[-empyre-] rehearsal of a network - [week 2]

John Jordan artactivism at gn.apc.org
Tue Jun 12 21:03:45 AEST 2018

Hey everyone sorry for late reply … 

The transition between mycelium and performing acts within a network of activism is wonderful. For us at the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, we try to break all separations, especially that between everyday life, activism and art and its for this reason we are inspired by mycelium and use it in our work to create tools of creative disobedience against capitalism and all those who profit from the economy of death, the logic that puts life after commodities, profit before people, algorithms infront of the living relations that we all share…

Mycelium teaches us like Deleuze, to begin alway in the middle, to see the world as relationship, not a network of things, not a web of objects, but a rich interdependent always changing, always situated complex system from which emerges the intelligence of life… 

We live at the moment on the zad, 4000 acres of land squatted against an airport and its world, in france, that despite winning against the airport is now being destroyed, because as David Graeber writes (in the preface to a recent book about the zad)  “ Over the past 40 years it become an imperative of global governance to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures and to stamp them out, or, when that's not possible, to make sure no one knows about them. The rulers don’t mind if people say, “I hate you, I want to overthrow you” nearly so much as they say “You guys are ridiculous and unnecessary.” That’s why they really fear places like the zad. For the rulers of the world, such visible alternatives shatter the sense of inevitability, that despite crisis after crisis, the system must, necessarily be patched together in the same form. It has become a kind of obsession to those that try to govern us, that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win..”
 Below is a chapter just written by us,  for the same book which comes out in france tomorrow ELOGES DES MAUVAISE HERB <http://www.editionslesliensquiliberent.fr/livre-%C3%89loge_des_mauvaises_herbes-9791020906427-1-1-0-1.html> h writing about what the zad has given us, by Bruno Latour, David Graeber, Vandana Shiva, Starhawk, Kristin Ross etc.. )  which might be a good way of starting a conversation about these issues… 

FOR MORE INFO about the zad see this english language blog ZAD FOR EVER <https://zadforever.blog/> and a long read we wrote about the violence of the evictions these last few months THE REVENGE AGAINST THE COMMONS  <https://zadforever.blog/2018/04/24/the-revenge-against-the-commons/> (also published on further field  <https://www.furtherfield.org/the-revenge-against-the-commons/>) 

love and rage 


The police helicopter hovers above, its bone rattling clattering never seems to stop. At night its long godlike finger of light penetrates our cabins and farm houses. It has been so hard to sleep this last week. Even dreaming, it seems, is a crime on the zad. And that’s the point: these 4000 acres of autonomous territory, this zone to defend (zad), has existed despite the state and capitalism for nearly a decade and no government can allow such a place to flourish. All territories that are inhabited by people who bridge the gap between dream and action have to be crushed before their hope begins to spread. This is why France’s most largest police operation since May 1968, at a cost of 400,000 euros a day, has been trying to evict us with its 2500 gendarmes, armoured vehicles (APCs), bulldozers, rubber bullets, drones, 200 cameras and 11,000 tear gas and stun grenades fired since the operation began at 3.20am on the morning of the 9th of April 2018.

The state said that these would be “targeted evictions”, claiming that there were up to 80 ‘radical’ zadists that would be hunted down, and that the rest, the ‘good’ zadists, would have to legalise or face the same fate. The good zadist was a caricature of the gentle ‘neo rural farmer’ returning to the land, the bad, an ultra violent revolutionary, just there to make trouble. Of course this was a fantasy vision to feed the state’s primary strategy, to divide this diverse popular movement that has managed to defeat 3 different French governments and win France’s biggest political victory of a generation: l’abandon de l’aéroport de Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

The zad was initially set up as a protest against the building of a new airport for the city of Nantes, following a letter by residents distributed during a climate camp in 2009, which invited people to squat the land and buildings: ‘because’ as they wrote ‘only an inhabited territory can be defended’. Over the years this territory earmarked for a mega infrastructure project, evolved into Europe’s largest laboratory of commoning. Before the French state started to bulldoze our homes, there were 70 different living spaces and 300 inhabitants nestled into this checkerboard landscape of forest, fields and wetlands. Alternative ways of living with each other, fellow species and the world are experimented with 24/7. From making our own bread to running a pirate radio station, planting herbal medicine gardens to making rebel camembert, a rap recording studio to a pasta production workshop, an artisanal brewery to two blacksmiths forges, a communal justice system to a ­library and even a full scale working lighthouse – the zad has become a new commune for the 21st century. Messy and bemusing, this beautifully imperfect utopia in resistance against an airport and its world has been supported by a radically diverse popular movement, bringing together tens of thousands of anarchists and farmers, unionists and naturalists, environmentalists and students, locals and revolutionaries of every flavour. But everything changed on the 17th of January 2018, when the French prime minister appeared on TV to cancel the airport project and in the same breath say that the zad, the ‘outlaw zone’ would be evicted and law and order returned.

A true culture of resistance has evolved in parallel with the zad over the years. Not many people are psychologically or physically prepared to fight on the barricades, but thousands are ready to give material support in all its forms, from helping set up a medicinal herb garden to providing free acupuncture to activists, from donating old windows to build cabins with to teaching people how to forage mushrooms, donating free printing services for flyers to doing the plumbing for a new squat Sometimes a culture of resistance involves beautiful clandestine gestures of solidarity. After the February 2014 anti-airport riots in Nantes, some municipal workers admitted to not putting too much mortar in-between the cobblestones they were setting back into place, ‘just in case!’ they said.

Every successful movement, from the Suffragettes to the Abolition of Slavery, had a rich culture of resistance. Everyone as important as the other and just as heroic and as necessary as the fighters - as a banner on the zad said: 'Pas de barricadieres sans cuisiniers' ‘There are no women on the barricades without men in the kitchen’.

But a culture of resistance is not just material. It needs to provide emotional and affective support as well - and that can come through storytelling. We need stories that remind us that resistance is never futile, that we are part of a long history of struggle and that everything we take for granted in this world was won through disobedience. We need stories of shared life and interdependencies that counteract capitalism's stories that imagine life as a battlefield of ruthless competition. We need stories that emerge from the bodies of those of us living the struggles directly, rather than wait for academics and journalists to tell them for us from the comfort of their desks and the distant safety of history.

But a culture of resistance also means opening up to those who might be different, those that might not have the same revolutionary analysis as us, those who some put in their box named ‘reformist’, this is what building a composition is all about, it is how we weave a true ecology of struggle, and this ecology brought us to live on the zone.

We had heard the stories emerging from this place, stories that had resonances of many of the historical territorial struggles that had built the horizons towards which our movements aspired. Echoes of the Paris Commune of 1871, evocations of the zapatista caracoles of Chiapas. We also had rebel friends who lived here, but most importantly it was because it had the essential entwined strands of DNA of any Ecology of Struggle: the yes and the no. resistance and creation, fighting and building at the same time. We had seen so many alternatives that refused protest and politics, becoming new start ups, coopted by capitalism. We had suffered so many protest movements loose their desirableness, because they had no material examples of the future that they wanted. When the yes and the no come apart we lose our force, we lose what gives life to rebellion, and rebellion to life.

And now that the No against the airport has won, what happens without it, will we become a new green silicon valley ?Absolutely not. The way to refuse this, is to strengthen our links with other movements and to continue to transform this place into a powerful provider of a material base that nourishes (in every way) revolutionary movements. Without inhabiting a territory, if we are scattered again across the country, we are nothing. The zad was always against the airport and its world, we still have a world to win, and many worlds to resist and refuse. But we also want to stay here becauseof something very simple, we have fallen deeply in love. In love with the bocage, its stories and all its forms of life, both human and non.

The government wants the inhabitants of the zad to regularise themselves one by one, to enter into the framework of law and order . “Ecology is not Anarchy” the minister of ecological transition and solidarity, Nicola Hulot, declared to the press following one of the negotiations. An easy soundbite to underline this process of regularisation, this bureaucratic truncheon that falls upon us, that if we refuse will mean the entire zone will be destroyed by tanks and gendarmes. But the statement shows his ignorance of the history of ecological thinking, many of the first theoreticians were anarchists. Élisée Reclus, world famous geographer and poet, whose beautiful idea that humans are simply “nature becoming aware of herself,” fought on the barricades of the 1871 Paris Commune. 19th century geographer Peter Kropotkin, spent many years in jail and exile for his politics, but was renowned in scientific circles as an early champion of the idea that evolution is not all a competitive war of “red tooth and claw” but instead involves a cooperation, what he termed Mutual Aid. From the 1950s onwards, US political philosopher Murray Bookchin (now best known for the influence he has on the Kurds to build a stateless form of Municipal Confederalism, taking place in the autonomous territory of Rojova – Northern Syria) brought ecology and anarchy together with his concept of Social Ecology. Humans dominate and destroy nature because we dominate ourselves. He claimed. To avert ecological collapse we had to get rid of all hierarchies – man over woman, old over young, white over black, rich over poor.

When we truly inhabit a place it becomes obvious that life has no control centre, no heirachy, no chiefs or bosses, no governments or presidents. Every form of life is a self organising form of commons – deeply connected and interdependent, always changing, always embedded and entangled – from the cells in your fingers to worms in your the garden, from the trees in the forest of Rohanne to the bacteria in your gut. As biologist and cultural theorist Andreas Weber says, all life forms “are continuously mediating relationships among each other – relationships that have a material side, but also always embody meaning, a sense of living and the notion of belonging to a place.” Every one of these relations follows one higher principle: only behaviour which allows for the productivity and diveristy of the entire ecosystem over the long term will survive. The more we observe the living world in all its complexity the more we are able to understand how to become commoners, how to truly inhabit and understand that the separation between the individual and the whole is a fiction.

 <>To be really free is not to be an individual able to operate free from constraints, but to be tied to beneficial relationships with people and habitats, relationships that feed you materially and psychologically. Without a tie to your food – you starve, without the tie to lovers – you sadden. We are free because we are linked. Freedom is not breaking our chains but turning them into living roots and veins that connect, share, flow together and enable us to change and evolve in common. The struggle for the zad is not about bringing ‘law and order’ back to the zone, but a battle between private property and those who share worlds, of capitalism against the commons. This is a battle for the future, one that we cannot loose.

> On 9 Jun 2018, at 10:41, Shu Lea Cheang <shulea at earthlink.net> wrote:
> dear all
> It seems like our week1 focus on Mycelium network is just heating up, i am sure we will be coming back to reflect on mycelium's network nature...
> Now we enter  rehearsal of a network - [week 2], with a focus on networked activism and performance.
> We are interested in reviewing a glory past/present/future with  update on strategies of intervention including applications with social networks and analogue tactics of 'body counts matter". 
> I introduce the very very special guests for this week2.
> with great respect.
> sl
> John Jordan (UK/France)
> Labelled a  "Domestic Extremist" by the police, and “a magician of rebellion” by the press, John Jordan has spent the last 25 years merging art and activism. Working in various settings from Museums to squatted social centres, International Theatre Festivals to climate camps, he Co-founded Reclaim the Streets and the Clown Army, Co-edited We Are Everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism" (Verso), and co-wrote the film/book Les Sentiers de l’Utopie (Editions Zones,2012). He now co-facilitates the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii), with Isabelle Fremeaux. Infamous for fermenting mass disobedience on bicycles, throwing snowballs at bankers, launching a rebel raft regatta to shut down a power station, running workshops in postcapitalism and refusing to be censored by the Tate Modern, the Labofii now lives on the autonomous zone of la zad of Notre-dame-des-Landes, 'a territory lost to the republic,' according to the French government. For more info about the zad see www.zadforever.blog <http://www.zadforever.blog/> 
> Nitasha Dhillon (India/USA)
> Nitasha Dhillon is one of two artists who make up the MTL Collective, a collaboration joining research and aesthetic, theory and practice, action and organizing. With Amin Husain as MTL, they are co-founders of Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy magazine, Global Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.), the direct action arm of Gulf Labor Artist Coalition, Strike Debt and Rolling Jubilee, Direct Action Front for Palestine (DAFP), and most recently, as MTL+, Decolonize This Place, a movement space and decolonial formation in New York City that combine organizing, art, and action around five strands of struggle: Indigenous Struggle, Black Liberation, Free Palestine, Global Wage Worker, and De-Gentrification. Nitasha is currently a PhD candidate at Department of Media Study, University at Buffalo.
> Ricardo Dominguez (USA) 
> Ricardo Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), a group who developed virtual sit-in technologies in solidarity with the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998. His recent Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab project (http://tbt.tome.press/ <http://tbt.tome.press/>) with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, Amy Sara Carroll, and Elle Mehrmand, the Transborder Immigrant Tool (a GPS cell phone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/US border) was the winner of “Transnational Communities Award” (2008), an award funded by Cultural Contact, Endowment for Culture Mexico–US and handed out by the US Embassy in Mexico. It also was funded by CALIT2 and the UCSD Center for the Humanities. The Transborder Immigrant Tool has been exhibited at the 2010 California Biennial (OCMA), Toronto Free Gallery, Canada (2011), The Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands (2013), ZKM, Germany (2013), as well as a number of other national and international venues. The project was also under investigation by the US Congress in 2009-2010 and was reviewed by Glenn Beck in 2010 as a gesture that potentially “dissolved” the U.S. border with its poetry. Dominguez is Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, a Hellman Fellow, a Society for the Humanities Fellow at Cornell University (2018), and a Rockefeller Arts & Humanities Fellow (2019) and Principal Investigator at CALIT2/QI, UCSD. He also is co-founder of *particle group*, with artists Diane Ludin, Nina Waisman, Amy Sara Carroll, whose art project about nano-toxicology entitled *Particles of Interest: Tales of the Matter Market* has been presented at the House of World Cultures, Berlin (2007), the San Diego Museum of Art (2008), Oi Futuro, Brazil (2008), CAL NanoSystems Institute, UCLA (2009), Medialab-Prado, Madrid (2009), E-Poetry Festival, Barcelona, Spain (2009), Nanosférica, NYU (2010), and SOMA, Mexico City, Mexico (2014): http://hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/en/particle-group-intro <http://hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/en/particle-group-intro>. 
> FRAUD is a métis duo of critical art practitioners. Their backgrounds include computational culture, post-colonial and critical feminism, performance, disruptive design, and space system engineering. They develop art-led inquiries into the multiple scales of power and governmentality that flow through physical and cultural landscapes. The duo focuses on critical ecologies, exploring forms of slow violence and necropolitics that are embedded in the entanglement of archiving practices and technical objects, and erasure as a disruptive technology in knowledge production. 
> http://fraud.la/ <http://fraud.la/>


ZAD FOR EVER <https://zadforever.blog/> a new blog in english, dispatches from the liberated territory where we now live.

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Notre livre-film "Les Sentiers de L'utopie" (Editions Zones/La Découverte 2011)
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