Category Archives: Strategy

On Formulation in Hardt and Negri’s ‘Declaration’

Among the various bits and pieces circulating about Hardt and Negri’s new Declaration, Jason Read’s blog suggests a tension between the newer, constitutionalist tones of their project and the sentiments of Negri in an older text, Insurgencies. For Read, Declaration is somewhat overly fascinated with “the US constitution”, whereas the younger Negri was much less interested in dictating formulations:

“A great current of modern political thought, from Machiavelli to Spinoza to Marx, has developed around this open alternative, which is the ground of democratic thought.  In this tradition, the absence of preconstituted and finalized principles is combined with the subjective strength of the multitude, thus constituting the social in the aleatory materiality of a universal relationship, in the possibility of freedom.”

via Unemployed Negativity: Revolution in Theory/Theorizing Revolution: On Hardt and Negris Declaration.

But interestingly its their openness to the non-formulative approach of the movements that draws ire. For example, Doug Henwood was rather critical on his FB page about H&N’s reference to the Israeli tent protest being pretty hushed on the topic of Palestine (Loc. 41/1506), thus reading H&N as saying this topic was treated was somehow correctly expendable in the interests of unifying the movement. Others chimed in on occupy being shallow on the topic of war in general, and not letting Cyndi Sheehan speak. But this seems to be missing the point. The movements of course likely contain sizable numbers of people who would wish to express solidarity with the Palestinians. That they don’t do so is no sign of lack of interest or solidarity. As the pamphlet argues, the movement does need to be strategic about its longevity. To accomplish this, the movement is experimenting with ways of finding an effective common platform. Of course, if not mentioning an issue necessarily means that you don’t care about it, then this is indeed a concern. But it could also mean that you you just want to avoid getting bogged down in an intractable debate. This is a common technique adopted by the GAs in the OWS movement where minimal common principles can be agreed as a consensus position and then returned to later. OWS movements are themselves careful on this. While they do express solidarity with other ‘occupy’-style movements around the world, they do not offer expressions of solidarity with people involved in armed conflicts (Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Uganda).

What is interesting about H&N’s new work is the extent to which they balance observation with evaluation. The general tendencies of the movements are examined for their ‘commonality’ but also for their potential to live up to their promise. They’re establishing criteria of what, in their view at least, would likely constitute a Princely strategy of success, all the while saying its too soon to tell what will come of it all. I need to give the book a much more detailed reading so these comments are necessarily somewhat sophomoric at this stage, but the initial intellectual reactions to this question of formulation are interesting. Commenting on the book more from the perspective of the activist, Mirzoeff summarizes the valences of domination that H&N suggest confront the populations of the world, and agrees with the way the book poses the ‘counter powers’ to these valences as necessarily exterior to ideology or centralized political leadership. The task of developing a new, open constitution against such an array of forces is a daunting one, to be sure. But Mirzoeff seems to get the point. As he concludes, “the next steps won’t be found in a pamphlet but in the sometimes arduous, sometimes exhilarating process of communing.”

Lexicon Pamphlet Series: Downloadable PDFs! | Outside the Circle

 

Some great free stuff here, from the Institute for Anarchist Studies.

Lexicon Pamphlet Series: Downloadable PDFs! | Outside the Circle.

#OCCUPYIRTHEORY @ ISA2012, San Diego

ISA Headquarters have kindly granted the use of a room for a special #occupyirtheory meeting at the upcoming Annual Convention, in San Diego, April 1-4, 2012.

The meeting will be listed on the official online version of the schedule as #OCCUPYIRTHEORY? Lessons from OWS for the Study of World Politics. It will be held at at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel on Tuesday, April 3 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm.

The event will open with a brief roundtable with various speakers (TBA) addressing a diversity of themes related to IR, IPE, and OWS. It is hoped we will have some local Occupy San Diego activists present to offer their thoughts, too. This will be followed by a GA-style event where audience members will be welcome to engage in informal discussion on strategies and initiatives that the movement might chose to pursue.

There will also be an informal strategy meeting on Sunday night for anyone interested in helping out with running the event.

If you are interested in playing a role in organizing this, or you just have any questions or concerns, feel welcome to email us at occupyirtheory *AT* gmail *DOT* com, or contact one of the group members on Facebook.

Thanks everyone!

#occupyirtheory

The Revolution Will Be Live Streamed: Global Revolution TV, the Occupy Movement’s Video Hub

For the past two months, a website called Global Revolution TV has become the main video hub for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Featuring live video feeds from New York and dozens of other cities hosting Occupy protests, the site has transformed how protests are covered and observed. When OWS protesters hold a General Assembly in Zuccotti Park, the gathering is usually live streamed across the world. When police raided the park early on Tuesday, it was caught on live stream as well. We speak to one of the site’s co-founders, Vlad Teichberg. He is a former derivatives trader who gave up a life in the financial world to work on video activism. “This project started initially with the beginning of the New York occupation. Other, similar versions of this project had been done in the past for other actions and revolts,” Teichberg says. “People think of Occupy Wall Street as an American revolution. It has its roots though, in the Arab Spring, obviously, which inspired a lot of things. And it has very direct roots in the Spanish revolution.”

via The Revolution Will Be Live Streamed: Global Revolution TV, the Occupy Movement’s Video Hub.

Insurgent Notes | The Next Step for Occupy Wall Street: Occupy Buildings, Occupy Workplaces

Whatever happens in the immediate future, a wall of silence on the accumulated misery of four decades has been breached.  Every day brings further news of attacks on working people as world capitalism spins out of control.  Never has it been clearer that capitalist “normalcy” depends on the passivity of those it crushes to save itself, and from Tunisia and Egypt, via Greece and Spain, to New York, Oakland, Seattle and Portland, that passivity is over.  The task today is to throw everything we have into approaching that point of no return where conditions cry out: “We have the chance to change the world, let’s take it.”

via Insurgent Notes | The Next Step for Occupy Wall Street: Occupy Buildings, Occupy Workplaces.

From a Facebook group, to a Blog…

Hello everyone, and welcome to this new blog, where it is hoped that we can start some form of conversation about #occupyingirtheory.

We’ve had a lot of interesting discussion on the #occupyirtheory/ipe Facebook group over the last week or so, which as of today has 76 members! This will surely grow further in the coming weeks. So it is important now to start a meaningful conversation about what sort of constructive projects this sort of energy can be invested into. In case you haven’t been following the Facebook group postings to date, here is where we are:

  • Journal of Critical Globalization Studies: Amin Samman and the JCGS editors have made a generous offer to provide a formal academic venue for several short critical pieces (2-3 pages each) on the #occupywallstreet phenomenon itself, as well as what it means for the study of world politics. They are terming this a “a special scholarly commentary forum”. JCGS is an online journal. The advantage here is that we’ll get to move quickly (it’ll be really cool to have this up and running by ISA). If you are interested in writing a 2-3 page fragment or comment for this commentary forum, would you please send me an email and let me know by, say, November 2? That way you’ll have about 3-4 weeks to write your comment and then we’ll have about 1-2 weeks to have some back and forth on them, edit them, or whatever seems most necessary.
  • An open letter: something we could generate some consensus around, and all put our names to. What does it mean to actually #occupyir/ipe? As others have already suggested on the Facebook page, we have a discipline already quite occupied by an ontology that prohibits certain forms of discussion. Maybe we could come up with a statement that serve as a critique of the narrowness of our discipline, but also some sort of commitment to have a broader discussion in some sort of (critical?) solidarity with the movement?
  • #OCCUPY-ISA: A couple of you wrote to suggest doing something at the upcoming ISA conference … its too late for something formal at ISA San Diego obviously, but something INFORMAL and OUTSIDE the traditional panel structure would be absolutely achievable. We can ask the organizers if they have some sort of space we can use…. or… we could just #occupy a space. Others have suggested the idea of making this an initiative across multiple conferences – a really fabulous idea.
  • Pedagogy: This project recognizes our place as educators. Asli and Anna suggest something on the pedagogy side. Let me just quote from an email from Anna Agathangelou: “… it is crucial for us to reflect but also articulate the ways we teach and the ways this teaching itself becomes a revolutionary movement and may play a crucial role in embodying what I call a ‘truly global’ and ‘truly just’ world.  How do we, in the space and place of the university and colleges, major sites of unequally developed political interventions, resistances, and repressions, understand these movements in a much larger trajectory with and beyond the narrowly punctuated Europe and US?  How do connect more directly our own struggles (i.e., restructuring of the university around  not having access to books and our own writings due to the legal regimes/copyright issues; health access; using all our resources to pay tuition etc etc; having contractual positions with no benefits etc) with how we articulate critical IR and IPE? … While all of us in different ways have been working to debunk violent paradigms such as neoliberalism, islamophobia, sexism, homophobia etc in our research and our classrooms and elsewhere, we see that these movements are disrupting many of these violent relations bit by bit.  So, how do we understand these movements, take seriously our participation in them and how do we place ourselves in support of them?” I have received many strong expressions of support on Anna’s ideas here, so perhaps there is a possibility we could work on this angle? Some have suggested the idea of a textbook, perhaps along the lines of Edkins and Zehfuss. I actually use this textbook in my own classes and find it very effective – I’m thinking this idea could morph into something like a ‘users guide’ or strategy guide for students of IR and IPE, but focused on activism, micro-level interventions, counter-spectacular moments, etc.

So, that’s it for now folks. Obviously go ahead and use this site as you wish. But definitely have a think about that CFP from JCGS, and let me hear back from you on whether you think you’d like to write 2-3 page (or less, or more?) contribution, and the theme you are interested in. Thanks!