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leberwurst proletariat

Tag: brooklyn

Suffocation of the Young:

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A Report from Brooklyn on Schooling, Childhood and Mental Illness Today

 Juan Chabrier (Brooklyn Rail, 2019)

At some point during the workday, you may have considered that your role in creating a product or service somehow plays an important part in sustaining the world we live in, even if that world leaves much to be desired. As the Oakland teachers end their strike, quick on the heels of the Denver, Los Angeles county, and red-state revolts, we’re reminded that our daily work not only recreates a world of things but also one of relationships and experiences: in short, all that which determines who we are. As far as contemporary schooling is involved in the production of childhood—a modern process that is clearly in crisis—we have a sense of the great stakes involved as the wave of intransigent education-worker strikes rolls across this country.

Childhood appears today as something uncanny. Social commentators and psychologists draw us to narrow parts of its unsettling presence without offering a substantive pattern or underlying explanation. In the US, an astounding one in five children has an attention or learning disability while parent-reported Autism Spectrum Disorder rates are now at 1 in 40. What’s more, both of these statistics are thought to be an underestimation of the real prevalence.1 Anxiety and depression in youth are reaching alarming levels and steadily rising.2 Sexual activity amongst youth has decreased by over 20% since the 1980s, while new media make pornography more available to the young.3 Most distressingly, that some children decide to pick up weapons and massacre their peers has become an expected occurrence. As teenager Paige Curry commented after the Santa Fe shootings last year, “I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”4

Parenthood, in turn, is occupied by guilt and worry, as an industry of advice columnists and child-experts provides a contradictory array of techniques, superstitions, and philosophies to navigate the contemporary situation. US birth and marriage rates across income levels are at historic lows in face of the perilous labyrinth of childhood and economic trepidation.5 Yet the “helicopter parent’s” worries and their accompanying gurus are more than just an automatic reaction. The recent intensification of parenting is but a reflection of prevailing social anxieties.

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Anthropocenes

Notes from the Anthropocene #1:

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On September 21, 2014, nearly 400,000 people took part in the People’s Climate March and Mobilization, winding their way from Central Park through Midtown Manhattan and ending with a block party celebration on the city’s mostly empty West Side (flooded during Sandy). Cleanly subdivided into six categories of political subjects—indigenous and environmental justice groups up front, a medieval combination of scientists and priests in the fifth, and finally “Here comes everybody! L.G.B.T.Q., N.Y.C. Boroughs, Community Groups, Neighborhoods, Cities, States, and more” in the sixth—the march called on the United Nations Climate Summit and governments around the world to steer a course towards appropriate “climate action” and “climate justice” on behalf of the groups neatly represented like meats and cheeses on a Hormel party tray. The following day, former anti-globalization and Occupy Wall Street activists, many on the payroll of this or that N.G.O., attempted a mass civil disobedience action on the blocks leading to the New York Stock Exchange. When the orchestrated non-violence of Flood Wall Street met the orchestrated non-brutality of the NYPD, ne’er an arrest occurred and the organizers called it all off, going home and turning the streets over to a few hundred unofficial protesters who were determined to be peacefully taken into custody.

As the United Nations met later that week to talk about talking about limiting global temperature rise to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) through a reduction in carbon emissions while simultaneously making economies, cities, and networks resilient, the People’s Climate Summit website released its own numbers: 400,000 people, 1,574 organizations, 50,000 college students, 5,200 articles, and 7 celebrity selfies. Homemade and mass-produced signs, puppets and inflatables, polar bear costumes and globes, thousands of buses whose bills were footed by non-profits and Gofundme.com, a pony-tailed Leo DiCaprio parading around as the U.N.’s Messenger for Peace, with a special focus on climate change issues. A success, they say, in launching the climate justice movement, a success as quantifiable as the parts per million of the upper safety limit for the atmosphere. As the march quickly faded into most New Yorkers’ memories, as when a million of us marched against the war that happened anyway, a variety of non-questions circulated to try to cement the march’s legacy. Was it too radical? Not radical enough? Too little too late? A photo-op? A corporate greenwash with the help of the “non-profit industrial complex”? 1 Non-questions for a non-world. Simply put, the Climate March was a blast from the past, mobilizing a set of political techniques and priorities that have literally been left behind by reality, by the new common in which we find ourselves.

A new epoch is certainly at hand; one need only trace the fault lines from the glacial barricades of Kiev’s Maidan across the radioactive swamp left by Fukushima’s failing ice wall to the “Winter is Coming” graffiti of Istanbul’s Gezi commune. Everywhere this age speaks its exhaustion, in the massive human efforts to break through and in the falling of idols. The once coherent subject around which the world was ordered stands in ruin as a neurotic information node whose closest relationship is with a cellphone or iPad. The claims to mastery over the world are being literally washed away by rising seas, while terminal diagnoses of our civilization proliferate as quickly as fantasies of the end (see the Walking Dead’s Terminus). As Brad Evans and Julien Reid describe it in their book Resilient Life, “We are living out the final scenes of the liberal nightmare in all its catastrophic permutations,” an epoch that is sensed just as much in the collapse of the Western Antarctic ice sheet2 and the bamboo barricades of Hong Kong as in the desertification of the Amazon rainforest and the death vows of the Lakota in the face of the KeystoneXL pipeline.3 Some people say the world is ending, but we say it is just a way of life, a certain order of things.

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A Communist Haggadah for the Passover Seder

[Once upon a time in land far, far away, Brooklyn circa 2011, some communists in situ realized that both the standard and radical versions of the Passover Haggadah were very stupid. So they decided to make their own communist version for their Seder. The following Haggadah is the first time this is being published online. It follows all the traditional 15 steps for easy use,  but each section has its own rifts within. Follow at your own risk. Chag sameach and remember, next year in Diaspora!]

update 2018: new RED SEDER


A Communist Haggadah for the Passover Seder

exodus

[pdf] [booklet]

compiled by Jacob, Danielle & Scott

April 18th, 2011 Brooklyn

 

The Seder Plate:

seder plate

 

Maror – Bitter Herbs: Representative of the harshness of our wage slavery.

Karpas – Green Vegetable: Representative of the spring season, the swerve, and the possibility of new growth including the welcoming of new comrades and friends, and the strengthening of friendships already consummated.

Charoset – Mixture of Fruit and Nuts: Representative of how the material means of production, the mortar for the bricks, is also our material means of reproduction.

Beitzah – Egg: Representative of the possibility of new forms of life and not simply new life as such. It is the symbol of the future, after the swerve, after the rupture, after the flood, what-have-you. It is an affirmative form of life, life for life’s-sake, not for the sake of life alone.

Zeroa – Lamb Bone: The lamb bone is representative of three ideas: 1) It is a instrument of marking, a way of understanding our comradeship as the ancient Hebrews understood theirs. Through this we may understand who is with us, who our comrades are, who our fellow travelers are. While our numbers may be small, our intentions are significant. 2) As an instrument of marking, it gives us great caution and great hope. It represents the danger of marking one as with/against us, but also the possibility of spreading the knowledge that we are privileged to have achieved with the aid of our comrades. Finally, 3) it is a symbol of sacrifice and death, of what is left behind. Of the endings that precede new beginnings, of the drawing closer between us, of our alliance’s rebellion against the powers of capitalism’s decree for formal, material, productivity.

Candle Lighting:

BAH-ROOCH AH-TAH AH-DOH-NOI EH-LOH-HEH-NOO MEH-LECH HAH-OH-LAHM AH-SHER KEE-DEH-SHAH-NOO BEH-MITZ-VOH-TAHV VEH-TZEE-VAH-NOO LEH-HAD-LEEK NER SHEL YOHM TOHV.

The 15 steps:

  1. Kadesh –  Sanctification of the day, marked by blessing the first cup of wine.

There are four mandatory cups of wine on Passover, spaced out over the course of the Seder. One interpretation of them is that they signify God’s four promises of liberation to the Israelites. Since God died in the 19th century, and since there were probably no Israelites in Egypt, nor an exodus, we will interpret the four cups as representing the four cardinal virtues required for the revolution in the present moment.

The first cup signifies the virtue of Friendship.

הַגָפֶןפְּרִי בּוֹרֵא הָעוֹלָםמֶלֶךְ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יי אַתָּה בָּרוּךְ

Baruch atah adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen

 

  1. Ur’chatz – Washing of hands before the vegetable.

We pass a bowl of water around the table; each person pours water over their neighbor’s hands, helping them wash.

 

3. Karpas –  We dip a green vegetable in salt water. We take a bite. We discard the rest.

The salt water on our table traditionally represents the tears of the Israelite slaves. The green vegetable usually represents the possibility of new growth. This year, let the salt water remind us of our own wage-slavery, and let the green vegetable remind us of the emancipatory potential, the swerves within it.

הָאֲדָמָה פְּרִי בּוֹרֵא הָעוֹלָםמֶלֶךְ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יי אַתָּה בָּרוּךְ

 Barukh atah adonai, eloheinu melekh ha’olam borei p’ri ha’adamah

 

4.Yachatz – Breaking the middle matzah.

We break the matzah into two pieces, and hide one half, called the Afikomen. The Afikomen represents the rupture that we seek with the current state of things. This rupture, this break, comes from within the traditions we have, and yet hidden from them as well.

“From struggles over immediate demands to revolution, there can only be a rupture, a qualitative leap. But this rupture isn’t a miracle. Neither is it the simple realisation on the part of the proletariat that there is nothing else to be done other than making the revolution, given the failure of everything else. “Revolution is the only solution” is just as inept as talk of the revolutionary dynamic of demands-based struggles. This rupture is produced positively by the unfolding of the cycle of struggles which precedes it, and we can say that it still forms a part of it. This rupture is prefigured in the multiplication of swerves within the class struggle between, on the one hand, the calling into question by the proletariat of its own existence as a class in its contradiction with capital and, on the other hand, the reproduction of capital which is implied by the very fact of the proletariat’s existence as a class. The concept of the swerve designates the dynamic of this cycle of struggles, which exists in an empirically verifiable manner.” [Theorie communiste]

We exist in this rupture.

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