October 21, 2011

Occupy time: What I learned from #occupywallstreet Last weekend, I was in NYC. I went to Zuccotti Park three times, Washington Square Park two times, a working group meeting, a strategy session, and I occupied Times Square (yay!). Since I got back, I've been embedded in the media feeds, but I've also started to reflect some on the experience rather than just the politics and the issues. In part, this reflection has come from talking with students and friends as we think about how to extend the occupation form up here, to the town and campus. It's also come about because of how much time all of this takes. Yesterday I noticed that I spent about three hours in different face to face conversations with people. That's rare for me. I usually work alone, in front of a screen or text, for hours on end. And I usually prefer it that way--for reasons personal and inchoate as well as determined by capital: chatting is not productive (I try to trick myself and the system in me by writing about new media--that way, being online all the time is work). Anyway, endless meetings: the drudgery of socialism or the thrill of activism? Can't have one without the other. But #occupywallstreet is suggesting something different to me--that the endless meetings, the constant meetings, are the occupation; they are the break with everyday life. Activity in around the movement, generating interest, making plans, writing, making signs, consulting, discussing, debating, and listening--with a patience and generosity that is very hard to...
Occupy political change. Report from Communism: A New Beginning? conference in NYC | rabble.ca It was one of those ‘snap to attention' statements. Political theorist Jodi Dean was asked, "What is the point of theory?" Her response? "It is to provide weapons." Dean was speaking metaphorically of course, but the quote resonated. The world we find ourselves in needs a theory that can cut through the leaden fog that says we have, for better or worse, the best world we can hope for. The statement loomed large over a New York City conference, which took place from Oct. 14 to 16 and was sponsored by Verso Books, titled "Communism: A New Beginning?" If it seems surreal for there to be such a symposium 20 years after the official obituary of communism was written, it has been brought back to earth by the swirl of events surrounding Occupy Wall Street, Tahir Square in Egypt, riots in London, and heroic protests in Syria. Once again, the matter of "can the world be different", is a pressing question. The event was held in New York's Cooper Union, with the 200 available tickets selling out almost immediately. There were attendees -- and virtual participants via a live feed -- from all over the world. Most of them are avid readers of the works of conference participants, who along with Dean included; Bruno Bosteels, Susan Buck-Morris, Frank Ruda, Étienne Balibar and Slavoj Zizek. French philosopher Alain Badiou, who was ill, was not able to attend but had his statement read to the conference. The conference was illuminating and provocative,...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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