Crisis What Crisis? Political Technologies @ a Crossroads

Maybe the title should be, “The Left is dead. Long live The Left!”

After listening, my feeling is similar to the feeling I have after most left discussions. I want to have hope we can get it together, but I see no real change in tactics, I see no real change in organization, and hear variations on themes I’ve heard for decades. I have zero time for the post and trans-human stuff. I find most of it juvenile fantasy, which is why it is easily taken up by right leaning silicon valley billionaires.

The Left loves to talk about “what is to be done.” The question of how to unify is equally important. If we can’t do that, we will truly be dead. We lost the class war waged by the right, but they fight on with the resolution of hungry vampires. As we know, that is capitalism. Its logic is ceaseless accumulation and the commodification of all things. I’ll assume this is obvious to anyone who happens to come across this. Instead of writing a lot of paragraphs people won’t read, I’ll try a list people won’t read:

1. We need an umbrella organization that all groups and individuals can join and participate in. Something like an I.W.W. and WSF – and maybe eventually a party – all in one, but better, of course. This would almost instantaneously give us money and power in numbers. We need both.
2. How? One way would be for influential lefties and leaders and heads of orgs to get together (you know, organize) and simply declare they are starting this thing, and want people to be involved.
3. That organization would attempt to organize groups and individuals into a coordinated, efficient, powerful left with a plan.
4. The plan would be an actual step-by-step plan to fight the destructive policies of the right and to actually take power. It could change as we go of course, but we need an actual plan and actual coordination. Why do we believe that simply “being active” is enough to win anything lasting? We have to be at least as organised as capital if we want to ever consider winning. That means worldwide organization.
5. The idea would be to focus on what people could agree to do that would move us forward in a positive direction. That sounds simple. What I mean is, start small and focus on productive things people agree on instead of getting mired in arguments and endless discussions. Ideally we would be learning, teaching, and doing all at the same time. The idea is to act and learn as we go. Easier said than done. Probably the first thing people would have to decide would be what decision making processes would work. Fine. A lot of left leaders have been down that road. Let them figure it out. If they as people we look up to can’t get past that, we need other people to look up to and to get our ideas from. I could go on, but that’s the general idea. I haven’t heard anyone on the left propose it – it being, left leaders (and I use that term loosely) should organize themselves into an umbrella organization, and that organization should organize the rest of us. Barring some development like that, or other better ideas, I don’t have much hope.

I know this begs many questions, but I thought I would put it out there anyway. For example, there’s the old, “real movements have to organically develop from the grass roots, they can’t be imposed from above.” Well, if left leaders could organize themselves into an organization that was capable of organizing others, I’d say that would be pretty grass roots. What’s left of the left needs radical ideas to make radical change.

Good luck to us all. We’re going to need it.

Deterritorial Investigations

Jason Adams & Mohammad Salemy,Kodwo Eshun, Liza Featherstone, Paul Feigelfeld, Stefan Heidenreich, Doug Henwood, Katerina Kolozova, Catherine Liu, Davor Löffler, Antonia Majaca, Jaleh Mansoor, Metahaven, Nina Power, Judith Rodenbeck, Anjalika Sagar, Steven Shaviro, Jonathan Thomas, and Anton Vidokle, amongst others

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Flowers and Zeese | Unite To Change The Status Quo

Rise Up Times

There is no doubt that we will have to continue to engage in struggles on many fronts in the days, weeks and years ahead.   

The broad social movement in the United States has been growing for a number of years, most visibly in recent years with the Occupy Movement and then immigrant’s rights, Indigenous, workers’ and Black Lives Matter movements, to name a few. As the inauguration protests, the Women’s Marches and the GOP protests in Philly showed this week, the broad social movement seems to be growing exponentially and some are escalating their tactics.

American Nightmare, militarized police at Trump Inauguration protest by Eleanor Goldfield of Art Killing ApathyAmerican Nightmare, militarized police at Trump Inauguration protest by Eleanor Goldfield of Art Killing Apathy

During the inauguration, there was a wide range of tactics used…

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Abenomics: an update

Michael Roberts Blog

Back in 2012 when Japanese PM Abe came to power, he launched a new economic policy that was supposed to get Japan out of its seemingly permanent deflationary stagnation.  The ‘three arrows’ of this policy were 1) to print money and take interest rates down to zero and beyond to stimulate consumer spending – so-called ‘unconventional monetary policy’; 2) to increase government spending and run sizeable budget deficits to ‘pump-prime’ the economy in traditional Keynesian-style; and 3) to introduce ‘structural reforms’ i.e. labour and market deregulation in the neo-liberal approach. Warning – graph alert!

Former Fed chair Ben Bernanke, the architect of unconventional monetary policy, was flown to Abe’s Cabinet meetings to advise on the first arrow.

Japan monetary base

Paul Krugman, the great guru of Keynesian stimulus policies, was also flown in to advise on the second arrow; while Abe himself tried to implement the third arrow with sharp cuts in corporate…

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Chart of the day

occasional links & commentary


source (pdf)

The share of American workers in unions fell to 10.7 percent in 2016 (down from 11.1 percent in 2015), the lowest level on record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf).

What we’re seeing is a return to the downward trend for organized labor after membership figures had stabilized in recent years—and this is before the new Republican administration even took office.


source (pdf)

Union membership in the private sector fell by 119 thousand and the membership rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 6.4 percent. There was a slightly larger decrease in union membership in the public sector (down 121 thousand), corresponding to a 0.8 percentage-point drop in the public sector membership rate to 34.4 percent.

Although public sector workers are more likely than their private sector counterparts to be union members, there are still more private-sector union members (7.4 million) than public-sector…

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Eight people own as much as half the world

Systemic Disorder

Just when it seemed we might be running out of superlatives to demonstrate the monstrous inequality of today’s capitalism, Oxfam has provided the most dramatic example yet: Eight individuals, all men, possess as much wealth as the poorest 50 percent of humanity.

Eight people have as much as 3.7 billion people.

How could this be? Oxfam calculated that 85 people had as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity in 2014, a staggering finding that researchers with the anti-poverty organization discovered through crunching numbers provided by Forbes magazine in its rich list and by the investment bank Credit Suisse in its global wealth distribution report. Oxfam found wealth distribution to be even more unequal than did Credit Suisse, which calculated that the top one percent equaled the bottom 50 percent. Oxfam, in its report, “An Economy for the 99%,” released this month, explains:

“This year we find…

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Fuck work: The case against full employment, and for guaranteed income. [from @thisishellradio podcast]

This is a must listen interview from a must listen podcast:

James Livingston Interview

“Historian James Livingston examines the deep problem with employment in the 21st century – the broken relationship between work and income, and explains why we must look beyond capitalism’s intellectual decrepitude, and to the rising rate of transfer payments, if we are to reclaim our labor, our happiness and our time from the demands of capitalism.

“The end of work is in sight. The connection between work performed and character created, or work preformed and income received is absolutely unintelligible – so let’s get on with a society in which there doesn’t have to be a relationship between work and income. Let’s get on with what we used to call ‘Socialism.'”

James is the author of the new book, No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea from UNC Press and the Aeon essay Fuck Work.”