Occupying Life in New York — On Radical Meshworks of Mutual Aid in Apo-capitalist Times

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Friday — 12.14.12 — Occupying Life in New York — On Radical Meshworks
of Mutual Aid in Apo-capitalist Times

0. Introduction
*. Apo-capitalist Life

0. Introduction

What: Discussion and Screening with Ben Morea, David Graeber, Todos Somos
Japon, members of the Anti-Banality Union and other Guests
When: Friday December 14th at 7:15pm
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
Who: Free and Open to All

This Friday evening (tonight), we would like to invite you to a discussion
and screening.

The evening is intended to bring people together, before the dispersion
over the next weeks, and to consider collectively how some of the common
energies unleashed over the last year or so of struggles on the streets of
the city might move toward constructing meshworks of mutual aid
initiatives, appropriated infrastructures, cultures, practices, which
could stretch across regions and borders – not just to withstand the past
or coming hurricane, but to confront the spiraling hurricane enveloping
the majority of lives on this planet.

This will hopefully be part of a series of meetings which will try to
elaborate this question from different perspectives, imaginaries,
practices and experiences.

This evening will be divided into 2 parts.


For the first part, we will be joined by Ben Morea, David Graeber, friends
from Todos Somos Japon, Occupy Sandy, Strike Debt, and other comrades
interested or involved in building alternative networks of solidarity,
resistance, and mutual aid. We would like to look at historical and
contemporary examples of radical practices of mutual aid which not only
produce a common(s) but are also able to confront a reigning regime.

Since the occupation of Wall Street and more recently Occupy Sandy, we
have experienced an explosion of resistance to existing modes of
organization whether corporate or state (mostly hierarchical,
bureaucratized, corrupt, often psychopathic) and distribution of social
roles and relations (still predominantly sexist, hetero-normative, racist,
and classist). We have also witnessed the unleashing of social cooperation
and initiatives of mutual aid in confronting the consequences of an
economic regime which increasingly produces and sustains itself off of
crisis and disaster.

Within the New York context, most of those involved in these struggles
understand that Sandy and Wall Street are but two faces of the
apocalypse.* But the question which has confronted everyone is whether,
collectively, we are able to affirm, embody, or experiment with other
social and political forms of organization and relations without becoming
a band-aid or support structure for the inadequacies of existing systems
which dominate, oppress, and threaten to destroy the majority of life on
the planet.

The post-sandy initiatives have put this question to the forefront in the
New York context. We say New York, because these questions have already
been foregrounded in Egypt, Tunisia, post-Fukushima Japan, Greece, Spain,
Portugal, UK, and elsewhere in different moments of this global tumult.

Neoliberal policies anticipate that any “externalized costs” of the
current reigning economic regime will be disproportionately placed on the
backs of those already most immiserated and dispossessed. The question of
this moment is whether the multitudes who have taken to the streets and
commoned what they are able to share, are capable and willing not only to
address the needs of strangers in an emergency and catastrophe of a storm
like Sandy, but also have the capacity to confront the emergency and
catastrophe in their everyday (apo-capitalist) life.

How might that be done?

The invitation to this event is a call to consider how some of these
energies mobilized over the last year, can and are being brought together
to confront the permanent emergency we are living through in a way that
continuously puts into question and confronts not only capitalist logic
but also the state violence that is increasingly called upon to guarantee


After a break, as a way of putting things in (Hollywood) perspective, we
will be screening the Anti-Banality Union’s “Uncertain Holocaust”.
According to one of the members of the union:

Unclear Holocaust is an ultraviolent, over-edited orgy of every Hollywood
movie in which New York is desecrated, attacked, and destroyed, in
anarchic narrative unity.

Unclear Holocaust is Hurricane Sandy, 9/11, Occupy & 2012 starring Tom
Cruise and Will Smith.

Unclear Holocaust is a feature-length quotation of the Bloomberg-era
unconscious, in its most acute throes of mental hygiene.

Unclear Holocaust is a sublime cipher for the permanent catastrophe, the
visual mantra of a clinically-dead civilization.

Unclear Holocaust is the most New York movie ever made – it leaves the
least of the city standing.

Unclear Holocaust wants nothing more than to become a documentary of the
future. It’s working.

If the desire is there, the screening will be followed up with a discussion.

*. Apo-capitalist Life

Occupying Sandy and Wall Street make perfect sense. They are but the two
faces of the apocalypse.

The disasters induced by climate change and capitalism are intrinsically
interwoven. The imperative to reduce or impose everything to calculation,
price, and inevitably to regimes of ownership (e.g., labor, ideas,
language, habitation, air, water, food, seeds, genes, medicine, life
itself) can only have as their horizon, the degradation and eventual
destruction of life.

Each new disaster appears as another opportunity to impose upon those
effected by whatever catastrophe even more austere measures of calculation
and compliance to the norms of a capitalist idea of reality.

Hurricane Sandy cannot be confronted without also confronting the human
equation which exacerbates and multiplies many fold the potential
devastation. And that human equation today is mostly determined by an
economic exigency to maximize profits and minimize losses.

And if the experience in New York has not been grave enough, what happened
after Hurricane Katrina and Fukushima are both glaring examples of this

Capitalist realism does not allow for any space to change the course of
this human factor, the social norms, the way life is lived, as it can only
propose one path toward “recovery” and it is the same path that produced
the apocalyptic scenario we are living through.

At the nexus of both of these faces of the apocalypse are the vestiges of
what passes for a state.

And one of the questions which surfaced internally during the occupation
of wall street, is resurfacing again in the context of the mutual aid
efforts after hurricane Sandy. What is the relation of these “occupations”
to the state? And the same is true in Japan, in Egypt, in Greece ad
beyond. Can they produce forms or processes which build up a counter force
or agency, while explicitly confronting capitalism and the state which
acts on its behalf?

In other words, if we understand the reigning ideology of economic
determinism to be producing a crisis which goes beyond any recession or
depression, and is intrinsically producing the wars, the ecological
devastation, the widespread dispossession and inequality, the degradation
of all life by its insistence to put a price on what remains measureless
(e.g., clean air, water, non-radioactive or non-toxic food,
open-pollinated seeds, wherever one calls a home, …). And if we recognize
that this same neoliberal ideology insists that gains are private, and
losses, costs, externalities have to be socialized. Then how can attempts
to construct meshworks of mutual aid retain dimensions of antagonism to
avoid the appropriation and absorption of such efforts into maintaining
the very systems which continue to immiserate?

For our pre-hurricane October event with Todos Somos Japon, we defined
apo-capitalist as an invocation of both:
– the imposition today to be subject to the dictates of capitalism even
under apocalyptic conditions, as is acutely the case in Japan today, and
less perceptibly, but with no less force or imposition, in the context of
Global Warming and Warmongering
– the ‘from, away from, separate, free from’ retained in the prefix apo-in
Greek or the apa- in Sanskrit or the ab- in Latin, the af- in Gothic.

We thought it useful to include here, given what took place in the city.

16 Beaver Group
16 Beaver Street, 4th fl.
New York, NY 10004

4,5 — Wall Street
2,3 — Wall Street
J,Z — Broad Street
A,C — Fulton Street
1 — Rector Street
R — Rector Street