Saturday, September 21, 2013

dispatch from greece: murder of an antifascist

Pavlos Fyssas (aka Killah P)

Antifascist Killah P Stabbed to Death by Golden Dawn Member in Piraeus

by Contra Info

In the early hours of September 18, 2013, 34-years-old antifascist Pavlos Fyssas (aka Killah P) was stabbed to death by Nazis of the “Golden Dawn” party in Piraeus (port of Athens).
Raw reports on indymedia relate that the murder took place just after midnight on Wednesday in Amfiali, in the Keratsini district of Piraeus. It appears that Pavlos Fyssas and his small company of friends were persecuted and ambushed by a larger group of Nazis. This in the presence of cops from the DIAS motorcycle unit. Minutes later, the antifascist was stabbed twice by one of the Nazis who came out of a vehicle and attacked him. The assailant was arrested by cops at the scene. But the exact circumstances of the assassination are yet to be confirmed, and much of this news comes from mainstream media coverage.
Pavlos Fyssas succumbed to his injuries shortly after he was evacuated in the Nikaia hospital. His funeral was arranged for September 19 at the Schisto cemetery.
In recent months, there have been several attempted murders and assassinations of ‘people of color’ (migrants, etc.) across Greece. This time, a Greek-born white leftist was assassinated by fascist scum. It appears, though, that Pavlos Fyssas was not a member of any leftist organization, but rather a street fighter with strong antifascist action. Killah P(ast) was his stage name as hip-hopper/rapper.
Meanwhile, there were major ‘repercussions’ in official politics. The establishment parties already tried to manipulate this deadly incident for electoral gains, while the Golden Dawn parliamentary thugs as always refuted any involvement of their devoted followers in any murder, again for electoral gains. However, the 45-year-old stabber Giorgos Roupakias, resident of Nikaia, has confessed his deed to the police, as well as his close association with the Golden Dawn. His association with Golden Dawn MP Kostas Barbarousis is well documented. The murderer is in custody, and three other Nazis — including his wife — were also detained (for withholding evidence of Roupakias’ association to the Nazi party).
On September 18, antifascist protests were called in response to the assassination in more than twenty cities/towns across Greece. Also, in few cities (e.g. in Chania, on Crete) Golden Dawn offices were trashed, and police troops were attacked. Various different direct actions happened at numerous spontaneous protests throughout the day.
During a large evening demonstration near the murder scene in Keratsini, heavy clashes broke out against the police; dozens of protesters were detained amid street battles (many faced charges). Previously, the leader of the far-right party “Independent Greeks” alongside his patriot henchmen were effectively attacked by antifascists. At least one demonstrator suffered severe eye injury from a direct shot of police tear gas, and underwent surgery at a local hospital. Doctors from the Tzaneio hospital stated that 31 protesters who were treated after the antifascist march in Keratsini were all wounded on the head by DIAS and DELTA cops. In addition, anti-riot squadrons and plainclothes thugs attacked antifascists jointly during that demo in Piraeus.
Clashes occurred in Thessaloniki and Patras, too, where mass detentions were reported.
Thanks to the comrades at Contra Info. -GR

Thursday, August 29, 2013

review: AIRossini in berlin

AIRossini: Opera as Critical Entertainment

By Anna Papaeti & Áine Sheil

The death of opera has been pronounced and debated almost since the inception of the art form. Often criticized as a dated and costly medium, monopolizing the majority of state funding for the arts, it appears to be addressed to a small, upper middle-class, elitist and, in most cases, aging audience. This critique is one of the most serious ones faced by opera houses internationally. Despite their many (often imaginative) efforts to attract a wider public through education departments, outreach programmes and technological dissemination (for example, New York’s Metropolitan Opera’s High Definition cinema broadcasts or the Royal Opera House Covent Garden’s Big Screens in public spaces), opera audiences do not appear to be changing significantly in profile.[1] Except in cases where opera houses are heavily subsidized by taxpayers, operatic repertory is essentially focused on popular composers of the canon such as Puccini, Verdi, Mozart and Rossini; Wagner remains for the most part the reserve of larger, better-resourced companies. Although the rise of so-called director’s opera, inspired by Regietheater, has led to more complex and critical opera stagings in continental Europe and to a lesser degree in the UK, many companies shy away from overtly political productions, perhaps for fear of alienating patrons and harming box office returns. The Metropolitan Opera’s recent staging of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen is telling. Employing an impressive array of new staging technologies, its director, the renowned Robert Lepage, disappointingly chose to convey Wagner’s story in a literal, one-dimensional fashion, minimizing the multi-layered political, social and historical aspects of the work. In effect, this production became part of the culinary culture with which Bertolt Brecht famously associated opera in his essay ‘The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre’, written in 1930. For Brecht, opera as an ‘apparatus’ of entertainment establishes an attitude in the spectator that is uncritical and ill-suited to reflection on social and political issues of the day. Its ‘culinary’ aspect leads to an enjoyable intoxication, mainly aimed at pleasure, entertainment and illusion – a criticism he mounted in particular against Wagner’s music drama and the fusion of the arts (Gesamtkunstwerk).[2]

A recent Greek-German collaboration between The Beggars’ Operas, Athens, and Neuköllner Oper, Berlin, brings back to the fore the question of opera’s relevance as a forum for critique, political intervention and debate. Although perhaps not strictly Brechtian, the two productions that have stemmed from this fruitful collaboration have put contemporary politics on stage, clearly taking on board Brecht’s critique of opera. Politics are not staged in the usual manner of a shallow reading of a work, highlighting obvious (often historical) political dimensions. On the contrary, urgent contemporary politics pervade the very core of the two productions undertaken so far, namely Yasou Aida! (2012) and AIRossini (2013). In both cases, Alexandros Efklidis (director), Kharálampos Goyós (composer) and Dimitris Dimopoulos (writer) have used certain core elements of old works, on which they have built a new contemporary story. Musically the works are adjusted for a small stage and a very small orchestra.  In the case of Yasou Aida!, the music of Verdi’s Aida was used along with the opera’s colonial discourse to form the basis of a contemporary story about the economic neocolonializing policies in Europe and the crude national stereotypes stemming from the Greek economic crisis in the era of austerity. It received both box-office and critical acclaim. Glowing media responses were not restricted to cultural columns and were not solely published and broadcast in Germany and Greece (where it was staged), but also appeared in the international media (e.g. BBC News).

Friday, July 5, 2013

snowden and the terror state

Trevor Paglen, They Watch the Moon, 2010.

Turnkey Tyranny, Surveillance and the Terror State

By Trevor Paglen

By exposing NSA programs like PRISM and Boundless Informant, Edward Snowden has revealed that we are not moving toward a surveillance state: we live in the heart of one. The 30-year-old whistleblower told The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald that the NSA’s data collection created the possibility of a “turnkey tyranny,” whereby a malevolent future government could create an authoritarian state with the flick of a switch. The truth is actually worse. Within the context of current economic, political and environmental trends, the existence of a surveillance state doesn’t just create a theoretical possibility of tyranny with the turn of a key—it virtually guarantees it.

For more than a decade, we’ve seen the rise of what we might call a “Terror State,” of which the NSA’s surveillance capabilities represent just one part. Its rise occurs at a historical moment when state agencies and programs designed to enable social mobility, provide economic security and enhance civic life have been targeted for significant cuts. The last three decades, in fact, have seen serious and consistent attacks on social security, food assistance programs, unemployment benefits and education and health programs. As the social safety net has shrunk, the prison system has grown. The United States now imprisons its own citizens at a higher rate than any other country in the world.

While civic parts of the state have been in retreat, institutions of the Terror State have grown dramatically. In the name of an amorphous and never-ending “war on terror,” the Department of Homeland Security was created, while institutions such as the CIA, FBI and NSA, and darker parts of the military like the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have expanded considerably in size and political influence. The world has become a battlefield—a stage for extralegal renditions, indefinite detentions without trial, drone assassination programs and cyberwarfare. We have entered an era of secret laws, classified interpretations of laws and the retroactive “legalization” of classified programs that were clearly illegal when they began. Funding for the secret parts of the state comes from a “black budget” hidden from Congress—not to mention the people—that now tops $100 billion annually. Finally, to ensure that only government-approved “leaks” appear in the media, the Terror State has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, leakers and journalists. All of these state programs and capacities would have been considered aberrant only a short time ago. Now, they are the norm.

Monday, July 1, 2013

on the new phase in greece

Brutal Nihilism

by Yannis Stavrakakis

The recent decision to shut down ERT, the Greek public radio and television, has shocked the international community due to its brutal symbolism. However, although it constitutes a serious escalation of the ‘shock and awe’ strategy unfolding in Greece during the last three years, it should not cause surprise. The thoroughly unexpected and violent blackening of the screens has only highlighted the nihilism characteristic of the dominant policies already implemented under the auspices of European and international institutions.

While in the first stages of the crisis the imposition of the austerity avalanche involved and relied on its meaningful packaging, its embellishment with an ideological meaning able to secure a minimum of hegemonic consent – even one based on fear, blame, moralism and demonization – during the last period a variety of indications signal the passage into a new phase. Decision-making has gradually stopped claiming any concretely meaningful foundation, it lost any interest in winning consent – even through fear and extortion. What remains is, thus, its brutal imposition. It is not an illness, anymore, that justifies the (bitter) medication; it is not guilt that justifies the (harsh) punishment. Medication and punishment are autonomised and affect severely and equally the ill and the healthy, those who are guilty and those who are not-guilty, very often without the articulation of any persuasive justification. As a result, politics and policy is detached from any reasonable content and domination is reduced to repression. Distanced from any real argumentative support, the measures implemented openly reveal their functioning in favor of establishing a nihilistic system of domination through cruelty, which reduces citizens to ‘serfs’. This seems to be their only meaning and purpose.

Monday, June 17, 2013

chomsky on biosphere and enforcement

Humanity Imperiled: The path to disaster.

by Noam Chomsky

What is the future likely to bring? A reasonable stance might be to try to look at the human species from the outside. So imagine that you’re an extraterrestrial observer who is trying to figure out what’s happening here or, for that matter, imagine you’re an historian 100 years from now—assuming there are any historians 100 years from now, which is not obvious — and you’re looking back at what’s happening today. You’d see something quite remarkable.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

marcuse on ecology and revolution

Ecology and Revolution

By Herbert Marcuse

(from Liberation 16 (September 1972):10-12)

Coming from the United States, I am a little uneasy discussing the ecological movement, which has already by and large been co-opted [there]. Among militant groups in the United States, and particularly among young people, the primary commitment is to fight, with all the means (severely limited means) at their disposal, against the war crimes being committed against the Vietnamese people. The student movement – which had been proclaimed to be dead or dying, cynical and apathetic – is being reborn all over the country. This is not an organized opposition at all, but rather a spontaneous movement which organizes itself as best it can, provisionally, on the local level. But the revolt against the war in Indochina is the only oppositional movement the establishment is unable to co-opt because neocolonial war is an integral part of that global counterrevolution which is the most advanced form of monopoly capitalism.

So, why be concerned about ecology? Because the violation of the earth is a vital aspect of the counterrevolution. The genocidal war against people is also “ecocide” insofar as it attacks the sources and resources of life itself. It is no longer enough to do away with people living now; life must also be denied to those who aren’t even born yet by burning and poisoning the earth, defoliating the forests, blowing up the dikes. This bloody insanity will not alter the ultimate course of the war, but it is a very clear expression of where contemporary capitalism is at: the cruel waste of productive resources in the imperialist homeland goes hand in hand with the cruel waste of destructive forces and consumption of commodities of death manufactured by the war industry.

In a very specific sense, the genocide and ecocide in Indochina are the capitalist response to the attempt at revolutionary ecological liberation: the bombs are meant to prevent the people of North Vietnam from undertaking the economic and social rehabilitation of the land. But in a broader sense, monopoly capitalism is waging a war against nature – human nature as well as external nature. For the demands of ever more intense exploitation come into conflict with nature itself, since nature is the source and locus of the life-instincts which struggle against the instincts of aggression and destruction. And the demands of exploitation progressively reduce and exhaust resources: the more capitalist productivity increases, the more destructive it becomes. This is one sign of the internal contradictions of capitalism.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

science, galileo and us

Notes on the First Two Paragraphs of Dialectic of Enlightenment

by Gene Ray

The two paragraphs that open Dialectic of Enlightenment (hereafter DoE) set out some key elements of the Frankfurt critique of modernist science. The text, based on transcribed discussions between Horkheimer and Adorno (H&A), was worked up in Los Angeles between 1941 and 1944. Toward the end of that period, Brecht, also in exile in LA, began the collaboration with Charles Laughton that would result in 1947 in the staging of a revised, post-Hiroshima Life of Galileo. In both DoE and Galileo, the problem of science and its broken promise is forcefully, if differently, inscribed. Now as then, the problem is an urgent one.

The following notes belong to a work-in-progress: Galileo in the Force Field reflects on the legacies of modernist science, still-unfolding in world facing biospheric meltdown. More notes and fragments will follow, on the way to book-form. Here, I re-read the remarkable opening of DoE; rereading it, I end up retranslating the first two paragraphs. These are offered, for better or worse, followed by a short commentary and some remarks on the standard translations. In this context (scurvy tunes), the gist of H&A’s paragraphs and their importance for a critical reorientation of science will, I trust, resonate helpfully.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

gunboats redux

The Control Society and Gunboat Diplomacy

by Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen

Twenty-two years ago Gilles Deleuze published the short, five-page text “Postscript on control societies” in the French journal L’autre journal edited by Michel Butel. The text is an analysis of the arrival of what Deleuze calls the society of control, which he claims is replacing the disciplinary society. “We are moving toward control societies that no longer operate by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication”.[1] Deleuze’s text describes how the institutions of the modern disciplinary society wither and are replaced with a new kind of control that is no longer rooted in these institutions but is spread throughout the social body. As Deleuze phrases it, the striated space of the disciplinary society is replaced by the smooth space of the society of control. Control is now everywhere and is no longer only exercised in the delimited space of disciplinary power.

As Deleuze writes, his short sketch builds on insight from his friend Michel Foucault who analysed how in the 18th and 19th centuries there occurred a transformation of the former ‘sovereign’ society, where power was located at the top and was exercised over a territory. This hierarchical structure was replaced by another structure, the disciplinary society, where social mastery was located in institutions fabricating specific productive subjects and behaviours. In this society individuals moved from one closed room to another undergoing a production and regulation of habits and conduct: the factory, the family, the hospital, the school and the prison. The disciplinary society was thus a series of closed spaces producing relatively stable and demarcated forms. Each of these spaces or institutions had its specific logic of subjectification, structured according to a distinction between normal and deviant.

The point of departure for Deleuze’s small note is of course that the institutions of the disciplinary society are in a state of crisis. The closed spaces have become porous and the production of subjects has acquired a new form; it has become fluid, Deleuze writes. Now normalization is no longer restricted to the closed space of the institutions but takes place everywhere directly within the subjects that are no longer able to escape the disciplinary apparatus but are always working, studying, recovering, etc.

Friday, May 3, 2013

jenny brown in berlin

Governmentality and the illusions of emancipation in Jenny Brown's Many Happy Returns

by Sacha Kagan

We all live in a little Village… Your village may be different from other people’s villages but we are all prisoners. (Patrick Mc Goohan)

Since March 17th 2013 (and until the end of April), the gallery Semmer Berlin hosted Jenny Brown’s Many Happy Returns, a show revolving around the cult television series The Prisoner from the late 1960s. The prisoner in that TV series is a British former secret agent (played by Patrick Mc Goohan), held in an isolated mysterious coastal village resort where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. The village is a surrealistically set-up environment, a jail without walls but replete with CCTVs and anti-evasion technologies. The village is also a factitious community where personal names are replaced by numbers (the prisoner is referred to only as “number 6”) and where social interactions are performed and manipulated in a variety of ways.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

banksy on the meltdown

As the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit ended in fiasco, Banksy commented wryly by détourning a wall in North London.

Monday, January 28, 2013

arts of sustainability

Jenny Brown, Learning the Ropes, 2007
Forms of Responsibility - Recent Projects by Jenny Brown

by Gary Sangster

In early 2005, an elegant gesture of product repatriation was conceived and produced by Jenny Brown as a way of both describing certain elements of a working global economy and tracing the efficiency of a path of distribution. It was a modest act of economic anthropology that engaged research, performance, and documentation, as well as articulating an imagined or real cultural narrative of a concept of homeland and the actual journey of anonymous artifacts to their site of origin. The somewhat poignant, yet deeply ironic, pursuit of a homecoming, for near valueless materials or objects, small stones, garden decor-purchased inexpensively from a down-market, transnational department store in Sydney-heightens the sense of disconnection and inauthenticity produced through a global economic marketplace. The project, Placing stones as they are found, suggests a sense of loss, or alienation, as objects of value, objects of use, objects of function, and objects of desire, large or small, voluble or mute, are interminably transferable, anonymously interchangeable, dislocated and redefined throughout the trade routes of mass-market capital. The work is an action of little consequence, a specific kind of elusive gesture of futility towards irreversible systems and processes, which makes sense only as a poetic or aesthetic form of art.