"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Sep 22, 2011

Counter Messaging

"Organised with Verso Books, eight leading thinkers will be discussing 'Communism, A New Beginning? at Cooper Union on the weekend of October 14th-16th.

Entry will be by ticket only. Tickets will be $20 and will be on sale via this site at the end of this week—please check back. There will be a limited number available."

(emphasis mine)




ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Not only with the revolution not be televised, there will be a limited number of seats available.

Jack Crow said...

Scarcity pricing tickets to an expert's panel on a new beginning for communism takes chutzpah.

BostonCharlie said...

Sure it sounds funny, but does Cooper Union charge for the three day use of their facility? Or do they provide everything gratis to reds?

fish said...

Sure it sounds funny, but does Cooper Union charge for the three day use of their facility? Or do they provide everything gratis to reds?

And the "communists" were forced to use an exclusive venue?

This is the new corporate communism. Like modern populism, it is limited to a certain more desirable class of people.

Jack Crow said...


fish voiced the reply I would have offered, better than I would have written it.

Anonymous said...

¬_¬ …You people are morons.

Randal Graves said...

Everyone thought the stork was brain damaged.

davidly said...

Neocom. Same as the old boss?

Will Shetterly said...

They must plan to talk about Fabianism, a New Beginning. I suppose NeoFabians were inevitable.

Abonilox said...

You know it's good for a bunch of academics and wannabe academics to get together and discuuus the puhsistuhnce of the idear of public uh ownahship of the commmmmuns...

Whatever political agenda we subscribe to, if it has any merit whatsoever, must be comprehensible to anyone disposed to listen... with or without the $20.

Jack Crow said...

I think it's a sign of capitalism's pervasiveness that "#communism™" is really just a boutique market for guys who write books criticizing/celebrating the rebranding of Communism as "#communism™."

Then again, they're bringing in that fucking charlatan Zizek, along with seven other experts, to have a discussion about a commodity redesign, as if the problem with capitalism v. communism was poor marketing.

Returning to what the fish wrote, I'm thinking that a pretty basic criterion for actual communism would be, I dunno, meetings which don't exclude or price out all the actual proletarians.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, this is a post about a 3-DAY CONFERENCE that costs 20 DOLLARS ahaha you're a joke mate

Jack Crow said...

I can't afford that ticket price, Anonymous. With the exception of the doctors, few of my wife's coworkers could budget that amount. Or the time off from work, family and childcare obligations.

And we are discussing a boutique setting with advertised limited seating, in order to be lectured by the likes of Zizek, no?

WB said...

You people are so negative. I think it's a great idea, if less than fully developed, and I told them so.

Jack Crow said...

Sham Wow. Heh. They at least had the self-respect to hire a huckster who acted the part.

Weldon Berger said...

Tickets on sale at the site, too, so probably a percentage of the proceeds will go to credit card companies. Communism, brought to you by VISA. Everywhere you want to go.

Jack Crow said...

Which is a better general purpose header?

Ticket Price Communism,


Limited Seating Communism?

Solar Hero said...

Look, $20 of Sham Wows means you can get rid of your mop, bathtowels, dishtowels, napkins, paper towels, shammies, beachtowels, tissues and handkerchiefs. Jeez!

Richard said...

Verso publishes a lot of things that I consider worthwhile, for example, I'm currently reading Lumley's States of Emergency: Cultures of Revolt in Italy from 1968 to 1978, an important book about social rebellion from the bottom up. Owen Hatherley's book, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, is provocative, too.

But I tend to stay away from the more popular, high volume sales authors like Zizek.

Unfortunately, there has always been this elitist element associated with Verso and its companion, the New Left Review. I guess that's what happens when a lot of your editors live in London, with offices in London and New York. Would they support a revolution that radically levels the culture as described by the Peter Weiss in one of his novels? One wonders.

So, you have to parse out what is important from nonsense such as this, but my heart is with AK Press, where I have been a "friend" since December 2006. They would never do this sort of thing.

Jonathan Versen said...

and, via the chronicle of higher ed(paywall, but the intro is here)


almostinfamous said...

the revolution will be(has been) commoditized?

Jack Crow said...


Verso is a business. I'm not really surprised that they would try to break even, at least.

It's the idea of a limited seating, admission price "communism" that amuses. Especially one which purports to open a new path to a communist future. It's inauspicious, really. I understand that the conditions are even less favorable than they were during the heyday of the IWA and the IWW, but academic paneling seems like a step back.

Jonathan, ai -

Seems like people are desperate for a commoditized and institutionalized fix to the problems of commodities and institutions.

Al Schumann said...

Most rads are eager to provide thoughts, knowledge, practical skills and debate gratis. I received a better education, free, from rads than I got from any institution. There's been perhaps somewhat more debate than I really want or need, but... That just goes with the territory.

It's amusing to read the value-for-money arguments in defense of it. I understand Costco is better than Walmart too.

Jack Crow said...


I have a jaundiced eye, but I really can't think of a more comically inept message than "...come, pay money to listen to comfortable "experts" on radicalism do the least radical thing imaginable."

Al Schumann said...


Yes indeed! It's close to perfection in comical ineptitude. The feature presentation should be a morose navel-gazing session on what's wrong with the left, followed by a concern troll condemnation of everyone who is less well-read than the panelists.

Happy Jack said...

With Zizek as a speaker, I'm assuming the twenty bucks is to pay for an interpreter for us lagging thinkers.

I think I'd prefer to spend my money being tasered while John Kerry drones on in the background.

Richard said...

Jack, I think you might be missing it here a little. It's not so much the money, but the elitism. Charging for attendance at a limited seat event is about ensuring that the right people are there, a vanguardist residue. In this instance, the limited seating is probably more significant than the cost.

Many of the people who publish through Verso are academics, so they like talking to other academics and well educated activists, preferably cosmopolitan ones. Actual real, existing working class people? Or, for that matter, real existing middle class people. Not so much. Of course, there are exceptions, but this is pretty common.

So, the event becomes a sort of, see how smart we are, insiders kind of thing, a leftist political variant of a bunch of hedge fund managers talking privately at the health club.

Jack Crow said...


I'm seeing it through my own conditions. I couldn't come up with $20.

But, I see your point, and agree with it. The $ won't bar most people with a NYC job and the inclination to harken to Zizek, but it does signal a clear message: "we're talking about the proles, but we aren't of them."

It's Fabian, as Will noted above.

Christopher M. said...

"I'm seeing it through my own conditions. I couldn't come up with $20."

Jack, I've been unemployed since January, have had at least two serious brushes with homelessness over the past five years, can guarantee you I've got less cash on hand than you, and if I thought a three-day conference for twenty bucks was worthwhile, I could totally fucking afford it.

The price has nothing to do with it, and really, your harping on it here is kind of irritatingly blinkered - the same sort of "well, how do you call yourself anti-capitalist when you pay and accept money for things!" bullshit that every activist gets from every idiot to her right (how can you be an anarchist if you work for a boss, how can you be an environmentalist when you aren't living in the wilderness in a yurt, etc.) The activists I know give away a certain amount of free lit, but the free stuff is necessarily slim pickings compared to the books - and the books we have to charge for because books, y'know, cost money to make and print. There's a hard limit to what you can do for free under capitalism, and you run up against that limit pretty fucking fast.

It's not the request for an admission fee, but the presence of Zizek, that indicates to me that this is bullshit. There's a difference between "Marxists" and "bullshit academics with left-liberal tendencies who've read Marx"; the second group wouldn't be caught dead around the first.

Jack Crow said...

"...'well, how do you call yourself anti-capitalist when you pay and accept money for things!'..."


I'm not saying that.

I'm not suggesting that we have the capacity to produce things which are free.

I'm just attempting to say that the pricing + the venue = "poor people stay away, we're trying to save you."

(And I still wouldn't be able to afford it.)

Anonymous said...

also just wanted to add they're putting all the video of this on their website for free. zizek and badiou are the shit and anyone complaining about the 'elitism' and $20 ticket price is an idiot. you make us look bad and you make us look like shit

Jack Crow said...

Who is this "us," anonymous - the sort of comfortable white leftists who can afford a whole weekend devoted to sniffing at the vapors from Zizek's fascist lips?

Will Shetterly said...

It's also kind of odd for an anarchist or a commie to be terribly happy about the free streaming. It's kind of like being happy that after the ball, the rich folks are taking the leftovers to the soup kitchen.