Friday, January 28, 2011

Lentil Stew at the White House

Much to tell, maybe, now I am in Madrid. I've been holed up writing, but made a few forays – to Tabacalera CSA on a busy night, buzzing with many immigrants there for a music night and African crafts show in the bar. It's a huge, busy social center with the disconcerting presence of uniformed security officers paid by the state. This is counter-culture and this is official. Wild. I was there to meet videotistas from Tabacanal, the on-site internet video project. They were to videotape some visiting South American cultural officials – I never got the details. But they were hidden in one of the many rooms, and no one seemed to know where. (The administration of this big CSA is straining the resources of the assembly, I am told.) This weekend AK KRaak video collective from Berlin is presenting there. I'll be in the mountains, sigh.
But I also escaped the writing cabin for a drink at the bar of Casa Blanca, a newer CSOA not far from the Reina Sofia museum. It's smaller than Tabacalera, of course – but no guards! I bought a t-shirt. The shirt lists the successive occupations that have culminated in this one: “06 La Escoba, 07 La Alarma, 08 Malaya” and “10 Casa Blanca.” Last night I returned, as the Madrid Critical Mass bicycle ride wound up there. (A related poster features a drooling wolf riding along above a prowling cat.) The post-ride party started with a giant bowl of lentils, rice and veggies. I didn't stay for the basement dance party...
Meanwhile, Back in School –
I'm getting promo from Edu-Factory for their February European Meeting of University Movements in Paris. Buckets of folks are going to discuss their struggles against austerity. (Their 2009 book, “Towards a Global Autonomous University,” is available as a PDF download in English, Spanish and Italian on their site.) Resisting austerity seems like small change compared to overthrowing the government – northern Africa is going wild... But folks all over now have to fight for their future.
A lot of ground-level action is also covered at Occupy Everything. They've got the scoop on the recent Paris occupation across the street from the president's house! They're crusty, too -- i love the "DIY Book Bloc" videotape, showing how to make a street shield from Italian UniRiot TV. (Maybe a little too crusty; I don't like gun show propaganda any more than the thought of professors packing turns me on...)
Even the E-flux crew has put out an interesting journal on the topic – with contributions from some of the newly emergent usual suspects: Paul Chan, Claire Bishop, Brian Holmes among the U.S. names. It's not exactly on the topic. In the best tradition of philosophical-critical perspective mongering, most essays circle around it – except for Gavin Butt's on “being boiled,” penned by the London cops during the recent demonstrations. That's low level brutality compared to Mubarak's police, but cut from the same bolt of repressive cloth. Still, I am glad that our egghead powers-that-be are coming around – you can follow the turnaround on E-flux news reports of demonstrations – from the anxious report of Prince Charles being jostled in his car in early December, to a major union leader's remarks on 12/30 that “workers should be inspired by student protests against higher tuition fees.'The magnificent students’ movement urgently needs to find a wider echo if the government is to be stopped,' McCluskey [of the Unite union] wrote in the Guardian newspaper today[12/30]. 'We have to be preparing for battle.'” Workers and students united – De Gaulle's nightmare...


Tabacanal TV project – in Spanish

AK KRaak video collective – in German & English
and Youtube user/akkraakantiquariat

Casa Blanca CSO, Madrid

Madrid Critical Mass – in Spanish

European Meeting of University Movements: Paris, 11-13 February 2011

Occupy Everything

“DIY Book Bloc” video posted at:

E-flux journal

E-flux art & education updates

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The "Occupation Cookbook"

How long have I been asleep? The always excellent "news" at points to the impressive "Occupation Cookbook" produced in Zagreb, now online at Based on experiences in spring 2009, "The Occupation Cookbook or the Model of the Occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb" contains practical descriptions spiced with some theory of the way to organize the change we want to see.
They write, "The Occupation Cookbook is a 'manual' that describes the organization of the student occupation of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences that took
place in the spring of 2009 and lasted for 35 days. It was written for two reasons: to record what happened, and to present the particular organization of this action in such a way that it may be of use to other activists and members of various collectives if they decide to undertake a similar action. "The Cookbook" is currently being translated into several languages. At the moment, all but the final few chapters have been translated into English, and the Introduction has been translated into Spanish. (Although it seems also a German version is available.)
The website has many texts, videos and photos, as well as links to other movements in Croatia and beyond.
Contents of the Cookbook:
Foreword by Boris Buden; Introduction
The Organization of Student Control at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
How to Organize a Plenum?; The Plenum; The Rules and Guidelines of the FHSS Plenum
Code of Conduct During the Student Control Over the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
The Plenum Minutes; Delegates and mandates
The Media Strategy, the Media Team and the Media Working Group
The Operational Tasks, Logistics and Security Team
The Program and the Program Team
The Inter-Plenary Working Group; The Plenum Technical Issues Working Group
The Document Analysis Working Group
The Mini-Actions Working Group
The Working Group for Spreading Direct Democracy
The Blog/Portal and the Blog Team
While it may seem a little socialist-technical (it is after all sort of dedicated to Lenin), this is an admirably coherent attempt to synthesize a code for successful peoples' action in the school.
Photo by: Damir Gamulin of “5 do 12″ (”The Eleventh Hour”) mini action in Zagreb city square.