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Daily Archives: October 17th, 2012

G.W.F. Hegel

HEGEL CONTRA SOCIOLGY READING GROUP

The Gillian Rose ‘Hegel Contra Sociology’ Reading Group will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday 24 October at University College London (UCL), Foster Court Room 112, Gower Street (Tube: Russell Square or Goodge Street).

Map at: http://streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?x=529649&y=182184&z=0&sv=51.5237,-0.1326&st=7&mapp=map.srf

The group will meet every alternate Wednesdays, so subsequent readings for the rest of 2012 will take place on 7 Nov, 21 Nov, 5 Dec and 19 Dec.

All welcome

 

The controversial 235-page text, by Britain’s best Post-War philosopher, first published in 1981, has now been republished by Verso. Uniquely, Hegel Contra Sociology, in challenging the legacy of Neo-Kantianism and its impact on Marxism and sociology in general, provides a dense but concise overview of all of Hegel’s main works: the System of Ethical Life, the Philosophy of Right, Phenomenology of Spirit, the Aesthetics and the Science of Logic.

The first session (or two) will be on chapter one, ‘The Antinomies of Sociological Reason’.

Dave Black will lead off the discussion.

David Black, Convenor

 

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Aesthetics

PERFORMANCE AND LABOUR SYMPOSIUM

Performance and Labour Symposium

9.30 – 18.00, Saturday 3rd November 2012

Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, University College London, Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7JE

This symposium is an interdisciplinary event that will address performance in an expanded sense as a form of labour. Performance will be considered as an activity and a practice that takes place both within and outside the realm of art. The symposium will interrogate the physical and intellectual experiences of viewing and producing performances. These questions will be raised across the fields of art history, philosophy, performance studies, political economy, theatre and dance. Addressed in this expanded way, the aim of the symposium is to investigate the histories of mass performances and social choreographies in political contexts, to situate performance as a form of praxis and to interrogate the language of performance as a managerial strategy within late capitalism.

This symposium is organised by Larne Abse Gogarty and Josefine Wikström with support from the

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London, and the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, History of Art Department, University College London.

For full details of the programme please visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/art-history/events/performance-and-labour

The symposium is free, but registration is required.

To register: email performanceandlabour@gmail.com by October 27th

Keynote Lecture

Professor Randy Martin (TischSchool of the Arts, New YorkUniversity)

From the Derivative to Dance and Back: Economies of Performance

Panels

Performance, the Commodity Form and Management Cultures

Marina Vishmidt, A Dysmorphia of Assets: Performative Logics in Labour and in Art

David Hodge and Dick Higgins, Performance and Art in the Age of its Real Subsumption

Gavin Grindon Trip Without a Ticket: The Digger Free Store and the re-composition of collective performance in contemporary art

Performance and Labour-Power

Olive McKeon: Performance, Labour-Power and the Value-Form: The Performer as Worker

Rose Anne Gush: Contemporary Service/ Work in Tino Sehgal’s ‘These Associations’

Theron Schmidt: Troublesome Professionals

Rhythm and Collectivity

Bojana Cvejic: When Social Choreography Begins to Falter

Jenny Nachtigall: Rhythm and Labour: The Performance Principle from Dada Zurich to Berlin

Marina Gerber: The Production of Collective Actions

First published at: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/performance-and-labour-symposium-ucl-3-november

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Ben Linus

SEASONS OF SELF-DELUSION

The Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize Committee, in conjunction with Historical Materialism, present the 2012 Deutscher Memorial Lecture

Jairus Banaji

“Seasons of self-delusion: opium, capitalism and the financial markets’

Friday, 9 November 2012
Location: Khalili Lecture Theatre, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Time: 18.15-20.00

At the lecture the winner of the 2012 Deutscher Memorial Prize will be announced. The following books have been shortlisted:

* Michael Buroway and Karl von Holdt, Conversations with Bourdieu: The Johannesburg Moment (Wits University Press)

* David McNally, Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism (Brill)

* Sean Sayers, Marx & Alienation: Essays on Hegelian Themes (Palgrave Macmillan)

The lecture is part of the annual Historical Materialism conference: it is free to
registered participants.

 

First published at: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/2012-deutscher-memorial-lecture-jairus-banaji-seasons-of-self-delusion-opium-capitalism-and-the-financial-markets-9-november-london-as-part-of-historical-materialism-conference

 

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Strength in Numbers

TO FIGHT AUSTERITY WE NEED A UNITED LEFT

By Simon Hardy, Anticapitalist Initiative (Britain)

October 9, 2012 –  Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

The urgent need for unity on the radical left is something that has been eloquently put forward by Dan Hind on the Al-Jazeera website. Asking a very pertinent question as to whether there can be a SYRIZA-type organisation in Britain, Hind draws out some of the most important lessons of the Greek struggle and poses a challenge to the British left — can we break out of the ghetto as well?[1]

To plot a possible trajectory we have to be clear of the political alignment that has emerged for the left under the Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government. While Ed Miliband’s Labour Party might be surging ahead in the polls, the possibility of a Labour left revival is simply not on the cards. The Labour Party is hollowed out and bureaucratically controlled and all the best intentions and actions of Labour left activists will not change that. The Labour left is reduced to the old argument that there is nothing credible outside the Labour Party. They mockingly point to all the twisted contortions of the far left in Britain in the last decade (Socialist Alliance, Scottish Socialist Party, Respect, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, Left list, Respect renewal, etc.) to forge a new unity and conclude that the Labour Party is the only show in town.

But this is not an argument made from the Labour Party left’s strength, it is an argument about the radical left’s weakness. They cannot point to any meaningful gains made by the Labour left in recent years because there hasn’t been any. Even the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), the only significant bastion of the socialist left in the party, has failed to grow. On the crucial issue of the coalition government’s spending cuts they couldn’t even get any commitment from their municipal councillors to vote against cuts to local government budgets. Some have claimed that the Labour Party could act as a dented shield against the coalition onslaught, but the truth is that the Labour Party is no shield at all.

The most significant recent press offensive by the Labour Party has been to force the government to re-examine the west-coast mainline rail franchise deal, not to re-nationalise it but to try and keep Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains on the line. Yet barely a peep about the privatisation of the National Health Service, including privatising the pharmacies, some of which are also being taken over by Branson’s Virgin company.

The Labour left is generally principled on issues like privatisation and fighting austerity, but they are drowned out by the party apparatus, which is overwhelmingly neoliberal and anti-socialist. John McDonnell’s failure to even get on the leadership ballot in 2010 speaks volumes. As does the obvious non-growth of the labour left activist base. The magazine Labour Briefing, which recently became the official organ of the LRC, probably has a readership of around 500-600 people, smaller than some of the revolutionary left newspapers.

This is not to say that the Labour left has no role to play – far from it – they should just face reality squarely in the face and realise that reclaiming the Labour Party is a dead-end project.

But there is some truth in their criticism of the revolutionary left. Even where we have built new organisations that looked like they were about to achieve lift off (Respect, SSP), they collapsed in ignominy, usually caused by ego clashes and ridiculous control freakery by various organisations. While some of us criticised the political basis of these projects, the reality is that the political weaknesses barely even had time to come to the surface – the inveterate problems of the far left ran these initiatives into the ground long before they even had a chance to be put to the test of any kind of political power.

So a Labour left that can’t get anywhere and a revolutionary left that can’t get anywhere.

What lessons can we draw from these ”realities”? Certainly pessimism, although understandable, would be the wrong conclusion. The lesson of SYRIZA shows what can be done if the left gets its act together, puts aside its own empire-building projects and tries to do something that might actually make a difference. We have to start from the objective situation and work backwards – the reality of the cuts and a potential lost decade to austerity needs to sharpen our minds and our resolve. Starting from the necessity of a united, credible left we can work backwards to imagine the steps that we can take to get there.

I would go so far as to say that anyone at the present time who opposes attempts towards greater unity is, perhaps unconsciously, holding back the movement. The crisis is so acute and the tasks of the hour so urgent that we have no time for people who spend their hours constructing excuses for fragmentation, isolation and weakness. They are the past, and we desperately need a future.

Dan Hind is right and his voice joins a growing chorus of others who see the need for unity on the left. Does this mean every sect and group can just get together? No, of course real differences emerge. But there is so much that unites us in the current political context that it is criminal – absolutely criminal – that none of the larger groups are seriously talking about launching a new united organisation. The three-way division of the anti-cuts movement is the bitter fruit of this backward attitude on the British left — a situation that should deservedly make us a laughing stock in other countries.

If the success of SYRIZA raises the benchmark for what the left can achieve then the natural next question is, “How could we create an organisation like SYRIZA in Britain?“ I think this question should dominate the discussions on the left in the coming months. But let’s be clear – I am not saying we should just transplant SYRIZA’s program and constitution and graft it onto the British left. Such an attempt would be artificial. An organisation like SYRIZA means a coalition of the radical left, united against austerity, united against privatisation, united in action and united in fighting social oppression. The kind of program that any new initiative adopts is largely the result of who is involved in it, certainly it should have an anti-capitalist basis, though it can leave some of the bigger questions unresolved, at least initially.

Let’s focus on the goals that Hind identifies: “campaign for an end to the country’s predatory foreign policy, for the dismantling of the offshore network, for democratic control of the central banks, urgent action to address the threat of catastrophic climate change, and reform of the national media regimes.”

Each constituency does not need to dissolve itself, we just need to ensure checks and balances to prevent “swamping” of meetings. Each local unit of the organisation would retain certain autonomy while a national committee was permitted to adopt political lines, within the remits established at a conference. If an organisation or individual does not like any of the policies then they should have full freedom to speak their mind about it, while accepting that there is unity in the campaigns and actions the organisations agrees to pursue.

Everyone has to accept that they might be minoritised at some point. But they also have to understand that abandoning the organisation over a constitutional dispute or over this or that policy means abandoning the vital struggle for building a credible radical left in this country. Do people want us to live in glorious isolation for another decade or more, as people’s living standards plummet?

We also have to overcome the very real difference in size between constituent parts on the left. The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) for instance is still the largest group on the radical left in Britain, although it is much smaller than it was when I joined the left in 2001. Members of the SWP argue that launching a new party is not practical because, as they will numerically “dominate it”, it would cause problems (as it has in the past). But there are a number of ways to overcome this, if there is a political will to make it happen. Changing the culture on the left also means changing how we “intervene” into campaigns or broad organisations, and taking a more open approach, transforming sects into networks and “giving of yourself” for the greater need of the new organisation, these can all be thoroughly healthy steps to take.

Possible alternatives, definite pitfalls

The danger is that the left attempts some kind of united initiative, but limits it to an electoral coalition – replicating the Socialist Alliance (1999-2004) but without the enthusiasm. While a genuine socialist alliance would be a step forward from the current situation, it will suffer the same crisis as the last version, where all the left groups did their campaigning work under their own banners but stood together only in the election.

Let’s put it bluntly, British people generally don’t vote for electoral coalitions. They are here today and gone tomorrow, people respect the concept of a party or at least something more tangible that looks like it is going to last beyond the next internal spat. The Scottish Socialist Party was credible because it was united and forced the smaller groups involved to campaign as SSP activists first and foremost. Putting party before sect is essential to the success of any project, just as it was in the early days of the Labour Party or any of the Communist parties internationally.

The Respect débâcle shows the danger of personality politics (the “great man” view of politics, when the entire project is hung around one person’s neck). But its fragmentation also shows what happens when large constituent groups (in this case the SWP) act like control freaks and treat a coalition like their personal property. Although they blamed the disastrous outcome on John Rees, the fact is that the entire party was complicit in the mistakes that were made, both opportunism in political terms and bad practice in the organisational centre of the party. It was a feeling of loss of control when Galloway started to criticise the SWP’s handling of Respect that led the SWP leadership to “go nuclear” in the words of one protagonist.[2] While we can be critical of the conduct of Galloway and some of his positions, the complaint about organisational manoeuvres and people swamping meetings is one that many on the left will be sadly familiar with. This kind of practice must stop.

The political problem with Respect was not so much its “liberal” program, at the end of the day it was largely old Labour social democratic in much of what it said, the unstable core at the heart of it was the drive for electoral success with people who had no real interests in extra-parliamentary movements and struggles. A temporary alliance with careerists can come back to bite you, as it did for Respect in the east end of London, where Respect councillors jumped ship, first to the Tories and Liberal Democrats and then to Labour.

Again this points up the importance of political movements on the streets and in the workplaces as being paramount, with elections as a subordinate part of that strategy. Moreover, it means a much more democratic and accountable relationship between any elected representatives and the rank and file members, one where they are subordinated to the wider organisation and struggle, and not seen as its “leaders” merely because they have been elected to a position within the capitalist state. This is a point that SYRIZA will also have to debate out in the coming months.

Today the remains of the cycle of left unity initiatives exists in the form of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), an electoral alliance between the SWP and the Socialist Party (CWI), as well as a handful of independents. But again the TUSC only exists for elections and has no activist base. It seems to be doubtful that the TUSC can be transformed into something better; rather it appears to be a marriage of convenience for the two bigger Trotskyist groups. Its last conference had less than 60 people at it, despite the fact that the combined membership of the constituent groups must be over 1000 – real decisions are of course taken by the SWP and SP party leaderships.

While the past should not be forgotten, it can be forgiven, if people can prove their earnest support for a new initiative. Otherwise we are locked in a vicious circle with no way out.

Differences with SYRIZA

Regardless of the subjective problems of the British left’s sect-building ethos, there are two objective problems if we consider ourselves in relation to what the Greek left has achieved. The first is that SYRIZA’s success is clearly the result of a country in complete meltdown. Wage cuts of 40% and closure of important services is at a qualitatively higher level than anything we have in Britain… so far. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that only around 10% of the cuts have gone through, so worse is to come.

Second, Syriza was launched in 2004 and has had the best part of a decade to build up its support in elections before the explosion in 2012. In most elections they received around 5% of the vote, which to the British left would be nothing short of a breakthrough. Patience and a long-term view of politics is essential to make such a project work. But then, maybe the British “explosion” will happen sooner since any new organisation built will be involved in tenacious struggle against austerity from day one.

We also could not limit ourselves to electoral politics as SYRIZA seems to have an inclination to do. While some of the more radical elements within the coalition are organising forums and initiatives outside of the parliamentary process, it is essential as part of our strategy to see elections as a subordinate part of the wider struggle, not the primary focus. If SYRIZA imagines that it can really reverse the austerity measures and revive Greece only through governing the capitalist state they will be in for a rude shock. When it comes to Greece’s political and economic future, the European Central Bank and the leaders of France and Germany, not to mention the Greek capitalist class, are all in a far more powerful position than the parliament in Athens; removing their support and control mechanisms would be a crucial task for any radical government.

Campaigning for a united, radical left formation in Britain should be an essential part of the Anticapitalist Initiative’s (ACI) work in the coming months and years. Even more so, 2013 should be the year that serious steps are made to bring together a re-alignment on the left. We have had our fingers burnt in the past, but we cannot let past failures haunt us. If we fail to rise to the challenge, then we will deserve the defeats inflicted on us by the ruling class.

But the working class and the poor do not deserve them. It is not their fault the left is so weak – it’s ours. Now we have to get our house in order so that we can create a movement that can fight austerity and challenge capitalism.

Simon Hardy is a member of the new Anticapitalist Initiative (ACI), which, according to its website, seeks “to search out avenues for unity and co-operation that presents radical and socialist ideas in a way that is more appealing to new layers of activists. We will promote activity and struggle that aims to overcome division and sectarianism and points the way to a new type of society without exploitation and oppression.”

 

Notes

[1] Read Dan Hind’s article here http://aje.me/U5lUOj. It subsequently drew a critically examination from Socialist Workers Party member Richard Seymour at his Lenin’s Tomb blog http://www.leninology.com/2012/08/the-problem-of-left-unity.html.

[2] See http://www.socialistunity.com/galloway-on-respect/ and also http://www.redpepper.org.uk/Car-crash-on-the-left.

Originally at LINKS: International Journal of Socialist Renewal: http://links.org.au/node/3054

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Aesthetics

ARTLEAKS

7th of November 2012, 7pm, Khalili lecture theatre, SOAS.

Presentation of the international platform ArtLeaks and on the urgency of launching the ArtLeaks Gazette
Corina L. Apostol, Vlad Morariu, Vladan Jeremic, Dmitry Vilensky

ArtLeaks is an international platform for cultural workers where instances of abuse, corruption and exploitation are exposed and submitted for public inquiry. ArtLeaks stresses the urgent need to seriously revise these workers’ relationship with institutions, networks and economies involved with the production and consumption of art and culture. The goal of ArtLeaks is to create a space where one could engage directly with actual conditions of cultural work internationally – conditions that affect those working in cultural production as well as those from traditionally creative fields. Furthermore, ArtLeaks is developing in the direction of creating transversal alliances between local activist and cultural workers groups, through which we may collectively tackle situation of repression and inequality.

While building on previous models that emerged in the highly politicized milieus of the 1970s and 1980s, such as the institutional critique practice of left-wing collectives like Art Workers Coalition, The Guerrilla Art Action Group, Art & Language, PAD/D, Group Material to name just a few, ArtLeaks seeks to expand the scope of these historical precedents towards international geo-political engagement. One of the outcome of ArtLeaks working assemblies was the establishment of alliances with international groups such as: W.A.G.E.(NYC), Occupy Museums (NYC), Arts & Labor (NYC), Haben und Brauchen (Berlin), the Precarious Workers Brigade (London), The May Congress of Creative Workers (Moscow).

For the 2012 Historical Materialism Conference, members of ArtLeaks will present the outcome of their previous working assemblies which took place this year in Berlin, Moscow and Belgrade and bring up for discussion the urgent need to establish ArtLeaks Gazette (forthcoming 2013). This regular, on-line publication aims to be a tool for empowerment in the face of the systemic abuse of cultural workers’ basic labor rights, repression or even blatant censorship, and the growing corporatization of culture that we face today.

More about the ArtLeaks Gazette: http://art-leaks.org/artleaks-gazette/

More about ArtLeaks: http://art-leaks.org/

 

**END**

 

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Clive Harber

EDUCATION, DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT

Education, Democracy and Development: Does education contribute to democratisation in developing countries?

A new book by CLIVE HARBER & VUSI MNCUBE

Symposium Books

2012 paperback 190 pages US$48.00
ISBN 978-1-873927-71-7

 
DUE IN STOCK OCTOBER 22  

Click here to view further information and to order this book

Education is often seen as the key agency in international development and poverty reduction. Frequently the emphasis is on the economic and social role of education in development. This book, on the other hand, is unusual in explicitly examining the political role of education in development. In particular, it sets out the theories, evidence and arguments concerning the potential and actual relationships between education and democracy and critically explores the contradictory role of formal education in both supporting and hindering democratic political development. A key theme of the book is the importance of considering the type and nature of the education actually provided and experienced – what goes on inside the ‘black box’ of education? Currently in developing countries and elsewhere this is often at odds with democratic principles but the book also provides many examples of successful democratic practice in schools in developing countries as well as discussing a detailed case study of South Africa where democratic change in education is a key aspect of the policy agenda.  

Contents

Preface

CHAPTER 1 Politics, Democracy and Political Development
Politics and Democracy; The Idea of Development; Political Development Theory; Democracy as Development; Conclusion

CHAPTER 2 Education, Democracy and Political Development
Education and Politics; Education and Democracy; Education and Democracy: is there any evidence?; Conclusion

CHAPTER 3 Education for Democracy?
Introduction; What Does a Democratic School Look Like?; India: Neel Bagh School and Sumavanam School; Ecuador: the Pestalozzi School; UNICEF Child Friendly Schools; Education Policy; Leadership, Management and Pupil Voice in Decision-Making in Schools; Curriculum, Learning and Teaching; Teacher Education and Professional Identity; Initial Teacher Education; In-service Teacher Education; Action Research and Reflective Practice in In-service Teacher Education; Taught Programmes in Education for Democratic Citizenship; Assessment; School Inspection: a case study; Conclusion

CHAPTER 4 Obstacles to Greater Democracy in Education
Introduction; The Bureaucratic Legacy in Schools in Developing Countries; The Authoritarian Legacy; Whole School Organisation, Ethos and Culture; School Discipline and Corporal Punishment; Classroom Methods and Assessment; Teacher Education; Politics, Resources and Culture; Conclusion

CHAPTER 5 The Roles of Education in Relation to Political Development: South Africa as a case study
Introduction: development goals for education in post-apartheid South Africa; Modernisation or Disorganisation?; Democracy and Peace or Authoritarianism and Violence?; A Democratic Curriculum?; Democratic Structures: school governing bodies; Continuing Non-Democratic Features of South African Education; Contradictions and Tensions in Post-apartheid Education and Development; Conclusion

CHAPTER 6 Democratic Educational Change?

References; Notes on the authors

 

Related titles

Languages and Education in Africa: a comparative and transdisciplinary analysis BIRGIT BROCK-UTNE & INGSE SKATTUM

Research and Evaluation for Educational Development: learning from the PRISM experience in Kenya MICHAEL CROSSLEY, ANDREW HERRIOT, JUDITH WAUDO, MIRIAM MWIROTSI, KEITH HOLMES & MAGDALLEN JUMA

Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: closer perspectives ROSARII GRIFFIN

State of Transition: post-apartheid educational reform in South Africa CLIVE HARBER

The Changing Landscape of Education in Africa: quality, equality and democracy DAVID JOHNSON

Globalisation, Enterprise and Knowledge: education, training and development in Africa KENNETH KING & SIMON McGRATH

Developing Schools for Democracy in Europe: an example of trans-European co-operation in education JOHN SAYER

Learning Democracy and Citizenship: international experiences MICHELE SCHWEISFURTH & LYNN DAVIES, CLIVE HARBER

Teachers, Democratisation and Educational Reform in Russia and South Africa MICHELE SCHWEISFURTH

Political and Citizenship Education: international perspectives STEPHANIE WILDE

 

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Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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