Monthly Archives: November 2009

Proud to be Flesh: a Mute Magazine Anthology of Cultural Politics after the Net

Proud to be Flesh: a Mute Magazine Anthology of Cultural Politics after the Net

Edited by Josephine Berry Slater and Pauline van Mourik Broekman with Michael Corris, Anthony Iles, Benedict Seymour and Simon Worthington

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Nearly five years in the making, Proud to be Flesh offers some of the finest articles to appear in Mute magazine organised around key contemporary themes. This expansive collection of texts charts the perilous journey from Web 1.0 to 2.0; exposes how the logic of technology intersects with that of art and music; heralds the rise of neoliberalism and condemns the human cost; amplifies the murmurs of dissent and revels in the first signs of collapse. In the midst of a global crisis, Proud to be Flesh is an invaluable sourcebook for anyone wondering how we found ourselves here.

‘Mute’s writers remind us that there are always real bodies, and consequences, behind the gleaming abstraction of “new” media. They have managed an almost impossible task: to remain both substantively critical and accessible to a wide readership.’

-Grant Kester
Chair of Visual Arts at University of California, San Diego; and author of Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art

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On the fifteenth anniversary of Mute magazine, we go back in time to where it all began – the Slade School of Fine Art, where a student-initiated version of Mute was produced between 1989 and 1991 by Simon Worthington with Helen Arthur, Daniel Jackson and Steve Faulkner. Changing format with each issue, this proved an essential precursor to Mute when it was re-launched as an FT-style newspaper in 1994. For one night, the Slade’s Research Centre will turn into Mute‘s way-back machine, reanimating editorial, manifestoes, artist projects, sound-art, websites and other Mute-flavoured ephemera from two decades of experimental publishing.

Join us:

@ 6-9pm, Thursday 3rd December, 2009

Slade Research Centre (top floor)
Woburn Square
London WC1H 0AB

RSVP to party@metamute.org

More details closer to the date, check http://www.metamute.org for updates.

In the meantime, preview Proud to be Flesh at http://www.metamute.org/ptbf

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Mute Publishing
Unit 9
The Whitechapel Centre
85 Myrdle Street
London E1 1HQ

T: +44 (0)20 7377 6949
E: mute@metamute.org
W: http://www.metamute.org

Published by Mute Publishing in association with Autonomedia

Mute is supported by Arts Council England. Proud to be Flesh has been supported by ACE and the British Academy.

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Occupy California

http://occupyca.wordpress.com/

A short film on the occupation of Wheeler Hall,  at University of California, Berkeley:

Why occupation? Why barricades? Why would an emancipatory movement, one which seeks to unchain people from debt and compulsory labor, chain the doors of a building? Why would a group of people who deplore a university increasingly barricaded against would-be entrants itself erect barricades? This is the paradox: the space of UC Berkeley, open at multiple points, traversed by flows of students and teachers and workers, is open in appearance only. At root, as a social form, it is closed: closed to the majority of young people in this country by merit of the logic of class and race and citizenship; closed to the underpaid workers who enter only to clean the floors or serve meals in the dining commons; closed, as politics, to those who question its exclusions or answer with more than idle protest. (Text continued here.)

UC Irvine sociology graduate student John Bruning recounts his arrest by UC police during a November 24 demonstration:

The tactics of UCPD have quickly escalated in the past week.  The last political arrest at UCI was a few years ago, during the struggle to insource workers.  In my time at UCI, there has not been an incident where police pepper sprayed students, especially not at a peaceful protest.  The use of tasers is troublesome given their lethality, and I would not at all be surprised if sometime this year police shot a student dead or killed them another way.  Looking into the eyes of the police yesterday, in all but a few cases, there was the appearance of outright contempt for students and their safety.  A few looked as if orders were the only thing keeping them from clubbing skulls.  My arresting officer carried a look of hatred on [his] face, as if students’ needs were the only thing keeping him from happiness.  One has to wonder, with all of the rage these men contain where their souls should be, how they take care of their aggression when there aren’t protests.  At home, on their families?  I hope not, for their sake.  Maybe they have a nice hobby, like playing baseball. 

http://californiaprof.blogspot.com/2009/11/statement-in-support-of-uc-mobilisation.html
Statement in support of the UC Mobilisation

Here is a statement in support of mobilization at UC, started by Peter Hallward (Middlesex University, London), which is currently gathering signatures:

We the undersigned declare our solidarity with University of California students, workers and staff as they defend, in the face of powerful and aggressive intimidation, the fundamental principles upon which a truly inclusive and egalitarian public-sector education system depends. We affirm their determination to confront university administrators who seem willing to exploit the current financial crisis to introduce disastrous and reactionary ‘reforms’ (fee-increases, lay-offs, salary cuts) to the UC system. We support their readiness to take direct action in order to block these changes. We recognise that in times of crisis, only assertive collective action – walkouts, boycotts, strikes, occupations… – offers any meaningful prospect of democratic participation. We deplore the recent militarization of the UC campuses, and call on the UC administration to acknowledge rather than discourage the resolution of their students to struggle, against the imperatives of privatization, to protect the future of their university. (See a list of signatories at the link above.)

To endorse the statement and add your name to the list, email Nathan Brown (UCD) at ntbrown@ucdavis.edu.

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An Appeal for Solidarity from Dutch Squatters

[Thanks to Reclaiming Spaces for sending this down the line.]

We are squatters from the Netherlands. We are asking you to organize a protest (for example by dutch embassy) in your country against squatting prohibition in the Netherlands. We suggest to organize your protests between 26 and 28 of November, because Eerste Kamer (First Chamber of dutch parliament) will vote about squatting prohibition beginning of December.
To all the people who are against squatting prohibition, 
to all the squatters, 
to all ex-squatters, 
to all young people who would like to become squatters in the future, 
to all the friends of the squatters, 
to all political activists, 
to all antifascist activists, 
to all artists who create art and/or perform in the squats, 
to all bandmembers and DJ’s that play in the squats, 
to all people who enjoy parties and concerts in the squats, 
to all travellers who visit and stay in the squats, 
to all of you who are not mentioned above. 

As you probably might know dark days are coming for the squatting movement in the Netherlands. On 15.10.2009 the Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber of the dutch parliament) voted for a squatting prohibition. Please remember this would not have happened without the support of racist and xenophobic politicians as Rita Verdonk and Geert Wilders. From 1st January 2010 squatting can be illegal in the Netherlands. Beginning of December Eerste Kamer (First Chamber of the dutch parliament) will discuss and vote about squatting prohibition. If First Chamber of the dutch parliament approve this law, persons that try to occupy an empty building, will be considered a criminal and punished by dutch authorities. Penalties are very high and range from one year up to two years of prison! 

This is very serious threat! Don’t let politicians destroy squatting movement in the Netherlands! We can’t wait! We must act now! 

The future of the dutch squatting movement is in our hands. It is a big responsibility as well. We should show respect to those previous squatting generations who made squatting possible in the Netherlands. They sacrified a lot of time and energy for us. We should think about all the youth who would like to have the possibility to live in squats in the future. 

Mass media and politicians say that we are few, but our spirit is stronger then this rotten and unhumane law that politicians have created! We are willing to show politicians and police forces our determination in the defence of our rights for housing. There is lack of cheap houses in the Netherlands. For example in Amsterdam price of renting one room range from 300 till 550 euros a month!

Mass media and politicains say that we are violent, but those christians from CDU (Christian Democratic Party), CU (Christian Union) and SGP (Orthodox Protestant Party) are violent. For them empty buildings are more important than human beings searching for a house. Those christians decided that police will come to arrest us, if we try to occupy a house after 31st December 2009. 

We are proud of who we are and we are willing to defend our rights to occupy empty buildings. We won’t give up without struggle! Some of you remember those proud and angry youth from Kopenhagen who were fighting for Ungdomshuset and dignity. Some of you probably have joined the struggle. If will be necessary, we are willing to bring the spirit of youth from Denmark and Greece to our streets! 

Politicians did not leave us another choice! From 1st January we have to choose between being homeless or criminals. This choice is not suitable for us! We won’t live on the streets or in the prison! We are human beings and we deserve respect! 

There is few hundreds squats in the Netherlands. We can’t afford to lose this enormous infrastructure! There are houses, autonomous centers, places for cultural activities. In all those buildings we live and/or practice and promote our political ideas. We use that space to promote independent art and underground counter culture in opposition to mainstream pop culture and art. 

Let us be a bit sentimental. For many of us to be a squatter is way of life. A lot of us spent the best times living in the squats. We had unforgettable adventures together. We have plenty of invaluable experiences, like living in self-organized communities or housing collectives. Many of us met their best friends in the squats. Yet another reasons to struggle against squatting prohibition. 

Don’t ignore serious threats for squatting movement in the Netherlands! Use your imagination, open your eyes, stand up and act! 

Our struggle is for a world without capitalism, race and gender differences, poverty and war! 

We are going to be very thankful for all your support. Solidarity is our weapon!

You can write your complaint to Eerste Kamer, e-mail address:
postbus@eerstekamer.nl

“Spirit of the unity” collective.

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Filed under activism, international affairs, open letters, manifestos, appeals, urban movements (right to the city)

Chto Delat in London/Alexei Penzei: “Under Suspicion”

First, an important announcement:

Dmitry Vilensky & Alexei Penzin from Chto Delat/What Is to Be Done?
Lecture: Tuesday, December 1st at 6.00 pm
Small Hall / Cinema (to the side of Loafers)
Richard Hoggart Building
Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London SE14 6NW

Organised by Marxism in Culture and the Micropolitics Research Group, Goldsmiths, and supported by the Open University.

Second, to give Londoners a taste of what they might be hearing at the December 1 lecture, we are reprinting here Alexei Penzin’s essay “Under Suspicion,” from a recent issue of our newspaper entitled Another Commons: Living/Knowledge/Action. Sadly, what Alexei wrote this past summer has only gained in relevance and timeliness since then.

Alexei Penzin: Under Suspicion

When we peruse the timeline of the “merry month of May” 2009 in Russia—a laconic chronicle of arrests, detentions of activists, intellectuals and artists, but also of protests against these actions of the authorities—many difficult questions arise. Of course, the fragmentary and brief comments given below do not claim to be a definitive diagnosis. The incomplete and sketchy quality of these comments is rather a part of the problem itself. A fuller analysis will be possible when there is a systematic understanding of the post-Soviet political experience, which for now is a thing of the future. 

1. In medias res

It is very difficult to understand what is going on in medias res, from the inside: these are events that are in the process of development, that affect us personally and assail us from all sides without allowing us to assume the stance of a dispassionate observer. These events affect many of us, sometimes in the literal, physical sense. The command “Hands against the wall!” A stunning blow to the head in a bus filled with people nabbed at a demonstration. Or, for example, the indescribably grotesque intrusion of a detachment of armed, shouting men during the showing of a Godard film at a peaceful leftist seminar. For about a year now the solidarity networks have been constantly delivering reports of new arrests, unlawful summonses for “discussions,” and beatings of activists. It is possible, however, that we should not be so focused on ourselves. The bad news concerns not only the minority of activists and intellectuals. The news also comes from those who are not involved in politics, education or research—from “average citizens.” The very texture of post-Soviet society in recent years has been steeped in anonymous, free-floating violence committed by the “forces of law and order.” Violence against civilians has become a kind of collateral damage, an excess of the existing system of political management. Sometimes this anonymous violence takes on personal and transgressive features. For example, in the person of a police officer who shoots at customers in a supermarket with the cold-bloodedness of a character in a computer game. Continue reading

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Filed under activism, critical thought, our newspapers, political repression, protests, Russian society

Ljubljana: Radical Education (Conference)

RADICAL EDUCATION: CONFERENCE
Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana
Concept by REC 
28 – 29 November 2009

Imagination is not just a composition of thoughts and projections; it is undepictable. The border is not an edge, but the horizon beyond. Politics is where a constant deconstruction of injustice and inequality takes place in society. Micropolitics is not the other face of capitalism, but a permanent becoming-revolutionary. Institutions are not organisations or a mere technology of the arrangement of thoughts, bodies, memories, and discourses. They are also a manifestation of counter-power and places of self-organisation. A university is not an incubator of competition and productivity. It is a place where critical thought is born. New public spaces are not reserves of alternative or interest groups. They are places beyond capitalist urbanisation. 

In times of crisis, the conference focuses on the meaning of the radical. It explores the radical through the notions of micropolitics and transversality. It asks questions: what is the relationship between social movements, institutions, and alternative practices of institutionality; why can new politics emerge only beyond the state, parties, and traditional labor unions; how is the crisis of the university manifested in society; how do new public spaces and their protagonists undermine the prerogatives of capitalist urbanisation; how do art and artistic practices elude the trappings of representation; how is it possible to think about ruptures and utopias today; how can “wanting now” become possible and on what can life beyond capitalism rely? 

Continue reading

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Speech of Moscow Antifascists at Berlin Memorial Demo for Silvio Meier

Thanks to Vlad Tupikin for this. You can see his photo reportage from the Berlin action in memory of Silvio Meier here

Vlad writes that 3,000 people attended the Saturday demo in Berlin. Typically, the Moscow authorities forbid a memorial march for the murdered antifascist Ivan Khutorskoi planned for Sunday after allegedly consenting to it. Instead, the much smaller group of demonstrators resorted to placing carnations on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, next to the Kremlin. (See the excellent photo reportage by blogger keltea here.) Later in the day, a group of about forty anarchists and antifascists held their own unsanctioned march in central Moscow (photos here).

Speech Given by Moscow Antifascists at the Berlin Memorial Action for Silvio Meier and Other Victims of Nazi Violence

Today, November 21, 2009, we honor the memory of Silvio Meier and other people who have perished at the hands of the Nazis.

Unfortunately, in Russia we also have good reason to remember the victims of fascist violence in November. Four years ago, on November 13, 2005, our friend and comrade the antifascist Timur Kacharava was murdered in Petersburg. This past Monday, November 16, 2009, the antifascist Ivan Khutorskoi was murdered in Moscow. Over the past three and half years, a total of seven antifascists have been murdered in Moscow.

But the antifascist movement is also growing. Because they can no longer risk open confrontations with the antifa, the Nazis have switched to cowardly murders on the sly, to shooting their victims in the back of the head.

Recently, the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev reported to the German magazine Spiegel about the solving of the murders of the antifascist lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the antifascist journalist Anastasia Baburova. Yes, specific Nazi murderers were apprehended. Yes, over the past year the authorities have intensified their fight against Nazi gangs. But the number of murders committed by Nazis (that is, those that we know about and could thus count) has practically not decreased. There were around one hundred such incidents in 2008, and approximately eighty in the first ten months of 2009.

We should not forget, however, that over the past years the state authorities and state propaganda in Russia have done much to incite xenophobia and nationalism and thus strengthen the Nazi camp.

We must not forget that at various times four major Nazi organizations have enjoyed the direct patronage of the authorities: Russian National Unity (RNE); the National-Socialist Society (NSO); the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI); and now Russkiy Obraz (Russian Way). The two people arrested on November 4 for the murders of Markelov and Baburova are members of this organization. That is why, in response to the murder of antifascist Ivan Khutorskoi, Moscow antifa attacked the headquarters of Young Russia, a puppet pro-Kremlin youth organization that provides “protection” for Russkiy Obraz.

As we can see, the Nazi terror in Russia continues.

And that is why we must continue to pressure the Russian government to end its support for Nazi front organizations, to end its nationalist propaganda, and to engage seriously in the capture of Nazi murderers.

We need to remember this not only on days like today, but on those days when Russian leaders come here to do their financial deals with Germany, when they come here to open art shows and film festivals and try in general to present Russia as a normal democratic country. Don’t believe them! Remind them about the unsolved fascist murders in Russia, about the Nazi terror that continues in our country.

Long live the international solidarity of antifascists!

The Antifascists of Moscow
November 21, 2009, 3:00 p.m.
Berlin, U-Bahn Samariterstrasse

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Filed under anti-racism, anti-fascism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, protests, racism, nationalism, fascism, Russian society

Californication, Part 2

We got this through the grapevine. Thanks to the comrade who sent it.

This week, 2000 students and workers from across the state converged on UCLA’s campus to demonstrate against 32% tuition increases imposed by the UC Regents. Students and workers from at least 8 UC schools, various Cal State universities, and 5 private colleges stood together in a fight to get our voices heard amidst a glaring lack of leadership, transparency, and accountability on the part of the top tiers of UC management. In addition, across the state, numerous student-organized occupations, strikes, sit-ins, and shut-downs brought attention to the broader issues of this “economic crisis” that affect all of us: the privatization of the university as a public good; the resegregation of the university to exclude people of color and working class people; the concentration of power in the hands of a wealthy minority; and a federal budget more oriented towards bailing out Wall Street banks and fighting two wars than educating our young people.

Below is a selection of media coverage and student statements from this week. Please disseminate far and wide! The struggle has just begun and we UC students need both local and national support to win it. If you’re at UCLA and wish to get involved, please join us at the UCLA Fights Back Meeting this Monday at 6pm in the School of Public Affairs 3rd Floor Lounge.

Democracy Now: “As UC Regents Approve Major Tuition Hike Students, Faculty Decry Erosion of Public Education in CA and Nationwide”

The New York Times: “Regents Raise College Tuition in California by 32 Percent”

Communique from the UCLA Occupation

LA Times: UCLA Protests Photos

Democracy Now: “Why Are We Destroying Public Education? University of California Students and Staff Prepare for System-Wide Strike to Protest Cuts”

Anti-Capital Projects: “The Neoliberalization of Public Education: What’s Race Got to Do with It?”

NY Times: “Students Protest Tuition Increases”

NBC: “Why are You Protesting? Voice of a UCLA Student”

Youtube: “Skirmish between student protesters and police at UCLA”

The Guardian: Judith Butler’s “Save California’s Universities” article


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