Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri: Assembly (2017)

28 October 2017, dusan

“In recent years ‘leaderless’ social movements have proliferated around the globe, from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe, the Americas, and East Asia. Some of these movements have led to impressive gains: the toppling of authoritarian leaders, the furthering of progressive policy, and checks on repressive state forces. They have also been, at times, derided by journalists and political analysts as disorganized and ineffectual, or suppressed by disoriented and perplexed police forces and governments who fail to effectively engage them. Activists, too, struggle to harness the potential of these horizontal movements. Why have the movements, which address the needs and desires of so many, not been able to achieve lasting change and create a new, more democratic and just society? Some people assume that if only social movements could find new leaders they would return to their earlier glory. Where, they ask, are the new Martin Luther Kings, Rudi Dutschkes, and Stephen Bikos?

With the rise of right-wing political parties in many countries, the question of how to organize democratically and effectively has become increasingly urgent. Although today’s leaderless political organizations are not sufficient, a return to traditional, centralized forms of political leadership is neither desirable nor possible. Instead, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argue, familiar roles must be reversed: leaders should be responsible for short-term, tactical action, but it is the multitude that must drive strategy. In other words, if these new social movements are to achieve meaningful revolution, they must invent effective modes of assembly and decision-making structures that rely on the broadest democratic base. Drawing on ideas developed through their well-known Empire trilogy, Hardt and Negri have produced, in Assembly, a timely proposal for how current large-scale horizontal movements can develop the capacities for political strategy and decision-making to effect lasting and democratic change. We have not yet seen what is possible when the multitude assembles.”

Publisher Oxford University Press, 2017
Heretical Thought series
ISBN 9780190677961, 0190677961
xxii+346 pages

Reviews: Publishers Weekly (2017), Christian Fuchs (triple-C, 2017).

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Trebor Scholz, Nathan Schneider (eds.): Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism (2016)

16 October 2017, dusan

“Real democracy and the Internet are not mutually exclusive.

Here, for the first time in one volume, are some of the most cogent thinkers and doers on the subject of the cooptation of the Internet, and how we can resist and reverse the process. The activists who have put together Ours to Hack and to Own argue for a new kind of online economy: platform cooperativism, which combines the rich heritage of cooperatives with the promise of 21st-century technologies, free from monopoly, exploitation, and surveillance.

The on-demand economy is reversing the rights and protections workers fought for centuries to win. Ordinary Internet users, meanwhile, retain little control over their personal data. While promising to be the great equalizers, online platforms have often exacerbated social inequalities. Can the Internet be owned and governed differently? What if Uber drivers set up their own platform, or if a city’s residents controlled their own version of Airbnb? This book shows that another kind of Internet is possible—and that, in a new generation of online platforms, it is already taking shape.”

With contributions from Michel Bauwens, Yochai Benkler, Francesca Bria, Susie Cagle, Miriam Cherry, Ra Criscitiello, John Duda, Marina Gorbis, Karen Gregory, Seda Gürses, Steven Hill, Dmytri Kleiner, Vasilis Kostakis, Brendan Martin, Micky Metts, Kristy Milland, Mayo Fuster Morell, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Rachel O’Dwyer, Janelle Orsi, Michael Peck, Carmen Rojas, Douglas Rushkoff, Saskia Sassen, Juliet Schor, Palak Shah, Tom Slee, Danny Spitzberg, Arun Sundararajan, Astra Taylor, Cameron Tonkinwise, McKenzie Wark, and Caroline Woolard.

Publisher O/R Books, New York, 2016
ISBN 9781682190623, 1682190625
251 pages

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New World Academy Reader, 5: Stateless Democracy (2015)

2 April 2017, dusan

New World Academy, an alternative learning platform for art and politics established by artist Jonas Staal and BAK has entered its fifth sequence. Developed together with the Kurdish Women’s Movement as a nomadic platform that unfolding throughout 2015, the fifth sequence of the New World Academy explores—from artistic, activist, and scholarly perspectives—the proposition of delinking democracy from the nation-state: the notion of “stateless democracy.” On this occasion, the fifth reader of the New World Academy, titled Stateless Democracy, has been published.

If initially the Kurdish struggle, led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had aimed to establish an independent state, since the 1990s PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, together with the Kurdish Women’s Movement, have turned to questioning the patriarchal and capitalist nature of the very concept of the nation-state itself. Within this process the Kurdish revolutionary movement developed an alternative model called “democratic confederalism” or “stateless democracy” that invoked a confederate composition in which gender-equality, self-governance, secularism, cultural diversity, communal economy, and social ecology form key pillars.

Since 2012 this proposition has been put fully into practice in Rojava, Western Kurdistan in Syria, in alliance with the peoples of the region. New World Academy Reader #5: Stateless Democracy provides key texts that offer an overview of both the political and cultural dimensions comprising what has now come to be known to history as the Rojava Revolution. The texts in the reader are as much an introduction to the model of stateless democracy practiced in Rojava, as a potential political paradigm through which to confront the many related crises in politics, economy, and ecology that we face across the world.”

With contributions by: Kajal Ahmed (poet and journalist), Ahmet Hamdi Akkaya (political and social scientist), Janet Biehl (writer, editor, and graphic artist), Murray Bookchin (libertarian socialist author), Dilar Dirik (researcher and representative of the Kurdish Women’s Movement), Zîlan Diyar (Kurdish guerrilla fighter), David Graeber (anthropologist), Havin Güneşer (journalist and spokesperson of “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan – Peace in Kurdistan”),Joost Jongerden (sociologist and anthropologist), Gönül Kaya (journalist and representative of the Kurdish Women’s Movement), Abdullah Öcalan (founder and leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)), Pinar Öğünç (journalist), Jonas Staal (artist and writer), and Hito Steyerl (artist, documentary filmmaker, and writer).

Edited by Renée In der Maur and Jonas Staal in dialogue with the Kurdish Women’s Movement (and in particular Dilar Dirik, Kurdish activist and a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge)
Publisher BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, 2015
ISBN 9789077288221
256 pages
Out of print, now open access

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