Here’s the article I wrote for IPPR about ‘collective joy’ as a potential operative concept in public services administration. Oh yeah!
Here’s the article I wrote for IPPR about ‘collective joy’ as a potential operative concept in public services administration. Oh yeah!
So everyone’s talking about how stupid Zizek seems after that debate with Jordan Peterson. Back in 2007, years before Zizekmania had even peaked, I contributed a highly critical essay to this highly sceptical collection on Zizek edited by Paul Bowman & Richard Stamp. The whole pdf of the book is here: The_Truth_of_Zizek
A few weeks ago, when many UK university staff were on strike against a major attack on their pension rights, I was invited to speak at the teach-out organised by the UCU (University and Colleges Union) branch at Goldsmiths, University of London.
I gave a 20-minute talk from notes that I’d made the previous day. The talk provoked a really interesting discussion, and I promised a couple of people that I would make the notes available once I had had time to write them up. Well, I’ve written them up and they’ve become quite long, but that’s not all that surprising. This is still just notes – it’s not supposed to be a worked-out argument. But here it is in case anyone finds it useful.
(Latest update: September 17th 2019)
This page is about the ‘Acid Corbynism’ project.
(For general updates, here’s our Facebook Page . At some point we’ll get a proper website)
If you don’t know what that means then read this short article (then later look at the quite extensive further reading list below).
The ‘ACFM’ podcast, hosted by Novara Media, seems to be the main focal activity of the ‘Acid Corbynism’ project for the moment (it’s the 21st century left, so… when in doubt, podcast).
Does ‘AC’ stand for ‘Acid Communism’ or ‘Acid Corbynism?’. The answer, my friends, is: Yes.
We had a whole issue with the podcast, around being able to use licensed music and still have the podcast appear in the Novara Feed. The situation has finally been resolved, and we’ve recruited a great editorial team of Olivia Humphreys and Matt Huxley, so future episodes should appear regularly, once a month, from this week. They will appear in the Novara main feed with truncated music clips and the full-length cuts of the episodes will be hosted by them on Soundcloud.
Actually I’m going to stop uploading links to every episode as there are too many. Just look HERE for more.
You can subscribe to the Novara feed in iTunes by clicking here: Subscribe in iTunes
(or you can just search for Novara from inside your podcast client)
Also if you want Audio to listen to, then here’s the AUDIO RECORDING of the big Acid Corbynism seminar in February 2018
Below is all the Acid Corbynist written material I’m aware of, and links to stuff on Mark’s Acid Communism work, and some material of mine that anticipates some of the Acid Corbynism arguments. Yes it’s all men I’m afraid. When we get the book together (yes, there will be a book eventually), it won’t be.
The article already linked to at the top of the page. The shortest and pithiest from me.No really it is. From the New Statesman.
The first article on the subject, for Red Pepper.
This is the big one. 7,000 words with lots of philosophical reflection and some discussion of actual psychedelic culture. By me. For open Democracy of course. If that’s too much for you then look at some of these…
By me, for the Conversation. One for the academic audience.
Matt Phull & Will Stronge on revolutionary rave. Well, left-reformist rave.
Keir Milburn on consciousness-raising and that.
It’s a great collection and also includes most of what Mark and I did together. (There’s some thoughts on counterculture in the dialogue between us and ‘Reclaim Modernity has a whole spiel about the legacy of the New Left).
The actual unfinished introduction to Mark’s never-finished Acid Communism book is here: Acid-Communism-Final-MS
Also a really good collection. Not sure if there’s anything here that isn’t on the above-mentioned website.
Originally published in ‘Art Press 2’ in 2010
It’s a token gesture but until someone who isn’t writes something about Acid Corbynism then it’ll have to do:
Here is the much longer essay I wrote about the same subject, about Mark Fisher’s idea of ‘Acid Communism’, and the general idea of a utopian psychedelic socialism (pdf), which will soon be published on open Democracy (so if you prefer to read it online you can wait for it to be posted there).
This is all inspired by the Acid Corbynism session at this year’s The World Transformed, organised by Charlie Clarke, Matt Phull, Elliot Dugdale and Will Stronge.
So just after the election Alex and I did a talk at the Anti-University of East London event on this subject, which will be central to our forthcoming book (among many other things). The video is HERE
A week or two after that I wrote a long essay on the subject and the implications of the election, but I had already promised to write on this subject for Fabian Review, so I produced a short edited version for them which was published here last week. I did an even shorter version for IPPR but I don’t think that’s been posted yet.
The full length version is on open Democracy HERE.
This is an essay based on the talk I gave for the launch of Stuart Hall’s political writings. It’s about the crisis of neoliberalism cosmopolitanism and how we need a better, left-wing, democratic cosmopolitanism.
All politics is about building coalitions and building power: if Labour cannot understand this truth and grasp its implications, then it is doomed.
A quick preface
This was written as a short contribution to a Pluto Press book that was supposed to be published last year, but never finally happened. I think it’s still pretty relevant to everything so I’m posting it now.
(If you’re one of the several people who are waiting for me to finish writing something – don’t worry – I did this ages ago…it hasn’t been distracting me from what I was supposed to be writing for you)
My aim in this short essay is to explain how a particular way of understanding politics and social change can illuminate our current situation. But first a disclaimer. I won’t be saying anything new here. The ideas I will be using are very familiar to those who are trained in a particular intellectual tradition. I present them here because they remain invaluable and useful, and because lots of people have had no access to that tradition; but not because I claim any originality for them.
I am going to be explaining in very basic terms how an approach derived from the ideas of the great Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci, who died in ta fascist prison in the late 1930s, can help us understand current British politics. It seems particularly appropriate to to do this right now, because the past month has seen the launch of Stuart Hall’s Selected Political Writings [https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/stuart-hall-event]. Hall was one of the giant’s of British public and intellectual life of recent decades (https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/stuart-hall; https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jeremy-gilbert/tribute-to-stuart-hall). One of Hall’s great contributions to British intellectual culture was to bring to Gramsci’s ideas to on the analysis of British politics, in a number of key essays, several of which can be found in his key 1980s collection, The Hard Road to Renewal.
At the present time, Gramsci and his ideas seem to be undergoing yet another one of their periodic revivals, having been dismissed by many commentators as hopelessly outdated a few years ago. Many introductions to Gramsci are available, but one of the best has been recently updates: Roger Simon’s Gramsci’s Political Thought: An Introduction (https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/book/gramscis-political-thought). Many scholarly expositions of Gramsci’s work have been produced, but Peter Thomas’ The Gramscian Moment (2009) set a new benchmark in English-language scholarship. I don’t know much about the state of Gramsci scholarship outside the English-speaking world, but I do know that the popular French radio show and podcast Les Chemins de La Philosophie (https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/les-chemins-de-la-philosophie) recently produced an episode on Gramsci simply because he is so widely cited by so many people. Radical publishers Verso have just published a historical study of Gramsci’s key concept – ‘hegemony’ (if you don’t know what this means don’t worry, I will explain in simple terms shortly) – by one of its most prominent writers, Perry Anderson. In fact Alex Williams and I are currently writing a book for the same publishers on the subject of hegemony in the 21st century, which due to be completed before the summer. (We are considering presenting initial arguments in a series of public seminars and videos, so if you think you might be interested in that then do follow us at @lemonbloodycola and @jemgilbert).
Here are two versions of basically the same tribute to my departed friend Mark Fisher, who took his own life in January.
There are two versions, a very long and a quite long one.
The first is my own very very long tribute. It is as much as anything about me and my thoughts, obviously – as it is basically a kind of intellectual history of Marks’ own conceptual journey and my personal and political relationship to it. If you have been dying to find out exactly what I thought of the CCRU in the early 2000s, then this is for you. If not then maybe don’t bother. To be fair if you are interested in a very detailed account of Mark’s intellectual and political development then I think , I hope, you will find this genuinely useful.
Here it is in a pdf: My Friend Mark
The second is a rather shorter edited version, which is posted along with a number of other tributes on the LARB website HERE
The eulogies from Mark’s memorial service (including an Acid Communist translation of the Internationale) are HERE
Where and how to get there ?
Open School East
The Rose Lipman Building
43 De Beauvoir Rd
London N1 5SQ
Buses: 67, 149, 243 (Haggerston Station) & 21, 76, 141 (Downham Road)
(Open School East is fully wheelchair accessible)
What and When?
Every other Tuesday (normally – see dates below), Feb 23rd – June 14th 2016
Just turn up no booking required
(then drinks round the corner at Brilliant Corners!)
‘Some bunch of migrants’ is what David Cameron called the refugee inhabitants of the Calais ‘jungle’ when Jeremy Corbyn went to visit them. But migration and movement of people has shaped every aspect of our lives and culture, from the forced migrations of the slave trade to the take-away menus on our high street. With the EU referendum just around the corner, and anti-immigration feeling running high in the UK, what hope is there for a progressive cosmopolitan politics today?
‘Computer World’ is the title of Kraftwerk’s best album (yes it is). At just around the time they recorded it, economists, philosophers and social theorists were predicting that the ‘computerisation’ of society would change everything, creating a world of infinite information, without stable values, in which the very idea of being ‘modern’ would come to seem out of date. Were they right? The technological changes of the past few decades have radically changed how capitalism works – but is it still fundamentally the same old system?
“There’s no such thing as society: only individuals (and their families)”. This was perhaps Margaret Thatcher’s most notorious public pronouncement. It was also one of the few moments when she made explicit her commitment to the ideals and assumptions of ‘neoliberalism’: the individualistic political philosophy that has come to dominate our politics, our culture and our lives.
After the 2008 crash, and the rise of Corbynism, we’re hearing a lot of discussion these days about the problems with neoliberal economics, which basically wants to privatise everything, drive down wages and cut taxes for the rich. We don’t hear so much about neoliberalism as a cultural ideology, promoting individualism, competition and greed in every area of life, from the nursery to the hospice. But without understanding this, we can’t understand how ruling elites have got away with imposing such an unpopular programme for so long.
We’ll have a think about this here – and take the opportunity to revise a bit of Marx, Gramsci and Foucault.
If historians of the future remember our era for anything, it is probably going to be the unprecedented revolution in the social status of women that we have lived through, and are living through. But the movement which made that change possible is still derided and feared, often seemingly unpopular with the very generations of young women who have benefited from it. At the same time it has raised a question which cultural and social theory is still struggling to answer – what is gender? Is it a social construct or a biological fact, or both, or neither? What does it mean to be a feminist today? Where does masculinity fit into all this? What are ‘performativity’ and ‘intersectionality’ when they’re at home? We will sort all this out in time to get to the pub before 9, honest…
Another huge cultural and political change of recent years has been the transformation in social attitudes towards same-sex relationships. It’s hard to believe now that both advocates and opponents of ‘gay liberation’ once thought that capitalism itself simply could not tolerate open same-sex relationships, and would be fatally undermined by any attempt to validate them. At the same time sexuality remains a highly charged political issue in many complex ways, and the broad field of ‘queer theory’ has been one of the most productive and contentious areas of cultural studies.
Since around 2000, there’s been growing interest in the English-speaking world in a particular strain of radical Italian thought. This ‘autonomist’ tradition believes in the creative, dynamic capacities of workers of all kinds, from factory workers to software engineers, and wants to liberate the creative power of ‘the multitude’ from capitalist control. Thinkers such as Hardt & Negri and Lazzarato offer very interesting ways of thinking about the rise of the ‘creative economy’, about how social media platforms generate profits from our everyday communications, and about why cities are so often hotbeds of radicalism and innovation. Two days before the London Mayoral election, we’ll also think about what potential there might be for Londoners to take back our own city from the clutches of the oligarchs and the Corporation of London.
Once upon a time, Cultural Studies was basically about looking at everything as if it were a language: fashion, advertising, music and journalism were understood as different ways in which people ‘make meanings’. A lot of cultural studies still is like that – it’s a very useful and productive way of looking at things. But what about those aspects of our lives which are not easy to translate into ‘meanings’? What about feelings? What about the sounds of music, the colours of paintings, the physical thrill of watching a movie? These issues aren’t just important for thinking about art and music – they’re also crucial to understanding what motivates people politically and socially. We’ll explore these issues and try to get inside one of the most difficult but rewarding bodies of 20th century theory: the ‘schizoanalysis’ of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.
How did we get into this mess? Rising inequality, climate catastrophe, miserable youth and a culture which can’t innovate: it’s hard to believe that until some time in the 80s, people actually believed the world was getting better. Can Cultural Studies help us to understand how we got here? It can and it will.
In this session we’ll bring together many of the ideas from the previous weeks, and the previous term, to see how they can help answer this questions. We’ll be looking at some classic Cultural Studies text such as Sturt Hall et. al’s Policing the Crisis published in 1978 (which starts off analysing newspaper reports about muggings, and ends up basically predicting Thatcherism before anyone else could see it coming), and asking if culture in 2016 is still stuck in ‘the long 1990s’.
What kind of world are we heading into, and who gets to decide? Will artificially-intelligent robots be our masters? Will we be cyborgs ourselves? Are we already? What will happen to us once Chinese workers start demanding decent wages for making all the stuff we buy? Can the planet tolerate the levels of consumption we’ve got used to? Will technology save us or destroy us.? Are we already experiencing ‘post-capitalism’? Are we already ‘post-human’? All this and more will be revealed.