For those who subscribe to this blog, apologies for spamming your inboxes, but please note that the contact number included in the last blog update is not working at the moment, so we’ll just have to meet outside Starbucks at St Paul’s and then adjourn to the reading group location.
Apologies for the last-minute-ness of this announcement, but due to logistical reasons we’ve decided to meet at the St Paul’s camp of #occupylsx instead. We’re gathering outside Starbucks at 6.30pm, and then we’ll figure out where exactly to have the reading group depending on weather conditions, crowds, assemblies, etc.
* NOTE: A previous version of this update had a phone number to contact if one was lost in St Paul’s/Finsbury Square/etc, but due to a mess-up the owner of the number is unable to use that phone today. Apologies for the complications.
The next meeting of ARG will be held on:
Wednesday 26th October
Venue (*UPDATED*): Meet outside Starbucks at St Paul’s and then we’ll adjourn to the reading group location.
After our film outing last week, Wednesday ARG returns to texts on autonomy/autonomism. We’ve decided to meet at the Occupy London campsite in Finsbury Square. The reason we’ve chosen Finsbury Square over St Paul’s is mainly because the former is a smaller, less busy location that would be more suitable for a reading group discussion. Also, there’s grass at FS, and we’ll be able to show our support to the younger sibling of the #occupylsx movement!
This week we will be reading texts from the Italian Operaismo/Autoonomia movements:
1. ‘Lenin in England’ by Mario Tronti. Available here.
2. ‘The Strategy of Refusal’ by Mario Tronti. Available here.
3. ‘Domination and Sabotage’ (Ch. V) from Books for Burning, an anthology of pamphlets written by Antonio Negri. Full text available here.
Thursday 20th October will see the first of the Thursday ARG meetings taking place – a parallel but independent ARG meeting set up for those who have an innate aversion to Wednesdays, or are just plain busy.
This week there has been no dissent to the suggestion of copying the reading from the first Wednesday ARG of term, though there’s nothing to stop us diverging should we so wish in future. For now we’ll be focusing on the preliminary question, What is Autonomism?
And we will be reading:
1. http://www.eroseffect.com/books/subversion_download.htm – Chapter 1 (and also Chapter 7 is recommended)
2. http://ifile.it/ixe387r – Chapter 7
Venue for this week will be the Institute of Education bar, which has space away from the actual bar which shouldn’t be too noisy and busy, with plenty of tables and chairs, AND cheap drinks, if anyone is tempted
Will keep trying to find somewhere more secluded for next time, got some leads, but wanted to get something pinned down asap for this meeting, so IoE it is.
Carry on straight past SOAS and slightly left.
Hope to see you all there!
Wednesday ARG will not be meeting in the usual way this week, but will be making a trip to the screening of “In the Land of the Free” at the University of London Union. It’s on Wednesday, 19th October, at 6.30pm.
Reproduced here is the advert:
a screening of an award winning documentary
IN THE LAND OF THE FREE…
followed by a discussion with Black Panther activist Robert King and film director Vadim Jean, chaired by Lee Jasper
Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to life in Louisiana’s Angola Penitentiary, Robert King – known as one of the Angola 3 – is now free.
However his two comrades, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, are still being kept in solitary confinement – for the 40th year running…
Accused of the murder of an Angola prison guard, they have always proclaimed their innocence, saying that they were framed and targeted by the prison authorities for their activism as memeber of the Black Panther Party.
The case of the Angola 3 has been cited as a gross miscarriage of justice and Amnesty International calls for their immediate release from solitary confinement which violates the US Constitution and internation human rights treaties.
Tickets available here.
We shall resume our regular Wednesday meetings next week, on October 26, with a couple more readings on going back to the basics on Autonomy. Expect some Tronti and Negri even as we dive into the word of Italian Workerism and Autonomia.
ALSO: A new ARG group which will be meeting on Thursdays is in the process of being formed. It will be autonomous from the Wednesday group, and hence may opt to choose its own readings, etc. If you’d like to take part in the discussion regarding the formation of this group, check out the Facebook group here. We’re hoping to sort out a contact person for those not on Facebook.
The next meeting of ARG will be held on:
Wednesday 12th October
Venue: Room 304, Pearson Building, UCL. Located in the North-West corner of the UCL quad (when you enter the quad from Gower street turn left and its in the corner nearest to Gower St). Enter the black door by the ramp in the corner, enter the building and turn right and you need to go to the third floor. See map for location of Pearson Building: http://www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/about-the-department/contacts-and-location/maps
ARG is starting again this Wednesday at 6.30pm, and will continue to meet every Wednesday from then on. Although this coming meeting is convening in a room at UCL, we are looking into the possibility of moving to Housmans book shop at Kings X in the future.
Please do come along, even if you have never attended before. This month we will be looking at some “key” texts giving us on overview of autonomy (in its political, economic, and philosophical contexts). We have decided to have a theme for each month, and delegate 2/3 people to draw up our reading lists each time.
This week we will be reading:
1. Chapter 1 (Chapter 7 is also recommended if one has the time) of The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life by George Katsiaficas. Available here.
2. Chapter 7 of Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy by Cornelius Castoriadis. Available here.
So I thought some of our discussions on debt recently raised an interesting organisational prospect that we never got around to talking about – though I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of it. So I thought I’d stick it up here and see if it might lead to further discussions.
A DEBT UNION:
An organisation/federation of anyone in debt, starting with students, particularly those getting the new bigger and nastier loans, and expanding outward to include people with credit card debts, mortgages or any other type of debt.
There is a lot of latent power here: if one person refuses to pay their debt, they are in trouble, if ten thousand, or a hundred thousand refuse, eventually the bank is in trouble. This is about building a power bloc long-term, organising non-hierarchically.
Some outline building blocks:
• This power can give some initial wins, like fighting on casework – taking up the causes of individuals being screwed over by SLC or credit card companies etc
• But if it grows it can be pushed much further. We could be asking for changes to the terms and conditions of our debt, even to interest rates. Ultimately, a powerful enough union could, in the right circumstances, declare that the money is ours and repayment no longer necessary.
• Dependent on the strength of the union it could also address political demands beyond debt issues. It would at least have a self-educational role, helping people learn about the nature of money and exposing people to the mechanics of the economy.
• The organisation would have a very low annual fee, perhaps £3, with no permanent paid staff or offices, and the money used for websites, publicity and occasional payment for e.g. getting a solicitor’s letter.
• The organisation would be horizontally structured, as directly democratic as possible, and would be based on geographically distributed ‘cells’ of people who live near each other.
A possible ambition: go beyond a single issue organisation. It could be a local social organisation providing mutual assistance on issues that can be resolved with mutual aid or direct action, e.g. food collectives, fighting abusive landlords, education rights, employment conditions, pensions and so on.
So there it is. Just thought I’d post up these thoughts cos they came out of our recent discussions.