Friday, 30 April 2010
The abrupt closure of the Philosophy programmes at Middlesex University is a matter of national and indeed international concern. Not only does it flatly contradict the stated commitment of Middlesex University to promote 'research excellence', it represents a startling stage in the ongoing impoverishment of Philosophy provision in the UK.
Planning for the resistance meeting today at 3pm at the Trent Park campus. See the facebook event HERE
Thursday, 29 April 2010
But Counterforum is also hotting up.
With sessions on Feminism, Fascism, the Internet, the Crisis and much more we certainly are covering ground that is new to many of us.
Get tweeting, texting and 'sharing' the details for registration to make sure your friends don't miss out.
To clarify - this event is on TWO days
1) A feminist manifesto for the 21st century with Lindsey German and Nina Power is on SUNDAY at SOAS at 5pm...
...and is FREE
2) The rest of the sessions are on Monday: http://counterfire.org/index.php/theory/133-counterforum/4603-counterforum-the-crisis-the-movement-and-the-left
There are 'Tweet' buttons on both of them so you can share nice and easily.
You can register HERE: https://www.paypal.com/uk/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=8UN-89gficGfHqbidhopLEj-LgYVxkJhRH2XpwuMAdnqR5pYmFKFXka0MQq&dispatch=50a222a57771920b6a3d7b606239e4d529b525e0b7e69bf0224adecfb0124e9b5efedb82468478c6e115945fd0658595dbb4bda98e0c5f8e
As the crisis in Greece is hotting up you can show your solidarity by joining the facebook group here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=116447805051816&ref=ts
and organising an action of solidarity wherever you are in the world.
I think that is enough for now.
See you at the weekend. Please do contact us if you need any more info.
In solidarity Clare Solomon
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Christian Fuchs analyses the complexities of the relationship between the internet, revolutionary theory and the struggle for socialism.
Neither neo-Luddism nor techno-utopianism are adequate left-wing reactions to the fact that digital media to a certain extent shape the ways we work, live, communicate, act, and think.
The Marxian notion of the antagonism between the productive forces and the relations of production is helpful for analyzing the role of knowledge and the media in contemporary capitalism in a more complex manner.
Marx formulated this antagonism in the following words: “The contradiction between the general social power into which capital develops, on the one hand, and the private power of the individual capitalists over these social conditions of production, on the other, becomes ever more irreconcilable, and yet contains the solution of the problem, because it implies at the same time the transformation of the conditions of production into general, common, social, conditions”.
In one of the most well-known passages of his works, Marx says that the “material conditions for the existence” of “new superior relations of production” mature “within the framework of the old society” and that the “productive forces developing within bourgeois society create also the material conditions for a solution of this antagonism”.
Information systems and knowledge in production are economic factors that influence and enable the creation of knowledge goods and services that are sold as commodities.
On the Internet, knowledge is commodified in several ways: it is either directly sold as commodity (you for example pay for downloading music on iTunes) or is provided for free by companies in order to attract a large number of users to platforms so that the users can be commodified and sold as a user/prosumer commodity to advertising clients.
This shows that within capitalist society, knowledge and information systems are subsumed under the capitalist relations of production. But this fact does not allow the conclusion that technologies and media in general are only means of exploitation and means for the production of relative surplus value. It is due to three specific characteristics of information networks that networked productive forces come in contradiction with the capitalist relations of:
- Information as a strategic economic resource is globally produced and diffused by networks. It is a good that is hard to control in single places or by single owners.
- Information is intangible. It can easily be copied, which results in multiple ownerships and hence undermines individual private property.
- The essence of networks is that they strive for establishing connections. Networks are in essence a negation of individual ownership and the atomism of capitalism.
The Internet in capitalist society is therefore highly antagonistic. It is an expression of networked productive forces that anticipate the idea of a co-operative participatory economy, in which the means of production or co-operatively controlled by the immediate producers. The Internet is therefore also, but not only, a Keimform (germ cell) of communism.
But the very principles of networking, openness, decentralization that are at the heart of the Internet are also principles that enable new accumulation strategies. The Internet opens up and closes down possibilities for communism at the same time.
This analysis cast doubts on the assumption that political action can operate outside of antagonisms. It implies that progressive politics are, at least as long as we live in a capitalist society, in most instances antagonistic themselves. Given the antagonistic Internet, what can socialist net politics look like?
Communism most likely will not arrive tomorrow, it is not knocking on our doors in the current time of global crisis. This is at least what can be observed by the reactions of most citizens to the fact that capital has once again shipwrecked and has been saved by states with the help of taxpayers’ money.
The reaction has not been a wave of mass protests, but a shift towards the political right in many countries and a wait-see-hope-attitude in others (let’s wait until the crisis is over, let’s see if I will be affected, let’s hope that not I, but others will be damaged).
This shows that dreaming of revolution is today rather utopian – it is only an idea that has no mass support. A politics of radical reformism is needed that aims at changing the institutions in such a way that critical action can become more likely.
For net politics this means that the likelihood that the antagonism between the networked productive forces and the relations of production will have predominantly socialist and not capitalist effects can only be increased by left wing political actions, both in parliament, civil society, and as a combination of both. Elements of socialist net politics could for example include:
- the legalization of file sharing
- the introduction of a guaranteed basic income for cultural producers, financed by increasing capital taxation
- state subsidies for non-commercial, advertising-free, non-profit Internet projects
- the introduction of the legal requirement that commercial Internet platform providers operate based on opt-in advertising mechanisms
- the introduction of an Internet tax on online advertising revenues
- affirmative action mechanisms that increase the visibility of alternative online media on the Internet, make the existence of these platforms known to the people, and make the usage of alternative Internet platforms fun and attractive
The British elections 2010 will unfortunately not improve the possibilities or realities of socialist politics and socialist net politics, it will instead bring more of the same uniform neoliberal one-dimensionality, disguised and media-hyped as being young, fresh, and dynamic.
From a socialist perspective, the difference between Cameron, Glegg, and Brown is marginal. British neoliberalism will continue after just like before the elections. And this does not promise good times for net politics either.
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Please do come along and show your support.
#uaf #bnp #edl #nusnc10
Thursday 22nd April, 6pm - 8pm
ULU, Malet Street
Room - 3A (third floor)
Nearest Tubes - Goodge St, Euston, Euston Sq & Russell Sq
This meeting has been called by UAF, the NUS Black Students’ Campaign and the NUS LGBT Campaign only two weeks away from the General Election on Thursday May 6th. Following the election of two British National Party fascist MEPs last June it is more important than ever that we as a student movement come together and oppose the rise of fascism within the UK.
The meeting is being held exactly one week after the censure of Bell Ribeiro-Addy at NUS National Conference for sending a letter to Durham Students’ Union. The censure was made on the grounds that Bell was “threatening” and imposing NUS’ No Platform on Durham. The reality was that Bell and Daf Adley (NUS LGBT Officer) successfully stopped two fascists (including ex-National Front leader Andrew Brons) spreading their racist lies on Durham campus.
This meeting will discuss the ways in which students can mobilise to stop the BNP and other groups like the English Defence League, and look at how No Platform for Fascists can be a very useful tool within Students’ Unions.
Book your place now – email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair - Sabby Dhalu, UAF Joint Secretary
Hugh Lanning, PCS Deputy General Secretary
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, NUS Black Students' Officer
Daf Adley, NUS LGBT Officer (Open Place)
Clare Solomon, ULU President-elect
All I shall add at the mo is that if you want to get involved, DO. You can send any thing of interest to email@example.com, you can come to events and you can suggest things for us to do differently. Do keep looking out for changes-this is a Work in Progress and, due to the nature of the new technologies we have at our disposal, always will be.
I'm part of the editorial team for the Counterfire website which was launched last Monday. During its first week the site had around 10,000 visits, an extremely promising start.
News stories include new revelations of abuses of migrant workers, the decision to allow BNP members in teaching, left-wing campaigner Clare Solomon's victory in the London student elections, and the truth behind media myths about NATO operations in Afghanistan.
Feature articles includean insightful look at 'Why kids kill kids' (in the wake of controversy about Jon Venables), Michael Moore's new film reviewed, an overview ofthe crisis in Greece and why it has global implications, and an account of how the internet was used to mobilise against Berlusconi in Italy.
There'slots more already in the pipeline, which will be working its way online in the coming days and weeks. And if you have a report, pictures or video footage to contribute yourself, please get in touch.
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Monday, 19 April 2010
And true to her style she doesn't let them off the hook-read her report from said event HERE
Good luck Laurie-i wish we could vote :-(
What a brilliant use of facebook. People are offereing free accomodation and food and more. This is exactly the sort of thing the internet is good for and why we should campaign to keep access to it free and for all.
This is the Tweet going round: Nearly 1000 stranded travelers&locals networking on Facebook: JOIN US! http://bit.ly/bjyzPq #getmehome #putmeup
Follow those two hashtags for information, advice and help.
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
updates whenever we get reception to post (there's problems with phone
reception being cut off!)
Will update this particular post too a bit later...
you can follow the action from NewcastleGateshead live this week at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nus-national-conference-2010
Sent from my iPhone
Thursday, 8 April 2010
8 April 2010
Tel: 020 7801 2768
DON'T LET THEM IGNORE THE WAR IN THIS ELECTION
LOBBY THE CANDIDATES IN YOUR AREA
IT TAKES JUST 1-2 MINUTES
USE STOP THE WAR'S SURVEY: GO TO http://bit.ly/8X35fk
It's very simple. You enter your postcode. You get a list of the candidates in your area. You send your message which goes to all candidates. The message can be the Stop the War letter provided, or you can edit it to send your own text.
The responses we get will be published on the Stop the War website, and a list of any candidates who do not respond.
We have had nine years of politicians waging wars that were not supported by most people in Britain. The main parties will try to avoid the issue in the election because they all support the
> unjustified and unwinnable war in Afghanistan. We believe electors considering how to cast their vote on May 6 have a right to know the views of all the candidates on this issue.
Please do this now. Candidates in this election need to be flooded with requests for them to say where they stand on the issue of the war. Only then can the electors make an informed decision when deciding who will get theirvote.
DON'T LET THEM IGNORE THE WAR IN THIS ELECTION
USE STOP THE WAR'S SURVEY NOW: http://bit.ly/8X35fk
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Monday, 5 April 2010
Cheers to Richard from the excellent Third Estate blog for alerting me to this fab piece. He promises he's going to write more in the Internet, and from an Arendtian position (?!) - is that a sort of post-Heideggarian technology/nature stance then? Anyway, totally looking forward to it.
The US launch of the iPad marks a historic moment. Not ‘the end of books’ as some doomsayers would have it, or the even the start of the great Books vs Internet wars. No, today Apple has reversed the flow of their business model. And with it, the internet.
Some explanation. Ever wondered why most people have PCs, even though Apple Macs look nicer, work better and are more cutting edge technologically? There’s a very simple answer. It’s because when Microsoft and Apple were starting up, they used two different business models. Microsoft franchised: they’d produce the software, and would actively help anyone else build the hardware. Apple, on the other hand, was to always make the software and the hardware together, and allow no sharing or copying of either part of the design. This is exemplified by the iPod and iTunes.
This started to change a few years ago with the release of the MacBook (bear with me here, all will be revealed). The switch from Motorola to Intel microchips means that any Mac can run Microsoft Windows as well as Apple’s own software. Today, the iPad is released on the US market – and expressly enables other companies to develop their own software (‘Apps’) for the iPad. While Apple has got its own ‘iBooks’ (yes, really), there’s also going to be Apps from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and, when the iPad gets released in Britain later this month, undoubtedly iWaterstones and eFoyles will make appearances as well.
As you can tell, the big plus about the iPad is that it supports ebooks like never before. Even though Amazon released the Kindle last year, whose screen is actually seen by many as superior to the iPad’s, the book über-emporiorum stated that they “look forward to making Kindle available for iPad very soon.”
What? ‘But Kindle’s a piece of hardware!’ I hear you say. ‘How can a piece of hardware be made available on another piece of hardware?’ A very good question indeed. What Amazon means by this enigmatic little nugget is that they’re going to be releasing software called something naff like iKindle, to be used on iPads to buy eBooks. This burgeoning market of small letter software is about two main things: adverts and publishers.
What the Times sees as a great deal for consumers, in which a price war makes ebooks cheaper and cheaper, is actually a really good method for ensuring that big publishing houses increase their control in the market, not just be being able to offer ebooks at a price that cuts below that needed by any publisher to support writers and researchers. I don’t want to give an impression here that this is about starving novellists, poets writing in the garret by the light of the moon and the glow of the screen. This is about journals, newspapers, magazines. It’s about high quality independent research and cutting comment.
Already we’ve seen over the past 6 months alone all sorts of clamp downs on the unadulterated free content promised by the internet. From the Digital Economy Bill to Google Books, from Sky News to the New Yorker, the days of free online content are coming to an end. ‘Hey, there are always ways to get round these things!’ I hear you interject again. ‘I mean Napster and Pirate Bay might be hounded by big governments and corporations, but we’ll find a way, right?’
Wrong. Because, just like with big book stores, most people aren’t going to be using the small independent software on their iPad – their going to be relying on big business to give them access to the world of words. But this time it’s all digital, which means its a lot, lot easier to control and manipulate.
When I read history essays or NEF reports online, no one interferes with my experience at the moment. But just as we’ve seen that change with music, so it might well change with books. Youtube videos now come with pop up adverts and dollar signs; Spotify seems to be increasing its advert to music ratio each day. All these new ebook reading applications are going to support these kinds of tie-ins: buy three volumes of Freud and get a pop-up ad for Lady GaGa.
But most importantly, the technological control of information allows for the clawing away of that access in a state of emergency. This doesn’t just mean the effective banning of radical texts, something which, remember, we’ve seen in the last few years both on the left and on the right. It can also be for the smallest, most ridiculous-seeming reasons: it’s worth recalling that the first call for state monopoly of the printing presses came from an Italian humanist to the Pope in 1471 (a mere ten years after Gutenberg’s invention), complaining that the quality of the Latin texts produced were so poor that the Vatican should legislate all printing activity immediately.
While the rest of the world is Pope bashing, maybe we should stop and examine the activities of our own growing church of ideas – all hail the Corporations of the Text! Maybe to elucidate a bit more where I’m coming from on this, here’s the excellent James Boyle:
“I care about the Web not because I want to live my life there, but because of what it has allowed us to achieve, what it represents for the potential of open science and culture… In place of what we have today, I think…we are trying to reinvent a tamer, more controlled Web and to change the nature of the underlying networks on which it operates. We would restrict openness of access, decrease anonymity, and limit the number of actions that a network participant could perform.
“The benefits would be undeniable. It would cut down on spam, viruses, and illicit peer-to-peer file sharing. At the same time, it would undercut the iconoclastic technological, cultural and political potential the Web offer, the ability of a new technology, a new service to build on open networks and open protocols, without needing approval from regulators or entrenched market players, or even the owner of the Web pages to which you link.”
I’m not saying there’s anything in particular we can do about all this: at least, no one’s told me a course of grass-roots action we could take yet. I’m certainly not about to go on a bout of boycotting. But at the least we should be aware of this almost inevitable drive towards the restriction of the free information age.
Sunday, 4 April 2010
From an email list...
This event is all about the arms industry, it relates directly to those of us who campaign against Palestine, to those who campaign against state surveilance, military repression amd armed violence, who campaign against the Colombian conflict, the conflict in Sri Lanka, in the Congo, the state repression in Zimbabwe, and the numerous other forms of state and corporate sponsored violence worlwide, including our own military violence inflicted in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the police surveilance that works to suppress the political activism we ourselves are involved in.
As activists this is a point that should unite us all, that we fight against those that profit from violence and oppression. We need to confront those that sell, market, make and employ these weapons and surveilance systems.
For more information, please see www.dsei.org
hope to see you there. Please circulate widely.
Assemble 12 Noon, Olympia Way, W14, on Wednesday 14 April.
Sponsored by arms company Thales, and organised by Clarion Events—responsible for Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi) the world's largest arms fair, the Counter Terror Expo(http://bit.ly/5v698y) takes place between 14-15 April 2010 at Olympia, London.
Officially supported by a plethora of military, police and private security organisations, the Expo will host over 250 exhibitors including leading arms companies such as BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, and is endorsed by state agencies such as the MoD and NATO.
Western governments and arms manufacturers make huge profits from terrorising populations around the world both by creating new conflicts and exacerbating existing ones—for example, British made F16 components were used during the bombing of Gaza in 2008 killing 400 children.
Surveillance systems will be a major focus of the expo, with companies promoting biometric and data gathering/mining technologies(http://bit.ly/b4lRA0)—technologies promoting "freedom" through ever greater control and documentation of our daily lives.
Say no to living in a climate of state and corporation induced terror.
Join Disarm DSEi, confront the counter terror expo, resist our ever encroaching surveillance society, and expose the exploitation of fear for profit.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
This is the email from KCL UCU:
Last Tuesday's (30 March) strike in defence of education at King's exceeded all expectations. More than 250 people joined loud and vibrant picket lines on all four King's campuses. Security guards at one campus indicated that numbers entering their building were as much as 75% down. At the main building on the Strand only a small trickle of students and staff went in.
Support for the strike was boosted after the latest hapless intervention by senior management, who refused to allow non-UCU staff to take annual leave yesterday. This prompted more than sixty of those obliged to work on the Strand to sign a card expressing solidarity with the pickets. Members of other unions on all sites brought refreshments out to colleagues on strike and stood with them during breaks. Local cafes displayed UCU material explaining our reasons for striking. Students brought cakes for pickets, played musical instruments, set up stalls and hung a huge banner over the entrance to the Strand: 'Education massacre: do not enter.'
Messages of support have flooded in from King's alumni, students and non-UCU staff, as well as from universities and colleges across the country. Colleagues brought solidarity greetings and donations in person from UCL, Westminster, QMW, London Metropolitan University, the Institute of Education, Southwark College, City and Islington College, Tower Hamlets College, the University of the Arts and the London Nautical School. Supporters also came along from local workplaces, including the National Theatre and the National Gallery, and from other unions, including the NUT, PCS, Unite and Unison.
Around 50 people attended a lunchtime rally at Waterloo, while more than 200 students joined pickets for a rally on the Strand, which took place in an electric atmosphere. The huge crowd heard speeches from UCU representatives at King's and elsewhere, from members of other unions and from a Sussex student who told of their struggles with their own management. Many students heard for the first time of the appalling treatment of our colleagues in Engineering by King's management. The 'We Support our Teachers' campaign was a lively presence throughout the day. Dozens of students expressed their disdain at the way the College's senior management addresses them in Orwellian 'Newspeak'. Many have written to the Principal and Vice-Principal complaining that they feel patronised by senior management.
Our campaign in defence of education at King's is partly about our colleagues' livelihoods, and about the lack of regard shown to them by senior management. But it is clear that it is also about much more than this. The creeping culture of managerialism in universities is also an issue. The support we have received from students, and from colleagues who are either members of other unions, or not yet members of UCU, is an indication that this campaign is also about defending the values that underpin education at King's and elsewhere, which include collegiality, respect for individuals, cooperation, intellectual integrity and academic independence.
The verve, humour, creativity and imagination of yesterday's pickets offered us all a glimpse of the potential that exists within this institution for staff and students to make education at King's more rewarding and more enjoyable. All too often this potential is either stifled or by-passed by the dead hand of senior management.
Our thanks and congratulations go to all who took part yesterday, and to everyone who showed their support for our campaign. Senior management teams across the country are offering no resistance to government cuts. They are determined to follow the example set by King's and impose redundancies and department closures on their staff and students. The magnificent collective response to these attacks that we have seen at Leeds, Sussex, Kent and King's is a powerful reminder to all that if we stand together we can defend our education system from the ministers and managers who want to turn it into a marketplace.
President KCL UCU
Please continue to send donations and messages of support to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on our dispute see: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ucu