From Egypt to Wall Street

From Egypt to Wall Street

For­mer Egyp­tian pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak had already stepped down, fol­low­ing a pop­u­lar move­ment that estab­lished a micro-repub­lic, the Gumhuriyyah el-Tahrir (Repub­lic of Lib­er­ty), which con­tra­dict­ed the per­vad­ing log­ic of the inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ic sys­tem. And now pro­test­ers in Wis­con­sin were occu­py­ing the state house to pre­vent the pass­ing of leg­is­la­tion that would effec­tive­ly sus­pend bar­gain­ing rights for pub­lic work­ers. Sit­ting in a Wash­ing­ton news­room, we need­ed a head­line. I very quick­ly sug­gest­ed some­thing along the­se lines: “Mid­dle East unrest spreads to the Mid­west.” I got a side eye. After all, how could a free and open soci­ety, the demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety, be tak­ing its cues from, of all places, Egypt, an antique land with back­ward ways, Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ists, and Arab dic­ta­tors? The edi­tors went with a more mod­est title.

Oakland

Oakland

A gen­er­al strike has been declared by the Oak­land Gen­er­al Assem­bly. The orig­i­nal ver­sion of this song was the num­ber one hit dur­ing the 1946 Oak­land Gen­er­al Strike.

Everybody Talks About the Weather

Everybody Talks About the Weather

It could very well be that the dura­bil­i­ty and rad­i­cal­iza­tion of this move­ment will rely on its poten­tial as a medi­at­ing ele­ment between the the var­i­ous seg­ments of the class, their par­tic­u­lar inter­ests, and their tra­di­tion­al forms of strug­gle. Achiev­ing this means going beyond a spon­ta­neous reflec­tion of changes in our work­ing lives. It has to start by under­stand­ing the sys­tem under­ly­ing them.

Letter 1: Pannekoek to Castoriadis

While you restrict the activ­i­ty of [work­ers’ coun­cils] to the orga­ni­za­tion of labor in fac­to­ries after the tak­ing of social pow­er by the work­ers, we con­sid­er them as also being the organ­isms by means of which the work­ers will con­quer this pow­er. In the con­quest of pow­er we have no inter­est in a “rev­o­lu­tion­ary par­ty” that will take the lead­er­ship of the pro­le­tar­i­an rev­o­lu­tion.

Deviations, Part 1: The Castoriadis-Pannekoek Exchange

Deviations, Part 1: The Castoriadis-Pannekoek Exchange

Span­ning an entire gen­er­a­tion, a lin­guis­tic divide, and a geo­graph­i­cal shift, the epis­to­lary encoun­ter between Anton Pan­nekoek and Cor­nelius Cas­to­ri­adis in many ways marks the inter­nal trans­for­ma­tion of the ultra-left. But the ultra-left, far from a his­tor­i­cal relic, is mak­ing head­li­nes again.

Letter 3: Pannekoek to Castoriadis

Nat­u­ral­ly, I do not claim that the rev­o­lu­tion­ary actions of the work­ing class will all unfold in an atmos­phere of peace­ful dis­cus­sion. What I claim is that the result of the strug­gle, often vio­lent, is not deter­mined by acci­den­tal cir­cum­stances, but by what is alive in the thoughts of the work­ers, as the basis of a solid con­scious­ness acquired by expe­ri­ence, study, or their dis­cus­sions. If the per­son­nel of a fac­to­ry must decide whether or not to go on strike, the deci­sion is not tak­en by smash­ing fists on the table, but nor­mal­ly by dis­cus­sions.

Letter 2: Castoriadis to Pannekoek

Where in con­trast there is, in fact, a real dif­fer­ence of opin­ion between us, is on the ques­tion of know­ing if, dur­ing this rev­o­lu­tion­ary peri­od, the­se coun­cils will be the sole organ­ism which plays an effec­tive role in con­duct­ing the rev­o­lu­tion, and, to a lesser extent, what the role and task is of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary mil­i­tants in the mean­time. That is, the “ques­tion of the par­ty.”

Issue 1: Occupy Everything

Issue 1: Occupy Everything

Class com­po­si­tion of Occu­py • The first two weeks of Occu­py Philly • The Arab Spring and glob­al finance • Oak­land and its insur­rec­tionary his­to­ry • Pur­to Rican high­er edu­ca­tion and the stu­dent strike • Hip-hop and rev­o­lu­tion­ary prac­tice • The labor move­ment and the future of Occu­py • Trans­la­tions of Cor­nelius Cas­to­ri­adis and Anton Pan­nekoek

The Prince and the Pauper

Every­one on the left has point­ed out that the riots in Lon­don are root­ed in capital’s assault on the work­ing class, couched in the ide­o­log­i­cal lan­guage of aus­ter­i­ty – and that this was the kin­dling sparked by the racist police bru­tal­i­ty that cul­mi­nat­ed in the mur­der of Mark Dug­gan. But our task – like Marx’s task, when he defend­ed the vio­lent upheaval of the Sile­sian weavers – isn’t to give a moral eval­u­a­tion of the riots, like school­mas­ters dili­gent­ly stack­ing the pros again­st the cons, but, rather, to grasp their speci­fic char­ac­ter.