communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

Month: June, 2015

Eulogy

88cd690964e1e410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____-Greece Crisis On The Wall-1

WE ARE NOTHING AND SO CAN YOU

Diagonally, by love and hate
in equal parts
propelled, the mob returns
like a chorus
the cops keep getting
hit with, in the head
brick and bottle tra la la
of fuck you, pig and die, pig, die

the mob, torn together
by each temporizing, tangled
moment in its series
returning along the old animal tracks
of total science to mark with metaphoric
shit and piss the places where the earth
parts ways with each reason for enduring:
its also-rans, its would-have-beens
crashing into the shatterproof
curves of the cell wall, behind which
the makers of measure and rule
shelter in disordered nomenclature,
recounting in pantomime
our unfortunate tenure
as minor villains among the plant life.

Just then, you feel the scare quotes
C-clamp your skull, interatomic
emoticons spazzing out intransitively
in the middle distance where demoralized
shifters replace all sense of the past
with continuously updated commentary
from the compliantly defiant crowds
who compare their purchases
with the bland openness of experience.

They will never be a real mob
now that nature has been democratized
by these marvelous poisons
our rounded-up truants
leave dusted upon the rocks and trees.
As for the rest of us, we learn
something important about ourselves
watching from the loading dock
as the mushroom cloud
announces the end of another season –
e.g., that each riot really is
an assemblage of other riots
washed up on the boulevards,
from whose faded corpses
one dresses and arms one’s comrades
the total inadequacy of which
as equipment for the task at hand
traces out in negative
the seat perilous of the party historical
the poetry of the future
whose sweet new sounds
will fill with meaning slowly
while the seas rise.

Can software destroy hardware?
Can a class, acting strictly as
a class, abolish all classes
as the answer to a badly phrased
question might by sheer force of obviousness
cause the questioner to rise
blankly and walk into the ocean,
while the black flags cut from the robes
of executed magistrates
wave non-semaphorically,
where hope ends and history starts.

Jasper Bernes

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Why Don’t the Poor Rise Up?

24edsallWeb-master675

Why are today’s working poor so quiescent? I’m not the only one posing this question.

“Why aren’t the poor storming the barricades?” asks The Economist. “Why don’t voters demand more redistribution?” wonders David Samuels, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. The headline on an April 7 National Catholic Reporter article reads: “Why aren’t Americans doing more to protest inequality?”

There are legitimate grounds for grievance. For those in the bottom quintile, household income in inflation-adjusted dollars has dropped sharply, from $13,787 in 2000 to $11,651 in 2013. According to the Census Bureau, 64 million Americans currently live in the bottom quintile.

Still, it’s possible that poverty is less grueling than in the past, for several reasons. First, although incomes have declined, the cost of many goods – televisions, computers, air-conditioners, household appliances, cellphones – has fallen, leaving the bottom quintile less deprived than simple income figures might reflect. Second, people nowadays marry and have children later in life than in the past, postponing some financial demands to better earning years. Third,some economists contend that commonly used inflation measures result in excessively high estimates of the real-world cost of goods for consumers, thus making living conditions less dire than they might otherwise be.

But there is another reason that there has not been broad public insurrection.

Society has drastically changed since the high-water mark of the 1930s and 1960s when collective movements captured the public imagination. Now, there is an inexorable pressure on individuals to, in effect, fly solo. There is very little social support for class-based protest – what used to be called solidarity.

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„EUROPA. ANDERS. MACHEN”? SO. WIRD. DAS. NICHTS.

LowerClassMagazine – Am Samstag ist in Berlin mal wieder „Aktionstag“ mit anschließendem Konzert. Wir brauchen schön langsam wirklich neue Ideen. Ein Vorschlag zur Diskussion, welche das sein könnten.

Seit vielen Jahren machen wir „Aktionstage“, „Aktionswochen“, bisweilen ganze „Aktionsjahreszeiten“ („heißer Herbst“, der zumeist recht kühl blieb). Jetzt kommt erneut ein „Aktionswochenende“ auf uns nieder. Am Samstag sollen wir zur Aktion schreiten und zwar in der Hauptstadt. Dort ruft ein „breites Bündnis“ (auch diese Formulierung wirkt schmerzhaft bekannt) dazu auf, zuerst zu demonstrieren und sich dann ein Konzert anzuhören (auch das gab´s vor wenigen Wochen mit exakt derselben thematischen Ausrichtung – Flüchtlingspolitik – wenige Kilometer entfernt am Oranienplatz).

Diesmal, so erfährt man aus dem Aufruf zu Demo und Konzert, geht es darum, „dass an Europas Außengrenzen seit Jahren und immerfort Tausende geflüchtete Menschen sterben“ und es geht gegen das „Dogma des Neoliberalismus“, gegen TTIP und gegen die Politik der EU gegenüber Griechenland. Das alles sind sinnvolle Anliegen, wichtige Themen werden aufgegriffen und zahlreiche zentrale politische AkteurInnen der deutschen und migrantischen Linken unterstützen das Bündnis. Es ist dankenswert und gut, dass sich Menschen Mühe machen, den organisatorischen und finanziellen Aufwand zu bewältigen, den so ein Tag kostet.

Ein Tag Spektakel, aber was bringt´s? Aktionstag (oder wars ne Woche, keine Ahnung mehr) zum Thema "Umfairteilen"
Ein Tag Spektakel, aber was bringt´s? Aktionstag (oder wars ne Woche, keine Ahnung mehr) zum Thema „Umfairteilen“

Gleichwohl kann man sich nicht ersparen, die Frage zu Stellen: Was bringt´s? Aktionstage gingen Stück um Stück über die Bühne. Sie schafften einige Aufmerksamkeit für Themen, ein bis zwei Tage werden sich entsprechende Meldungen in entsprechenden Medien finden. Danach geht man auseinander und schreitet an die Vorbereitung der kommenden Aktionstage.

Der Aufruf zu der morgigen Demonstration, die unter dem ob der Interpunktion etwas dadaistisch anmutenden Motto „Europa. Anders. Machen“ abgewickelt wird, ist hinsichtlich des zu erwartenden Outputs erfrischend aufrichtig. Er tut gar nicht mehr so, als könnten wir mit derartigen „Aktionen“ irgendwas ändern. Er sagt lediglich, man wolle damit zeigen, „dass die Bundesregierung nicht für uns spricht“. Ehrlich bis zur Schmerzgrenze heißt es: „Mit unserer Demo wollen wir einem anderen Bild von Europa Raum geben.“

Die Frage, die bleibt, ist: Was sollen die in libanesischen Lagern sitzenden Familien aus Syrien mit diesem „Bild“? Was sollen die vor dem – auch – europäischen Krieg in Libyen Geflohenen, die irgendwo im Mittelmeer aus den Schlepperbooten fallen, mit diesem „Bild“? Was machen die von der – vorrangig aus Deutschland betriebenen – Austeritätspolitik Drangsalierten in Athen mit diesem „Bild“? Und wie verbessert dieses „Bild“ unsere eigene von Prekarisierung und Lohnarbeit oder Erwerbslosigkeit und Elend zertrümmerten Leben?

Wie die Aktion werden wird, kann man sich denken, bevor man da war: Erst wird gelatscht, dann wird gequatscht. Wir werden Gregor Gysi und Co. lauschen und anderen, am Ende des Tages wird die Erkenntnis stehen, die wir alle auch schon zur Demonstration mitgebracht haben: Dieses Europa tötet. Soweit so gut. Aber was nun?

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The Dead are Coming

Center for Political Beauty – The German government’s worst nightmare is coming true: Over the next few days, refugees who drowned or starved to death at Europe’s external borders on their way to a new life, will be brought to Berlin. The aim is to tear down the walls surrounding Europe’s sense of compassion. Together with the victims’ relatives, we opened inhumane graves and exhumed the bodies. They are now on their way to Germany. Their relatives decided what will happen to them once they arrive.

This is where you will find out where exactly in Berlin the victims will appear. We will re-transform Europe into a continent of immigration. Please note that due to the explosive nature of the intervention, we will only announce the arrival of the bodies 6 hours in advance (especially bearing in mind the authority of the German Federal Police, Ministry of the Interior, Chancellery and Federal Border Guard).

News: nytimes / dw / thelocal

On the possibility that the revolution that will end capitalism might fail to usher in communism

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Marcel Stoetzler, Bangor University, UK

The optimism of the left repeats the insidious bourgeois superstition that one should not talk of the devil but look on the bright side.

(Adorno, 1978: 114)1

1

In this paper I will try to get to grips with my partial reservations about John Holloway’s conception of revolution in Change the World without Taking Power and Crack Capitalism, which concern two problems. First, the interstitial revolution will not necessarily end capitalism, as capitalism will not simply die from the fact that communism peacefully, cunningly, like a cancer, grows and grows and grows in capitalism’s interstices: I suggest that capitalism will die because of the decay of capitalism, not the growth of communism, and that these two processes are neither the same nor related in any linear manner. Second, there are anti-capitalist screams and cracks that are not at all, and cannot even potentially become, communist: there are reactionary, anti-emancipatory forms of anti-capitalism, and as these were decisive factors in the catastrophic history of the twentieth century, their theoretical reflection needs to be more than a critical afterthought; it needs to be central. One way of putting this would be that, like many other variants of autonomist and left-wing Marxism, Holloway’s theory suffers from a lack of a theory of fascism. In spite of these reservations, though, his conception is of great importance, and my way of trying to deal with my own reservations will probably make clear enough why I think it is.2

2

Capital is the name we give to the totalizing structure of contemporary human society. On the one hand, this structure is out there, facing us, opposed, sitting there, ob-jective, bad, dangerous, but, on the other hand, it is also nothing more than our subjectivity, our acting or agency, the agency of all humans who are part of the capitalist civilization-world, the specific societal relation constituted by and emerging out of the interactions of all human agents at any one time, the world that humanity creates every single moment following the example set by God according to the theology of Eriugena as referenced by Holloway (2010: 169).3

Crisis is likewise objective, an objective aspect of the real–abstract dynamic of that structure called capital, and, likewise, it is also true that we are the crisis, just as we are capital. Our subjectivity and agency are constitutive of the objective existence of capital as much as of the crisis and of the negation of capital.4

Negation is an unruly category, and its unruliness is the focus of this paper. In particular, the issue here is that revolution-as-the-negation-of-capital is not in itself, not necessarily, the same as communism-as-the-negation-of-capital (that is, revolution as communism): the revolutionary bringing down of capital opens up but the possibility of communism, and this possibility’s chance of success depends in important ways on how the bringing-down occurs. How is decisive.

3

Revolution-as-the-negation-of-capital is mostly done by us-as-capital: that is, by capital in a process of self-negation of capital, a self-negation in which capital, which is in this sense the subject or agent of its own negation, makes use of us-as-the-constitutive-basis-of-capital.5 Communism-as-the-negation-of-capital, by contrast, is exclusively done by us-as-not-capital, which is, to use Adorno’s phrase, our non-identity, our identity against all identifications, in particular against all identifications imposed by the totalizing societal structure called capital (Adorno, 1975: 164) – a force otherwise known as communism-as-the-real-or-actual-movement, the ‘wirkliche Bewegung’ (Marx, 1969: 35): the movement of subjects that refuse being identified, classified, subjected.6

These two negations and these two ‘we’s – or, perhaps better, these two dimensions of ‘we’: the-(self-)negation-of-capital-as-revolution and the-negation-of-capital-as-communism; and we-as-capital and we-as-not-capital – are different though related. (We are all capital/labour as well as not capital/labour, although some are perhaps more the one, some more the other.) This conceptual distinction (although to be understood as merely a dialectical distinction, a contradiction within a unity) allows us to make a further distinction, namely that we-as-those-who-drive-capital-into-crisis (and, at some point, will bring it down, that is, we as the in this respect ultimately revolutionary agents; we-the-wreckers) are not thereby necessarily communists (in the sense of we as determinately not capital); we simply play our part as labour, which is the complementary opposite as much as the constitutive basis of capital, and we do our best to play a tough game with-and-against capital because we need to survive. No less, no more: by way of constituting capital, we also constitute its intrinsic, in-built, inevitable self-negation, but not, in and of itself, communism. Not communism, but only the possibility of communism follows from the inherent contradictions of the capital relation. Although capital’s self-negating dynamic produces the elements and conditions of communism, communism is more than just the self-negation of capital. Communism emerges from capitalism only as a potentiality; it is born out of freedom, if it is born at all, not out of necessity. Freedom is what communism essentially is. In other words, the abolition of capitalism will create a chance which humanity has the freedom to spoil or to use. Only because we can spoil it we can also make communism: if it were a guaranteed outcome, it would be freedom arrived at by ways of unfreedom; guaranteed, necessary freedom, though, is implausible.7

4

The conceptual construction proposed here makes possible two things (and was formulated precisely in order to deal with two problems perceived while reading Holloway’s two recent books). First, the distinction allows us to appreciate as revolutionary the kind of social practices that Holloway chose to refer to as ‘screams’, or practices that produce or reinforce ‘cracks’ in the social totality of capitalist society: they are revolutionary in the sense of helping to create or anticipate communism, although they are not revolutionary in the sense of being likely to help bring down capitalism. To use examples given by Holloway, such practices include dying one’s hair green, guerrilla gardening, being a girl reading a book in a park; more generally, all things queer and beautiful. Second, the proposed distinction makes it possible to articulate the critique and rejection of reactionary opposition to (aspects of) capitalism on two levels, namely responding, first, to the question, ‘Is this particular practice bad for capitalism?’, and responding, second, to the question, ‘Is this particular practice good for communism?’ On a pragmatic note, it could be added that a particular practice could be examined with respect to the question whether, if it is bad for capitalism (which is good), it is at least not bad for communism, too.8

This allows us to argue that:

• we should be most enthusiastic about actions and practices that are bad for capitalism, but good for communism;

• we should be reasonably enthusiastic about actions and practices that are neutral in terms of destroying capitalism but good for communism, or neutral in terms of communism but destructive of capitalism;

• we should somewhat more discretely and guiltily enjoy those that are as good for capitalism as for communism (I think here of nice food, well-designed clothes, and so on – things that will proliferate endlessly in communism, but require some rehearsing in advance);

• we should very much oppose, though, actions and practices that are bad for communism regardless of whether they are bad for capitalism, too: in other words, it is imperative explicitly to resist the temptation to join or support people who fight against capitalism in ways that are bad for communism.

It follows from this consideration that the question ‘What is good for communism?’ is much more important than the question ‘What is bad for capitalism?’ If a good-enough approximate definition can be agreed upon, such as communism is ‘the state of things where one can be different without fear’ (Adorno, 1978: 103),9 presupposing societal arrangements in which nobody’s access to the means of subsistence is conditional on what, if anything, that person chooses to contribute to society, then a set of criteria for what actions and practices will further such a state of things can be inferred. (The definition of communism – actually socialism, which in Marx are synonymous – that is quoted from Marx, for example, in an article by Paresh Chattopadhyay is the ‘society of free and associated producers’, which is an important formal characterization but too formal as a definition [Chattopadhyay, 2006: 46]. Chattopadhyay goes half-way towards making in this context the distinction I am proposing; he writes: ‘Marx shows how capital creates the subjective and objective conditions of its own negation and, simultaneously, the elements of the new society destined to supersede it – socialism’ [2006: 46]. Chattopadhyay formulates very carefully: capital does not automatically produce its own negation but merely the conditions for it, and ‘simultaneously’ not ‘the new society’ but the elements of the new society. This formulation does imply that still somebody has to do the negating, and somebody has to come up with some good idea of how to put these ‘elements’ together, or else they will go to waste or serve some other purpose. The concept of ‘negation’, however, might imply either simply disintegration or implosion, or else the ‘determined negation’ of capitalism by socialism/communism. The openness and indeed realism of his statement are in turn negated by Chattopadhyay’s adding that destiny has already decided that socialism/communism will follow capitalism. How does he know?)

5

The answer to the question ‘What is bad for capitalism?’ is – somewhat counterintuitively – even less straightforward than the answer to the question ‘What is good for communism?’, as even the capitalists don’t seem to agree easily on what they think is good for them, and those who define themselves negatively as ‘anti-capitalists’ seem to mirror their counterparts in this respect. Trade unionism, for example, is only very indirectly bad for capitalism, namely by way of being good for capitalism, by way of being good for workers as workers: insofar as we are workers, and that’s what we mostly are, we need to get as good a deal as we can get, like the air to breath. In fact only things that are good for capitalism are bad for capitalism, as only the capitalist dynamic digs capitalism’s grave. In terms of the question of consciousness – and the determined negation of capitalism by communism can only be a conscious one – there lies the rub: to the same extent that we succeed in getting better deals, being good workers and trade unionists, contributing thus (as labour/capital) to capitalism’s eating away at itself, we think less about communism and fail to get ready for task two (the big one). Conversely, an empty stomach is of course even less likely to become a communist – it’s a double bind.

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Radio-Feature: Die Hippie-Hools vom Gezi-Park

Anlässlich des zweiten Jahrestages von Occupy Gezi das Radio-Feature Die Hippie-Hools vom Gezi-Park von Ralf Heck, James Steen und Bob Dilan für footballuprising.

Das Feature kann man auch hier direkt anhören, ohne Soundcloud.

D 2015 –  footballuprising – 14 Min.

08. Juni 2013 – Zehntausende Fußballfans der unterschiedlichen Klubs schließen sich dem Aufstand in der Türkei an: Die Supportergruppe Çarşı von Beşiktaş Istanbul vereinte sie in einer Demonstration gegen das Erdoğan-Regime – der größten, die während des Gezi-Park-Aufstandes stattfand. Gegenwärtig sitzen 35 Mitglieder von Çarşı auf der Anklagebank aufgrund ihrer Beteiligung an der Revolte im Sommer 2013. Die Staatsanwaltschaft wirft ihnen Bildung einer kriminellen Vereinigung und Putschversuch vor. Lebenslänglich Knast droht ihnen bei einer Verurteilung. Doch welche Rolle spielte Çarşı bei den Protesten? Wie ticken ihre Mitglieder? Wurde der Aufstand einzig von einer brutal agierenden Polizei niedergeschlagen oder scheiterte er nicht vielmehr auch an den inneren Widersprüchen der Bewegung? Diese und noch weitere Antworten liefert das folgende Feature.

Since the End of the Movement of the Squares

The Return of The Invisible Committee

Since the end of the movement of the squares, we have seen networks of mutual support cropping up in many cities to stop evictions, of strike committees and neighborhood assemblies, but also cooperatives, for everything and in every sense.

To Our Friends

“The insurrections have come, finally.”

To Our Friends, The Invisible Committee’s most recent book, appears a little over seven years after 2007’s The Coming Insurrection. Its opening sentence—“The insurrections have come, finally”—savors a note of vindication. Sympathetic readers will indulge them this small triumph, and give them their due. There is little doubt that since the publication of The Coming Insurrection we have witnessed, on a global scale, a welter of riots and revolts the likes and intensity of which have not been seen for 40 years. “Ten years ago,” the authors go on, “predicting an uprising would have exposed you to […] snickers.” Today, they contend, everyone has on their lips the watchwords of the moment: que se vayan todos! (“out with them all”), or even that old anarchist refrain, all cops are bastards. Rarely do short essays risking themselves in the waters of historical speculation hit their mark. The Invisible Committee was clearly on to something.

Burned police station” by Mohamed El Dahshan 

All the same, a worry, a quibble, settles in quickly. Did the insurrections really come, after all? We can be sure the authors of To Our Friends are not speaking of the North American Occupy movement which, with the exception of some aspects of Occupy Oakland, was a largely toothless affair, swept away brusquely after a few weeks or months at most. They must have in mind instead some of the more spirited outposts of Occupy’s European counterpart, the so-called “movement of the squares,” such as the M15 movement in Spain and the Syntagma Square occupation in Athens, both frequent points of reference in To Our Friends. But there was little insurrectionary about these movements, despite the numbers and energies pouring into them: they remained focused largely on developing novel forms of mass democracy in their general assemblies, and denouncing the austerity programs implemented by their respective “caretaker” national governments at the behest of the true power players in Europe, the so-called “troika” of the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. The weeks-long riot in Greece in December 2008 is marshaled as an example, but that moment of disorder, marked as it was by attacks on banks and symbols of the state, and the temporary routing of police in the streets, was in a way an exception to the period in question, unleashed as it was before the austerity programs could firmly take the country hostage and the wheels of crisis grind the social fabric down to powder.

The story told in To Our Friends therefore largely depends on what transpired in Egypt, which broke the seal on the epoch and remains its signature event. If Tahrir Square is still the pulsing center of our historical moment, the disheartening if predictable fallout of the mass movement—elections, Muslim Brotherhood, army coup—offers writ-large lessons on just how weak, despite its mobilization of millions, the movement was. Despite numerous attacks on police stations and a series of important factory strikes, everything unfolded under the knowing, patient eye of the army, and most of the key structures of the Egyptian state stayed intact throughout, generally in the hands of autocrats in waiting. Few of the telltale traits of insurrection came to the fore. No significant movement to occupy factories, no crippling of the economic infrastructure, and no veritable splits within the armed forces. The other key uprisings of the Arab Spring, in Syria and Libya, leapt quickly—due in large part to the standing regimes’ move to militarize these conflicts—from popular mass movements to full-blown civil wars, complete with territorial fracturing, competing offshoots of Al-Qaeda assuming command over key zones, and the entire region transformed into a geopolitical powder keg, vaguely reminiscent of the Balkans a century ago. The scene is, altogether, grim.1

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