Monday — Money Needed to Abolish Itself – Week 10

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Monday — 11.18.13 — Money Needed to Abolish Itself – Week 10

1. About Monday
2. Related Texts

1. About Monday

What: Meeting / Conversation / Gathering
When: Monday, November 18
Where: 16 Beaver Street (at 5:15pm)
Who: Free and open to all

In our discussion last week, we considered the recent struggles inside
universities and their relation to wider considerations of commoning the
city. Where is the place of knowledge and the “production of knowledge” in
the urban factory we have been discussing in the context of an urban
common(s)? And how to consider the knowledge commons before, after, above
and under an increasingly corporatized and militarized university? And how
to understand the possibilities and constituent institutions of autonomous
learning and organizing on the periphery or outside the university’s
walls, like the Morales / Shakur Center at City College in CUNY?

This week, we would like to return from our long voyage toward the horizon
of the common(s) and commoning and turn again to the question(s) of money.
And try to focus on a question which has also informed some of the
thinking behind this common(s) course, which is very simple, do we need
money to common the city? Do we need money to fight the increasing social
power of money? If money is among other things, a social relation, a way
of thinking, or privileging a mode of thinking, or, rather calculating,
“spending”, “buying in”, “investing”, speculating, then how can movements,
struggles, relations attempting to exit these modes of thinking not be
overdetermined by the money that comes in, the money which is needed to
outlive money or withdraw from the community of money?

As an entry to this discussion, we will try to draw from some experiences
of money inside social movements. This continues our theme that money is
not simply “a tool” but central to a logic of isolation and exploitation
that determines our lives.

The three texts below take up the question of how the money power of
foundations and grant bodies gets entangled with movement groups trying to
build transformative social power. What are the sources of funding that
organizations rely on and how does this effect their ability to organize?
What are the effects of this on our everyday organizing practices and
political imaginaries? How can we mobilize existing resources and
capacities (including money!) toward non-monetary forms of coordination?
What would it take to demonetize the Non-Profit Industrial Complex?

In order to initiate a fundamental change in social relations it is
critical to understand the way in which money (and the colonization of the
“money form”) tends to shape and domesticate substantive possibilities
arising from these movements, and see that this reaches all the way back
into our intentions and the way we structure our daily lives and choices.

To quote a text we focused on for a few weeks from David Harvey’s “Money,
Space, Time, and the City”:

“Most of the vivacity and color of modern life, in fact, arises precisely
out of the spirit of revulsion and revolt against the dull, colorless, but
seemingly transcendental powers of money in abstract and universal space
and time. Yet all such social movements, no matter how well articulated
their aims, run up against a seemingly immovable paradox. For not only
does the community of money define them in an oppositional sense, but the
movements have to confront the social power of money directly if they are
to succeed. Colorless and heartless it may be, but money remains the
overwhelming source of social power, and what Marx calls its “dissolving
effects” are perpetually at work within the family or within alternative
“authentic communities” that social groups struggle to define. Such a
tendency is writ large in the history of innumerable organizations, from
communes that either founder on money questions or convert into efficient
enterprises, religious organizations that become so obsessed with the
accumulation of money that they pervert the message they propose, to
socialist governments that come to power with noble visions only to find
they lack the money to carry out their plans. All manner of oppositional
movements have come to grief as they stumble upon the rock of money as the
central and universal source of social power.

It takes money, we can conclude, to construct any alternative to the
society predicated on the community of money. This is the essential truth
that all social movements have to confront; otherwise, it confronts and
destroys them. Money may be, as the moralists have it, the root of all
evil, yet it appears also as the unique means of doing good.”

This is a position and question we may return to and critique in different
manners. And this week, we will try to look at it from this angle of
funding. Similar to the way that professionalization helps to build and
reinforce the privatized enclosures of the university and its forms of
negligent knowledge and negligent community, the lure of grants, the
specialization and professionalisation of activism by the demands of
funding sources links us to a system which not only compels us to
instrumentalize our labor, but also increasingly divorces us from our most
basic capacities and powers, displacing our powers to act collectively
back to the social power of money.

We will be inviting those who have had experiences in this regard to also
share some insights.

Of course, the experiences from Occupy Wall Street, both in terms of the
conflicts created by the deliberations on how to allocate the money
collected as well as other tensions and cooptations related to issues of
money and social power including the disproportionate ability of some
people to access money for projects, the ability of some people to
translate their experiences into their paid “professional” activities, the
seductions to receive “compensation” for “labor” as activists are all part
of this reflection.

2. Related Texts

This week’s suggested readings are short selected essays from “The
Revolution will not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex”
published by Southend Press in 2007. These are the selected essays below
and they can be downloaded here:


Selections include the following:

“The Radical Social Change: Searching for a New Foundation”
Adjoa Florencia Jones de Almeida

“Fundraising Is Not a Dirty Word: Community-Based Economic Strategies for
the Long Haul”
Stephanie Guilloud and William Cordery, Project South: Institute for the
Elimination of Poverty and Genocide

“‘we were never meant to survive'”: Fighting Violence Against Women and
the Fourth World War” Ana Clarissa Rojas Durazo