Reading group #6

Our next reading group will meet 7pm at Freedom Bookshop on the 16th October. This month we will be discussing crime and justice with the following texts as reading material.

 

Chapter 5, Crime, from Peter Gelderloos’ Anarchy Works available online here: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-anarchy-works.pdf p.89 Crime

Normalizing judgement p.177-183 in Foucault’s Discipline and Punishment, available online here: https://monoskop.org/images/4/43/Foucault_Michel_Discipline_and_Punish_The_Birth_of_the_Prison_1977_1995.pdf

The article on policing in edition 203 of the magazine Black Flag, available online here: http://libcom.org/library/black-flag-203-1993

 

At the beginning of the session someone will need to explain to me how to pronounce Foucault. See you all there!

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Podcast episode 2

‘Presented with the alternative of love or a garbage disposal unit, young people of all countries have chosen the garbage disposal unit’ Episode two of our podcast Fuck the Bins is out now: https://soundcloud.com/fuck_the_bins/episode-2-august-2018

Reading group #5

This month we’ve decided to take a break from the reading (those Situationists were hard..) and instead we will watch No Gods No Masters: A History of Anarchism which is available on youtube in three parts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ-utvfgK8Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77GKgbUGJK0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6pysEKlg0Q

Watch the film in your own time and then come to the reading group at Freedom Bookshop, 7pm 18th September to discuss!

Reading group #4 write up

Our 4th Reading group on Situationism and Crass was held on 21st August at Freedom bookshop where we discussed the following texts: Matthews: An Introduction to the Situationists, Debord: Decomposition: The Ultimate Stage of Bourgeois Thought, In: Report on the Construction of Situations, p.6, Guy Debord: Chapter 8 – Negation and Consumption Within Culture, In: Society of the Spectacle, p.68-77 and Cross: “There Is No Authority But Yourself ”: The Individual and the Collective in British Anarcho-Punk.

 

Situationism

Ok, so the Situationist texts are incredibly difficult and have to be re-read a few times to make complete sense to them. The Matthews text was very useful to provide a summary and to explain the historical context and numerous references to Marx. A number of attendees admit to trying and failing to read Society of the Spectacle or have had to come back to it over the years.

Did this group really influence May ’68? It’s hard to imagine anyone but an arts/philosophy PhD taking this to heart. It appears to be one clique of artists writing to another clique rather than an easily understandable and actionable call to arms.

Beneath the difficult language there are some gems- Debord seems to have predicted the worst of consumerist culture when it was only at its very beginning. Linking to the Crass text he also predicts the co-option of subcultures and movements of resistance. He also is strongly critical of Leninism and Maoism which were fashionable at the time. The aim of the revolution is not just economic (how production is ordered or who controls it), it is cultural!

His ideas that the ruling class need maintain contradiction and confusion seems prescient- Putin does this by trying to manufacture criticism from both the left and right to create confusion and control the narrative from both angles. Bannon also seems to use the techniques discussed here- he is waging a culture war and is very good at distilling the ideas down to simple mantra people identify with (MAGA, the Muslims are coming etc). Perhaps someone needs to do this with Situationist ideas?

 

Crass

Remember when CND was massive and people didn’t just accept nuclear weapons? Great times.

In our last discussion group we discussed anarchist economics- Crass seem to be a working example of this as they did their own production, distro etc all not for profit. This has created a big legacy in the music scene, especially outside the UK which seems to have resisted the co-option of subversion better (hello, Sex Pistols).

Did the focus on one subculture and one musical style limit the possibility for expansion? Subcultures can be exclusive and have been critiqued extensively, particularly with reference to USA anarchist groups (we’re looking at you, early Crimthinc). There is also a lot of negativity/Nihilism in the lyrics- is this part of the art/performance or this just because under Thatcher the any future society seemed very far off and people needed to wake up to the reality before anything could be built?

A connection with the Situationists seems to be the ‘borrowing’ of ideas from different philosophers and different camps. Perhaps this is why they never subscribed to one particular form of anarchism but took the best bits of individualist and communist currents.

The rave scene was more inclusive, more working class and had better drugs according to the two people who lived through the Punk and Rave decades!

 

 

Our reading group will continue on the third Tuesday of the month at Freedom Bookshop.

Reading group #4

Our reading group will continue on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, aka 21st August 7pm at Freedom Bookshop. This month we’re looking at culture, power and consumerism with the following texts on Situationism and the well decent band, Crass, in an article confusingly written by someone called Cross. Cross on Crass, then.

Matthews: An Introduction to the Situationists (https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jan-d-matthews-an-introduction-to-the-situationists.pdf)

Debord: Decomposition: The Ultimate Stage of Bourgeois Thought, In: Report on the Construction of Situations, p.6 (https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/guy-debord-report-on-the-construction-of-situations.pdf)

Guy Debord: Chapter 8 – Negation and Consumption Within Culture, In: Society of the Spectacle, p.68-77 (https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/guy-debord-the-society-of-the-spectacle.pdf)

Cross: “There Is No Authority But Yourself ”: The Individual and the Collective in British Anarcho-Punk (https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mp/9460447.0004.203/–there-is-no-authority-but-yourself-the-individual?rgn=main;view=fulltext)

Reading group #3 write up

This month we looked at anarchist economics and selected three pieces which cover this, including practical examples of anarchy in action. We read: Chapter 3 of Anarchy Works by Peter Gelderloos, Eric Buck: The flow of experiencing in anarchic economies. In: Contemporary Anarchist Studies and Uri Gordon: Anarchist Economics. The discussion covered a number of topics which roughly split into the following areas:

 Scale

One of the issues we face is that the examples given are usually only at very small scale and are limited by their need to interact with capitalism to function (e.g. workers’ co-ops). For example, permaculture has been proven at the scale of a small farm in Wales, what we need now is it to be proven at the scale of feeding Wales! This is unlikely to happen without a revolution which changes land ownership.

This has long been a criticism of anarchism, however, and Kropotkin did a lot in Conquest of Bread and Fields, factories and workshops to provide the detail of how an anarchist economy could function and that it could provide for the basic needs of the people.

At the scale anarchist economics has been practiced it is not a threat to capital, but perhaps that isn’t the point- perhaps all we need is to change culture and values such that people become less consumerist and operate more on principles of mutual aid and solidarity. This is laying the groundwork for a social revolution.

Culture and values

Marketing has created a consumerist culture where we are defined by our possessions and our purchases. We need to change this so that community is valued in our decisions. Does this have to do with the ‘death of God’? That consumerism has filled a hole in our belief system? Even discussing this is difficult as all of us have internalised neo-liberal ideology (and some of us are compulsive hoarders of jazz records…).

To change a consumerist culture we need to focus on education as well as skill sharing and access to knowledge. The examples in the text suggest removing part of our consumption from what could be considered ‘the economy’ by repairing your own bike or similar- creating a DIY culture. There seem to be lots of examples of this working.

What if we don’t share common interests and values with our neighbours, how would it work then? Perhaps federalism is the answer- start at the scale of a block and work up based on geography, needs and interests so that decisions are made by those affected by them. Also, in revolutionary Spain there was not one way of doing things- some areas abolished money, some kept it and others replaced it with labour tokens. We don’t need a right answer, we need to try new things and keep the ones that work (keeping in mind different people and cultures).

Parecon and hybrid systems

This seems to be a hybrid between where we are now and what we’d like to get to. Seemingly similar to universal basic income (needs are provided for) and with a focus on democratically planning consumption rather than a focus on production in current economics. Not ‘each according to their needs’ as you can work more to get more stuff.

How far can such a hybrid model take us? Has been tried in many intentional communities but ultimately failed. Could it be used as a way to bring the public around to our ideas? Ultimately, the ruling class will not allow us to vote away their wealth so there will always be a limit at which point we face repression. Perhaps we could get enough people on-side through a hybrid model such that we have enough to achieve a revolution.

The Black Panther’s breakfast program was mentioned as a powerful example. Perhaps we should all join Food not Bombs? As long as these actions have a political agenda they seem effective.

Complex production

What about pharmaceuticals for complex conditions? Not everything is going to be resolved by self-care and herbalism (as hinted at in Anarchy Works). Again, education may be key- we will still need specialists. We do not reject technology, we just need to consider its use more effectively.

Conflict resolution

Example given of farmers in Spain who decide on irrigation between themselves and sanction people as a community if they break the rules. But, these farmers share the same expertise- what if there is a disparity in knowledge (e.g. pharmaceutical production)? We need some kind of arbitration- the ‘authority of a third party’. This kind of authority is not bad as long as we agree on how the third party gains that authority to arbitrate. There will be less incentive to break the rules if we have removed the profit motive.

 

Our anarchist reading group will continue on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, 7pm at Freedom Bookshop. The next texts will be announced asap!

 

New podcast: Fuck the Bins

Our long awaited, much hyped podcast is now available for you auditory delight. This episode we’re covering Ulrike Meinhof, news from Indonesia, a review of Peter Gelderloos’ book The Failure of Non-violence and an antifascist call out in London.

Listen on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/user-223844795/episode-1-july-2018

Or download via archive.org here: https://archive.org/details/FuckTheBins-Episode1