After the Occupy Wall Street "People's Library" was brutally dismantled by the police, Paolo Mossetti of Through Europe asked some of his favourite writers, activists, and academics to help him compile a list of books that would recreate, though only virtually, the library's shelves.
Here is the second part, with contributions from Simon Critchley, Stephen Duncombe, Alex Foti, Peter Hallward, John Hutnyk, Esther Leslie, Bertell Ollman, Matteo Pasquinelli, Aaron John Peters, Nina Power.
The third part of the reading list will be online next week.
The recent violent rampage of an American soldier in Afghanistan who killed 16 civilians has sparked yet another uneasy investigation into US military presence in the Middle East, and in particular, how these shocking instances of violence germinate. In a new article for Latitude News, Joshua E.S. Phillips weighs in on the incident, and goes on to describe the mixed reactions he encountered on his tour for None of Us Were Like This Before, which details the lasting psychological trauma of torture on both detainees and American soliders. Phillips remarks:
I saw people use the book as a prism for viewing U.S. policy, veterans’ issues, and the legacy of torture. For some, the book stoked anti-American sentiment. Some fumed that it didn’t neatly focus blame on President George W. Bush, though the book showed how Bush’s decision to ignore the Geneva Convention on detainee treatment catalyzed what followed. Others were angry that it didn’t emphasize one group’s pain over the other.
Visit Latitude News to read the story in full.
Verso will publish the updated paperback edition of None of Us Were Like This Before in July 2012.
From Jean-Paul Sartre's new foreword to The Conspiracy by Paul Nizan
Nizan speaks about youth. But a Marxist has too much historical sense to describe an age of life - such as Youth or Maturity - in general, just as it marches past in Strasburg Cathedral when the clock strikes midday. His young men are dated and attached to their class: like Nizan himself, they were twenty in 1929 - the heyday of 'prosperity' in the middle of the post-war period that has just ended. They are bourgeois, sons for the most part of that grande bourgeoisie which entertains 'anxious doubts about its future', of those 'rich tradespeople who brought up their children admirably, but who had ended up respecting only the Spirit, without thinking that this ludicrous veneration for the most disinterested activities of life ruined everything, and that it was merely the mark of their commercial decadence and of a bourgeois bad conscience of which as yet they had no suspicion.' Wayward sons, led by a deviation 'out of the paths of commerce' towards the careers of the 'creators of alibis'. But in Marx there is a phenomenology of economic essences: I am thinking, above all, of his admirable analyses of commodity fetishism. In this sense, a phenomenology can be found in Nizan: in other words, a fixing and description, on the basis of social and historical data, of that essence in motion which is 'youth', a sham age, a fetish. This complex mixture of history and analysis constitutes the great value of his book.
Immanuel Wallerstein, writing for Al Jazeera, argues that the spirit of 1968 flows through Arab Spring and Occupy movement, but warns that its counter-current is attempting to suppress real change.
Wallerstein, co-author of Anti-Systemic Movements, argues that the Arab Spring is composed of "two quite different currents" that are "going in radically different directions," - something that has not be been fully analysed. Understanding this division is key to negotiating a sustainable resistance.
Wallerstein identifies one of these currents as "the 1968 current", or the "second Arab revolt" which aims to "achieve the global autonomy of the Arab world" that was prevented by Franco-British measure during the "first Arab revolt". Arguing that the Arab Spring is the heir of the "world revolution of 1968," Wallerstein points out that both movements are rooted in anti-authoritarianism and rejection of corrupt power systems. He writes that, like the rebels in the Arab world,
the revolutionaries of 1968 were protesting against the inherently undemocratic behaviour of those in authority. This was a revolt against such use (or misuse) of authority at all levels: the level of the world-system as a whole; the level of the national and local governments; the level of the multiple non-governmental institutions in which people take part or to which they are subordinated (from workplaces to educational structures to political parties and trade-unions).
From Antonio Negri's new foreword to The Unseen by Nanni Balestrini
Nanni Balestrini's book tells of unseen actors in the class struggle between the 1970s and '80s, particularly in northern Italy, and inside the jails of the Realm. These subjects are invisible because they are elusive, mutating beings in the act of metamorphosis. But what can we say about them today (and also about this novel) if not that rather than being an old, outdated story this is now very much of the present moment, one caught sight of at that time and followed in the course of its unfolding? The republication of The Unseen therefore has the advantage today of telling us about proletarian subjects whose class nature has finally been revealed: the unseen individual of yesterday is the proletarian of today, the immaterial worker, the cognitive precariat, the new figure of the worker as social labour power in the movements of the multitude. Those poor wretches did it, they managed to get through a revolution in the composition of labour and a ferocious political repression and to struggle on from the factories to society and (still productive) from society to the jail (still fighting back). And now where will they go? The elite of the working-class movement who betrayed and dragged the unseen into prison now look around, fearful and unable to build a politics, afraid of losing out if they do not resume contact with that age-old movement of transformation; but that elite will never win! Indeed, regardless of this betrayal by the working-class movement (which has been so serious, especially in Italy), the unseen have gone forward. In the '80s, they were organizing prison revolts and the first autonomous social centres in the cities; in the '90s they organized the Panther movement; in the late '90s they turned into Zapatistas and tute bianche, the anti-globalization movement and everything else that has happened and will happen.