Daily Archives: November 25, 2009

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? 

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