate the spaces of the everyday in a city? Our final 35′ documentary film traces the multiple transformations of crisis-ridden Athenian public space and those who traverse it.

Future Suspended is divided in three sections. “Privatised” explores the legacy of mass privatisation projects that preceded the 2004 Olympics, placing them in the context of present day privatisation schemes. “Devalued” gazes at the ever-shrinking spaces of migrants in the city and the devaluation of their lives that comes as a result. “Militarised” shows how, in face of the crisis, this devaluation turns into a generalised condition.

Through its cinematic traversal of today’s Athens, “Future Suspended” traces the rise of the authoritarian-financial complex and how this shrinks public space in the city, fuelling social despair and anger in return.

Future Suspended is part of the research project at crisis-scape.net. The research team consists of Christos Filippidis, Antonis Vradis, Dimitris Dalakoglou, Ross Domoney and Jaya Klara Brekke. All music for Future Suspended was composed by Giorgos Triantafyllou.

Venezuela, Bosnia, Ukraine. WTF?

confused
no really. what the fuck?

Coup d’etoilet

toilet

Киев, Украина

#Babylon’13

History of the Situationist International

situationism

greatmomentsinleftism

Spring came early this year in Bosnia

The Presidential Palace in Sarajevo in flames on February 7, 2014. All Photos by Minel Abaz.

By A.M. Gittlitz, vice

Anger erupted in the industrial Bosnian town of Tuzla two weeks ago after the closing of the Konjuh furniture factory, one of about a dozen companies that have shuttered after the government privatized many industries over the past few years. Coalitions of workers, students, retirees, and other citizens started marching, shouting-down politicians, clashing with police, and eventually trashing government buildings.

Bosnia and Herzogovina, BiH for short, has seen few economic booms in its short history. And with unemployment sitting at a staggering 44 percent for years (57 percent for young workers), disaffection has spread onto the streets.

As images of anger and police brutality emerged from Tuzla, protests began taking on momentum across the country. On February 7th, hundreds of people surrounded the Presidential Palace in the capital city of Sarajevo and set it on fire. There were similar protesters of varying sizes and intensity in front of government offices in across the country—including one in Banja Luka in Republica Sprska—notable because its Serbian population is generally considered at odds with Croats and Bosnians.

Last Saturday, Al Jazeera reported 300 protesters were injured—mostly in Sarajevo, where video surfaced of police officers pushing dozens of protesters over the ledge of an embankment to a canal.

Informal protest groups formed, including UDAR and Revolt, formed to help organize the protests and set up citizen’s councils known as plenums. Demands from these meetings are still to be determined, but most call for resignation of politicians, cuts to their salaries, and expanded funding of services for workers and the unemployed.

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A Communist Critique of a Schmaltzy Critique of Communisation

romance31

Romantic Fiction: Notes on Krul’s critique of Endnotes

by ENDNOTES on FEBRUARY 17, 2014 (thenorthstar.info)

Over at the North Star, Matthijs Krul has written an interesting critique of Endnotes.[1] We don’t typically bother with individual “responses to critics”, but in this case the entanglement of stimulating thoughts with a series of errors demanded at least an attempt to tease the two apart in a few quick, critical notes. Krul has really written a critique, not of Endnotes, but rather, of what he takes so-called “communisation theory” to be about. On the basis of a rather weak grasp of the textual evidence, Endnotes is treated in this article as a sort of sounding board for Krul’s assumptions about this ersatz conceptual construct.[2]

So, we’ll start with a word of caution about “communisation theory”: while we’ve spoken at times of “communist theory”, Endnotes has never promoted or claimed to represent a singular “communisation theory”. This coinage of others has perhaps been a useful shorthand; it has also played a role in bundling some sprawling debates into a compact, movable good that can be readily exchanged on the market of theory fads (a sort of indie alternative to the major label Badious and Zizeks). But if one really wants to make a serious critique of so-called communisation theory it is of course necessary to pay close attention to specific texts, to the unfolding of certain debates, and to the ways in which this term cannot ultimately designate a single, unified position at all. As we’ll see, Krul evidently hasn’t paid such attention to his object, and thus the more interesting thoughts that are present in his text suffer from their entwinement with fundamental errors of interpretation. Yet, especially where Krul’s points overlap with those of other critics, they aren’t all reducible to mere subjective mistakes — there are no doubt some real issues flagged here which demand further consideration. On these points, we’re thankful to Krul for raising them in the context of an attempted sympathetic critique.

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Weird and Wonderful Tales of Modern Social Decadence

by Amadeo Bordiga 1956

17cityroom-andrea-doria-blog480-v2

Andrea Doria

The safety of sea travellers seemed, with good reason, to have been assured for the future, both historically and scientifically, by the first application of mechanical motors to ships, and all the more so with the construction of metal hulls. After a century and a half of technical “improvement”, the safety of the passenger is now relatively greater when compared with the old wooden sailing boats which were prey to both wind and sea. Naturally the “achievement”, the most idiotic one, is speed, even if special clippers in about 1850 won the “blue ribands” from steam ships, while there was — then too — not insignificant playing the cotton exchange between Boston and London. The faster the thief, the more a thief; but a quicker fool is no less a fool.

Nevertheless the period of the greyhounds of the sea lies behind us — it corresponded to the period after the First World War. Even before this war huge tonnages had been reached. The Titanic, which went down by the bows in 1912[1], was over 50,000 tons although it’s true that the speed during its maiden voyage, during which it struck an iceberg, did not exceed 18 knots. After a half-century there have been only two cases of liners on the North Atlantic (be they French, English, German or Italian) much over 50,000 tons. Since the last war the largest launched was the United States (53,000 tons). The two exceptions are the English “Queen Mary” (81,000 tons) and “Queen Elizabeth” (84,000 tons), keels laid before the war and still in use[2]. The brand new American ship took the blue riband from the English one which in turn had won it from the French “Normandie” in 1938, the latter being destroyed in the war. Sailing speeds in the last period have risen above 30 knots. The Andrea Doria, the largest post-war Italian ship along with its sister ship Colombo (the pre-war Rex was 51,000 tons) was only 29,000 tons but with a good top speed.

Thus the race to have the biggest ship, which was the prelude to the great disaster, has ceased, but so too that for the fastest speed which so enthralled Italy during the fascist period. The reason is that the person in a hurry can take a plane which, with its small crew, does not kill off more than fifty a go. The sea crossing (with sun and fine weather on the southern route preferred after the Titanic disaster) is more a pleasure trip or cruise — the hugely powerful engines required to thrust these massive giants at enormous cost (one knot is gained and a few hours are knocked off the crossing, wasting thousands of extra horse-power and increasing fuel consumption in proportion) at a rate of knots, are no longer requested by passengers and do not suit the company. Thus the logic of the situation now shows that it is best to build middle size middling speed ships for the passengers who are not at the summit of (economic and political) business dealings and so are not forced to fly. The newspapers told us that the unfortunate passengers saved from the Andrea Doria did not want to return by air: once bitten, twice shy, by the great civilisation of technology….

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An Abstracty Critique of Endnotes

future-robot-wallpapers-hd-934941-0-s-307x512

(from Wandering Abstraction by Ray Brassier)

Endnotes’ various writings certainly provide an eminently plausible conceptual reconstruction of the totality which is the ground of the class relation, and hence of communist theorising. And it is clear from their analyses of capital’s ‘moving contradiction’ how this relation is self-undermining: ‘the relation of exploitation corrodes its own foundation, as that which is exploited – labour-power – is tendentially expelled from the production process with the development of the productivity of social labour.’ Thus the thought that is ‘adequate’ to the class relation (i.e. the relation of exploitation) is the thought of a ‘fundamentally impossible relation’, which is ‘only insofar as it is ceasing to be’.

That only the thought of an impossible relation can render theory adequate to its object is the index of the torsion that is supposed to bind theoretical abstraction to the reality of social abstraction independently of the representational recourse to an objective correspondence relation (which would require ‘an external, Archimedean point from which to take the measure of its object’). No doubt, this impossible relation is supposed to mark communist theory’s immanence to revolutionary practice: any subordination of practice to theory (or vice versa) would threaten to reintroduce the transcendence of an external, Archimedean point, which is to say, a representation. But it seems that what prevents communist theory’s adequation to the class relation from fissioning into a relation to this impossible relation, which is to say, a theoretical representation of reality, and ultimately, a program, is its immediate consummation as self-proclaimed revolutionary activity: an activity that guarantees its own traction upon the capitalist class relation simply by engaging in the struggle to destroy it. There is a laudable consistency here. By taking the ‘posited supersession’ of the capitalist totality as its starting point, communist theorising secures its traction upon the antagonism constitutive of social reality. But the danger remains that this posited supersession of totality will substitute for its actual supersession not in spite of but precisely because it refuses its theoretical construction.

By abjuring such construction as a representational intrusion compromising thought’s adequation to the class relation, communist theory secures its grip on the ‘real movement’ which communism is, but at the risk of eliding real movement with the movement of ideas. Thus, as Endnotes themselves make clear:

Communization […] has little positive advice to give us about particular, immediate practice in the here and now […] What advice it can give is primarily negative: the social forms implicated in the reproduction of the capitalist class relation will not be instruments of the revolution, since they are part of that which is to be abolished.

The question then is: how are we to identify those social forms that are not implicated in the reproduction of the class relation? The distinction between compulsive labour and spontaneous practice is required not only to stave off the paradox of self-cancellation, but also to distinguish between those activities programmed to reproduce the class relation and those capable of interrupting this reproduction. But the spontaneity whose exercise is the prerequisite for the destruction of the class relation will also generate new abstractions together with new forms of mediation. What is required is an understanding of social practices that would allow us to begin distinguishing between oppressive and emancipatory forms of mediation.

Gender Trouble

Plutus

Pergamon_Museum_Berlin_2007017

They are just leaving when POVERTY comes running in; she is a picture of squalor and the two men recoil in horror.
POVERTY

Unwise, perverse, unholy men! What are you daring to do, you pitiful, wretched mortals? Whither are you flying? Stop! I command it!

BLEPSIDEMUS

Oh! great gods!

POVERTY

My arm shall destroy you, you infamous beings! Such an attempt is not to be borne; neither man nor god has ever dared the like. You shall die!

CHREMYLUS

And who are you? Oh! what a ghastly pallor!

BLEPSIDEMUS

Perhaps it’s some Erinys, some Fury, from the theatre; there’s a kind of wild tragic look in her eyes.

CHREMYLUS

But she has no torch.

BLEPSIDEMUS

Let’s knock her down!

POVERTY

Who do you think I am?

CHREMYLUS

Some wine-shop keeper or egg-woman. Otherwise you would not have shrieked so loud at us, who have done nothing to you.

POVERTY

Indeed? And have you not done me the most deadly injury by seeking to banish me from every country?

CHREMYLUS

Why, have you not got the Barathrum left? But who are you? Answer me quickly!

POVERTY

I am one that will punish you this very day for having wanted to make me disappear from here.

BLEPSIDEMUS

Might it be the tavern-keeper in my neighbourhood, who is always cheating me in measure?

POVERTY

I am Poverty, who have lived with you for so many years.

BLEPSIDEMUS

Oh! great Apollo! oh, ye gods! whither shall I fly?

He starts to run away.

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But are they nationalists?

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Bosnian spring arrives early.  

why bosnia is burning

Looks like class war. 

unrest in bosnia

smells like class war.

photos and more photos and even more photos and videos and demands.

But is it class war?

Automattick

Paul mattick

Paul Mattick

Interview with Lotta Continua 1977

Question: We seem to be entering into a new period of serious economic and social crisis. What are the new features of this period, in comparison with the 1930’s?

Answer: The basic reasons for the current crisis are the same as those which caused all previous capitalist crises. But all crises have also specific features with respect to their initiation, the reactions released by them, and their outcome. The changing capital structure accounts for these peculiarities. Generally, a crisis follows in the wake of a period of successful capital accumulation, wherein the profits produced and realized are sufficient to maintain a given rate of expansion. This state of capitalistic prosperity requires a steadily increasing productivity of labor, large enough to offset the relative decline of profitability resulting from the changing capital structure. The competitive and therefore blind pursuit of profit on the part of individual capitals cannot help but ignore the changing capital/labor composition of the social capital. The crisis erupts, when an arising disproportionality between a required rate of profit for the social capital and its necessary rate of accumulation forbids its further expansion. This underlying but empirically unascertainable discrepancy comes to the fore in terms of market relations as a lack of effective demand, which is only another expression for a lack of accumulation on which the effective demand depends.

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Polar bear, listen, we’re talking to you

Our land isn’t free, we’re telling you true.

Get out your cudgels and come into town

And smash in the skulls of the bosses in brown.

Image

“Some youth cultures, however, moved overtly in the direction of resistance. By the end of the 1930’s a less alienated, more respectable and stable contingent of traditional working class gangs had come into being. Known as the Edelweiss Pirates, they obviously borrowed much more from the wild, homeless criminal youth of the previous decade, but given the labor shortages and an endless supply of casual work, plus sustained connections to families, neighborhoods and former school friends. Thus they exercised a territoriality based on homes, incomes, leisure sites, and workplaces. Hiking, cycling, or hitchhiking for miles over the course of a weekend, these clubs made the rounds of the countryside. Their nights spent in bars, their days in odd jobs or avoiding work, lounging along a canal or on the fairgrounds, these proliferating associations of wandering youth creatively resisted the bureaucratized routinization of life in wartime Germany: “Master, give us cards,/ Master, give us pay./ We’ve had enough of slaving,/ Women are better any day.” The Pirates, like their criminal predecessors (long since rounded up and sent to the front) took names such as Navajos and Traveling Dudes. They defied bans on movement, bypassed police controls and ration books, prided themselves on their freedoms (physical, sexual, and political), and sustained nights of ribald singing in which official Nazi songs and sanctioned popular hits were adapted and reworked to espouse a stand of opposition. Glorying in Nazi-bashing, the Edelweiss Pirates seldom passed up an opportunity to beat up on the Hitler Youth, signalling a refusal to be subordinated. The Dusseldorf Pirates explained their slogan, “Eternal War on the Hitler Youth”, by noting that every order given by the Nazi regime was premised on a threat.”

(from Cultures of Darkness)

critique of urbanism

Image

The development of the urban milieu is the capitalist domestication of space. It represents the choice of one particular materialization, to the exclusion of other possibilities.

All this is imposed by means of a blackmail of utility, which hides the fact that this architecture and this conditioning are really useful only in reinforcing reification. Modern capitalism dissuades people from making any criticism of architecture with the simple argument that they need a roof over their heads, just as television is accepted on the grounds that they need information and entertainment. They are made to overlook the obvious fact that this information, this entertainment and this kind of dwelling place are not made for them, but without them and against them.