communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

Month: July, 2015

A Handy Guide To Gentrification

“Well, it is crazy cheap to live there…”enhanced-17887-1434031405-20

I hate Wilmington*!

*(or choose one of the following)

a) Phoenix
b) Modesto
c) Wichita
d) Fort Lee
e) Purseville, a tiny town upstate that, in the early 1900s, was the purse-making capital of the country

Oh my god, have you ever been? It is the WORST. I went there for my cousin’s wedding and I can’t believe people actually LIVE there. It is devoid of all culture and has zero _______.

a) restaurants that aren’t fast food chains
b) gay bars except for this sad, rainbow flag-covered dive that I would never set foot in called Mirage
c) people of color
d) soul
e) well, there is no English word for it, but in German they call it Schprechtstäfft

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It’s also incredibly dangerous and _________.

a) once my cousin was mugged there at gunpoint
b) they keep finding severed goat heads in the park
c) is the Kidney Theft Capital of the country
d) has a terrible “spongecake” epidemic (have you heard of spongecake? It’s this new AWFUL drug that is more addictive than crack and makes your eyeballs shrivel into raisins!)
e) Robert Durst was recently spotted in a wig at the Price Chopper

That said, it IS crazy cheap to live in Wilmington. My friend Caleb just moved there and for very little money bought a ________.

a) ramshackle old Victorian
b) former purse clasp factory
c) entire car dealership
d) abandoned polio hospital
e) haunted roller disco

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And now I hear all these young people are moving to Wilmington. Apparently a group of ambitious and optimistic millennials created this whole ________.

a) sharing community full of love and light that is so much better than here
b) Hispanic food system (They said that Hispanic is cool to say again!)
c) paleolithic cave-diet collective that lives in an actual cave
d) hydroponic vape church
e) livable hammock tree house constructed entirely out of plastic bags and recycled Stumptown coffee grounds

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Bring Out Your Fantasy

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In other eras and societies — the Great Depression, the Soviet Union — long lines signify scarcity or oppression. In the Bizarro World that is 21st-century America, it’s the opposite: Long lines are signs of abundance and hedonism. Much can be learned about a civilization from studying its queuing habits, and Comic-Con surpasses even the Disney theme parks in the sophistication of its crowd management and the variety of its arrangements.

– Bring Out Your Fantasy and Fuel the Culture

A Discussion of Syriza’s Referendum in the Current Crisis

Supporters of Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's Syriza left-wing main opposition party attend his pre-election speech at Omonia Square in Athens Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party has failed so far to overcome a gap in opinion polls with the anti-bailout Syriza party ahead of the Jan. 25 general election. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Where has Syriza taken Greece? Which are the forces at play in the restructuring of the Greek economy? And what are the conditions of its radical critique? What follows is a discussion of Cognord’s text “Changing of the Guards”, including TH’s critical remarks on that text, Cognord’s reply to these remarks and Ady Amatia’s comments on the questions raised in this discussion. TH and Ady Adamantia are members of Sic collective.

For full debate, see SicJournal.org

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Anti-worker’s Inquiry

Open the door, turn on the light, heat up the water, check the refrigerators, lay out the chairs, clean the tables, light the candles, put out the ashtrays, check the register, count the change, cut the limes, put on music, wash the glasses, turn on the fan, pour the beer, mix the drinks, serve the customers, listen to their stories, comfort their loneliness, make the ice, clean the counter, tell a joke, take the money. The floor is wet, pool table scratched, darts bent, ash on the couch, smoke in the air, glasses broken, wallets stolen, clothing torn. The night is long and full of terrors.

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Red-eyed zombies shuffle slowly around the room, gurgling liquid nonsense. They require fuel, and my job is to serve. I release kegs of sorrow-drowning forgetting juice to hordes of thirsty animals. The early ones are old, mostly men, alone, talking at me nonstop, like a television you can’t turn off. I nod and try to act busy, pretending to listen, which turns into actually listening. I hear stories of work, family, and loss; of sports, weather, and sex. They speak of the old times before the Wall came down, or before the Wall went up; of living in the East, was it better, was it worse; of the squats, punk, and the autonomen; of all the immigrants, the Greeks, Spanish, and Portuguese; the Jews, Arabs, and Turks; the Russians and Poles, Czechs and Serbs; the refugees from Syria, Somalia, and Sudan; of war and death, parties and politics. I hear about the new Berlin, poor but sexy, with enough cultural capital to compete with Brooklyn: full of street art, start-ups, and stardom. Half-liters of pilsner go down like water to these senior proletarians and punks of the Federal Republic.

Later, when the sun goes down, the young ones rush in like flies to a light bulb: the party kids from England, France, and Australia; the students from Mexico, Canada, and Japan; the IT workers from Switzerland, Sweden, and Denmark. The noise reaches a peak pitch. The air is impenetrable. I sweat, run, fall, take, give, pour, spill, clean, and try to become pure labor-power. But they want the whole human: the ears that listen, the voice that responds, the eyes that look back, and the hand that feels the fingers through the bills. I try not to think, but I’m a trained thinker in my other life, and so my thoughts overpower me, firing out indiscriminately at unsuspecting guests. Snippets of conversation hang in mid-air as I interject with non-sequiturs, hoping for a better tip. A few activists debate the demise of the left; a few soccer fans discuss the decline of their team. Turkish wrestlers, French conspirators, American hustlers are locked in a vicious game of foosball. Cops knocking, neighbors calling, bosses yelling, tables falling—I need a new job.

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Changing of the Guards

The recent anarchist riots in Greece have cost the country billions of dollars in damage. Rioters destroyed shops and luxury cars, sparing homes.  They attacked Citibank and other buildings which represented the system.  They were not interested in looting.  For example, they broke open an ATM machine and burned all the cash.

The recent anarchist riots in Greece have cost the country billions of dollars in damage. Rioters destroyed shops and luxury cars, sparing homes. They attacked Citibank and other buildings which represented the system. They were not interested in looting. For example, they broke open an ATM machine and burned all the cash.

by Cognord, Brooklyn Rail, July 2015

It appeared that the endless saga of the negotiations between the Syriza government and the European lenders had come to an end. After five months of ferocious zigzags, suspense, and fear, a certain deal had been reached. A sense of relief was radiating from the world press, the technocrats, and government bureaucrats. Whether the deal would be a success or not, however, seemed to depend on whom you ask. For those who wanted to ensure that austerity would continue, the deal was certainly to their liking. Curiously, for those who claimed to be on a mission to end austerity, the deal was also favorable. For those who will be immediately affected by the proposed measures, it seemed that not much had changed. The devil is in the details, some say, and many would have preferred those details to get lost amidst the obscure technicalities. Unfortunately for them, however, even Lorca knew that “ […] under the multiplications, the divisions, and the additions […] there is a river of blood.” The relief and satisfaction that the deal brought about could only have been short-lived. In fact, it could only have provided some gratification to the extent that it remained on paper. For as soon as its measures would have been implemented, the party would have been over.

Gentlemen, we don’t
need your organization

In the February 2015 issue of the Brooklyn Rail, I described Syriza’s infamous Thessaloniki Program(its veritable pre-election box of promises) as a minimal Keynesian program, with no real chance of reversing the catastrophic consequences of five years of violent devaluation. Back then, to say this was nothing short of blasphemy. An enthusiastic left was roaming around the globe speaking of a radical left, proclaiming an end to austerity, blowing a wind of change. Criticisms of Syriza and its economic program were cast aside as indications of an unrealistic and arrogant ultra-leftist dogmatism.

Today, the very people who supported Syriza in widely read articles and interviews are forced to admit a certain “moderate Keynesianism”1 in the initial program as well as a real distance between that program and today’s agreement. The happy chorus has stopped singing about the “end of austerity/Troika/etc.,” and has made a hard landing onto the desert of the real.2

It seems it took five months to openly admit what was already clear from the February 20th agreement. And while for those who put their trust in Syriza it is somewhat understandable that hope dies last, for those close to the decision-making process of the Greek government, such naiveté is, to say the least, suspicious. For if something has become crystal clear in the last few months, it is that Syriza was not negotiating with European officials; it was actually negotiating the ways through which the continuation of austerity will be accepted by its own members and by those who will be forced to endure its consequences.

Decline and fall of the
spectacle of negotiations

From the February 20th agreement in the Eurogroup onwards, it had become clear that Syriza was in no position to implement its Thessaloniki Program. After it became clear that they had no leverage to impose a discussion on debt reduction and an admission of Greece into the Qualitative Easing program of the ECB(European Central Bank),3 Syriza’s last chance was to rely on a show of good will from the Troika (which was kind enough to accept a ridiculous name change into “Brussels Group”), in exchange for social and political stability in Greece’s troubled territory. A clearly misunderstood version of the “extend and pretend” policy that the Eurozone has been following since the beginning of the crisis was seen by Syriza as a possible win-win for everyone: both the Troika and Syriza would pretend that austerity is minimized, while its essential character would remain unchanged.

However, a combination of the orchestrated irritation caused by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and his inconsistencies, and the more substantial fact that any lenience towards Greece might spiral down towards Eurozone countries with more significant GDPs, meant that this sort of divergence from austerity was out of the question.

The only remaining way to salvage the spectacle of “negotiations” was to engage in a PR campaign which would offer different narratives to different audiences. In this process, what was a series of humiliating compromises in the Eurozone meetings was constantly transformed into a “harsh negotiation” for the Greek audience. Varoufakis became a cause célèbre, whose ability to annoy German Finance Minister Schäuble became a source of national pride in Greece. A mixture of hope beyond proof, disbelief, and the non-existence of political opposition made the task even easier for Syriza’s think-tanks. To top it up, one only needed to throw in a series of incomprehensible figures and decimal points. The self-evident truth of the abandonment of any prospect of minimizing austerity consequences was mystified through a steady production of numbers and statistics which left even experienced “experts” baffled.

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Ritual

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Capitalist society is death organized with all the appearances of life. Here it is not a question of death as the extinction of life, but death-in-life, death with all the substance and power of life. The human being is dead and is no more than a ritual of capital.

Jacques Camatte, Against Domestication

Ritual is a magazine of contemporary politics. We assume as a foundational premise the proposition that, under existing conditions, life is routinely dominated and continually transformed by capitalism. We aim to grasp just how this domesticated human being, homo economicus, is perpetuated across space and time, and how it attempts to express itself as a response to a transformative and transforming capitalist hegemony. Ritual is a critical platform for tracing the cultural, philosophic, and socioeconomic threads that mark the interface between human life and capital.

Fire to the Houseprojects!

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Fire to the Houseprojects! A Manifesto For Berlin

“In spite of its tremendous potential, struggles in Berlin seem everywhere to get stuck in dead-ends. At the risk of provoking indignation, we seek to identify some obstacles that block the self-overcoming of the present situation, and in this way to open up a genuinely strategic and tactical discussion about how we might begin to move again.

The biggest obstacle to such a discussion is the prevalence of a moralistic approach to power and resistance. The latter is most clearly visible in the discussions we’ve encountered around the refugee struggle, but it is by no means limited to them, and seems to affect anarchists and other autonomous folks as often as it does mainstream leftists. We will therefore begin by drawing critical attention to a two-pronged gesture that we routinely encounter in Berlin: a moralization of questions of strategy, and a strategization of morality. Though perhaps well-intentioned (for whatever that’s worth), this perspective too often generates only paralysis, isolation, and self-neutralization.

The critique of this political-strategic moralism raises fundamental questions about the relation between anti-racism, privilege-politics, and capitalist crisis. Specifically, it challenges conceptions of anti-racism based either on a pure negation of an outside enemy (antifascism) or else on a self-congratulatory ‘recognition’ of our lesser-privileged neighbors motivated ultimately by white guilt. In each case, we fail to extract ourselves from a leftist ‘posturing’ that never asks the question of what it would take to increase our collective power of acting, thinking, and living.”

READ / PRINT

Hausprojeckte abfackeln! Ein Manifest Für Berlin

Trotz ihres gewaltigen Potenzials scheinen die Kämpfe in Berlin allerorts in Sackgassen fest zu sitzen. Auf das Risiko hin, Empörung hervorzurufen werden wir versuchen, einige Hindernisse zu identifizieren, die der Selbstüberwindung der gegenwärtigen Situation im Wege stehen, um so eine tatsächlich strategische und taktische Diskussion darüber zu eröffnen, wie wir wieder in Bewegung kommen können.

Das größte Hindernis einer solchen Diskussion ist die Dominanz eines moralistischen Zugangs zu Macht und Widerstand. Letzterer wird am deutlichsten in den Diskussionen sichtbar, die uns rund um den Kampf der Flüchtlinge begegneten, bleibt aber auf keinen Fall darauf beschränkt. Von daher möchten wir zu Beginn die kritische Aufmerksamkeit auf jene doppelte Geste lenken, der wir routinemäßig in Berlin begegnen: das Moralisieren von Fragen der Strategie und das Strategisieren der Moral. Wenn auch vielleicht in guter Absicht (was auch immer das bringen soll), erzeugt diese Perspektive allzu oft nur Lähmung, Isolation und Selbstneutralisierung.

Eine Kritik dieses politisch-strategischen Moralismus wirft grundlegende Fragen zum Verhältnis von Antirassismus, einer auf Privilegien fokussierenden Politik und kapitalistischer Krise auf. Genauer gesagt stellt sie antirassistische Konzepte in Frage, die entweder auf der reinen Ablehnung eines äußeren Feindes (Antifaschismus) oder der sich selbst beglückwünschenden ‚Anerkennung‘ unserer weniger privilegierten Nachbarn aufbauen, die letztlich von weißen Schuldgefühlen getrieben ist. In beiden Fällen gelingt es nicht, uns einer linken ‚Haltung‘ zu entziehen, die niemals die Frage stellt, was wir brauchen, um unsere Handlungsmacht zu vergrößern.”

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