communists in situ

leberwurst proletariat

Category: Uncategorized

The neo-Nazi murder trial revealing Germany’s darkest secrets

still-from-the-white-ribbon-by-michael-haneke

The only known survivor of a far-right group accused of a series of racist killings is now on trial. But the case has put the nation itself in the dock

by Thomas Meaney and Saskia Schäfer, The Guardian


In the beginning, they were known as die Dönermorde – the kebab murders. The victims had little in common, apart from immigrant backgrounds and the modest businesses they ran. The first to die was Enver Şimşek, a 38-year-old Turkish-German man who ran a flower-import company in the southern German town of Nuremberg. On 9 September 2000, he was shot inside his van by two gunmen, and died in hospital two days later.

The following June, in the same city, 49-year-old Abdurrahim Özüdoğru was killed by two bullets while helping out after hours in a tailor’s shop. Two weeks later, in Hamburg, 500km north, Süleyman Taşköprü, 31, was shot three times and died in his greengrocer’s shop. Two months later, in August 2001, greengrocer Habil Kılıç, 38, was shot twice in his shop in the Munich suburbs.

The crime scenes indicated that the killers favoured a particular killing method. Typically, several shots were fired at close range to the face. Most of the bullets were traced back to a single weapon, a silenced Česká CZ 83 pistol. Police assumed that the professional method of killing, as well as the intimate nature of the murders – when they died, the victims were presumably looking directly into the eyes of their killers – meant that the murders must have been carried out by Turkish gangsters fighting out turf battles. No hard evidence ever substantiated this theory. Nevertheless, the taskforce assigned by the German authorities to the case was given the name “Bosphorus”.

Read the rest of this entry »

When Protesters Strike Back: 2016

 

From the “Fishball Revolution” in Hong Kong to the massive labour reform protests in France, 2016 was a riotous year. The counties included in this edition are Greece, France, Belgium, Italy, Chile, Turkey, Bahrain and South Africa. Music: Funky Shit by The Prodigy

 

Anti-Banality

Police Mortality from anti banality on Vimeo.

POLICE MORTALITY Trailer from anti banality on Vimeo.

Lovely May: A Scene From POLICE MORTALITY from anti banality on Vimeo.

STATE OF EMERGENCE Trailer from anti banality on Vimeo.

UNCLEAR HOLOCAUST Trailer from anti banality on Vimeo.

Unclear Holocaust from anti banality on Vimeo.

This Is New York City: A Scene From UNCLEAR HOLOCAUST from anti banality on Vimeo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hegel and Capitalism

ix7o7j2n-1280

Hegel and Capitalism (ed) Andrew Buchwalter
State University of New York Press, Albany, 2015. 256pp

Reviewed by Christopher Araujo in Marx & Philosophy Review of Books 

Negri once paid ‘homage’ to Hegel by calling upon Marxists to ‘liberate our praxis’ from an ‘ideology that desires the exploitation of man,’ yet speaks of the ‘hope of liberation’ (2011, 44). But even if his treatment of civil society does not cut as deeply as Marx’s critique of capitalism, conferring upon Hegel the title of official ‘philosopher of the bourgeois and capitalist organization of labor’ is a caricature (ibid., 37). Before we bury the ‘dead dog’ Marx himself tried to resuscitate, Marxists should pause to consult the more measured criticisms and nuanced appraisals of Hegel’s economics in the Buchwalter-edited Hegel and Capitalism. Within the confines of this review, I cannot do justice to the diversity of views expressed there, but I hope to highlight themes relevant to Marxist readers not yet ready to cast Hegel onto the dustbin of history.

Hegel’s relationship to capitalism is contested throughout the text. The opinions range from Michael J. Thompson ─ who argues that capitalism represents a ‘deficient modernity’ and individuals have no ‘obligation’ to reaffirm its irrationality (128-9) ─ to Richard Dien Winfield ─ who criticizes those that read Hegel as having problematized the ‘ethical standing of economic relations’ and drawn ‘modernity under suspicion’ (133, 143). However, most of the authors are in agreement that, while Hegel afforded a certain justification to the market as a sphere in which subjectivity is first raised into universality, he rejected the pure particularity of unbridled capitalism. His political philosophy envisions some sort of ‘determinate negation of capitalism’ ─ although, as Nathan Ross notes, this turns upon comprehending the precise meaning of the claim that the ‘state is the sublation of civil society’ (165). Nicholas Mowad goes so far as to suggest that if ‘Hegel felt capitalism to be severely flawed, yet still legitimate’ in a modified form, then he must not have been ‘fully aware of the critique of capitalism contained in his work’ (71). Perhaps, as Michalis Skomvoulis questions, Lukács was right: ‘frightened’ by his critique, Hegel ‘retreated’ (23).

Read the rest of this entry »

Lesser Known Trolley Problem Variations

tumblr_o6qm69R0ZY1tnrayvo1_1280

#Trolley Problem Memes

The Time Traveler

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards a worker. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits a different worker. The different worker is actually the first worker ten minutes from now.

The Cancer Caper

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards four workers. Three of them are cannibalistic serial killers. One of them is a brilliant cancer researcher. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits just one person. She is a brilliant cannibalistic serial killing cancer researcher who only kills lesser cancer researchers. 14% of these researchers are Nazi-sympathizers, and 25% don’t use turning signals when they drive. Speaking of which, in this world, Hitler is still alive, but he’s dying of cancer.

The Suicide Note

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards a worker. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits a different worker. The first worker has an intended suicide note in his back pocket but it’s in the handwriting of the second worker. The second worker wears a T-shirt that says PLEASE HITME WITH A TROLLEY, but the shirt is borrowed from the first worker.

The Ethics Teacher

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards four workers. You are on your way to teach an ethics class and this accident will make you extremely late. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits just one person. This will make you slightly less late to your class.

The Latte

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards five workers. You’re in a nearby café, sipping on a latte, and don’t notice. The workers die.

The Dicks

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards two workers. They’re massive dicks. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits just one person. He’s an even bigger dick.

The Business Ethics Version

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards three workers. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits a teenager instead. At a minimum, the three workers’ families will receive a $20,000 insurance payoff each, and the families will no doubt sue the company, which in this scenario you represent. The trolley driver seemed to die instantly from a freak aneurism, so your company might not be faulted for negligence under the FELA and might come out okay. The teenager’s parents, on the other hand, make a total of $175,000 a year, and can afford a pretty decent lawyer.

The Real Stinker

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards four workers. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits just one worker instead. But get this: that one worker? It’s your fucking mom. Bet you weren’t expecting that shit, were you?

The Surrealist Version

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards four workers. You have the ability to pull off your head and turn it into a Chinese lantern. Your head floats into the sky until it takes the place of the sun. You look down upon the planet. It is as small as the eye of a moth. The moth flies away.

The Meta-Ethical Problem

There’s an out of control trolley speeding towards Immanuel Kant. You have the ability to pull a lever and change the trolley’s path so it hits Jeremy Bentham instead. Jeremy Bentham clutches the only existing copy of Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. Kant holds the only existing copy of Bentham’s The Principles of Morals and Legislation. Both of them are shouting at you that they have recently started to reconsider their ethical stances.


by Kyle York

 

From the Frankfurt School to Value-Form Analysis (Reichelt)

pipIJvd

The preoccupation with problems of capital-analysis began relatively early. We wanted to know in the first place what ‘reification’ (Verdinglichung) really is. At that time in the mid-sixties we systematically plagued Horkheimer with these things. We wanted to know how they are interpreted in the framework of the Frankfurt Theory since the Frankfurt Theory built explicitly on them – and discovered after all, that after three sentences long silences set in, and that basically there was very little to learn from these theoreticians. Finally, we decided to think these questions through ourselves and – this can now be said in the present company – had to conclude that the omission of these moments itself had to be conceived as to a certain extent symptomatic with regard to the critique of this ‘Critical Theory’. This becomes evident when one pursues it further, if one may extrapolate, with Habermas. One could perhaps put forward the thesis that the Habermasian theory, which after all arose in a close connection with the Frankfurt theory, is to be designated as dialectical theory which can only develop dialectical theory formally, since it falls back to the standpoint of the bourgeois subject.

Precisely that, however, is already implicitly criticised, I would suggest, in Marx’s form-analysis, i.e. in the value-form analysis, money-form analysis and in the dialectical presentation of the categories of political economy. This implies that something like ‘dialectical theory’ as method extracted from these contents cannot be explicated. This, however, has always been the thesis of the Frankfurt theory. When one for example reads the writings of Alfred Schmidt, it is striking that he says that the dialectical method cannot be explicated in isolation from the contents. When one ties him down, however: Tell us, why don’t you, what is so special about these contents, show us the dialectical method with these contents themselves, e.g. with certain dialectical transitions in Capital: normally he gives it a miss, or at least to date that has been the case. He was not in the position to develop the dialectical method in Capital himself. To date, no one (1) in Frankfurt has tried this, as far as I can see. To Habermas, these matters are totally alien, today more than ever, one would have to say. (2)

Read the rest of this entry »

The End of All Things (Kant, 1794)

You-wanted-endtimes

It is a common expression, used chiefly in pious language, to speak of a person who is dying as going out of time into eternity

This expression would in fact say nothing if eternity is understood here to mean a time proceeding to infinity; for then the person would indeed never get outside time but would always progress only from one time into another. Thus what must be meant is an end of all time along with the person’s uninterrupted duration; but this duration (considering its existence as a magnitude) as a magnitude (duratio Noumenon) wholly incomparable with time, of which we are obviously able to form no concept (except a merely negative one). This thought has something horrifying about it because it leads us as it were to the edge of an abyss: for anyone who sinks into it no return is possible (“But in that earnest place/ Him who holds nothing back! Eternity holds fast in its strong arms.” Haller); and yet there is something attractive there too: for one cannot cease turning his terrified gaze back to it again and again (nequeunt expleri corda tuendoVirgil). It is frighteningly sublime partly because it is obscure, for the imagination works harder in darkness than it does in bright light. Yet in the end it must also be woven in a wondrous way into universal human reason, because it is encountered among all reasoning peoples at all times, clothed in one way or another. – Now when we pursue the transition from time into eternity (whether or not this idea, considered theoretically as extending cognition, has objective reality), as reason does in a moral regard, then we come up against the end of all things as temporal beings and as objects of possible experience – which end, however, in the moral order of ends, is at the same time the beginning of a duration of just those same beings as supersensible, and consequently as not standing under conditions of time; thus that duration and its state will be capable of no determination of its nature other than a moral one.

Days are as it were the children of time, because the following day, with what it contains, is an offspring of the previous one. Now just as the last child of its parents is called the youngest child, so the German language likes to call the last day (the point in time which closes all time) the youngest day. The last day thus still belongs to time, for on it something or other  happens (and not to eternity, where nothing happens any more, because that would belong to the progress of time): namely, the settling of accounts for human beings, based on their conduct in their whole lifetime. It is a judgment day; thus the judgment of grace or damnation by the world’s judge is therefore the real end of all things in time, and at the same time the beginning of the (blessed or cursed) eternity, in which the lot that has fallen to each remains just as it was in the moment of its pronouncement (of the sentence). Thus the last day also contains in itself simultaneously the  last judgment. – Now if among the  last things there should yet be counted the end of the world as it appears in its present shape, namely the falling of the stars from heaven, considered as a vault, and the collapse of this heaven itself (or its disappearance, as a scroll when it is rolled up),  both being consumed in flames, with the creation of a new earth and a new heaven as the seat of the blessed and of hell as that of the damned, then that judgment day would obviously not be the last day; instead, different days would follow upon it, one after another. Yet since the idea of an end of all things takes its origin from reasonings not about the  physical but rather about the moral course of things in the world, and is occasioned only by it, while the latter alone can be referred to the supersensible (which is to be understood only morally) – and it is the same with the idea of eternity – so consequently the representation of those last things which are supposed to come  after the last day are to be regarded only as a way of making sensible this latter together with its moral consequences, which are otherwise not theoretically comprehensible to us.

Read the rest of this entry »

A to Z of communisation (Gilles Dauvé)

(This “A to Z” is the third part of Everything Must Go! Abolish Value, published by Little Black Cart Books, Berkeley, California, in 2015.  The first two parts were written by Bruno Astarian: Crisis Activity & Communisation, and Value & its Abolition)

uplift

“Some people will find our propositions insane or naïve. We do not expect to convince everyone. If such a thing were possible, it would be very disturbing. We would rather have readers who have to rub their eyes before granting credence to our positions.”

A World Without Money: Communism, 1975

 AUTONOMY                       BLUE COLLAR                    CLASS                       DAILY LIFE

ECOLOGY                      FAMILY                             GIOTTO                              HABITAT     

INSURRECTION                   JAILBREAK                       KARL  (MARX)                   LABOUR    

MONEY               NON-ECONOMY          OBFUSCATION                POLITICS               QUERY  

REVOLUTION               SEX             TIME  (IS OF THE ESSENCE)                       UNLABELLED

VALUE                        WORK          XENOPHILIA                      YESTERDAY                      ZOMIAS

AUTONOMY

In 2012, radical Oakland occupiers made it clear that “no permission would be asked, no demands would be made, no negotiation with the police and city administration” : nobody or no body had the power to grant them anything relevant, so there was no point in bargaining with wannabe representatives.

Participatory decision-making implies a communal capacity often called “self-empowerment”. Autonomy is inclusive. As participants share an equal stake in the creation of a different world, the most important thing in their lives becomes their relation to others, and this interdependence extends far beyond the circle of relatives and friends.

In a different time and place, some people have stressed the spontaneity of many recent Chinese strikes, demonstrations, protests, street blockades and riots. Other observers have emphasized the careful planning that takes place beforehand. Yet organization and spontaneity are two sides of the same coin. A self-initiated work-stoppage needs previous secret talks and meetings, and its continuity needs durable independent information channels (such as a mutual help hotline) and decision-making structures.

However, the ideology of autonomy is one of the up-to-date nostrums. Autonomy is acting by oneself:  it says nothing about what this individual or collective self actually does. In the ebbs and flows of social battles, most occupations and strikes meet the limit of one company, one neighbourhood, one town, one city. Workplace, neighbourhood, kinship, etc., create a potential community of struggle which by its own strength alone can certainly self-manage an occupation, a strike, even community life for a while… but it is not enough to break the log jam.

How does a community of struggle create more than its struggle ? Can it go beyond rituals of social partnership ? How does solidarity not become an end in itself ? When can collective will wield its transformative power?

Unlike a book divided into chapters which gradually make their point from beginning to end, this A to Z is more like a dictionary in which each entry is to be read in relation to all the others. It is by accident that autonomy begins with the first letter of the alphabet. But it is no accident that self-activity should be a starting point. Autonomy is a necessary condition of the whole A to Z of communisation. It does not encapsulate the whole process.

Occupational Hazards. The Rise & Limitation of Occupy Oakland, CAL Press, 2012

New Strikes in China, gongchao.org

Eli Friedman, Insurgency Trap. Labor Politics in Post-socialist China, Cornell U.P., 2014

A Contribution to the Critique of Political Autonomy, troploin site, 2008

See INSURRECTION, CLASS, LABOUR 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Mandibles

810UnHT3qvL

The collapse of the United States arrives in 2029, not via climate change or airborne viruses or zombie hordes, but international monetary policy: foreign governments establish their own currency, the bancor (a concept first proposed by economist John Maynard Keynes), and when the U.S. resists, it’s effectively locked out of global trade. America speedily goes into free fall, with rampant shortages and inheritances vaporized by high costs, unemployment, and human longevity. The Mandible family is just barely hanging on: Florence, who has one of the few stable jobs left (working at a homeless shelter), is forced to open her Brooklyn home to desperate family members, including a humiliated economist brother-in-law, a sister whose career as a novelist tanked along with all print media, and her once-wealthy grandfather who has only a silver service left to his name and whose second wife suffers from violent dementia.

Almost gleefully, Shriver catalogs how this upper-middle-class clan gets knocked off its perch in ways both small (toilet-paper shortages, overcrowding) and large (rampant theft and violence, starvation, zero health care, general erosion of humanity). Politically, this may be the only novel Mother Jones and breitbart.com can both take an interest in, though it might tire them both, too: the closing chapters, set in a scorched-earth 2047, are overly didactic on themes of individual rights, taxation, and citizenship. “Plots set in the future are about what people fear in the present,” as Florence’s brother-in-law puts it, and Shriver’s biggest fear is that, between numbing technology and nanny-statedom, we’ve lost our capacity to live by our wits. This novel is a bracing vision of what happens when we’re forced to, though the lecturing tone sometimes grates.

An imperfect but savvy commingling of apocalyptic and polemic.

 – The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver

Slavery and the History of Capitalism

Hudson-slavery-banner

Peter James Hudson, BostonReview, March 2016

Unearthing the economy of bondage

A decade before his assassination at the hands of a nationalist in 1914, French socialist Jean Jaurès completed a historical work that radically changed the study of the French Revolution. Where others had focused on disputes over politics and political ideology, Jaurès’s four-volume Histoire socialiste de la Révolution française took as its subject the transformations wrought by an emergent capitalism, foregrounding irruptions within the French economy. Through a Marxist lens, Jaurès emphasized the conflict between the ancien régime and the newly empowered bourgeoisie and excavated from the archives of the revolution the struggles of French workers and peasants.

Though discounted by later scholars anxious to distance themselves from Jaurès’s Marxism, the Histoire socialiste was history “from below” avant la lettre. Its analytical concerns also anticipated those of a historical subfield—the history of capitalism—now taking off on this side of the Atlantic. An energetic startup within the U.S. historical profession, the history of capitalism has grown rapidly over the past few years and won media attention most academics only dream of. Its popularity was sparked in part by the 2008 financial crisis, which renewed doubt about capitalism’s promises, and it emerges in the long wake of the demise of identity politics and the cultural turn within U.S. scholarship. It looks beyond supposedly narrow, sectarian concerns with particular groups left out of mainstream history—women and workers, peasants and slaves, blacks and gays. Some scholars have indeed argued for the capacious, democratic, and inclusive capabilities of this new field; others have been at pains to demonstrate that it is not a recapitulation of social history centered on the white male worker or business history fetishizing the white male capitalist. Even so, its institutional and ideological biases often shine through in its favored subjects and its anointed practitioners.

Jaurès’s vision of economic questions as the primary engine of social and political change, his linking of capitalism with modernity, his casting of elites as historical actors—all these concerns resurface in recent histories of capitalism. But perhaps most striking about the field is the way it both rehashes and disavows the radical intellectual tradition to which Jaurès belongs, one that derives historical questions as much from political commitments as from academic concerns. Jaurès shared this tradition with black writers such as W. E. B. Du Bois and the Trinidadian theorist and historian C. L. R. James, who wrote from within what Cedric Robinson has called the “black radical tradition.” Their interest in capitalism’s history was not merely academic: it was an integral part of the modern project of emancipation. Therein, perhaps, lies the problem. How does scholarship suffer when it disowns the radical origins—and uses—of its inquiries?

The new history of capitalism’s disavowal of radical scholarship is clearest in its treatments of slavery, which, for more than a century, has been a principal concern of scholars within the radical tradition. Jaurès, for instance, drew a line connecting the profits from the slave trade to the growth of the industries and ideologies of capitalism.

Read the rest of this entry »

From ZIRP to NIRP: the last throw of the dice

Michael Roberts Blog

The recent announcement of the Bank of Japan (BoJ) that it would introduce a negative interest rate (NIRP) for commercial banks holding cash reserves is the final admission that monetary policy supported by mainstream economics and implemented by central banks globally has failed.

The main economic policy weapon used since the global financial crash and the ensuing Great Recession to avoid another Great Depression of the 1930s has been zero interest rates (ZIRP), then ‘unconventional’ monetary measures or ‘quantitative easing (QE)’ (increasing the quantity of money supply to banks), all fixed to inflation targets of 2% a year or so.  ZIRP and a virtually unlimited supply of cash (QE) were supposed to kick-start the global economy into action, so that eventually capitalism and market forces would take over and achieve ‘normal’ and sustained economic growth and fuller employment.

But QE and ZIRP have failed to achieve their inflation (and growth)…

View original post 1,439 more words

A Communist Life

by Felix Baum

Along with the return of economic crisis and social struggles around the world, the term “communism”—supposedly discredited once and for all by the experience of Russia and its satellite states in the 20th century—seems to be enjoying a certain comeback in recent years. Conferences on “the idea of communism” attract significant crowds, books by professed communists like Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek find readers and grab media attention. However, more often than not this (surely limited) comeback does not seem to be driven by a genuine desire to retrieve the emancipatory content the term carried in the writings of Karl Marx and like-minded critics, as well as in practical movements from the 19th century onwards. Rather, maîtres-penseurs like Badiou and Žižek prefer to pose as enfants terribles, defending Maoism and flirting with Bolshevik terror, hence reaffirming precisely the unholy traditions with which a “communism” for the 21st century would have to break.

Paul mattick

In his new biography of Paul Mattick, a German-born worker who immigrated to the United States in 1926 and later emerged as one of the most important radical critics of his time, Gary Roth tells the story of a largely forgotten current in the 20th century that early on made a rupture with the statist caricatures of communism to which today’s media-savvy leftist intellectuals are still holding fast.1 Noting that this story is about “bygone eras in which a radicalized working class still constituted a hope for the future,” Roth steers clear of melancholy and nostalgia, instead seeking a justification for his work in the more recent reconfiguration “of the world’s population into a vast working class that extends into the middle classes in the industrialized countries and the pools of underemployed agricultural workers everywhere else.” In fact, though far from constituting a sustained, consistent assault on existing conditions, some recent struggles of parts of this class, most notably the “square movements” that spread from North Africa via Europe to Istanbul, exhibit certain traits—horizontal self-organization (or “leaderlessness), direct mass action against state forces, a focus on occupations—that point much less to the Bolshevik-Leninist tradition than to the one Roth describes, commonly referred to as council communism, though the resemblances should certainly not be exaggerated.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Year We Obsessed Over Identity

by Wesley Morris

11masks-opener-superJumbo-v5

2015’s headlines and cultural events have confronted us with the malleability of racial, gender, sexual and reputational lines. Who do we think we are?

A few weeks ago, I sat in a movie theater and grinned. Anne Hathaway was in ‘‘The Intern,’’ perched on a hotel bed in a hotel robe, eating from a can of overpriced nuts, having tea and freaking out. What would happen if she divorced her sweet, selfless stay-at-home dad of a husband? Would she ever meet anybody else? And if she didn’t, she would have no one to be buried next to — she’d be single for all eternity. And weren’t the problems in her marriage a direct result of her being a successful businesswoman — she was there but never quite present? ‘‘The Intern’’ is a Nancy Meyers movie, and these sorts of cute career-woman meltdowns are the Eddie Van Halen guitar solos of her romantic comedies.

But what’s funny about that scene — what had me grinning — is the response of the person across the bed from Hathaway. After listening to her tearful rant, this person has had enough: Don’t you dare blame yourself or your career! Actually, the interruption begins, ‘‘I hate to be the feminist, of the two of us. … ’’ Hate to be because the person on the other side of the bed isn’t Judy Greer or Brie Larson. It’s not Meryl Streep or Susan Sarandon. It’s someone not far from the last person who comes to mind when you think ‘‘soul-baring bestie.’’ It’s Robert freaking De Niro, portrayer of psychos, savages and grouches no more.

On that bed with Hathaway, as her 70-year-old intern, he’s not Travis Bickle or the human wall of intolerance from those Focker movies. He’s Lena Dunham. The attentiveness and stern feminism coming out of his mouth are where the comedy is. And while it’s perfectly obvious what Meyers is doing to De Niro — girlfriending him — that doesn’t make the overhaul any less effective. The whole movie is about the subtle and obvious ways in which men have been overly sensitized and women made self-estranged through breadwinning. It’s both a plaint against the present and a pining for the past, but also an acceptance that we are where we are.

And where are we? On one hand: in another of Nancy Meyers’s bourgeois pornographies. On the other: in the midst of a great cultural identity migration. Gender roles are merging. Races are being shed. In the last six years or so, but especially in 2015, we’ve been made to see how trans and bi and poly-ambi-omni- we are. If Meyers is clued into this confusion, then you know it really has gone far, wide and middlebrow. We can see it in the instantly beloved hit ‘‘Transparent,’’ about a family whose patriarch becomes a trans woman whose kids call her Moppa, or in the time we’ve spent this year in televised proximity to Caitlyn Jenner, or in the browning of America’s white founding fathers in the Broadway musical ‘‘Hamilton,’’ or in the proliferating clones that Tatiana Maslany plays on ‘‘Orphan Black,’’ which mock the idea of a true or even original self, or in Amy Schumer’s comedic feminism, which reconsiders gender confusion: Do uncouthness, detachment and promiscuity make her a slut, or a man?

Read the rest of this entry »

Secular Utopia

by Wes Enzinna

29rojava1-superJumbo

One of the safer crossings into Syria is at a small town called Fishkhabour, in the far northwestern corner of Iraq. In a whitewashed shack on the shore of the Tigris River, an official from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government pointed out the window toward a pontoon bridge that bobbed in the cola-colored water. A year ago, 30,000 refugees fleeing an Islamic State massacre in Syria walked for 30 hours before crossing it in the opposite direction, half-starved, half-dead, terrorized. The official told me and my interpreter, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, that a few days before we arrived, an Italian volunteer was arrested by a border patrolman while trying to swim back toward Iraq. ‘‘Don’t change your mind,’’ he said, wagging a finger.

Our destination was a sliver of land in the far north of Syria: Rojava, or ‘‘land where the sun sets.’’ The regime of President Bashar al-Assad doesn’t officially recognize Rojava’s autonomous status, nor does the United Nations or NATO — it is, in this way, just as illicit as the Islamic State. But if the reports I heard from the region were to be believed, within its borders the rules of the neighboring ISIS caliphate had been inverted. In accordance with a philosophy laid out by a leftist revolutionary named Abdullah Ocalan, Rojavan women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets.

But much of the information emerging from Rojava seemed contradictory and almost fantastical. To the Turkish government, the territory, which is now the size of Connecticut and has an estimated 4.6 million inhabitants, was nothing more than a front for a Turkish group known as the P.K.K., or Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Since its founding in 1978, the P.K.K., led by Ocalan, had been fighting for independence from Turkey, hoping to establish a homeland for the country’s 14 million Kurds. The effort had caused the deaths of 40,000 people, thousands of them civilians, and led to the imprisonment of Ocalan. The American State Department designated the P.K.K. a terrorist organization in 1997. Having failed in Turkey, officials claimed, the P.K.K. was trying to create a Kurdish homeland amid the disruption of war. ‘‘We will never allow the establishment of a state in Syria’s north and our south,’’ President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said in June. ‘‘We will continue to fight in this regard no matter what it costs.’’

Read the rest of this entry »

All Tomorrow’s Parties

5notpopular

by Jason Smith

Whoever battles monsters should take care that he doesn’t become one in the process. And if you stare for a long time into an abyss, the abyss looks into you, too.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

With the recent victory of Alexis Tsipras’s post-referendum, streamlined electoral machine, shorn of its nettlesome Left Platform, it is finally time to soberly survey the wreckage the Syriza sequence has left in its wake. It was not long ago, we should remember, that much of the European left was sent into a frenzy by the prospect of a properly socialist mass party assuming command of the levers of state power. Across the continent, militants young and old looked to Greece as a “laboratory of hope” while dusting off the old Eurocommunist playbook (Gramsci, Poulantzas) with earnestness, as if things had gone well the first time, or as if the resounding defeats of decades ago could be made right. Just a few days after Tsipras’s first turn at forming a government, in late January, Antonio Negri enthused that “the situation is probably ripe enough to attempt once again that most political of passages: the seizure of power.”1 To refer to the forming of a government with a dubious right-wing party—less surprising if one noticed the unseemly nationalist rhetoric that ran through even Syriza’s left faction—as a seizure of power is surely an exaggeration, even for Negri; that such a pronouncement echoed in the void of any real open antagonism, in the streets or in workplaces, underlines just how heady those days really were.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cosmic Pessimism

jay-z-dust-of-this-planet

Eugene Thacker

We’re Doomed.
Pessimism is the night-side of thought, a melodrama of the futility of the brain, a poetry written in the graveyard of philosophy. Pessimism is a lyrical failure of philosophical thinking, each attempt at clear and coherent thought, sullen and submerged in the hidden joy of its own futility. The closest pessimism comes to philosophical argument is the droll and laconic “We’ll never make it,” or simply: “We’re doomed.” Every effort doomed to failure, every project doomed to incompletion, every life doomed to be unlived, every thought doomed to be unthought.

Pessimism is the lowest form of philosophy, frequently disparaged and dismissed, merely the symptom of a bad attitude. No one ever needs pessimism, in the way that one needs optimism to inspire one to great heights and to pick oneself up, in the way one needs constructive criticism, advice and feedback, inspirational books or a pat on the back. No one needs pessimism, though I like to imagine the idea of a pessimist activism. No one needs pessimism, and yet everyone—without exception—has, at some point in their lives, had to confront pessimism, if not as a philosophy then as a grievance—against one’s self or others, against one’s surroundings or one’s life, against the state of things or the world in general.

There is little redemption for pessimism, and no consolation prize. Ultimately, pessimism is weary of everything and of itself. Pessimism is the philosophical form of disenchantment—disenchantment as chanting, a chant, a mantra, a solitary, monophonic voice rendered insignificant by the intimate immensity surrounding it.

In pessimism, the first axiom is a long, low, funereal sigh.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yidlife Crisis

#doom

berlin #doom

The following text is an excerpt from a longer intervention by Franco Berardi (Bifo), ahead of a conference planned by the Effimera journal in Milan, Italy. We are not planning on attending this conference, as we find both Bifo’s and Effimera’s approach very far away from our understanding of the world. It is clear, for example, that these people placed a lot of hope in Syriza, a tendency visible in many parts of the (disoriented) global Left which we never really comprehended. And we find this “sudden” realization of the failure equally surprising. [Or else, as a friend said: “Like what, gonna give up now bitches just cause your boys in government couldn’t do shit?”]. Furthermore, we have no time whatsoever for a narrative that explains and understands the european crisis management as a mere continuation of the geopolitical plan of Nazi Germany with different means, an utterly ridiculous notion that one can read (at their own risk) in the second (non-translated) part of Bifo’s original text. But what we did find attractive in this text was its description of loss and defeat, as well as the poignant way it destroys (their) illusions about the parliamentary Left. In this context, we thought it interesting to translate and publish it here, if nothing else then as a historical document that records how parts of the Left understand our predicament.

-cominsitu

[…] The idea for a conference was born out of the endless flow of material towards the Effimera journal in the frantic days of July, after the referendum and before the “capitulation”. A conference seemed urgent to everyone, while in reality it was not. For a few days we believed that “action and will” will come back on stage, but this was merely an illusion. In reality, things developed towards the only possible direction, the financial-economic robot prevailed and society found no way out -no road that leads to autonomy.

After the referendum Tsipras realised (and in fact said openly) that neither he nor his comrades have the “special” knowledge/skills that are necessary to find a way out of the castle of the techno-linguistic binding provisions of governance. And they did not possess this knowledge for the simple reason that it does not exist. Can somone square the circle? Of course not, in the same way that one cannot possess the necessary knowledge to escape the vicious circle of debt. If you accept it [debt], you are dead. If you reject it, you are also dead.

And thus, without any haste, the conference will take place on October 3-4 in Milan, giving us a lot of time to think. What would be the topic? The horizon? I don’t have a specific proposal, nor a ready-made program to suggest, but I do believe that it would be for the best to build towards it without presupposing that “we will be able” to do something in the coming period. For the last 30 years every social conflict, every struggle against power, ends with our retreat, only in order to regroup a few meters further-back, hoping that we might finally hold through the next attack and maybe start a counter-attack. Please, stop. There will be no resistance or counter-attack. Let’s look at Syriza’s “capitulation” realistically. At an electoral level the immediate result of this capitulation is the collapse of any remaining credibility that the parliamentary Left had. Why should the Spanish or Italians vote for the Left after Syriza’s performance? Why align yourself with someone that will inevitably be defeated? Why should we aimlessly bother Schäuble when there is no Left alternative?

This is the first lesson of the bitter summer, if we want to understand what happened and not simply remain bitter. In between the day that 62% of the Greek people said no to the blackmail and Tsipras took off his jacket and said “you can have this too”, the last battle of the Left, in my opinion, was lost. It is possible that Tsipras called for the referendum hoping that he would lose it, so that he would then be mandated, through the vote, to recognize and accept the irreversible character of the financial-economic automatism. From then on, he was forced to betray the result of the ballot since the only alternative would be chaos, violence in the streets, a possible intervention of the police, with the well-known influence that Golden Dawn has inside…

Tsipras is a decent person, and this is the reason why Greeks support him, he is not a radical economist like Varoufakis. That explains his choice not to take the country towards a civil war, towards the direction that the criminals of the Eurogroup were pushing for. The defeat of Syriza is not the result of mistakes, nor is it a betrayal of some sort. It is simply the admittance that the domination of those who govern, that is the domination of the financial-economic abstraction over the reality of social life, does not allow for political changes. After the end of the Greek story, we will neither sabotage nor ridicule any attempts to re-awaken and re-activate the Left. But it is time to come to the realization that the Left’s ability to resist politically is nothing but a remnant that twitters ever so weakly.

Do we need a conference to come to these conclusions? Probably not. But in order to have a conference which is not mere rhetoric or pure self-pity, we need to reverse the standpoint from which we look at the whole situation. To abandon unambiguously the idea of resistance and of hope, and to consider as given the upcoming disastrous developments. For more honesty and a better understanding, I would propose the following title for the conference: how to survive and be happy in the forthcoming period of poverty, slavery and war. Such a title has two inter-connected consequences. On the one hand we are led to recognize that the social and psychological-educational conditions for resistance do not exist. So resistance does not resist. On the other hand, it becomes necessary to come up with a proposal for the production of a map of collective existential “escape routes” […]

Schrei Nach Liebe / Cry for Love

Schrei nach Liebe
Du bist wirklich saudumm.
Darum gehts dir gut.
Hass ist deine Attitüde
Ständig kocht dein Blut
Alles muss man dir erklären,
Weil du wirklich gar nichts weißt!
Höchstwahrscheinlich nicht einmal, was Attitüde heißt!

Deine Gewalt ist nur ein stummer Schrei nach Liebe.
Deine Springerstiefel sehnen sich nach Zärtlichkeit.
Du hast nie gelernt dich zu artikulieren.
Und deine Eltern hatten niemals für dich Zeit…
Ohohoh ARSCHLOCH!!!

Warum hast du Angst vorm Streicheln?
Was soll all der Terz?
Unterm Lorbeerkranz mit Eicheln,
Weiß ich schlägt dein Herz!
Und Romantik ist für dich
Nicht bloß graue Theorie…
Zwischen Störkraft und den Onkelz
Steht ne Kuschelrock LP…

Deine Gewalt ist nur ein stummer Schrei nach Liebe.
Deine Springerstiefel sehnen sich nach Zärtlichkeit.
Du hast nie gelernt dich zu artikulieren.
Und deine Eltern hatten niemals für dich Zeit!
Ohohoh ARSCHLOCH!!!

Weil du Probleme hast,
Die keinen interessieren.
Weil du Schiss vorm Schmusen hast,
Bist du ein Faschist!
Du musst deinen Selbsthass nich auf andere projezieren.
Damit keiner merkt was für ein lieber Kerl du bist.
Ohohoh…

Deine Gewalt ist nur ein stummer Schrei nach Liebe.
Deine Springerstiefel sehnen sich nach Zärtlichkeit.
Du hast nie gelernt dich artizukulieren.
Und deine Freundin die hat niemals für dich Zeit.
Ohohoh ARSCHLOCH, ARSCHLOCH, ARSCHLOCH!!!

Cry for love
You are really dumb,
which is why you’re doing so well.
Hate is your attitude,
your blood boils constantly.
Everything needs to be explained to you
because you really don’t know anything,
most likely not even what attitude means!

Your violence is only a silent cry for love,
your combat boots long for tenderness,
you have never learned to articulate yourself,
and your parents never had time for you … ohhh… asshole!

Why do you have fear of caressing, what’s the meaning of all this nonsense?
under the laurel wreath with acorns, I know your heart beats,
and romanticism is only grey theory for you,
between Störkraft and den Onkelz (nazi bands) is a Kuschelrock LP! (Cuddle rock, a soft rock compilation franchise)

Your violence is only a silent cry for love,
your combat boots long for tenderness,
you have never learned to articulate yourself,
and your parents never had time for you … ohhh… asshole!

Because you have problems that interest nobody,
because you have fear of intimacy you are a fascist.
You don’t have to project your self-hate on others,
so nobody notices what a lovely man you are … ohhh…

Your violence is only a silent cry for love, your combat boots long for tenderness,you have never learned to articulate yourself,
and your girlfriend never has time for you … ohhh.
ASSHOLE, ASSHOLE, ASSHOLE!!!

The tyrant has too many friends

pic_links_lrg

In the roar of uninterrupted proclamations that inform us of the triumphs of the dominant society on the terrains of its overwhelming, energetic power, its gross national product, its modernized crises, its cultivated computers and so many other pleasant abstractions, one too modestly forgets a concrete phenomenon of an immense significance: the worldwide organization of society that is being put into place with an always-increasing speed, has in the second half of the 20th century  succeeded in abolishing six of the seven deadly sins (or, to put it in the terms that are more transmittable today, a percentage approximately equal to 86%) […]

Pride is obviously dead for the administered voter, the sounded-out automobile driver, the polluted tele-spectator, the inhabitant of the flat and the highway vacationer. No one who has accepted surviving in this way can even hope for the possibility of experiencing a fleeting moment of pride.

Avarice no longer has any basis, since property tends to become concentrated in the State, which squanders on principle. Read individual property, accessible to very few people, is gnawed at by hairsplitting control and the right to intervention by a thousand public or corporate authorities. The salaried worker can no longer hoard a little poor money, which is of a value that is always changing, fictive and as fluid as water. This same money distances itself into an always-further away abstraction, simply “plastic,” a game of accounting that is played without the worker’s participation. And if he thinks of accumulating a few more precious objects than what is offered daily on the market, a thief carries them off.

Lust has disappeared almost everywhere, with the liquidation of real personalities and real tastes. Lust has withdrawn before the flood of ideology that is too obviously insincere, cold simulation and the comic pretensions of the robot to automatic passion […]

Gluttony has surrendered its weapons in the face of the findings of the food-processing industry. Moreover, the spectator – here as well as at the theater — no longer believes himself capable of judging the taste of what he eats. Thus he is guided by the stimuli that are the names of the fashionable dishes, advertising and the judgment of gastronomical critique.

Anger has so many reasons [for existing] and so few manifestations that it is dissolved into the general cowardice and resignation. In good faith, does a voter have the occasion to become angry with the final result of an election, which in truth is always the same and thus precisely foreseeable and guaranteed? Ill-advised to play with disappointed and humiliated innocence, the voter is in any case guilty. He can only feel anger at himself and this is an uncomfortable position that he ordinarily wants to avoid.

Laziness is no longer possible: there is too much noise everywhere. It is even worse for all those unfortunate people who hurry to work or their vacations. Laziness is only a pleasure for the one who is pleased with himself and in his own company. The modern countries can have an elevated number of unemployed people and others who work on many completely useless things. But they cannot preserve laziness for anyone; they are not rich enough for that.

One might object to us that this exposition, despite its profound truth, is a little too systematic because reality in history is always dialectic and that it is an impoverished schematization that presents all the deadly sins as being condemned to the same ruin. This objection is not founded: we have not at all forgotten envy, which contradictorily survives and which is the only inheritor of all the other annihilated powers.

Envy has become an exclusive and universal motive. Envy has always proceeded from the fact that many individuals measure themselves according to the same scale. Most often, this is power and money. Beyond this common measure of limitation, reality remains diverse and those who do not care too much for power and riches obviously remain sheltered from envy. On another side, some envious characters can always be in rivalry with people in their spheres of activity. A poet might envy a[nother] poet. And such envy can be manifested by a general, a prostitute, an actor or an owner of a cafe. But the largest number of individuals hardly arouse the envy of others. Today, when people have almost nothing and love nothing, they want everything, without neglecting the contrary. Any [given] spectator envies almost all of the stars. But he can also simultaneously envy all of the traits of all the stars. He who has the baseness to make a career, and who is thus hardly satisfied with that career (others are always higher up), would also have the honor and pleasure of being considered as someone who is misunderstood, insubordinate and “cursed.” And since this pursuit of the wind is absolutely vain, all of today’s cuckolds are thus condemned to run unceasingly. Ignoring real life, they do not know that almost all the human traits are actually grounded by necessarily excluding many of the others.

We say that the intensive and extensive repression of personality inevitably involves the disappearance of personal taste. What can actually please someone who is nothing, has nothing and knows nothing — other than lying and imbecilic hearsay? And almost nothing displeases such a person: such is exactly the goal that the owners and “deciders” of this society propose, that is, those who hold the instruments of social communication, with the aid of which they find themselves in a position to manipulate the simulacra of disappeared tastes.

[…] The tyrant, as La Boetie showed, has many friends. For there are many people with small interests who, on behalf of those with large interests, want to see history and memory abolished.