‘This is Forever’: Creating Communities of Care and Movements of Self-Reproduction

with Silvia Federici & Kevin Van Meter

 

Tuesday, March 3rd 2009

7pm at Bluestockings Book, Fair Trade Café & Activist Resource Center

174 Allen St. LES  ~ www.bluestockings.com

$5 Suggested Donation for Bluestockings, No one turned away for lack of funds. 

Join the Bluestockings and the Team Colors Collective for a discussion and presentation on the current crisis of care, “creating communities of care and movements of self-reproduction”.

 

The event will begin with substantive presentations from Kevin Van Meter, of the research collective Team Colors & Portland, OR based Dicentra Collective, and Silvia Federici of the Midnight Notes Collective, who has for the past three decades been involved in radical struggles against capital and research into the working class, women and reproductive labor. A discussion will follow the presentations, with the intent of intertwining projects and narratives for the audiences’ own lives into the event. 

 

 

Some of the questions to be discussed are:

 

How does the current economic crisis and the crisis of care (care giving, care work, the care industry) disproportionately affect women, both in the United States and in the global south? What does the crisis and the crisis of care mean for the movement against capital and the state. What struggles are taking place during this crisis around care – as well as before it erupted – that we can “read”, draw from, amplify and connect with toward a new world? 

 

Can radical movements respond to personal crises and can they provide personal care? Moving beyond politics as a set of issues and positions, let’s consider what radical projects can do to address physical illness and chronic pain, mental illness, intimate violence, trauma and grief, and other experiences and realities.     

 

 

Speakers Biographies:

 

Silvia Federici is a scholar, teacher and activist with roots in the Italian women’s liberation movement. Federici the co-founder (with George Caffentzis) of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, a member of the Midnight Notes Collective, a radical group that studies global political economy, and author of author of Caliban and the Witch, a groundbreaking study of the role of women’s oppression in the creation of capitalism. Federici is currently focusing inward, examining the role of caretakers within contemporary capitalism. Silvia’s current undertaking focuses on personal stories and individual struggles – exploring what it is means for women to act as caretakers. She discusses the intersection of personal experiences and global structures of power.  In this way, Federici is an important and holistic theorist – synthesizing the personal with the political. Midnight Notes Collective: www.midnightnotes.org

 

Kevin Van Meter is a community organizer and researcher (focusing on everyday resistance) originally from Long Island and a member of the militant research collective Team Colors.  Van Meter appears, along with Benjamin Holtzman and Craig Hughes, in the AK Press collection Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigation // Collective Theorization, with an article titled “DIY and the Movement Beyond Capitalism”; an excerpt from his article “The Moment I Cannot Escape: Care, Death, Mourning and the Struggle Against It All” is published in the recent zine collection “The Worst.  Currently based in Portland, OR Van Meter works with the Dicentra Collective toward their goal of “creating radical communities of care”.  Team Colors: www.warmachines.info; Dicentra Collective: www.dicentracollective.org

 

 

Advertisements

‘This is Forever’: Creating Communities of Care and Movements of Self-Reproduction

with Silvia Federici & Kevin Van Meter

 

Tuesday, March 3rd 2009

7pm at Bluestockings Book, Fair Trade Café & Activist Resource Center

174 Allen St. LES  ~ www.bluestockings.com

$5 Suggested Donation for Bluestockings, No one turned away for lack of funds. 

Join the Bluestockings and the Team Colors Collective for a discussion and presentation on the current crisis of care, “creating communities of care and movements of self-reproduction”.

 

The event will begin with substantive presentations from Kevin Van Meter, of the research collective Team Colors & Portland, OR based Dicentra Collective, and Silvia Federici of the Midnight Notes Collective, who has for the past three decades been involved in radical struggles against capital and research into the working class, women and reproductive labor. A discussion will follow the presentations, with the intent of intertwining projects and narratives for the audiences’ own lives into the event. 

 

 

Some of the questions to be discussed are:

 

How does the current economic crisis and the crisis of care (care giving, care work, the care industry) disproportionately affect women, both in the United States and in the global south? What does the crisis and the crisis of care mean for the movement against capital and the state. What struggles are taking place during this crisis around care – as well as before it erupted – that we can “read”, draw from, amplify and connect with toward a new world? 

 

Can radical movements respond to personal crises and can they provide personal care? Moving beyond politics as a set of issues and positions, let’s consider what radical projects can do to address physical illness and chronic pain, mental illness, intimate violence, trauma and grief, and other experiences and realities.     

 

 

Speakers Biographies:

 

Silvia Federici is a scholar, teacher and activist with roots in the Italian women’s liberation movement. Federici the co-founder (with George Caffentzis) of the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa, a member of the Midnight Notes Collective, a radical group that studies global political economy, and author of author of Caliban and the Witch, a groundbreaking study of the role of women’s oppression in the creation of capitalism. Federici is currently focusing inward, examining the role of caretakers within contemporary capitalism. Silvia’s current undertaking focuses on personal stories and individual struggles – exploring what it is means for women to act as caretakers. She discusses the intersection of personal experiences and global structures of power.  In this way, Federici is an important and holistic theorist – synthesizing the personal with the political. Midnight Notes Collective: www.midnightnotes.org

 

Kevin Van Meter is a community organizer and researcher (focusing on everyday resistance) originally from Long Island and a member of the militant research collective Team Colors.  Van Meter appears, along with Benjamin Holtzman and Craig Hughes, in the AK Press collection Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigation // Collective Theorization, with an article titled “DIY and the Movement Beyond Capitalism”; an excerpt from his article “The Moment I Cannot Escape: Care, Death, Mourning and the Struggle Against It All” is published in the recent zine collection “The Worst.  Currently based in Portland, OR Van Meter works with the Dicentra Collective toward their goal of “creating radical communities of care”.  Team Colors: www.warmachines.info; Dicentra Collective: www.dicentracollective.org

 

 

Team Colors was pleased to co-sponor an event hosted by the  Portland, Oregon based Dicentra Collective with our friends and comrades George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici of the Midnight Notes Collective at In Other Words Womens Books and Resources on February 10th 2009. Listen to George and Silvia the night before on KBOO’s Labor Radio.

 

Economic Crisis as a Response to Class Struggle

“Radical scholars of political economy George Caffentzis & Silvia Federici of the Midnight Notes Collective join us live in-studio. How are the economic crisis and bailouts a response to class struggle? What does capital hope to achieve with this crisis? How does the crisis hit people doing care work? What kinds of resistance will be most effective now? Thirty vital minutes!”

– Labor Radio with Deborah & Al.

 

Listen here!

Special Low Frequency Version:

A Text to Accompany a Sound

Kevin Van Meter | Team Colors

 

Commissioned by Ultra-red for the “Sound of the War on the Poor” intervention; this track and others from the collection are available on their website (project will go live in March).   

 

A Text to Accompany a Sound: Liner Notes

 

What is the sound of the war on the poor?:  Is it a scream?  Or rather, the sounds of gunshots or hungry bellies?  Is it silence?  Is silence, as many would suggest, the moment before the scream?  This question, as with all of our interventions and inquiries, must begin with our experiences and struggles in our everyday lives.  Special Low Frequency Version is simply the documentation of a particular experience and moment.  It is a field recording of a unoccupied and “unproductive” factory in the Pacific Northwest where “work,” at least in this moment, has stopped.   Herein Team Colors suggests that the “sound of the war on the poor,” at certain temporal and spatial intersections, with an “economic crisis” raging the planet, is a low droning hum: the sound of unoccupied machines.  Does this hum point to our fear that unproductivity for capital is unproductive for our lives?  We join our comrades in the Midnight Notes Collective in asking: “Must the Molecules Fear as the Engine Dies?”[i]. This speak to the crisis in capital that we in fact produced through our refusals and struggles, to the dying engine that we have torn and are tearing apart.  Hence Team Colors, and together like our comrades in Midnight Notes, Ultra-red and others are mapping out a line of escape from these fears, from exploitation, from the imposition of work and periodic crises, and the productivity/unproductivity nexus of capital; we are mapping out a line of escape from these sounds, the sounds of the war on the poor.     

 

Special Low Frequency Version [ii] was recorded during the “work week” of 25/30 January 2009 in the Pacific Northwest. 

 

 

Author Note

 

As a member of the militant research collective Team Colors I served as the co-editor and coordinator for Ultra-reds’ contribution to our one-off online journal In the Middle of a Whirlwind: 2008 Convention Protests, Movement and Movements (Whirlwinds).  Initially introduced to the work of Ultra-red by Marc Herbst of the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest (publisher of Whirlwinds), I was quite impressed with the richness and engaging nature of their text “Some theses on militant sound investigation, or, listening for a change”[iii].  The ability to use “sound” to connect to the many realities and struggles that take place in everyday life, and then link these realities and struggles to one another is percisely what Team Colors and the Whirlwinds collection seeks to do with “text” and “voice”.  Team Colors, and myself personally, are touched that Ultra-red has included us in this intervention.                             

 

 

Team Colors Collective

 

Team Colors is a collective engaged in ‘militant research’ to provide ‘strategic analysis for the intervention in everyday life’.  Our purpose is to explore questions of everyday resistance, mutual aid, the imposition of work, social reproduction, class composition, community participation and the commons – by creating engaging workshops and  producing provocative written documents and articles.  Currently Team Colors operates in the United States with members based in the New York area, Midwest, Northwest and Southwest. Our approach has come from our involvement in community organizing projects, community dialogs, and resistance activities over the past decade.

 

teamcolors@warmachines.info

www.warmachines.info


[i] George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici (of the Midnight Notes Collective). “Must the Molecules Fear as the Engine Dies?”: Notes on the Wall Street ‘Meltdown’”, (October 2008; circulated via email and on the web); www.midnightnotes.org.

[ii] Special Low Frequency Version refers to the first full-length studio album from minimalist doom-drone musicians Earth, a rotating Seattle-based outfit with one seemingly core member.  Recorded in August of 1992 and released by Sub Pop Records in February of 1993, the album plays for 73:00 minutes through three tracks.  Earths’ song and album titles have found their ways onto countless other projects, an impressive list of former members, and a genealogy that flows into many neighboring genres of heavy and minimalist music.  

[iii] Ultra-red . “Some theses on militant sound investigation, or, listening for a change”, Team Colors Collective (eds.), In the Middle of a Whirlwind: 2008 Convention Protests, Movement and Movements (Los Angles: The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press, 2008); www.inthemiddleofawhirlwind.info.

 

Care Crisis, Economic Crisis & the Struggle for a New World
Introducing George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici

The following introduction to the work of George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici was read on 10 February 2009 at In Other Words Women’s Books in Portland, Oregon as part of the Dicentra Collectives’ “ Care Crisis, Economic Crisis & the Struggle for a New World” event. Video from the event will be available at www.dicentracollective.org.

As we begin tonight’s discussion it is important to acknowledge the range of positions, politics and areas of life our co-sponsoring organizations are addressing. Dicentra, In Other Worlds, Portland IWW, Rose City Antifa, Rose City Copwatch, Rosehips Medix, Solidarity, and Team Colors have come together to examine the current economic crisis and the crisis of care, not from a point of political agreement but a shared interest in exploring these intertwining and complex issues so that we may intervene politically from our different experiences, projects and political perspectives.

Dicentra, since our inception just a few months ago, has sought to remove our ideological blinders and challenges assumptions around radical politics and the politics of care. Herein, and very much in the spirit of tonight’s event, we are seeking to “create radical communities of care” and provide “space for the vast spectrum of experiences and stories effected by issues of care” so that those assembled may “express their voices and resonate with others”.

For the past thirty years George Caffentzis, Silvia Federici and their comrades in the Midnight Notes Collective have acted as researchers of, and thinkers and active participants in feminist, anti-nuke, anti-war and anti-capitalist movements. While the content of their work has changed considerably as movement’s change and the forces of capital and the state-apparatus respond, Midnight Notes have continued to emphasis two things:
1. the autonomy of the working class – that is a working class broadly defined to include all those who “work” and produce surplus value for capital with or without wages; including: those who work in fields, factories, and offices, housewives and those who provide “care”, students and teachers, immigrants, the unemployed, homeless and others.
2. the importance of “reading the struggles”.

As George has said to me for the past ten years, “You need to read the struggles”. His point is well taken, since it is with “reading the struggles” that political composition of the working class and revolutionary movements as well as the technical composition of capital and the state-apparatus become clear.

In the introduction to Midnight Oil: Work, Energy, War (1973-1992)they describe this perspective:
“Midnight Notes has also tried to define the composition of the working class, to look at the way the class is divided through the technical and political character of production and reproduction, (that is the) division of labor, hierarchy of skills and wages, division between the employed and the reserve army of the unemployed, between the legal and the criminal. These divisions may take racial and sexual forms as well as other historical, sociological, geographical and physiological features. Within the composition, the various levels of strength and solidarity are determined through the course of struggle. In other words, the composition of the working class is a historically changing entity. Human classes no more sit still then biological species. Thus, we have also spoken of the recomposition and decomposition of the working class, where, simply put, recomposition involved the increasing power and utility of the working class, and decomposition involves increasing division, intra-class conflict and powerlessness.”

Silvia’s consistent and vitally important focus on unpaid reproductive work performed predominantly by women across the planet – that is housework – and the continued gendered nature of everyday life itself is situated historically in the “story” of the witch hunts. In her monumental study Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation she states:
“the witch-hunts destroyed a whole world of female practices, collective
relations and systems of knowledge that had been the foundation of women’s
power in pre-capitalist Europe, and the condition for their resistance in the
struggle against feudalism”

Carrying this through to the present day, Federici argues:
“the power-difference between women and men and the concealment of women’s unpaid labor under the cover of natural inferiority, have enabled capitalism to immensely expand the “unpaid part of the working day”, and use the (male) wage to accumulate women’s labor; in many cases, they have also served to deflect class antagonism between men and women. Thus, primitive accumulation has been above all an accumulation of differences inequalities, hierarchies, visions which have alienated workers from each other and even themselves.”

Returning to the intertwining economic crisis and crisis of care, Silvia and George said in a recent article titled “Must the Molecules Fear as the Engine Dies?: Notes on the Wall Street ‘Meltdown’” circulated in October of 2008:
“Crises are always a threat and an opportunity as they break down business as usual, and reveal something of the inner workings and nastiness of capitalism. This one is not an exception and we can be sure that what will come out of it will be greatly a result of what people do in response to it. If the Great Depression is an indication, it took more than ten years for capital to organize a different social order. Much can happen in such a period.”

Once again we see the possibilities in “reading the struggles” and tonight’s event seeks to complicate the over simplistic liberal analysis of the crisis which finds “hope” in the state, economic bailouts for the forces of capital and timid demands such as “the right to a job”. Against the “right to a job” – which continues to hide the unpaid house and care work performed predominately by women, and the differences in power relations of working-class, the differently-abled, queer and trans peoples, indigenous peoples and people of color – we seek to refuse work for capital in its productive and reproductive forms, if it is for wages or without. Here we seek to “create radical communities of care”. For if we cannot care for one another, construct new and substantive forms of life, and address the “vast spectrum of experiences and stories effected by issues of care” then our revolution and movements will be for naught.

On a personal note, George and Silvia, not just as researchers, thinkers and active participants in revolutionary movements, have exemplified the very best of Dicentra’s mission to “create radical communities of care”. For the past ten years they have worked closely with myself and many other young comrades in the alter-globalization movement to mentor and improve our analytical skills around the politics and perspectives I have been describing. But most importantly when my partner passed away a year and a half ago, it was George and Silvia, among others that provided me with the support and care I required to continue to live and mourn this immeasurable loss. It is directly due to this support that I am able to work with Dicentra, Team Colors and around these important political issues that circulate through my live and many of ours.

Our evening begins with two basic political principles:
1. No one should speak for another: in the home and in our relationships, at sites of production and reproduction, in the streets, and especially in our everyday lives and our political work.
2. Never a world again without us, any of us.

As George, Silvia, their colleagues in the Midnight Notes Collective, and countless others across the planet have shouted: “One No, Many Yeses”.

Kevin Van Meter | Team Colors

Team Colors is quite pleased to announce the publication of “Of Whirlwinds and Wind Chimes with the German Publication Arranca! and the UK Based Webjournal The Commoner.  We very much appreciate the support of Marcus (Arranca!) and Massimo (The Commoner) in capping off our In the Middle of a Whirlwind endeavor.   

* * *

 

“Of Whirlwinds and Wind Chimes (or ways of listening): Movement Building and Militant Research in the United States”

 

Team Colors, a militant research collective operating in the United States, recently utilized the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Convention protests as an opportunity to begin a strategic conversation in regards to movement building and class composition. To accomplish this, Team Colors coordinated and edited a collection of essays by, and interviews with radical organizers, intellectuals and public figures in regards to their organizational processes and strategies. This collection, entitled In the Middle of a Whirlwind: 2008 Convention Protests, Movement and Movements has been available online at http://www.inthemiddleofawhirlwind.info as of May 25.

 

Since its release we have held nearly a dozen events throughout the U.S. under the title “Of Friends and Whirlwinds.” These events have included presentations by contributors like Philly’s Pissed / Philly Stands Up, George Caffentzis, Ben Shepard, Silvia Federici and others. What follows is a process of digestion, in which we review our experiences of attempting to engage in militant research, discuss what results there are to discuss, and decide what we will do in the future. Principally, this will be useful to the Team Colors Collective itself. It is our hope that others will find it useful as well.

Read more in English at The Commoner
For the German version visit Arranca!’s website to obtain a print copy.