What history are you reading?

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Nate
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Aug 10 2007 05:03

Oh god I hate that Katsafiacas book. A really good one on the Italians is States Of Emergency by someone Lumley. Another good one, more of an intellectual history, is Storming Heaven by Steve Wright.

I'm pretty sure the european autonomist stuff isn't much of an influence in Argentina, certainly less than stuff that's from Argentina. There are folk there that engage with Negri and other of that stripe, but it's less a matter of influence than it is responding to stuff they read in relation to other stuff they read. There's a pretty rich political and theoretical conversation going on there, and some fascinating and tragic movement history, shame so little of it makes it into english.

Catch 22
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Aug 10 2007 05:28
Nate wrote:
Oh god I hate that Katsafiacas book. A really good one on the Italians is States Of Emergency by someone Lumley. Another good one, more of an intellectual history, is Storming Heaven by Steve Wright.

I'm pretty sure the european autonomist stuff isn't much of an influence in Argentina, certainly less than stuff that's from Argentina. There are folk there that engage with Negri and other of that stripe, but it's less a matter of influence than it is responding to stuff they read in relation to other stuff they read. There's a pretty rich political and theoretical conversation going on there, and some fascinating and tragic movement history, shame so little of it makes it into english.

heh. Well I know next to nothing about the European "autonomous movements" so I liked the history a lot. Though the author is a prick, and thinks the autonomen have become some grand world influencing trend. I'm really interested in reading more about Autonomia. Though my Italian comrades tell me that the current autonomists in italy, including Negri, are all affluent idiots.

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Aug 10 2007 06:28

a lot of the current autonomists are complete muppets (negri, lazzarato, virno, fortunati). with hindsight you can see the continuities with some of the original autonomia but the influence of french postmodernism has dragged it off into a lot of inconsistent nonsense. steve wright's book is good on the original autonomia - kind of summarised in this article. aufheben magazine has had an ongoing engagement-come-critique of autonomia which i largely agree with - essentially instead of rejecting the orthodox value production fetish they were reacting against (only blue collar, manufacturing proles have agency vis capital) they simply extended it across an ever wider range of activities until 'social life itself is productive' (negri & hardt) and a baby's smile produces value for its parents (fortunati).

edit: i would say that negri says all sorts i can agree with, but many of his premisses are suspect, and his collage style meta-theorising gets my goat, it's basically aesthetics, like a social democratic dj shadow

MalFunction
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Aug 10 2007 08:58

still in the history section of katsafiacas' book so will have to see about the theory.
shades of hegel with his world spirit stuff?

on Autonomia - best selection of articles I've read (long time ago) is:
Semiotext(e) Italy: Autonomia - post political writings. first published 1980.
downloadable here:
http://www.generation-online.org/t/ppp.htm

as for argentina - just a happy juxtaposition of texts i was reading - horizontalism / subversion of politics / multitude / grammar of multitude - struck me i was reading the same ideas but in different context.

need more up-to-date info on argentina situation - what is the current state of play re occupied factories / neighbourhood asemblies / MTDs etc

Bill Bunting
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Aug 10 2007 11:50

I'm reading The English Resistance: The Underground War Against the Normans by Peter Rex (Tempus Publishing 2004), great stuff, does for our understanding of the period what The World Turnded Upside Down by Christopher Hill (Maurice Temple Smith 1972) did for our understanding of the English Civil War.
I like history that fills in the gaps left by the 'official' historians of the victors, they help demonstrate the irrepressible urge for freedom among everyday people. There was five years of resistance after the Battle of Hastings and to crush the rebellion William the Bastard resorted to the usual tactics of terror and repression, 150,000 people were slaughtered and hundreds of towns and villages were erased from the map during the 'harrowing of the north'. 'Overkill' does to the mind what swords, bullets or bombs do to the flesh, 'collateral damage' is just 'terrorism' by another name.

Pemulwry
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Aug 10 2007 16:14

are there any books specifically on the metropolitan indians in english? I have never come across an English language text that deals entirely with them.

Catch 22
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Aug 10 2007 19:13
Joseph K. wrote:
a lot of the current autonomists are complete muppets (negri, lazzarato, virno, fortunati). with hindsight you can see the continuities with some of the original autonomia but the influence of french postmodernism has dragged it off into a lot of inconsistent nonsense. steve wright's book is good on the original autonomia - kind of summarised in this article. aufheben magazine has had an ongoing engagement-come-critique of autonomia which i largely agree with - essentially instead of rejecting the orthodox value production fetish they were reacting against (only blue collar, manufacturing proles have agency vis capital) they simply extended it across an ever wider range of activities until 'social life itself is productive' (negri & hardt) and a baby's smile produces value for its parents (fortunati).

edit: i would say that negri says all sorts i can agree with, but many of his premisses are suspect, and his collage style meta-theorising gets my goat, it's basically aesthetics, like a social democratic dj shadow

It's not that the autonomists have some daft ideas-they do. Its mostly that the autonomists themselves are utter assholes and are all middle class dropouts who will grow up and vote social democrat. At least that's what my friend's say.

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Aug 10 2007 20:13

if negri hasn't grown up yet he'd better hurry up! wink quite a few of them are into drop-out politics (sorry, 'exodus'). a mate who goes to italy a fair bit said his comrades there were baffled why they're seen as libertarians in the anglophone world, saying something like they were a mixture of closet leninists and 'radical' social democrats playing word games, instead of a 'workers' state' you get a 'republic of the multitude'

Catch 22
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Aug 10 2007 21:02

Yeah totally, they're all closet Leninists or "radical" social democrats according to my friends. They even manage to get government funds for their social centres. When Bush came to Rome they expected the government to provide them free train rides to Rome to protest! I'm planning to visit Italy with my Italian comrades and do a tour of the left. They tell me I should write something annihilating the autonomists.

bastarx
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Aug 11 2007 11:31

I took one of those free trains from Padova to Rome in June 04. I think 'train squatting' has been semi-legalised after happening pretty often, can't see what's wrong with it except the train staff wouldn't let us into the 1st class carriage.

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Aug 12 2007 15:43

In the 70s Negri wasn't a closet Leninist, he was openly Leninist. Tronti was the same at least in the 60s, in Worker And Capital he refers to workers' self-organization as the eruption of the workers' state under capitalism. Steve Wright's got an article, "A part of autonomy?" about the role of folk like Negri during the 70s autonomia stuff (which was very diverse, kind of like the antiglobalization movement in the US was, including all kinds of organizations and political positions). Segio Bologna's essay "Tribe of Moles" makes similar points in looking at the 1977 movement in Italy. There's also this interview with Bologna.

Like Joseph K, Negri says a lot I agree with but I think he's just wrong about a lot of stuff and is really fuzzy, sometimes I think deliberately so. I disagree with JK that it's the French stuff that marks a turn in Negri or the other post-operaismo folk. I think the contradictions in that stuff are in their work from the start prior to the French stuff and the Spinoza blahblahblah. I think the whole guaranteed-income-and-multitude schtick is pretty similar to the social-wage-for-the-socialized-worker stuff that was being done in Italy before 1978 or so.

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Aug 12 2007 15:54

yeah tbh i haven't got round to reading 'marx beyond marx' yet, i think the only 'first wave' autonomia i've read is mariarosa dalla costa's 'power of women' and a few tronti essays, so a misplaced benefit of the doubt it seems. actually i think steve wright in 'storming heaven' comments on negri's propensity to declare a bold new era every time his theories fail to match up to reality, and that was with regard to the 70s let alone empire/multitude.

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Aug 12 2007 16:12

I think it's a real shame that more of that early stuff isn't widely available. Like for instance, Workers And Capital is like 350 pages, only 70 or so of which has been translated into English. In my opinion the post-operaismo stuff that's around, with all the poststructural etc vocabulary, doesn't say much that's not in the earlier stuff I've read. I think the ascent into even more complicated language - which is frustrating because a lot that stuff was already really hard going before the french stuff entered the conversation - is a symptom of failure, like 'our movement died so we'll focus on philosophical problems', and I think it's largely obscurantist.

Catch 22
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Aug 12 2007 17:05
Peter wrote:
I took one of those free trains from Padova to Rome in June 04. I think 'train squatting' has been semi-legalised after happening pretty often, can't see what's wrong with it except the train staff wouldn't let us into the 1st class carriage.

They weren't just squating they literally thought the train companies would just give them free passage to Rome becuase they "needed to protest". And then were amazed when the government owned trains refused to allow them a free ride to go protest the government.

bastarx
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Aug 13 2007 00:25
Catch 22 wrote:
Peter wrote:
I took one of those free trains from Padova to Rome in June 04. I think 'train squatting' has been semi-legalised after happening pretty often, can't see what's wrong with it except the train staff wouldn't let us into the 1st class carriage.

They weren't just squating they literally thought the train companies would just give them free passage to Rome becuase they "needed to protest". And then were amazed when the government owned trains refused to allow them a free ride to go protest the government.

Which is basically what I said, trains got squatted so often to go to protests that people came to expect it. And they were annoyed when the govt didn't deliver as usual. Just as you might be annoyed if you suddenly stopped getting the dole.

syndicalist
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Aug 13 2007 13:17

Ok, for those of you who want a big yawn.... I've started to re-read the pamphlet "The SLP and the USSR".

Web version: http://www.slp.org/pdf/Others/slp_ussr.

Along with it, I'm going through another SLP pamphlet, by Arnold Peterson, entitled "Marxism versus Soviet Despotism".

The first pamphlet is far more interesting. The second, heavy rah-rah De Leon and tries to make the connection between the SLP's form of "socialist industrial union" form of workers control and that of Lenin.

No particular reason I'm reading 'em, I was moving some of my pamphlets around, saw 'em and figured its been decades since I read 'em. Nothing anarchistic about them at all.

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Dec 16 2007 06:55

It's been a minute - what are folk reading recently? I read Marcus Rediker's new book The Slave Ship, that's fantastic. Kind of a downer though.

severin
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Dec 16 2007 06:57

...reading various works about the history of the Peasant Revolt in reformation Germany (16th. cent.)

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Dec 16 2007 06:58

I'm reading Rediker for my class on Pirates. How cool is that? I'm looking forward to it.

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Dec 16 2007 07:27

Duestcher's Trilogy on Trotsky. It started well, but is getting worse.
Devrim

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Dec 16 2007 07:42
syndicalist wrote:
Ok, for those of you who want a big yawn.... I've started to re-read the pamphlet "The SLP and the USSR".

Web version: http://www.slp.org/pdf/Others/slp_ussr.

Along with it, I'm going through another SLP pamphlet, by Arnold Peterson, entitled "Marxism versus Soviet Despotism".

The SLP used to send advisements to Stalin, up til they were shocked by the Hitler-Stalin pact.

Mike Harman
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Dec 16 2007 10:54

Just finished the Solidarity pamphlet on Czech '68 and Dodge Wildcat (Black and Red). Currently reading "Workers of the World Tonight - international dockers struggles in the 1980s" published by BM BLOB.

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Dec 17 2007 21:30

Just finished reading Servants of Nature, a history of scientific practice and institutions from antiquity to the present day, though in practice it dwells mostly on the 17th-19th centuries. Next up is rereading A Profile of Mathematical Logic, which is a technical history of the subject from antiquity to modern times, or maybe The Abyss of Time, which focuses on changing conceptions of the Earth's antiquity from the 16th century onwards (or so it claims); if the latter, then I shall probably follow it with a rereading of Stephen J. Gould's Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle.

anna x
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Dec 18 2007 00:24

Kinda flicking through "The Road Not Taken - A History of Radical Social Work in the United States" by Michael Reisch and Janice Andrews looking for stuff I can use for an assignment for uni on the media and its portrayal of young people.
all the best.
gregg.

MalFunction
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Dec 18 2007 10:09

Nearly finished Tom Goyens book on the german anarchist movement in New York 1880-1914.

fascinating stuff, especially when discussing use of space, culture, rifle clubs etc.

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Dec 18 2007 23:26

Catch, any of that stuff online?

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Dec 19 2007 00:33

Nate; http://libcom.org/library/workers-world-tonight-international-dockers-struggles-1980s

Mike Harman
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Dec 19 2007 00:55

btw, although it might take me a while to get to it, I'm planning to split that up into it's constituent articles so it's easier to read. Some serious stuff in that pamphlet.

Also going to fix this up from class against class with scanned photos from the pamphlet for the library - again, could take a while:
http://www.geocities.com/cordobakaf/dodge_wildcat.html

The Cerny '68 pamphlet doesn't seem to be online.

Mike Harman
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Dec 19 2007 00:57

Nate- this is good too - couple of years before the Dodge one and they reference it: http://libcom.org/library/lordstown-struggle-ken-weller

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Dec 19 2007 01:17

Thanks Catch. Also, in case anyone's interested, the old Semiotext issue on Italian stuff is online now - http://generation-online.org/t/ppp.htm

Some of it's already been available for a while, some it hasn't.