Do you have the urge to attain higher education, but don’t want to borrow exorbitant sums of money and cripple your financial future to do it? Well, you’re in luck because it’s Free University Week! As part of Occupy Wall Street’s birthday week, from September 18th to the 21st the Free University is facilitating more than 140 classes and workshops in Madison Square Park on topics like the global financial crisis, activism, social justice, and climate change.
A few past and present Verso authors will be teaching classes as part of this initiative—details are below, or visit here for a complete schedule.
Inspired by Patrick Keiller's The Robinson Institute, currently on show at the Tate Britain, we present Verso's guide to political walking. We also draw influence from Will Self's Guardian article in which he pronounces that "walking is political" and suggests that the "contemporary flâneur" can be one "who seeks equality of access, freedom of movement and the dissolution of corporate and state control."
1. Wanderlust - Rebecca Solnit
The first general history of walking, Rebecca Solnit's book finds a profound relationship between walking and thinking, walking and culture, and argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in an ever more automobile-dependent and accelerated world.
2. Savage Messiah - Laura Oldfield Ford
Savage Messiah collects Laura Oldfield Ford's black and white, cut 'n' paste, punk fanzines that document her drift through London's margins. Illustrated with haunting line drawings of forgotten people and places, Oldfield Ford records the beauty and anger at the city's edges.
Writing in the Guardian, Will Self argues that walking is political. He points out that while a century ago 90% of Londoner's journeys were made on foot, according to current projections "walking will have died out altogether as a means of transport by the middle of this century." Attempting to demonstrate how alienated we have become from our physical environment, Self imagines what might happen to city dwellers in Britain if our transport systems disappeared overnight and we were forced to rely on our feet to get us around,
Put bluntly: deprived of mechanised means of locomotion - the car, the bus, the train - and without the aid of technology, the majority of urbanites, who constitute the vast majority of Britons, neither know where they are, nor are capable of getting somewhere else under their own power.
This Saturday afternoon, the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, together with the New School will be co-hosting a public symposium on the Occupy movement and the current state of the Left in the United States. Billed under the banner of "The Winter of our Discontent," it will hold lengthy sessions touching on the wider interlocking themes of long-term goals, short-term tactics and the possible means of social change. Among the participants are Verso authors Marina Sitrin and Rebecca Solnit, both of whom contributed to Occupy! Scenes from an Occupied America, Verso and n+1's in-depth coverage and analysis of the Occupy movements. They will be appearing on Saturday alongside a number of other activists, political organizers and academics who have been deeply engaged in the Occupy movements and other projects helping promote democratic and social change. Included among the speakers are Todd Gitlin, James Miller and Jonathan Schell, as well as David Graeber and Lawrence Weschler.
Promising a sympathetic, though importantly self-critical approach to the current state of the Left and where it should be headed "given the game-changing forces unleashed by Occupy Wall Street," it should prove to be an exciting and thought-provoking afternoon.
Click below for the details.
In the midst of simultaneous eruptions of resistance and escalating global turmoil, one can't help but wonder why, after years of repression, these particular people have found the strength and the will to organize and rebel? In a beautifully written article, Rebecca Solnit recently examined global events the context of social boiling points and the necessary conditions for revolution. Solnit, an acclaimed author, historian and activist, begins her piece with a poetic survey of recent uprisings:
Revolution is as unpredictable as an earthquake and as beautiful as spring. Its coming is always a surprise, but its nature should not be.
Revolution is a phase, a mood, like spring, and just as spring has its buds and showers, so revolution has its ebullience, its bravery, its hope, and its solidarity. Some of these things pass. The women of Cairo do not move as freely in public as they did during those few precious weeks when the old rules were suspended and everything was different. But the old Egypt is gone and Egyptians' sense of themselves-and our sense of them-is forever changed.