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11 thesis on the conflict to come

*Do the right thing*

*11 thesis on the conflict to come and the world to invent*

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*1. «The world is all that is the case». Let’s start from Oakland.***

On November 2nd a new era began for the *#occupy *movement and, more in
general, for the *indignados *movement. The occupation of streets and
squares –following the Spanish model and the example of Zuccotti Park – was
accompanied by an extraordinarily powerful general strike. The port was
blocked, public offices closed. Road transport and production came to a
stop. Even the police folded their arms. Tens of thousands of people took
to the squares, picketing the city, strengthening the paralysis of the port.

We look, with great admiration, to Oakland as to a *prototype*. It is no
doubt an incomplete one, partially immature, yet capable of giving shape
temporarily to much needed conflict, able to square with the new
composition of labour and with the financial violence. Trade unions are not
sufficient to organize a fragmented and widely precarious work force,
immersed in the communication flow and forced to slavish job performances.
If present day exploitation takes place on the grounds of financial
accumulation, class struggle must involve social reproduction, life and
extra-labour cooperation, entirely. However, as we feel part of the *
#occupy *movement, we think that much more could be done. Its strength
shows the crisis of liberal democracy before the arrogance of financial
dictatorship, but does not yet indicate the way to “hurt the masters”, to
hurt the bankers. It’s necessary to speak out and start “telling the truth
to power”, but power must be sought in the net of metropolitan
exploitation, in the theft of surplus value.

In this respect Oakland is a prototype, and in this sense we re-discover
our republican inspiration with no shyness.

*2. Liberal democracy in Europe has ended. The alternative grows beyond **the
cage of the crisis investing political representation.*

* *

A new Bonapartism, a straightforward “commissioner dictatorship” has
entered the scene, with Monti and Papadimos, with “Merkozy” and the letters
from the ECB. While we write, the future of the Euro is not at all certain.
It appears clear however that the financial markets are using the sovereign
debt crisis to provoke an acceleration without equals in the dismantlement
of welfare (of which in Italy the President of the Republic himself has
become the unauthorized inspirer and fervent warrantor), in the process of
privatization; most of all, it’s evident how the financial markets are
suspending state sovereignty, in the economic sphere and sometimes even in
the composition of the executive power. The extension of functions within
the ECB (the possibility to coin and to lend as a last resort) and the
establishment of a “Eurobond” will be accompanied –as required by the
Bundesbank- by a straightforward process of demolition of representative
democracy. National parliaments are already completely deprived of
authority, as governments are limited to execute the indications imposed by
the *hedge funds, *and therefore by the ECB. Monti, a figure working within
the transnational financial élite, part of the 1%, is turning Italy into a
privileged laboratory for the *Grosse Koalition, *a downright model of
governability (in its relationship to parliamentary representation) imposed
by the new material constitution.

In this European context, and just secondly a national one, it is a
mistake, besides plain naivety, to think that parliamentary political
representation is where growth and empowerment of the alternative can take
place. What is really missing, the only thing that can make the difference,
is the conquest of a *favourable relation of power* with the financial
capital and with its institutions, and only radical movements can
contribute to creating it. We need to go beyond the traditional separation
between social and political spheres: *the full recognition of the
not-democratic nature of the financial governance is the basis for a truly
political and constituent thought within movements*. *Constituent movements
are equipped with a programmatic intelligence and an institutional ability.
*It won’t be easy, but we know this is what’s necessary, it’s what we are
willing to spend our energy, our imagination, all our strength on.

*3. The new European governance imposes a re-thinking of the relationship
between conflict and political institutions. The present-day Federalist is

Foucault and his courses on neo-liberalism come to our rescue. How else
could we read the crisis of Europe and of the Euro? The German obsession
with price stability and the “necessary inequality” remind us the genealogy
of the neoliberal discourse minutely reconstructed by Foucault at the
Collège de France. As in the case of the German Ordoliberals in 1948, the
issue here is to build and legitimize the political space (the continental
space) beginning with the market and currency requirements. In this sense
the austerity imposed by the Bundesbank is a step forward compared to the
fragile European *governance *known till now: a new “active governmenting”
comes forth with the constitutionalisation of the balanced budget, with the
cancellation, *de facto, *of the democratic constitutions, with the
privatizations, with the sanctions against those countries spending too
much on schools and hospitals, with the destruction of labor law. Against
this, any discussion by the opposition risks going round in circles.

Is it possible to imagine a re-thinking of the relationship between
movements and political institutions? Does the extra-parliamentary choice
of action bring with it the eternal spiteful litany? No, we are certain of
this. Instead of giving in to aphasia, we need to significantly extend our
ability to negotiate, to combine the resistance with the creation of
alternatives: only an independent and radical movement can bring with it
the necessary strength to negotiate with the new institutions of the
financial governance! It is also necessary to understand which
institutional spaces are favorable to the expansion of movements and to
their constituent intensity.

Aside from keeping a close eye on Europe, because the mach on material
constitution is played on continental grounds, it is advisable to consider,
with intelligence and open-mindedness, the political and administrative
devices when these are capable of questioning the “political monopoly of
the party machine”. We agree with Luciano Ferrari Bravo in *still* thinking
that the *party-government* is the privileged political adversary for
strong and not subordinate movement politics, and that a *municipal
federalism* is the institutional field that can be questioned by determined
action towards *democratic reclaiming*. There is another powerful source of
inspiration aside from the republican one: the idea of federalism.

*4. To avoid the sphere of political representation does not mean to sing
the organ recital of the insurrectional break-up. Rather, it’s necessary to
insist on the constituent nature of movements.*

* *

Insurgency has regained right to citizenship in a consistent portion of
critical thought, while being continually re-launched (like a broken
record) by the anarchist components of the movement. In the systemic crisis
of the capital, following the emotional and political wave of the
widespread uprisings within the Arab countries, it seems realistic to sing
the praises of the insurrectional perspective, each time cars are set
alight in the streets. Yet something is unsatisfactory in the
insurrectional theory and practice. In the first place insurgency always
presents itself – and we must turn our attention to the uprisings as they
actually are, not as we would like them to be or, normatively, as they
should be – with traits of a “destituting power” unable to produce new
forms of life, new organization devices, and institutions which finally are
not State bodies, nor a re-statement of refreshed lobbies that in sooth
maintain legacies with financial and colonial powers.

In second place insurgency, especially in those subjects that ape it,
reveals a strong mimicry of State logic, or better still, of police logic.
In fact, for example, the abbreviation ACAB (*All cops are bastards*) has
stopped being an obvious corollary of street revolts, but to the eyes of a
few it appears as the heart of the political program. We are convinced that
such line of reasoning is not up to the problems faced today by movements
insisting on radical change of reality. No “assault on the sky” is capable
of effectiveness, the only thing that matters is the institutional
creativity of movements.

What is a non-stately institution (or a common institution), spreading
power instead of concentrating it? No doubt the forms of organization whose
action we are witnessing in the *indignados* movement, in Spain, in the
movement for education, in Chile, and in the #*occupy *movement in the
United States are non-stately institutions; movements fighting for the
common good in Italy, from last summer’s referendum victory to the
occupations of dismissed cinemas and abandoned theatres all over Italy; the
many student and youth protests that are disseminating new organizational
forms of teaching and research worldwide – we called it self-education
years ago – from Europe to the Americas, and more in general a new way of
living in universities and schools; non appeasing trade unions. These are
incomplete experiences, ok, but even in their incompleteness these
experiences exemplify the practices of non-stately institutions, of *
biopolitical* institutions that, while triggering and fueling conflict,
consolidate new forms of life, knowledge, language and means of

*5. We call tumult the form of conflict which is suited to the current
predominance of financial governance*.

We resort to a pre-modern and Machiavellian category with the clear
intention of finding names that may account for the qualities of the
struggles, where the supremacy of state sovereignty is depleted. We believe
in fact that the category of Tumult, much more than the insurgency mirage,
can account for the new practices of the movements, beginning with
metropolitan riots, ambiguous phenomena no doubt, but non the less worthy
of passionate political consideration. The nature of tumult, in its
conformation and composition, is a varied one. It is not a purely
destituting conflict, it is rather (or it aims at being) a conflict in
which the constituent nature prevails. *In this sense – and with a sincere
republican spirit – we link the concept of tumult to that of the
non-stately institutions: there is at the same time a co-extensive and
recursive relationship between tumult and institutions.*

* *

*6. The present day relevance of revolution is to be re-considered
beginning with the concept of tumult, opposed to an insurrectional

* *

The constituent nature of movements imposes a compelling consideration of
the issue of radical transformation, or, with no diplomacy, of revolution.
In times of governance, when the legal system is broken up and the exertion
of power assumes a reticular shape, stretching along the plurality of
administrative procedures, revolution, as intended in modern times, says *too
much*, and at the same time *not enough*. Too much because it continues to
bring forth the homogeneous and unitary trait of the antagonistic subject.
In these years we have learnt that the hegemony of cognitive labour, on the
grounds of technical class composition, does not make the cognitive workers
the proper subject to summarize in itself, in both extensive and intensive
terms, the fight between capital and labour. Cognitive capitalism, the new
paradigm of the subsumption of society to capital, means ontological
irreducible multiplicity. This multiplicity determines the impossibility of
homogeneity between the proletarian figure and the antagonistic subject.
For the same reasons why it says too much, the category of revolution says
too little: if the capital, in its schizophrenic and corrupted financial
development, places exploitation and command on the entire *bios,
resistance and desire for freedom cannot but spread beyond the labour
subjects, involving processes of intelligent cooperation, behaviour, the
ethical density of social relations, imagination and linguistic creativity.
*Has this already been said in the past? Perhaps, but today old words carry
new meaning.

Lets try to think revolution beginning with the concept of tumult. If the
challenge is seriously taken a series of evident facts come to light:
revolution (re)presents itself as a *permanent process*, losing the traits
of an assault on the sky, and is qualified through the logic of the *
alternative*; revolution can only be *molecular*, articulated along
heterogeneous levels, may they be spatial, temporal, subjective; revolution
can only but productively conjugate *exit* dynamics (those of an exodus, of
“resourceful subtraction”) to *voice* dynamics (of protest, of “molar”

* *

*7. Tumult is the only salvation for those living in times of violence.*

We don’t need a meteorologist to know that we live in times of violence.
The era of *Land grabbing *(the raid of land by agricultural and food
multinationals as a new form of colonialism), the era in which state
violence intervenes in defence of the market, banks and currencies, the era
of permanent global war, started by Bush and never interrupted by Obama,
the era of silence civil wars. The era in which “original accumulation”,
with its bloody violence, has become the standard, a permanent process. How
else can we read the savage exploitation of workers in India and tens of
suicides in China the expropriation of collective intelligence through
copyright, of life through patents, of knowledge through rankings? Violence
which becomes a “low intensity war” in metropolitan areas, when the
multitude rebels, when indignations sieges the headquarters of power. The
violence of Marchionne and of his blackmail, of banks, *too big to fail*.

What is the only antidote to contemporary violence? Tumult. Indeed, if
thought of seriously, tumult imposes a consideration of violence. Also: is
it possible to think the republican institutions without dealing with the
question of tumult and therefore of violence? We think the answer is no.
Does this mean that we choose to build a force symmetric to State power or
to the violence of financial governance? In this case as well the
straightforward answer is: no. Tumult laughs in the face of measures, all
kind of measures: neighed violent nor non-violent, if anything both the
things together (both violent and non-violent); in one word, constituent.
Let’s try to better understand what constitutes tumult and resistance to
the police brutality, opposed to an imposing violence that in an organized
form is obsessed with symbolic representation, competition between groups,
and *bobò* (bourgeois-bohemian) nihilism.

In the first place tumult binds movements, it doesn’t tear them apart.
Tumult has no shape, but produces different forms from time to time (a
peaceful an obstinate mass sit-in has as much value as the rage exploded in
the riot on December 14th). It is not measured by the degree of violence,
but it is not obsequious to the moral imperative of non-violence. Tumult is
an “awaited and unexpected event”, that even in advancing like an atom
casually deviating from the chosen path, is always the mature outcome of
much accumulated past experience. Let it be clear, there is no dialectic
progression, we do not have in mind the *Preface* of the Phenomenology of
Spirit: tumult is a quantum leap, a creative act, an affective transition,
a fact (the world, indeed, is all that is the case). Nevertheless it is
never separate from the conditions of its possibility, which show all their
strength and clarity only when the conditioned subject, tumult, expresses
itself. There is a Kant we like, it is the one of the third Critique:
tumult is sublime and helps us to deal seriously with the organizational
plot we have hatched, with the political intelligence we have developed,
with the common names that work and with those going round in circles.
Tumult is not an event and does not demand “loyalty” like an event does. On
the other hand, there are at least two theories of the event, theories so
much in vogue in these past years: the first one confuses the event with
the happening, the second one knows that the event is the meaning (or the
power) of a happening and knows that the meaning is the result of a patient
and collective construction. *Caute!, *as Spinoza would say. The meaning of
tumult does not demand loyalty, it sets the horizon of collective
organization, of the hard work, filled with love, that is necessary to
build new institutions.

In one word: tumult is hostile to purity. It is unfaithful. It is *immoral.*

*8. The constituent nature of the movement expresses itself in the ability
to invent new institutions, as much as in the democratic re-appropriation
of the welfare institutions being dismissed.*

* *

A greater clarity is needed concerning the issue of institutions of the
common (already outlined in thesis 4). A French republican, Saint-Just,
said that “many institutions and few laws” where necessary to protect the
Republic (and the revolution). An institution is a “positive model of
action”: contrarily to a law, which denies reality in ordering it, an
institution organizes reality, developing multiplicity. What is social is
always institutional (this is we believe a good, not esoteric, bio
political concept). It is rather the sovereign transcendence that
continually attempts, to brake the constitutive political nature of social
life through the negative and disintegrating force of law. The
disintegrating force of law, on the other hand, is what supported the
enclosures in the 16th and 17th centuries, the process (factual and
prescriptive) that in an admirable chapter of the Capital Marx defined as
the “original accumulation”.

*Therefore, when we say institution we do not mean State, *we do not have
the law at heart, we are not hinting at social democracy. This may be an
unnecessary clarification: but in times when purity is considered a value,
once more, we need to be cautious, towards those always ready to grasp a
pen and take an applause, whatever kind it may be.

Yet when we think of non stately institutions we have in mind *Occupy Wall
Street*, as well as the Teatro Valle occupied in Rome, university movements
for self- reform, the self-managed hospitals in Catalonia and schools in
Chile. What do these experiences tell us? They talk of *democratic
re-appropriation of welfare institutions*, the same institutions being
dismissed by political measures of austerity, helpless preys to financial
ransacking. The challenge of the institution of the common is not that of
separateness: while supporting the invention and the growth of institutions
with a new nature, it is also crucial to take back the existing
institutions and make them work in a radically new way. In this sense the
point at issue is the service relation (or the “anthropogenetic” production
model): the combination between the supply of a service –be it cultural or
medical- and its use, or better, the forms of productive cooperation and
the statue of professional skills, become the object of political practice
itself. Care work, a reproductive dimension put to work, loses its irenical
trait, and gains the trait of conflict, unavailable to subsidiary logics
(from Cameron’s *Big Society* downwards). *The point is to re-think welfare
beyond the horizon of social security, putting at the centre care and
relations as polemic processes generating new forms of life.*

*In many cases the “practice of the common good” cannot be distinguished
any more from the defence and the redevelopment of the public good, *be it
universities or hospitals. The refined palate of *bobò* thinkers is caught
by horror before this statement. Luckily, proletarians are clear minded.

*9. The invention of new forms of struggle bring out today new useful
elements for the political program of the alternative.*

* *

How is the political program built today? Here we find ourselves in a
sphere yet to be explored. To try to convince others, or at least
ourselves, that if adequately articulated the program is what changes the
nature of the movement’s future is equivalent to a clumsy trick not turned

Lets talk about a concrete example. The issue of guaranteed income has been
for a long time the flag of critical thought and of independent movements.
With the deepening of the crisis this claim becomes absolutely decisive,
overriding: to win guaranteed income means to draw resources from financial
income, to establish a *social pension*, adjusted to the transformations of
the labour market and to the quality of processes involving production and
the extraction of value. Everything is crystal clear, yet this point of the
program struggles to come forth as an element of re-composition of social
conflict. Do we think this point is unrelated to the Spanish *indignados,
#occupy student debt* or to the occupation of the Teatro Valle? Perhaps.
Rather, it is the *#occupy *movement itself, when it concerns the spheres
of production and of services, that, more than others, demands guaranteed
income and health, and forces some important parts of it, not solving ones,
but important.

So lets go back to the program. *Only the invention of concrete forms of
struggle and of re-appropriation can guarantee the definition of a mature
anti-capitalistic program, where political imagination finds an adequate
expression and an unforgiving test. Logic becomes inductive more than ever,
more than ever singularity and circumstance organize a common language.*

* *

*10. It is crucial to create new organizational devices, that are able to
conjugate the **#occupy** movement with the general strike. That one
hundred Oakland may flourish!*

* *

Lets try to imagine the Oakland prototype in Europe. Surely Puerta del Sol
in Madrid, surely the Teatro Valle or the Cinema Palazzo in Rome, surely
the English or Italian student tumults. And still, perhaps, we need to go
further, we need to build places for re-composition, metropolitan devices
able to conjugate *#occupy *to the general strike.

About ten years ago, before Genoa 2001, the IWW (*Immaterial Workers of the
World*) proposed the “chambers of work and non-work”. The intuition was
correct, but the times weren’t right, subjectivity immature. Ten years
after Genoa, after the explosion of the sovereign debt crisis in the whole
of Europe, and simultaneously, of youth and student movements fighting
against austerity, the proposal gains strength again. If the name is not
appropriate, another one can be found, what matters is the concept: places
for horizontal and common organization of precarious labour not regulated
by unions and scattered across the territory, and for those trade unions,
or parts of them, that are non-concerting and conflictual.

It’s not about creating a new trade union, or celebrating a new political
subject: the issue is rather to adopt the bio-political trait of the
metropolitan productive structure and consequently its organization,
through disputes and mutualism, communication and independence. Chambers of
labour, universities, social centres and squats, are not enough to achieve
this: we need to build links between these fields, federative lines that
may give life to stable forms of political cooperation.

In the face of complete deregulation of the labour market, the endless
squeeze on revenue and income, the wild privatization of services, the
blackmail of debt, the mass unemployment, the only chance European new
poors have is to radically re-think the organizational forms of life and
labour, assuming there is no distinction between the two terms anymore.

*11. Taking leave from moderatism, thinking democracy of the common as a
creative and conflictual process.*

* *

To take leave from moderatism and to reduce it to peaces is the duty lying
before European radical movements wanting to change the currents state of
affairs. Moderatism today comes in the guise of national unity governments
or of the *Grosse Koalition*. Its slogan is the guilt for the debt,
together with the “sober” and “responsible” choice of demanding sacrifices
to the poor in order to give to the rich, to banks, to *hedge funds*.
Moderate is also the choice of those political left-wing forces (all) that
think they can tell fairytales and combine the *diktat* coming from the ECB
with general wellbeing.

*Reformism is undoubtedly short of breath, there is no organized
relationship between capital and work-force (the fields of life and
language), least of all any possible mediation. In the era when liberal
democracy disappears, democracy as a process connecting tumults and
institutions is the material horizon of anti-capitalism. A process and not
a form of government, a singular production of common space, space regained
from private property and State logic. Only the equalitarian demand stands
against neo-liberal politics: only this claim makes democracy the most
fierce opponent of political moderatism, the antidote to the “soberness” of
injustice. The democracy of the common, the democracy of the new poor, the
only ones capable of creating something new. To say it in the words of
Walter Benjamin: “Among the great creators there were always the
inexorable, who wanted to clear the table. They wanted to have clear
drawing table, construction was their field.” ***

LUM (Libera Università Metropolitana/ Free Metropolitan University–

ESC, atelier autogestito <>

*February 2012*