Soft Landings for Capitalism script

1. Witches
I was very interested
in understanding what had happened to women
in the transition from feudal mode of production
to capitalism.

entered into a terminal crisis.

The feudal class couldn’t reproduce itself.
It couldn’t force peasants to pay the taxation.

We’re very rarely taught
that there was a class struggle taking place
in the feudal world.

Capitalism was a product of a class struggle
that created the need for a new type of relation
that would restore the power
of the ruling class.

At the dawn of capitalism
the two centuries long witchhunt
that spread throughout Europe
led to the arrest, torture and execution
of hundreds of thousands of women.

Capital presents women as a population
that is particularly vulnerable to do evil
particularly disposed to be corrupted
by the power of the devil.

Why this attack on women?
This is the period Marx spoke of
as primitive accumulation.
Primitive accumulation is the moment that capitalism
has to amass the most basic means of production.
The land and the bodies of people. Workers.
Primitive accumulation is the accumulation of workers.
So the question I have is:
what does the witchhunt have to do
with the accumulation of workers?

What are the areas of life
that the witchhunts transform?

Who were these witches?
What social class did they come from?
What kind of cimres were they accused of?

Many witches were very poor
older women who made a living from begging.
They didn’t have land any longer.
They didn’t have any social income.

Soon enough they were accused
of having killed a child, killed a cow
and rounded up and brought to trial.

These crimes were promoted by the new capitalist class.

People are not born beggars.
People are not born poor.

The large presence of the poor
that you see beginning in the 16th, 17th century
centuries where poverty becomes a mass phenomena.
Out of this poverty comes the figure
of the begging woman.
Or the woman who is accused
of stealing from her neighbours with magical acts.

There’s a class war
where there’s a whole population of people
and particularly older women who were at the bottom
and who could not leave the village
who were especially targetted.

Another important crime
the witches were killing children.
This is a very prominent charge.

Why is the proto-capitalist class
so concerned with questions of procreation?

With the witchhunt
any practice that was seen
as interfering with reproduction
is now looked at as demonic.

A new concern with the question of procreation
and the question of population growth
the relation between population growth and economic growth.

The more bodies, the more wealth.
The more poor people, the more wealth.

The practices the early capitalist class used
to increase the size of the work force.
Think of the slave trade.
Whey all of a sudden do you have
the beginning of the slave trade?
The plantation is part of the accumulation of capital.
Capital in the sense of human capital.
I’m making a connection
between the new interest in procreation
the new demonization of contraception
and the legislation passed in this period
which makes any form of contraception of abortion
a capital punishment.
Many women were beheaded, were hanged.
This has to do with a new relation towards labour
with a concern about accumulation of population.

There is another area of crime that has to do with sexuality.
A witch was often a woman
who had been a prostitute in her youth.
Or a woman with children out of wedlock.
I’m connecting the attack on witches
with the attempt to regulate sexuality.
To domesticate sexuality.
To prevent sexuality from becoming a subversive power
subversive of the discipline of work.

The transformation our bodies went through
in the transition to capitalism.

The mechanization of the body.
The process by which we go
from a body with all kinds of magical powers
to a body conceived as a machine.

A body seen from the point of view
of the work that can be expected from it.

The witchhunts of the 16th, 17th centuries
were a fundamental element
in the creation of a modern capitalist society.

2. Commons
image: park
The idea of the ‘commons’ has lit up social justice movements round the world, moving political analysis beyond the wage struggle. Perhaps better wages are not the only road to a new home. Lodged halfway between the ‘public’ and the ‘private,’ the idea of the commons expands the dream of property.

image: common ground
The commons could be lands and territories, forests and streams, even places where we can talk and hang out – that a community, not the state or any individual – that a community collectively owns, manages and controls.

image: Conversalon
Take for example this living room collective in downtown Toronto, who make free home-cooked vegetarian meals for everyone who shows up. After a meal they open a place where invited artists can present their work, and have unexpected conversations. Here is a horizontal intimacy where everyone can speak and be heard. This private apartment is opened to admit a new kind of public, where the presenting artist sits amongst equals, inside a temporary democracy.

image: 3 pics from fred
New commons continue to be invented, like the 1980s squatters movements in Johannesburg, New York, Amsterdam.

image: 3 pics from fred
Here is my friend Fred in his new life without walls, not for mutual surveillance, but so that others can watch the revolution at work.

Here he is again, dressed in drag, newly named Pelona, about to marry Alejandra Montero, a lesbian and illegal immigrant. She’s also in drag of course, as the boat takes them to the ceremony at city hall.

Here, each face looks in its own direction. It’s a picture of the commons, of a new group that comes together only when each is able to express themselves. Could we make groups that celebrate our differences, instead of machines that manufacture consent?

image: Pleasant Places
Public space is something different. It’s always run by the state, and presumes the rule of a market economy and private property.

The idea of the commons, on the other hand, is possible only because of relationships and cooperation. Using the idea of the commons,
the history of the class struggle can be rewritten so that
Indigenous resistance in the Americas can be seen on a continuum
with peasant resistance against the English enclosures,
Farmer struggles in India can be described as a compliment
to the struggles of anti-copyright programmers in the free software movement.

Let’s return to England in the 16th century. After a hundred years of high wages and peasant independence, the rivers, fields and forests that used to belong to everyone were stolen and enclosed by fences. This was the beginning of capitalism.

In the present, globalization has created new frontiers and new enclosures that embrace the most intimate part of our lives. From our body’s cells to bottled water, our physical location and browsing history, everything has a price.

title: reproductions of childhood

image: airplane
Perhaps it’s not a surprise that the idea of the commons has been stolen and redrawn, mostly by institutions that see the end of communal property as their mission. Look at the World Bank’s definition of water resources as ‘global commons’ which require new enclosures, claiming them in the name of “conservation,” driving Aboriginal people off their land before granting access to them for a fee.

image: World Bank commercial
In the same way, the World Bank has promoted “community-based” land reforms in Africa that claim to guarantee a more equal allocation of communal lands, but actually promote commercial interests.

image: railroads

Like going on strike, social and economic crises break the discipline of waged work, forcing new forms of community upon us. This is what happened during the Great Depression, which produced a movement of homeless people who turned the freight trains into their commons, looking for freedom in mobility. At the intersection of railroad lines they organized hobo jungles, which featured solidarity and self-governance rules that reflected the communist world they believed in.

image: The century
Once the economic crisis and the Second World War came to an end, the hoboes were domesticated by the two great engines of labour power fixation: the family and the home. Concerned about the threat of working class organizations during the Depression, American capital excelled at its application of the principal that has characterized the organization of economic life. Cooperation at the point of production, separation at the point of reproduction.

image: The century post-war 1946- car factory plus houses
The family house would separate the world of the family from other families, and it would come with an umbilical cord ensuring that this separation would continue: the family car.

title: The family home and car put an end to the worker’s commons.

image: remember
How to reclaim the home as the centre for collective life, crisscrossed by multiple people and forms of cooperation, providing safety without isolation, allowing for the sharing and circulation of community possessions and providing the foundation for collective forms of reproduction?

image: baby ad/vfx
Let’s start again at the beginning.
The reproduction of human beings is the most labour intensive work on earth.
It can’t be done with machines.
We can’t mechanize childcare, healthcare, or the psychological work necessary to reintegrate our
physical and emotional balance.

It began in Brazil in the 1940s. Midnight street gangs talked back to their political masters using Pichação, writing anti-slogans and political views on black tar. Don’t call it graffiti, but an alphabet of urban invasion. Raphael names it class warfare, where painters risk their lives climbing buildings and bridges in order to deliver news from the street.

38:10 In 2001 economic crises in Venezuela and Argentina led to a feminization of the market.

the economic crisis in Venezuela led to a feminization of the market. When official trading collapsed, women organized new collectives that took back the streets, bringing their pots and pans to roadblocks and neighbourhood assemblies.

A home-made cooperative economy emerged, creating new values in answer to the oldest questions. What do we care about? What do you need? What keeps you safe? How can we help each other?

40 For centuries, the reproductive work of human beings has been a collective process. It has been the work of extended families and communities upon which people could rely, so that old age was not accompanied by the loneliness and dependence that so many elderly live in. It is only with capitalism that reproduction has been completely privatized.

sign: Help the White People To Keep This District White
sign: We Want White Tenants In Our White Community
sign: New home in new community.
sign: Freedom is Equal Housing Too.

The isolation of home.
The isolation of home is an echo of the division of labour.
Where did my lettuce come from? Who made these sneakers?
When I step into a store I am a child again.
All of the shelves are filled with objects that have appeared out of nowhere.
They have not been put together by someone’s mother.
They weren’t delivered by someone’s grandfather
who is trying to pay his rent by taking a minimum wage job.

image: Modern Day Slavery
The division of labour in capitalism ensures that the production of our life inevitably becomes a production of death for others.
Globalization has worsened this crisis
widening the distances between what is produced and what is consumed, making us more blind to the blood in the food we eat
the oil we use
the clothes we wear, and the computers we communicate with.

image: Electric Tears
History shows us that the commons is the principle by which humans have organized our lives for thousands of years. Before the Europeans came, commons stretched from present-day Chile to Texas, connected by a vast network of exchanges. In Africa, communal lands have survived to the present, even in the face of an unprecedented land grabbing drive.

It’s no coincidence that in the last few years, in Greece, as wages and pensions have been cut by a third and youth unemployment has reached 70%, many new groups have formed, providing free medical services, free food by farmers, and electricians repairing wires that were cut because the bills were not paid.

image: couple kiss
By pooling our resources and taking back the wealth we have produced, we can begin to remove our livelihoods not only from the world market but also from the war machine and prison systems, the slave trade that harvests our tomatoes and chocolate, routine migrant exploitation for fruits and vegetables, the abusive conditions in factories making fast fashion, the plastics choking our oceans. We can move beyond the abstract solidarity that too often characterizes relations in the movement, and which limits our commitment, our capacity to endure, and the risks we’re willing to take.

text from: Re-Enchanting the World by Silvia Federici

3. How to Watch Pornography

image: window with mirrors
Paul B Preciado: But first I think we should start to think about: what is pornography?
We should look at pornography together, bring pornography to the school, decodify pornography, start to talk much more about pornography.

image: backwards man up escalator, backwards train, then stills.

image: naked bicycle rider
Hortense Spiller: The question of touch. To be at hand without mediation or interference/might be considered the gateway to the most intimate experience and exchange between subjects.

image: green night vision gay porn backroom
Karen Barad: When two hands touch there is a sensuality of the flesh, an exchange of warmth, a feeling of pressure, presence, a proximity of otherness that brings the other nearly as close as oneself.

And if the two hands belong to one person, might this not enliven an uncanny sense of the otherness of self, a literal ‘holding oneself at a distance,’ in the sensation of contact, the greeting of the stranger within.

So much happens in a touch. An infinity of others, other beings, other spaces, other times are browsed.

When two hands touch how close are they? What is the measure of closeness? Which disciplinary formations, political parties, religious and cultural traditions, infectious disease authorities, immigration officials and policy makers do not have a stake in, if not a measured answer, to this question.

image: woman in bed
Rizvana Bradley: Spiller’s study of the flesh is framed by her precise distinction between the body and flesh.
She writes quote I would make a distinction in this case between body and flesh, and impose that distinction as the central one between captive and liberated subject positions. End quote. For Spiller, the captive body is marked by an absence from its subject position, it is a completely abject and powerless body. The flesh, however, is distinct and prior to the body. Moreover the body can be written, the flesh cannot.

image: lady fucked by bike. guy pisses himself on bike.
Rizvana Bradley: Technology as a form of mediated touch, and as a violent substitute for touch. How do we think about the operation and function of technology meant to trace material and ephemeral signfiers that betray the evidence of social annihilation? How to think about the violence of technological touch by proxy, as a way of countering the elusive and illusory state military apparatus?

image: guy with computer, then threesome
Linda Williams: And then I discovered that the real mystery of pornography is how do you represent pleasure in a visual way that will please the bodies of the viewers.

image: (night vision man standing at building, body cells, black eye)
Erin Manning: You will be organized. You will be an organism.

These are words through which the body politic of the nation state tends to operate. These are words that underpin the discourse of the secure body. Some bodies are easier to secure than others. My lesbian body, my gay body, my diseased body, my female body, my aged body, my neuro-diverse body, my black body. These bodies are more costly. But even these bodies are useful to the state. They make possible the insecurity on which the need for security is predicated. Be secure. Conform. Even your distorted body can be taken into the fold.

image: man put into chastity
Godard: I just make films. I’m interested in facts, given my age. What’s interesting about a fact is not just what’s happening but what’s not happening. And the two go together. You have to link them together. You can’t just talk about what’s happening. People talk more about what’s happening not about what’s not happening. And what’s not happening can lead to a total disaster. I can’t say much more.

Image: women masturbating
Paul Preciado: Pornography, and I don’t know if you would agree with me, is a technique of pleasure production.

It’s a very interesting political technique. It’s a visual technique, that at first was drawing, and then became photography, and then cinema and then video and then internet and so on. It’s always been at the head of technological change. It’s a visual technique that produces pleasure. It’s a masturbating technique. I think that historically what defines pornography is the way in which women – and now I’m going to use the term. I’m not saying we can’t use the notion of women, we’ve been assigned when we were born, we’re constantly being told you’re a woman you’re a man. I’m saying that as a political subject we have the right to say I don’t want to comply with that regime. It doesn’t mean that we don’t know that we’re constructed and assigned as men and women. What defines pornography, historically, is that way in which women and sexual minorities, have been excluded from pornography as subject of pleasure. Meaning women and sexual minorities have been the object of the presentation of pornography. But the only one that could actually take pleasure out of the image was the white heterosexual male and later the gay male subject. The big question with pornography is: who is taking control of that really powerful technique for producing pleasure.

image: cartoon
Erika Lynae: When most people think about porn, they think about the ubiquitous free porn sites: sites, like Pornhub, YouPorn, Redtube, etc. But what most people don’t realize is that most of the top free porn sites are owned by one company called MindGeek. And the ones that aren’t are for the most part just cloning MindGeek’s model. So when you do a general search for porn the top results you get aren’t going to be a fair representation of the industry. They’re going to be a homogenized selection of what a single corporation believes its target audience ie straight men, want. Imagine only getting one TV channel and thinking that say Fox News is representative of all television.

image: golden boy
Darrell Sanchez: Every new form of technology – there’s a new outlet for making porn more readily available. That means there’s a big household name corporation making money from it. Which is why the mobile phone companies are technically now the biggest purveyors of porn on the high street. To find out just how much money is being made I went to see mobile phone analyst Windsor Holden. Is there much in the market for this, for watching porn on your phone? Last year the market was worth something like 1.7 billion dollars.

image: boys fuck in warehouse, parking lots
Clarissa Smith: On one level you’re actually seeing, you’re getting all of the action it’s authentically sex. But it’s real and it’s really happening and it’s on camera now. That’s one kind of authenticity. And then there’s the other kind which I think is very much tied up with fem porn and porn for women which is that these are real people with real emotions who are really engaging and having a great time together and it’s not scripted and it’s real. This is lovely.

image: hazy blow job then man masturbating with plant
Channon Rose: I am in a scene and I’m fingering this girl, right? I’m fingering and I’m feeling something up there and I don’t know what the fuck it is, I’m assuming it’s a sponge, but it doesn’t feel like a sponge, it just feels weird. I’m fingering, I’m fingering. And when I finger girls I do this little hook thing, once it’s in there I make my fingers like a C shape because that hits their G spot and it feels really good. And then I pull my fingers out, something slides out with my fingers, and it happened to be an old condom. I’m like bitch, what the fuck.

At this point the camera stopped rolling. They were like OK cut. They didn’t want that on camera. This was actually a more… how do I say it? There’s different types of porn. There’s really raunchy porn and there’s pretty porn. This is one of the pretty porns. More like sexy not like “Fuck you bitch do you like that shit?” It’s more like “Ooh yeah, do you like that? Does that feel good?” It was more like pretty porn. So when I pull the old condom out of this chick’s vag the pretty porn people were like no, that can’t be in here.

She didn’t even care. She was like Yeah, I’m a gross ass bitch. She knew it was nasty but she didn’t give a fuck. Zero fucks were given. That’s why I really liked her because she was really cool.

image: man hangs from bridge
Paul B Preciado: What’s happening in the last 25 years, there is a whole movement called post pornography that’s basically about changing the subject of production of pornography, and the subject of pleasure. Women and sexual minorities are reappropriating the techniques for the production of pleasure. I think that’s going to change everything. We won’t see the same images.

image: women in bed superimpositions
sound: Last Time Ever I Saw Your Face song

Karen Barad, Rizvana Bradley
Jean Luc Godard, Mike Hoolboom
Erika Lynae, Erin Manning
Paul Preciado, Channon Rose
Darrell Sanchez, Clarissa Smith
Hortense Spiller, Linda Williams

4. After Victory Day
This is the place where we are being dreamed. The worlds we dream are already there, waiting for us, inhabiting us like an invading army, like family. Our pictures looked back at us until we became pictures.

What does it mean to make pictures at this moment, when all of my friends are being held prisoner by their screens? When we can’t see too little of each other. When the never-ending digression of the web, the interweb, requires one more click, one more moment where I can escape my body and myself.

After we fell in love with our telephones, even the most basic pleasures of eating or cleaning ourselves had become a mystery, part of a lost culture. So we started recording the actions of others, looking for clues.

Here the Coypu demonstrate a luxury of time. As Simon de Beauvoir wrote: the body is not a thing, but a situation.

These water rats were shipped to France from South America, where they were bred and slaughtered in fur farms. But their ancestors survived slavery, they escaped to build their own homes, and in the underground – resistance flourished.

Tunnel and Night City
How to resist the invasion of armies, and then the invasion of ideas? How can I stop being safe, in other words, how can I reassure the terrorist that lives inside me, the terrorist that I am, that fear is not the first form resistance takes. My computer asks me: how can we resist everything except temptation?

Semenserie factory
Imagine a factory where everyone is boss and worker. Here they have replaced mass production with shared tools and ideas, and sometimes shared attitudes, bodies and the old question from Parsifal: how can I help you?

Bike co-op
Imagine a bike shop where there are no experts, only people willing to help you help yourself, where you are invited to fix your own bike. Of course what is really being fixed here are personalities, the feeling of being unwanted, in a word: capitalism.

Cat mirror
To make the slow turn towards all that is difficult, even impossible, in our bodies, and then in our neighbourhoods and cities. To look at what we can’t stand most of all, and in place of distraction, to come face to face with our deepest, our most profound…

Annett Andersch, Simone de Beauvoir, Brez’Selle, Britty, Celine Callot, Claude Guillaume, Mike Hoolboom, La Fabrique, Alena Koroleva, Semencerie