Build Commons, Build Counter-Power
The welfare state seems in its death throes, workers’ rights are being snatched away and precarity has been normalised. Fascism has crept back into the centre and apocalyptic climate change is on the immediate horizon. Yet across the globe, people are rising up to disrupt capital’s stranglehold upon our lives. Feminist, anti-racist and anti-fascist struggles play a crucial role. How can we on the left use the knowledge from movements past and present to build the commons where we are? How can we strike beyond paid labour into the realms of unpaid and precarious work to block the flow of capital everywhere? How can we link up our struggles and create new ideas, tools, and resources to build the counter-power we need to win? We have identified the commons as key to this process, but what do we mean by this term?
Our panellists Liz Fekete and Seth Wheeler will open the festival with chair Camille Barbagallo, discussing all of this and more in relation to the current moment. Examples of work and research on the commons contributed by Silvia Federici and Stavros Stavrides specifically for this plenary will be also included in the presentations.
Silvia Federici is a long time activist, teacher and writer. She is the author of many essays on political philosophy, feminist theory, cultural studies, and education. Her published works include Revolution at Point Zero (2012); A Thousand Flowers: Social Struggles Against Structural Adjustment in African Universities (2000, co-editor); Enduring Western Civilization: The Construction of Western Civilization and its “Others” (1994 editor); and Caliban and the Witch, which has been translated and published in many languages. Her most recent work, Witches, Witch-hunting and Women (PM Press) will be out Spring 2018. Federici is Emerita Professor of Political Philosophy and International Studies at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Liz Fekete is director of the Institute of Race Relations and head of its European research programme. She writes and speaks extensively on aspects of contemporary racism, refugee rights, far-right extremism and Islamophobia across Europe and is author of A suitable enemy: racism, migration and Islamophobia in Europe and Europe’s Fault Lines: Racism and the Right in Europe (Verso, forthcoming) Liz was part of the CARF Collective, and an expert witness at the Basso Permanent People’s Tribunal on asylum and the World Tribunal on Iraq. She is currently an associate of the International State Crime Initiative at King’s College London.
Stavros Stavrides, architect and activist, is associate professor at the School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens Greece, where he teaches graduate courses on housing design (including social housing), as well as a postgraduate course on the meaning of metropolitan experience. He has published numerous articles on spatial theory. His books: The Symbolic Relation to Space (1990), Advertising and the Meaning of Space (1996), The Texture of Things (with E. Cotsou, 1996) From the City-Screen to the City-Stage (2002, National Book Award), Suspended Spaces of Alterity (2010), Towards the City of Thresholds (in English, 2010, in Spanish and Turkish 2016) and Common Space (in English, 2016). His research is currently focused on forms of emancipating spatial practices and spaces of commoning.
Seth Wheeler is a member of Plan C, its Social Strike cluster, and a participant within the Transnational Social Strike platform. He is currently employed in the NHS where he provides administrative support for medical staff and patients. He is an advocate of working class autonomy both within the left and wider society.