Archive for the 'frontline' Category

A not so old debate

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

video_button_white_dred.gifThe following two videoclips are an extract of a debate held in Holland in 1974, between Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky. What is interesting for us is that they capture a quite current contraposition between two approaches to politics, that of a politics of immanence (Foucault) and of transcendence (Chomsky). For Foucault concepts such as justice and human nature are socially constructed within our civilisation, class society and form of knowledge, hence we cannot appeal to “these notions to describe or justify a fight which should — and shall in principle — overthrow the very fundamentals of our society.” To Chomsky instead, there is a fundamental absolute basis, “ultimately residing in fundamental human qualities” in term of which the “real notion of justice is grounded”. The current class based system of justice also ambody a “kind of a groping towards the true humanly valuable concept of justice, and decency, and love and kindness and love” that Chomsky believes are real.

If we take constituent struggles as our starting point — as struggles constituting the outside of capital in the here and now — both perspectives are useful, and limited. From Chomsky’s critique of Foucault we derive the need to create an outside to capital’s civilisation. From Foucault’s critique of Chomsky we derive the need to recognise this outside within. From the perspective of struggles that posit values outside capital (hence other senses of justice, human nature, etc.), struggles constitute frontlines, hence posit absolutes in the here and now at the same time.

Part 1

Part 2

report of an autonomous government

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

encuentro2006.jpgI report here an English translation of an article from La Journada reporting on the Zapatista’s “an encounter of resistances and rebellions against global capitalism and neoliberalism, which has prepared for and planned the death and destruction of humanity and the natural environment” (from narconews)

Thousands Rebel Against Neoliberalism in Chiapas

Almost 13 Years After the Armed Uprising, Achievements of the Autonomous Governments Are Illustrated

By Hermann Bellinghausen
La Jornada

January 12, 2007

Oventic, Chiapas, MX. December 30, 2006: One day before the 13th anniversary of its armed uprising, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) welcomed followers from 30 countries, all adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, which Lt. Colonel Moisés, in name of the “Zezta Internazional,” called (more…)

Competition as class struggle

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

optical-illusion.jpgYou try to go at a Marxist conference and say that “class struggle” is the centre of our preoccupation, that we need to bring in subjectivity and struggles, desires and class composition, strategies and counterstrategies, problematic of political recomposition vis-a’-vis capital in our way to apprehend the world. You will be answered with a rift sang by all types of variations and idiosyncratic types of Marxism: the historical approach, the value form approach, the disequilibrium approach, the equilibrium approach, the overproduction approach, the under-consumption approach, the logic of capital approach, even the “of-course-class-struggle-is-important” approach. In all their diversity, they share one common song, they sing to you to shut up your insistence on subjectivity and struggle, and this is it: “there is not only class struggle, there is also competition among capitals” . . .or, to put it in a more elegant (maybe) way, here they go: “there is not only the vertical struggle between capital and labour, there is also the horizontal competitive struggle among capitals”.

Ok, let us take a time machine and travel back 102 years, to 1905, (more…)

Thoughts on Workerism after Mario Tronti’s talk

Monday, December 11th, 2006

lenin-in-inghilterra2.jpgIt has been suggested to me, in the corridors of the Historical Materialism conference held over the week end, that what distinguishes what we may call, broadly speaking, autonomist marxism with other marxist approaches is the argument that the “working class” is the agent of transformation that pushes capital on the defence and forces its “economic” development rather then, on the contrary, being capital that “overdetermines” the rest by means of its agency. This suggestion furthermore is accompanied by the claim that this view is false, since capital has “more power”. In my view, the insight of 1960s operaismo with respect to working class agency were not falsified in light of 1980s capital’s agency, they were simply temporally bounded. Class struggle, in a process-like manner, have at least two broad actors, not one, and their tragic-comic struggle develop through highs and lows for both sides, “scoring points” for both sides. The process of this historical development of struggle, this very process of “point scoring” for one or the other, is the stuff of capitalist development. The problem is that acknowledging this does not give us any hint of how to go beyond capital and the very specific form of struggle shaping its development.

And I think it is at this point that it is important to underline that what distinguishes “autonomist marxism” in its operaiste roots to other forms of marxism, is a specific theoretical attitude, one that takes the processes that traditionally we understand as “political” and “economic”, as one. Its unique political methodology is one that allows to ask research questions as part of a heretic research program, (more…)

Democracy in the streets and assemblies of Oaxaca

Friday, November 24th, 2006

appo.jpgFirst some background and then, if you read on below, some resources.

“Today, Friday November 11th”, a friend writes, “the Constituent Congress of the APPO [ASAMBLEA POPULAR DE LOS PUEBLOS DE OAXACA] was officially begun in the city of Oaxaca. Announced after the First State Assembly of the People’s of Oaxaca in late September, the purpose of the Congress is to formalize the structure, permanent leadership, and objectives of the APPO, as well as to agree on a medium and long term plan of action. The Congress will continue through Sunday. Much will be written about it over the coming days, but I wanted here simply to point out that most of today was spent registering the delegates — a process alloted two hours has taken the whole day. Why? The answer reveals something important about the nature of the APPO. Here is the language, roughly translated, from the formal Invitation to participate in the Congress:

“Delegates will have the right to speak and vote as long as they are accredited… as delegates of their communities, ejidos, organizations, unions, neighborhoods, schools, ranches… or municipalities, etc: based on the following:”

3 delegates per neighborhood (”barrio o colonia”)
5 delegates per municipality or “pueblo indigena”
3 delegates per nucleus of ‘communeros o ejidatarios”
3 delegates per municipal agency
3 delegates per social organization
3 delegates per union
3 delegates per school
2 delegates per barricade
2 delegates for each sector of Section XXII”

The calculation expresses a kind of physiognomy of the movement. Note that each barricade (essentially a neighborhood block) is accorded the same voice as a sector of the teachers union.”

Here are the first results of the constituent process: a) The 17 November Appo declaration, followed by b) the general summary of the results of the work group of the constitutive congress of the popular assembly of the people of Oaxaca. An impressive document, especially for results of work groups 2 and 3. For a good short background and summary piece by La Jornada reporter (this is in English) see this piece by LUIS HERNÁNDEZ NAVARRO posted in Counterpunch. A good source of information and update is narconews site. For an excellent “chronicle of radical democracy” see the article by Gustavo Esteva

Democracy Now in Oaxaca, the autonomous zone!

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

oaxaca.jpgvideo_button_white_dred.gifAfter police murder of Indymedia activist Brad Will, Gustavo Esteva was interviewed on Democracy Now! — the independent US media — on the subject of people demanding, precisely, democracy now in Oaxaca. Click here to watch reports, interviews and analysis at the frontline, as well as memorials of Brad Will. Also, watch pictures of the latest clashes here and picture gallery of the social sityation in Oaxaca. A report with discussion of the origin of the conflict can be read here

The World Turned Upside Down

Friday, October 27th, 2006

zapataguitar.jpgThanks to Leon Rosselson for providing material to compile this post!

Perhaps the best song written about enclosures and struggles for commons. It talks about the struggles of the ”Diggers” who reclaimed the king’s land as a commons for all. It was composed by Leon Rosselson in 1975, taken into the charts in 1985 by Billy Bragg and also performed by Dick Gaughan, Chumbawamba and Attila the Stockbroker among others (according to Wikipedia, although I think that Chumbawamba’s version is a late XIX century song with the same title). To put this song in the context of other “Digger” songs check here.

The song, “The World Turned Upside Down,” by English folksinger Leon Rosselson, weaves many of Gerrard Winstanley’s own words into the lyrics. Gerrard Winstanley (1609 - September 10, 1676) was an English Protestant religious reformer and political activist during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. He was aligned with the group known as the True Levellers for their beliefs, based upon Christian communism, and as the Diggers for their actions because they took over public lands and dug them over to plant crops.

Click play to hear:

1) Leon Rosselson presentation of the song at a radio show on

2) The song itself, sang by the author

For the lirics and some quotes from Gerrard Winstanley writings click (more…)


Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

To set limits is to give form. Hence to set limits to capital’s boundless pursue of monetary wealth by means of struggle is at the same time to give form to our lives, to seek and live other forms of human wealth and value. It then goes without saying that the causa efficientis of setting limits to capital is socialised humanity, and therefore the latter is not only the goal of struggle, but also the means.

My son, the alien and me

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

aien-dude.jpgThe work of reproduction is totally flexible, so much that it even become model for flexible capitalism. The work of reproduction is totally affective, so much that it become model for the affect-capitalism of sckizo-and-smily weitresses. In the work of reproduction with the ones we love, in which we reproduce the individual bodies of a community of affects, we give ourselves to the other, and the degree of which we don’t defines the boudnaries. My child has nightmares tonight, and I lay next to him. I quited him down with a song and now he seems finally asleep. I have done this already three times, and three times I though he was asleep, and three times I attempted to sneak up and reach my nearby laptop to write this damned blog. (more…)

A Letter from Oaxaca

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

October 15, Oaxaca

Dear Friends,

oxaca1.jpgWe’ve been in the city two weeks now, arriving in late September amid intensified threats of a military intervention. A few days later Naval helicopters flew overhead, circling over the city center for two days. Since then, a strange, uneasy calm has prevailed. Most of the Oaxacans we know have a beleaguered attitude. The orchestrated attack on the teachers’ encampment was four months ago — long months of hardship, anxiety and uncertainty. In a city where tourism supports tens of thousands directly or indirectly, the economic consequences have been dire. (more…)