That’s why they call me Mr. Farenheit: On the accelerations of Yanis Varoufakis, from the journal of a colleague (for a day)

Glowing like neon, with Yanis Varoufakis at the Officine Corsare on March 17, 2016.

Officine Corsare, Turin, 11pm. I am sitting next to Yanis Varoufakis, whispering in his ear as I translate the speeches being made in a debate on democracy in Europe. He listens intently, and occasionally leans against the chair to reveal, from the leg of his trousers, a dark leather boot. Shortly before, as we were walking to the debate, it was the length – down to the calves – of his elegant coat that caught my eye. That too, black. ‘He’s like Neo’ – I think to myself, as I conjure in my mind that famous scene from The Matrix. Where the protagonist intuits the malleable matrix of reality, after he surprises himself dodging the bullets fired at him by agent Smith – the trajectory of which he is unexpectedly capable of following in slow motion.

But Varoufakis has more in common with Neo than his punk-themed elegance. The Greek economist – who was in Turin on March 17, 2016 to receive a honorary professorial appointment at the International University College of Turin [where I was lecturing at the time] – has a certain promethean aura about himself, not unlike the hero of The Matrix. It’s a boldness that comes with facing an obscure and oppressing computational order, and coming out at the other end with a burning truth to share with humanity:  that of mankind’s enduring collective power to bring into being alternative visions of the possible. Read more

«The City as a Commons» conference in Bologna. Or: phenomenological flânerie as urban commoning pedagogy? (part two)

Originally published on the Schumacher College Blog on January 15, 2016.

The first day in Bologna ended with a conversation between David Bollier (an independent scholar, and co-editor, with Silke Helfrich, of «The Wealth of the Commons» and «Patterns of Commoning») and Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation, which bore a distinctively «strategic» flavour. Specifically, they grappled with the tension between the commons as infrastructures that ensure open cooperation – i.e. productive coordination between an open set of contributors/users, as opposed to a fixed constituency – and the need to ensure that the value generated through such a process of mutuality does not end up being harvested by capitalist firms, Read more

How to describe the moving of Transition?


Originally published in Transition Consciousness on May 1, 2015.

Towards the end of 2013, I spent four months in Totnes, seeking to know more about Transition. Like many academics who have studied the Transition movement, I, too, came to Devon having already devoted many months to reading about it, working my way up from Rob Hopkins’ The Transition Handbook. When I came to Totnes, therefore, I thought I had a few certainties about Transition Read more

The Financialisation of Human Dignity

Originally published on Shifting Grounds on February 13, 2014

The new family migration rules enacted by the Coalition government have become infamous for curtailing the right of British passport holders (let’s treat this designation for what it is: one based on holding a piece of paper) to bring their non-EU spouse – and, potentially, children – with them, unless they earn more than a minimum income threshold Read more

The Dehumanising Impact of Immigration Policy

Originally published on Shifting Grounds on January 10, 2014

In an interview with the Guardian, the home secretary Theresa May defines an ‘illegal’ immigrant as someone that has ‘no right to be in the UK’. Denying someone the ‘right to be in the UK’ may mean two things. It is, first of all, a denial of the right of entry (to be in the UK) to people variously defined as ‘outsiders’, despite any affinity or relationship that may be drawing them to these shores. On a more disturbing level, however, it also means – for someone that actually finds him or herself on these islands – the denial of the right to be. Read more

Folk Economics are Obscuring the Immigration Debate

Originally published on Shifting Grounds on December 4, 2013.

It’s Saturday morning, and I am flipping through the pages of a tired copy of the Guardian I found on a table. As I skim through it, I end up in the letters section, which today bears the title ‘Difficult decisions on immigration’.  There, I am met with the views of what Nigel Farage would probably dub ‘decent, sensible’ people, grappling with folk economics to justify measures to restrict immigration. Read more

“The Seven Basic Plots”. The key is in how you react to it.

In a hefty tome that has gone through a head-spinning twenty reprints (as of 2011), Christopher Booker brings home one important message: To carry a story through to successful resolution is no easy task.

At heart, Booker’s magnum opus is an attempt to unearth the basic affective categories through which human beings parse the world for meaning. And he goes scavenging for them in the plots of the stories we tell. In the process, he ends up with seven cardinal structures that illustrate the dynamic interplay between the basic moral modes of apprehending the world. The orderly, rational properties that belong to the affective realm of the masculine and of the Father need to be complemented with the sense of relatedness and the attitude of selflessness that stems from the feminine and the Mother. Read more

Where Art Meets Occupy

So we find ourselves, our ways of telling unbalanced, trapped inside a runaway narrative, headed for the worst kind of encounter with reality. In such a moment, writers, artists, poets and storytellers of all kinds have a critical role to play. Creativity remains the most uncontrollable of human forces: without it, the project of civilisation is inconceivable, yet no part of life remains so untamed and undomesticated. Words and images can change minds, hearts, even the course of history. Their makers shape the stories people carry through their lives, unearth old ones and breathe them back to life, add new twists, point to unexpected endings. It is time to pick up the threads and make the stories new, as they must always be made new, starting from where we are.

Source: Uncivilisation – The Dark Mountain Manifesto

It was whilst reading this paragraph, that I had one of those moments when two things I had put into separate boxes suddenly click, and come back with a new, enticing twist. Read more