Tag Archives: economic crisis

The Condition of the Working Class (film)

www.conditionoftheworkingclass.info

This film is inspired by Engels’ book written in 1844, The Condition of the Working Class in England. How much has really changed since then?

In 2012 a group of working class people from Manchester and Salford come together to create a theatrical show from scratch based on their own experiences and Engels’ book. They have eight weeks before their first performance. The Condition of the Working Class follows them from the first rehearsal to the first night performance and situates their struggle to get the show on stage in the context of the daily struggles of ordinary people facing economic crisis and austerity politics. The people who came together to do the show turned from a group of strangers, many of whom had never acted before, into The Ragged Collective, in little more than two months.

This film, full of political passion and anger, is a wonderful testament to the creativity, determination and camaraderie of working people that blows the media stereotypes of the working class out of the water.

_____

http://www.conditionoftheworkingclass.info/screenings

The Condition of the Working Class will be screened in these venues in 2013:

All screenings will be followed by a Q & A with the film’s directors.

[…]

May

Wednesday May 1st NOTTAGE MARITIME INSTITUTE 7.30pm. The Quay, Wivenhoe, Colchester, Essex CO7 9BX.

Tuesday May 7th: CALDERS BOOKSHOP London, The Cut, Waterloo, 7.30pm. http://calderbookshop.com/

Wednesday May 8th: GOLDSMITH’S UNIVERSITY New Cross, London, 6.30pm, main building (RHB) room 144.

Saturday May 11th: UPSTAIRS AT THE CARRIAGE WORKS, Leeds, 7.30pm. http://www.carriageworkstheatre.org.uk/

Tuesday May 14th: CALDERS BOOKSHOP London, The Cut, Waterloo, 7.30pm. http://calderbookshop.com/

Tuesday May 14th: SCREENING IN NEW YORK AS PART OF THE WORKERS UNITE FILM FESTIVAL http://www.workersunitefilmfestival.org/schedule/

Wednesday May 15th: THE WORKING CLASS MOVEMENT LIBRARY, Salford, 2pm. http://www.wcml.org.uk/

Saturday May 18th: MINERS COMMUNITY CENTRE, Moston, 7.30pm. http://www.smallcinema.re-dock.org/category/films. Invited back for a second screening at the Moston! We can’t be there this time but hopefully some of the Ragged Collective may be.

Saturday May 25th: LA CASA, Liverpool 2.pm at 29 Hope Street, L1 9BQ.

June

Thursday June 6th: The CLF ART CAFE, 7.30pm. 133 Rye Lane, London, SE15 4ST.

Friday June 7th: THE WORKING MEN’S COLLEGE, 7.00pm. 44 Crowndale Rd, London, NW1 1TR.

Tuesday June 11th: THE HOUSE OF COMMONS (GRAND COMMITTEE ROOM), 7.30pm (This is a public screening, please allow 20 mins to get through security).

Wednesday June 12th: METAL AT EDGE HILL STATION, 6.30pm. Tunnel Road, Liverpool http://www.metalculture.com/

Thursday June 13th: NORTHERN VISIONS MEDIA CENTRE , 5.30pm 23 Donegall Street, Belfast.
This is part of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions’ Festival of Ideas.

Saturday June 15th: DELI-LAMA CAFE, 3.00pm. 220 Chapel Street, Salford.

Sunday June 16th: UNOFFICIAL HISTORIES CONFERENCE, Peoples History Museum – but open only to conference attendees.

Saturday June 22nd: THE NEW THEATRE CONNOLLY BOOKS, 2.00pm 43 Essex Street, Dublin.

MORE DATES TO FOLLOW

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Brian Holmes: Three Crises: 30s-70s-Today (Occupy Berlin/Autonomous University)

Autonomous University • Tue, 2012-06-12

The Autonomous University is hosting a one-week long seminar on the crises of capital and possible futures after it taught by Brian Holmes starting this Sunday at 6pm. Everyone is welcome! Ideally, though, participants are expected to attend seminars on a regular basis and be prepared to participate in group discussions based on Brian’s lectures and the suggested readings (see below).

Three Crises: 30s-70s-Today

A seminar with Occupy Berlin

The Autonomous University is an old dream that finds new expressions in every period of systemic change and political upheaval. This seminar  is part of a global constellation of parallel efforts to establish a new basis for militant research, educational experimentation and public political debate. At its heart are lectures and group discussions at the intimate scale of a self-organized classroom, relayed and augmented by the use of Internet resources. The sessions have been planned in collaboration with members of Occupy Berlin. Their aim is to produce useful knowledge about the historical roots and possible futures of the current political-economic crisis.

GOALS: The seminar seeks to develop a framework for understanding the present political-economic crisis and for acting within and beyond it. Historical study is integrated with activist experience and artistic expression. The seminar is part of the autonomous university program developed by Occupy Berlin. It includes Internet resources for sharing research notes and reference materials. All of this builds on a similar experiment at Mess Hall in Chicago (http://messhall.org), with inspiration from the Public School, the Edufactory network and other autonomous education initiatives.

FORMAT: An introduction, six core sessions and a conclusion, compressed into one intensive week (see calendar for dates/times). Readings can be done in advance or later, as desired by each person. The first hour of each session will be a lecture/slideshow by Brian Holmes, an autonomous researcher and cultural critic living in the US. The second hour is a group discussion, seeking to integrate the North American perspective with European historical experiences. The respondent for the first five sessions will be Armin Medosch, a Vienna and London-based researcher with whom the theoretical framework of the seminar was developed. Other respondents will be sought in the course of the event.

CONCEPT: The development of capitalism is marked, every thirty or forty years, by the eruption of extended economic crises that restructure the entire system in organizational, technological, financial and geopolitical terms, while affecting daily life and commonly held values and attitudes. In the course of these crises, conditions of exploitation and domination are challenged by grassroots and anti-systemic movements, with major opportunities for positive change. However, each historical crisis so far has also elicited an elite response, stabilizing the worldwide capitalist system on the basis of a new integration/repression of classes, interest groups, genders and minority populations (whose definition, composition and character also change with the times). In the United States, because of its leading position within twentieth-century capitalism, the domestic resolution of each of the previous two crises has helped to restructure not only national social relations, but also the international political-economic order. Nothing ensures that the same thing will happen again. By examining the crises of the 1930s and the 1970s along with the top-down responses and the resulting hegemonic compromises, we can try to cut through the inherited ideological confusion, gain insight into our own positions within contemporary neoliberal society, identify the elite projects on the horizon and begin to formulate our own possible agency during the continuing period of instability and chaos.

SESSIONS (suggested readings for the sessions can be downloaded here http://dl.dropbox.com/u/43467036/Readings_1-5.zip):

1. June 17th: Introduction: techno-political paradigms, crisis, and the formation of new hegemonies.

How to grasp the potential for systemic change that lies hidden in the turbulence of a major crisis? How to symbolize it and express it through intellectual and artistic means? The seminar begins with a theoretical concept of more-or-less coherent “long waves” of capitalist development, understood as techno-political paradigms. These waves are typically generated in specific geographical regions, but they extend their influence across the globe. For twenty- to thirty-year periods, technologies, organizational forms, social institutions and global economic and military agreements find a working fit that allows for growth and expansion, up to a limit-point where the paradigm begins to encounter conditions of stagnation and internal contradiction. In some cases, known as regulation crises, the resolution of the crisis stabilizes a social order corresponding to an entrenched productive system. In other cases, technological bifurcations and even shifts of global hegemony may occur. So far, the resolution of each major crisis has added another new technological-organizational-cultural layer to the previously existing ones. That’s what makes world society so damn complicated!

2. June 18th: Working-class movements and the socialist challenge during the Great Depression

This session begins with an analysis of the assembly-line mass production paradigm in the United States, then turns to economic and social conditions following the Crash of ‘29. We follow the interaction between labor movements and communist doctrines, while examining the major institutional innovations of the Roosevelt administration (and contrasting them to German history in the discussion). Can the 1930s be understood as a “regulation crisis” of Taylorist mass production? What are the forces that provoked the crisis? Who emerged as its major actors? Where were the initial solutions found? How did the New Deal become an idealized figure of class compromise for succeeding generations, far beyond the United States?

3. June 18th: The Council on Foreign Relations during WWII and Keynesian Fordism

Only after 1938 was the economic crisis resolved in the US, through the state orchestration of innovation and production effected by wartime institutions. Corporate leaders from the Council on Foreign Relations were directly inducted to the Roosevelt government and planned the postwar monetary and free-trade order later enshrined in the Bretton Woods treaties. What kinds of technological and organizational changes were brought by wartime planning? How was the intense labor militancy of the 1930s absorbed into the Cold War domestic balance? To what extent did an American hegemony shape the industrial boom in the Keynesian social democracies of Western Europe and Japan? How were the industrial welfare states supported and enabled by neo-colonial trade relations and resource extraction? Why do people continue to see postwar society as a positive norm?

4. June 20th: The ‘60s revolts, Third-World self-assertion, counter-revolution

The brief convergence of labor movements, student revolts and minority rights campaigns in 1968 was a global phenomenon, spurred on by Third World liberation and the war in Vietnam. This session begins with anti-systemic struggles and then zooms in on the SDS, Black Power and Feminist movements in the United States. Participants in the discussion will fill in the comparisons and contrasts with Germany and other countries. Did the US and Europe internalize global socioeconomic contradictions during this period? Which aspects of the political and cultural revolts posed real obstacles to the existing economic structure? Which ones later became raw materials for the formation of a new hegemonic compromise? What were the elite reactions to grassroots insurgencies?

5. June 20th: The Trilateral Commission and Neoliberal Informationalism

Wildcat strikes, welfare claims and high resource prices imposed by producer countries (notably OPEC) all contributed to the crisis of the 1970s. But there was more: the breakdown of Bretton Woods in 1971 and the conquest of relative autonomy by Western Europe and Japan, along with the Third World push for a New International Economic Order. The launch of the Trilateral Commission in 1973 was an elite response to the crisis, laying the basis for an expanded hegemony whose sovereign expression was the G7 group, founded in 1975. The coming of “postindustrial society” was announced by sociology, while innovations like the microprocessor went into mass production. Cooperation among trilateral elites was paralleled by financialization and the rise of computer networks. In the US, the Treasury-induced US recession of 1980-82, the hi-tech “Star Wars” military buildup and the emergence of a distinct, university-based innovation system became the linchpins of a new techno-political paradigm: Neoliberal Informationalism. We will consider the major features of the new paradigm and discuss the way it became hegemonic in the US, Western Europe and Japan.

6. June 22nd: 1989 and the roots of current crisis.

With the breakdown of the USSR in 1989, followed by the first Gulf War, the world-space was opened up for transformation by the Trilateral economic system, based on information processing and just-in-time production. The 1990s witnessed the largest capitalist expansion since the postwar boom. With the collapse of the USSR and the integration of the former Communist world, both the capitalist market and labor force were doubled in size. Transoceanic fiber-optic cables ringed the earth and production lines became regional and global, circumventing national labor regulations. After tracking the Trilateral expansion of Neoliberal Informationalism we’ll focus on the rise of the Gulf states and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), as well as the political challenges to the Washington Consensus that took form in the 1990s: the anti-globalization movement, Latin American Leftism, Salafi Jihad. Did these challenges signify the end of the Trilateral hegemony?

7. June 22nd: Financial crisis and elite attempts to stabilize Neoliberal Informationalism

Finally we examine the inherently volatile dynamics of the informational economy, culminating in the Asian crisis of 1997-98, the dot-com bust of 2000 and the credit crunch of 2008, followed by the ongoing fiscal crisis of the neoliberal state. Little has been done in the US to control financial capital, but across the Trilateral countries the debt crisis has massively punished the low-income sectors of society and eroded the status of the middle classes, with a major attack on the public university system and a move to cut all remaining welfare-state entitlements. Have we entered a regulation crisis of Neoliberal Informationalism? How have the EU and Japan responded? What paths have been taken by the Gulf states, Russia, Latin America and China? Are new alliances forming among international elites, outside the Trilateral arenas? What could make the grassroots resistance stronger?

8. June 23rd: Perspectives for egalitarian and ecological social change in the upcoming decade

In the absence of reform and redistribution, continued financial turmoil is certain, along with a decline of the Trilateral countries and a reorganization of the monetary-military order. Meanwhile, climate change is already upon us, advancing much faster than anticipated. We face a triple crisis, economic, geopolitical and ecological, with consequences that can’t be predicted on the basis of past experience. What are the central contradictions that will mark the upcoming years? Which institutions and social bargains have already come under severe stress? In what ways will the ecological crisis begin to produce political responses? How will class struggles within the US and Europe interact with the cross-border and worldwide struggles heralded by the Arab Spring? Can grassroots movements seize the chances of the crisis? On what basis could new anti-systemic movements be forged?

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