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Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings

Award-winning poet Joshua Clover theorizes the riot as the form of the coming insurrection
Baltimore. Ferguson. Tottenham. Clichy-sous-Bois. Oakland. Ours has become an “age of riots” as the struggle of people versus state and capital has taken to the streets. Award-winning poet and scholar Joshua Clover offers a new understanding of this present moment and its history. Rioting was the central form of protest in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was supplanted by the strike in the early nineteenth century. It returned to prominence in the 1970s, profoundly changed along with the coordinates of race and class.

From early wage demands to recent social justice campaigns pursued through occupations and blockades, Clover connects these protests to the upheavals of a sclerotic economy in a state of moral collapse. Historical events such as the global economic crisis of 1973 and the decline of organized labor, viewed from the perspective of vast social transformations, are the proper context for understanding these eruptions of discontent. As social unrest against an unsustainable order continues to grow, this valuable history will help guide future antagonists in their struggles toward a revolutionary horizon.

Reviews

  • “Riot, in this absolutely necessary book, is considered as differential procedure and rigorous improvisational method, as essential repertoire on the way from general malaise to general strike. But then this conception folds tightly yet disorderly into a new and open set of questions. It’s not that the raging, ragged entrance to the new golden age is the new golden age. It’s not that theory can’t bear a riot. It’s just that riot makes new ways of seeing what theory can and can’t do and imposes upon us a kind of knowledge of our own embarrassing and already given resources of enjoyment. Joshua Clover says riot deserves a proper theory but here—sly, stone cold—he gives us more than that. Now we have some guidelines for the new and ongoing impropriety that fleshes forth and fleshes out our optimal condition.”
  • “Joshua Clover’s project is to reveal the continuities between Occupy and Ferguson, and to historicize a new era of uprisings within the long centuries of capital restructuring, racialized containment, and collective action. In its sweep, rigor, and elegance, Riot. Strike. Riot is pleasurable and provocative, worthy of the urgent debates it should inspire.”
  • “In the split second between the throwing and the landing of a Molotov lies a world of conceptual confusion. Joshua Clover’s Riot. Strike. Riot is the crystalline analysis of this fraught moment—between communism and anarchism, between street protest and economic strike. Much like a riot, it opens up the future while remembering that the past is comprised of little other than exploitation, exclusion and the kind of violence that is deliberately attributed to the very people who suffer most from it. It is a book that hones both thought and action, and superglues back together, with force, the unhappy dividing of the two.”
  • “[F]risky, audacious...Riot. Strike. Riot screams across the sky of our electoral theater.”
  • “[Clover is] one of the liveliest, sharpest, and erudite cultural theorists in the US.”
  • [Riot. Strike. Riot.] thrills. It elucidates and, in a way, valorizes a taboo fixture of the political arena in an era of seemingly perpetual economic crisis and withering patience for mere reform.”
  • “Phenomenal...The genius of Riot. Strike. Riot lies in its concise and historically confident analysis of riots.”

Blog

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    Then I happened on a Facebook post by Amin Husain:"I wish I could share what's wrong and what's missing in how we're handling the Trump era without many of my dear friends thinking that I am just being a downer on the 'resistance.'" I had to hear more.

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  • The Landing: Fascists without Fascism

    This post first appeared at Research & Destroy.



    We can imagine a person slowly becoming aware that he is the subject of catastrophe. The form of consciousness might be likened to someone peering out the window of a plane. They have been aboard for a long time, years, decades. From cruising altitude the landscape below scrolls past evenly, somewhat abstracted. The stabilizing mechanisms of eye and brain smooth the scene. Perhaps they are somewhere above the upper midwest. Their knowledge of the miseries that have seized flyover country hovers at the periphery of a becalmed boredom. Steady hum of the jet engines, sense of stillness. Borne by prevailing winds the first balloonists detected no wind whatsoever. So this flight. Though the passengers will never travel faster than this they scarcely feel any motion at all.

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  • How We Wrote Armed Insurrection

    The first English-language edition of Armed Insurrection was translated from French and Germany by Quintin Hoare and published by New Left Books in 1970, as "classic document" of the Third Period. Written in 1928 under the direction of the Agitprop division of the Comintern, the book was to be a tactical manual for insurrection — containing detailed studies of uprisings in Reval (Tallinn), Hamburg, Canton (Guangzhou), and Shanghai — to be used by communists around the world. 

    A work of illegal propaganda written by a collective of Comintern military and political specialists (a group which included Palmiro Togliatti and Ho Chi Minh), the book's authorship was attributed to the pseudonym "A Neuberg." In the excerpt below, published as a preface to the NLB edition, one member of the "Neuberg" group — Erich Wollenberg, a KPD functionary and military leader of the Bochum rising in North Germany in 1923 — explains the process of the book's composition, identifies the authors of some of its sections, and highlights some distortions to the accounts contained within it and the motivations behind them.   



    1. Background

    In the spring of 1928 Piatnitsky [An Old Bolshevik who was liquidated during the Stalinist purges (1936-8)], the Organizing Secretary of the Comintern, called me into his office. I was at that time on the technical staff of the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, in charge of its military bureau, and taught in the military schools in which German communists were trained as specialists in insurrection.

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