For Mike Davis (1946-2022)

I’m a fatalistic Celt, and I have the example of my mother and older sister, who died like Russian soldiers at Stalingrad.  Thanks to California’s aid-in-dying law, I have control over the final act. But I guess what I think about the most is that I’m just extraordinarily furious and angry. If I have a regret, it’s not dying in battle or at a barricade as I’ve always romantically imagined — fighting. Everybody always wants to know: Aren’t you hopeful? Don’t you believe in hope? To me, this is not a rational conversation. I’m writing because I’m hoping the people who read it don’t need dollops of hope or good endings but are reading so that they’ll know what to fight, and fight even when the fight seems hopeless.

Mike Davis (2022 Verso Books Blog)


You’ve been organizing for social change your whole life. How do you deal with a future that feels so bleak?

For someone my age who was in the civil rights movement, and in other struggles of the 1960s, I’ve seen miracles happen. I’ve seen ordinary people do the most heroic things. When you’ve had the privilege of knowing so many great fighters and resisters, you can’t lay down the sword, even if things seem objectively hopeless.

I’ve always been influenced by the poems Brecht wrote in the late 30s, during the second world war, after everything had been incinerated, all the dreams and values of an entire generation destroyed, and Brecht said, well, it’s a new dark ages … how do people resist in the dark ages?

What keeps us going, ultimately, is our love for each other, and our refusal to bow our heads, to accept the verdict, however all-powerful it seems. It’s what ordinary people have to do. You have to love each other. You have to defend each other. You have to fight.

(The Guardian 31/08/2022)


It would be impossible to summarise the work of Mike Davis, and there are no doubt those who could do it far better than us. Partly inspired and indebted to the work of Karl Marx, he never fell to the illusion of fetishizing his writings, and this both in his own written work and in his political engagements.

The range of Davis’ writings is impressive, but perhaps no domain was more central to his concerns than the city. In his memory and as a testimonial to his presence, we share below the important essay, “Who will build the ark?”, published in the New Left Review (No. 61, January-February 2010).

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The critique of the school in post-’68 French thought: Interview with Jacques Rancière

There aren’t two sorts of mind. There is inequality in the manifestations of intelligence, according to the greater or lesser energy communicated to the intelligence by the will for discovering and combining new relations; but there is no hierarchy of intellectual capacity. Emancipation is becoming conscious of this equality of nature. This is what opens the way to all adventure in the land of knowledge. It is a matter of daring to be adventurous, and not whether one learns more or less well or more or less quickly.

Jacques Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster

Jacques Rancière reflects on May 1968 and neoliberalism in order to contextualise his work criticising the Althusserian distinction between science and ideology, as well as to shed light on how his own philosophy developed in relation to those of Althusser, Bourdieu, and Foucault.

This is one of a number of interviews conducted Jun Fujita Hirose et Yoshiyuki Sato around the “critique of the school in post-68 French thought”, for the online site: Laboratoire d’analyse critique des modernités. (see here)

Three of these interviews have been translated into English by David Fernbach and published at the Verso Books blog. We share below Fernbach’s translation of the interview with Rancière.


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Anarchism for termites: A manifesto

For Bruno Latour (1947-2022)

When we began to write this “Manifesto”, it was to compliment an earlier exercise in manifesto writing – A moss-like anarchist manifesto – and to continue the sceptical exercise of distilling images and concepts from parallel reflections that have served as inspiration for our own, in this case, Bruno Latour’s essay, After Lockdown: A Metamorphosis.

Midway through the writing, we learned of Latour’s death, and the exercise became as much a celebration of his work as well as a manifesto. Latour’s own body of work is extensive and we make no pretence to summarising it here, much less critically evaluating it. For those wishing to explore it, beyond our own modest efforts, can watch a recent and excellent interview with Latour made for the french-german television channel Arte and now available (in french) on YouTube and at the Arte website (in multiple languages), in eleven episodes.

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Brazil: Between election rounds

Reflections on the Brazilian elections and anarchism, from the Black Rose Anarchist Federation

Anarchism in the Face of Fascism and the Electoral Debate

05/10/2022

By Rafael V. Da Silva, Kauan Willian and Victor Khaled

Translated by S Nicholas Nappalos

This article was originally published by Jacobin Brasil.

Introduction

With neither Bolsonaro (Liberal Party) nor Lula (Workers’ Party) able to secure an outright majority during the October 2nd presidential election in Brazil, both advance to a run off election set to take place on October 30th. There is a great deal of anxiety and tension surrounding the electoral process in the country, which has seen extreme political polarization not dissimilar to what is taking place in the United States.

This article was written as a response to a prior piece also published in Jacobin Brasil titled “Anarchists in defense of the vote for Lula.” The previous article defended the tactical use of the vote to defeat Bolsonaro as a tool in the antifascist struggle, which is the principal theme the authors take up here.

The authors of this article are associated with the Institute for Anarchist Theory and Historya project supported by Black Rose / Rosa Negra.

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Amador Fernández-Savater: Notes on the unconscious and politics (summer 2022)

A patchwork reflection on psychoanalysis and politics, by Amador Fernández-Savater, published in Lobo Suelto (17/09/2022).


Reading Freud is an experience of great intensity. Not only because of what he brings to light, against everything and everyone (he, a bourgeois from Vienna, as if today we were saying, in the words of my friend Beñat, “a man from San Sebastián”).

It is also intense as a reading experience. Unlike Lacan, he does not think that to be suggestive you have to be hermetic. It is very clear and at the same time inexhaustible. And all the time he indicates failure in his own words: “I do not have the answer, I have not been able to advance further, etc.” Two things come to my mind, among a thousand others.

First, have we not regressed a great deal in our understanding of the psyche? The Freudian impact was slow, but inexorable. It affected all planes of reality. Literature, philosophy, cinema, popular humour, all registered its effects: the certainty that what we see is not what happens, that what is said is not what is said, that reality is double and the subject is divided.

Today, however, subjects parade themselves everywhere without any blemish or flaw, subjects that neither know nor suspect their division. The culture of the self and the will prevails: I know what I want and if I don’t get it, it’s my fault (or that of others). The techniques of access to the unconscious are conspicuous by their absence. And what proliferate are the palliatives of a malaise that we do not know how to question or elaborate.

Second, at what point has it been possible to separate the intimate and the collective (or historical-social)? Freud certainly leaves no room for doubt: psychoanalysis serves to think about the world (how else to read his Mass Psychology, Totem and Taboo, Civilisation and Its Discontents?).

And yet, in politics the reference to the unconscious disappears (objectivism and voluntarism are everywhere). And in the clinic, the reference to the social-collective disappears and there is no thought about what the collective dimension could be – the revolutionary included – of psychoanalysis.

But Freud’s discovery is that there is no difference between the normal and the pathological and that is why the psyche can be investigated through the jokes or the slips that anyone makes; and that the reality principle itself (culture-civilisation) is neurosis inducing and highly problematic as it is established.

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Resistance to war in russia

From the CrimethInc. collective (26/09/2022) …

Russia: Mobilization and Resistance

Can the Russian Anti-War Movement Rise to the Challenge?

On September 21, following the Ukrainian counteroffensive of early September, Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of the Russian population to support the “special operation” that the Russian military has been carrying out in Ukraine since last February. In the following analysis, written in collaboration with Russian anarchists and including translated material from the Russian anarchist project avtonom.org, we examine the response from the Russian anti-war movement and the potential of unrest in Russian society at large.

If you are looking for ways to support anarchists organizing in Russia, consider donating to avtonom.org, arguably the chief Russian anarchist media platform.

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Raoul Vaneigem: The government of fear

Gustave Courbet, “Le fou de peur” (1843-1845)

With gratitude to the notbored.org collective for sharing their translation of a recent text by Raoul Vaneigem, we gladly share it turn.

“Only Fear Governs Us: From the Programmed Degradation of the Living to its Spontaneous Rebirth”

Raoul Vaneigem[1]

1. Fear fills the gap between false reality and lived reality, between the fictitious economy and the fundamental economy. Governmental numbers hover like drones over the deterioration of hospitals, schools, transportation networks and established social rights.

2. Fear has become the strongest rampart of the rich against the social insurrection that threatens to eradicate them. They will go for anything that renews this fear and prolongs its duration. They conduct experiments on us, as on laboratory rats, because they are anxious to know the extent to which resignation and debasement will make us support and follow their orders.

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B. Traven For Beginners

We share an excellent article dedicated to the remarkable life and work of the anarchist writer B. Traven, published at The Transmetropolitan Review (22/09/2022), in what may be called an act of remembering for our times …

Reviews of my work in the Nazi press, with few exceptions and those only recently, were always favorable. That arouses my suspicion–and even more the fact that they have not banned all of my books, but only four.

B. Traven, private letter, June 8, 1933

My connection with B. Traven is pretty faint, but I should explain it for you, so I will. On the white side of my family, my grandfather was obsessed with the novels of the mysterious B. Traven, even going on camping trips in the desert with his guy friends in emulation of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, although unlike the pinche yanquis in that novel, they weren’t overcome by greed and bloodlust, always making it back to civilization in one piece.

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Amador Fernández-Savater: The apocalypse has already happened

Albrecht Dürer, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

From Lobo Suelto (22/09/2022) …

And yet, here we are back at the millennium. Each morning, we shall be on the eve of the end of time …

Jean-Paul Sartre, The End of War

Discourses of collapse proliferate everywhere. The repeated announcement of the end of our civilisation (or of the world) by a series of chain-like catastrophes: supplies, wars, epidemics; the urgent call of the “climate emergency” that wants to turn anguish (eco-anxiety and green depression) into action.

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Fraguas, the state against an autonomous rural collective

We return to Fraguas, spain, in solidarity with the effort to create an autonomous, rural collective in the mountains around Madrid, now confronted with the final act in a process of state persecution.

The Fraguas six will go to jail (if we don’t do anything to prevent it).

Repression against the settlers of a small town in Guadalajara

(from Todo por hacer, September 2022)

The Fraguas Revive collective, made up of a group of people who have lived or live in a small village in the Sierra Norte de Guadalajara [outside Madrid], has started a campaign through social networks to finance their legal defence after receiving the court order confirming the execution of the sentence of 2017. This sentence condemns six of the members of the Fraguas collective to eviction from the village and decrees the demolition of the rebuilt houses for alleged crimes against land planning and usurpation of real estate, as well as to pay civil liability (compensation) currently valued at 110 thousand Euros to the Public Administration for the cost of demolishing the buildings. Otherwise, the expectation is that they will go to prison, since it is normally a condition for the sentence to be suspended that payment of said civil liability be made. To avoid this, the group has called upon social movements to help deal with such a debt.

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