New Year’s Thoughts – Prospects, Predictions, Postulations

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A city and a superhighway, by Sergei Gavrish

In this episode Dave (@withsobersenses) and Jon (@jonpiccini) take some time to reflect on 2015 and go through the entrails to make some predictions about 2016. What happened in 2015 and what does it tell us about capitalism and the struggle against it? And how do we even try to make sense of it all?

Articles and writers mentioned are:

A panel on the work of Lisa Vogel’s  Marxism and The Oppression of Women

Prabhat Patnaik on Capitalism and Its Current Crisis

Dave’s previous writing on #TURC can be found here and here

Lara Tingle on POLITICAL AMNESIA How We Forgot How To Govern

Doug Henwood on Age of the Unicorn: How the Fed Tried to Fix the Recession, and Created the Tech Bubble

Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron on the Californian Ideology

Nick Southall on Getting the Gong – A Tale of Two Cities

Angela Mitropoulos’ work can be found at s0metim3s

Music by Dilemmas

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Also here is A Resolution from Woodbine NYC which we like and is worth watching

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2 thoughts on “New Year’s Thoughts – Prospects, Predictions, Postulations

  1. Thanks for the podcast, it was a really interesting discussion.

    I had a couple of quick thoughts after listening to it…

    I think you both mentioned some of the strikes that had happened in Australia over 2015 (Huthison, the liquor warehouse, etc). You both made interesting comments on these, along the lines of what do these represent? The role of “older” bastions of workers power (MUA etc) in some of these conflicts. The reclaiming of space, and something about the hutchison camp as a place of self-articulation. I was thinking about similar themes as these over 2015, and as i was thinking about conversations i had with people down at the huthison picket…

    One thing that came up for me at the time and now again after listening to the podcast is Beverly Silver’s work. At the risk of being too mechanical, Silver talks about two general contexts in which workers’ struggle/strikes take place – what she calls ‘polanyi-type’ and ‘marx-type’ unrest. The names aren’t the most significant thing as far as i can tell, but the kind of conditions they name i think are, or at least could be. Polanyi-type is meant to refer to ‘backlash resistances…by working classes that are being unmade by global economic transformations, as well as by those workers who had benefited from established social compacts that are being abandoned from above’. Marx-type refers to struggles of newly emerging working classes. The word backlash in the first type sounds a bit dismissive or necessarily reactionary, but i don’t think Silver necessarily means it in this way.

    Anyway, in relation to your discussion about what do these strikes represent, how can they be understood, at the time they were happening I was thinking about what Silver says and if her ideas are useful. A couple of friends disagreed at the time that there was any use in her distinctions, but i am not so sure. It seems to me that some of the conflicts in Australia can be understood through what Silver says about polanyi-type unrest. I don’t say this to be dismissive of them in any way, or to say that there was nothing good about them. And like you said about Nick’s piece on the steel works in the gong, in some respects these can be seen as understandable responses given the conditions… But still, it is worth recognising and thinking about the limits to these conflicts, and I do think some of these limits can be understood at least partly in terms Silver puts forward as polanyi-type unrest. For example, the defensiveness of campaigns. I don’t raise this from some kinda ultra perspective, but simply to note that victory is so often claimed when not having had to retreat all the way – when previous agreements are not entirely ‘abandoned from above’. Is there anything to make of this? Will this kind of thing characterise various conflicts here in certain industries (but not others) for a while…? If so is this even significant? (as i say above, maybe I am being too mechanical with all this…) Silver’s perspective also points to the possible risks of protectionist positions within these types of conflicts…

    On the other hand, in terms of a space of self-articulation and the taking up of space, i think this is a really key point. One of the interesting conversations i had at the Hutchison picket was with a few people i’d not met before, about both how it was great that the picket had set up a permanent space which allowed for people to gather and talk and cross stories over etc – i guess what you called proletarian self-articulation. These points of encounter i think showed a vibrant side to the space and the campaign itself, and might contribute to developing relationships that get beyond the limits mentioned above… But we also talked about how the space was important precisely because it was lacking in so many other areas of life, particularly working life ( examples people gave were no common canteen, no common lunch hour or room, no mass shop floor in many workplaces), and that this often poses a real challenge to organising. This issue of space and encounter also came up when we started the casual workers group and the worker-student assembly at usyd, a need to establish some common space to talk and organise (which was one reason some of us spent so many hours walking around the uni talking to different staff, cleaners, cooks, library, storage, cafe staff as well as academic staff…). So yeah i think this is really interesting and will remain so… maybe capital doesn’t need to marshall a mass of bodies to the factory floor in these types of workplaces, but this isn’t automatically a condition of greater room to move… the spaces that allow for movement still need to be produced/are being produced…

    I wanted to say something about the city, work and travel, given some of the westconnex stuff in sydney, but will leave that for now.

    anyway, looking forward to the enviro one.

    1. Hey. Thanks for the comment. Really interesting. I think the distinction is useful if used in anon mechanical way. One thing I noticed lately which may complement this is that utopian thinking is current attached to notions of creating something new/outside/escape not struggling aggressive in workplaces for their communisation etc

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