[Autonogram] New Book: Critical Art Ensemble, Marching Plague

Ben at Autonomedia ben at autonomedia.org
Mon May 8 14:59:02 EDT 2006

Greetings, Autonomedia subscribers --

I'm sending out three emails today regarding three very different 
kinds of books we're just adding to our bookstore: a critique of the 
rhetoric around germ warfare, an anthology of critical writings 
applying autonomist marxist thought to the politics of curatorial 
practice, and a book of Peter Lamborn Wilson's peculiarly trenchant 
poetry (from our friends at Xexoxial Editions). Please pardon the 
sudden deluge of mail from me, and please also let me know if there 
are things about Autonomedia you're particularly interested in, or if 
you've got some extra warehouse space that's looking for content, or 
happen to be an anarchist lawyer with a penchant for creative 
contracts.... thanks for reading, and please allow me to present:

* * * * *

New from Critical Art Ensemble is "Marching Plague : Germ Warfare and 
Global Public Health," the long-awaited book initially taken into 
evidence by the FBI!
"Marching Plague" examines the scientific evidence and the rhetoric 
surrounding biological warfare, particularly the development of 
anthrax and other bio-weapons, and makes a strong case against the 
likelihood of such weapons ever being used in a terrorist situation. 
Studying the history and science of such weapons, they conclude that 
for reasons of accuracy and potency, biological weapons lack the 
efficiency required to produce the widespread devastation typically 
associated with bioterrorism.

Why the public urgency around biowarfare, then, and why the 
channeling of enormous resources into research and development of 
tools to counter an imaginary threat? This is the real focus of 
"Marching Plague": the deconstruction of an exceedingly complex 
political economy of fear, primarily supporting biowartech 
development and the militarization of the public sphere.

The book concludes with a brief examination of the actual crisis in 
global public health, arguing for the redirection of health research 
away from the military, and promoting a number of strategies for 
civilian-based preparedness and education.  

If you've been following Autonomedia's work and that of the Critical 
Art Ensemble for any amount of time, you're aware of the conditions 
from which Marching Plague emerged. Originally scheduled to appear in 
2004, the manuscript was in the possession of Steve Kurtz-one of the 
text's collective authors-when he came under the intense scrutiny of 
the Justice Department and the FBI for suspected biological terror 
crimes. Made paranoid by their own rhetoric, the Feds failed to tell 
the difference between an art piece scheduled for installation at the 
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and something more 
nefarious. Kurtz' house was sealed off, his research was taken 
(including the manuscript and his computers), and his colleagues and 
publisher were subpoenaed, all for some trumped-up charges of mail 
fraud. Two appendices in the book comment on the political 
ramifications of Kurtz' trial, and what it means for the culture of 
dissent in a time of authoritarian political life.

More on Steve Kurtz' case can be found at http://www.caedefensefund.org  .

* * *

NYC-area readers, please note: There will be a booklaunch for 
"Marching Plague" at Eyebeam Atelier on Wednesday, May 24, with short 
talks by Steve Kurtz and several other people associated with 
Critical Art Ensemble, film screenings, and general relief that even 
though Kurtz' case is still in the courts, the important work of the 
CAE is still able to find an audience. Eyebeam is at 540 West 21st 
Street (between 10th and 11th Aves) in Manhattan; more details are at 

Ben Meyers,

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