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Look To Wisconsin: Milwaukee Conference Concerning Recent Austerity and Coming Crises

Look to Wisconsin; this is the beginning of the American insurrection.”

Glenn Beck, 2/17/11

As the crisis unfolds across the globe, it is more apparent than ever that the situation in Wisconsin is not unique. Scott Walker means nothing: he is simply the local face of what has become a situation of globally imposed austerity.  All over the world, we can hear Scott Walkers of all shapes and sizes telling us that this is necessary, and that we all need to make sacrifices. In each instance, what’s clear is the willingness of those in power to continually sacrifice our lives and well-being in the name of the survival of the capitalist mode of production.

The redemptive quality of the current situation can be found in that everywhere austerity has been imposed, the dispossessed have revolted against the economic system and state apparatuses that degrade their lives. in Greece, France, Italy, England, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Bahrain, Libya, South Africa, Iraq. Street-fighting, occupations, festivals, barricades, fires, strikes. In each situation, the persistent triumph of misery over life is contested by life itself. As with the movements of capital, so too must resistance be diffuse, autonomous and international.

It is in this spirit that we are calling for a brief conference concerning these increasingly pertinent themes, offering and providing space for a discussion of how we might envision responses to recent and future events which might far outrun us if we fail to grasp the present of our conditions. The fever of activity that shocked many has come to a lull in Wisconsin, though we know that this is not over either here or elsewhere. Instead this lessened pace allows time for reflection that was not afforded to us within a situation that demanded throwing ourselves fully into it. We intend to take full advantage and we encourage others to join us in doing so.

The conference starts Friday May 20th and events TBA will take place throughout the weekend.

For more information in general, about housing and updates please check:

crisiscon.wordpress.com

Sponsored by UWM Anti-Authoritarians Anonymous



The eternal sunshine of London’s March 26th, 2011

From Occupied London:

Far from a report on the day’s demonstration – of which plenty circulate around the web – this is a semi-fictional account perhaps to be read as a piece building on Hackney Algeria, Occupied London #3. More to come, hopefully.

The eternal sunshine of London’s March 26th, 2011 (Or: places move – the people merely move along with them.)

Her aircraft slowly descending into London’s sea of cloudy mist, she was expecting to find everything else in its place too – the buzzing streets, the hushed dwellers… But no. From early on, it was clear that things were going to be very different this time round. Stepping into the tube train she was hit with the first revelation: gone were the silent tube carriages with mute book-readers, this was by now a time when passengers would actually look at one another and could even, in extremis, engage in casual conversation.

At the train platform she saw no designated busking spots and she ran into panhandlers jumping in and out of tube trains instead. Out on the streets, and she was sure it wasn’t just her, people were walking in some slower pace. She overtook one passer-by. Then another one, and another. What on earth was going on? It was as if Londoners weren’t Londoners anymore, as if the ground they inhabited had somewhat moved under their feet to a more slow-paced, relaxed location – and for the fear of losing that ground Londoners had moved along with it. Londoners were not in London any more, and neither was London itself.

(and then came Saturday.)

It had been dubbed the largest demonstration in years, a show not to be missed – and of course she could not resist the temptation. It is early morning. Outside Holborn station, the usual manic procession of commuters was nowhere to be seen. An eerie feeling in its place. The people were still there, even more so – they were there in the thousands. But they were in no rush to go anywhere; just happy, for once, to be there. For all the anger venting for the cuts the procession had this peculiarly joyful feeling, the feeling of discovering the city from scratch, of rereading previously familiar sites, buildings, crossings along with so many others doing exactly the same. And the police? She could see in their faces that they were too few, too lost. In this new place they were out-of-place.

For thousands and thousands of people around her it felt as if the official demonstration route never existed. She quickly found herself in Oxford Street. The usual crowd hurling shopping orders at the counters of a myriad stores was, still there but so was another crowd, mingling and co-existing with it. A crowd not often seen around here, now swirling from a storefront to another. Smashed shop fronts standing next to shops still welcoming bemused consumers – the peculiarities of crisis capitalism.

(Saturday evening.)

It is late evening at Piccadilly. She has been walking up and down central London all day. The short strip of land between Fortnum&Mason’s (the luxury department store occupied by UK Uncut) and Piccadilly square plays host to near-choreographic clashes between police and the bodies of protesters that resist being contained into any kettle. A few hours into the stand-off, some people a few meters from her pull a badly wrapped molotov cocktail out of a bag, light and throw it in the direction of the police, the gigantic Coca-Cola sign still flashing in the background. It strikes her, right then: these people do not carry the experience of London in taking this action. There hasn’t been a molotov cocktail thrown in London in years.

But is this London? As the light dims, the city starts moving. London is now in Turin, where the tourists enthusiastically signing Bella Ciao are from. London is in Athens, in an alleyway setting up barricades to stop the Delta motorcycle police from crossing through. London is in a city after another, it becomes a series of images flashing before her eyes, a cinematic reality where she expects someone to scream, “CUT”. But no. There are no cuts here. She looks around: the molotov incident has passed unnoticed in the sea of Piccadilly frenzy.

Welcome, she thinks to herself, to the London of the real.

http://www.occupiedlondon.org/blog/2011/03/29/the-eternal-sunshine-of-london%E2%80%99s-march-26th-2011-or-places-move-%E2%80%93-the-people-merely-move-along-with-them/



unlimited wild general strike

General Strike – \’jen-rəl ‘strɪk\  (noun) A mass strike in all trades, sectors, and industries in all parts of a city, state, or country.

Unlimited Strike – \un-’li-mə-təd ‘strɪk\ (noun) An indefinite strike, which begins with no pre-established date for an ending, and will continue until the workers’ collectively decide on its conclusion.

Wildcat Strike – \’wɪ(-ə)l(d)-kat  ‘strɪk\ (noun) An unauthorized strike that has not been called or sanctioned by the bureaucracy of a labor union.

In the face of orderly protests and permitted rallies, Scott Walker’s coveted bill has unsurprisingly managed to slink its way through the legislature.  With only sanctioned protests on the horizon, appeals for calm are the only audible words to be heard, while a stifling silence has become the official response to any prospect for continued resistance.  The union bureaucrats, who yesterday thundered demands from the podiums, now quietly ask us to return to work in the very same voice they use to whisper in a politician’s ears.  Despite their various machinations to maintain passive consent and defeat, a specter continues to hover over the enraged state of Wisconsin: unlimited wild general strike.

In a strange mix of anger and excitement, we’ve watched each other change. As our confidence grew, we began to recognize a hidden potential we never thought we had.  If anything was achieved in the past few weeks it was this – and be sure nothing this powerful could ever be conceived in a boardroom with an executive mandate.  The storming of the Capitol building, the occupation of the theater, and the countless acts of sabotage were the undeniable manifestation of popular rage. Until everything around us reflects our newfound temperament, we’ll be forced to proceed with an ever-increasing fury. Each step forward makes turning back a more cowardly act of betrayal.  Every sign leads in one direction: unlimited wild general strike.

Students, abandon your desks.

Employees, desert your cubicles.

The grand finale will be staged on a crowded boulevard.

Anyone who tells you “no” has joined the other side.

Unlimited Wild General Strike.



Warts and All: On the occupation at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

The occupation is a feast at which we may satisfy our hunger for beautiful and intense moments.

- Graffiti from the occupied UWM theatre building


The stage is set: years of defeat-induced, pessimistic depression and a more-than-healthy dose of cynicism; cut backs, layoffs, and foreclosures piled on top of already extreme levels of poverty, hopelessness and social disintegration; a context notable for its glaring lack of collective struggle against this misery.

Then suddenly an outburst of activity: the occupation of the State Capitol building in Madison; anti-austerity demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people; massive wildcat sick-ins, student walk-outs and murmurs of a general strike.

Of course this attempt to get back on our feet will include its fair share of missteps and stumbling. All the more so because for many of us, nothing quite like this has yet touched our lives. Even for those of us who desperately track such moments of conflict through the pages of books, across oceans and continents, this is a new and strange place we find ourselves in.

On March 2nd at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee a student walkout took place followed by a demonstration involving some 2,000 students, teaching assistants, professors, workers and unemployed. The demonstration took to the streets surrounding the university. Chants and signs were mostly dominated by anti-legislation, anti-governor as well as pro-union, pro-democracy rhetoric. “This is what democracy looks like:” an unintentionally ironic slogan given that the occupation of the State Capitol building, which partially inspires the university uproar, is actually an attempt to disrupt the functioning of democracy and majority rule.

The sadly predictable rally which followed the demonstration was sufficiently long and boring to kill most of the momentum generated by the walk-out and disperse all but a couple hundred of those who had participated in the demonstration. This, by no means recent, trend is, if not a tool of manipulation used by organizers and leaders to maintain control over the situation, then at least an undesirable hold-over from bygone eras.

The point here is not to value one form of symbolic protest over another (marching in the streets versus standing in a plaza), but to realize when an activity is detrimental to the continuation and expansion of the struggle and to replace it with a different form. Marching through campus buildings in an attempt to further disrupt classes and the functioning of the university, holding an open “speak-out” at which any individual from the crowd could voice their opinions, or directly moving to occupy a building with a several thousand strong crowd would all be better than the impotent spectacle of speakers and a passive crowd.

Eventually the remaining demonstrators moved back into the student union, this time to resounding chants of, “They say class cuts, we say class war”, “An eye for an eye, Walker must die”, and “Kill the rich” (a slight alteration of the mainstream slogan “kill the bill”). After a brief discussion on the best building to occupy, the group moved into the lobby of the theater department and set up camp.

Almost immediately the “occupation” was overwhelmed by the formalism of meetings and a consuming concern with minutia. Instead of immediately discussing how to make the occupation more potent and massive, energy and excitement was drained into debates about demands that ultimately had no basis in a real counter-power to the administration and rules for how to exist collectively within the space.

While compromises were eventually reached on such issues as whether or not to barricade the doors, graffiti the walls, and drink indoors, the absurdities of “respecting the building” reached surreal heights. At one point an argument was started about what kind of tape to use when putting posters on the wall (the supposedly acceptable alternative to writing on them directly).

At another point, after agreeing to a demand for “immunity for all involved in the occupations” someone from within the occupation called the police on a fellow occupier. A terribly divisive move that if repeated can only serve to weaken and destroy the potential for further collective struggle. This act of “snitching” led to heated debates, a periodic police walk-through, and an eventual agreement to cease relying on the police as a means of solving internal disputes.

All of these details, while illustrating the confused and timid nature of what in actuality was a prolonged, indoor protest, should not be used to completely write off the events that transpired. Criticism in this context is meant as a means of learning and growing so that a future attempt to engage with social struggle may avoid the mistakes of our past. The very fact of our lack of a collective living memory on exactly how to fight back is both the explanation for these errors and the motivation for a continued presence within the struggle against austerity.

The adoption of a general assembly model for making decisions, while being a safeguard against the manipulations of small groups, was also a forum for the discussion of issues such as the nature and purpose of occupations and social struggle, the possibility of a generalized strike, and the role of police in society at large. While these discussions did not immediately translate into practical activity, their effect on the future of this struggle and others which may follow it cannot be foreseen from this vantage point.

Generally speaking, the transition from thought and conversation into action, or rather the lack of this necessary step, is a major hindrance to the development of the occupation in a more consciously conflictual direction. The lack of confidence in ourselves, in our ability to actually transform our environment and our daily lives, was exemplified by both the insistence on following the rules and thus preserving the position of “student” as well as the ever-present conversation revolving around the need to inform more people about what was going on. Covering the campus and surrounding neighborhood with posters, flyering desks and tables, disrupting classes or even consistently engaging those passing through the space in conversation were all ideas that were thrown out, but were only acted on to a limited degree. This hesitancy to take our ideas, and thereby our selves, seriously is a limitation that can only be overcome through further experience in struggle. The dynamic of leadership and followers must be superseded by the development of self-organization and the capacity to act decisively.

Perhaps the biggest limit of this attempt at occupation is its nature as an isolated activity for most of those involved. Because it does not currently coincide with a stoppage of either work or reproductive education, because there is yet no strike, the occupation takes on the form of an isolated protest. Without the lifting of the burdens of classes, homework, and part time wage labor many of the participants were quickly exhausted and didn’t have the time or energy to be more deeply invested in the project of qualitatively developing the situation.

Without any sign of disagreement or even a discussion of its implications, the participants accepted the slogan of “Strike, Occupy, Takeover!” Yet the first step in that simplistic equation wasn’t taken seriously as something we could collectively enact. Similarly, the assembled approved a statement calling for a general strike, and this without much of a discussion about just how a general strike could come about.

Due to the nature of the laws regulating labor disputes in the US, a general strike cannot be declared from on high by the large labor federations. For a generalized strike to occur here it would necessarily involve some degree of self-organization whether through discussion and activity at the local union level, the forging of complicit relationships at non-unionized workplaces (which are by far the majority), sabotage at non-participating workplaces, or some other form perhaps completely outside and unrepresentable by the familiar apparatuses.

Yet within much of the assembled body of students, a general strike was not understood as something that everyone would have to create together, a festival of disruption, but rather as something that would just happen; a disheartening attitude that reduces the likelihood of a meaningful and widespread stoppage. Perhaps other forums will be created in which this necessary conversation can be taken up in greater depth.

To sum up we can say that although the occupation is rife with limitations and fails to overcome most, if not all, of them, it is a beginning and not an end. The attempt to expand the struggle against austerity beyond the boundaries of time (one day walkouts, weekly demonstrations), geography (the centrality of Madison), and social position (workers vs. students) is a step in the right direction. In order to actually derail the legislation which sparked all this uproar, the struggle will have to spread across even more boundaries (precarious and poor vs. securely employed, etc.) and develop both in form and content. It is precisely through this struggle to reverse a specific attack on the working class that we can open up further avenues for struggle and maybe even the possibility of a world without legislators or classes of any sort.

- some non-student participants



Poster: “General Strike Means Nobody and Nothing Works”

Download PDF



SICK DAYS FOREVER!

Download PDF file

Perhaps the most exciting elements of the events of today have been the wildcat strike of teachers and the massive walk-outs of students and workers. Hundreds of schools remain closed across the state as thousands of teachers and students call in sick and refuse to go to work and school. Teachers get together for drinks and to talk about the revolution, high school students spend the day in the park or march to the university to join occupations, janitors spend the day at home in bed, college kids get together to dance and gossip. Where usually our days would be spent on the ceaseless future of capital, today was ours. It almost feels like spring, and we can do with it as we please.

Put another way, we are trapped in a zero-sum game with the economy. Wherever the economy functions, it is impossible for us to determine our lives for ourselves. Any situation wherein our lives are our own would necessitate the immediate cessation or obstruction of the economy. The value of the sick day strike isn’t found in the message it sends, but rather in the direct ways it blocks the machinations of capital and makes space for our own activity. We must now concern ourselves with the expansion and continuation of the joy of the sick day. Only on days like today can we even begin to imagine what a world outside capital could feel like. Let’s call in sick forever!

- Wisconsin in exile, February 17



LOOK TO WISCONSIN

“Look to Wisconsin; this is the beginning of the American insurrection.”

Glenn Beck, 2/17/11

As the crisis unfolds across the globe, it is more apparent than ever that the situation in Wisconsin is not unique. Scott Walker means nothing: he is simply the local face of what has become a situation of globally imposed austerity.  All over the world, we can hear Scott Walkers of all shapes and sizes telling us that this is necessary, and that we all need to make sacrifices. In each instance, what’s clear is the willingness of those in power to continually sacrifice our lives and well-being in the name of the survival of the capitalist mode of production.

The redemptive quality of the current situation can be found in that everywhere austerity has been imposed, the dispossessed have revolted against the economic system and state apparatuses that degrade their lives. in Greece, France, Italy, England, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Iran, Bahrain, Libya, South Africa, Iraq. Street-fighting, occupations, festivals, barricades, fires, strikes. In each situation, the persistent triumph of misery over life is contested by life itself. As with the movements of capital, so too must resistance be diffuse, autonomous and international.

While the occupations and strikes in Wisconsin have not reached the intensity of the situation outside the United States, the intelligence of Glenn Beck’s ravings is that this unfolding struggle in the dairy state bears the same character as corresponding anti-austerity struggles elsewhere. As more and more people’s lives are rendered superfluous by the mandates of the economy, people respond in intensifying and dynamic ways to confront the flows of the economy and to stake out terrains for their own intentions. As state governments coast-to-coast lay out their hated restructuring, we can expect the exponential development and proliferation of resistance to those governments. One can almost feel the fear oozing from the figureheads and mouthpieces of capital; the fear of the coming insurrection.

- Wisconsin in exile, February 17



Frere Dupont’s Notes on Revolt (zine)

This text compiles three short chapters on revolt which seemed to stand out from Species Being.

From the text:

“Revolt, and thus the critique of revolt, is derived from a heightened state of wretchedness. Revolt is never a positive move. It is never a matter of revolt becoming the vehicle of a solution. And if it were, how much more simple that would be. If my revolt guaranteed me insight, and if my knowledge were realisable in structure—causing more effective, more organised revolt—then revolt itself would define the character of our world, and not be merely provoked by it.”

Brought hard by FRIENDS and Gender Mutiny.

Download the imposed pdf



Black-clad protesters clash with G20 police (in Canada)

From Calgary CTV:

“A group of black-clad protesters has raged through downtown Toronto, smashing windows, vandalizing businesses and burning at least two police cruisers in the heart of the city.

The riots have forced officials to shut down downtown subway stations and close off main streets from traffic.

Only a few blocks from the mayhem, G20 leaders are meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

For more than five hours, much of the city’s core has been in a virtual lockdown as heavily armed police periodically clash with protesters.

The violence escalated after a splinter group broke away from a large and peaceful group of protesters who marched ahead of the high-level meetings.

A concert at the Air Canada Centre has been postponed, hospitals in the downtown core have been locked down and the Eaton Centre was also closed.

Toronto Mayor David Miller said at a news conference that the so-called anarchists are simply criminals who are determined to cause as much destruction as possible.

“It was a deliberate act by people who make it their business to commit these acts,” he said.

“Am I angry? Absolutely.”

Miller spoke to reporters at about 6 p.m. local time, nearly five hours after the protest erupted into violence.

Earlier, the black-clad protesters smashed up a police cruiser and smashed its windshield along Queen Street, as other demonstrators hurled bottles and sticks at a solid line of riot police.

As police donned gas masks and mounted units rode into the city’s core on horses, the violent protesters lit garbage on fire and tipped over recycling containers. They also smashed vehicles in and grabbed stones from nearby homes.

News media vehicles were also targeted and vandalized.

Initially, there were reports that police had fired tear gas. However, police said later that no officers had deployed any gas.

Earlier on Queen Street, next to the MuchMusic building, the violent protesters attempted to break southward through a tight line of riot police.

As some in the crowd pelted police with water bottles, officers hit back and pushed the group northward, away from the downtown core.

Three protesters involved in the confrontation suffered injuries. According to reports from the scene, some were bleeding from the head.

Moments later, another standoff occurred a few blocks west, where protesters reportedly tossed sticks at police and chanted “let us go.”

Earlier, thousands of demonstrators gathered at the Ontario legislature Saturday morning to hear speeches.

While protest organizers promised a family-friendly demonstration, a splinter group calling itself the “Get off the Fence contingent” has announced plans to break away from the main group and challenge the heavy security cordon around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the G20 summit will begin Saturday afternoon.

In a news release, the splinter group said it plans to continue on to the summit site “to confront the self-proclaimed G20 leaders and the security apparatus that will have occupied our city. We will take back our city from these exploitative profiteers, and in the streets we will be uncontrollable.”

The news release uses the word “militant” a number of times to describe the planned demonstration.

Around 1 p.m., two protesters were arrested near the downtown core and allegedly found with an “incendiary device.” Unconfirmed reports from the scene said the pair was carrying Molotov cocktails.”




END NOTES Volume 2: misery and the value form
06/25/2010, 2:58 PM
Filed under: update | Tags: , , , , , ,

Finally… We should have copies of this issue of the journal as soon as we can get them.

Descriptions and articles from END NOTES Volume 2:

  1. Taking the capitalist class relation as a self-reproducing whole, the horizon of its overcoming appears as an invariant aspect of this whole, albeit one with a historically variant quality. Surplus population and capital’s basic problem of labour characterise core dynamics underlying the shift in this horizon beyond the old programme of workers’ power.
  2. A re-reading and historical interpretation of Marx’s “general law of accumulation”— the tendency for the expanded reproduction of capital to throw off more labour than it absorbs—in light of the growth of surplus populations and surplus capital in the world today.
  3. Maya Gonzalez
    Preliminary materials for a theory of home-ownership, credit, and housework in the post-war US economy. How is the fundamental capitalist separation between production and reproduction affected when the home becomes the commodity through which all others are sold?
  4. The theory of communisation and Marxian value-form theory emerge from the same historical moment, mutually complement each other, and point towards the same radical conception of revolution as the immediate transformation of social relations, one in which we cease to constitute value and it ceases to constitute us.
  5. A reconstruction of the systematic dialectic of capital as a dialectic of class struggle. The forms of value which are constituted by and regulate social practice are totalising and self-reproducing through the subsumption of labour under capital. The totality so constituted is inwardly contradictory, and ultimately self-undermining: capitalist accumulation is a moving contradiction, i.e. a historical contradiction, between capital and proletariat.
  6. The philosophical/logical concept of subsumption is employed in various periodisations of capitalist society, such as those of Théorie Communiste, Jacques Camatte, and Antonio Negri. A critical examination of this concept and its historical uses.
  7. Worker’s enquiry in the cynical mode: the unrevolutionary working life of the web developer.

http://endnotes.org.uk/




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