16Beaver Group in Weimar & Leipzig

 4. SUBMITTED LISTS (for the common project)

A. 16 SixteenBeaver Events (PL + RG)
B. 16 Questions That Bush Must Answer (PW)

C.  16 Definitions in English (AA)
D. 16 Questions from 16Definitions (PL)
16 Questions from 16Definitions (RG)
F. 16 Questions from 16Definitions (AA)
G. 16 Things to Be Done (SK & SM)
H. 16 Radioactive Words(RG)

I. 16 Words that Should have been Taken Out

A. 16 Events
to which 16Beaver has been invited to and some of those we've organized ourselves (does not include  the regular series)


10.1  --  24/7. Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, Lithuania.
September 2003

10.2  --  Get rid of yourself. ACC Gallery, Weimar/Leipzig, Germany.
July-August 2003

10.3  -- CowTag against the Sanctions against Iraq (Dual-Use), 16Beaver, New York.
August 2000

10.4  --  Operation How, Now, Wow an International Festival of Dissent. 16Beaver, New York, Amsterdam, London, Portland, Chicago, San Francisco, + others.
April 2003

10.5  --  An Open Interview & Lunch. 16Beaver, New York & FUSE Magazine,
February 2003. 10.6

10.6  -- Artistalk. 16Beaver , 16Beaver, New York, Rotterdam, Yerevan, Torino.
May 2001 - ongoing

10.7  --  The Interventionists.  Unnamed Institution. Unsaid Date.
Unspecified Location and Year

10.8  --  Inscribing the Temporal. Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna.
January 2003

10.9  --  Resist and Retreat. 16Beaver Group, New York.
November 2002.

10.10  -- Platform (Renée Green), Swiss Institute, New York.
November 2000.

10.11  --  AccesZONE. Bronx Museum, New York.
September 2001.








B. 16 Questions That Bush Must Answer
By Governor Howard Dean
[This is in no way an endorsement of Howard Dean considering his spotty record on the Middle East, -- see http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16280 -- particularly in relation to Occupied Palestine nevertheless, this was a helpful example]

 Monday 21 July 2003

As the Niger uranium story has unfolded over the past week, it has become
increasingly obvious that many questions remain to be answered about the way
the Bush Administration led the American people to war, managed the conflict
in Iraq, and failed to foresee the continuing resistance that our military
is now confronting.

Decisions regarding war and peace are the most serious and solemn that a
Commander-in-Chief is called upon to make. There are now fundamental
questions about President Bush's leadership in taking us to war with Iraq.

  There has been much controversy over the 16 words included in the State of
the Union address. I call on President Bush to answer these sixteen
questions, to ensure that the American people can retain their trust in
their government and to ensure that the United States retains its
credibility as a moral force in the world.

1) Mr. President, beyond the NSC and CIA officials who have been
identified, we need to know who else at the White House was involved in the
decision to include the discredited Niger uranium evidence in your speech,
and, if they knew it was false, why did they permit it to be included in the

2) Mr. President, we need to know why anyone in your Administration would
have contemplated using the Niger evidence in the State of the Union after
George Tenet personally intervened in October 2002, to have the same
evidence removed from the President's October 7th speech? (The Washington
Post, Walter Pincus and Mike Allen, 7/13/2003)

3) Mr. President, we need to know why you claimed last week that the CIA
objected to the Niger uranium sentence "subsequent" to the State of the
Union address, contradicting everything else we have heard from in your
administration and in the intelligence community on the matter? (Washington
Post, Priest, Dana and Dana Milbank, 7/15/2003)

4) Mr. President, we urgently need an explanation about the very serious
charge that senior officials in your Administration may have retaliated
against Ambassador Joseph Wilson by illegally disclosing that his wife is an
undercover CIA officer. (The Nation, Corn, David, 7/16/2003)



Mr. President, we need to know why your Administration persisted in
using the intercepted aluminum tubes to show that Iraq was pursuing a
nuclear program and why your National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice,
claimed categorically that the tubes were "only really suited for nuclear
weapons programs," when in fact our own government experts flatly rejected
such claims. (CNN, 9/08/2002, Knight Ridder News Service, 10/04/2002)

6) Mr. President, we need to know why Secretary Rumsfeld created a secret
intelligence unit at the Pentagon that selectively identified questionable
intelligence to support the case for war - including the supposed link to
al-Qaeda - while ignoring, burying or rejecting any evidence to the
contrary? (New Yorker, Seymour Hersh, 5/12/03)

7) Mr. President, we need to know what the basis was for Secretary
Rumsfeld's assertion that the US had bulletproof evidence linking Al Qaeda
to Iraq, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence analysts have consistently
agreed that Saddam did not have a "meaningful connection" to Al Qaeda? (NY
Times, Schmitt, Eric, 9/28/2002, NY Times, Krugman, Paul, 7/15/2003)

8) Mr. President, we need to know why Vice President Cheney claimed last
September to have "irrefutable evidence" that Saddam Hussein had
reconstituted his nuclear weapons program, an assertion he repeated in
March, on the eve of war? (AP, 9/20/2002, NBC 3/16/2003)

9) Mr. President, we need to know why Secretary Powell claimed with
confidence and virtual certainty in February, before the UN Security
Council, that, "Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of
chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield
rockets?" (UN Address, 2/05/2003)

10) Mr. President, we need to know why Secretary Rumsfeld claimed on March
30th, in reference to weapons of mass destruction, "We know where they are.
They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and
north somewhat?" (The Guardian, Whitaker, Brian and Rory McCarthy,

11) Mr. President, we need an explanation of the unconfirmed report that
your Administration is dishonoring the life of a soldier who died in Iraq as
a result of hostile action by misclassifying his death as an accident.
(Time, Gibbs, Nancy and Mark Thompson, 7/13/2003)

12) Mr. President, we need to know why your Administration has never told
the truth about the costs and long-term commitment of the war, has
consistently downplayed what those would be, and now continues to try to
keep the projected costs hidden from the American people?

13) Mr. President, we need to know why you said, on May 1, 2003 , that the
war was over, when US troops have fought and one or two have died nearly
every day since then and your own generals have admitted that we are
fighting a guerrilla war in Iraq? (Abizaid, Gen. John, 7/16/2003)

14) Mr. President, we need to know why your Administration had no plan to
build the peace in post-war Iraq and seems to be resisting calls to include
NATO, the United Nations and our allies in the stabilization and
reconstruction effort?

15) Mr. President, we need to know what you were referring to in Poland on
May 30, 2003, when you said, "For those who say we haven't found the banned
manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them?"
(Washington Post, Mike Allen, 5/31/2003)

16) Mr. President, we need to know why you incorrectly claimed this very
week that the war began because Iraq would not admit UN inspectors, when in
fact Iraq had admitted the inspectors and you opposed extending their work?
(Washington Post, Priest, Dana and Dana Milbank, 7/15/2003)

  If President Bush can't or won't answer these 16 questions, I call on the
Republicans in Congress to stop blocking efforts to create an independent,
bipartisan committee to investigate what is a matter of the highest
importance: whether President Bush's decision to go to war was sound and
just. The American public deserves answers to all of these questions. I urge
President Bush to lead with the honor and integrity that he promised as a
candidate, and I urge Americans to join me in demanding these questions be
answered by visiting: DeanForAmerican.com.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)



C.  16 Definitions in English (AA)
The New Useful Oxford English Dictionary


1.1. strength or continuity derived from an initial effort.

1.2. a directing influence or guidance, (esp. in the society of friends) a spiritual indication of the proper course of action in any case.

1.3. strong predilection, liking, or devotion to something. Formerly also, an  act of kindness.

1.4. the fitting moment; the momentary conjunction of circumstances, esp. as  affording an opportunity.

1.5. 'many, much', 'having, involving, containing, etc., many' (many variously  connoting 'two or more', 'three or more', 'several', or 'a large number' in  different contexts)

1.6. the state of having time at one's own disposal. Opportunity afforded by  freedom from occupations. time remaining, sufficient time.

1.7. the course taken by something in relation to the point towards which it is  moving; the line towards anything in its relation to a given line; a point to  or from which a person moves, turns, etc.
the course of development of thought, effort, or action; a distinct tendency  or trend; consistent progress.

1.8. differing from itself in different circumstances, at different times, or  in different parts; changeful; varied.

1.9. a deep resonant sound.

1.10. an index of the average level of share prices on the New York Stock  Exchange at any time, based on the daily price of a selection of representative stocks.

1.11. He or him himself, i or me myself, it itself, she or her herself, we or  us ourselves, you yourself, you yourselves, they or them themselves.

1.12. an engine or motor vehicle with sixteen cylinders.

1.13. move, set in motion.
Utter, cause (a voice or sound) to be heard.   Also, make (a gesture).
Move (a thing) from the normal place or position; shift, displace.

1.14. a collection of saints'lives or similar stories.

1.15. steady or uniform in action, procedure, or occurrence; esp. recurring or  repeated at fixed times, recurring at short uniform intervals.
now. esp. observing fixed times for or never failing in the performance of  certain actions or duties.

1.16. a state of supreme happiness.



D. 16 Questions from 16Definitions (PL)






Is art a profession for middle and upper class people or is this a mistaken perception? How would you change the fact or the perception?

Do you subscribe to any justification of political violence? Which? Why?

How is the collective effort you are a part of different from other collective efforts you're aware of?

What sounds would you associate with contemporary political realities?




How would you explain "The Theory of Vertical Phenomena?"

Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky once said that anarchists are the saints of our time. Do you have anything to say about this idea?






E. 16 Questions from 16Definitions (RG)

What would you say about the relation of effort to time?

Without naming him or her which person or group of people have had a directing influence or guidance on your work/practice/thoughts/ideas?

What do you have a strong predilection, liking, or devotion to?

When is a fitting moment fitting?  What makes it fitting?
When is opportune time opportune?  What makes it opportune?

How does the word community resonate with you?

How do you normally spend your day?

Do you feel like you departed or arrived?







Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky once said that anarchists are the saints of our time. Do you have anything to say about this idea?







F. 16 Questions from 16Definitions (AA)
what does it take to start a revolution? or// a fundamental political/social/cultural change?

name five things/people/subjects/objects/ you are dedicated to. and-or///what is worth dedicating yourself to?

Do you have sufficient time? what does it mean to have sufficient time?

What writer resonated(s) most in you? what specifically?

How do you relate to capital? What is a good cultural capital investment?

what is the easiest to say, and the most difficult//problematic of ( I , you, he, she, it, we, you, they?) where’s the problematic part about it?



What kind of saint are you? And or // are you a saint? If not what are you?


describe a moment in your life that was "a state of supreme happiness"?





G. 16 Things to Be Done (SK & SM)

16 Things to be Done works with the current archive of the What is to be Done? project by Susan Kelly and Stephen Morton which was presented in the Spring of 2003 at the Lenin Museum in Tampere, Finland. What is to be Done? is an ongoing archive of responses to Lenin’s original question, re-posed 100 years after Lenin’s original book. It continues on the Lenin Museum web-site and will travel and accumulate at the Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale in Siberia (September 2003), and other future locations to be confirmed.

A selection of 16 archived responses from Susan Kelly and Stephen Morton’s project  "What is to be Done?" will be sent out as a series of four bi-weekly blocks, four responses each and starting the last week of July - through the 16Beaver Journalisms e-mail list in New York. The responses will be also be available in print during the exhibitions "Get Rid of Yourself" at ACC Gallery, Weimar/Leipzig (July-October, 2003) and "24/7" at the Contemporary Art Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania (September-October, 2003). In addition response cards will be left in each space for further answers, thoughts and ideas to be added to the archive.

 Number 1.

Name: Kathy Kang
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002, 17:25
Place: Department of Government and Industrial Relations, University of Sydney, Australia

What is to be Done?

There are two issues: the trapping of masses of humanity in grinding poverty, and the persistence of a faith in techno-economic fixes for our disruption of the ecosphere. Both are the legacy of modern imperialism, with its avarice, callousness, and Euro-supremacist impetus. Thanks to the social process of memory and forgetting, each of us is stitched somewhere into that unhappy tapestry. Thus the global ruling class is a more elusive adversary than the name suggests; elusive and entrenched.

The latter-day reformists are the centre left parties. Their leaders are adept in using the media to massage public opinion, seeming never to tire of the one trick, feeding the electorate on spin. It has to do with the reinforcement they receive for keeping the managed-democracy process going; like the heads of large corporations, they are in a position to hog the lubricant within the system. Significant change requires exposing managed-democracy as no democracy at all.

Consider the women's movement, the US civil rights movement, the movement opposing the Vietnam War, the people's movements of the late 1980s in Eastern Europe. Mobilisation occurred within and across borders, without ultimately serving ambitions invested in some political machine. And as the Zapatistas have shown in Chiapas, the rot does not have to set in after achieving social change. So, the 21st century Left need have no identity, no head office, leadership, or fixed territory. Participants need agree only on a manner of collective decision-making, which values breadth of participation and is biased toward operating by consent, minimising coercion. Such a mode of collective decision-making encourages self-defense, and tends to block the formation of conventional armies and policing. It disabuses the group of any aspiration to exercise power, whether over a territory, a people, or an epoch. Zones of this kind are a way forward.

Number 2.

Name: Nell McCafferty
Place: Dublin, Ireland
Date: March, 2003

What is to be Done?

Pay Women the same wages as men, for jobs of equal value.
Frank Sinatra rightly describes Surplus Wealth as “Fuck-You” Money.

Number 3.

Name: Michael Hardt
Place: Durham, N. Carolina
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003

What is to be Done?

It is useless and counterproductive today, in my view, to force political struggles into the traditional two-part conceptual framework, as either distributed and spontaneous, on one hand, or centralized and organized, on the other. This view assumes that the only way to organize political struggles is under hierarchical leadership. On the contrary, the most interesting political struggles emerging today, from the Zapatistas to the movements at Seattle and Genova, are organized in new ways, ways that constantly refuse hierarchy and leadership. The network form is often used to try to name this new organizational structure as is the slogan of a movement of movements.
It is a paradox of historical materialism that with each new era, as our historical reality transforms, so too must transform our theoretical outlook. With this in mind, in order to follow Lenin we cannot simply repeat his theoretical dictums, which were oriented toward his own historical reality. To do so would be to treat Lenin in a strangely ahistorical way. In order to follow Lenin, then, we must move beyond Lenin and apply his organizational genius to our own reality. We must specifically recognize the most powerful forms of political organization that are emerging today and work to further their struggles.

Number 4.

Name: Agricola de Cologne
Place: Germany
Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002, 13:20

What is to be done?

As you explain in your press release, you remain the only museum in the entire world dedicated to Lenin. If this is true, we all can be glad that this museum is far from any major public somewhere in Finland. Being a historical figure of 20th century remains the only merits of Lenin. His ideas were wrong already when he was thinking them, and the results were in the reality totalitarism , mass murder, genocide and war. Viewing the economical/social problems nowadays, it would be absurd and insane taking just those ideas while searching for solving these problems. Maybe you are thinking that mass murder and genocide would be the solution to save the world.!!?

No, completely new ideas are requested, based on the reality nowadays, on democracy and humanity. Preserving memories of an historical moment is one thing, but the attempt to transform totalitarian ideas into the future belongs certainly to the most irresponsible things.

What has to be done?
If you think, that is worth to keep the memory of a mass murderer, take the museum what it is, as a memory of a short historical moment. Not more and not less. But if your action would be the attempt to legitimize the death of even one single victim of the persecutions, mass murder, genocide and war executed by Lenin and Stalin or in the name of both or their ideology, you better close your doors immediately as all other memorial institutions did already earlier, and, above all, be ashamed until the rest of your life. This would probably mean the unemployment of the museum staff, but what marginal effect would this mean compared with manifesting historical lies and above all, inhumanity.

Number 5.

Name: Vladimir Volonovic
Date: June 18th 2002
Place: New York

What is to be Done?

History Lesson 2.1 : What is to be done ? ‚Chto delat’
“I don’t have the shadow of an artistic talent. I even use the language poorly. But that is not important: read on, kind public, you will read this with benefit. Truth is a great thing; it compensates for the deficiencies of the writer who serves it.”
What is to be done ? or‚Chto delat’  in Russian is a novel written by Nicholas Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky in 1862-64 in the Petropavlovsk fortress (prison). The novel takes place in the Russia of the 50s and is about social and politicalemancipation. Especially the women’s emancipation. The story of a “new woman” Vera Pavlovna. And “new man” Lopukhof. They get married but only in the eyes of the law. They have separate bedrooms and they have all the other freedoms, to entertain other friends without eachothers knowledge, and so on. Vera organizes the seemtresses’cooperatives, where the girls live and work together and profits are shared. In her dreams which are set as interludes in the novel, she sees a society in which poverty and oppression have been eliminated, where women have full equality, where government have disappeared.” Everybody lives as s/he wishes”
End quote
‘what is to be done’ was a different history lesson every time. And lenin as you might know was inspired by Chernyshevsky’s novel, and no wonder he used the same title.
I am interested in Lenin because  I was born in Georgia and as you know Georgia was a communist country. And don’t forget my name is a shadow that haunts me all the time.


Number 6.

Name: David Landy
Place: Tampere, Finland
Date: May 21st, 2002, 18:52

What Is To Be Done?

My Granddad told me a story about Lenin.  Seems that Trotsky once complained about having to wear all sorts of ridiculous evening clothes when meeting German diplomats, counterrevolutionary dress y’know.  ‘Wear a bloody bathing suit for all it bloody matters,’ was (my Granddad’s version of) Lenin’s response.
He told the story to show Lenin’s impatient ability to get to the root of things, his hard-headedness and his appreciation that you had to deal with reality as it was (Trotsky simply hadn’t any sartorial choices - not in the real world) rather than as you’d want it to be.  It’s an admirable ability. So in the spirit of Lenin....
First the question should move from the passive to the positive - to ‘What do we do?’ even to ‘What are we doing?’  Lenin could use the passive form, he could assume an army of followers moving along the reasonably well mapped-out road of socialism.  Having neither armies nor road nowadays, the passive question indicates nothing more than armchair theorizing.
From Where I Stand.  I stand in a kitchen; in a 50 metre range there’s at least a hundred people - in their kitchens, saunas, living rooms.  I know next-to-none of them, they hardly know each other.
From where I stand in Finland my relationship to the global south is next-to-nonexistent. There’s next-to-no solidarity, community, even common interest.  Really the main connection I have with the rest of the world is mediated from above, and is based on their exploitation.
No-one’s expecting our ‘leaders’ to change this - our elites that profit from the divisions and exploitations we have.  Any positive change will have to come from below, from us.
But such social change needs society, and that we don’t really have.  We’ve a fragmented, individualized, ever-relocating society.  We have trouble even to answer the question - Who are ‘We’?  At the most, we’re only capable of reacting to the changes imposed from outside, above... and rarely even that.
So we can’t answer the question - ‘what do we do?’ - can’t even deal with it in any meaningful way until we build these axis of community and of solidarity from ourselves, through our lives, concomitant with our work.
A lot of folks understand this, it’s the motivation behind a lot of this otherwise annoying political lifestylism - the need we have to build a community.  The reason for the mass international protests and Indymedias and fair trade movements - connecting, outside the elites.  Building structures in which we can communicate and ask these questions - not just of myself or yourself, but to a society of others.
For the moment, what we do is to build these structures and structure ourselves within them. Build these relationships within our lives so that we’ll be able to ask this question in a meaningful way - What’s to be done?


Number 7.

Name: Kaisa
Place: Tampere, Finland
Date: May, 2003

What is to be Done?

Use the Vote.
Vote, because the system works. Activists should take an active interest in politics and be part of the “power” – the democratic system which governs society. Like it or not, it’s the only way. Participate!
Individual choices – yes, but make sure to make an impact in the right place to renovate and re-vitalize how governments are run.

Number 8.

Name: Alain Badiou
Place: Paris
Date: March, 2003

What is to be Done?

In What is to be Done, Lenin puts forward a definition, a new concept of politics. He wants as a point of departure not the State of Power, but a revolutionary consciousness. The party has to be the result of the organization of that consciousness.
We have to look at Lenin’s path. The party form is now impracticable. But the necessity of organizing a political subjectivity outside any submission to the rules of the state remains. We especially must completely criticize electoral democracy.
We need to invent a politics without parties, which would be submissive to the discipline of concrete political processes.

Number 9.

Name: Bruce Barber
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003, 13:57:49
Place: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Canada

What is to be Done?

In his text Lenin outlined in detail several problems within the social democracy and labour movements in pre-Revolutionary Russia, and argued strenuously for the institution of an all-Russian political newspaper. In so doing, he affirmed the signal role of the media: writers, artists, designers, photographers, the bourgeois intelligentsia, in fomenting revolutionary activity on the part of the masses. On some important levels Lenin echoes the thought of the utopian socialist Fourier, who was among the first to argue that artists should form the advance wing of the (political) avant-garde, a position that you may agree has become increasingly hollow in recent years. In What is to be done, Lenin discussed also the problems of organization within the social democracy movement, struggle and political agitation, what today we would call patterns of resistance, action and intervention in the public sphere. He affirmed that “without revolutionary theory there can be no there can be no revolutionary movement (practice)”(28). Following the example of Frederick Engel’s (Der Deutsche Bauernkrieg, (The German Peasant War 1875), he reinforced the need for theoretical struggle to be placed on par with the political and economic. “Three co-coordinated and interconnected sides, the theoretical, the political and the practical/ economic”(31).
If exemplary actions, are without theory; interventions attempt to put theory into action, to wed theory to practice. Both are intrinsically related to one another, as was understood clearly by those who participated in the occupations, sit-ins, teach ins, theatrical agit-prop events and other forms of protest evident during the 1960’s. However, the intentions and ultimately the “audience” response are different.
The exemplary action consists, instead of intervening in an overall way, in acting in a much more concentrated way on exemplary objectives, on a few key objectives that will play a determining role in the continuation of the struggle.
(Excerpt: for full version see http://www.novelsquat.com/)

Number 10.

Name: Ann Schneider
Date: Sat, 07 Sep 2002, 20:18
Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA.

What is to be Done?

To me, Lenin has always been the example for making revolution, vast, cataclysmic change through force rather than by incremental legal reforms. His views will always echo in the young, the desperate and in the most deprived peoples because they have the least to lose and the most to gain. I think more people are willing to choose violent revolution these days because events of the last few decades have proven the rich are getting richer without any effective restraint on their accumulation. The collapse of Enron and WorldCom in the United States, especially after they raped the people of California and India with one-sided contracts, purchased with political bribes, shows more clearly than ever, Capitalism is Organized Crime. Lenin and Marxists are being vindicated as correct, despite the anti-democratic (to say the least) practices of Stalin. Personally, I am a fan of the non-violent, democratic revolution that brought about a non-racial republic in South Africa. The ANC leadership is highly dedicated to participatory democracy, the slogan of the American New Left. But we don't have to depend on their individual resistance to corruption because there are new democratic institutions, including, for the first time, one-person, one-vote elections. The new South African Constitution provides for separation of powers and checks and balances so that power cannot be monopolized by one party or one individual. This is how we prevent social change from deteriorating into a mere change in ruling party. Despite the depressing example of Solidarity in Poland, I still believe strongly in the principle of autonomous workers collectives, Soviets. Although that is my ideal, and one of my inspirations, at age 43, I know that a lifetime is short. Now my slogan (as a progressive lawyer) is
Regulate, Regulate, Regulate. Individuals will frequently act selfishly. Corporations will always be short-sighted. A centralized, planned economy is unlikely, given its historical precedents. But, we can perhaps use the examples of Enron, etc., to compel Congress to pass laws that protect our basic needs, such as access to clean water, healthcare and income security, within a capitalist framework.


Number 11.

Name: Paul Bowman
Place: Bath, UK
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 11:40:31

What is to be Done?

'No More Manifestos'

No more manifestos. They’ve all been written. They’ve certainly all been read. All we need is interruption. How? And how can our or any interruptions be heard? And how can being heard make a difference? And who are “we” anyway? These are traditional questions and this is politics and that’s that. Maybe, but, today, what is to be done? In the face of the barbarism of empire, all theory (except perhaps a hint of dialectic) seems superfluous. Should we regress to crude conspiracy theories? Even these are too refined. For there is no conspiracy: The horror is declared, proudly, right in your face, in public, advocated, everywhere: the United States operates, entirely, on the basis of “simple cost-benefit analysis”. And that’s that. I have heard this said, to assure us that everything’s ok… It makes everything far, far worse. But maybe all that need be done is to force a change in what is taken into account in doing the sum (cost to whom, benefit to whom). Everyone knows enough about the blatant corruption and absolute criminality of the present state of the world to know that we need regime changes, and most of all in America. But regime change to what, and how? What’s the alternative, what’s the other “to come”, that would be objectively better? Do we in fact need a new manifesto? It might seem so, but certainly not.

All manifestos are shit. The revolution would consist merely in the shift from tyranny to democracy. It needs to begin in the Great Pharmakon: America. Unfortunately, it must begin there. Why ? Ask a Marxist. Today Marx is right again. But how? Zizek insists that simply taking the power discourse at its (public) word, acting as if it really means what it explicitly says (and promises) can be the most effective way of disturbing its smooth functioning”. This is certainly a powerful position. It is always an attack, always constructive, always other, always offering of the alternative. Do not oppose. To oppose is to oil. Follow this logic: If in ’68 they said ‘be realistic  demand the impossible’, today we must be unrealistic and demand the possible, demand what we are told we already have: Democracy, transparency, accountability, justice, responsibility, freedom  the very things explicitly declared as present, but always lacking. To achieve any approximation of them would be revolutionary.

Think of it like this:
Blatantly: If we had democracy, we wouldn’t have Bush.
Dialectically (perhaps idealistically, but who knows?): If we had democracy we wouldn’t have such terrorism as long as “we” was not simply “us”.
Axiomatically: Democracy and capitalism are strictly incompatible.

Number 12.

Name: Melissa and Deera Wilson and child
Place: Cambridge, England
Date: March 9th, 2003

What is to be Done?

Teach the Young

Number 13.

Name: Kirsti Kotilainen
Place: Tampere, Finland
Date: April, 2003

What is to be Done?

Two weeks ago I was sure what had to be done was the creation of group identity: to define who we are and
who the bad guy is. This, I figured, would only be done by doing things together – and preferably breaking
some law or other at the same time. Last week, however, I thought breaking the control of the corporations
on media would be vital so that pictures of war and suffering would finally be seen unembellished and in
the right context. Earlier this week I was adamant about the need for a utopia – faith in the fact that things
can be different and should be so. Today, I think there’s a hell of a lot to be done.

Number 14.

Name: Jeremy Gilbert
Place: University of East London
Date: February, 2003

What is to be Done?

There is a right way and a wrong way to interpret this question of Lenin’s. The wrong way is to see it as asking for some programmatic formula for the re-making of the social. The right way is to see it as posing the question which is in fact the constitutive question of politics itself: the question of strategy.  How do we go about getting what we want? As Lenin, and Gramsci after him, understood, this is always a question of winning hearts and minds, of building popular support, of breaking down political and social boundaries between different wings of potential radical movements. For too long, the best known elements of Lenin’s thinking have been those which essentialized class identities, reinforcing such boundaries.

If this and some other of Lenin’s ideas – his dismissal of ‘reformism’ and his naïve belief in ‘revolution’ as a full re-foundation of society – are at best a hindrance today., nonetheless, his insight into the importance of strategy is something which we loose sight of at our peril. The great weakness of contemporary ‘anti-capitalism’ is its constitutive inability to address this issue. The fact is that Seattle and Genoa did not demonstrate that capitalism can be resisted, only that it can be protested. Resisting capital’s global drive to subject all social relations to the logic of the market – and in the process to demolish the democratic gains of the last two centuries – requires that we never lose sight of this most central of Lenin’s observations: without attention to the question of strategy, no political project can succeed. Without an understanding of the need to build popular coalitions which will challenge and modify the identities of all their participants, radicalism can only be, in Lenin’s famous phrase: ‘an infantile disorder’.

Number 15.

Names: Nicholas Brown and Imre Szeman
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002, 09:39
Place: University of Illinois at Chicago, USA and McMaster University, Canada respectively.

What is to be done?

This is the question that is not being asked today. Let us call one possible position the politics of immanence. Better yet, let us call it Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. There is to be no revolution, certainly no Party; the world to come will arrive through a plurality of struggles which, taken as a whole, express the desire of the multitude. What desire? The desire that was so effortlessly co-opted during the Cold War by high wages in the first world and (relatively) generous development aid in the third? Or the desire which, after the disintegration of actually existing socialism, exists only to be brutally crushed in the name of the Market? For the secret of the story of the immanent desire of the multitude is that it quietly relied on a prior transcendent revolution. Once the revolution (or at least its vestige) disappears as Capital's threat and horizon, the desire of the multitude has no recourse -- except revolution. And surely we do not need to be reminded that in the wrong circumstances the Utopian desire of the multitude can be channeled towards the most obscene ends.
The other position might be called the politics of transcendence; or better yet Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou. There is to be a revolution, even a revolutionary party, but revolution is fundamentally a decision, a risky experiment never guaranteed to succeed, and therefore an untheorizable particularity. Yes, yes, yes -- and a resounding no. Lenin had a theory of revolution, a very precise understanding of the historical conjuncture in which revolution was a possible decision. But our situation, in which no merely national revolution will have much significance (the choices faced by the few national governments genuinely on the Left are evidence enough of that), is immeasurably more complex than Lenin's. We remember Lenin because his revolution succeeded. How many failed? The potential cost of not asking "What is to be done?" is a period of bloody and ineffective rebellions, some of them deeply reactionary. Neither is invoking "Seattle" much help; the protests against our current mode of globalization are a sign and a slogan, but not an organizing principle. And waiting for a Messiah will only waste time. What we face instead is the hard work, the collective work, of theorizing the possibilities that inherent in our current conjuncture and possible ways to proceed. The only thing worse than picking the wrong moment would be missing the right one, and it may come sooner than we think.

Number 16.

Name: Helen Gyger
Place: New York, USA
Date: August 7th, 9.50pm, 2002, with long breaks and a trip to LA.

What is to be Done?

I find myself veering between optimism and pessimism reading through these questions, but necessarily
falling down on the side of modest but engaged hopefulness, where what is to be done is still a viable
question. In terms of the burning social and political questions: for me the questions are structural issues
of accessing/effecting power, from empowerment at the local level to the global balances: government –
supra-state- and the possibilities for social change are in building coalitions of communities which
deliberately interrogate their own forms and methods.

My response to Lenin is mediated by Slavoj Zizek’s interest in a strategic return to that decisive moment when Marx’s sense of an unfolding of history reached its limit and a way forward had to be found, the revolutionary movement had to be structured, directed and consequences had to be dealt with. For Zizek, this ‘utopia of the moment’ seems to represent both the possibility and the necessity of action, a release finally, from the ambivalence and deferral of negotiated politics. The question then is whether this utopian moment can be created outside such radical historical fissures  - or, more constructively, how is to be done. Perhaps in developing each alternative power structure/community there is a potential to achieve this kind of disruptive moment, putting into practice a set of foundational principles and through experimentation leading on the next stage of what/how is questions. Contingent strategies perhaps, throwing sticks into the spokes of a juggernaut, but if it succeeds in throwing it off course or demonstrating its vulnerability, perhaps that shouldn’t be dismissed either. In the early 1970s an Australian construction union instituted environmental bans protecting inner city communities and bush land, halting $5000 million of projects. In the end the most radical branch was shut down by more conservative union leaders, not least because of their progressive organisational practices: limiting tenure for officials, tying their pay to the workers’, including non-payment of officials during strikes, encouraging direct action and the autonomy of each job site. Choosing to be destroyed rather than conform or compromise represents the recognition of the exhaustion of one particular route of resistance, a triumphant failure leaving just enough space to imagine the next utopian moment – an incremental process of change, for a modest 21st Century Lenin?




H. 16 Radioactive Words(RG)

Matt Bivens:
Those Sixteen Radioactive Words
07/23/2003 @ 1:41pm

Quick recap: The President asserted in his State of the Union address that Saddam was uranium-shopping in Africa. After many months of complaints that the case for this assertion was a joke, one based on childishly forged documents, the Bush Administration conceded that the president shouldn't have said that -- but blamed the CIA for not vetting the speech properly. (That's a very generous recap, because it makes the White House sound coherent and forthright. It leaves out all the confused weaselly sub-arguments -- for example, that the now-notorious 16-word sentence was "technically correct," because President Bush hung it on the British. It doesn't get into the question of who put such a big lie into such a big speech. It leaves out how the White House has smeared people who have asked sharp questions about it. And so on.)

But lo and behold, it turns out the CIA is savvy enough about Washington games that it has a paper trail. The White House now admits that on Oct. 6, Bush's deputy national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, received a memo from the CIA warning them to avoid the ridiculous uranium-shopping-in-Niger story; and that a day earlier, Oct. 5, Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson, also received such a memo. "The acknowledgment of the memos," reports The Washington Post, "comes four days after the White House said the CIA objected only to technical specifics of the Africa charge, not its general accuracy."

It's now agreed, however, that "the CIA warned the White House early on that the charge, based on an allegation that Iraq sought 500 tons of uranium in Niger, relied on weak evidence, was not particularly significant and assumed Iraq was pursuing an acquisition that was arguably not possible and of questionable value because Iraq had its own supplies. "Yesterday's disclosures indicate top White House officials knew that the CIA seriously disputed the claim that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium in Africa long before the claim was included in Bush's January address to the nation. The claim was a major part of the case made by the Bush administration before the Iraq war that Hussein represented a serious threat because of his nuclear ambitions; other pieces of evidence have also been challenged.




I. 16 Words that Should have been Taken Out (RG)

National Security Aide Says He's to Blame for Speech Error By David E. Sanger, with Judith Miller
The New York Times
Wednesday 23 July 2003

WASHINGTON President Bush's deputy national security adviser accepted blame today for allowing faulty intelligence to appear in the president's State of the Union speech. He took responsibility after revealing that the Central Intelligence Agency had sent him two memorandums warning that evidence about Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium in Africa was weak. The deputy adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, a critical behind-the-scenes player in the Bush White House, told reporters that while he received the memorandums before the president gave a speech about Iraq in October, he had no memory of the warning three months later when the issue came up again in the State of the Union address. He said the two memorandums had been discovered in the last 72 hours. Looking shaken, he said, "I should have asked that the 16 words be taken out" of the State of the Union address, and added, "I failed in that responsibility."


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