Category Archives: Strategy

Episode 3: Book Club – Peter Frase’s ‘Four Futures’

Four Futures

This episode is the first in an occasional ‘book club’ series of podcasts we will be doing, in an around the topic of fully automated luxury communism. This episode’s book is Four Futures, by Peter Frase (which is part of the Jacobin series, from Verso Books).

My guests on the show are Laura Horn and Phil Davis. Laura is a political economist working at the University of Roskilde, just outside of Copenhagen in Denmark. While her own research has mainly focused on dimensions of capitalist restructuring in the European Union, she has a strong political and personal interest in the nexus between political economy and science fiction. Four Futures is one of the texts she uses in her course ‘Repoliticising Capitalism: Contradictions, critique and alternatives’.

Phil Davis is a molecular biologist working in the Biodefense sector in the Washington DC area. He’s currently working towards a master’s degree in Bioinformatics from University of Maryland University College. Four Futures sits at the intersection of his enthusiasm for both left-wing politics and futurology. His hobbies also include music.

If you have any questions or comments, please send us a tweet @occupyirtheory

Struggling with Precarity: From More and Better Jobs to Less and Lesser Work | The Disorder Of Things

From Wanda Vrasti, does the language of precarity empower us? Or can we do better?

But what if precarity was the wrong rallying point to focus on? What if instead of describing a shared experience all that the concept did was point to the absence of a common ground? Is there any way we could turn precarity around from a testament to our shared vulnerability into a positive affirmation of collective desire?

via Struggling with Precarity: From More and Better Jobs to Less and Lesser Work | The Disorder Of Things.

…Another Occupy Is Possible – and Necessary

Useful reading… tho perhaps important to not get too carried away with notions of “silliness” in Zuccotti Park.

At the height of Occupy Wall Street’s efflorescence, when the enragés who took up residence in Zuccotti Park succeeded in raising the battle standard of the 99% for the entire world to see, I sat down for aninterview with Frances Fox Piven to help make sense of what was unfolding before us. Although I thought I knew more than my fair share about the theory and practice of social movements in the U.S., as a child of the End of History, I had never really been part of one. I was born in the early 1980s, during the dreadful dawn of “Morning in America,” so aside from my days as an undergraduate global trade summit-hopper I learned almost everything I know about this stuff from books. The occupation of Zuccotti Park went on for days, days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. It looked as if an honest-to-goodness social movement was breaking out in this country for the first time in my life. To be sure, I was elated. But to my surprise, that elation was often overcome by a sense of foreboding. I looked at all of the silliness that accompanied the encampments and feared that the movement (I still hesitate to use that phrase) would self-destruct before it made even a small dent in the power of the 1%.

via Another Occupy Is Possible – and Necessary.

On Formulation in Hardt and Negri’s ‘Declaration’

Among the various bits and pieces circulating about Hardt and Negri’s new Declaration, Jason Read’s blog suggests a tension between the newer, constitutionalist tones of their project and the sentiments of Negri in an older text, Insurgencies. For Read, Declaration is somewhat overly fascinated with “the US constitution”, whereas the younger Negri was much less interested in dictating formulations:

“A great current of modern political thought, from Machiavelli to Spinoza to Marx, has developed around this open alternative, which is the ground of democratic thought.  In this tradition, the absence of preconstituted and finalized principles is combined with the subjective strength of the multitude, thus constituting the social in the aleatory materiality of a universal relationship, in the possibility of freedom.”

via Unemployed Negativity: Revolution in Theory/Theorizing Revolution: On Hardt and Negris Declaration.

But interestingly its their openness to the non-formulative approach of the movements that draws ire. For example, Doug Henwood was rather critical on his FB page about H&N’s reference to the Israeli tent protest being pretty hushed on the topic of Palestine (Loc. 41/1506), thus reading H&N as saying this topic was treated was somehow correctly expendable in the interests of unifying the movement. Others chimed in on occupy being shallow on the topic of war in general, and not letting Cyndi Sheehan speak. But this seems to be missing the point. The movements of course likely contain sizable numbers of people who would wish to express solidarity with the Palestinians. That they don’t do so is no sign of lack of interest or solidarity. As the pamphlet argues, the movement does need to be strategic about its longevity. To accomplish this, the movement is experimenting with ways of finding an effective common platform. Of course, if not mentioning an issue necessarily means that you don’t care about it, then this is indeed a concern. But it could also mean that you you just want to avoid getting bogged down in an intractable debate. This is a common technique adopted by the GAs in the OWS movement where minimal common principles can be agreed as a consensus position and then returned to later. OWS movements are themselves careful on this. While they do express solidarity with other ‘occupy’-style movements around the world, they do not offer expressions of solidarity with people involved in armed conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Uganda).

What is interesting about H&N’s new work is the extent to which they balance observation with evaluation. The general tendencies of the movements are examined for their ‘commonality’ but also for their potential to live up to their promise. They’re establishing criteria of what, in their view at least, would likely constitute a Princely strategy of success, all the while saying its too soon to tell what will come of it all. I need to give the book a much more detailed reading so these comments are necessarily somewhat sophomoric at this stage, but the initial intellectual reactions to this question of formulation are interesting. Commenting on the book more from the perspective of the activist, Mirzoeff summarizes the valences of domination that H&N suggest confront the populations of the world, and agrees with the way the book poses the ‘counter powers’ to these valences as necessarily exterior to ideology or centralized political leadership. The task of developing a new, open constitution against such an array of forces is a daunting one, to be sure. But Mirzoeff seems to get the point. As he concludes, “the next steps won’t be found in a pamphlet but in the sometimes arduous, sometimes exhilarating process of communing.”

Lexicon Pamphlet Series: Downloadable PDFs! | Outside the Circle

 

Some great free stuff here, from the Institute for Anarchist Studies.

Lexicon Pamphlet Series: Downloadable PDFs! | Outside the Circle.

#OCCUPYIRTHEORY @ ISA2012, San Diego

ISA Headquarters have kindly granted the use of a room for a special #occupyirtheory meeting at the upcoming Annual Convention, in San Diego, April 1-4, 2012.

The meeting will be listed on the official online version of the schedule as #OCCUPYIRTHEORY? Lessons from OWS for the Study of World Politics. It will be held at at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel on Tuesday, April 3 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm.

The event will open with a brief roundtable with various speakers (TBA) addressing a diversity of themes related to IR, IPE, and OWS. It is hoped we will have some local Occupy San Diego activists present to offer their thoughts, too. This will be followed by a GA-style event where audience members will be welcome to engage in informal discussion on strategies and initiatives that the movement might chose to pursue.

There will also be an informal strategy meeting on Sunday night for anyone interested in helping out with running the event.

If you are interested in playing a role in organizing this, or you just have any questions or concerns, feel welcome to email us at occupyirtheory *AT* gmail *DOT* com, or contact one of the group members on Facebook.

Thanks everyone!

#occupyirtheory

The Revolution Will Be Live Streamed: Global Revolution TV, the Occupy Movement’s Video Hub

For the past two months, a website called Global Revolution TV has become the main video hub for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Featuring live video feeds from New York and dozens of other cities hosting Occupy protests, the site has transformed how protests are covered and observed. When OWS protesters hold a General Assembly in Zuccotti Park, the gathering is usually live streamed across the world. When police raided the park early on Tuesday, it was caught on live stream as well. We speak to one of the site’s co-founders, Vlad Teichberg. He is a former derivatives trader who gave up a life in the financial world to work on video activism. “This project started initially with the beginning of the New York occupation. Other, similar versions of this project had been done in the past for other actions and revolts,” Teichberg says. “People think of Occupy Wall Street as an American revolution. It has its roots though, in the Arab Spring, obviously, which inspired a lot of things. And it has very direct roots in the Spanish revolution.”

via The Revolution Will Be Live Streamed: Global Revolution TV, the Occupy Movement’s Video Hub.