Nomads, unite!

er, as roving singularities… Starlings, anyone?

Fresh back from Deleuze 2012, one of the most solid presenters was Eugene Holland (see Mark’s mention of his book on Spinoza)… His recent book, Nomad Citizenship also looks to be a (damn) good read.

His talk was broken into two segments, both working through his idea of a “Slow Motion” debt strike, in which we carefully, cautiously, extricate ourselves from the machinations of capital that keep it moving forward. His main emphasis was getting to the foundational structures that provide capital with the resources and ‘starving’ it, rather than addressing the symptoms or manifestations that result. In some respects, it is a robust update to our recent excursion with Harvey, who also emphasized understanding the root causes, rather than simply ameliorate the manifest conditions; and it is a more sober/cautious version of our other recent read, The Coming Insurrection. But unlike Harvey, Holland has clear ideas on how to accomplish this, what it might look like, the importance of doing so, etc. And unlike C.I., it seems to advocate for a slow withdrawal and occupying an in-between territory of the current milieu, compared to the anarchic state of affairs espoused by the C.I. It draws heavily from D & G and their concept of Nomadology, working within and against Debt as it controls and imprisons our desires and ways of operating in the world. Especially salient is the recent drive of the “occupy student debt“, with one of the goals being to write off student debt in the spirit of a ‘Jubilee’, or a government holiday in which debts are waived. My personal take: Holland has good attitude, and really seems to be working in the spirit of D & G; not simply using their language, but thinking through their language and their concepts. I’d like to suggest putting it on Becoming Poor’s reading docket.

On communes

I’m reposting my comment to Mark’s post on “Finding Each Other”:

The topic of ‘finding each other’ raised an issue that we discussed during our in-person meeting, which I will reiterate here. In ‘The Coming Insurrection’–despite the conscious employment of the terms ‘commune’ and ‘communism’–the initial stages of such sharings, groupings, and findings of like-minded individuals is not premised on a particular political stance. Nor is the normative call for doing so from the author(s). In other words, one’s ‘truth’ does not have to meet certain litmus tests, for instance, and therefore groups could (and by extension should) form based on reactionary, racist, fundamentalist, etc. truths. This appears to follow particular conceptions of democracy (especially pluralism), as opposed to the more liberal-based notions of social justice or liberal democracy. Under this perspective, normative claims are not based on the content of the groups’ truths themselves, but merely on clearing the path to allow those truths and their respective subjects to ‘find each other’. It follows logically, then, that the politics of ‘The Coming Insurrection’ is pro-democracy and pro-difference, but anti-establishment, anti-party, anti-organization.

The subsequent question raised during our discussion was: can all truth-groups be considered ‘communes’ or are some barred from reaching that particular term based purely on their point along the political spectrum? If any group can be a commune, why use the word ‘commune’ that is loaded with leftist historical connotations? If all truth-groups are welcome to join the ‘coming insurrection’, shouldn’t this be made more explicit in the choice of words and call to arms? If all are not welcome, then must we resort to problematic criteria of determining membership?

Inevitably, in our discussion, the juxtaposition was made between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement in the US context. Assuming that most of us reading texts like ‘The Coming Insurrection’ are likely of the more left-wing persuasion, I believe we must take it upon ourselves to distinguish between particular political viewpoints (i.e. individual ‘truths’) and the call for political action, democracy, and alternative futures more generally. Though a sports analogy may belittle my point, the inclination is too great: we must be able to act as players of self-managed ‘teams’, while at the same time willing to accept a certain larger-scale normative framework or ‘league’ that legitimizes other ‘teams’ existence, albeit not their substantive claims.

just ran across this…


[reblogged from h-net; click herefor original posting]A new attitude toward public space is emerging in cities across the globe. Though certainly not a new phenomenon, citizens are increasingly using urban space to advance political and social justice goals through protest, occupation, unsanctioned modification, and other means. Of particular relevance to planners, urban designers and local policymakers are the actions called, variously, do-it-yourself (DIY), tactical or guerilla urbanism. DIY activities engage the increasingly blurry distinctions between design and activism through which individual actors have become increasingly empowered to create and implement low cost interventions in public space aimed at solving fine-grained urban dilemmas. Though often illegal or at best unsanctioned, DIY interventions are increasingly lauded within certain activist segments of the planning, design and social justice communities as pragmatic and fiscally prudent approaches to addressing unmet needs of urban residents in the face of municipal fiscal crises, increasing privatization of public…

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Dispatch from Downtown

I do my very best to abstain from buying anything from the Wal-Mart of the internet (Amazon), so when I can’t find a book at Elliott Bay or the University Book Store, I typically make online purchases from Powell’s. However, in the wake of our last group meeting — where I confessed to having never associated with any proper anarchists, nor even setting foot in an anarchist bookstore — I walked in to Left Bank Books to see if they had a copy of Agamben’s The Coming Community. They did, and it was three bucks cheaper than Powell’s. I was in a hurry so I didn’t look around much, but the place felt a lot like City Lights and I’ll be returning soon.

Book of Interest?


When Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994, freedom-loving people around the world hailed a victory over racial domination. The end of apartheid did not change the basic conditions of the oppressed majority, however. Material inequality has deepened and new forms of solidarity and resistance have emerged in communities that have forged new and dynamic political identities. We Are the Poors follows the growth of the most unexpected of these community movements, beginning in one township of Durban, linking up with community and labor struggles in other parts of the country, and coming together in massive anti-government protests at the time of the UN World Conference Against Racism in 2001.

We Are the Poors follows the growth of the most unexpected of these community movements, beginning in one township of Durban, linking up with community and labor struggles in other parts of the country, and coming together in massive anti-government protests at the time of the UN World Conference Against Racism in 2001. It describes from the inside how the downtrodden regain their dignity and create hope for a better future in the face of a neoliberal onslaught, and shows the human faces of the struggle against the corporate model of globalization in a Third World country.

Dismantling the Self

I have been playing around with how to represent visually the different ideas of the subject/self we have been discussing.  Here is one possibility.  There is the liberal self as independent, discrete, self-contained monad:

And then there is the idea of the self when it is pulled apart and becomes a loose assemblage of multiple singularities that opens out into the world and connects with millions of singularities in other selves:

The second image is Jackson Pollack’s Summertime Number 9A (1948), which hangs in the Tate Modern in London.  I don’t know if you can see it in this image (you can click on it), but I see almost a second-line scene here–many figures–hard to discern but nevertheless perceptible–in various poses all marching and/or dancing toward the right of the screen, each intermingled with the others through lines of motion and emotion.

I’m not sure I’ve got the images quite right…what do you think?