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Book Club 2011 & 2012 > [August] The Coming Insurrection - Invisible Committee

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message 1: by Tinea, loose ends coordinator (last edited Aug 01, 2011 07:05AM) (new)

Tinea (pist) | 132 comments Mod
Discussion open on The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee. You can find the full text online.

We're reading this book in together in August 2011 but I want to emphasize that people coming across this later should feel free to join in (to this and all book discussions). Your new comment bounces the topic to the top of the folder, so you might reignite a good conversation.

Any thoughts yet on the first few circles?

message 2: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (KevinKevin) | 22 comments On the First Circle: the text makes "self-expression" seem part of the system that fragments community in the interest of the consumer industry. But I think that's only so if the means of expression are those handed to you by industry. Some ways of expressing oneself undermine, erode or challenge consumerism. I see this section addressing a certain form of expressive activity but not everything that might be labeled self-expression.

message 3: by justdave (new)

justdave (JustDavid) | 7 comments Thoughts on the First Circle.
By way of marketing, capitalism has transcended beyond the capacity of providing material goods. Capitalism now offers individuality through these goods. They don't sell things anymore they sell identities. Pick any random commercial and you won't get facts you will get a fantasy.
TV ad - a bunch of people dancing in the streets like assholes.. is this a commercial for some party? no its an ad for Pepsi. Sick of being just another number rolling down the freeway in some ordinary metal coffin? Yes!? Than you my friend need to express your individuality with a Mercedes.
In order to obtain these goods you must learn to adapt and become normal - which runs counter to the whole individuality thing.
And if you aren't normal have no fear since the market can help you achieve 'normal behavior' via drugs.

Self-expression is only valid through the market and if self-expression is obtained otherwise than you are not normal so shut up and take your meds.

This is my take on the 1st Circle. Maybe I'm way off, but like I said during the run-up to this month's selection...this book is highfalutin.

message 4: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (KevinKevin) | 22 comments Third Circle: This seems the most focused section so far. After having discussed how ties or connections among people are being broken by the modern economy this section suggests a certain kind of work might be one way of establishing a different kind of connection. I was struck by the reference to a participatory dimension of work, something the text says Marxists overlook. Wish this were discussed at greater length. It would be interesting to imagine work as a way of making connections with others that aren't exchange-related in the way a job is.

message 5: by Tinea, loose ends coordinator (new)

Tinea (pist) | 132 comments Mod
I agree it's the third circle that starts to pick up.
I'm really interested in how they explain work relationships in the era of the service sector. Work is both exploitation and participation, and you can't separate the two. Both craft and management are said to be more 'participation'-- but one participates in craft because it's work that allows one to express a passion, while one participates in management to hold onto a scarce high-paying job. And the more exploited workers-- the service industry, assemblers, seasonal workers-- move from job to job too quickly to be attached to their workplace, undermining organizing.

When they argue for 'demobilizing,' what does that mean in practice?

message 6: by justdave (new)

justdave (JustDavid) | 7 comments demobilizing: in practice to stop migrating from job to job and establish roots and organize. A kind of 'fight where you stand' philosophy.
That's what I'd guess, but this and many other sections of this book are vague and not too accessible. Does anyone else share this view?

message 7: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (KevinKevin) | 22 comments I finally finished reading this and I now get the "Invisible" part of the authors' identity. There's some good insights all through. I noticed this: in one of the chapters they criticize the privatization of public spaces, which they equate with the expansion of government oversight and the breakdown of meaningful human contact. Yet their proposal in the end is essentially based on forming private associations in the form of communes.

"Why shouldn't communes proliferate everywhere?" they ask. I think because we just don't have enough good examples of communes working well or effectively. I'm not all that familiar with the ones they cite and wish there was more said about them in the text. That would help in forming a more concrete picture of what the group has in mind.

message 8: by abclaret, facilitator (new)

abclaret | 94 comments Mod
Playing catch up on this one.

Was looking forward to reading this after the hype even though it seems to have passed quite a few people I know.

Needless to say I was expecting something on par with Alfredo M Bonanno and it didn't stray to far from From Riot To Insurrection: Analysis For An Anarchist Perspective Against Post Industrial Capitalism.

The analysis section of the book just seemed to be literary style vexing about the decadence of production, loss of space, the poverty of 'debate' on immigration, encroaching under-employment, poor state of the economy, environmental damage etc. It wasn't really all that insightful, and seemed to over-egg the cataclysm angle for my liking. Did like the chapter on immigration and environmentalism though,

"if they weren’t here, the French might stop existing."
Reminded me of Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate

And this holds a lot of truth in terms of the green-washing trends that are going on,
"We are told that the environment has the incomparable merit of being the first truly global problem presented to humanity. A global problem, which is to say a problem that only those who are organized on a global level will be able to solve. And we know who they are. These are the very same groups that for close to a century have been the vanguard of disaster, and certainly intend to remain as such, for the small price of a change of logo."

In terms of what the book offers for a programme for political action. The tide is still ebbing away from pacifism, and there is something to be said about taking struggles into blockades, sabotage, criminal damage etc for pragmatic purposes (which is happening in the UK now)...but, and this is a big but, I would critique the organisational model it puts forward as an over-reaction to trotskyism, leftism and mediating structures (such as unions) and I am little concerned it dismisses popular assemblies/worker councils. It seems on the latter point it doesn't suggest anything which can breach current hegemony and therefore I simply can't fathom how this could reach critical mass or operate a future society.

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Coming Insurrection (other topics)
From Riot to Insurrection: Analysis for an Anarchist Perspective Against Post Industrial Capitalism (other topics)
Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

The Invisible Committee (other topics)