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Findings from around the Internet.

 

“the pitchforks are going to come for us”

June 27, 2014

torches_pitchforks

No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring—or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.

Here’s what I say to you: You’re living in a dream world. What everyone wants to believe is that when things reach a tipping point and go from being merely crappy for the masses to dangerous and socially destabilizing, that we’re somehow going to know about that shift ahead of time. Any student of history knows that’s not the way it happens. Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning. And then there’s no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream Vs and fly to New Zealand. That’s the way it always happens. If inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.

Read More | “The Pitchforks Are Coming” | Nick Hanauer | Politico

 

“enslave­ment, servi­tude, inden­tur­ing, impress­ment, con­scrip­tion, impris­on­ment, and coer­cion”

June 27, 2014

Convict_labourers_in_Australia_in_the_early_20th_century

By focus­ing on eighteenth-century ser­vants and slaves, those two largest cat­e­gories of labor­ers dur­ing ear­li­est cap­i­tal accu­mu­la­tion, we’re able to see the extremely var­ied labor regimes that sus­tained those processes, includ­ing those based on coer­cion. In some ways this argu­ment has affini­ties with ear­lier cri­tiques of the clas­si­cal nar­ra­tives of the Indus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, which empha­sized instead proto-industrialization, small-scale rural indus­try, new forms of non-industrial man­u­fac­tur­ing, and the wide range of “alter­na­tives to mass pro­duc­tion.”9 Clearly we need to hold onto the nec­es­sary dis­tinc­tions between forms of “free” and “coer­cive” labor, because oth­er­wise cer­tain speci­fici­ties of the labor con­tract under indus­trial cap­i­tal­ism would become much harder to see, par­tic­u­larly those that require new domains of power and exploita­tion beyond the imme­di­ate labor process and the work­place per se.

To sum­ma­rize: on the one hand, there are strong grounds for see­ing servi­tude and slav­ery as the social forms of labor that were foun­da­tional to the cap­i­tal­ist moder­nity forged dur­ing the eigh­teenth cen­tury; and on the other hand, there is equally com­pelling evi­dence since the late twen­ti­eth cen­tury of the shap­ing of a new and rad­i­cally stripped-down ver­sion of the labor con­tract. These new forms of the exploita­tion of labor have been accu­mu­lat­ing around the grow­ing preva­lence of minimum-wage, dequal­i­fied and deskilled, dis­or­ga­nized and dereg­u­lated, semi-legal and migrant labor mar­kets, in which work­ers are sys­tem­i­cally stripped of most forms of secu­rity and orga­nized pro­tec­tions. This is what is char­ac­ter­is­tic for the cir­cu­la­tion of labor power in the glob­al­ized and post-Fordist economies of the late cap­i­tal­ist world, and this is where I think we should begin the task of spec­i­fy­ing the dis­tinc­tive­ness of the present. Whether from the stand­point of the “future” of cap­i­tal­ism or from the stand­point of its “ori­gins,” the more clas­si­cal under­stand­ing of cap­i­tal­ism and its social for­ma­tions as being cen­tered around indus­trial pro­duc­tion in man­u­fac­tur­ing begins to seem like an incred­i­bly par­tial and poten­tially dis­tortive one, a phase to be found over­whelm­ingly in the West, in ways that pre­sup­posed pre­cisely its absence from the rest of the world and lasted for a remark­ably brief slice of his­tor­i­cal time.

Read More | “No Need to Choose: History from Above, History from Below” | Geoff Eley | Viewpoint Magazine

 

“647,000 dekatherms per day of fracked natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, under high pressure, beneath the beach”

June 20, 2014

XL Pipeline Protest

Ordinarily, it’s pretty hard for gas companies to lay pipe through taxpayer-protected parkland. But less than a month after Sandy, ethically embattled and all-around-reasonable guy Rep. Michael Grimm pushed a law through Congress granting an energy company the right to do just that. At the time, the giveaway went mostly unremarked in the Rockaways. “People had just been flooded,” says Clare Donohue of the Sane Energy Project, which opposes the new pipeline. “They were displaced. They had more immediate fish to fry.”

That’s an appropriate phrase for shooting flammable gas through the ocean, because pipelines like these have an astounding tendency to explode. Over the last five years, transmission lines like the Rockaway Project have had 17 “serious incidents,” the federal regulator’s term for cases involving death or in-patient hospitalization.

Add in the “significant incidents,” those involving an explosion, damages of more than $50,000, or the release of a significant amount of liquid, and you’re looking at 367 incidents in the last five years, causing 82 injuries and more than $684 million in damages.

How bad can it be? To date the most spectacular explosion of a pipe like this is probably the 2010 San Bruno explosion, which flattened 35 houses in a suburban subdivision, killing eight people and carving out a crater 167 feet long and four stories deep. The explosion registered with the U.S. Geological Survey as a 1.1 magnitude earthquake.

Read More | “A Massive Rockaway Gas Pipeline is Being Built Right Under Our Beaches” | Nick Pinto | Gothamist

 

“the CEO was thrashed with iron rods”

June 19, 2014

jutemill

An angry mob of Indian workers wielding iron rods and stones beat the CEO of a jute factory to death in a dispute over increasing their working hours, police said Monday after arresting six workers.

The suspects — two detained Monday and four on Sunday — are expected to be charged with murder, vandalism and other crimes allegedly committed when the mob of about 200 workers stormed the office of 60-year-old H.K. Maheswari in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, according to Hooghly District Police Superintendent Sunil Chowdhury.

Maheswari had denied their earlier request to work and be paid for 40 hours a week at the North Brook Jute Mill, instead of the current norm of 25. He had also proposed shutting down the mill for three days a week to limit mounting financial losses, according to the factory’s general manager, Kiranjit Singh.

“The mill workers suddenly resorted to stone pelting while we were busy in a meeting,” Kiranjit Singh said. At one point during Sunday’s meeting, Maheswari looked out the window at the growing crowd and was struck in the head by two stones.

Read More | “Indian factory workers kill CEO, beat manager with iron rods after their hours are increased” | Associated Press | Montreal Gazette

 

“a while ago I decided to eat”

June 18, 2014

awhileago

A WHILE AGO I DECIDED TO EAT
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INTERNET BASED SOUND / TEXT COMPOSITION, 2006.

Interactive composition and webpage. 22 voice and text loops, activated by clicking on the icons.

stillawhile

Imri Sandström (1980) is a Malmö based artist whose practice includes text, sound, still and moving image, often interwoven in the shape of musical intermedia performances. She uses multifaceted composition in exploring historical and literary linkages, acts of reading and writing, and intersecting aspects of voice and spatiality. Invested in historical thinking, musical organization and religious language, her work re-visits and re-works historical phenomena and narrative positionings.

A WHILE AGO I DECIDED TO EAT