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Moments of Excess

Movements, Protest and Everyday Life

Weaves lucid descriptions of the intensity of collective action into a more sober reflection on the developing problematics of the “movement of movements.”

It’s a physical thing. The hairs on the back on your arms stand up. You get goosebumps.
There’s a tingling in your spine. Your heart is racing. Your eyes shine and all your senses are heightened: sights, sounds, smells are all more intense. Somebody brushes past you, skin on skin, and you feel sparks. Even the acrid rasp of tear gas at the back of your throat becomes addictive, whilst a sip of water has come from the purest mountain spring. You have an earnest conversation with the total stranger standing next to you and it feels completely normal. (Not something that happens too often in the checkout queue at the supermarket.) Everybody is more attractive. You can’t stop grinning. Fuck knows what endorphins your brain’s producing, but it feels great. Collectivity is visceral!

The first decade of the twenty-first century was marked by a series of global summits which seemed to assume ever-greater importance – from the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle at the end of 1999, through the G8 summits at Genoa, Evian and Gleneagles, up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) at Copenhagen in 2009.

But these global summits did not pass uncontested. Alongside and against them, there unfolded a different version of globalization. Moments of Excess is a collection of texts which offer an insider analysis of this cycle of counter-summit mobilisations. It weaves lucid descriptions of the intensity of collective action into a more sober reflection on the developing problematics of the ‘movement of movements’. The collection examines essential questions concerning the character of anti-capitalist movements, and the very meaning of movement; the relationship between intensive collective experiences – ‘moments of excess’ – and ‘everyday life’; and the tensions between open, all-inclusive, ‘constitutive’ practices, on the one hand, and the necessity of closure, limits and antagonism, on the other.

Moments of Excess includes a new introduction explaining the origin of the texts and their relation to event-based politics, and a postscript which explores new possibilities for anti-capitalist movements in the midst of crisis.

“More than a book, Moments of Excess it is a tool for ‘worlding’. Worlding is put forward as the manifestation of the world we desire in our day-to-day relationships. Moments of Excess speaks to questions that are crucial in creating a better world, all the while asking and opening more questions. This book is wonderfully grounded in the real experiences of the writers, as well as references many movements and events that have inspired millions in this loosely defined ‘anti-capitalist’ movement. In addition to being an important tool, Moments of Excess is a fun read, using popular culture, poetry and humor to make points and speak directly to the reader. Reading this book, I felt like a part of a conversation, a conversation that I didn’t want to end.” —Marina Sitrin, editor of Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina (AK Press 2006) and (with Clif Ross) Insurgent Democracies: Latin America’s New Powers (City Lights Press, 2010)

“Reading this collection you are reminded that there is so much life at the front-line, and that there is no alternative to capitalism without living this life to the full. The message is clear: enjoy the struggle, participate in it with your creative energies, be flexible and self-critical of your approach, throw away static ideologies, and reach out to the other.” —Massimo De Angelis, author of The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital (Pluto Press, 2006) and editor of The Commoner.

“Wonderful. Fabulous. The Free Association’s work have been writing some of the most stimulating reflections on the constantly shifting movement against capitalism—always fresh, always engaging, always pushing us beyond where we were … exciting stuff.” —John Holloway, author of Change the World Without Taking Power (Pluto Press, 2002) and Crack Capitalism (Pluto Press, 2010).

The Free Association is an ongoing experiment. Most of its members are based in Leeds, England and their political history and friendship dates back to the early 1990s. It’s a reading group, a writing machine, an affinity group. Alex Dennis, David Harvie, Nate Holdren, Nette Humphreys, Keir Milburn and David Watts freely associated to produce the texts here.

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