Cultural theorist Raymond Williams has suggested that the technology for television was available years before it was utilized. It was held back because the conditions for it were not ripe yet.
Those conditions were urbanization (which masses an audience in one place), the regularization of employment, the homogenization of culture and the concurrent erosion of communities, the need for communication to customers of large concerns (such as department stores) and the need for insipid entertainment for drones whose jobs leave them physically unimpaired but mentally drained.
Mar 3, 2015
It’s Anarchy Time!
Is it our turn now? Anarchism flourishes when work is precarious; & that’s now!
I begin with two insights. Global systems theorist, Immanuel Wallerstein, argues that throughout capitalist history the working class has been divided into a proletariat, which makes a living solely through waged labor, and a semi-proletariat which in its contemporary incarnation, juggles such pursuits as temp work, freelance projects, state subsidies (food stamps, artists in residence grants, or student loans), and maxing out on credit cards.
Feb 19, 2015
The African Road to Anarchism?
Will the collapse of government rule in countries like The Gambia lead to... The African Road to Anarchism?
My experiences on a recent trip to The Gambia on Africa’s west-central coast, brought to mind the historic leftist dream that the state will wither away once workers have overturned capitalism.
Here’s an irony of history. In the last 15 years, in the industrially undeveloped world, the state has withered away, not because of its supersession, but due to the extension of global capitalism. Talk of state collapse on capital’s periphery doesn’t mean governments have completely vanished, but that many states have diminished from being the totalized agencies of control we experience in Northern tier countries.
Aug 18, 2014
“The People’s Luck”
For the past two summers, I accompanied my wife, who speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, to China so we could tour part of the country before she started summer school in a master’s program in Chinese literature in Nanjing, a city famed not only for being pillaged by Japan in World War II, but also as the country’s center of teacher education.
May 18, 2014
The Occupation of Public Space: New York, Beijing, Oaxaca
Do squatting and occupations suggest the future for revolutionary tactics?
Robert Neuwirth, in his important book, Shadow Cities, says squatters in countries such as Turkey, Brazil, and India, are the poor, usually excluded from the adequate wage work, who do not have the wherewithal to enter the capitalist real estate market either as owners or renters.
They are “simply people who came to the city, needed a place to live that they and their families could afford, and, not being able to find it on the private market, built it for themselves on land that wasn’t theirs.” Of special note here are the numbers. “Estimates are that there are about a billion squatters in the world today --one of every six humans on the planet.” The best guesses see this group as swelling to about one in four by 2030.
Apr 20, 2014
a review of
In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary, by Ngo Van; Eds. Ken Knabb and Helene Fleury; Trans. Helene Fleury, Hillary Horrocks, Ken Knabb, and Naomi Sager; AK Press; 2010; $19.95
There is a sub-genre of science fiction called alternative history, which consists of works such as Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, in which Germany wins World War II, and Hitler becomes the ruler of the U.S. Works of this type offer a counterfactual version of past events, allowing readers to think along different lines about how the world has developed.
Oct 27, 2013
Anarchism and the Anti-Authoritarian Personality
Is there a distinct anarchist personality type? Is there a discernible one among the marginally employed?
All generalizations founder on the rock of their exceptions, but can it be said that certain definable character structures emanate from one’s political philosophy or position within capital’s work apparatus?
It is instructive that literary praise for the recently deceased, internationally acclaimed, Chilean author, Roberto Bolano, concentrate exclusively on his depiction of mysterious authors and texts, overlooking an equally prominent, political component of his work.
Aug 29, 2013
Making the Impossible Community Possible
How do we create new eco-communitarian anarchist structures? What current models exist?
a review of
The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism by John P. Clark. Bloomsbury, 2013, 272 pp., $30 paper; $120 hardback; bloomsbury.com
John Clark’s The Impossible Community is something of a mixed bag or should I say a treasure trove? Clark describes himself as an eco-communitarian anarchist theorist and activist. He lives and works in New Orleans where his family has been for twelve generations.
May 30, 2014
H. Leivick, Anarchism & Yiddish Theatre
The Golem & other plays electrified New York audiences in the early 20th century
There is a staple of the Yiddish theater written in 1921 entitled, The Golem (sort of a Jewish Frankenstein).
It still remains quite popular in translation including a 2002 Off-Broadway run. I saw it performed in 1984 at a free outdoor staging starring Randy Quaid as the monster.
However, the play has two striking peculiarities. First, no one seems to remember the author’s name. Second, it was written as a “dramatic poem in eight scenes,” and originally thought to be unstageable because of technical demands. Although adapted into its current form, many theatergoers still find parts of the play dreadfully obscure.
Oct 16, 2014
The Denigration of Anarchism in High Art Fiction
We are all familiar with the ruthless stereotyping and blatant falsification of anarchism in the mass media employing out-dated, long exploded cliches such as that anarchists are solely interested in destruction, fueled by an infantile rage.
It was these stereotypes that were used, for example, in the 1880s to convict the Haymarket martyrs for a bombing they didn’t commit, and have been used repeatedly in U.S. literature to defame the most earnest opponents of capitalism and the state.
Aug 2, 2016
Feminism & the Politics of the Commons
a review of
Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons by Silvia Federici, Foreword by Peter Linebaugh. PM Press, 2019
Silvia Federici was born in Italy, taught for years in Nigeria, made many visits to South America, and now lives and teaches in the U.S. This broad experience, along with extensive scholarship, provides the wide angle lens which enables the perspective on view in her new book, Re-Enchanting the World.
Sep 20, 2019