- via n +1: This piece first appeared in the third issue of the OWS-inspired Gazette: OCCUPY!

RACHEL SIGNER, Dec 26, 2011
I arrived at the New School in the fall of 2008 to do a master’s degree in anthropology. Tuition was $23,000 per year—this did not include room or board—but the opportunity to be in a great intellectual community eased my anxiety about the cost. A little bit.

Tuition was high for a reason: the school, I soon learned, was on shaky financial footing. Founded in 1919 in part by Columbia professors disgusted by their university’s support of World War I, then expanded in 1933 as a refuge for scholars fleeing Fascism and Nazism in Europe, it wasn’t the sort of place that produced the sort of people who turned around and gave their alma mater millions of dollars. The endowment was meager, and the school relied on tuition for revenue.

The New School needed to improve its financial situation and its status, and it was going to do it, like any New York institution, through real estate. It owned an old two-story building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 14th Street—a former department store whose slogan had been “Fifth Avenue Values at 14th Street Prices”—that it was going to tear down and replace it with a state-of-the-art gleaming sixteen-story tower, home to studios for designers and artists studying at the New School’s profitable design institute, Parsons, and laboratories (for whom, no one could tell you; the New School offers no courses in hard sciences), retail food vendors, apartments, and—most insulting of all, I think, to the symbolic heirs, as we liked to consider ourselves, of refugees from fascism—a fitness center. At the time, the building, at 65 Fifth Avenue, was a multi-purpose meeting place where graduate students could read quietly, have lunch in the café, or find books in the basement library. There had been classrooms upstairs, but at that point they had already been relocated to the Minimalist-style building a few blocks away where my department, Anthropology, was crammed together with Sociology.

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On the one hand, critical theory condemns the occupation. (see letter below)

On the other hand, critical theory defends the occupation. (see letter below)

Can it do both and still be itself? As an old dialectician once said,

CRITICAL THEORY has to be communicated in its own language — the language of contradiction, dialectical in form as well as in content: the language of the critique of the totality, of the critique of history. Not some “writing degree zero” — just the opposite. Not a negation of style, but the style of negation.

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808. However, the other aspect of spirit’s coming-to-be, history, is that mindful self- mediating coming-to-be – the spirit emptied into time. However, this emptying is likewise the self-emptying of itself; the negative is the negative of itself. This coming-to-be exhibits a languid movement and succession of spirits, a gallery of pictures, of which each, endowed with the entire wealth of spirit, moves itself so slowly because the self has to take hold of and assimilate the whole of this wealth of its substance.

 

One Divides into Two

November 25, 2011

Hegel's Dialectic

A lively new polemic about the concepts ‘one divides into two’ and ‘two fuse into one’ is unfolding on the philosophical front in this country. This debate is a struggle between those who are for and those who are against the materialist dialectic, a struggle between two conceptions of the world: the proletarian conception and the bourgeois conception. Those who maintain that ‘one divides into two’ is the fundamental law of things are on the side of the materialist dialectic; those who maintain that the fundamental law of things is that ‘two fuse into one’ are against the materialist dialectic. The two sides have drawn a clear line of demarcation between them, and their arguments are diametrically opposed. This polemic is a reflection, on the ideological level, of the acute and complex class struggle taking place in China and in the world.” Red Flag (Beijing), 21 September 1964

Autonomous  – http://ninetyfifthavenueoccupation.wordpress.com/

or

General  – http://allcitystudentoccupation.com/

Which one will you choose?


Since November 17th, students, non-students, workers and others have transformed through political occupation a formerly isolating, frigid and closed study space into a 24hour educational hub for not just all students, but all people.  We have held this space for seven days and in that time we have set up multiple general assemblies, established a safer spaces group, dismantled institutional oppression with the immediate creation of gender neutral bathrooms, fed and housed over 200 people, provided teach-ins from an anti-capitalist perspective on the financial crisis and political struggle, and created a gathering place for political conversation.  In reclaiming a New School building, a private university with astronomical tuition, there has been a sometimes pre-conceived perception of elitism and exclusivity; some have said they feel alienated, that the space is still too white, or that the theoretical discussion is too pretentious or academic. Some of these issues weren’t resolved nor they could have been resolved in such a short window. But this contradiction–where anti-capitalist/anti-racist debate is viewed as an elite politics–is precisely what we are in the process of shattering in this space.  Hundreds of people have come to hear talks and have conversations about capitalism, revolutionary practice, anti-oppression, queer politics and international struggle.  Most who have had problems in the space have consistently returned, recognizing that the politics surrounding the occupation are not solidified, but are instead immanent to the space itself.

Last night, November 22nd, marked the first attendance by many emphatic participants in the General Assembly.   Through several manipulative acts, including the creation of a town hall that was somehow broadly attended in spite of a mere two hours notice, the Assembly was packed by antagonists including several faculty and a large group of students who had not previously been involved in the occupation. For many of us the large attendance was a success, but very soon it became clear that the sole goal of the majority of participants present was not discussion, but a yes vote for the destruction of the occupation.  The intention was to disrupt any possibility of dialogue and to frame the voting of the assembly in the manner of representational politics and parliamentary theater.

At this assembly the faculty, the bureaucratic manipulators and students hand picked by administration revealed their faces.  Arguments about race and alienation, couching pro-capitalist rhetoric and theatrical fear mongering, were used to disrespect and disempower the open assembly.  Immediately after a perceived victory in “accepting” Van Zandt’s proposal, these individuals removed themselves from the process and demonized the continuing deliberation of the assembly’s remaining participants.

We are writing to expose the misinformation and the constant sabotage that has being circulating through media and disseminated by specific individuals whose only purpose is to break this occupation from within.  We also see this document as an opportunity to put forward a political perspective on these events, and on hopes for the future.

It is clear that we should not have trusted negotiations with the President of the New School about the security and the character of this occupation.  After six days of dealing with this matter it is evident that it has caused fragmentation not only of the occupation itself, but poses a larger threat for the entire student struggle and the growth of the occupation movement. Political organizations still playing ping-pong on the back of the student body, in favor of specific ideological positions and with vested interests, have succeeded in the creation of media misrepresentation, the recruitment of students against the occupation, and the disruption of any possibility of dialogue.  This has happened only for their own benefit to legitimate their bureaucratic actions, and to expand their conservative and archaic way of organizing.  This method of organizing is one that they are unable to and refuse to transform when confronted with a movement that is against of any form of leadership or representation. 

The struggle can only develop with the opening of a space that is initiated by political praxis that remains open for any political analysis. 

Any jeopardization of autonomous practice will doom the struggle to failure.

November 23rd , 2011

I am the 99%

November 23, 2011

from dpp
by Jarrod Shanahan

Hi, my name is Jarrod, and I am the 99%! I am the meeting place of a breathtaking variety of dreams, desires, and impulses. Many have sought to form me in their image, to set me on an orthodox path, and to lay out my future in meticulous detail. But at present, my image merely reflects the unreconciled diversity of these bodies and aims, and is accordingly amorphous and inchoate and awesomely awkward. I am the premise for an unlikely roommate comedy that will never get past the censors intact. Some forces within me are willing to analyze every situation in its nuanced detail until the opportunity for action has passed and they can secretly breathe a sigh of relief. Some forces are bored with the repetitive review of every minor scruple and compel me toward unreflective action, possibly to my peril. Some offer an impossible yardstick against which I must measure my behavior, while others are satisfied to just get me all worked up and see what happens. Some want one specific thing and they want it eventually, others want everything and they want it now. Some desire a five year plan as a practical necessity, others scorn a five minute plan as the death of spontaneity. Some are really into repeating verbatim everything said by those around them, while others are more aristocratic in their tastes. Some see only the individual case, others only the totality, and both are thusly impaired. Some secretly aspire to seize power over all others, while others live for nothing more than the day when they will shut these megalomaniacal aspirations down. Still more yearn for quiet, the cessation of conflict, sleep, peace, man. Like it or not, I am a multitude, dissonance and dissimilarity pump through my veins, and sooner or later I’ll just have to learn to roll with it. Only a theologian or fascist or worse would consider the absolute resolution of all of this tension possible, let alone forthcoming, in anything besides my own organic death. But I must strive nonetheless for tenuous working resolution, and reap the hard-wrought fruit of compromise in a series of cautiously bumbling, self-aware steps and missteps across an unmapped terrain. My style is one impatient with itself. Without centralized rule I must constantly battle high pitched emotions and implacable libidinal urges, seeking to keep unified a body so dissonant, and so spontaneous, and so tenuously held together in its very tissue that its coherence for a mere second in time is a complete and utter fucking miracle. Yet, I believe this horizontal organization to be my chief strength, with which I arm myself against docility, complacency, and laziness masquerading as mature pragmatism, all of which menace my meandering path toward the unprecedented. For I embody the contradictions of the world which gave birth to me, I give them breath and a physical form, the aesthetic of which has been debated on the Internet. And I have therefore chosen to give voice to the insanity and schitzophrenia of our rational world, a voice I offer in a mad gesture of desperation to hypothetical ears and against all odds, and must strain myself to shout in the face of sirens and snark and deafness and drumming.

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Picture-Thinking

November 23, 2011

 

 

via gawker

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