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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011 by Chris O'Kane

I don’t periodize by year well. I’m also a skint grad student who spent most of the year studying. So my list does not consist in the best of what was new this year. It consists in a jumble of what I thought was best in 2011.

The Global Revolt of 2011:

What is often portrayed as a number of discrete events—The Arab Spring, The Indignados, The Greek Riots, The English Riots, The Occupy Movement etc.—should really be seen as a widespread, and long overdue, global revolt against the crisis of neo-liberal capitalism. I was excited and inspired by many of the waves of this revolt. I took part in others. I also had problems with aspects of it. I think it was smart to frame much of the rhetoric in terms of calls for ‘real democracy’ and the ‘99%.’ As slogans they were easily understood and appealed to people from a range of backgrounds and political orientations. In 2012, however, I hope the criticisms move beyond these slogans to a criticism of how the capitalist system functions and why it necessarily produces a class antagonism, financial disparity, exploitation and domination. I also hope the moves to occupy foreclosed homes, abandoned spaces etc. and efforts at debt refusal pick up.

The Return of Marx:

Greenspan, hell even Keynes, don’t cut the mustard when it comes to explanations of or solutions to the crisis.

How do we abolish the capitalist social form and its related forms of antagonism? Communisation is a problematic that tries to answer this question by theorizing the creation of communism under our total subsumption by capital as a process that negates value, class, gender etc. As theorized by Theorie Communiste, End Notes and others in SIC and Communisation and Its Discontents, communisation addresses the systematic nature of the capitalist social form and its overcoming in manner that possesses critical relevance for the global revolt:

“The abolition of capital, i.e. the revolution and the production of communism, is immediately the abolition of all classes and therefore of the proletariat. This occurs through the communisation of society, which is abolished as a community separated from its elements. Proletarians abolish capital by the production of a community immediate to its elements ; they transform their relations into immediate relations between individuals. Relations between singular individuals that are no longer the embodiment of a social category, including the supposedly natural categories of the social sexes of woman and man. Revolutionary practice is the coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-transformation.” (from the editorial in SIC 1 available at www.sic.communisation.net)

The Republican Presidential Election:

The perverse electoral process at its most perverse is also the best reality show of the year. A freak-show in which the candidates compete to try to out do their opponents bigoted regressive policies and 1950’s clip art style grooming.

Freedom 1590 AM:

Right wing talk radio in Seattle that proves the paranoid style of American politics is alive and well. A portal into an alternate universe where the Nazi’s were left wing and evangelical Christianity is under attack. The tributes to Christopher Hitchens were particularly perverse.

The Automatic Insurrectionary Manifesto Generator http://www.objectivechance.com/automatic_insurrection, The International Werewolf Conspiracy.

I usually listen to music while studying. For some reason I find that avant-garde kinds of doom/drone/black metal are the best for studying. So I spent a lot of time listening to the following new albums: Loss-Despond, Yob-Atma, Krallice-Diotima, Wolves in the Throne Room—Celestial Lineage, Big Business Quadruple Single and unreleased songs by The Whip I found online. I also loved the new Comet Gain.

Le Havre, The Muppet movie and The Black Power Mix-tape were the only new films I saw in the theatre in 2011. They were all good but not great. I also saw a showing of Freaks at the theatre. It was awesome. The great films I saw on DVD were the jimmy Stewart westerns by Anthony Mann, Fritz Lang westerns, Buster Keaton two reelers, Beaches of Agnes and Fassbinder’s the Niklashausen Journey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0U0tn8W-8I

Re-watching Deadwood, which tells the story of manifest destiny from primitive accumulation to formal and real subsumption through a violent bunch of sociopaths who are covered in shit while engaging in a lotta swearing and a lotta drinking.

Scam and On the Lower Frequencies by Erick Lyle, The Third Reich and Between Parentheses by Roberto Bolano, Ask the Dust by John Fante, The Sociology of Theodor Adorno by Mathias Benzer, Space, Difference and Everyday Life: Reading Henri Lefebvre, The Concept of Nature in Marx and History and Structure by Alfred Schmidt, The Dialectics of Labour by Chris Arthur, Mike Davis’s writings on cities, Open Marxism and the Common Sense journal, An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx's Capital by Michael Heinrich and Alex Locascio.

Revolutionary graves, ports, wandering in Portland, Seattle, Brighton, Rome, London, Oxford and Paris, the Czech photo exhibit in London, Gill’s sculptures, Taylor St Coffee and Tooktas café in Brighton. Aaron and Daily seeing Sonic Youth and eating at Del Posto.


Cathy said...

Yay, Chris! xoxo

A said...

In my Top 10 of Top 10s.