“The Emancipation of the Working Class Must be the Work of the Working Class Itself”

This is my awkward attempt to reblog this excellent piece on how the IWW does not need to be more like the AFL-CIO, which is to say how workers must emancipate themselves rather than be emancipated by professional union organizers.

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Squatting, Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles, Europe

New collectively produced book on squatting released

*Squatting in Europe: Radical Spaces, Urban Struggles*
Edited by the Squatting Europe Kollective

9781570272578

Squatting offers a radical but simple solution to the crises of housing,
homelessness, and the lack of social space that mark contemporary
society: occupying empty buildings and rebuilding lives and communities
in the process. Squatting has a long and complex history, interwoven
with the changing and contested nature of urban politics over the last
forty years.

Squatting in Europe aims to move beyond the conventional understandings
of squatting, investigating its history in Europe over the past four
decades. Historical comparisons and analysis blend together in these
inquiries into squatting in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France,
Germany and England. In it members of SqEK (Squatting Europe Kollective)
explore the diverse, radical, and often controversial nature of
squatting as a form of militant research and self-managed knowledge
production.

Essays by Miguel Martínez, Gianni Piazza, Hans Pruijt, Pierpaolo Mudu,
Claudio Cattaneo, Andre Holm, Armin Kuhn, Linus Owens, Florence
Bouillon, Thomas Aguilera, and ETC Dee.

“Amidst the proliferation of post-political banter, it is refreshing to
see the time-tested politics of pre-figurative direct action being
taking so seriously. This is a must-read for anybody who wants to
better understand how the politics of squatting offer a set of
transformative strategies for a creating a more egalitarian world.
Furthermore, this collection illustrates how such transformative
politics so often start in the world’s cities through deliberate
organizing and thoughtful reflection by committed groups of activists,
scholars and everyday citizens.” — Nik Heynen, University of Georgia

“In an era of austerity, capitalist accumulation by dispossession, and
the criminalization of protest this excellent book serves as an
inspiring and timely reminder of people’s re-appropriation of urban
spaces in order to fashion alternatives to the status quo. Structured
around a typology of squatting configurations — as anti-deprivation;
entrepreneurial; conservational; political; and alternative housing
strategies — this empirically-rich collection of essays by scholars and
activists provides persuasive evidence of the creativity and politically
transformative potential involved in such practices.” — Paul Routledge,
University of Glasgow

Bio: Squatting Europe is a research network focusing on the squatters’
movement. Our aim is to produce reliable and fine-grained knowledge
about this movement not only as an end in itself, but also as a public
resource, especially for squatters and activists. Critical engagement
and comparative approaches are the bases of our project. The group is an
open transnational collective (SQEK) whose members represent a diversity
of disciplines and fields seeking to understand the issues associated
with squats and social centres across Europe.

PDF available freely online (http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=504).

Released by Minor Compositions, Wivenhoe / Brooklyn / Port Watson
Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing
from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of
everyday life.

Minor Compositions is an imprint of Autonomedia
http://www.minorcompositions.info | minorcompositions@gmail.com

Joel Beinin on Egypt

I just saw Joel Beinin give a talk here at the University of Washington on the Egyptian uprising.  One of his main points was that the events of 2011 did not come out of nowhere, but rather were heir to a long series of popular struggles in Egypt.  While Beinin acknowledged the importance of the middle classes (liberals, professionals, intellectuals, etc.), students, and tech-savvy young people, he was keen to highlight the importance of workers’ struggles.  He argued that over the last twenty years there have been thousands of strikes and other actions by Egyptian workers, most of which were not organized (and often even opposed) by the official unions and their leadership.  The strikes were typically wildcat strikes, spontaneous and organized by a grassroots leadership (often led by an elected, ad hoc strike committee).  Beinin was good in that while he wanted to emphasize workers’ activism, he didn’t make the tired old-Left argument that “only the working class” can be the agent of history, that the Arab spring is reducible to workers’ struggles against neoliberalism, and that those workers’ must organize into a party to seize the state.  However, he also didn’t seem to see much potential in Egypt for such grassroots worker activism in the long term, since, he said, each action was highly localized and unable to see beyond the walls of its own factory.  I am not quite sure his pessimism is warranted, given the remarkable energy and courage the workers showed.  In any case, there seem to be multiple resonances with the long history of self-generated and -managed workers’ struggles (e.g. Spain, Italy, Russia, Germany, Poland, Hungary…), struggles that  concerned themselves not only with wages and working conditions, but also with the development of democracy: they insisted on workers’ capacity to control and manage economic production for themselves, without managers and without capitalists.  At the very least, I think the workers’ struggle is an element of the Egyptian uprising that should get more attention than it has.

I have an audio recording of the talk.  If you are interested email me and I can send it on.