This Week on Against the Grain

Mon 11.07.11 | Anarchism in Thought, and in the Streets
Anarchist principles inform much of what is happening at Occupy Wall Street and beyond. So what does anarchism, a rich tradition of political thought, mean? Martha Ackelsberg, Cindy Milstein, Tomas Moniz and Roger White discuss anarchist ideas and dynamics. Milstein also describes “anarchism in action” at Occupy Philly.

Tues 11.08.11 | Wall Street, Populism, and the Left
Moving your money out of the big banks that have helped create the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression may seem like an excellent idea. But leftwing journalist Doug Henwood believes such actions — along with community currencies and attempts to abolish corporate personhood — are misguided. Henwod discusses the long, and problematic, history of American populism, and what a radical approach to finance might look like.

Wed 11.09.11 | “Free Trade” & Corporate Power
Martin Hart-Landsberg points out that free trade agreements, such as the one the US is poised to conclude with South Korea, are about much more than trade — they expand the power of big corporations, strip governments of their ability to regulate them, and fuel capitalism’s destructive tendencies. According to Hart-Landsberg, the Korea-US trade deal would also fuel the already-disastrous financialization of the US economy.

via Against the Grain


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Against the Grain: Mon 10.31.11| Occupy and Strike

In 1946 workers struck across Oakland and closed the city down for three days. On November 2nd, a general strike and mass day of action have been called by Occupy Oakland to shut down the wealthiest one percent of the population. Labor historian Gifford Hartman discusses the 1946 — and 1934 — general strike, while movement scholars Cynthia Kaufman and Eddie Yuen explore the strengths, weaknesses, and future of the Occupy Wall Street protests.


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New Left Review Roundup

Malcolm Bull: Levelling Out

“Equality has had no fiercer critic than Nietzsche, whose ‘fundamental insight with respect to the genealogy of morals’ is that social inequality is the source of our value concepts, and the necessary condition of value itself.  His rejection of equality is unequivocal. He distinguishes himself absolutely from the ‘levellers’ and ‘preachers of equality’. There is, he claims, ‘no more poisonous poison’: ‘it seems to be preached by justice itself, while it is the end of justice’, for ‘men are not equal’.

However, Nietzsche’s anti-egalitarianism is not unnuanced…”

Jules Boykoff: The Anti-Olympics

“If the Games have always represented the grand political logic of the day—classical imperialist muscle-flexing, Cold War inter-bloc rivalry, Pax Americana—they now typically also summon an upsurge of political contestation wherever they go. The IOC’s official charter forbids the expression of anti-Olympic dissent, stating in Rule 51, ‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas’. Nevertheless, when the Olympics touch down in a host city, protest soon follows. Global summits like the WTO and G20 became the focus for a major wave of international activism with Seattle. The Games, too, have been revealed as the avatar of an unaccountable world order of power, wealth and spectacle, wreaking permanent social damage on the urban environment…”

Michael Denning: Wageless Life

“Wageless life has almost always been seen as a situation of lack, the space of exclusion: the unemployed, theinformal. I do not claim to solve this semantic problem: my own working vocabulary—the wageless—is a parallel construction. However, I want to insist that we decentre wage labour in our conception of life under capitalism. The fetishism of the wage may well be the source of capitalist ideologies of freedom and equality, but the employment contract is not the founding moment. For capitalism begins not with the offer of work, but with the imperative to earn a living. Dispossession and expropriation, followed by the enforcement of money taxes and rent: such is the idyll of ‘free labour’. In those rare moments of modern emancipation, the freed people—from slavery, serfdom and other forms of coerced labour—have never chosen to be wage labourers. There may be a ‘propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another’, as Adam Smith put it, but there is clearly no propensity to get a job…”

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