daycaf magazine

rhizomatic ponderings

ETERNAL CANARY OF THE WEST: endless parties, Greek style

ETERNAL CANARY OF THE WEST

endless parties, Greek style

Merry Crisis Happy New Fear Exarchia Athens 2010 

Only a new ‘heresy’ – represented at this moment by Syriza – can save what is worth saving of the European legacy: democracy, trust in people, egalitarian solidarity etc.

-Slavoj Žižek

We don’t believe that a government, even if it is this left, can deal with this [crisis].

  -Eliana Kanaveli

…I would not

die without delivering a stroke,

or die ingloriously, but in some action

memorable to men.

-Homer

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For its heroic pride, Greece suffered the pains of giving birth to, and experimenting with Democracy, Morality, and Courageous War. Today, Greece is still the European Canary, both for its seemingly impassable economic crisis, and the myriad ways that Greeks have adapted, from developing barter networks to self-sustaining, direct-democratic assemblages. The upcoming elections in May may prove to be more telling for the future of the EU than European Central Bank Technocratic policy. Perhaps the question is not whether the Greeks are following the German Neoliberal model, but rather, whether the rest of Europe will wind up following Greece.

The Past // The Future

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Greece has been devastated by EU-designed Austerity measures: welfare has been chopped; family income has dropped, and the jobless rate has soared. One means for addressing the crisis are the far-Left parties; and as a bell-weather, the stakes of the upcoming elections this Spring are extremely high for the international community. Greek Elections are often decided by a popular vote on parties wherein legislators are chosen by the parties themselves. Parties  areassigned proportional seats, which allows for multiple  parties to play powerful roles in Parliament

Party Scene

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For the futurally minded of us, the major party to look towards in the 2014 elections is, the Coalition for a Radical Left-Unity Social Front (SYRIZA), who, in 2012, became the largest opposition group. SYRIZA has recently gained traction as an assemblage of a 13 radical parties whose core ideology is anti-Austerity, post-Marxist, anti-Neoliberal and critical towards the EU. As of April 25th, less than a month away from the elections, SYRIZA is leading both the EU and Greek parliamentary polls. What SYRIZA can accomplish under these radical frameworks is another question, but it has allowed for the unification of the Left in very serious ways.

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Led by the young, savvy and sexy Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA has become the main face of the New Left in Greece, garnering support from Slavoj Žižek. Much of the international Leftist, and even anarchist scene sees SYRIZA saving Greece from the dual threats of Fascism and Neoliberalism. If things move Leftwards in the wake of austerity, Tsipras could be Prime Minister—addressing the crisis by nationalizing the banks, raising corporate taxes, shielding the Greek workforce with benefits, distancing itself from the EU, and ending Fascist fear-mongering.

Radical in Name Only

If SYRIZA wins the election, they may be forced to join a larger coalition with the Neoliberal, Pro-EU and Austerity parties, the New Democracy and PASOK, in order to accomplish its goals. Some on the radical left argues, “In truth, a SYRIZA victory will do little to revolutionize Greek society and much less to free Greece from the neoliberal shackles of the eurozone…SYRIZA’s policies will do more to stabilize than to overthrow the discredited and dysfunctional system.” SYRIZA isn’t anti-Capitalist and has viewed to stay within the Eurozone. Tsipras is called ‘a radical in name only’ committed simply to reforming current political architectures.

Out of Proportional Representation and into the Fire

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There are a number of minor krypto-anarchist parties to the left of SYRIZA, such as ANTARSYA Party, (MUTINY, in English). ANTARSYA is made up of a coalition of parties that identify as the, “Front of the anti-capitalist, revolutionary, communist left and radical ecology.” Unlike SYRIZA, ANTARSYA adheres to radical principals of movement building, demonstrations and crafting parallel political structures as opposed to reform. While ANTARSYA doesn’t prioritize elections, it is developing a strategy of gaining support at the poles.

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The question to ask ourselves is, why do we, as anarchists, create a political party or vote at all. Elections open up community dialogue around how our electoral apparatus is structured, which could lead to greater political inclusivity. On the other hand, entire worlds can be cultivated out of a party that never wins.

 Beyond Burn it all Down

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We must follow the Canary, as she shows us signs of Political Futures we could not otherwise imagine. The Greek anarchist Eliana Kanaveli suggests, “I hope that the social relations will change; the society needs solidarity. Exarchia and Zapatistas can’t bring the Spring, but can bring to the surface a different model of leaving this universal Capitalistic system.”

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The question is, what is best for the Greeks, New Left stability in a time of crisis, or mustering the revolutionary potential of this crisis to further decentralize the Political Architecture? Tremendous anarchist potential exists, but maybe radicals should focus on destabilizing the EU, not Greece. How did Greece get to a point that a plurality of voters would want and need SYRIZA, one of the most radical major parties, to win? Ultimately, these questions are for the Greeks to decide themselves, both at the polls and beyond, in the streets and in Prefigurative Political Assemblages. 

Exarchia-Athens-February-2013

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MORE ACTION! LESS TEARS! 2014

!!

THE POLITICAL ONTOLOGY OF DIS-ORDER

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THE POLITICAL ONTOLOGY OF DIS-ORDER

 

space-creation, movements and bodies

a political ethnography of OWS

REGULATING LINES

An inevitable element of Architecture

The necessity for order. The regulating line is a guarantee

against willfulness. It brings satisfaction to the understanding.

The regulating line is a means to an end; it is not a recipe.

Its choice and the modalities of expression given to it are an

integral part of architectural creation.

–Le Corbusier

 One of the fundamental tasks of the State is to striate the space over which it reigns, or to utilize smooth spaces as means of communication in service of striated space.

It is a vital concern of every State not only to vanquish nomadism but to control migrations, and, more generally,

to establish a zone of rights over an entire “exterior,” over all of the flows traversing the ecumenon.

—Gilles Deleuze

A TREATISE ON WRITING:

In writing I attempt to find resonances between themes within the fields of politics, philosophy, social choreography, and geography.

The reader should sit with each theme—unpack each impression, each aphorism.

We don’t think with precise logos, with structured and ordered thought. We think rhizomatically—linking themes that don’t obviously connect except by lines-of-flight. We create connective-tissue only after the fact.

My endeavors to write are therefore connected to this: the brain is a rhizomatic network of seemingly unhinged thoughts and bodily behavior.

Thus, writing needn’t be read linearly. It can be read in-parallel motions, out of order, looking for abstract interconnections.

In my thesis I write against the order of things: the police and cartographic forces that order bodies and space. I desire to reflect this impulse in my form as a thinker and writer. I am trying to find the resonances between projects in politics, philosophy,

and geography, and therefore I can only justly place in-parallel my findings. Linearizing it would be undermining the strength in the smoothness of thought.

march!

INTRO

Politics is dis-order.

The American Empire is on the decline.

Politics is radically excluded.

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a singularity among a multiplicity of alternatives that embody political, economic, philosophical, and topological critiques of neoliberalism. The value of examining OWS is to explore its political ontology: what structures it has and what formal human relations it troubles in its radical openness and indeterminacy.

The stakes are incredibly high for today’s political movements: late-stage Capitalism has dismantled the world economic-political structure in irreparable ways, rising threats of a major ecological crisis loom, and neoliberal State apparati have instituted the most repressive restrictions on civil rights, employing unchecked police-force that increasingly has the power to reduce rights-bearing citizens to homo sacer, to bare life.

However, the American Empire is on the decline.

Neoliberalism hides less and less every day.

While a long genealogy of social movements exists, OWS is unique within the contemporary American context. OWS focuses on space in a way that expands the very concept to include not just physical space, but also political space, economic space, psychogeographic space, safe(r) space, and idea space, etc. OWS is responsible for a broad breaking-down of privatized, commodified and regimented territories—by liberating both physical and ideological space. This deterritorializing force, coupled with a radical political framework, allows OWS to entirely reconstruct the valuation of life, the ways that bodies interact, the way movement(s) occur(s) in space, the etho-politio-economic relations, and the essence of how being-in-common occurs.

spring training

This paper sets out to trace the restrictive police-force that orders/organizes bodies and keeps private space private in Zuccotti (fences/ barricades/ walls), and see these forces in contrast to the opening/ dis-order/ indeterminacy of OWS. The freedom of movement in space makes the ‘commons’ happen, and is an incredibly rare event—a clear example of ‘politics’ in the contemporary US.

OWS reminds us of what is at stake when we speak of politics, socially and ontologically—our fundamental understanding of humanness.

*                                               *                                               *

On September 17th, 2011, a rag-tag collection of approximately 2000 bodies assembled in then-named, “Zuccotti Park,” located in New York City’s Financial District. Protesters hammered through a week-long process of learning how to use consensus for collective decision-making and how to occupy space. Within days Zuccotti Park transformed into Liberty Square, harmonizing with, but not re-creating that Spring’s protests in Tahrir Square, Cairo, and allowing for a radical resignification, redefinition and reenchantment of space.

It was by this point that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) had truly begun. Many of the New York Occupiers focused their attention to space: to redefining and reclaiming public space.

Drawing upon the theories of Gilles Deleuze, Erin Manning, Jacques Rancière, Jean Luc-Nancy and many others enables us to explore in depth the political and ontological impact of the creation of space that has destratified and deterritorialized by the unmeasurable shifting of movement-through.

It is deeply generative to understand OWS’s political ontology, its essential political qualities. OWS’s political ontology thus is located in its radical indeterminacy—its essential and political openness to be moved, to be creative and creative in-relation, and to allow for singular sharing (out) to occur as part of a larger network of bodies and desire. All of these formulations oppose OWS with the State and police-force.

OWS exists in limbo. OWS is not reactive to the existing legislative structure, and instead, creates a new political project that links public space to a critique of Capitalism and the State in such a complex way that leaves OWS in a period of becoming. This powerful unifying essence is its very indeterminacy: the fact that anyone can interpret what OWS is, can have their own OWS, and can share (out) within it. Radically linearized spacio-socially are the forces of the State: hard-borders, territories, and hierarchies. This linearity is space-restrictive—commons-destructive—apolitical. Therefore, in opposition to OWS is becoming-solidified, becoming-recognizable.

A key threat that looms over OWS is stratification. Understood by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus, “The function of deterritorialization is the movement by which “one” leaves the territory”

Deterritorialization is the movement that cuts through territory, that breaks down existing urban spaces and relations. It destratifies borders, destabilizes hierarchy and, dis-organizes order.  Deterritorialization is space-creative—allowing for the birth of new ideas, new worlds, new politics. OWS is exactly this deterritorializing force required to challenge the logic of police-force and Late-Capitalism.

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OWS’s operations have greatly re-organized the Political Community’s relationship to public and private space. Those occupiers have psychogeographically and semiotically transformed space from Liberty Square to Zuccotti Park. Functions such as police-force and barricades hierarchize and limit movement, whereas the more open-ended and multitudinous political-movements of a full time occupation, with tents and stands, all change and morph space and its use. All of these factors: bodies, geography, and space all change in relation with one-another and are highly interconnected.

Crucial in OWS is the expression of radical excess: excess to Capitalism’s restrictive organization and efficient flows. Excessive is the creative potentiality channeled toward multiple ends: art, economy, and most essentiality, to a new political-being—a new horizontality—a new democracy of consensus. It is here that this ideological rhizome grows, into small farming communities and megacities that would otherwise not have General Assemblies or occupied space.

Political and ethical life explored by radicals, of which OWS is one network, troubles the very essence of what it means to be human. According to Jean-Luc Nancy, what is essential to true political and ethical life is adherence to being-in-common, the project of recognizing the fundamental similarities that occur in human life. This project requires an understanding of sharing (out)—the space for us to all express our ideas and beliefs. We find in OWS congruence—the many becoming one.

THE STAKES

Capital’s axiom is all encompassing: the axiom of Capital is the force that dominates all forms: all ‘so-called politics,’ advertising, ideology, human-rights projects, etc. These forms all subversively, invisibly, and roguishly contribute to nothing else but the end of goal of Capitalism, toward promoting the expansion of consumption.

The stakes of today’s social paradigm are that EVERYTHING IS IN PLACE TO EXCLUDE POLITICS: from the desiring-producing machines that interpellate us as good consumers, to the police-force that keeps a society moving morally, to the machinations of biopower that keep us voting and producing, and finally, to the mediated spectacles that distract us from whats real—from what’s politics.

The Neoliberal paradigm is the most subversive force in history. Capitalisms axiom literally has no limit, is it itself a limit, the limit. All concepts and ways of being are coextensive with Capitalism—live within it. Police-force is in place to smother the threat of politics, which is the only true threat to Capitalism: the threat that keeps Western ideology out of religious Muslim States (for example): values—living-in-adherence—prefigurative politics.The stakes of re-claiming public space—reclaiming the commons, are massive. To create space outside of the all-encompassing axiom of Capital is to create politics.

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HISTO

In some senses, OWS began on Sept. 17th 2011. What began as a public-private park in lower Manhattan has gained an entirely new topology—a new organization with a new set of functions. OWS began as a tentative occupation of a ‘privately owned public space’ in NYC’s Financial District.

Over the course of 2 short weeks, OWS had completely transformed from a tentative encampment to a full-time occupation, with a major dining-operation, at least twenty working groups, each with daily meetings and info-boards/tables, and eventually tents. The occupiers of Liberty Square resignified space, transforming the park into a highly politicized zone, becoming a hub and model for the other occupations that would begin that Fall.

In some sense, OWS began long before September 17th. In July 2011, a call was put out by the activist-oriented magazine Adbusters to occupy Wall Street, an action that would symbolically attack Finance Capitalisms’s stranglehold on global resources and that would resonate with the other recent anti-State and anti-Capitalist protests around the globe.

Arrests at Occupy Wall Street March

My participation in OWS goes back to September 17th, where I attended the first OWS GA as a skeptical-yet-intellectually-radical grad student—ready to camp for the first few days, but unsure as to what I was participating in and its efficacy. I quickly learned what it takes to be an activist: I started to understand consensus processes and gained organizing skills. I helped to set up the Direct Action Working Group, which facilitates marches, events, and foster OWS’s more tactically radical protesters.

Around the same time I was beaten by the NYPD and arrested on several occasions for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or, more accurately, for even considering to express my beliefs—for trying to find consistency between my acts and thoughts, which galvanized my (and many others’) radical stance against the NYPD and other forces of order and oppression. We were looking to live ethics.

337302_10150485868669745_739619744_11125303_518809690_oIn actuality OWS’s roots are even deeper, drawing upon an entire genealogy of radical grassroots movement-building, anarchist-(de)-organizing, and NYC’s history of squatting, housing rights—which all mark moments of politics that deal with habitations and habitualizations of space. The Occupy Movement gains much of its structure from recent global protests of power, all of which revolve around the issue of space. From the radical Indignados Movement, where the ongoing protests of banks and the government turned many Spanish cities into semi-permanent protest encampments, to similar tent cities in Israel, to more militant reclamations of public space occurring in the Arab Spring (such as Tahrir Square), space has become the central question: the very political ontology of these movements.

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Possibly the most significant moment in OWS’s history since its genesis is the eviction of Zuccotti Park by the NYPD on November 15th, “#N15.” Two days before the two-month anniversary, a national sting-operation aimed at ending the Occupy Movement, facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security, marked the end of the physical occupation of space in most cities across the US. No more tents, no more full time occupiers. Well before the eviction, the movement had already begun drift into squats, apartments, and off-site meetings, which was furthered by the events of #N15. Occasional large events still fill Liberty Square, but it now stands as a largely symbolic space—actual work of OWS occurs whether or not there is a a full-time physical site.

What we understand from the Occupy Movement is that the use and conceptualization of space is a both a political and philosophical question. Mass movements of the politically and economically disenfranchised are motivated by feelings of a lack of resources and a lack of access to the political stage.

People often feel like ‘their voice isn’t heard’ in politics, which is to say that the highly oppressive political structures haven’t yet recognized these people as speech-bearing, logos-wielding individuals.

History is witness to the fact that rioting, looting, and property destruction are not meaningless violent outbursts, but totally legitimized forms of resisting oppression and expressing a politics.

S1. PRIVATELY OWNED PUBLIC SPACE

Zuccotti Park is officially considered a “privately owned public space,” (POPS) which is a zoning code with a particularly troubling valence. According to the NYC Department of City Planning:

A Privately Owned Public Space (POPS) is an amenity provided, constructed and maintained by a property owner/developer for public use in exchange for additional floor area. The 1961 Zoning Resolution inaugurated the incentive zoning program in New York City. The program encouraged private developers to provide spaces for the public within or outside their buildings by allowing them greater density in certain high-density districts.

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Springing up to help abet corporations at risk of being fined for constructing in excess to legal-agreements, POPS become legal grey-zones without considerable past-casework, and put the legality of OWS’s encampment of Zuccotti Park in limbo. At least two questions remain: does Brookfield Properties, the owners of Zuccotti Park, get to decide whether occupiers should be kicked out, and, if so, when and how? And, what legal ground does the NYPD have to evacuate a POPS?

There is extreme performative-force behind calling Zuccotti a ‘privately owned public space.’ What a POPS signifies is that public space can now be taken over by private business, by private interests, allowing businesses to create and enforce any regulation they desire. Most significantly, since a POPS is still a public space—a space for the people—for demos, this public can be denied access to space at the drop of the hat. The demos includes the masses, the homeless, the disabled, the poor—the people for whom there is nothing else except the commons. When the commons is restricted, which is increasingly the case in NYC, the poorest, most marginalized, and most nomadic of the masses are dis-placed. This happens all too much in POPS, and the eviction(s) of Zuccotti Park is just one example.

The performativity of a POPS is thus dependent on legal weight—discursive weight. A POPS’ violent discursive force actualizes the privatization of space. A ‘privately owned public space’ is, in fact, not unique to NYC, but emblematic of the very conditions of Late-stage Capitalism. The commons, as public space, is the space where politics occurs—the space where movement is free to move itself is privatized, striated, commodified, ordered and oriented towards Capitalist ends. Privately owned public space is space that has been reterritorialized—taken from the demos, the people. In place of the people, only the police remain, restrict movement, manage bodies. Police-force operates in private space to squelch politics. Thus the commons is lost when public space becomes privatized.

POLITIC

S2. THE EXCEPTIONALITY OF THE NYPD

Thinking of the political stakes of OWS is enhanced by a historically and juridically-minded perspective. Turning to Giorgio Agamben’s theorizations of Sovereignty and the State helps to digest the ways that legal and juridical slippages produce a State of Exception (SoE), and how that reflects the exceptionality of the power of the NYPD. According to Agamben in State of Exception, a SoE:

Constitutes a ‘point of imbalance between public law and political fact…the State of exception tends increasingly to appear as the dominant paradigm of government in contemporary politics. The State of exception is not a special kind of law (like the law of war); rather, insofar as it is a suspension of juridical order itself, it defines law’s threshold or limit concept.

SoEs are moments of slippage between law, legal protections of individuals, and the political facts of life. Force doesn’t always correspond to law, certain bodies are removed of their citizen status. This slippage is violent: the force of law becomes the force over life: biopower. A SoE is apolitical: it dissolves civic and political institutions. Agamben hauntingly uncovers how sovereign power is unchecked by legal restraint. Outside of law are those conditions that mark the current US apolitical military State climate and echo the USA Patriot Act—the stripping of civil rights. The unchecked use of the notion of a War on Terror has enabled and amplified Ex-president George Bush’s roguish exceptionalities of power at home and abroad. The US’s SoE has enabled entirely unfounded modes of warfare and has erased the legal status of the individual.

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SoE defines NYC’s current police State: the NYPD exists in an exceptional position, almost entirely invulnerable to meaningful scrutiny and checks of power. Within the NYPD there is fierce repression of dissidence and a heavy emphasis on loyalty. Besides media spectacle, the only significant check on police power are class-action lawsuits, which are very slow, and complaints against individual officers, which, like a court martial, almost always are reviewed by a board of the officer’s peers: other police officers, who are very unlikely to strip a friend of his or her job. Through the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, the NYPD is now legally-protected in detaining US Citizens indefinitely without a warrant. If martial law implies the reduction or negation of legal frameworks that entangle martial force, then NYC has been in Martial Law at least since 9/11/2001.

S3. STRUCTURE

OWS’s political structure is formally anarchic, horizontal/diagonal, rhizomatic, and employs consensus-based direct-democratic practices to come to collective decisions.

Decentralized networks of bodies, political-organisms, and social collaboration shape the way that individuals and the collective, singularities and the multiplicity interact. This rhizomatic network extends out to other organs that preexist OWS, like Labor Unions, (Im)migrant groups, homeless organizations, etc—this structure allows for a fair amount of autonomy.

S4: RADICAL LIFE / SHARING (OUT) / BEING-IN-COMMON

OWS sustains and is sustained by radical life: squatting, dumpster-diving, freeganism, community-gardens, permaculture, and mutual aid. These practices promote a sense of “Dual Power.” As a model, Dual Power suggests that while the goal of anarchist organizing is to block the flows of Capital and to tear down the State, that what also needs to be proven is that viable alternatives to Capitalism and the State exist within networks of people, within a group willing to be radically accountable of the resources they produce and consume, to take care of each-other, and to share ideas and life in the commons.

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Jean-Luc Nancy’s ideas of “Being-in-Common” and “Sharing (Out)” elucidate the philosophical depth of an experience of extreme congruence, communal life, and inclusivity that OWS and other radical social organizations attempt to adhere to. To start, we should see ‘being-in-common’ suggesting an understanding of life that is shared and experienced by all. Far more experientially rich than a Marxist/ Statist idea of Communism, being-in-common relates to an ontological position—a way of being fundamental to humans. Nancy says in his essay on “The Compearance,”

We compear: we come together (in)to the world. It is not that there is a simultaneous arrival of several distinct units…but that there is not a coming (in)to the world that is not radically common; it is even the “common” itself. To come into the world is to be-in-common.

What is shared is our common co-existence. The most fundamental condition of life is common-experience. Nancy wants to avoid seeing common as banal, but instead as the one saving grace of humanity. Communism isn’t a political option, but an ‘ontological condition,’ one that understands that ‘being’—the essence and experience of humanness—is in common.

Many political philosophers argue that politics isn’t located in voting: in our form of democracy. Following this logic, Nancy thinks that the political can only be reached by understanding how it could exist outside the State and within community, and within the commons.

OWS is able to channel this sense of being-in-common through its inclusivity and open structure. The notion of in-common is exceptional for the people of NYC, who so often avoid their very ontological condition—who, on the train, ignore each-other and try to sustain their (seemingly) rock-hard interiorities. This makes New Yorkers less likely to take care of one another and share space. Again, OWS activates the political by exploring new commonness and by forcing humans to recognize their ontological position of being-in-common.

Also fruitful for our conceptualization of OWS is Nancy’s notion of sharing (out):

The share of what is without value—the share of the sharing (out) of the incalculable, which is thus, strictly speaking, unshareable—exceeds politics. The element in which the incalculable can be shared (out) goes by the name of love, friendship, or thought, knowledge or emotion, but not politics—in any case, not democratic politics… It is precisely the expectation of a political sharing (out) of the incalculable that leads to disappointment with democracy.

What we can garner from Nancy is that in a democracy too much onus is placed on whether we all experience an equal share (of goods/ideas). Hatred for democracy stems from never being able to take what one wants or give what one has, but instead having to arithmetically divide-up goods and ideology. Nancy seeks a State that has a separate place for politics (organization) and for public/ ideological sharing (out). Sharing (out) is incalculable, qualitative, unmeasurable by arithmetic, and relative to individuals. What’s shared out has no absolute value and can only be experienced on an individual level. Politics should respect this separate place for sharing (out). 337302_10150485868669745_739619744_11125303_518809690_o

OWS is a site where an incredible amount of sharing (out) is experienced. Different than a town gall meeting, a General Assembly (GA) in OWS, at least in theory, is not run by individuals who have hierarchical authority over the attendees. A GA is more open, and allows each member to create topics of conversation and to vote. A GA is designed to allow every individual to share (out) their ideas and sense for where the movement is heading, and what kinds of proposals would help the occupation along. In the park space was created for autonomous and group religious-practice, drug-use, performances, teach-ins, workshops and rituals—further ways that (a group of) individuals can share (out) what is excessive-to-politics—values—into the collective.

S5: RANCIÈRE POLITICS AND POLICE-FORCE

Jacques Rancière’s complicated theorization of the relationship between politics and police-force helps us to place these two occurrences in juxtaposition. For Rancière, politics occurs, “Because, or when, the natural order of the shepard kings, the warlords, or property owners is interrupted by a freedom that crosses up and makes real the ultimate equality on which any social order rests.”

Politics is a rare event we see in the moments that break from order, from law, and from ownership. Politics returns to the ideological premise of democracy/ the State—a measure of incalculable and (in)equality, or space—just like that which Nancy speaks of.

Rancière defines the police as, “Essentially, the law, generally implicitly, that defines a parties share or lack of it….the police is thus first an order of bodies that defines the allocation of ways of doing, ways of being, and ways of saying.”

Police is the ordering force. Rancière uses police in a way that underlines to understand a larger juridico-logical practice that State apparati deploy to restrict, manage, and manipulate bodies, and to control movement (social and individual). He positions police-force against politics. Again, politics is:

Whatever breaks with the tangible configuration whereby parties and parts or lack of them are defined by a presupposition that, by definition, has no place in that configuration. Political activity is whatever shifts a body from the place assigned to it or changes a places’ destination…political activity is always a mode of expression that undoes the perceptible divisions of police order.

Politics is the break from rigid order, from rigid organization of bodies and parts. Political activity changes relations between populations, movement, and space—politics opens space.

Since the event that triggered total sovereign exceptionality, 9/11, NYC has been completely dominated by a space-restrictive, rigid police-force, touting anti-terrorist rhetoric and wielding exceptionality from power, this police-ordering keeps NYC’s flows of Capital un-breached. OWS radically opens up politics by tearing open new space(s), redistributing the sensible, impeding flows in the street, and challenging the hard logics which restrict public (use of) space. OWS challenges the privatization of space on an onto-political level.

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Understanding Deleuzian concepts like the rhizome, deterritorialization and reterritorialization is crucial to shaping a rich, ontological notion of how politics and movement oppose, configure, and are re-configured police order and State.

To begin, the rhizome, is a complex relation of forces, bodies, ideas, language, and time. With interlocutor Felix Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze suggests that, “The rhizome itself assumes very diverse forms…Any point of a rhizome can be connected to any other thing, and must be.”

A rhizome is a series of interconnected parts with no particular proscribed form.

Understood rhizomatically, OWS becomes a network of bodies, organizations, and political-economic forces that challenges hierarchical and arboresque organization. Its parts operate with a high amount of autonomy; however, they contain some abstract, but crucial lines of orientation. Rhizome-pictureOWS draws together a rhizome of rhizomes—an actual rhizome in Liberty Square, a virtual rhizome of ideas, of internet interconnectedness, and the many Occupy Movement rhizomes that populate the whole world.

Deterritorialization is the movement away from structure, logic, situated social codes, and striation. Reterritorialization is the process that reinscribes these structures—it stratifies, solidifies, and returns-from-chaos the unhinging movement of deterritorialization. These two processes cannot be understood, nor do they take place, without each-other.

Furthering a complex analysis notion of the political are the war machine and the State apparatus, which can be understood as operating by way of the dual processes of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. For Deleuze and Guattari, the forces of the State and law are the forces of empires, structure, clear identify, defined borders and territories. The war machine assembles a nomadic band external to the State apparatus’s territory and law.

The forces of nomadism, of the war machine, and of deterritorialization are always politicized—operating outside of the State by traversing borders, breaking laws, and also by undermining the very meaning that holds up State’s territory and law. It is here we can locate OWS’s politics, as outside of politics-at-large, but in the moments that break with order. The State and law are forces that attempt to reterritorialize this lost ground— this lost sense. OWS is war-machine—a nomadic band that fights rigidity, order, political-economic logics, the State, and police-force. A key goal of OWS is to remain non-vertical, non-arboresque, but instead open and horizontal.

(((In the following section, we will examine more thoroughly how Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of de/reterritorialization, war-machine, and striation/ smooth space enrich a political analysis of OWS and the NYPD)))

S7: OWS POLITICALLY + ONTOLOGICALLY OPPOSED NYPD

To think how OWS deterritorializes and reterritorializes is to think of its very political ontology. The destratification, desegmentation, and smoothing of rigid logics destabilizes the way we consider politics in the world. No longer are we supposed to find empowerment in participating in representative democracy—no longer are we accountable to participate in that system. What most mass-protests elucidate is that politics happens in the street. What happens in the street is discursive—when the means to other politically efficacious action is cut off, riots become discourse.

OWS is deterritorialized, but also reterritorialized—what occurs when occupations and GAs are set up in towns across the US is the establishment of a new mode of political organization. By formulating something concrete, like a direct democracy, occupations are no longer indeterminate, in-becoming, but become solid political structures.

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Capitalism is deterritorialized by OWS. Those participants of radical life become examples of the ways that economic noncompliance works: squatting, dumpster diving, food-autonomy, growing food

, and not having a (wage slave) job are some examples of how Capitalism is deterritorialized by radical life. Some structures, such as mutual aid, are built uponthe premise of “Dual Pow

reterritorialized an anti-Capitalist economic formation.er,” which is to say that anarchist organizing shouldn’t just attempt to ‘smash the State’ and ‘end Capitalism,’ but also offer positive and horizontal rhizomatic-networks of aid: free stores, soup kitchens and organizations like Food not Bombs are examples of existing nodes of mutual-aid. These examples are more-or-less structural, and have therefore

OWS is very much opposed to the formulations of police-force: riot squads and barricades are some of the forces that OWS resists most, both structurally and ontologically. On the other hand, non-permitted marches that move into the street at will, flash mobs, creative actions, black-bloc tactics, and riots all are blockages to the flows of Capital and communication.Deterritorialized are laws—the need to have regimented and oppressive legal-juridical frameworks is called into question. The arrest of 600 marchers on the Brooklyn Bridge, with is massive-global-media-event reverberation, has clogged the jails, the courts, and makes the entire police-legal infrastructure look outmoded, unproductive, and abusive.

Returning to Rancière, we are able to see these moments of urban resistance, of destratification and deterritorialization as the

 

moments of politics—the real break from State orderings. Political, not because it is reactive-against electoral politics, but political in its open, creative, indetermination—the highest fear of police-force is indeterminacy, open-structures, and potentiality. The fear is thus that the forces of the State apparatuses: police, law, media, and elections might reterritorialize ground won (deterritorialized) by OWS. Allowing OWS to become-party is among the most damning reformist and reterritorializing prospects. Reterritorialization also occurs by way of microfascisms, small forces of order that attempt to destroy potentiality within OWS. Leaders popping up in a “leaderless revolution” would become (or perhaps is already) a site of lost indeterminacy.

Sovereignty itself becomes deterritorialized by radical movements. Deterritorialized is not simply sovereign power, but the very legitimacy and necessity of vertical sovereignty—arboresque relations of knowledge and power. What we see with OWS, therefore, is that positive organization (the good kind of re-organization/reterritorialization) can exist within the negative spaces deterritorialization carves out: political-space, economic-space, idea-space, etc. Space-from—liberty is needed first to allow for the space-to-be-creative: of commons, of new political-economic formulations, and new political ontologies.

(((Later in this paper we will address later the various ways in which spaces are specifically opened up by OWS, showing how forces of deterritorialization are space-creative forces, that reconfigure ways that bodies are assembled, and therefore, how they resist statist bodily habituations and manipulation via biopower.)))

MOVEMENT

Understanding movement is key to understanding how social-movements like OWS operate, how bodies and space are (co)created, and what a politics-in-becoming looks like. According to Deleuze, movements are creative—they constitute the moments of pure becoming, of pure change, and rarely occur. Deleuze draws his notion of movement from Henri Bergson who understands it to be an experience of time-space that is qualitative and immeasurable. Here movement already aligns it with the indeterminate nature of OWS, that opens space, that is space-creative.

S8. MANNING, RELATIONALITY, POLITICS OF BECOMING

Deleuzian theorist Erin Manning, in her recent text Relationscapes, helps us to understand the deeper political resonances between movement and the space it creates. Manning says, “The dynamic form of a movement is its incipient potentiality,” arguing that movement is always in-becoming, assembling the not-yet—potentiality.

Becoming occurs only in-relation—(re)constitutive of the more-than-one that is a body. Relational movement implies that there are always at least two bodies (including humans, space, etc.). About the ontology and force of movement, Manning continues:

Movement is one with the world, not body/world, but body-worlding. We move not to populate space, not to extend it or to embody it, but to create it…space is a duration with a difference. The difference is my body-worlding, always more than one…This coming-together proposes a combination of form forces.

Manning understands how movement creates the world, always as a relation between bodies and world/space. This creation is conditioned by objects that are in-becoming. Movement is a measure of whats unmeasurable, only qualifiable, and exists as a coming-together or congruence. Space is created in this relationality.

Can’t we see space as literally and metaphorically reconstituted, as always in-becoming? The potential of movement to create space can also be linked to OWS, which exists as a set of relations of bodies. Individual desires, collective strategies, spatial-topological sites and virtual arenas all change in relation to one another. This kind of movement can’t be mapped.

There are many OWSs. Each is world-creative for an individual-group, tying into Manning’s theory of concrescence, which is, “Literally, growing together… concrescence can be a political moment: the interval we are dancing is always more than the qualified ‘we.”

Acknowledgment of concrescence, of the many-becoming-one, requires an openness to destabilization that is ontologically-political. Like being-in-common, embracing concrescence forces us to remain radically open to otherness. OWS is a multitude of voices united not under a common goal, but under common orientations, under an ability and readiness to be-in-common—to be moved in relation.

Manning then directly acknowledges the political nature of movements:

When articulation becomes collective, a politics is made palpable whereby what is produced is the potential for divergent series of movements. This is a virtual politics, a politics of the not-yet. These are not politics of the body, but of the many becoming one…These are politics of that many-bodied State of transition that is the collective.

The very nature of politics, according to Manning and Deleuze, is its capacity to move, to be creative of spaces, to be open and indeterminate. The only real potentially to have a politics that opposes the State and police-force is by way of movement, of prefigurative politics, politics of becoming. This politics is world-creative, it sets new rules by which life is valued and action is judged. OWS again operates as a collective articulation that exists, and can only exist, as a multiplicity of sharing-outs of politics and ideas—a multiplicity of spaces, and a multiplicity of politics prefigured: ethics and radical life.

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S9. POLITICAL MOVEMENT(S)

How can we think of the movement of political movements? How does the cutting-through/ recombination relate to movement-in-space?

Political movement is thus micropolitical. What concerns micropolitics are the becoming-becomings, sites of deterritorialization, moments of preacceleration…

Political movement creates space. Space is created by new relationalities, new gestures, concrescence of bodies—political excesses expand the political space

CONCLUSION OF MVMNT SECTION:

Movement is creative. Movement is becoming space-time—reordering particles, bodies, actants, and relationality in an experience of space-time. Political movement is creative of spaces with political ontological formulations. Movement is creative just like “real” Politics, the kind that political philosophers have been attempting to define for eons. Rancière comes close in understanding the political to be the breaks in ordering of society. Politics is outside of representative politics. It’s that which radicalizes and redefines our notion of what politics is. True politics is space-creative.

SPACE

S10. STRIATION, SMOOTHNESS, POLICE

Space-creation is crucial to prefigurative political projects that aim to incorporate radical politics into a life, into an ethics. Useful to help locate these micropolitical fights are Deleuze and Guattari’s theorizations of space in A Thousand Plateaus, which view striation and smoothness as onto-political metaphors. About space, they argue:

One of the fundamental tasks of the State is to striate the space over which it reigns, or to utilize smooth spaces as means of communication in service of striated space. If it can help it, the State does not dissociate itself from a process of capture of flows of all kinds, populations, commodities, or commerce, money or Capital, etc… That is why Paul Virilio’s thesis is important, when he shows that, ‘the political power of the State is polis, police, that is, management of the public ways,” and that “the gates of the city, its levies and duties are barriers, filters against the fluidity of masses, against the penetration power of migratory packs,” people, animals and goods…in this sense, the State never ceases to decompose, recompose, and transform.

Spacecop crowd becomes striated, codified, and linearized by the State. Lost are moments of pure smoothness: trans-boarder-migrations, nomadism, etc. Instead, the State limits smooth flows of movement to regulate the functions of efficient flow of Capital, which requires a system of categorization, relativity, and certain restrictions to be a system of exchange. Drawing in Virilio, Deleuze and Guattari show how the polis, the police-force is the force of management, of ordering space, bodies, and distributing the sensible. Fluidity and movement are thus juxtaposed against the polis. The polis is map-creative and world-creative.

THERE IS NO MORE STRIATED SPACE THAN THAT OF THE BARRICADED OCCUPATION, THE KETTLED-GROUP, or any other form of police-force. Police-force is what keeps space ordered and regimented, which defines the regime of visibility, that establishes logos.

 

S11. EXCESS=RIOTS=DISCOURSE

A list of tactics employed by OWS is a choreography of protests:

Riot: A tactic used while protesting. Technically, a riot can be anything from a mobile dance party to full on mass-looting. Rioting is the type of bodily behavior that makes wildly inefficient the smooth flows of Capital. Rioting is life-affirming, wherein intensive affect becomes extended into the world around it. Riots usually begin by moving marches into the streets, blocking vehicular traffic, throwing objects into the streets/ at cops, breaking windows… For those who are politically disenfranchised, rioting is political expression—it is discourse.

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Blockade: A specific riot tactic, blockading includes creations of barriers that prohibit civilian traffic and police from moving or catching up to a protest—creating blocks in Capital’s flow. This practice includes the removal of any objects, such as trash-cans, mail boxes, signs, construction material—followed by the balletic swirling of protesters’s bodies—an urban dance of wits—before they launch any and all objects into the streets, in front of a garage, or any other important site to blockade.Extensive affective re-locations of order in space.

Removing Barricades: The final tactic to be described here is the removal of the harsh, metal police barricades used to imprison and trap bodies on marches or in Zuccotti Park. Creators of anxiety, dread, alienation, and other negative psychogeographic affects, barricades are what order and segregate bodies and movement. Removal of said barricades is a highly dramatic gesture that liberates a space, is space-creative—world-creative.

Rioting, removing barricades, and blockading are viewed as purely impulsive. While the incredible rush in-the-moment exists, movements like blockading are tactically essential behaviors that require considerable foresight and accountably. These mechanisms are creative of new space—are empowering and highly political gestures of destratifying dis-order.

If Rancièrian politics is that stuff which breaks from police order, from the common distribution of the sensible, then it is the breaking-down of striations of space, territorializations, borders, and organization that combats, politically and ontologically, the polis. Movement, the simultaneous breaking-down and creation of space—deterritorialization and reterritorialization—is the force that disrupts the otherwise endless juridco-legal-political monopoly of violence employed by the State, and by extension the NYPD. The violence of subtraction from society becomes a well-needed injection of ethics and values into the political.

Movement, creation-of-space, is a radical political act, an effort of ontological proportions that express and change the very nature of humanness. This kind of movement cannot be mapped, or prefigured. It occurs in real life, in accordance to the actual patterns of bodies (the practices of everyday life,) and does not appear in an abstract idealized notion of geography, cartography, or choreography.

OWS channels an excessive quality of movement—excessive of space—it fills (filled) and overflows Zuccotti Park. Protesters are forced to flow into the streets during marches and break through police lines and barricades. This breaking-through is a line of deterritorialization that occurs between protester bodies and police space. Traversing dis-order allows for a re-organization and reterritorialization of space. Physical space (park), economic space (black markets and free-stores), political space (GA’s and direct democracy), and discursive space (new writings and new concepts) are only some of the spaces opened up and overlaid and overdetermined by OWS. This excess extends to the excess of ideas, desires, intentions, and overdetermination. Here we witness the radical concrescence of bodies, the coming-together of the too-many: compearance and radical willingness to be shared (out)-with.

EXCESS IS POLITICAL—political because it is movement—excess is what breaks through police order, what breaks-through territorialization, set and defined notions/uses of space. Being is in excess. Excess is politically and ontologically opposed to order. This excess is best understood by an ethnographic account:

POLITICAL MOMENT IN STREET

One of the first concrete feelings of the political I attempt to engage in this paper I experienced on a night march on 3/17/2012, on OWS’s six-month anniversary, which was celebrated by an attempt to re-occupy Zuccotti Park. All day the park was full of bodies, tents, and holdovers from the occupation like the Medic Station. By 10PM, hundreds of police in riot-gear loomed at the entrances of the park, like stormtroopers. Then they flooded in, beating and arresting as many people as possible. Some Direct Action folks, myself included, had organized a rowdy night march to take the occupiers to a new park: Union Square, in an attempt to learn from the successful re-occupation attempts that flexibility is essential.

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By the middle of March, our night marches had become tactically successful. We had been practicing de-arrests, confusing the police and quickly blockading the street with trash-cans.

On 3/17, many of us wearing masks, “Blocked Up,” so the march could turn more riotous without there being clear evidence against a single protester. A bourgeoise boutique in SoHo had its window broken, which, along with battle cries of “A, Anti, Anti-Capitalista,” proved to be incredibly inspiring for the protesters. For hours we took the streets, snaked-around one-way blocks, had the police running, and blockaded the streets with everything we could find at every turn.

The moment that sticks out as the radical break—the opening up of space—of politics took place for no longer than a minute, and yet, any performer can tell you that a minute in real-time is a long time. Hastily cutting across two-lane traffic and turning up a block in the direction-of-traffic entirely demobilized the police, leaving their usually highly effective bike-motorcades immobilized. What this, along with a few arrests, bought us was time. The 5-6 blockaders turned into 40-50: people who had never participated in direct action, who were assuredly against violence, understood the moment—the efficacy of the action of blockading, and bought-in. Over the course of a minute, hundreds of giant trash-bags, dumpsters, traffic cones and heavy construction material were lobbed in the street. With maybe 45 seconds remaining, the protesters began to sing and shout with glee, knowing that they were liberated: autonomous from the one and only threat they have to face in the city, the ordering, stratifying, and territorializing force of the NYPD.

Space was opened up: the street became a free-zone—a zone of politics. The commons was liberated for a brief point, and everyone felt this geographically-produced affect. It is this form of autonomy I am looking for in my search for the political.

Barricades define space, but also define a body’s affective mood and potentiality, relating to the way the entire group might be affected. Humans are social animals: when Liberty Square was free of barricades, up and running, it was a rather productive space: various working groups were setting up tents/ tables, giving out information, hosting meetings, served food, played music, and danced. When these anti-Capitalist, (positive) productive and affective flows were cut off by forces of the State, by barricading space or invading, affect turned negative.

Being forced into barricade, kettles, and on the sidewalk keeps forces bubbling up inside intensively, turning positive extensive affect into negative intensive affect—turning in against ourselves and each other. When the police kick protesters out, the momentum often turns an occupation into a hard-core night march, wherein the extensive affective moods are projected outwardly onto cops, cops’s automobiles, and soon-to-be-broken windows. Negative extensive affect is returned, but not contained.

 

DUARTE PARK

 

CONCLUSION

 

Movement cannot be placed onto a rigid map no less than equality can be distributed equally. Movement can be navigated and recorded, but we lose the essence of movement, the freedom of movement to move toward freedom. As soon as we force onto it measure, order, or any other geometric/ disciplinary mechanism, movement is lost.

What is lost when movement is measured and when we attempt to distribute equally is excess: the excess of bodies, of space, of relationality—we lose the excess that marks real politics, the ontological indeterminacy that OWS embodies. Instead, affirming dis-order, affirming movement, and allowing the shift in understanding are all paradigmatic for the formulation of Rancièrian politics, and for the creation of the commons. When the critique of our so called ‘democracy’ has gone on for two-hundred years, and when NYPD force is a force of exceptionality, the only possible paradigm shift, revolution, is necessitated.

What we need is politics.

GREECE: THE NEW EUROZONE COLONY

GREECE: THE NEW EUROZONE COLONY 

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(POST) COLONIAL DISCOURSE:

In her recent book, Juridical Humanity postcolonial thinker Samera Esmeir examines the Liberal, Humanitarian, Positive Legal Project of British Colonial rule in Egypt, and its ability to construct the category of humanity—to provide the framework that constitutes what is good or bad for the colonized, and what bodies and behaviors are cast as (in)human. Esmeir argues that via the forces of interpellation positioned in Egyptian Colonially, the subject positions of humans were increasingly framed by law.

Speaking about the transformation of bodies into a category of juridical humanness, Esmeir suggests that:”The end of colonialism and the termination of its constellation of forces signal, in these accounts, the reentry of the colonized into Universal Humanity. When modern law endows itself with the power of humanization and declares that its absence signals dehumanization, modern law effectively binds the living to the powers of the state. No longer a condition a condition of birth, humanity began to emerge as a juridical category; the human became the effect of the work of law.”Image

Esmeir is arguing that Juridical Humanity is the category of humanness increasingly measured and constructed by law and legalistic frameworks of the state. Another presupposition is that a person is supposed to exist within a particular regime that is able to produce the discourse of violence and attach that to certain nonhuman actors.

Thus, being produced as human by colonizers is to be produced by a framework of laws that inscribes some bodies as good, rational and nonviolent, and others as irrational and less-than human. 

One of the major political projects of the book is to affirm the shedding of the category of human. What happens to those who rebel from this human/inhuman, law and violence dialectics?

This radically important research Esmeir uncovers is also constitutive for the forms of political violence we see in the contemporary Egyptian climate, which, in part is a result of the replacement of local rulers and rules (sharia’h ) with a centralized bureaucratic sovereignty that never formulated Political Community, as an onto-political project.

 

EU HISTORY:

The EU’s genesis story can be traced back to 1957, just after WWII, when six Western European countries, France, Wester Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy formulated the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC’s goals were to provide economic integration, which was crucial after the war, as most of Europe’s production infrastructures were destroyed.

In 1992, the nations that were a part of the then expanded ECC signed the Maastricht

Treaty, officially creating the European Union and the euro. This treaty also famously set limits on Sovereign debt, foreshadowing the troubles Greece would face 20 years down the road. In less than 50 years, the small trade association became one of the worlds most powerful economic and political alliances.

In 2000, Greece was accepted into the European Union, fifty years after the Economic frameworks were developed in the ECC, the EU’s largest and most centrally-organized political-economies, including Germany and France.

As Neoliberalism waxed, Greece was advised to expand its dependency on foreign loans.

For much of Greece’s recent (pre-Colonial) history, a very weak Centralized Government was far overshadowed by healthy and strong local and regional politics from craftspeople to General Assemblies in most cities, most universities, as public political forums which reflect the deep Democratic traditions which have their onto-genesis in Greece.

As the Global Economy collapses in 2008, the contractions on market and ill-advised loan debt positioned Greece as the scapegoat, one of the ‘weak economies” that would sink the EU.

AND THEN CAME AUSTERITY

The EU ask was for Greece to cut up deficit from €24.7bn (10.6% of GDP) in 2009 to just €5.2bn (2.4% of GDP) in 2011.

As is many socialist states, most Greeks were dependent on cash, infrastructures and incentives to flow in and out of the hands of the Government. When the EU attempted to force Greece to further cut pensions after the family income had already dropped 40%, and the jobless rate had soared to 27.6%, rioting of the working class took off like Greece had never seen.

Hundreds of thousands of pensioners alone have taken Sintagma Square almost every day since austerity.

Regarding the collapsing University system in Athens and across Greece, Stathis Efstathopoulos, the President of the Federation of University Teachers, wrote to the prime minister, “With great angst we have ascertained that with the government’s decision to place specialist and much valued administrative staff into the mobility scheme our universities are at risk of collapse. Even if we accept that we have a surplus of personnel we cannot, from one day to the next, operate with 40% less staff.”

As Greek Austerity sets in, the birthrate plummets almost 15%, youth unemployment skyrockets to and waves upon wave of dissent and political violence and dissent mark the situation in Greece.

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Refugees and immigrants are the target of murders and intimidation by the newly elected Golden Dawn—Greece’s new Ultranationalist Fascist Party, which has gained 7% of Greece’s Parliament Seats.

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The Golden Dawn has sparked a back-and-forth of extreme violence between Leftists, Fascists and their supporters, the Greek Police. Young antifascists have been detained and brutalized by the Greek Police for their political opposition to the Golden Dawn.

Something I gathered from my experiences in Greece was that there really were no

Greek fat cats sitting on top of some Ponzi scheme, extracting wealth like they do on the US. Greece’s main problems were its robust middle class, wonderful free education program, its funding of the museums and archives that take care of Western Cultures oldest sites of Democracy, theater…

No, in fact, the only fat cats are the German banks sending Greece into a depression.

ON THE ONE HAND: GREECE AS A JURIDICAL COLONY OF THE EU

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I would argue, more than these political crises, the paternalistic discourses of the Neoliberal EU talking heads is crucial for the  transformations that Greece undergoes—becoming a Colony of the Eurozone.

Greece’s forced entry into the EU reflect Samera Esmeir’s understanding of a colonized subject position: as being able to be articulated, ontologically, as human, or as less than human. For Greece looses its status not only as a capable culture, but also, loses the ability to define itself, politically, economically, and also ontologically.

The Greeks become narrativized as irrational and subhuman. In part this occurs because of political violence that exists in Greece—which develops as a result of no other means of political legibility or recourse.

How does this narrative-producing capability of the EU and Neoliberalism position Greeks, juridically? What type of humanity have they lost, or gained?  At the very least, Greeks lose the ability to position themselves within a human narrative. 

ON THE OTHER HAND: AUTONOMY AND RESISTANCE

What does politics inject into the equation? What happens if we resist juridicality? What subject positions are reordered by the rupture with Humanitarian discourse? 

These questions are in search for resistance with EU Liberal, Cosmopolitan Epistemology on a ontological grounds. Resisting is a thing Greeks have been doing, for a long time—from galvanizing of the political culture of Exarchia in Athens, the largest autonomously self-organized site of Prefigurative Politics in Greece, to the appearance of local, alternative forms of currency based on trading goods and services, as the paper Euro became harder to find.

Looking towards Manifestos and texts that situate us in an autonomist, anarchist, and separatist lens, such as  those that respond to the assassination of Alexis Koulgas in 2008, We are an image from the Future stem from recent Greek resistance to the EU and its avatar, the Greek Police State, become the of examining a new formation of Political Community in resistance to the depoliticizing and colonizing project of Western Empire. What juridical interpellations as (in)humans are able to be ruptured via resisting the legalizing frameworks—via being living beings?

What political ontology do we create ? What forms of Politicized Mitsein (being-in-common) occur, rhetorically and lived?

 

A true revolutionary political rhetoric is one that undermines the legalistic and juridical frameworks on ontological grounds—those which frame our notion of what Being is. Orienting oneself towards commonness allows a radical rupturing from a rigid Individualizing Western ontology. 

 

WikiLeaks: Censorship, the Digital Archive and Public Spirit

To radically shift regime behavior, we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be change. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden is with the ways to act in which our forebears could not.-  (Julian Assange)

WikiLeaks owes its success to its status as a censored organization. Philosopher Judith Butler, in Excitable Speech, understands that censorship restricts us from producing speech. Making a key distinction between explicit and implicit censorship, she argues that the former is an attempt to repress a certain word by officially casting it as pejorative. Yet, as Butler notices, “The regulation redoubles the term it is trying to constrain.”

Stating what the State does not want brings this speech back into circulation. Implicit censorship, on the other hand, is a coercive power that creates the unspeakable by not recognizing it. However, implicit censorship is complicated by Butler’s understanding of illegibility as a form of resistance. Butler’s two notions of censorship operate in the case of WikiLeaks. After the release of the US Embassy Cables in 2010, many governments attempted to formally censor WikiLeaks, which only drew attention to the leaked information and legitimized WikiLeaks’ cause. Before Cablegate, the US had not officially recognized WikiLeaks, which kept attention away from their activity, but left the US unable to respond to the secret military information that was made public on the internet. This clandestine use of the internet became a political mode of resistance; it forced the US government to redefine both what it considers a threat and how to deal with a threat of this nature. Yet, the leaks go farther than making-transparent. In-fact, WikiLeaks unites a community of hackers and activists around a Jean-Luc Nancian sense of public spirit, around a desire freedom of information and technology. And, through  a digital archive, makes public the means to interpret these documents: to produce history and to create truth.

Butler’s work examines the performativity of words. “What does it mean for a word to not only name,” she asks, “but also in some sense to perform and, in particular, to perform what it names?”

Speech here both signifies and has a productive effect: it does; it creates rules and law. Butler calls upon Robert Cover, who’s understanding of the correlation of violence to law “Underscores the power of the judiciary to enact violence through speech.”

The simple speech-act of sentencing creates a causal chain that ends in violence. The power to do suddenly becomes the power to produce violence. Butler says, “The one who speaks the performative effectively is understood to operate according to uncontested power.”

The power to produce discourse is the power to create perceived truths. Butler suggests that speech constructs subjects trough a violent interpellation– through a discursive, performative naming effect.

A victim of this interpellation can either choose to be a subject, or risk being unintelligible to State power. By creating the terms that define subjects, the State violently creates those who cannot be subjects– who are denied the power to make speech.

Turning to censorship, we can see how Butler extends her notions of power, discourse, and violence. The conventional understanding of censorship is “That which is directed against persons or against the content of their speech”

Explicit censorship governs acceptable speech. Self-censoring may occur at the level of content, and also at the level of the limited linguistic possibilities of speech. Butler examines the slippage of explicit censoring, noting, “The regulation that states what it does not want stated thwarts its own desires.”

This kind of performative contradicts its censoring capabilities by reproducing the undesirable speech, but still grants authority to censors to define the word/speech in a pejorative way. Butler argues that this paradox shows the failure to completely create a subjectivity through discourse, implying there is a certain form of resistance operating.

It also transforms the act of explicitly censoring into a spectacle, giving unwanted attention to the subject of censor and the censoring itself.

Butler then begins to describe a more coercive form of implicit censorship, which:

Refers to implicit operations of power that rule out in unspoken ways what will remain unspeakable. In such cases, no explicit regulation is needed in which to articulate this constraint. Such implicit forms of censorship may be, in fact, more efficacious than explicit forms in enforcing a limit on speakablity.

This type of power controls speech by defining what counts as speech and what doesn’t, what exists as an absence or an illegibility. This type of censoring is very dangerous; it doesn’t redouble speech or legitimize the target of censoring. To be explicitly in dialogue with power is to be far more powerful than being completely disregarded by it. As Butler reminds us, “To move outside of the domain of speakablity is to risk one’s status as a subject.”

To be a subject means to be defined by speech as such. Someone who is unspeakable, who does not have the power to produce speech that authority recognize as speech, isn’t a subject. The stakes of speech and censorship are suddenly raised to the level of creating and eliminating subjects.

Butler does argue for ways to resist this implicit censorship and subjectification, pointing out that survival as non-subject “Consolidates politics as a production of discourse, and establishes ‘silence’ as a site of potential resistance to such discursive regimes and normalizing effects.”

Politics is a discursive battle over representation and so silence is always in opposition to speech. The power to produce that which is illegible according State power is the power to resist State power– through using non-speech: by not being interpellated into a subjectivity. While it appears as complicity, silence actually offers the power to go unnoticed, to build resistance and unleash it on authority. This echoes Jacques Rancière’s notion of politics as the moment when an unrecognized mass of voices becomes recognized as speech; an event that requires a perspectival shift on the part of the authority. “By understanding the false or wrong invocations as reiterations, we see how the form of social institutions undergo change and alteration and how an invocation that has no prior legitimacy can have the effect of changing existing forms of legitimacy, breaking open the possibility of future forms.”

Here Butler is arguing that by recognizing the illegible, by signifying new speech, we radically challenge current forms of legitimation; we recognize and legitimize change. We are offered a future– future forms of speech– a future of politics.

These ideas of censorship and resistance play heavily into the story of WikiLeaks. Before forming WikiLeaks in 2004, Assange was a high-profile internet hacker, which explains his political values, why he is interested in using technology as a means for mass-destabilization.

Assange desires the mass-liberation of information from the sites of power.

This is why he led WikiLeaks, in 2010, to release the Afghan War Diary and The Iraq War Logs, which were seen as the largest leak of secret military information in the history of the U.S. This radical publicization of information was and still is available for free on the internet. The Iraq War Logs were made most famous by the graphic evidence of torture in the Abu Ghraib prison. One document reads:

REDACTED REPORT 13-2

Classification: SECRET

Date: 7/11/2006 10:00:00 AM

Region MND-‐BAGHDAD

Category: Other

Coordinates (approx.): 33.30, 44.36

Title: ALLEGED DETAINEE ABUSE BY CF IN CCCC CCCC (ZONE CCCC):

AT 111000J JUL 06 IN CCCC CCCC (ZONE CCCC) IVO CCCC JUL 06, CCCC/CCCC ID REPTS AN ALLEGED DETAINEE ABUSE OF CCCC CCCC CCCC,

THE DETAINEE WAS TRANSFERRED TO THE CCCC BY CCCC PERSONNEL ON 11 JULY 2006. THE DETAINEE WAS APPREHENDED FOR HIS ARREST.

THE DETAINEE STATED THAT AFTER HE WAS FLEX-CUFFED, ONE PERSON SAT ON HIS CHEST AND ANOTHER ON HIS LEGS. THE ONE WHO SAT ON THE CHEST. STARTED TO MAKE QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE I KILLED_x001D_. THE DETAINEE STATES THAT AFTER THIS THE PERSON PUNCHED HIM IN THE BACK OF HIS HEAD, PICKED UP HIS HEAD AND SLAPPED HIM, AND PUT A PLASTIC PIPE IN HIS MOUTH. ALSO, THAT THIS PERSON USED THE PIPE TO HIT HIM SEVERAL TIMES.

Analyzing this report is generative for a number of reasons: it documents the type of horrific violence that has actually occurred on a systematic level. The Iraq War Logs website called this “torture widespread in Iraqi detention facilities.”

After diligently analyzing thousands of such documents, they have concluded that “this is just one of 1,365 cases categorized in the military records as potential detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities. The US files, which continue late into 2009, detail torture and clear evidence of widespread mistreatment of detainees.”

This article suggests that the practice of dehumanizing prison torture always was prevalent, occurring as a mass-execution of a top-down order. Like Covert’s judge who indirectly creates violence in the act of judging, the military officer who issues the command has lower-ranked soldiers to execute his orders. This indirect violence is multiplied because the violence of a judge or an officer is not a singular event, but is repeated, establishes a precedent, and is reinvoked.

Also important to notice is how heavily coded these report are.

The blacked-out information represents identities and names WikiLeaks decided to make private to protect the privacy of the individuals in question. WikiLeaks self-censors, which may occur because their interest is in upending State power, not in targeting individuals. Censoring may have also taken place to protect WikiLeaks from more serious reprimand from government officials and the media, who could attack WikiLeaks for it’s blatant disregard for these individual’s lives.

What followed is perhaps the most significant part of the story– on November 8th, 2010, WikiLeaks published the US Embassy Cables. These documents are similar in style to the Iraq War Logs; however, the Embassy leaks, called “Cablegate,” were seen as far more controversial, in their scale and sensitivity of subject-matter. The US Embassy Cables were special because they didn’t document the events of war that had already passed, but instead had a very direct impact on diplomatic relations, calling into question the trust the US’s allies placed in the CIA and military intelligence. The federal government called for Amazon’s internet server to stop hosting WikiLeaks, which they did. WikiLeaks was briefly and explicitly censored.

However, this censoring didn’t last long. Pirate and satellite servers began to host WikiLeaks. Butler understood explicit censoring well; US censoring drew massive media attention to the subject, far beyond any attention WikiLeaks had before. By giving attention to this violent and restrictive act of censoring, the US empowered WikiLeaks and draws support to their cause. This process redoubled the name, idea and aims of WikiLeaks.

Implicit censoring operates on many levels with WikiLeaks. Before the release of the Afghan War Diary, WikiLeaks largely flew under the radar of the US government and major media, in part, because WikiLeaks’s targets were international, and any release of US military documents were minor. No official discourse appeared until at least 2009, suggesting that there was no need for censorship. WikiLeaks, at least in the US, was unseen as a subject– any status as a threat or a power was ignored. This implicit censorship employed by the US government and by the mainstream US media allowed WikiLeaks to operate under the radar: to resist the violence of interpellation and to collect the mass of military information that would make WikiLeaks infamous.

The White House press release a day after the leak of the US Embassy Cables was extremely evasive, and demonstrates how the government has had to scramble to address WikiLeaks. Trying not to divulge any specifics about how this information will affect our diplomatic relations, Press Sec. Gibbs said, “Well, I think for obvious legal reasons I don’t want to get into the specifics of these purported cables.”

Speaking around the leaks was an attempt to prevent any response from being too explicit. A well placed question from the press asked, “Is there some thought that the President doesn’t want to speak about WikiLeaks publicly perhaps because you don’t want to elevate the leaker, you don’t want to elevate WikiLeaks itself, or perhaps even inspire a potential future leaker by making this a bigger deal?”

This savvy inquiry gets to the question of censorship– accusing The White House of not wanting to redouble the leaks by legitimize them thru speech, or turning Assange into a speakable subject. While this may have been The White House’s goal, other government officials and the mainstream press made Cablegate very explicit. Attorney General Eric Holder spearheaded a criminal probing, but the government has been paralyzed, unable to act on any firm legal grounds. The US government made a double error in its censorship; by explicitly censoring WikiLeaks, it illuminated their project, and by implicitly censoring them by not addressing them, the government has no way to actually deal with this unprecedented release of information, this act of terror.

In 2011, a conversation took place on Democracy Now between journalist Amy Goodman, philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and Assange. In response to Assange being labeled a “high-tech terrorist” by Sen. Biden, Slavoj Žižek said to Assange, “You are a terrorist, but in the sense that Gandhi is a terrorist. What is robbing a bank, compared to founding a new bank? You are not only violating the rules, you are changing the very rules [about] how we were allowed to violate the rules.”

This idea is profound; Assange is a terrorist, not because he attacked the State, but because he violently changed the rules by which we understand terror. This shift in how terror and information correlate has to do, in part, with the internet, which is still a highly illegible space for law to act in. As long as technology and terrorism can outpace law, they will find new ways to redefine legibility– to change the rules. This Rancièrian move, a moment of recognizing the internet and information-technology as having a radical potentiality– as being a real threat. This act is violent, not in the Coverian sense of the violence of jurisprudence, but is a violent break with established meaning. Assange’s work is radical, violent, and ethical; insofar as ethical actions are taken in pursuit of the good found in (new) truths.

The government is forced to scramble to act, to recalibrate power’s definition of meaning in this incredible act of liberation. Here Assange offers us a future, an alternative that upsets current modes of representation and legitimation.

*                                               *                                               *

A question arises: without the government’s covert use of torture, would WikiLeaks be necessary? This question gets to the heart of the issue: what else is WikiLeaks doing besides making transparent certain government practices? We get a better sense of the depth and richness of WikiLeaks as a political phenomenon by turning to Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Truth of Democracy. Nancy understands that there is a public disappointment with democracy that is caused by people looking solely to politics (government) to find values and equal(ity) shares. Politics is not where we find love, knowledge, or art. In fact, these values are incalculable. Nancy argues that, “The share of what is without value– the share of sharing (out) of the incalculable, which is thus, strictly speaking, unsharable– exceeds politics.”

Nancy thinks we need to share a sense of ‘public spirit,’ a common goal, or a National Thing. Often it is that public spirit(s) that we fight over as a society. Assange activates this public spirit– where values go beyond the (conventional) political realm. Upholding the liberation of information is what draws a whole community of thinkers and hackers together. Instead of aiming all of our frustrations at the government, WikiLeaks allows for a public discourse to exist, to be recognized and focused on ethics, transparency, the internet and the use of technology.

WikiLeaks is also engaged in a serious archival process; by putting it’s information on the web, and by having that information preserved by a network of allies who are ready to protect this digital archive, who create mirrors to keep access going. The notion of the archive was first exploded by Jacques Derrida in Archive Fever, whose paranoid interpretation connects the archive to the power to preserve memory and to create history. His conception of the archive traces it’s etymological roots to the Greek arkhe, the document-house, which is protected by the archons who “Have the power to interpret the archives.”

Archons are judges; they control how we understand documents and archivable information. Derrida expands his idea by arguing that, “There is no political power without the control of the archive, if not memory.”

The political stakes of the archive are very high; it is a powerful force that is employed as a political strategy. This archive is not an abstract theory– it is a real practice, one employed in writing histories and in legitimizing information. The power to make history is the power to decide which memories are preserved and which are not. Furthermore, this power to archive is the power to produce and preserve knowledge: to define truth. This archiving power changes dramatically with technological advances: on the internet.

WikiLeaks is an excellent example of how the archive works, how much weight it has politically and how the nature of the archive changes when uploaded to the internet. The Iraq War Logs and Embassy Cable Leaks are two examples of information that were once classified, protected archival information. This information was a private record: a history of actions documented by the US military and embassies. A system of values is created to keep certain information more exclusive than others. Some of the military-diplomatic archive was more censored from the public than other parts. Both the US embassy and the military acted as archons– they protected these documents and had the sole power to interpret them. Presumably this archive was available digitally and was hacked into locally by a soldier named Bradly Manning.

This data was then given to members of WikiLeaks.

By uploading information and making it available for free, WikiLeaks was able to undermine the US government in multiple ways– through damaging its foreign relations, its sense of justice, and by taking away its power to maintain this military-diplomatic archive. No longer was there a hierarchy of information; now this archive was accessible by any person who wanted to read it. The government couldn’t keep its censoring power over the archive; its power to present certain knowledges, and keep other knowledges obscured. It no longer has the unary power to produce a singular US military-diplomatic history of fighting for justice and freedom; instead, this leak highlighted both the US’s many abuses regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lengths to which the US attempted to cover that information up. We can’t trust in the government to act or present its knowledge ethically; we need to assimilate our own meaning from these documents. However, archiving power is radically liberated. Not only does WikiLeaks get to archive in the sense of making sense, but so too does anyone who tries to understand and assimilate the leaked documents. People aren’t forced to believe a single history of the military’s engagement in Iraq or Afghanistan.

What changes at the level of the digital begins at this same point. The digital archive is far more democratizing; almost anyone can access these leaks, from most parts of the globe. It is possible to be both physically distant and anonymous on the internet, which isn’t the case when attempting to access a real archive. The digital archive is also less stable than a physical archive, more prone to attack. However, WikiLeaks has been very deft at keeping this archive accessible. The internet is ultimately more rhizomatically structured– disperse, made up of horizontal and often invisible connections that reflects the shape of the digital archive.

Derrida argues that the (real) archive is “topo-nomological,” meaning it is a structure where space and law come into contact; where the creation of rules and history has a spatial and structural element.

Like a library, this kind of archive requires one to move through space to find information. On the other hand, a digital archive, like the internet, removes this topological quality– there is no more space, only rules, law, and information. This dislocation of archiving power is very disconcerting; it implies that the knowledge-producing, truth-creating power of the archive is no longer grounded– its power operates in more nomadic and illegible ways. This non-topological force works in WikiLeaks favor, granting it secrecy, which makes it harder for a government to arrest any single member. It also allows for Assange to be a terrorist in the sense that a nomadic, shifting form of power has more symbolic weight than a fixed site. With terror, the strengths are in its performative power: in it’s potentiality. This is reminiscent of the figure of the wolf described in Derrida’s, The Beast and the Sovereign. Derrida says that “The wolf itself is named in absentia, as it were; the wolf is named where you don’t see it or hear it coming; it is absent, save for its name.”

This wolf is silent, virtual, and non-present. For this reason the wolf is exponentially more terrifying. The digital, like the wolf, is made more powerful by it’s existence through absence.

In the case of terror, power works performatively and absence is an amplifier. To return to Žižek, If Assange is a terrorist for not only attacking the State, but for redefining the ways in which we attack the State, then not only is absence a symbolics amplifier of an attack on the State, but absence changes the way this attack occurs. Often a product of implicit censorship, absence allows Assange to be clandestine and illegible until the final moment, until the moment of recognition: of politics. Such a performative attack was successful; the US government is still trying to process this shock: this trauma. Linking Žižek’s understanding of terror to the archiving power of WikiLeaks, we see it as a well-guarded digital archive of military documents, accessible to almost anyone who is interested. WikiLeaks “violated the rules” of archiving by taking information from the site of power (the government), and by creating (on the Iraq War Logs website, for example) an alternative history of the wars– an alternative truth. However, the practice of stealing information and creating alternative histories has long since been in existence. WikiLeaks has not simply created an alternative archive, but instead preserves a free digital archive, from which an infinite amount of interpretations and histories can be created. For an interested party, they have all of the information they need to create a sense of truth that is relevant to them. This disrupts the way we are “allowed to violate the rules,” making every user of the digital archive an archiver, a knowledge-producer and meaning-creator.

This returns to Nancy, who wants us to organize democracy around “sharing (out),” allowing for us to have the freedom to act on what we, as a society, may not be able assign value to– by only engaging in those things we find value in.

This allows for a radical and absolute individualization of ideas and institutional practices. Nancy might argue that every community should have its own right to define pedagogical relationships and implement those ideas. Everyone in Nancy’s democracy is a truth-producer, a meaning producer– a practice that keeps a society happy and allows us to build relationships that are not formed on exchange-value. WikiLeaks isn’t simply a site for the manifestation of public spirit; it activates a Nancian mode of democracy by allowing for the radical individualization of meaning-making. Everyone’s understanding of the military documents has the same exact weight because it is and can only be true for one person. WikiLeaks upsets a vertical notion of epistemology, which always affects the ways we understand and process information. Our attachment to history changes with the digital archive– it allows us more power; more freedom as individuals to construct truth, and helps us to organize ourselves around the idea of radical difference.  WikiLeaks’s attack is incredibly complex, and goes well beyond the issue of transparency. These true terrorists have taken advantage of this information to create a community of archons. With the power of the digital on his side, Assange will always remain one step ahead.

Sustainable Political

MON NOV 5TH, 2012

 

IF YR ON THE LEFT, DONT FUCKING VOTE TOMORROW!!! 

 

WHAT WE NEED IS A SUSTAINABLE POLITICAL

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

From the ’08 Obama Campaign to the Occupy Movement, the political and social movements that shape the contemporary American scene are build upon the backs of our youth. This unnamed and unpaid labor is the fuel that operates the political machine, that keeps the blood pumping, the engine-greased, and the cogs churning both inside and outside of Washington. 

 

MORE ABT LABOR

 

Moreover, these youths are the precariat, a class of (non)workers who have no full-time prospects in sight—for whom there are no job-benefits, and work comes at a day-to-day, project-to-project basis, if at all. The 1990‘s picture perfect promise of a future that now seems about as alien and distant as my grandfather’s home-furnishings. Instead, the future looks as bleak as the dystopian films that haunt our contemporary cinematic unconscious—one need not look further than to Children of Men and V for Vendetta.

 

FUCK GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGNS 

Within the context of the Obama campaign, the youth were sent out in droves to canvass by Grassroots Campaigns (GC), a corporation that operates on the full out alienating competition among its pseudo-employees. I know, I was one, in New York City. GC had strict policies that required every canvasser to raise roughly hundreds of dollars a day, relative to weekly group average, placing undue pressure on canvasses (whose average age was 20) and fostering intense competition among would-be-friends. There was no job security. After several weeks of stellar service and raises, I had a ‘bad spell’ and was fired.

 

This is the precariat class at work. 

 

FINALLY WE SAY FUCK THE SYSTEM! 

 

But it was all worth it, right? NO! Worth months if not years of time, energy, and dedication from our nations’ youth, spent on a political campaign that demanded and promised real change—progress? NO! For most of the young Left, we were completely put out by the Obama administration—who never made a single progressive move towards ending, who botched real universal healthcare, who faltered in taking us out of war, and who continued Bush policies established to take away our civil liberties. In fact, Obama went further, signing into law the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows the police, the FBI, and Homeland Security, among others, to be able to infinitely detain any person they deem a threat, a la Guantanamo Bay. 

 

Any American citizen is currently a potential victim of this act, which actually ties protest in as a “minor form of terrorism.” REALLY? IS THAT WHERE AMERICA HAS GONE? IS THIS PROGRESS? 

 

Our freedoms on the internet have been shattered under PIPA and SOPA. 

 

Why were we so angry and bitter? We worked and fought our fucking asses off for months to get him elected. 

 

I should have heeded the advise of my elder Lefties who said, “Never trust politicians.”

 

 

DONT VOTE!! 

 

I’m serious! Tomorrow is election day, and I encourage you to vote for no one! I don’t vote because I don’t want to legitimize a system that has failed me, and all Americans.  I don’t vote because I got nothing from supporting Obama the first time. I don’t vote or the lesser of two evils because I don’t vote out of fear. 

 

I don’t vote, because as a New Yorker, I KNOW my vote doesn’t matter. It only matters to vote if you live in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, etc. And even still, you have to be living in a “swing county,” for any of it to make any sense. 

 

 

I don’t vote because I see the future as precarious, or as the Sex Pistols screamed, “NO FUTURE, NO FUTURE, NO FUTURE FOR ME.” These are my words as well. 

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

OWS

So, what did the youth on the Left do in response to a failed government  and the denial of a future we had been promised and groomed for since the 90’s? WE FUCKING OCCUPIED! WE ORGANIZED AND SHOWED HOW POWERFUL WE WERE WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, WITHOUT CAREERS OR CAREER-MINDEDNESS! WE REJECTED ALL THAT.

 

I was an Occupier of Wall Street since its genesis, helping to start and organize the Direct Action Working Group and obviously organized a lot of actions, marches, and did student outreach as well. 

 

It might have been the first time I was arrested—thrown to the ground by the Pigs, launched into a car by my head, AND THEN RUTHLESSLY beat to a pulp by three officers with batons—maybe, just maybe this was when I became radicalized. Spending    days in jail, on numerous occasions has led me to understand the ugly underbelly of the system, CONFORM ENTIRELY OR BE EXTERMINATED. WALK THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW-LINE, HAVE A MEANINGLESS LIFE, KEEP YOUR BODY PERFORMING JUST HOW YOU ARE TOLD, AND NEVER, NEVER THINK OR DREAM OF ANYTHING ELSE. 

 

And then, way after that thought, I became acutely aware of my privilege—how could I be so ignorant? I was given these promises, and let down by a system that had only made these promises to some of its citizens. As a white, able-bodied mostly-sis male, who was well educated, I had been given the highroad, and supported in my life at every step by the institutions that surrounded me.This would never be the case for so many people, based on pre-given conditions of race, class, gender, sex, ability and a host of other formative social barriers. 

 

Even if I grew up poor, and strongly disidentified with my masculinity, and had made attempts to deepen my anti-oppressive, feminist and queer perspective, I would never truly know another’s experience of oppression, nor have a full grapple on the ways in which I oppress others, and what exactly the relationship I had to systems that privilege me disadvantage others. 

 

Acting as an activist in NYC truly showed me the flaws in our organizing. I would NEVER have had a life that was familiar to an urban Black context. It took me 24 years to learn a lesson that many kids of color learn the hard way, at an early age: FUCK THE PIGS, NEVER TRUTST THEM, THEY ARE OUT TO GET YOU, FUCK THE STATE, FUCK THE BANKS! NO FUTURE! 

 

Furthermore, it takes extreme privilege to actually have grown up in a context where the cops were people on the corner of the street you could trust. This is VERY different than growing up seeing them as the army of the state, that are central main perpetrators of systematic oppression. WHY ARE THERE A MILLION BLACK FOLKS IN PRISON? WHY IS A BLACK PERSON SHOT BY A COP EVERY 40 HRS!?!??

 

 

OWS had an oppressively inclusive structure, which desired all people in NYC, especially historically-oppressed folks to be ‘included,’ meaning subjected to obnoxious White Liberality and exclusive technical language. Very often folk of color were bought in to maintain some quota, tokenizing and patronizing real people, whether or not they wanted to. 

 

 

BUT OWS? DEATH OF A MOVEMENT THRU BURNOUT! 

 

Many causes led to the death of OWS… First among them were its fucked up and widely overlooked oppressive structure, which privileged the loud and confident (mostly  well-groomed white men), and recreated the same systems of oppression that dominates mainstream culture. The second fucked up recreation was of the police, people who went around in the camps, moralizing about a tired-out violence/non-violence divide. These self styled “Peace Police” would go on marches just to de-mask and identify to the police people who committed vandalism, without ANY idea of the danger they put these kids in, nor the larger historical necessity of some violence for social change.

 

The police were bad enough, but Liberal peace police have entirely alienated the radical base of OWS, the people who actually lived in Zuccotti Park and who had set up the camp.

 

A third reason OWS died was burnout caused from arrests…Tens of thousands of people had been arrested, often beaten up, and given annoying misdemeanor charges that they had to fight in court. With enough regularity were felony charges, resulting in a number of young kids being sentenced to actual prison time.  

 

I was tired of feeling like bait, fighting for a cause that became exceedingly hard to identify, within a social movement that was oppressive, informally hierarchical, and had cops within and without. 

 

OWS IS A SYSTEM LIKE THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN

 

OWS grew too large and too quick. It’s oppressive, colonizing expansiveness had another quality that quickly turned problematic—growth for growth sake. OWS tacticioners and cabalists were focused on outward growth in numbers, not about the true development of human relationships. What is another system that is driven to unchecked growth for growth sake? TRY CAPITALISM ITSELF! 

 

Foreshadowing OWS death was the giant megaflop of General Strike: May Day. OWS had attempted to have a massive shut down of NYC. Mass organizing with Labor Unions, Immigrant Groups—forced OWS to fit their bureaucratic large-scale organization model, with formal hierarchies, a static structure, and adoption of ineffective tactics like phone banking. It was at this point that I threw my hands up. As far as I was concerned OWS had lost all of its strengths: radical indeterminacy, form-shifting (bettering the system), a commitment to anti-hierarchical, horizontal structures, a dismissal of politics as it was… 

 

When it became increasingly tiring and ethically questionable to remain committed to OWS, I began to look at our goals and successes. We saw neither the Revolution we had been promised by organizers watching with Arab Spring, not did we see the lesser of two goods: the Reforms that usually follow mass protest. We were not able to keep the park: the thriving anti-Capitalist and extra-Governmental support structure that fed us and kept us healthy—physically, mentally, and spiritually. That structure was violently destroyed by the State… any attempt at doing and being without the State will be labeled “Terrorism” and subject to extreme violence.

 

On the other hand, our contemporary conditions have not improved: we are still precariat. We are growing. 

 

There still is seemingly no future for us

For us politcos

 

Maybe we grew up on C-Span

and

CNN

 

Spanning our childhood:

the future paved by King Clinton

and Captan Planet

 

with their powers combined

we can fix the environment

and keep the old growth for growth sake economy 

 

and what 

 

out with the old growth

in with then new 

 

 

and what we were promised 

was never to us given

 

instead, what is and was is missing

 

no to that

Special Advisor on South Africa

 

no to that

Supreme Court position

 

no to that

that which we were told 

YES

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY

the only YES

 

that seems CLEAR

 

 

 

IS THE 

YES TO NO FUTURE

 

 

 

And after all our hard work

in high school

doing what we were told

And all of the bullshit we had to 

Suffer

And dicks sucked

All for…what?

 

To talk about the POLITICAL ACTIVITY OF THE PRECARIAT  

IS TO TALK ABOUT ALLOUT BURNOUT!! 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

SUSTAINABLE POLITICAL

 

How do we keep ourselves alive as political beings? 

How do we not sink into apathy?

How do we stave off the desperation of a no future future? 

 

What we need is to create politics of our own! 

What we need is to set our own pace. 

What we need is to take care of ourselves.

What we need is a Sustainable Political. 

 

 

Like in Aikido, or in Permaculture, 

We should be able to limit our daily behavior

To what is manageable for our bodies. 

 

How does it look like? 

This form of the Political needs to be founded on strong notions of COMMUNITY

They can only be expressed by real relationships between political bodies, 

between beings in common 

being-in-common

 

This is the only state of a true Political

The type that has noting to do with chads

or electoral structures

 

It only knows Ethical bodies, committed to resisting Empire, society, police—the a-political, on all grounds! 

 

We need care

of the self

 

Openness and love for the other,

In all their nuances, 

In everything they share out

Into community 

 

We need to acknowledge

the need to be creative

to design

to make 

 

The need to unhinge from Capitalist temporality.

This is what the post-Obama youth has to unlearn

This willing acceptance of our precarity

WE WILL NOT ACCEPT A NO FUTURE FUTURE!

 

WE WILL TAKE POLITICS INTO OUR OWN HANDS!!!

mewithoutyou

JULIIANNA BARWICK BEIN BJORKESQUE

COME ON

Truth

The conceited poet believes the entire world to be his poem

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