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Wednesday -- 3.5.14 -- Barter / Solidarity Economies -- Week 14

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Wednesday -- 3.5.14 -- Barter / Solidarity Economies -- Week 14

0. About Wednesday
1. Suggestions for Wednesday
2. A short letter for fellow Commoners

0. About Wednesday' Common(s) Course

What: Common(s) Course Meeting / Conversation
When: Wednesday, March 5 (from 5:00 to 7:00)
Where: CUNY Graduate Center (365 5th Ave @ 34th st), Room 6107 (6th floor)
Who: Free and open to all

We would like to invite you to the continuation of the common(s) course
this coming Wednesday by looking at barter and solidarity economies.

Solidarity economies often arise spontaneously in the context of
capitalist crises to fulfill basic needs for human survival.

And they often manifest longstanding modes of economic being and sociality
that have never been fully colonized by capitalist relations. What
potential is there to amplify these solidarities in specifically
anti-capitalist directions? to reclaim and repurpose existing resources
from within the clutches of capital?

So we begin the year with barter, not as an inconvenient precursor to gold
or silver, as Adam Smith would have it, but as an experiment to withdraw
from the community of money. To withdraw our energies, resources, desires,
labors. To transform mental conceptions and enact practices to deepen the
human values sustaining everyday life.

1. Suggested Readings for Wednesday

"'Other Economies Are Possible!': Building a Solidarity Economy"
Daniel Miller

"Crisis and Opportunity: The Emerging Solidarity Economy Movement" Emily
in Solidarity Economy I: Building Alternatives for People and Planet

"Women, Feminism, and the Solidarity Economy"
Julie Matthaei
in Solidarity Economy I: Building Alternatives for People and Planet

2. A short letter for drifting commoners

Dear friends, longtime contributors of 16 beaver, drifting commoners,

We are two months into 2014.

Global upheaval and resistance against the conditions of everyday life
subjected to the tyranny of those who govern for and through the social
power bestowed to/by money does not stop. Nor do the violent forces of the
various interests who vie for that power.

The impacts of that extreme social power of money can not only be felt in
the rhythms and emotional conditions of everyday life, but also on the
rhythms and climate on the planet itself.

The difficulty is to understand after the experiences of these upheavals
and explosions of disruption and revolt, what can come after. Especially
when what comes to greet these struggles is a blatant and brutal
militarized police force and/or more of the same, in different clothes,
with different rhetoric, same agenda, same imperial ambitions resting

From the moment of initiating the common(s) course, we have seen it as a
proposal for a potential institution of the common(s).

-- One that actively takes to task the violent force money plays in
determining the course of life on the planet but also seeks to understand
what kinds of relations and institutions could serve a common life when
not based on the social relations of money.

-- One that confronts the limitations of the categories of public and
private (even of those who today revolt against the existing distributions
of power)

As an institution of the common(s), we mean this course to be a modest
proposal for something that can help cultivate and support debates and
thinking and doing substantive work for/toward a horizon of common(s) -
creating a place for analysis, conversations, disagreements, trials,
failures, experiences, experiments, commoning.

One intuition is that without active effort and time in our everyday life,
to really thinking and cultivate consciously this space of the common(s),
these practices of commoning (which are everyday producing the parts of
life that are livable) stand to dissipate or remain to be captured by
existing logics and corrupted institutions.

We have tried to see this common(s) course as a process of creating a
conjunctive time-space for bringing people together who do not share
necessarily the same language. But also conjunctive in relation to
practices with theories, practices with practices, ...

We also have never seen the 'course' as only the place of study, but
understood 'course' as paths, as itineraries, as series, and so we also
hope that in development of the common(s) course, we can elaborate and
begin to experiment with the forms it may take.

We would like to encourage other friends who are further afield to start
their own time-space of common(s) and if already doing so to connect to

Last but not least, we want to write in the simplest of words and we may
elaborate this later. But in the midst of some of these unprecedented
political and ecological shifts, we believe that spaces devoted to
culture, to art, to political thought, to radical reimagining of our
shared world cannot simply continue as if everything is normal.

And this shift cannot simply be just a changing of the content of what is
"programmed." These shifts do not call for new curricula, they call for a
concerted dedication to changing the way we do things, the places we do
them in, and the active creation of infrastructures which undermine and
withdraw from those that currently capture, fortify against, and
deteriorate the common(s). The logics of debt, of money power and the
racism and patriarchy that rest behind them must be undermined and the
necessity to understand in which spaces these kinds of commoning processes
may take place are to be discovered/nurtured/cared for.

Our's is a modest proposal, we understand that bolder actions will be
needed and experiences undertaken.

Life under contemporary capitalism is a life of generalized
excommunication. As a friend recently said, even the capitalists
themselves - those who live by the coda that what is real and realistic
and sustainable must submit to and be measured firstly and lastly by its
viability in monetary terms - have been excommunicated, denied from the
common life.

There is no one that can re-structure that common life but the commoners.

Contrary to what even some comrades have written, the occupation of wall
street and the struggles across the planet are not simply struggles
against austerity politics or reform of the state. Surely there were some
or many who have taken part on those terms. But our sense and through our
discussions on a near weekly basis with many friends and wayward drifters
for 15 years says that there is a much more profound rejection in these
struggles over the existing distribution of powers and institutions and
logics which cannot be reduced to any single remedy or cause (surely not
austerity politics).

We have to stop this letter abruptly...

There is no single prescription from us. Only the clarity that what we do
not want to do (in our efforts to bring people together) is to produce
additional dates on a full cultural calendar ...

... which (often unwittingly) work in collusion with existing
distributions of power to continue the charade of business as usual and to
treat one of the most genuine and exhilarating politicization of
multitudes globally, including the experiences of occupy, as just another
media event. Surely those who commit their lives to keeping things as they
are would like everyone to believe that.

But what about the rest of us

As Ms. Stein pointed out, if we know it's a question, why do we need the
question mark.

Warmly, coldly, lovingly not any ones but every ones,

16 Beaver Group
16 Beaver Street, 4th fl.
New York, NY 10004

for directions/subscriptions/info visit:

4,5 -- Bowling Green
2,3 -- Wall Street
J,Z -- Broad Street
R -- Whitehall
1 -- South Ferry

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