Judith Butler, author of Frames of War and Precarious Life, visited Occupy Wall Street to lend her support to the protesters there. In a rallying speech, amplified through the human microphone, she gave her thoughts on the reception of the movement and its demands.
I came here to lend my support to you today, to offer my solidarity, for this unprecedented display of democracy and popular will. People have asked, 'So what are the demands? What are the demands all these people are making?' Either they say there are no demands and that leaves your critics confused - or they say that the demands for social equality and economic justice are impossible demands. And impossible demands, they say, are just not practical.
If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible. If the right to shelter, food and employment are impossible demands, then we demand the impossible. If it is impossible to demand that those who profit from the recession redistribute their wealth and cease their greed then yes, we demand the impossible.
But it is true that there are no demands that you can submit to arbitration here because we are not just demanding economic justice and social equality, we are assembling in public, we are coming together as bodies in alliance, in the street and in the square. We're standing here together making democracy, enacting the phrase 'We the people!'
A video of Butler delivering her speech at Occupy Wall Street is available below.
Andrew Blake of the Independent has reviewed The Beach Beneath the Street, a fresh history of the Situationist International, commending its account of situationism as "a far more comprehensive overview than the usual defence of its best-known publication, Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle". Praising Wark's clarity in showing that "there was far more to Situationism than one clever book", Blake argues that Situationist ideas are still as relevant today as at its founding:
Neither the Tottenham looter or the "kid with the BitTorrent account" identified by Wark may be consciously opposed to the Society of the Spectacle, but their challenges indicate that we should continue to take Situationism seriously in thought, word, and deed.
In a piece on Occupy Wall Street for Asia Times Online, Pepe Escobar also recommends Situationism and The Beach Beneath the Street for their relevance to contemporary political movements.
At Zuccotti Park - Occupy Wall Street's headquarters in lower Manhattan - there's a free public library, with books donated by everyone who feels like it. A good first step would be for people to supply a good many copies of The Beach Beneath the Street, by McKenzie Wark, a gripping history of the Situationists - the key conceptual group led by Guy Debord at the heart of May 1968.
The Art-Architecture Complex by Hal Foster has been reviewed in the Art Review, Icon and Financial Times.
In a thoughtful review for Art Review, Martin Herbert was impressed by the scope of Foster's aims in the book:
The American writer now evidently has a worldview expansive enough to see dominant tendencies in contemporary architecture and (fairly) recent art as flipside of the same coin, and both as reflective of the contemporary political order. This, then, is criticism with vaulting ambitions.
Critically engaging with Foster's argument, Herbert pin-pointed what he considered a weakness in an otherwise strong critique: "Foster's problem, one he never quite resolve, is of temporal disjunction: he wants the approaches of Serra et al, which are initiated in the 1960s and early 70s, to critique and counterbalance contemporary starchitecture." While conceding that this "pretty much works", he felt that "it leads to certain amount of special pleading". All in all, Herbert concluded positively, finishing with "The Art-Architecture Complex posits a paradigm; one completes it as a believer."
Neil Faulkner reviewed Melissa Benn's School Wars for Counterfire and argued that the conservative attack on the state education system it reveals is a key aspect of the wider assault on the welfare state. He charted that attack as beginning in the 1970s, its aims being spectacularly exposed in a senior Depart of Education and Science official's leaked memo:
There has to be selection because we are beginning to create aspirations which society cannot match. In some ways, this points to the success of education, in contrast to the public mythology which has been created.
When young people drop off the education production line and cannot find work at all, or work which meets their abilities and expectations, then we are creating frustration, with perhaps disturbing consequences. We have to select: to ration the educational opportunities, so that society can cope with the output of education ...
We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest, but we can cope with the Toxteths [riots]. But if we have a highly educated and idle population, we may possibly anticipate more serious social conflict. People must be educated once more to know their place (Quoted in G. Walford, 1990, Privatisation and Privilege in Education, p.1.).
Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, author of the introduction to I'm with the Bears — a collection of short stories by world-class novelists envisioning the terrors of impending climate change — have written an article for The Daily Beast on the green cronyism scandals putting the environment and Obama's reputation at stake.
The Solyndra solar panel manufacturer loan controversy is getting a great deal of attention in the US due to allegations that the Obama administration may have unduly influenced the loan. However, Klein and McKibben argue in this article that "there's a far, far bigger Obama cronyism scandal breaking—and in this case, there's still time for the president to step in and stop it."