Posted by: Doug Henwood | October 20, 2011

OWS demands working group: Jobs for All!

The anarchists are not happy about this, and are trying to block its adoption by the General Assembly. If you like it, please attend, agitate, comment, circulate, whatever. If you don’t like it, please reflect on the size of the potential constituency for this agenda compared with that for your own.

 

TEACH-IN: DEMANDS WORKING GROUP PANEL

 

Saturday 3:00-5:00 PM

66 W 12th St Rm 407 

Part of Day-long Teach-in sponsored by the New School Senate

 

What’s the story about the proposed

Jobs for All Demand?

 

The Demands Working Group of Occupy Wall Street unanimously endorsed and is circulating for discussion the following demand, which will be submitted to the General Assembly of OWS:

 

“Jobs for ALL – A Massive Public Works and Public Service Program

 

We demand a massive public works and public service program with direct government employment at prevailing (union) wages, paid for by taxing the rich and corporations, by immediately ending all of America’s wars, and by ending all aid to authoritarian regimes to create 25 million new jobs to:

 

-Expand education: cut class sizes and provide free university for all;

-Expand healthcare and provide free healthcare for all (single payer system);

-Build housing, guarantee decent housing for all;

-Expand mass transit, provided for free;

-Rebuild the infrastructure—bridges, flood control, roads;

-Research and implement clean energy alternatives; and

-Clean up the environment.

 

These jobs are to be open to all, regardless of documentation/immigration status or criminal record.”

 

Come to this open teach-in to learn about this demand, its history, and implications for the Occupations movement.  We urge all to join in the discussion and to prepare their comments and proposed amendments (friendly and unfriendly!)  for the General Assembly.

 

AND:

Demands Working Group Meeting

Sunday, 6:00 PM

Tompkins Square Park

(center, circular area right off E. 7th St., between Ave B and C)

1st Ave on L train or 2ndAve on F train

This is the working group for those who want OWS to put forward demands. All who want to help us plan for a broad-based discussion and eventual adoption of the “Jobs for All” Demand are invited!

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Responses

  1. Conyers has a full employment bill

  2. Any chance this will be livestreamed?

  3. The anarchists don’t like this? For God’s sake. This is just about one of the best, simplest, and most threatening set of demands I’ve read in a while.

  4. Yes – they’re trying to block adoption by the GA. I presume the reasons are the usual ones: they legitimate the state and reinforce the commodity-money relation. As Malcolm Harris reminded me the other day, I must get beyond the wage system. If only the landlord and grocer agreed.

  5. Take a look at this solidarity platform. It was hard work:

    http://www.workersassembly.ca/node/164

  6. It reminds me of my time in the “anti-globalization” movement a decade ago. Consensus enabled a skilled minority to block majorities from acting. The process became an end in itself. As a benighted “vertical,” I am still bitterly resentful. The enlightened “horizontals” snuffed out one promising idea after another. In their efforts to teach the rest of us what it means to be “free,” nothing could happen unless it met with their monomaniacal approval. As a remedy, they called in consensus experts to school us on how to govern ourselves–to teach us the meaning of “democracy.”

  7. Looks like the Marxist side of the Jacobin Debate is winning… Good!

    This is a great list of demands in and of itself, but it really goes directly to the issues that OWS was supposed to address in the 1st place.

  8. I don’t know about this. I think my mother, who just lost her crappy $10 job at a nursing home (and who, along with my dad, was victimized by subprime lenders on their mortgage refinancing) would rather hear more about “new ways of fucking” than jobs and healthcare. I’ll make sure to bring that up at this Sunday’s meeting!

  9. I have nothing against the demands but is it really necessary to open the post by identifying “the anarchists” as the opponents? Let’s try a little harder to resist the sectarian impulse.

  10. Looks like the Marxist side of the Jacobin Debate is winning

    If people are talking this way, then the side that’s actually winning is the bosses.

  11. Yes, Josh, it is necessary to bring it up, because it’s important to have sympathetic people at the meeting on Sunday and it will be important to keep them from blocking it from adoption by the GA. It’s a struggle, man. You can’t be touchy-feely forever.

  12. Chris, I believe it was “re-coding” the fucking. (This will inevitably give rise to the tea-party slogan: “Get your government hands outta my fuck-codes!”)

  13. So, were now anarchist baiting, is that it? I think this is a great proposal, but it was anarchists who built this movement and made it happen and have kept it democratic, so I don’t see the value in singling out one ideology out of many that are participating in OWS. Bad maneuver if you ask me.

  14. I live in Portland and Im an anarchist and I dont think there is anything wrong with the proposal! Hell we have to start somewhere and as an unemployed union carpenter Jobs Programs sound good to me! But seriously stop hating on “Anarchist” And stop lumping all of us together. I bet there are alot of anarchist out there that are not wearing black cloths and masks!

  15. Perhaps, Chris, your knowing that your mother would rather hear about “new ways of fucking” is what our friends think “new ways of fucking” entails.

  16. the answer to capitalism is more capitalism, hm?

  17. I think demands are important and that something to debate is important. That said, I am not thrilled with these demands (which means I would like to see alterations emerge in the course of discussion). As one guy brought up at one of the demands meetings, people who were pushed off of welfare into workfare were required to have jobs. On the one hand, the demand that these jobs have union wages, goes a step in the direction. On the other, it doesn’t deal with any of the infrastructure issues necessary for jobs–like childcare, transportation, etc. Nor does it deal with the impact of the hideous economy on those outside the labor market (retired, elderly, disabled).

    What would an alternative look like? Rather than jobs for all (which too easily resonates with Clinton’s workfare, or Perry’s evil putting of people into pathetic icky jobs, why not express a vision of labor and creative production as a common resource, one to be distributed collectively and responsibly. And then why not make the distribution of one’s proceeds from the social surplus separate from this work in the form of a guaranteed minimum income.?

  18. There are a few things that Anarchist are not considering here: 1) corporations are tyranical
    and will do anything to protect their interest. 2)
    The use of the state here is strategic and temporary for several reasons. 3) without the state as a buffer between the hammer of capital and the multitude, corporations will move to destroy anyone who stands in their way. Review the history of corporations in Africa and Latin America. 4) The use of state
    administrative resources is tactical and temporary. 5) the all or nothing position is a priviledge position that will more easily be coopted because of it’s tendency to emulate existing models of power and priviledge.

    Jobs for everyone is a radically pragmatic enough to create an opening for other possible worlds to become possible.

    From the Southwest mountains of Appalachia

    Salvador

  19. I believe it says union wages, not “pathetic icky jobs.” I would love to see income separated from work, but there are probably about 25 other people besides us who’d agree. Also: one reason for the political success and durability of social democracy in Sweden is that it’s work-centered, not about free money. Not sure what’s happened in recent years, but in the old days they’d go to great lengths to place people in jobs or create them if necessary. These active labor market policies were not cheap – about 2.5% of GDP, I think. But for that, you got 70-80% popular support.

  20. Full employment and public sector jobs are not “more capitalism.” The bourgeoisie hates this.

  21. yes, i’m sure capitalists will be terrified by your generous offer to work more for them.

  22. Guaranteed minimum income isn’t crazy, though, and there are different versions, with different amounts, etc. It seems a necessary supplement to universal university education, not that it’s impossible to work for wages while going to school, but it is difficult.

    I think my biggest hesitation around the jobs for all plan is that it seems to think that we can go back to Keynes and to some kind of consumer economy (hence, the traditional Democratic health, education, transportation, infrastructure meme–all of these are supports for capitalism, even if the bourgeoisie is too self-deceived to admit it).

  23. This gets geeky, but to me the good thing about Keynes is not the consumption side, but investment. On that score, I’ll point to this: http://www.thenation.com/article/163795/what-would-keynes-do-forum

  24. My comment was intended to be partly tongue in cheek – but it’s kind of interesting that it hit such a nerve.

    The Bosses will only stop winning when we actually take material capital (in the form of wages, political power, physical space etc.) away from them. So no, you’re wrong, our debating and taking sides against each other has no bearing on whether or not the bosses are winning.

  25. Thanks for putting this out. I’m using it to kick off an fb discussion around the idea of demands. Speaking as a long time anarchist myself, I’m not convinced either way on the issue of demands. I’m open to demands if they could be oriented in a way that is broad and speaks to many yet resists co-option of the movement into the traditional channels of political power, which is a huge threat at the moment. I’m just not sure how that would work in practice though. ‘Jobs for all’ sounds good and central, but it reads too much like ‘back door effort to turn OWS into cannon fodder for Obama’s jobs bill’ (intentional or not) and as well there’s many, myself included, that have jobs though pay is low/stagnant while prices continue to rise.

    Maybe this is cynicism from involvement in the left for nearly 15 years but honestly all I imagine is how when someone says in the GA locally “let’s discuss demands” is a long winded and fruitless debate that ends in some walking in frustration and the rest agreeing to compromise on a massive left laundry list that does little to move forward the movement.

  26. ” health, education, transportation, infrastructure meme–all of these are supports for capitalism, even if the bourgeoisie is too self-deceived to admit it”

    They may be “supports for capitalism” (whatever the hell that means) but they’re also supports for any imaginable decent human society that could ever possibly exist. If your revolution won’t improve standards of living for the masses then just count me out. I – and practically every other member of the 99% – actually WANT better transportation, better and more accessible education, and generally improved infrastructure. Who cares if it matches a traditional Democratic Party “meme”? Since when is that a litmus test of whether or not something is worthwhile? I’m sure the fascists and Stalinists also wanted better hospitals, roads and so on – so what?

    Just because something is integral to capitalist society doesn’t automatically make it a bad thing. There are plenty of aspects of the consumer economy that are good-looking, fun, rewarding, and mind-opening. The problem with capitalism isn’t consumption and commodification per se – it’s that too few get to have any access to a decent life, and that it is done in such an environmentally (physically, ecologically, and mentally) damaging way.

  27. Further, people know deeply that something is wrong and regular people identify with the message/critique of the 99%/1% but its open enough that people can read into it that meme a range of positions. This allows and invites a wide range of participation.

    My worry is that demands have the potential to do a couple things 1. Narrow the movement 2. Push the movement towards becoming a lobby/pressure group, because we have to be ‘practical’ and win the damands, that will fall back into the traditional channels of mainstream politics and inevitably that means closer to the Dems 3. Moving the center of the movement away from unity in action (protesting the banks, inequality, etc) to divisions along the usual fault lines (pro/anti-Dem, pro/indifferent to third party candidates) that will fracture the effort.

  28. Yes, of course, they are not just supports for capitalism. What I was trying to get at, perhaps too clumsily, was that these elements of our common life can be understood from different directions and that the direction matters.

    So, education, for example, can be encourage creativity, critical thinking, a wide range of skills; it can encourage people to ingest and spew what is fed them; it can train them to produce reams of paper and jargon under a compressed time schedule; it can make them nitpickers and pedants; and, it can be a vehicle for producing a particular kind of workforce and citizenry (none of these different elements are mutually exclusive; they can be combined in different ways).

    Democrats have urged education because of competition in a global economy. They treat education as the golden ticket for getting out of poverty, for adapting to the pressures of the market, for achieving middle class status. If this was true in the 50s and 60s, it isn’t now. So, this suggests another complication–how to think about the tension between education oriented toward jobs/work/a particular kind of economy and education as a value in itself.

    On transportation and infrastructure: a big question here is public or private transportation? I think cars should be phased out over the next ten years and that public transportation and bicycles should be encouraged, developed, pampered, etc. Thinking about this makes a difference insofar as do we take for granted the necessity of repairing highways and roads (car culture) or do we revitalize railroads?

    If we look at the questions from the direction of the commons, what we do and make in common, the ways we can answer them appear differently from the way they do if we begin from the assumption of the economy we have had.

  29. I think the demands committee should first raise that no demands be adopted by OWS. That will be blocked. Then raise that this specific proposal not be adopted. Blocked again, and we’re ready to roll, no?

  30. I’m a little concerned about the emphasis on free “university” education for all in the this demands list and in the rhetoric of OWS more generally. I think it makes much more sense to push for universal, free, post-secondary training/education. I don’t believe there is a state in the world that offers universal university education, because it does not make sense if one considers the broader workforce and the jobs we are looking to create.

    It seems to me that the emphasis on more university education is part of the current problem. It feeds into the “get ahead, screw the other guy” mentality. We tell our kids to get more education (which is currently a cash cow for banks and schools), and now we have all kinds of over or disproportionately qualified people. Public works can provide jobs for those people, but pushing more people through our current university system will undo the good done by a major public works project.

    University education in the U.S. is designed for life preparation rather than job preparation. This is both good and bad. It is absolutely great to have one’s horizon’s broadened, but this needs to be combined with professional training appropriate for both the work that exists and the work we want to create. Mind broadening happens in many different ways, and can and should happen at trade schools too.

    Schools (including high schools) have to be improved (beyond smaller classes) before we start shoving more people through them. And universities have to be conceived of as something more than an expensive (if not in money, in time) resume line. Post secondary education needs to have better placement institutions. Having guaranteed, reasonably-paying jobs might decrease some of the drive to climb madly over other people by getting as much education as possible (rather than as much as is necessary). (I am currently getting a Ph.D. so that I can compete for jobs requiring an M.A.) But in the current system and mentality, opening the university flood gates will only reinforce an elitism in current job seeking that shuns “manual” labor. We have to find a way to have educated, well-paid, profession-enjoying janitors, or else we will kill each other in the rat race.

    And by putting universal university first on our list of objectives, it makes us sound, not simply like the debt laden, opportunity-less humanities students that we are, but it makes us sound reactionary, bitter, and elitist. Like in Europe, post-secondary education should be free, but it shouldn’t all be U.S. style university education.

    Jon

  31. This is nice… What is it Zizek says – set finite demands they cannot meet. Marxists – Activistas 1 – 0!

  32. […] rich on Wallstreet are demanding more bailouts. The Demands Working Group of Occupy Wall Street unanimously endorsed and is circulating for […]

  33. Could such a list of demands be premature? Would it not be in the long run more profitable to deepen and broaden the critique, bring it to the local level more? The Tea Party organized local meetings nationwide, nearly in everyone’s back yard. This seems to have been a tactic that worked well.

    There’s an interesting column by the Tory columnist Simon Jenkins in today’s Guardian on this subject. Mind you, he’s not unsympathetic with the motives of OWS. H’e been known to take some unorthodox positions. (He’s lamented the privatisation of Brit Rail, and was an opponent of the wars in Afganistan and Iraq from the start.) Here’s a taste:

    “In the early 19th century every English riot carried an echo of a French one, and terrified the political class into parliamentary reform. The endemic violence of Belfast from the 1960s to the 1980s drove the province to the political extreme, and evoked neocolonial responses from London.”

    He further describes the numbers of participants in NY and London as small, concluding:

    “.. street protest is an understandable cry of public anger. But it is no insurrection and can put no army in the field. St Paul’s and Zuccotti Park are not Tahrir Square, whatever the claims of their occupants. Their protest is more a dull ache of frustration at power being dispensed in corridors rather than streets, at power that is ever further from their grasp.”

    An overly pessimistic view, perhaps. But I would think that OWS wouls want to concentrate on getting the numbers.

  34. Good to know what side you’re on, Doug.

    It’s not the working class’s.

  35. Any plans to videotape the teach-in? Might be a good thing to try to show at other occupy sites.

  36. “But Mr. Speaker, in an anarchist society who will do the dirty work?” Tony Gibson, 1952.

  37. The OWS website disavows connection to the demands working group.

    http://occupywallst.org/article/so-called-demands-working-group/

  38. Nice ideas, but too complicated, opening too much room for counterproductive compromise and, more importantly, allowing unlimited opportunity for future rollbacks.

    I suggest something simpler, one demand that, if fulfilled, forever purges the poison from the system and, indeed, transforms the system itself. This would be a complete ban on any shareholder representation on corporate boards, with employees and communities in which the corporation functions taking their place in some combination, probably with employees on a one-person-one-vote basis having majority representation.

    This instantly institutes democracy at the most essential level with the most powerful institution in the world, the corporation, and transforms all those D.C. corporate lobbyists into our lobbyists. At the level of day-to-day business, we retain a degree of competition, but at the federal level, we can set much nicer rules for the marketplace.

    Absent this, we leave in place the ever-lurking, ever-vigilant and supremely opportunistic predatory heart of the system, the corporate board in its current hideous form, to undo, sooner or later, anything constructive that might flow from this moment.

  39. Well, if I had to pick one politico-philosophical label, I’d probably go with “anarchist” and I quite like the idea of demands. Granted, I’m probably a bit less rigid with definitions and litmus tests and the nearly puritanical “consistency” search that so many socialists seem to favor.

    Simply put, I think it’s very important–perhaps imperative–that if we want to change the way things work, at some point we are going to have to demand /in words/ what to change. The idea that we can’t make any demands short of total abolition of the state, the wage system, and all the rest is quite absurd.

    As far as the demands themselves, there could be other demands that would be both very helpful towards alleviating the suffering that capitalism has caused, and towards bringing into the struggle the people who are truly suffering.

    Just spinning wheels here, but why not advocate for stakeholder shares for all employees? Or applying the US minimum wage to all employees of US corporations, regardless of the where the work is done? I don’t have any idea whether or not they would actually work, but we’d better come up with something before the weather shuts the protest down for them.

    Part of the advantage to making a demand is that they eventually have to respond, which /could/ help reinforce the strength of the demand. Currently, why should they respond with anything but derision and mockery?

    Like Ghandi supposedly (but maybe not) once said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

  40. They’re pretty good demands, but I’m surprised there was no mention of debt. Maybe a debt jubilee is too radical (though seriously – why not?) – but I think there has to be some mention of the housing debt crisis. That’s a huge gap there.

  41. I’m confused… does this demands working group have anything to do with this? http://occupywallst.org/article/so-called-demands-working-group/

  42. […] aren’t anarchists, and want to restore the middle class) Burning garbage The Cain Conundrum OWS demands working group: Jobs for All! Jack Hanna on Zanesville, Ohio, Animals: ‘We Would Have Had Carnage’ Corporations and their pet […]

  43. “yes, i’m sure capitalists will be terrified by your generous offer to work more for them.”

    Are you an idiot, or do you just play one on the Internet?

  44. Check your sources before you write nonsensical articles….

    Demands Working Group

    Posted Oct. 21, 2011, 3:01 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

    A group claiming to be affiliated with the General Assembly of Liberty Square and #ows has been speaking to the media on behalf of our movement.

    This group is not empowered by the NYC General Assembly.

    This group is not open-source and does not act by consensus.

    This group only represents themselves.

  45. Yo Garth, how do you know this is true? Whom does this represent? Was this action or statement authorized by the GA?

    “Open-source” is bullshit.

  46. It’s on the Occupy Wall St website – the link i posted…which seems to be the ‘official’ source of info?

  47. “There are a few things that Anarchist are not considering here: 1) corporations are tyranical and will do anything to protect their interest.”

    What rubbish! Anarchists are well aware of corporate power and that they act to protect their interests. The state exists to defend the capitalist class, after all. See “An Anarchist FAQ” for details:

    http://www.anarchistfaq.org.uk

    “2) The use of the state here is strategic and temporary for several reasons.”

    It is a demand which, unless backed up by direct action, will be ignored. By direct action I mean strikes, occupations, etc. by the mass of the population. And if we CAN act in that way then we can start to expropriate workplaces, and so on — it will become a social revolution.

    I think such a demand SHOULD be discussed and it should be stressed that the demand “jobs [wage-slavery] for all” is hardly the best we can come up with. Does this movement just aim to save capitalism from itself or will it try to progress to a struggle against capital itself? Does the movement want the capitalist state to act or does it want working class people to act for themselves and solve their own problems in their own ways.

    All this should be discussed.

    It would also help not to make comments starting with “the anarchists are not happy about this…”

  48. It is the difference between working within the capitalist system and getting beyond it. What is the difference between getting “paid” to do a job, and being supported to do the work you feel is necessary?

    MONEY.

    In both situations, the fact remains that people have to work to survive. The question is whether a wage should be paid (by who?) and what work is worth doing. Who decides what jobs are important??? Is restoring the earth profitable? Anarchists recognize that doing work for a wage restricts that work to the desires of the employers, creating a new authority with the potential to exploit workers, government subsidies, and shape the trajectory of social development.

  49. I wrote a column about the issue:
    http://c4ss.org/content/8737

  50. […] the agenda — “Jobs for All” — unanimously approved by the OWS Demands Working Group (LBO News, October 20). “The anarchists are not happy about this,” he writes, “and are trying to block its adoption […]

  51. Yeah! Let’s abolish money pronto! Whee!!!

  52. […] the agenda — “Jobs for All” — unanimously approved by the OWS Demands Working Group (LBO News, October 20). “The anarchists are not happy about this,” he writes, “and are trying to block its adoption […]

  53. Petition to Abolish Money: http://www.petitiononline.com/7771111/petition.html

  54. Because your reformist bullshit is any better? That might as well be some democrat’s bullshit progressive platform.

  55. BTW, 4 blocks getting yelled out of the committee meeting is not what you call unanimity.

  56. This plank is slippery. Is this a repeat of Bastard Keynesianism’s “full employment” sops? Or is this actually aimed at ending structural and cyclical unemployment? If the latter, then the proper terms are zero structural unemployment and zero cyclical unemployment (all the way from Hyman Minsky to L. Randall Wray).

    If the latter, other services should be considered, such as child care services, and indeed the public service component should take precedence over the “public works” one, being that the US is predominantly a service-based economy these days.

  57. […] rich on Wall Street are demanding more bailouts: The Demands Working Group of Occupy Wall Street unanimously endorsed and is circulating for […]

  58. Time to reread Lenin on infantile disorders, I think.

  59. Neither Hyman Minsky nor L. Randall Wray were/are Marxists. The Post-Keynesian School is of the position that zero structural unemployment and zero cyclical unemployment are indeed possible under current capitalist relations, all the while avoiding Kalecki’s spectre of fascism as the only means of achieving those goals.

  60. You people want something for nothing. Anything the government runs will be chock full of corruption. The problem is corrupt government and crony capitalism. 18 bucks an hour for being a lazy loser. Learn about sweat equity and hard work ingenuity.

    Occupy a job

  61. […] the OWS agenda “Jobs for All” which was unanimously approved by the OWS Demands Working Group (LBO News, October 20)  as a “massive jobs program” and said that left-anarchists are trying to block its […]

  62. Some anarchist thoughts on the ‘politics of demand’:

    “[The politics of demand] is caught up in…an endless repetition of a self-defeating act that only perpetuates the conditions that give rise to its own motive force. Fortunately, the same identities that have hit the limits of the politics of demand have begun to move beyond them, towards a politics of the act driven by an ethics of the real. This alternative ethico-political couple relies upon, and results from, getting over the hope that the state and corporate forms, as structures of domination, exploitation and division, are somehow capable of producing effects of emancipation. By avoiding making demands in the first place, it offers a way out of the cycle through which requests for ‘freedom’ or ‘rights’ are used to justify an intensification of the societies of discipline and control.” – Richard Day, Gramsci is Dead

    “…liberal multiculturalism runs into a dead end. It assumes the existence of the state as a neutral arbiter, a monological consciousness that, upon request, dispenses rights and privileges in the form of a gift. This is, of course, precisely the same assumption made by postmarxist theories of representation and radical democracy—they also rely upon the hope that ‘we’ will be able to compel/persuade state and corporate apparatuses and other social structures to give ‘us’ (a little more of) what ‘we’ think we need. Both liberalism and postmarxism, then, share a reliance upon a politics of demand, a politics oriented to improving existing institutions and everyday experiences by appealing to the benevolence of hegemonic forces and/or by altering the relations between these forces. But, as recent history has shown, these alterations never quite produce the kinds of ‘emancipation effects’ their proponents expect. The gains that are made (for some) only appear as such within the logic of the existing order, and often come at a high cost for others.” – Richard Day

    “…pursuing a politics of demand in the context of neoliberal globalization is rather like pursuing the latest in automobiles, clothing or refrigerator styles. One feels a lack, which one hopes to fill, only to discover that the yearning for fulfilment has increased rather than decreased. Just as no product can ever provide satisfaction in the consumption of goods and services, no state-based system of representation can be an adequate substitute for the autonomous creation of a just life lived in community with human and nonhuman others. Neoliberalism plays on the liberal and postmarxist hope that the currently hegemonic formation will recognize the validity of the claims presented to it, and respond by producing effects of emancipation. Most of the time, however, it does not; instead it defers, dissuades or provides a partial solution to one problem that exacerbates several others. In order to ‘free’ some educated upper-class First World White women to participate in the paid workforce, liberal capitalism creates new categories of indentured labour designed to import and enslave women of colour from the global South. So that we might achieve equality in the possession of private vehicles and air conditioners, the air becomes unbreatheable and the (newly privatized) power grid collapses in the heat wave associated with global warming produced by cars and air conditioners.” – Richard Day

    “…making certain demands on the state – say for higher wages, equal rights for excluded groups, to not go to war or an end to draconian policing – is one of the basic strategies of social movements and radical groups. Making such demands does not necessarily mean working within the state or reaffirming its legitimacy. On the contrary, demands are made from a position outside the established political order, and they often exceed the question of the implementation of this or that specific measure. They implicitly call into question the legitimacy and even the sovereignty of the state by highlighting fundamental inconsistencies between, for instance, a formal constitutional order that guarantees certain rights and equalities, and state practices that in reality violate and deny them.

    Jacques Rancière gives a succinct example of this when he discusses Olympe de Gouges, who, at the time of the French Revolution, demanded that women be given the right to go to the Assembly. In doing so, she demonstrated the inconsistency between the promise of equality – invoked in a general sense and yet denied in the particular by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen – and the political order which was formally based on this:

    ‘Women could make a twofold demonstration. They could demonstrate that they were deprived of the rights that they had, thanks to the Declaration of Rights. And they could demonstrate, through their public action, that they had the rights that the constitution denied to them, that they could enact those rights. So they could act as subjects of the Rights of Man in the precise sense that I have mentioned. They acted as subjects that did not have the rights that they had and had the rights that they had not.’

    While this was a demand for inclusion within the political order, it at the same time exposed a fissure or inconsistency in this order that was potentially destabilising, thus seeking to transcend the limits of that order.

    Let’s take another example: the demand to end draconian border control measures and to guarantee the rights of illegal migrants. While this is also a demand, to some extent, for the inclusion of those currently excluded from the national state order, it nevertheless comes from a place outside it – challenging the sovereign prerogative of the nation- state to determine its borders. It also highlights central contradictions and tensions within global capitalism and its relation to the nation- state: while global capitalism claims to promote the free movement of people (as well as capital and technology) across borders, it seems to be having precisely the opposite effect: that is, the intensifi cation of existing borders and the erection of new ones, not to mention the more general control and restrictions placed on the movement of people within national territories. In demanding an end to increasingly brutal border control and surveillance measures, and in mobilising people around this issue, activist groups are engaging in a form of politics that ultimately calls into question the very principle of state sovereignty.

    The question of the excessiveness or ‘irresponsibility’ of such demands should be turned around: they are demands that are driven by an ‘an- archic’ responsibility for the liberty and equality of others. While a radical politics of today would not be limited to the articulation of demands, and, indeed, would seek to go beyond this by building viable alternatives to the state, we should nevertheless acknowledge the radical potential of making demands and the position of autonomy already implicit within this practice.” – Saul Newman, The Politics of Postanarchism

  63. Jackass.

  64. I take it you were referring to “Moe Ron”?


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