Saturday, June 16, 2012


Theoretical weekends at Scission is known for LONG POSTS, and today will be no different.  I'll be reading this one with you.  It looks interesting.

The following is taken from The Free Association.

When two sevens clash: punk and autonomia

September 2001

Presented by Keir at No Future conference, September 2001.
“Germany got Bader-Meinhof,” went the 1978 poster by the punk band Crass “England got punk.” (Savage, 1991 p.481). But perhaps it should have read: Italy got Autonomia. After all 1977 was a year in which sections of youth in both England and Italy enjoyed explosions of creativity. In Germany it was a year of repression and the closing up of political space. This contemporaneity triggers questions about potential similarities between the Italian movement of ’77 and the emergence of punk rock in Britain but it also masks real differences. Punk’s emergence at the heart of the Anglo-American music industry ensured the rapid dissemination of its innovations and a widespread and enduring influence. The Autonomia movement’s roots however lay in a much more heated and sophisticated political environment. The Italian Communist Party (PCI) of the 1970s was the largest outside the Communist block and had a sphere of influence in the country way beyond the ranks of its members. Through the influence of the writings of Antonio Gramsci, it had developed a relatively sophisticated political culture. The development of autonomist thought out of and against this culture led to a “thorough rethinking of Marxist theory and the more systematic creation of new theoretical paradigms” (De Angelis, 1993). This highly theorised movement developed a far-reaching analysis of the autonomous struggles that came to the fore in the sixties. It’s also interesting to note the foundational role that orthodox Italian Marxism had on the development of Cultural Studies as a discipline. In particular the influence that Antonio Gramsci’s ideas on the autonomy of the political had on the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. A legacy that is still discernable today. A politics developed in and against this influential political culture has the potential to be of more than incidental interest. By applying the autonomist categories to punk rock I want to bring out the connections and continuities between struggles in the political, economic and cultural spheres. In fact more than that I want to show how social struggles have pushed theory to dissolve firm boundaries between these categories. I also think that autonomist theory can help us avoid the twin traps of the uncritical celebration of popular culture that cultural studies sometimes falls into and the resistance is futile, everything is always already recuperated line into which critical theory and post-Situationist thought sometimes slips.

Italy: The movement of '77
Central to the autonomist tradition is the idea of Marxism [1] as a critique immanent to capitalism. Attempting a thorough going materialism it has tried to avoid appeals to transcendent ideas. In this sense autonomist Marxism is a philosophy of pragmatics. It’s a reading of Marx that:
“Self-consciously and unilaterally structures its approach to determine the meaning and relevance of every concept to the immediate development of working class struggle. It … eschews all detached interpretation and abstract theorising in favour of grasping concepts only within the concrete totality of struggle whose determinations they designate.” (Cleaver, 2000 p. 30)
As Kenneth Surin (1996 p.181) aphorises, “The ‘relevance’ of Marxism is derived from struggle.” To this end it is important to link autonomist ideas to the struggles within which they developed.
The history of political and social struggles in Italy during the 1960s and 1970s is not well known or documented in the English speaking world – despite their size, intensity and duration. “Some like to say that whereas 1968 lasted only a few months in France, in Italy it extended over ten years.” (Hardt, Vianno, 1996 p.2). Unlike the rest of Europe the movement didn’t slip back after the explosion of 1968 but heightened with the university and workplace occupations of ‘the hot autumn’ of 1969. In the early 1970s there was an outbreak of struggles autonomous from the trade unions and the vanguard groups both in the factories, with an iconic occupation of Fiat in March 1973, and outside the workplace with housing occupations and the self-reduction of utility prices. These struggles along, with the emergence of the women’s movement, caused a crisis amongst the Marxist Leninist New Left groups who had become hegemonic in the movement after 1968. This crisis provoked some of the groups to dissolve their organisations. Most famous amongst these was the group Potere Operaio (Workers Power), whose leading intellectuals included Toni Negri. What followed was known as autonomia or the “area of autonomy;” a loose collection of usually local groups with diverging views but a common commitment to autonomous struggles and the ideas of Operaismo (Berardi 1980). When a new movement erupted on a massive scale in and around the universities in 1977 the autonomists were hugely influential within it. The high point of the movement of ’77 was in March when for a few days the movement fought over and occupied large parts of both Rome and Bologna. (Red Notes 1979). For a moment autonomist ideas and practice became hegemonic within the Italian extra-parliamentary left, however it wasn’t to last. The repression that followed through the late seventies and early eighties was unprecedented in the recent history of Western Europe. There were mass arrests, most famously the April 7th arrests of nine intellectuals including Toni Negri. According to Negri (1988 p.252) there were 3000 militants in special prisons by 1980. This was accompanied by a rising toll of people shot dead by the police, a practice legalised by the Legge Reale law. Crushed between the violence of the state and the violence of the Red Brigades, the space the movement had created was closed amidst a legacy of detention, mental illness and heroin addiction.
The roots of autonomist theory lie in the crisis that developed within the politics of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). A crisis, which was, provoked both internationally, and domestically. Stalin’s tanks rolling into revolutionary Hungary in 1956 provoked a collapse of belief in Stalinism the world over. In Italy Palmiro Toggliatti’s ultra reformist leadership of the PCI compounded this. His prioritising of electoralism became increasingly dissonant with increasing worker militancy in the 1950s and 1960s. (Lumley, 1990). A dissonance symbolised by the storming in 1962 of a Social Democratic union office in the Piazza Stauto by striking Fiat workers (Red Notes, 1979). As the struggles slipped out of the PCI and PSI’s control and understanding, intellectuals around the two parties started to shift their thinking in an attempt to theorise the new autonomous struggles. This thinking eventually solidified into a current known as Operaismo (literally workerism) based around the reviews Quaderni Rossi (Red notebooks) and later Classe Operaia (Working class). The principal theorists were Raniero Panzieri, Mario Tronti, Romano Alquati and Antonio Negri. They were influenced not only by this militancy against the ICP compact but also by a similar rethinking of Marxism being undertaken by the Johnson Forest tendency in America [2] and Socialisme ou Barbarie in France (Wright, 2001).
The concepts of Operaismo, later developed by autonomia, are organised around the central idea of workers autonomy. That is the potential autonomy of labour from capital and an emphasis on “dal punto di vista operaio” (the working class point of view). The orthodox Marxism that Operaismo was theorising against was seen as emphasising the power of capital and taking at face value the inevitable unfolding of its laws. Operaismo, in what Yves Moulier calls a “Copernican inversion” (Dyer-Witherford, 1999 p.65), asserts the primacy of struggle and recasts capital in a reactive role. As Mario Tronti puts it:
“We too have worked with a concept that puts capitalist development first and the workers second, and this is a mistake. Now we have to turn the problem on its head… and start again from the beginning: and the beginning is the class struggle of the working class. At the level of socially developed capital, capitalist development follows hard behind the struggles” (Lumley, 1990 p.37)
Inherent in an emphasis on the autonomy of labour is the danger of seeing capital as external. One of Marx’s fundamental insights is the view of capital as a social relation that contains labour within it. As Marx characterises workers:
“Their co-operation only begins with the labour process, but by then they have ceased to belong to themselves. On entering the labour process they are incorporated into capital. As co-operators, as members of a working organism, they merely form a particular mode of existence of capital. Hence the productive power developed by the worker socially is the productive power of capital.” (Marx, 1976 p451)
For Marx capital is reliant on the expenditure of labour power to valorise itself. What lies under capitalist development is the social production of co-operative labour. However to trigger co-operative production capital must bring together large numbers of workers (Marx, 1976), which “inevitably creates the conditions in which workers can establish a social unity that is in fundamental opposition to capital” (Surin, 1996 p.197). Labour can never be totally autonomous from capital but through its constant insubordination it tries to affirm itself as independent. Conversely capital constantly tries to reduce the working class to mere labour power (Negri, 1991). For Operaismo this forms the fundamental cycle of class composition. Labour’s autonomous struggles provokes capital to restructure the production process and the division of labour in order to reassert its command. This in turn leads to the development of new antagonistic subjectivities, a recomposition of the working class based on the new productive relations. The only possibility of exiting this cycle is the structural imbalance of the relationship; while capital needs labour, labour doesn’t need capital. Instead of the familiar view of capitalism as confident and monolithic, we are left with a picture of an unsteady capitalism constantly forced to recompose itself in attempt to co-opt, channel and cap the creative unrest of human labour. (Negri, 1991)
For Operaismo working class insubordination is the driving force of capitalist development. Not only is the ingenuity and creativity of social labour the wellspring of capitalist production, but also capital’s restructuring is a response to labours constant attempts to escape capital’s discipline.
“The history of capitalist forms is always necessarily a reactive history: left to its own devices capital would never abandon a regime of profit. In other words, capitalism undergoes systemic transformation only when it is forced to and when its current regime is no longer tenable” (Hardt, Negri, 2000 p.268)
Autonomists like Negri see working class struggles and the development of new antagonistic subjectivities prefiguring the future developments in capital. “The Proletariat actually invents the social and productive forms that capital will be forced to adopt in the future” (Hardt, Negri, 2000 p. 268). Restructuring is of course closely linked to technological change. “As our friend Marx says, machines rush to where there are strikes.” (Negri 1988 P.206). It was the violent refusal of technological restructuring in the post war period by the Italian Industrial working class that led the originators of Operaismo to examine capital’s use of technology as a means of social control and domination. It was the PCI’s backing for this restructuring, coupled with their inability to see the possibility of the valorisation of working class needs outside the logic of capitalism which led workers struggles to develop autonomously of the party and led many theorists of Operaismo away from it (Wright, 2001).
Alongside the refusal of restructuring there developed a series of struggles that came to be theorised as the refusal of work. This was a theorising of the autonomous struggles that arose in the great northern factories in the form of strikes, sabotage and work slow downs, as well as more day-to-day struggles to avoid the reduction of life to work. Epitomised by the prominent slogan of the time: “Less work, more pay.” By the 1970s this term had also come to encompass a more general refusal by youth to accept the discipline of the factory. Leading to a generation with only an episodic relationship to work. (Negri, 1979) The new “social subjects” were both met and partly formed by a recomposition of capital involving the expansion of unemployment and the undermining of the mass Fordist worker. There were the beginnings of a decomposition of the old bastions of working class power. The mass workplaces were to be broken up, work was to be subcontracted out or relocated to the newly industrialising countries. Theorised as the diffuse factory this trend was in its infancy in 1970s Italy but has been massively expanded since. Presciently Tronti had prefigured this tendency (1980) in the 1960s with his analysis of the social factory. Moving away from the traditional Marxist focus on the point of production, Tronti showed how the whole of society increasingly functioned as a moment of production. His analysis of how areas of life outside the workplace were subject to disciplines traceable back to the needs of capital has only been confirmed as more and more of life has been brought under overtly capitalist social relations. Negri (2000), amongst others, has talk of this as the move from the formal to the real subsumption of labour under capital. The latter being a properly capitalist mode of production where there is no outside to capital. However instead of the pessimistic conclusions drawn by adherents to Critical Theory this tendency is seen as spreading the points of contestation throughout society. Culture then becomes an important sphere of struggle and is confirmed as a site crucial to production. The rapidly developing women’s movement in Italy elaborated this concept with an analysis of the unpaid work women did in reproducing labour. This led to the demand “wages for housework” but also to an expansion of the term working class to included not just the industrial workforce but also all those who contributed to the movement against capital. This reflects the move in autonomist theory away from its early privileging of the struggles of the factory working class to recognition of the autonomy of different sectors.
The new social subjects that came to the fore in the movement of 1977, the precarious workers, the students, the marginalised, those without the traditional point of collectivity in the mass factories, had to find new expressions of their collectivity. They had to recompose in denial of their material conditions (Negri, 1979). For instance, it wasn’t just students that occupied the universities but also those who had nowhere else to physically assemble. Another important point of deterritorialised collectivity was the proliferation of free radios. Radio Alice was used as an open mike to inform demonstrators of police movements during the intense fighting of February and March in Bologna. However this was merely the high point of a collectivity based around Radio Alice’s reflection of the ‘mao-dada’ sensibilities of the new subjectivities.
“The key to this new outlook was the affirmation of the movement as an ‘alternative society’, with its own richness of communication, free productive creativity, its own life force. To conquer and to control its own “social spaces” – this becomes the dominant form of struggle of the new ‘social subjects’”. (Negri, 1988 p.236)
The rejection of factory discipline was accompanied by the desire for the direct satisfaction of needs and the development of new collective desires. There was a huge expansion in squatted housing and the generalising of the tactic of self-reducing prices. This had started as a union tactic in the early 70s and had been generalised as a way of life by groups dubbed the Metropolitan Indians by the press (Berardi, 1980). They were so called because of their use of American Indian imagery; painted faces, feathers in their hair and the adoption of names like Tomahawk and Apache. These were the most visible wings of an area collectively termed creative autonomy, part of a more general explosion of creativity and experimentation in new ways of living. The Metropolitan Indians:
“habitually break into shops and appropriate useless goods…. they also frequently appear at the most elegant movie theatres in groups of about thirty people, naturally after visiting the most expensive restaurants where they obviously didn’t pay” (Torealta, 1980 p.102).
This lifestyle rested on a more general breakdown of capitalist discipline where the paying of ‘political prices’ for essential services and goods and even the ‘proletarian shopping’ of mass looting became widespread. Alongside this was the development of a counterculture recognisably similar to that which had developed in the US and Britain during the previous decade. Its development in Italy had been hindered by the intensely political nature of the struggles of 1968-9. However by the mid 1970s there were huge battles over the level of commodification of this culture. Autonomists organised to tear down fences around pop festivals (Berardi, 1980). There was also a widespread rejection of party discipline and the self-sacrificial role of the militant. This “turn to the personal” was inspired by the women’s movement and led to Lotta Continua, the largest organisation to the left of the communist party dissolving itself in a dramatic conference in 1976 (Berardi 1980). The most iconic moment in this rejection was the expulsion of Luciano Lama, the communist union leader from the occupied Rome University on 17 February 1977. Sent by the ICP to dissipate the occupation Lama was met with an ironic sensibility that highlighted the distance between the two political cultures.
“In the large open area of the campus where he was to speak, Lama found another platform rigged up, with a dummy of himself on it (complete with his famous pipe). There was a big red cut-out of a valentine’s heart, with a slogan punning his name – “Nessuno L’ama” (Lama nobody… or nobody loves him). Around this platform there was a band of Metropolitan Indians. As Lama started to speak they began chanting: “Sacrifices, sacrifices, we want sacrifices!”… “We demand to work harder and earn less!” (Lotringer, Marazzi, (eds) 1980 p.101)
These expressions of creativity and development of new subjectivities were theorised by the movement as positive constitutive struggles, the flip side to the more destructive and disrupted strategies of the refusal of work. In the time and space reclaimed by the refusal of work there were creative attempts at new ways of being. This linking of the self-valorisation of working class needs with the destructuration of capitalist command was a theorising of the break with the PCI and reformist thinking. As Negri puts it: “Valorisation for reformism is univocal: there is only capitalist valorisation” (Negri, 1979 p.112). The satisfaction of working class needs within the limits of capitalist valorisation had already been rejected in autonomous struggles against capitalist restructuring.
The term self-valorisation (selbstverwertung) was used by Marx to describe the way value adds value to itself (Marx, 1972 p.255). In a moment of inversion Negri (1991) applies that term to the working class point of view to indicate struggles autonomous from capitalist valorisation. “The self-valorisation of the proletarian subject contrary to capitalist valorisation, takes the form of auto-determination in its development” (Negri, 1991 p.162). This is intimately linked to the rejection of capitalist command: “if capitalism is successful in converting all of life into work there is no space or time or energy for self-valorisation” (Cleaver, 1992a P.130). Projects of self-valorisation should be seen as experiments in new ways of living, so that although they are in no way pure and often recomposed by capital through strategies of commodification, incorporation or outright repression they push forward boundaries and provide the basis of future experiments in self-valorisation (Cleaver, 1992a).
For Negri these experiments are the basis of communism. A view of communism that reconnects to the Marx of the German Ideology:
“Communism is not for us a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things” (Cleaver, 1992b n.15).
This visualisation of communism isn’t the construction of a unified social project traditional in the socialist imagination. Instead communism is something that is continually launched by new forms of self-valorisation, new “lines of flight” out of capitalism. Communism is as Cleaver puts it: “the realisation of ‘multilaterally’ of the proletarian subject, or, better, of a subject which in its self-realisation explodes into multiple autonomous subjects.” (Cleaver, 1992a P.130)
Punk as self-valorisation
Taken a-historically the Italian movement of mass occupations, demonstrations and riots doesn’t have many surface similarities with the development of punk rock in the UK. There is some resemblance between punk and the Metropolitan Indians but the history of the two countries developed quite separately. At the time Italy was treated as exceptional, particularly the longevity of the movement (Hardt, Vianno, 1996) There doesn’t seem to be any direct circulation of influence between the two movements, at least not until the eighties when punk and autonomist influence fused in many countries, most influentially in the Dutch squatters movement and the German Autonomes. In Italy punk was an influence only when its popularity and use as a point of unity helped restart a movement grounded in autonomist ideas based around the Centri Social, “self managed, occupied social centres” in the early eighties. (Wright, 2000) However for both countries and international capitalism as a whole the mid seventies were a time of dramatic change. The oil crisis of 1973 signalled the beginnings of the end for post-war settlement. The first shoots of a restructuring of capitalism, which would undermine Keynesian policies based on harnessing old forms of working class power.
Punk was a media aware, self-conscious and self-mythologising movement from its birth. Trying to disentangle the story and meaning of such a complex and varied set of experiences is only complicated because our experience of it now is so mediated. The Autonomia movement was just as complex and given the lack of English language history it is possible to outline the bare bones of the story in only the most general and provisional manner. Punk’s over-analysed status, if anything, makes it more difficult to give a definitive portrayal. Recent writings about punk (Sabine, 1999) have tended to further problematise this situation by asserting that the most ‘part time’ punks experience was just as authentic and valid an experience of punk as John Lydon’s. Of course there are many ‘lines of flight’ from punk. However if we return to autonomist theory being one of pragmatics, the ultimate resort is not to a claim of authenticity but to one of efficacy.
One of the useful aspects of looking at punk as a moment of self-valorisation is to bring out the continuities amongst struggles that might not be apparent. A persistent but contentious question has been whether punk was a reaction against or a continuation of, the cycle of struggles of the sixties. Of course this comes down to how you interpret the sixties. Autonomists have interpreted them as the development of needs and desires that went beyond those that could be provided by the post war settlement. As Negri and Hardt say:
“‘Dropping out’ is really a poor conception of what was going on in Haight Ashbury and across the United States in the 1960s. The two essential operations were the refusal of the disciplinary regime and the experimentation with new forms of productivity.” (Hardt, Negri, 2000 p274)
These struggles disrupted the post-war regimes of discipline, refusing the mass factory and nuclear family structures and favouring the sort of immaterial and mobile productivity that was taken up in distorted form as the new productive paradigm for capitalism.
Jamie Reid’s famous slogan “Never trust a hippy” was aimed first and foremost at Richard Branson (Reid, Savage, 1987) but it did sum up a generational anti-hippy feeling. As sixties veteran Caroline Coon says:
“I hadn’t expected to see the idealism of my generation denigrated with such aggressive negativity, When these boys were slagging off hippies, I realized they had grown up reading about hippies in the tabloid press, and what they were doing was spouting “the shock and the filth” of the hippies. So I said ‘ The gutter press did to the hippies what they going to do to you’” (Savage, 1991 p.231)
However punk was a continuation of many of the sixties ideas and themes in an anti sixties form. What punk was reacting against was the recuperation of the sixties struggles. It was the continuation of 60s counter cultural ideas in the form of nihilism against that media creation: hippy. What punks tended to object to in hippy were the fakes, the falseness and totalitarian niceness that hippy had been reduced to; symbolised perhaps by the yellow smiley face logo. On Jamie Reid’s poster for American punk band the Dead Kennedy’s record “California Uber Alles” the smiley face is portrayed as masking the threat of a laid back Californian style of Fascism. This seems iconic of a certain theme in punk, the assertion of social realism against the superficiality of the smiley face. This was after all a time when the recomposition of capital was making the smug self-satisfaction of recuperated hippy unsustainable.
The form this reaction took was a nihilistic rage against the failings of the previous generation. The rejection of hippy can be seen in the earliest manifestations of punk around the club CBGB’s in New York. Stylistically represented by short spiky hair and straight trousers, ‘like trouser like mind’ as Joe Strummer said (Sabine, 1999 p.6), but also by a stylised urbanism, violence and unpleasantness. This rejection of hippy certainly wasn’t alien to the sixties counterculture. The San Francisco Diggers staged its mock funeral in 1967, proclaiming “the death of hippie, devoted son of the mass media” (Lee, Shlain, 1985 p.191). However in the CBGB’s scene the negation of hippy sometimes slipped in to reactionary and even racist postures (Bangs, 1990).
In London there were a group of people gathered around the Sex Pistols who were still enthused by the libertarian spirit of May 1968. Arguably it took this reconnection of punk to its more radical predecessors to bring out the revolutionary potential in punk. The influence of Situationist ideas is usually traced through Malcolm McLaren and Jamie Reid’s association with the group King Mob in the early 1970s (Savage, 1990). King Mob contained members who had been expelled from the Situationist International for being too influenced by the “street gang with an analysis” (Vague, 1997 p.130) Black Mask Group, later called Up Against the Wall Motherfucker. Congregating around the Sex Pistols were others influenced by the sixties: Sophie Richmond had been involved in the Situationist magazine and printing press Suburban press with Jamie Reid but she had also previously been involved with the libertarian socialist group Solidarity. Others include Bernie Rhodes the Clash’s manager, John Tiberi the Sex Pistols Road manager and Fred Vermorel, friend of McLaren’s and publisher of the pro-Situationist magazine International Vandalism. Vermorel later said of the situation:
“The whole Pistols thing was basically a Marxist conspiracy, which sounds ridiculous but that’s what it was. You had Jamie Reid, Sophie Richmond and Malcolm sitting around talking radical politics, about how to radicalise this and that, how far can we go with this and that.” (Vague, 1997 p.135)
The level of influence they had on the band is contentious but they clearly provided a milieu of ideas around punk when it was being created and songs were being written. The affinity between punk and the ideas circulating some years earlier in King Mob is clear. Practising an active nihilism, outrageous plans were mooted, including blowing up a waterfall in the Lake District as a protest against romanticism. Reflecting the attitude: “Better to be horrible than a pleasant altruistic hippy, as a kind of undialectical over-reaction to hippy.” (Wise, D. Wise, S. 1996 p. 66). This nihilism was also apparent in punk, as indicated by its name. In the early seventies Chris Gray a member of King Mob had circulated the idea of creating “a totally unpleasant pop group” (Wise, D. Wise, S. 1996 p. 67). He never got further than some graffiti proclaiming the Chris Gray Band but the idea was one of the many threads, which fed into the Sex Pistols. It was planned as a critique of consumerism, an expose of the rubbish capitalism will commodify, an unveiling of the workings of the music industry and a repudiation of its artistic pretensions. The idea’s influence can be seen in McLaren’s retrospective interpretation of punk as a swindle perpetrated on the music industry. The Pistols as the anti-Bay City Rollers, a playing back of the right wing press’s interpretation of punk, the media unwittingly creating its own worst nightmare (Savage, 1990).
Of course punk was more than just the machinations of a few manipulators. A group of suburban and inner city teenagers were already exploiting the gaps in pop culture to create their own style and way of life. The untutored genius of Johnny Rotten’s persona is one of those things that just cannot be planned. That’s the problem with the ‘punk as con’ narrative; the Sex Pistols were too good. Their critique was so strong it undermined all previously existing pop culture, including the position of political rock (Garnett, 1999). Greil Marcus argues that “the Sex pistols made a breach in … pop” (Marcus, 1989 p.3). By undermining the conventions of pop and rock the Sex Pistols opened up a huge liberating space. Musically, by refusing to learn to play their instruments properly, punk broke down the conventions that had straightjacketed musicians. By demystifying culture punk created a space for an explosion of self-activity. People were inspired to form their own bands, create their own fanzines or outfits or put on their own gigs. The legacy of the empowerment people felt is still with us. As Punk journalist Richard Boon says: “The threat posed by earlier punk was that intelligent young working class people would throw off the shackles of oppression! and step into history!” (Savage, 1991 p.397)
In this sense punk can be seen as a moment of self-valorisation analogous to the Metropolitan Indians in Italy. A powerful self-constituting experiment in new ways of being. Punk, through records, fanzines and gigs, can be seen as a point of deterritorialised unity amongst a constituency subject to the atomising effects of an increase in youth unemployment [3]. The ethos of ‘Do It Yourself’ entailed creativity outside the realm of work. This was a refusal of work applicable even to the unemployed. After all the work of the unemployed is to look for work and act as a downward pressure on waged workers demands. The point of unity provided by punk was shown most dramatically when the Sex Pistols record ‘God Save the Queen’ reached number one during the Queen’s Jubilee week. The fact that name of the record was famously blanked out of the charts listings is indicative of the important role it played in representing subjectivities excluded from official discourse.
One of the strengths of self-valorisation as a concept is its awareness of its own limits. If we take Marxism as an immanent critique of capitalism then its application to struggles that push beyond capitalism are limited. Projects of self-valorisation must be grasped in their own terms. What immanent Marxism can do is identify the scars that projects of self-valorisation bear from their birth within capitalism. As Harry Cleaver (1992 p.134) puts it:
“We craft autonomous environments and activities but we do so in spaces scarred by capitalist exploitation and with commodities and personalities at least partly shaped by the process of valorisation.”
When applied to punk this can help identify the scars of its birth in the music industry and clarify some of the directions it was pushing in that seem to lead beyond those limitations.
One of those scars upon which punk would founder was its inability to move beyond the rock band form. Part of the motivation for punk was the experience of sixties rock stars disappearing into stadiums and achieving demi-god status. Punk at its best contained a thrust towards breaking down the separation of band and audience. A line Greil Marcus (1990 p.240) traces back to Lautreamont’s demand for a “poetry made by all”. This line is identifiable in the early gigs when the audience was as important as the bands in creating the style and the attitude of punk. Indeed the audience one week could form bands and be playing the next week such was the cultural empowerment set off by punk. However unable to shed the form of bands, gigs and records the demands of the industry and capitalist valorisation gradually reasserted itself. From a feeling of bands being in it together as part of a movement there was already a creeping elitism by summer of 1976 as bands started jockeying for position in the queue for record company interest (Savage, 1991). Punk’s inability to escape the scars of its birth in the music industry resulted in it having a partial critique of capitalism. Unable to see clearly beyond its origins punk posited an opposition between Independent and Major record labels. Although Independents can provide valuable space and many not for profit record companies still do, 25 years of hard experience have shown small record companies to be subject to the same disciplines as larger ones. This is not to say that if only punks had been better Marxists they’d have found a solution to these contradictions. There are no pure self-valorisations. However the autonomist identification of these contradictions as rooted in capitalist discipline helps undermine the false line in the sand between Independent and Major that is still being drawn today.
The Sex Pistols position in the mediated belly of the beast was heightened to crisis point after their appearance on television with Bill Grundy. The space that had been opened up was narrowed by the dispersal of punk’s ideas through the mediated form of the tabloid story. Many of the complexities and contradictions of punk became flattened. But as Jon Savage comments:
“That point is reached when the mass media take over, a necessary process if that movement is to be pop. Within this transaction, simplicity is inevitably imposed on complex phenomena, but there is also a fresh burst of energy released with unpredictable, liberating results.” (Savage, 1991 p.278)
The Sex Pistols fought against the process of mediation by avoiding being pinned down, hiding their influences and dodging an easy identity but still the breach they had made was to some extent closed by 1979. However even in mediated form the message of punk was powerful enough to provoke a new wave of creativity that reached into even the smallest towns of the UK. After the destruction of the Sex Pistols and the co-optation of punk bands into the history of rock there remained enough space to provide new waves of self-valorisation.
Punk itself couldn’t have existed without the self-valorisations of the sixties. Both practically, widespread squatting in London was a material precondition of punk, but also conceptually. “While it may no longer have been ‘realistic’ to ‘demand the impossible’, the memory of having envisioned the impossible remained palpable. It was this that perhaps made the politics of punk possible” (Garnett, 1999 p.24). In turn the space and subjectivities developed in punk provided the basis for new struggles and self-valorisations. Of note amongst the second wave of punk bands were Crass. Who, by “making the first, and only, concerted attempt to work through the nihilist archetypes of the time” (Savage, 1991 p.481), created the subculture of Anarchopunk and helped form lines of dissent that lead directly into the anti-capitalist movement of recent years. Another trajectory might be traced through the post-punk of groups such as PiL, Cabaret Voltaire and 23 Skidoo into the Acid House and Rave culture of the late 1980s. Interestingly this line, that could be seen as a step away from overt political engagement, merged back with descendents of anarchopunk during the cycle of struggles in the mid-90s which led from the free party movement, through the protests against the Criminal Justice Act into Reclaim the Streets. Of course we shouldn’t impute some teleological inevitability to all this. A line can also be drawn from the nihilism of punks negation of hippy through right wing punk bands to neo-Nazi white power rock scene of today (Sabine, 1999). The category of self-valorisation might not be so useful in analysing that trajectory.
Greil Marcus (1991 p.28) has said: “A lot of the people in cultural studies these days kind of remind me of the FBI in the fifties: They find subversion everywhere.” Well autonomist theory also finds subversion everywhere but it avoids the uncritical and unspecific idea of subversion to which I think Marcus is referring. By looking at punk as a moment of self-valorisation we can pay attention to the disciplines to which it is subjected by capitalism without seeing it as always already recuperated or co-opted. Instead the analysis concentrates on of the opening up and closing down of space for future experiments in self-valorisation. This fits with my own experience of the way that lines of cultural, social and political struggles have combined, flowed, separated and merged in the lives of my contemporaries and me. Punk and Autonomia were both born as reactions to and accelerations of the struggles of the 1960s. They were contemporaneous not just with each other but also with the start of the restructuring of capitalism, which would later become known as neo-liberalism. A development, which it could be argued, was itself a reaction to the struggles of the 1960s, which had undermined Fordist institutions. Perhaps this is the reason that the problematics posed by both punk and the movement of ’77 have proved such vital resources to those trying to pose alternatives to neo-liberal globalisation.
1. I use the term Marxism while recognising that certain theoretical moves within the autonomist tradition make this identification problematic. For instance Negri’s reading of Spinoza as a Pre Marx communist problematises the term Marxism. While some in the autonomist tradition have suggest that even the word communist is a “heavy identity” from which we should flee. (Viano, Binetti, (1996) P.252)
2. J.R. Johnson and F. Forest were the pseudonyms of C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya respectively.
3. “In June, (1976) unemployment reached 1,507,976, 6.4 per cent of the workforce, and the worst figure since 1940.” (Savage 1991 p.229)
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Binetti, V. Viano, M. (1996) ‘What is to done?: Marxism and academia’ in Casarino, C. Karl, R. Makdisi, S. (eds) (1996)
Berardi, F. (Bifo) (1980) ‘Anatomy of Autonomy’ in Lotringer, S. Marazzi, C. (eds) (1980)
Bologna, S. (1980) ‘The Tribe of Moles’ in Lotringer, S. Marazzi, C. (eds) (1980)
Bonefeld, W. Gunn, R. Psychopedis, K (eds) (1992) Open Marxism. London, Pluto.
Casarino, C. Karl, R. Makdisi, S. (eds) (1996) Marxism beyond Marxism. London, Routledge
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Cleaver , H. (1992b) Kropotkin, self-valorization and the crisis of Marxism. Available from:
Cleaver, H. (2000) Reading Capital Politically. Leeds, Anti-Thesis and AK press.
De Angelis, M (1993) An interview with Harry Cleaver. Available at:
Dyer-Witheford, N. (1999) Cyber-Marx. University of Illinois Press.
Garnett, R. (1999) ‘Too low to be low: Art Pop and the Sex Pistols’ in Sabine, R. (ed) (1999)
Hardt, M. Negri, A. (2000) Empire. London, Harvard University Press
Hardt, M. Virno, P. (1996) Radical thought in Italy. A potential politics. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota press.
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Lee, M. Shlain, B. (1985) Acid Dreams. New York, Grove Weidenfeld.
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Lumley, R. (1990) States of emergency, Cultures of revolt in Italy from 1968-1978. London, Verso.
Marcus, G. 1990) Lipstick Traces, a secret history of the twentieth century. 2. London, Picador.
Marcus, G. (1991) A Hunka’ Hunka’ Burnin’ Text: Greil Marcus on Dead Elvis and other Pop Icons. Lingua Franca 1.6 (1991) pp. 28-31
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Sabine, R. (ed) (1999) Punk rock: So what? London, Routledge.
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Reid, J. Savage, J. (1987) Up they rise, the incomplete works of Jamie Reid. London, Faber and Faber.
Red Notes (eds) (1979) Italy 1977-8. Living with an earthquake. London, Red Notes
Vague, T. (1994) The Great British Mistake, Vague 1977-92. Edinburgh, AK Press.
Vague, T. (1997) Anarchy in the UK, The Angry Brigade. Edinburgh, AK Press.
Vermorel, F. Vermorel, J. (1978) Sex Pistols, the inside story. London, Omnibus.
Whitehead, P. (1985) The Writing on the Wall. 2. London, Michael Joseph.
Wise, D. Wise, S. (1996) ‘The End Of Music’ in Home S. (ed) (1996)
Wright, S. (2000) ‘A love born of hate, Autonomist rap in Italy’. Theory, Culture & Society, 17 (3) pp117-135
Wright, S. (2002) Storming Heaven, class composition and struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism. London, Pluto.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Make no mistake, Marissa Alexander is a political prisoner.  Maybe not you "normal" political prisoner, but any woman who uses a gun in self defense and ends up with twenty years in prison, well, you tell me.  When one adds to the fact the way her case was handled versus the way the Treyvon Martin case was handled in the same state and with the same prosecution, well, again, you tell me.

Again, Marissa Alexander, a mother of three, recently was sentenced 20 years for firing one shot in the direction of spouse Rico Gray.  Marissa, is also a person of color.

Marissa had never before been charged with anything, arrested for anything.  Her record was clean.

That shot, by the way, the one I described above as being fired in the direction of her hubby was actually more of a warning shot, fired into the ceiling.

U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville, has been an advocate for Alexander. Brown was present at the sentencing and she pointed out, 

The Florida criminal justice system has sent two clear messages today. One is that if women who are victims of domestic violence try to protect themselves, the `Stand Your Ground Law' will not apply to them. ... The second message is that if you are black, the system will treat you differently.

Marissa Alexander is a political prisoner.

Marissa, you may recall, had already gotten a restraining order against her estranged husband when she was threatened with physical harm by the dude.

Lavada Lindsey in a readers forum at Colorlines writes:

Really, people? She should have just let him attack her, right? The important detail is that no one was hurt… Why on earth would people think that she deserves 20 years for shooting at a ceiling… It’s called a warning shot… it did the trick, he left her alone. It was self defense, and rational… we should be grateful that she was able to leave unhurt and without hurting anyone else…

What about all of the women who leave abusive spouses only to be caught, beaten, killed, etc. … We are not supposed to stand up for ourselves? Now she’s in prison and he’s able to go on and abuse other women…

[…] No one was murdered in this case, she was immediately arrested and given 20 FREAKING YEARS!!!! Come on, it took Zimmerman over 40 days to be arrested and only because the public put pressure on the justice system to do something about it. And both cases happened in the state of Florida… It just goes to show that the law doesn’t get applied equally… I feel for this woman and her children.

Marissa Alexander a political prisoner, that is for damn sure, and she is the subject of SCISSION'S political prisoner Friday today.

The following is from Prison Culture (a damn fine site).

On Self-Defense & Women of Color…

I have not written about the Marissa Alexander case on this blog though I have been closely following the developments in her trial. Well on Friday, Ms. Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

For those who are unfamiliar with the case, here is a very brief summary. Marissa Alexander is an African-American mother of 3 who tried to protect herself from an abusive husband by firing a warning shot into the ceiling after he had beat her up again. There is of course much more to the case including the fact that her attorney tried to use the infamous “Stand Your Ground” law as her defense and was prohibited from doing so by the judge. You can read much more about the case here.

This is another example of the system re-victimizing survivors of violence and speaks to what Iwrote about on Monday with respect to the inadequacy of the efforts to actually support survivors of rape and domestic violence. This case brings to mind countless other stories of battered women and rape survivors who I have known over the years. But there is also something more…

Danielle McGuire has written in her excellent book “At the Dark End of the Street” that there was a time in this country when it was presumed that black women could not be raped. The idea was that they were naturally promiscuous and that their bodies were inviolate. In other words, no never meant no for black and brown women (and some poor white women). This idea has carried over, I think, to the concept of “self-defense” as applied to women of color. If black women’s bodies can always be violated and if black women are easily killable, then the notion of self-defense can never apply. Black women do not have a “self” worth defending.

A poem by Toi Derricotte titled “On the Turning Up of Unidentified Black Female Corpses” is one of my favorites. It captures the idea that black women in our culture are so thoroughly devalued that our deaths go unnoticed and unpunished. One particular stanza is especially moving for me:

a black woman, there is a question being asked
about my life. How can I
protect myself? Even if I lock my doors,
walk only in the light, someone wants me dead.

Read the entire poem if you have a moment, you won’t be sorry.

The Marissa Alexander case brings to mind another instance of self-defense by a survivor of sexual violence. Inez Garcia was a 30 year old Latina who had a child and was profoundly Catholic. Inez was an illiterate woman who had moved to California to be closer to her husband who was incarcerated in Soledad prison. In March 1974, she was beaten and raped by two men in California. She was tried for first degree murder for shooting and killing one of her rapists. A flyer created by her defense committee in the 70s describes the details of the incident.

Louis Castillo and Miguel Jimenez came to Inez’s house at 8 p.m., allegedly to talk to Fred Medrano, who was also renting the house [that Inez lived in]. While waiting for him, the two men started drinking and taunting Inez. When Fred arrived home, he was harassed and threatened and beaten up in the fight that followed. Inez, frightened, told Louis and Miguel to leave, and stepped outside to make sure they left. They forced her to come behind the house with them where, trapped, she was beaten, her clothes torn, and she was raped.
In a state of shock and hysterical from the attack, Inez went back inside and loaded her .22-caliber rifle. At this time she received a phone call from the two men who had just attacked her. They threatened to make it worse for her if she did not leave town. About one half hour later she found her attackers five blocks away, beating up Fred a second time. She saw Jimenez draw a knife and called out. Jimenez turned and threw the knife in her direction. Inez fired, killing Jimenez and missing Castillo completely.

Christa Donaldson Arrested at Inez Garcia Demonstration, San Francisco, 1975

Women’s rights advocates and others seized on the Garcia case as an example of the “justice” system run amok. Her Defense Committee (comprised of local feminists and other community members) maintained that it was unjust that Inez was accused of premeditated murder “for defending herself against brutal and senseless attack” while her rapist remained free. They added:

“Thousands upon thousands of women have been attacked and raped, and countless more live in fear of rape. Inez is one of the few to defend herself so bravely. Her case is an example to everyone, for until men stop attacking women, women must be free to defend themselves by whatever means necessary.”

Inez Garcia Marching in the Lesbian and Gay Freedom Parade, San Francisco, 1976

Inez Garcia was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to five years in prison. This sparked several “Free Inez” demonstrations. She spent two years behind bars until her conviction was reversed on appeal because the judge had instructed the jury not to consider her rape. Her case was retried in 1977 and she was acquitted. The Garcia case and the Joan Littlecase offer examples which illustrate that it matters what people on the outside do when unjust charges are brought against individuals. If you doubt this, I suggest that you read Vikki Law’sinterview about three cases (including Garcia’s and Little’s) where outside pressure and activism helped to overturn convictions of women survivors of violence. Let’s hope that those fighting on behalf of Marissa Alexander will also be successful in securing a reversal of her conviction on appeal. You can sign a petition to Free Marissa Alexander here

Thursday, June 14, 2012



From the "I can't believe it" column comes this "unfortunately I can" story about "corrective" rapes of lesbians in South Africa.  You heard me right, "corrective rapes."

Lesbians are being raped and murdered in South Africa and, well, the truth is the South African State seems to care less.

Last year a study released by a leading South African gay rights organization, Triangle, found that 86% of black lesbians from the Western Cape lived in fear of sexual assault.  

"What we're seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them," said Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle told the Guardian.

Also, speaking to the Guardian, Carrie Shelver of the women's rights group Powa said, 

When asking why lesbian women are being targeted you have to look at why all women are being raped and murdered in such high numbers in South Africa.  So you have to look at the increasingly macho culture, which seeks to oppress women and sees them as merely sexual beings. So when there is a lesbian woman she is an absolute affront to this kind of masculinity.

Of course, we are all familiar with anti-gay hate crimes  throughout Africa.  Zimbabwe and Uganda come to mind, but trust me, these countries aren't alone in this dismal regard.

South Africa, though, is allegedly more "open minded."  Following the overthrow of apartheid, the new constitution of South Africa reads as one of the most progressive in the world in regards to the rights and protections for the LGBT population.  Yet Dawn reports: 

...the townships, where blacks were forced to live under apartheid, remain largely conservative with deep-set notions of masculinity, tradition and religion and little understanding of what it means to be gay.

Lesbians not only face being thrown out by their own families, but even the police, meant to protect them, are said to laugh or to call their fellow officers to listen in when the women report hate crimes.

"Corrective" rape has been described by Johannesburg based journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault as a phenomenon where lesbian women, particularly those who affect a more masculine appearance, are targeted for rape by men who claim that they are going to cure their sexual orientation. 

A report late last year from Human Rights Watch found that at least 10 lesbians are sexually assaulted every week in South Africa by men who claim to be "curing" them.  The report said the attacks are  generally accompanied by horrifying violence.

Earlier this year, The Advocate reports Noxolo Nogwaza, a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee, a key South African LGBT group, was found murdered.

The committee, along with the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) said that Ms Nogwaza’s face was so badly beaten that she was unrecognisable. Her body had been stabbed all over with glass shards and an empty bottle and used condom were also reportedly found in her genitals...

 Pierre de Vos, the Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance at the University of Cape Town, says it is not uncommon for gay people's rights to be ignored by those who execute the letter of the law.  "When I go to workshops I am shocked to hear from lesbian women and gay men that when they go to the police they are told to 'voetsek' because they are just lesbians or 'moffies' and don't have any rights,"  De Vos told the Daily Maverick. 

Now comes news that adding fuel to the fire, the National House of Traditional Leaders is calling for gay rights to be stripped from the South Africa constitution.  A Parliamentary report by the Constitutional Review Committee this April shows a submission by the leaders that proposed the "exclusion of 'sexual orientation' from Chapter 2 of the Constitution, which deals with the Bill of Rights."  The chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee is Patekile Holomisa, who is also president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders .  De Vos says Holomisa  is himself part of a far wider fight-back by patriarchal forces in South Africa.

The following is from the Black Commentator.

South Africa’s “Corrective Rape” of Lesbians 
 - By The Reverend Irene Monroe

To hear of human rights abuses of Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) population is, sadly, not new. Gay activist, David Kato, was the father of the Uganda’s LGBTQ rights movement. To many of his fellow countrymen, Kato was a dead man walking once his homosexuality became public.

The country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill dubbed “Kill the Gays bill” criminalizes same-sex relations. And depending on which category your homosexual behavior is classified as - “aggravated homosexual” or “the offense of homosexuality”-you’ll either received the death penalty or if you’re lucky, life imprisonment.
As many as 86 percent of its lesbian population live in fear of being raped
Kato didn’t live to receive either punishment. 

On a list of 100 LGBTQ Ugandans whose names and photos were published in an October 2010 tabloid newspaper calling for their execution, Kato was murdered in January 2011.

Throughout the African continent there are stories of homophobic bullying, bashing and abuses of its LGBTQ population. None of us will forget Zimbabwe’s despot, Robert Mugabe, whose torturous action against his LGBTQ population has yet to be brought to justice. Mugabe’s condemnation of his LGBTQ population is that they are the cause of “Zimbabwe’s problems” and views homosexuality as an “un-African” and immoral culture brought by colonists and practiced by only “a few whites” in his country”

However, the one country one doesn’t expect to hear of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and human rights abuses against this population of people is South Africa.

South Africa is the first African country to openly support LGBTQ civil rights. In 2004, its Supreme Court ruled that the common-law definition of marriage included same-sex unions. And in 2005, South Africa’s Constitutional Court “made any inferior status imposed on same-sex partners unconstitutional.”

But South Africa has a serious problem with its LGBTQ population, and especially with lesbians.

And its method to remedy its problem with lesbian is “corrective rape.”

On any given day in South Africa, lesbians are twice as likely to be sexually molested, raped and gang-raped as heterosexual women. A reported estimate of at least 500 lesbians is victims of “corrective rape” per year. And in Western Cape, a province in the south west of South Africa, a report put out by the Triangle Project in 2008 stated that as many as 86 percent of its lesbian population live in fear of being raped. And their fear is not unfounded.

“Lesbians get raped and killed because it is accepted by our community and by our culture” a South African man told Time reporter, Lee Middleton, of Cape Town.

Corrective rape is the South African version of “reparative therapy.” It’s intended objective is to rectify the sexual orientation of women who are lesbians or perceived to be lesbians to that of heterosexual. The term “corrective rape” was coined and first identified in South Africa after well-known cases of corrective rapes of lesbians like Eudy Simelane and Zoliswa Nkonyanabecame public internationally. Because of the stigma associated with homosexuality and gender non-conforming behavior, members of the women’s family or their local village sometimes supervise these rapes.

Corrective Rape is a hate crime that for the most part goes unreported and unprosecuted inSouth Africa.

And these rapes are the major contributor to HIV/AID epidemic among South African lesbians.

To many South African men who hunt down lesbians or happen upon them, “corrective rape” is seen neither as a hate crime nor as a sexual assault. South African men are sexually entitled to do them. And it’s just what patriotic men are expected to do for their country and tribe in a culture that upholds violent heterosexual patriarchal views at penis point.
In depicting a double rape, hers and that of her friend’s, Lungile Cleopatra Dladla shared withThe New Yorker reporter, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, how matter-of-factly their rapist was with them.

It’s just what patriotic men are expected to do for their country and tribe
“An armed man, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, came up behind them and directed them to a field. Then he undressed us. He tied us, and then he was going, ‘Ja, today I want to show you that you’re girls.’ He raped [us] both. And then, immediately after, he dressed and untied my friend’s hand and then untied my feet and then he walked…. From a distance, he shouted, ‘Now you can dress and go.’”

Dubbed as the “Rape Capitol of the World,” (A study by Interpol, the international police agency, has revealed that South Africa leads the world in rapes.) sexual violence is a problem throughout South Africa from the highest man in office to the goat herder in a small village.

According to South Africa’s rape statistics for 2011, “it is estimated that a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read.”

In 2011, a woman was raped in South Africa every 17 seconds. 1 in 4 men admit to having raped and of South African men who knew somebody who had been raped, 16 percent believed that the rape survivor had enjoyed the experience and had asked for it.

For example, South African President Jacob Zuma is a celebrated and acquitted rapist. He raped the daughter of a family friend. “He said that the woman in question had provoked him, by wearing a skirt and sitting with her legs uncrossed, and that it was his duty, as a Zulu man, to satisfy a sexually aroused woman,” Hunter-Gault reported.

And “baby rape,” not a new phenomenon in South Africa, has come out of the closet. It’s the belief that having sex with a baby girl or virgin girl child cures AIDS.

But what’s not being talked about in “corrective rape” is how it, too, can be see as a cure for AIDS.

For these men who are feeling the societal pressures and scorn of raping babies and young girls, lesbians are the next best choice.

With both population of females believed to be virgins, “corrective rape” can convince a rapist that he’s doing his manly duty and he’s being rewarded by being cured of AIDS, too. Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of the African-AmericanRoundtable of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School of Religion. A native of Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. She was recently named to MSNBC’s list of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible Prayers forNot’So’Everyday Moments. As an African-American feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Her website is irenemonroe.comClick here to contact the Rev. Monroe.