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In a recent article, ‘Time-Wars’, Mark Fisher illustrates the fallacy of yet another neoliberal faith: the belief that a reduction in social security - ‘red-tape social-democratic bureaucracy’ - would create a vigorous spirit of entrepreneurialism in cultural production. The effect, he argues, has actually been a dampening of culture in highly neoliberalized countries, like the UK and Ireland, as intellectual and artistic work is tied into a highly competitive, hyper-speed economy. Individuals have to constantly (re)produce to compete, representing and validating their work according to what is ‘current’. All this on top of the immediate and increasingly difficult pressures of living in expensive cities, paying rent, buying food. Under these conditions intellectual and artistic work, it seems, can only be undertaken on a short-term basis. Fisher quips that ‘only prisoners have time to read’.
He contrasts this with the important role which social securities, such as social welfare, social housing and student grants, have played in the creation of cultural forms like punk and post-punk. He also points to perhaps the most significant factor in all this: the existence of cheap and squatted properties during the 1980s in cities such as New York and London. Important because of the simple fact that today most of our time and energy is absorbed in paying astronomical rents (or repaying mortgages).
Rather than the dead hand of ‘individual entrepreneurialism’ it is a degree of security, the possibility of continuity over time, of solidarity and being-together, which leads to real invention and experimentation. Fisher writes:
“These developments precisely opened up a kind of time that is now increasingly difficult to access: a time temporarily freed from the pressure to pay rent or the mortgage; an experimental time, in which the outcomes of activities could neither be predicted nor guaranteed; a time which might turn out to be wasted, but which might equally yield new concepts, perceptions, ways of being.”
“Human rights can reclaim their
redemptive role in the hands and imagination
of those who return them to the tradition of
resistance and struggle”
This is the first of two articles by Marta Sánchez written as part of a research project on the 15-M movement at the Center for Human Rights in Nuremberg.
The Movement that Deconstructed the Crisis
“The struggle for our rights as human beings underlies everything we have demanded in every square and every demonstration in this historic year of global change”, proclaimed<http://dec10.takethesquare.net/english/> Take the Square in their Call for an Alternative Day of Action on Human Rights Day. Since its emergence, the indignados movement has engaged in a twofold process concerning human rights: on the one hand, the movement identifies and denounces the flaws of the current system that have led to a widespread violation of human rights, specifically economic and social rights.
I recently visited the Hydra Bookshop in Bristol. It was opened in November of last year by the Bristol Radical History Group. It is an inspiring place. There is just one room lined with books that are rarely available in other bookshops. There are some seats and a couple of tables in the middle for people to sit and read. Behind the counter along the back wall you can buy Zapatista coffee.
The group who opened it got a good deal on the building because it was one of the less popular areas of town. It was in a bad state at first but it wasn’t hard gathering a large group to clean it up. The money to run it is mostly made through the coffee as they are committed to selling their (non-commercial) books at a lower price than Amazon. Any money that is made goes back in to the shop. They’re hoping they can make it bigger, to have a wider selection of books but also to put on more and bigger events (they hold regular talks on radical history and contemporary politics).Continue Reading ›
On Saturday, July 14th, twenty people came along to Seomra Spraoi to participate in the provisional university workshop on activist research.
Many of the projects in Europe (and further and field) that we have been in contact with, for instance through the KLF network, have used activist research as part of political projects and autonomous education. Examples include the Critical Counter Cartographies project (North Carolina) or the Precarias a la deriva group (Madrid). This workshop was very much a hands on attempt to reflect on and analyze aspects of the social world which are most relevant from the point of view of radical social change.Continue Reading ›