Radical media, politics and culture.


"An alternative to the European constitutional process" Which is to say, insisting on a distinction between constituent and constitution, if you liketh a Spinozian argot. More here at the pajol site and here at noborder.org.

I thought it might be timely to point to Franco Barchiesi's essay, "Citizenship as Movement" [available on pdf at TheCommoner site], which says in part: "A question that can be raised in response to this approach is: do processes of international and global migrations at present demand an expanding of the existing citizenship rights on the part of existing European institutions that are supposed to grant those rights, or are migration processes social dynamics and movements that radically question and subvert the understanding of 'citizenship' that institutions like the European Union are advancing? Does migrancy demand inclusion within an established juridical definition of citizenship or does it express subjectivities and needs that are fundamentally at odds with thevery foundation of that juridical definition? These questions in my view become urgent and relevant in a context marked by the emergence of a global security state characterised by repression of any form of dissent that is made akin to 'terror' and bypervasive militarisation of security. These shifts dramatically question the meaning of citizenship and at the same time they emphasise and deepen the crisis of a link between citizenship and state sovereignty that has constituted a central component in the historical trajectory of the European nation-state." [own emphasis]

Which reminds me: This from the aut-op-sy interview with Michael Hardt: "Q: If the destiny of the multitude lies in global citizenship, then what do you see as the relationship between the project of the multitude and the emergence of a global humanitarian militarism? MH: I'm not sure I understand this question. Why should citizenship imply militarism? Citizenship, in any case, is a troubled concept and it's not immediately evident what it means. (I've admired, by the way, what Etienne Balibar has made of it.) In Empire we used the notion of global citizenship primarily in a negative way, that is, to indicate the destruction of boundaries and thus the freedom of movement for everyone. Citizenship can also have a positive face to include a whole series of positive rights. But that isn't how we were using it there in Empire."

He might want to take another look -- at the extent to which this has been transformed into a positive 'project of the multitude' (or simply as the more comfortable way-station of a slightly-xenophobic (much like a slightly-pregnant) bunch of 'Empire' fans. And the extent to which the search for security has yet to fully distinguish itself from yearnings for a security-state. Remind me again, how was the protectionist state assembled in the US, Australia, Europe? Wasn't there some war, thousands dead, or somefin'? :( Time to read Holloway and Bonefeld again.

Re prior discussions on precarity, reading the euromayday list discussions, there's this response to the paper from the Frassanito Network from Alex Foti: "I must say the document is frankly biased and mysteriously hostile to net/flex/temp workers as being central subjects of the labor process today and potentially of a new, radical, european politics. ... we have to embody a subject in order to be effective."

And, reply, from Dimitris Papadopoulos: "Foti's response to the ideas sent earlier about connecting the 2nd Day of Action and the EuroMayDay sounds like a desperate attempt to subsume all various social and political actors under a single generic political subject (to come). Foti argues from the standpoint of (European) law, while migrational movements argue from the standpoint of the struggles and reveal the permeability and instability and corrupt, racist character of Europe."

Biased? Mysterious? I wonder why Foti thinks that a deep distrust of the very idea and a politics founded on the Subject (and particularly one which rides an indistinction between the legal subject and the subject of politics) among those who've worked in the areas of migration and on racism is mysterious. Isn't it obvious why this recourse to a Subject is highly problematic, precisely because of the border policing which is required to make the reality concur with the idea of such? It may seem like an 'academic' debate in one sense, but the stakes are very real at the border, the literal, external border; but also the 'internal' and internalised one.

Sometimes, I think this is incommunicability (would tension, conflict be better words?) is a misunderstanding between particular struggles, but then I remind myself that the euromayday pitch, like much of the Tutte Biance pitch, has been a process of translation (of exodus into inclusion, etc), of forging a continuity between 'constituent' and 'constitution' and using the figure of the migrant as a pretext for such. Negri argues for this constituent=to-constitution explicitly and has done so for quite some time (Marx Beyond Marx, eg), despite the fleeting Machiavellian recourse to the idiom of Foucault, Guattari, et al, which many assumed carried along with it a critique of the subject. As it turns out, Negri's critique stops short at a critique of the Fordist subject -- and running euphorically into the arms of Empire ...

Of course, the relationship between a fetishism of the party-form and a critique of the Subject remains to be written, but Franco Berardi has, as always, been quite concise: "The origin of this philosophical and political movement can be identified in the works of Mario Tronti, Romano Alquati, Raniero Panzieri, Toni Negri, and its central focus can be seen in the emancipation from the Hegelian concept of subject. In the place of the historical subject inherited from the Hegelian legacy, we should speak of the process of subjectivation. Subjectivation takes the conceptual place of subject. This conceptual move is very close to the contemporary modification of the philosophical landscape that was promoted by French post-structuralism. Subjectivation in the place of subject. That means that we should not focus on the identity, but on the process of becoming. This also means that the concept of social class is not to be seen as an ontological concept, but rather as a vectorial concept."

Maybe it's worth pointing out that the emphasis on the vectoral is from Sergio Bologna.

PS: on a distantly related, if tangential note, I was -- for reasons which I can't for the life of me recall :) -- reminded of Ghassan Hage's book. I can't find the book to quote, so I'll cutnpaste what I wrote in a review of it for Overland in 2003: "As Hage notes in the Preface, there is nothing more hideously ironic than a world in which reality is so inverted that the denial of racism begin to sound like the only acceptable version of anti-racism; where, for instance, the [Australian] Prime Minister feels inclined to declare himself more offended at the accusation that he is racist than at the racism of the concentration camps over which he presides." By-the-by, I like Ghassan a lot -- the book was implicitly Keynsian (I called the review 'The Hopes of Political Economy') -- but at least his attachments to an implicit Keynsian never overtakes his revulsion toward xenophobia. But, I'll wait and see what's he has in the pipeline, which (interestingly) he's called 'Globalisation and the Political Economy of Hope'.

Recently we've been saturating the T.V. airways with alot of ultra-pro war propaganda.Not just carefully slanted news,but so-called 'educational'programs feature these same 'Gotta Kill 'em Before They Kill Us' mind set.

The most recent send up was on our 'Secret Forces'.Just like the film 'Men in Black', these folks go by initials only,and, just like the by-gone days of the American West,their job is the same; Move in with the people,make friends,indoctrinate, then murder all those whom stand in the way of the stated mission.This time we call them Al-Queda,Extremists,and insurgents.In the old days they were just 'Hostiles' and 'Renagades'.

Well the names have changed along with the dates,but, the tactics are still the same. You take a young man or woman, fill their heads with so much 'Gung-Ho' attitude that they believe the sunrise could be the enemy and 'sic 'em' on someone.That's actually an oversimplified statement.It takes alot to ruin a culture.

Firstly you get folks on the inside,you know,really make the people think you're on their side.Maybe even learn a few basic words in their language like ;'Thank-you' or 'Friend'.Then find a few souls that are willing to give you the benifit of the doubt and accept you as 'friend'. All the while,learning the weaknesses,the strengths,locations of food stores,defensive stores,the how's and why's of folks actions and reactions to eachother within that culture.Then after you know all that,you can devise a removal plan for the inhabitants.and an aquisition plan for the resourses and valuables.Then hand out awards and decorations to 'The Vanquishers' thus completing the Nation Building.

This is going on right now in Iraq,Afganistan, Columbia,and smaller nations,but a short look backwards can tell us how little things have really changed.

In the American Northeast we moved in with the Nations,learned their ways,acted as friend and brother,and when it was convienient dispose of them.Washington,Jefferson,and Jackson all used Indians for what they could get.If they could'nt kill them off their land,they would swindle them,or force aggreements upon the people that were made with folks whom had no athority to make such deals.It was the open hospitality of the Tribes that made getting information easy. As soon as anything of monetary value was found amongst the People,they were no longer 'Friend' and 'Brother'but rather 'Hostile','Renegade'and favorite of the day...'Bullet Catcher'.

The Cherokee were so 'Civilized' the had Mansions,schools,blacksmithers,and stores within their Nation.What happened? They found gold in 1829,They were 'Removed" by the following year,forced to walk 'The Trail of Tears'.Such is the price of assimilation. The Ho-Chunk and Menominee were displaced by the discovery and subsiquent usage of lead found on their lands,oh yeah, they had a couple trees too. The Cheyenne and Lakota were friends at first,when we only wanted passage through their lands for the 'Iron Horse'Too bad they did'nt know then it was the beginning of the 'Get rid of these Savages' movement,or they may not have waited for the Great Liar,Gen. Custer.I can say that about him because not only was it true,but I'm his Great-Nephew,and that's what he did.He got in with the people,had a family(I'd like to meet my cousins someday)became friend of the People,found gold,screwed them all,and paid the Liar's Price.Uncle Bad...Indians Good.

They went after religion too.Lodges broken down,Spiritual Elders killed,and the 'Mother-of All-Putdowns' the massacre of 300+ Men,Women, Children,and Elders,With WMD,for practicing thier faith at Wounded Knee.The reward for these 'heros' was The Medal of Honor. Slaughter of the helpless has always been worthy of 'honor'amongst the 'Rulership of the Tyrants'.

It has been the continuation of these practices that has formed and still forms our concept of 'Manifest Destiny'The taking of America was just the 'dress rehersal' for world domination.

Great wealth creates great lunacy.The lunacy that you can poison every living thing for money, the lunacy that coersion and intimadation are viable methods of diplomacy,the lunacy that killing is somehow our divine right under the god of the almighty economic denomination.

Have we as a spieces become so droll that acts of violence are our first response,so arrogant that we force people to accept our ways and then dispose of them at our convience,or so blind that see no consequence for heartless actions?

It is possible to manifest a destiny that includes all people.We just have to give up the idea of Peace through Force,I'm sorry, Strength. That coersion is longer lasting than cooperation. That threats of death work better than gaining concensus to solve problems.In short give up the kindergarten attitude of control by force and aquisition by theft.

The Chinese centuries ago knew when they discovered gunpowder,that it would not be good for 'average' thinking people to have.Why? Because these dullards blow things up when they run out of reasons to talk!If the foregoing statement had held sway,Damascas would'nt have invented the gunbarrel in 1050,suits of armour would'nt have been made,the Dutch would'nt have invented barrel-rifiling to penetrate armour,Rulerships would'nt have become so fond of conquest as a way to gain land,wealth,and power without this great substance.Maybe so many would'nt have had to be felled at Gettysburg,or Birmingham,or Kent State.or for that matter WW1, WW2,Korea,Vietnam,Afganistan,Iraq,Chicago or L.A.

How about,just for the sake of life itself,we stop killing.All weapons,the ones the Government owns,both public and secret,weapons held by State,County,Cities and Towns,and all personal defense/hunting weapons be destroyed.

It starts with all the World Governments disarming...everything from handguns to cruise missles to space-based lasers,tanks and warships. Then the States disarm,no lethal ability of any kind.Then and only then would the citizens of the world feel safe enough to disarm themselves and serious dialog could ensue with all the People of the World.

If we allow ourselves a brief second to imagine life without fear of force,the first thing that comes to mind,my mind anyway,is how many hundreds of billions of dollars that won't be spent on feeding the killing machine.That could mean; Everybody would have a safe home. Everybody could have healthcare. Every man,woman,and child would have good food. The water could be made pure. The air could be made healthy to breathe. Dispair would'nt force people to crime or addiction,because there would be the ability to create real oppurturity,true enterprise zones in the inner city with schools with smaller class sizes,better equipment,and better administrations that don't create indroctrinated workforcers but rather respected,wellrounded individuals that are educated and able.

Usually when folks meet each other on the street 'I wanna blow yer head off' is'nt their first thought.Unkind thoughts generally are not our first response.That alone tells us that deep within our being,we know each other to be good,and that is how we really want to treat each other. The deathculture crazies don't want us to be any thing like that,there's no profit in it.

It must be clearly understood...There is no profit in Deathcultuer thinking! Stop supporting the resourses of the rulership.Get out of that thinktank,stick your toes in the mud.Learn to respect life in as many ways you can think of, then stop and look some more,because new ways are abundant.Respect people as people frist.Not because they have money or big guns hanging around their necks,for both of those things make them only slightly better the a shaved ape.

We can change the world as a whole,as a People. We just have to change our minds.Change from being fearful,greedy,toddlers with guns and angry attitudes to Cheerful,Generuos Adults with compassion for all as caretakers of the Earth.

I already know the group I belong to,so you'll find me in the south where the spring is blooming and the fullness of life is comming alive,sharing my life with alll of life where you don't need a gun.

“what matters is not ideology, not even the "economico-ideological" distinction or opposition, but the *organisation of power*.” Deleuze, in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari Capitalism: A Very Special Delirium

“One finds the old trick being played everywhere again and again: a big ideological debate in the general assembly and questions of organization reserved for special commissions. These questions appear secondary, determinded by political options. While on the contrary, the real problems are those of organization, never specified or rationalized, but projected afterwards in ideological terms.” Guattari, in Capitalism: A Very Special Delirium

“a simple dilemma: either one finds a new type of structure that finally moves toward the fusion of collective desire and revolutionary organization: or one continues on the present path and, going from repression to repression, heads for a new fascism” Guattari, ibid.

“we cannot be content with these analogies and affinities; we must also try to construct a social practice, to construct new modes of intervention, this time no longer in molecular, but molar relationships, in political and social power relations, in order to avoid watching the systematic, recurring defeat that we knew during the '70s, particularly in Italy with the enormous rise of repression linked to an event, in itself repressive, which was the rise of terrorism. Through its methods, its violence, and its dogmatism, terrorism gives aid to the State repression which it is fighting. There is a sort of complicity, there again transversal. So, in this case, we are no longer only on the theoretical plane, but on the plane of experimentation, of new forms of interactions, of movement construction that respects the diversity, the sensitivities, the particularities of interventions, and that is nonetheless capable of constituting antagonistic machines of struggle to intervene in power relations.” Guattari, in Pragmatic/Machinic .

From Dan Smith’s paper: Guattari-

“Why have revolutions gone badly? Because, until now, there has not existed within the revolutionary field a social machine that did not produce something else—namely, an embryonic State apparatus, or a party apparatus, which is the very institution of repression. Until now, revolutionary parties have constituted themselves as synthesizers of interests, rather than functioning as analyzers of mass and individual desires. The question of revolution has to be pushed to the level of desire: if it is desire that organizes power, is desire capable of organizing a social machine that does not reproduce a State apparatus? It is not enough simply to say that escape, resistance, and deterritorialization is primary in any social system. What is necessary is an organization of power that is capable of organizing and uniting these modes of escape without reproducing a State apparatus. This is why, for Deleuze, it is the concept of the war-machine that poses the true problem of revolution: “How can a war machine account for all the escapes that happen in the present system without crushing them, dismantling them, and without reproducing a state apparatus?”

[from the discussion following “Five Propositions on Psychoanalysis,” in Desert Islands, pp. 279-280: “Today, we’re looking for the new mode of unification in which, for example, the schizophrenic discourse, the intoxicated discourse, the perverted discourse, the homosexual discourse, all the marginal discourses can subsist, so that all these escapes and discourses can graft themselves onto a war-machine that won’t reproduce a State or Party apparatus.”] [in Smith, p19]

D&G gesture toward “a war machine that does not necessary have war as its object, but it led to war only when it encounters a State apparatus that attempts to appropriate it […]the war-machine, which has its own objects, its own space, its own composition” [smith, p20]

“the analysis of the war machine as an organization of power […] we need to recover this idea of the war machine in our thinking of resistance—but that, of course, is a topic for another paper” [smith, p20]

[Two Concepts of Resistance: Foucault and Deleuze, Daniel W. Smith, presented at the SEP conference in August 2004]

Someone remarks, who escapes me at the moment, that the multitude does not have a general will, because it has a general intellect. That is, the multitude has common powers of production and constitution – powers of thought, in Agamben’s sense of thought, powers of autonomous sociality. The general intellect is the central productive force of postfordist production. So the thing that makes the multitude so productive for capital is also what makes it so dangerous. And yet... maybe there's something messianic here, something epochal as Angela puts it... Marx's delirious vision, I'll have to check, but I remember them being predicated on a historical shift in which general intellect becomes important. The multitude is the rule of the many over itself, against the rule of the one. And yet, to say this happens because of the general intellect? I'm not sure. It sounds like this is a theory of the exhaustion of the rule of the one, the end of the one, not a critique. More bluntly: it means that now, as good Leninists, we stop being the same type of Leninists there were in 1920, and adopt new tactics and strategies. It's post-party and seizure of the state, not anti- these perspectives. Communism is possible only now, and libertarian communism likewise. I'm not convinced.

Howdy, from the Northwestern USA. I have been protesting the American Imperial Troops, needless slotter of fellow human beings in the Arab World! And it seems to be going nowhere/ as in getting no change accomplished. The same goes for the Capitalist machine that continues to gobble up the mother Earth, and spits out useless objects for the endless consumption , by the Human Race. Is there no end to the distruction of the small and helpless creatures? Is there anyone out there with a plan, that works? As in acomplishing some real change, in a positive direction. Please email me if you have some ideas that might create, a more peaceful and healthier UNIVERSE! guss PS In Washington, Idaho, or British Columbia.

Below, scroll down some, is an excerpt of discussions around euromayday and the upcoming April 1st mobilisations for Freedom of Movement -- and precarity. Obviously, I've an interest in how the debates around precariousness unfold.

On the one hand, euromayday has been heavily inflected by attempts to come up with a common orientation, and 'precarity' has for some time been working its way toward assuming the status of this common orientation. For its most enthusiastic proponents, the coupling of euromayday and precarity has been a way to lobby around the European constitution for the codification of rights. Alex Fotis (Chainworkers) and Greenpepper have been quite explicit about this lobbyist aspect and wanting to position ‘precarity’ as a "one multiple and federated fight". (Notice the 'one' that precedes 'multiple'?)

For reasons which are not really clear to me, Greenpepper have continued to prioritise the publication of discussions on precarity which (whatever else is happening) don't confront the statist assumptions of either a recourse to 'rights' (as strategy) or (more disturbingly) the assumption that 'precariousness' should be seen as the search for security, the latter which apparently reigned during the Golden Age of Fordism. (I say prioritise, because they seem determined to not let critiques of such understandings trouble what they profess to be "Provocations". Yes, they want a discussion, responses, involvement, but only if it conforms with the underlying aim of finding a common, overarching programme; a way to re-figure the idea of the 'unity of the working class' so as to represent it within the terrain of the state, basically.)

On the other hand, the noborder networks are critical of the euromayday propositions because having worked on the issue of migration (as something other than a convenient preamble to elevating a 'left wing alternative' to the European consititution), they are perfectly aware that orienting a movement around the assumption of the state as saviour is not only utopian (in the sense that it ignores and idealises what has actually been happening with the European-wide harmonisation of migration controls) but dangerous (in the sense that it willfully forgets the critique of the state as a racialised, biopolitical entity and tries to rejuventate what is, basically, social democratic -- if not liberal-democratic -- political approaches).

So, on the other hand, there is a second call for a European Day of Action around freedom of movement.

This is an excerpt from the callout: "When we talk about the European constitutional process we think first of all of its material dimension, that is of the way the integration process has taken place concretely in the last years. A European citizenship is in the making, and we must focus our analysis on the way the borders of this citizenship are constructed and managed, both in their external and in their internal dimension. Detention center for migrants have played and continue to play a key role in this process. Although they have taken different shapes in different countries, they are actually European institutions, within a unified framework which promoted even an externalization process of camps beyond the « external » borders of the EU - from the Balkan to Libya and Marocco."

Thankfully, the paper from the Frassanito-Network isn’t evading a discussion of the traps of the motif of 'precarity', even though they want to continue using it. But nevetheless, importantly acknowledging that there is a tension between a 'precariousness from below' (of which migration has been a part of) and 'precarisation from above'. The responses from some others (also appended) are interesting to read too.

But what is particularly interesting in all of this is that these debates parallel (exactly) the debates over 'globalisation' -- those who wanted to position 'globalisation' as a bad thing (and hence the need for regulation, etc) confronted by those who said, 'Hey, globalisation is, among other things, migration; the globalisation of labour. The forms you talk about (the WTO, the various summits, etc) are responses to this, attempts to manage what was always preceded by movements.' Then, as now, the debate wasn’t so much about those who were ‘pro-globalisation’ versus those who were against; but about social democrats versus autonomists, libertarian communists, anarchists, those who didn’t accept the distinction of 'benevolent state' / 'bad capital'. But what this easy return to statism as assumption tells me is that many of those who shifted to the various motifs of 'counter-globalisation', 'globalisation from below', etc really only did so because it became more fashionable, not because they understood what was at stake.

So while it has become no longer quite so fashionable to talk about 'anti-globalisation', the events of Genoa, the end of the cycle of anti-summit protests, Sept 11 and the 'war against terrorism' have reinscribed the assumptions of social and liberal democracy. Coupled with Negri’s more persistent attachment to 'absolute democracy', 'basic income', 'global citizenship', those democrats now imagine themselves to be at the cutting edge of radicalism. It might be that they are indeed socdems and liberals, but I think that in many ways this is as a result of panic, a subterranean desire to return to the apparent security of the general measure.

Anyway, I'm not really sure the pluralist-synthetic compulsions of this (which is part of the below): "to bring the different subjects into an intensified exchange, on a social as well on a political level; - to mediate contradictions and even concurrences within the respective realities; - and to pick out comprehensive questions as common themes" really addresses the issue of homegenisation in any meaningful way. It just gives a tighter rendition of political forms as commensurate with, well, the market, exchange, money as the general equivalent. And here I was thinking that 'precarity' was being sold as an anti-capitalist strategy... :)

-- begin excerpt --

Precarious, Precarization, Precariat? Impacts, traps and challenges of a complex term and its relationship to migration

I. Precarious literally means unsure, uncertain, difficult, delicate . As political term it refers to living and working conditions without any guarantees: for example the precarious residence permission of migrants and refugees, or the precarious everyday life as a single mother. Better known was the term Since the early 80s the term has been used more and more in relation to labor. Precarious work refers to all possible shapes of unsure, not guaranteed, flexible exploitation: from illegalized, seasonal and temporary employment to homework, flex- and temp-work to subcontractors, freelancers or so called self employed persons.

II. Precarization at work means an increasing change of previously guaranteed permanent employment conditions into mainly worse paid, uncertain jobs. On a historical and global scale precarious work represents not an exception. In fact was the idea of a generalization of so called guaranteed working conditions a myth of a short period, the one of the so called welfare state. In the global South, in eastern Europe as well as for the main part of women and migrants in the north all together the big majority of global population precarious working conditions were and are the norm. Precarization describes moreover the crisis of established institutions, which have represented for that short period the framework of (false) certainties. It is an analytical term for a process, which hints to a new quality of societal labor. Labor and social life, production and reproduction cannot be separated anymore, and this leads to a more comprehensive definition of precarization: the uncertainty of all circumstances in the material and immaterial conditions of life of living labor under contemporary capitalism. For example: wage level and working conditions are connected with a distribution of tasks, which is determined by gender and ethnic roles; the residence status determines the access to the labor market or to medical care. The whole ensemble of social relationships seems to be on the move.

III. Precariat an allusion to proletariat meanwhile is used as an offensive self-description in order to emphasize the subjective and utopian moments of precarization. Through the mass refusal of gender roles, of factory work and of the command of labor over life, precarization has really a double face: it is possible to speak indeed of a kind of flexibilisation from below. Precarization does not represent a simple invention of the command centers of capital: it is also a reaction to the insurgency and new mobility behaviors of living labor, and in so far it can be understood as the attempt to recapture manifold struggles and refusals in order to establish new conditions of exploitation of labor and valorization of capital. Precarization thus symbolizes a contested field: a field in which the attempt to start a new cycle of exploitation also meets desires and subjective behaviors which express the refusal of the old, so called fordist regime of labor and the search for another, better, we can even say flexible life. However, we think that precariat as a new term of struggle runs in an old trap if it aims at a quick unification and creation of a dominant social actor. Precariat gets even into a farce, if the radical left tries to legitimize itself as main force in its representation because of the increasing involvement of leftist activists in precarious labor and life conditions. But the main point is that taking into account the hierarchies which shape the composition of the contemporary living labor (from illegalized migrant janitors to temporary computerfreaks), the strong diversity of social movement and respective demands and desires, nobody should simplify precarization into a new identity. We are confronted here with the problem of imagining a process of political subjectivation in which different subject positions can cooperate in the production of a new common ground of struggle without sacrificing the peculiarity of demands which arise from the very composition of living labor. In these conditions, we think that precarization as complex and contested process - can offer a frame,

- to bring the different subjects into an intensified exchange, on a social as well on a political level; - to mediate contradictions and even concurrences within the respective realities; - and to pick out comprehensive questions as common themes.

We are thinking of process which bases on the autonomy of the various struggles, which fosters the communication between the struggles, which invents new forms of cooperation and which opens new fields.

IV. Particularly because migrants experience all mentioned forms of depreciation and precarization of nowadays work, and particularly because mobility is their answer through and against the borders and identities, they show in their subjective conditions all the main characteristics which shape modern labor as a whole: in their subject position a common ground of the existence of social labor today finds a peculiar expression. To talk about migrants labor means to talk about a general tendency of labor to mobility, to diversity, to deep changes, which is already affecting although with different degrees of intensity all workers. Because of the possible extension of these conditions we speak of a political centrality of migrants work. The position of migrants represents the social anticipation of a political option to struggle against the general development of labor as it will be extended to the whole society and the whole life of all people. At the same time, we are aware that migrant labor as well as precarious labor doesnt represent an homogeneous subject: the process of subjectivation we were talking about is a process which must go through migrant labor itself, and which can be fostered by an increasing communication with other struggles and with the demands of other sections of contemporary living labor.

attached responses:

Some comments on the text about precarity and migration.

I think that the texts should refer (at least briefly) also to the issue of social security and the tendency to conceive it in terms analogous to civil security. In my view, this leads to a social securization which - together with the precarization of work condition - completes the framework to understand precarity as a life condition. In other words, social security is more and more framed according to the model of civil liability and damages reclaiming (law of tort, in common law systems): social security implemented through (individual) rights claimed in courts (the clear example is the USA model where you ask for damages in every situation: from compensation in case of a lung cancer to compensation if you are born with disabilities. But in Europe we see similar tendencies).

This model has several implication with regard to migration: - first of all, it is a tendency analogous to the privatization of border control. Also in this second case the model is a civil responsibility model. This is clear with legal institutions such as carrier liability for transporting illegal migrants, but also in the case of employers conceived as private agents of border management: institutions like the contratto di soggiorno/ contract of stay contain clauses for the refunding of repatriation expenses and other similar clauses. In other words, civil responsibility is a key instrument in the process of governmental management of borders which shed light on the connection between border securization and social securization .

- Second. The migrant condition is paradigmatic for what Ive called social securization. A clear example is the recent EU directive on the deregulation of social services which introduces the country of origin principle. This means that an enterprise is subject to the law of the country where it is legally registered (instead of the country where it supplies the service). But this also means that a worker brings with him/her the social security system of the country where the enterprise is registered. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon (a frequent case regards workers of the maritime transportation sector), but the Bolkestein directive is not limited to the labour regulation: it extends the principle to the whole social services system. This is perfectly consistent with the model highlighted in the previous paragraph, and it leads to important consequences for migrant labour if we consider it together with the process of EU expansion. .

- in political terms all this requires that we further specify the movements claims and analysis. Of course this is only my view, but I try to bring up some example. A) When we talk about flex-security (a concept which I find a bit unclear and, although we do not use it within the frassanito network, in Italy is very fashionable) we need to further specify the concept with regard to the work mobility. B) social cooperation is not a given achievement of the supposed community of precariat. The other side of precarization is an xtreme fragmentation and atomization of the social claims. Social cooperation is a form of political struggle and, at the some time, a battlefield to be conquered against tendencies which lead to a reverse direction. This is true also in the case of transnational networks of migrants solidarity (which are not naturally given but are conquered and constructed). In my view, it is important to underline it in order to reclaim the political meaning of transnational spaces of cooperation. C) As it is underlined by the ambivalence of the civil responsibility model with regard to claims implemented trough the instrument of (individual) rights, we do not have ready made models (in other words, ready made alternatives to corporative models of claiming). Alternatives need to be continually re-discovered and re-defined.

next attached:

dear friends,

very briefly some comments on the precarity-paper. I strongly support the things about the "traps" included in the concept of "precariat", in the sense that it evokes a sociological perspective (like, defining who belongs to the "group" or "class" of precarious) I think we have to be very careful not to re-invent what the traditional left did with the term class/proletariat. This is why we probably should consider to not use this term rather than to be forced to make distinctions every time. Instead we should, I propose, to focus on the process of precarization and on what "class" meant in the alternative reading: to include into its definition centrally the struggles of precarisation, since it is the struggles of the subaltern that establish the new forms and levels of conflict. In my eyes it is also very important to think about what mentioned attached as the forms of "collectivness" or solidarity. Much of the precarity-discourse today is backwards-oriented (like defending the sunday as a holiday, certain concepts of the fordist family etc.) and it seems to me that this it is the result of a conceptual shortcoming. What would be the adequat line of flight regarding for example social security (is it basic income?), What are the limits of community-projects e.g.? on a global scale there seems to be a debate on land-ownership as a strategy for reducing the dependance on commodties/global market. How to combie the different aspects of precarity: how to reduce social unsecurity without again linking it to a social stabilization of living forms (e.g. the nuclear family).

I thought I'd left my preoccupations with Rorty and other less heterodox analytic types behind, and had given up on the idea that there's a political corrollary to attacks on the idea of language as representing reality. And yet ... Tim Rayner sent me (and others) a copy of a paper of his, in which he writes "In place of Hardt and Negri's insurgent multitude, driven by the 'will to be against', I would posit an insistent multitude, driven by the right to life." And suddenly, with that combined feeling that dreams have, of absolute familiarity and awkward vague half-rememberedness, I have a blurred rush of fragments from Rorty and arguments around him pop into my head. I've sold and given away many of those old books, and don't have the time or patience to reread them even if I found them again in the library, but I'm suddenly tempted. Here's the question: To say 'will to be against' or 'right to life' as drive of the multitude, what does this mean? What is the status of the person who articulates this drive to the multitude? Is it someone who knows the languaged and structure of the multitude? That is, this is the multitude in its own terms, the language the multitude itself uses? Or is the speaker someone who knows the essence of multitude, its truth, such that the speaker articulates the real language (the grammar?) of the multitude? This is the language the multitude would use to understand itself if it did (or could) understand itself, analogous to the idea of language understanding the world in the world's own terms (carving up the world at its joints). Or is the speaker an interlocutor for multitude, taking the many languages and making them intellegible [sp?], an act of translation and speaking for, an act of representation? Or is the speaker simply saying "here is one vocabulary by which we can analyze the multitude", with the merits of one or another vocabulary being judged by their effects (the possibilities they open and close, render clear and opaque)? My feeling is that the speaker is one of the latter two (interlocutor or analyst), and if the claim is to be one of the first two, then the speaker is definitely an interlocutor, and an interlocutor using (whether inadvertently or deliberately) questionable assumptions about language to mask the position of power that is interlocutor. To my mind, there is no "world's own language" and not "god's eye view" which we can speak or look from. Language, in a half-remembered quote from Rorty, is the repetitive use of a mark or noise. Our terms are tools, contextually relative, and best judged pragmatically. For instance, with temperature, neither 0 degrees celsius nor 32 degrees farenheit is any closer to the actual measurement by which the universe measures temperature. There is no such measurement. Terms are ours, and that's all. And with the multitude, part of the force of the idea, to my mind, is to say that people with all sorts of motivations and thoughts and vocabularies can figure out how to work together, to form organizations, without previously sharing or having to assume the same vocabularies and beliefs. Multitude as a concept points toward paying attention to the encounters between the various constituent moments of the multitude, and how they manage to relate. And surely the standard for success can not be the production of homogeneity, or the concept of multitude loses much of the point it is deployed for (the productive co-existence of difference that does not have to collapse into identity). Ie, to show again that I still have an embarrassingly old fashioned vocabulary in which I pose the questions that most matter to me, the multitude points to looking at material practices, not ideas and consciousness. And maybe at times there is a use to saying 'this practice expresses this will or this drive', but that will or drive must always be remembered to be a theoretical extrapolation, a useful fiction (which is not to say we can't use them), it is a tool we can and probably should use, but it's not the essence of the multitude, the truth underlying its actions regardless of what it (or its component parts) may think.

We have this big 'push' going on lately from so-called "Christian Conservatives'.These are the same kind of yahoo's that washed up on this land 400 yaers ago.They were 'christian' and conservative of their own intrests,and sure of their god-given right to slaughter helpless Elders,women,and children to stake out their chunk of paradise and have the first 'Thanksgiving'.

Today's batch of so-called 'christians'seems to be an arm of governmental control,policy makers and captains of industry.Hardly the 'Life of Poverty' we've been taught it was best to aspire to.By the way,the truest definition of 'poverty' is a life free from lust for money.Not grovelling in food lines and picking bugs out of your flour like we define 'poverty' today.

Now these governmental and 'Corpie' type 'christians' are all over the place.Telling us what to watch,what to wear,whom we should hang out with,whom we should hate,and whom to trust. They have no concern for women's rights,except in the home,or for the caretaking of the Creation.These 'christians' are responsible for poisioning all life.By their Industrial operations and the environmental laws they help get passed by their 'christian' politicians.Whom later make sure fat contracts go out to these same folks,who, in the course of their doings,bring us to this 'christian' war.

I have highlighted the word Christian in this discussion because there is good reason for the diffrence.The actions of the 'Christian Conservatives' are,well...the actions of the Anti-Christ.This statement comes not as an attempt to raise someone's hackles,but after long observation of The Beast.

Would Christ develop an Atom Bomb? I don't think so.Would Christ build a plant that poisons every living thing by it's operation,then pay workers squat on top of endless hours of toil? I think it's safe to say NO.Would Christ weave a ball of lies and deciet and use every possible means of media with full pomp and circumstance to 'Terrorize'people into war? No. These are the actions of those who shit in the face of "Love thy Neighbor" and "Turn the other cheek".

They turn the other cheek only to shield their faces from the blast.They love only the neighbor who can pick up the tab.Their axiom is 'Blessed is he who swings a mighty cross,for he shall aquire the world's wealth" Last time I checked people like that were called 'Blowhards'and their actions were seen as hipocritical.

The big problem with 'Christian Conservatives' isn't their virus-like influence.It's the fact that they are hung-up on horrifying,tortureous death.That's why they worship a mutilated figure,streched on a stick,hungout like last weeks wash.Completely missing the point!!

The man Jesus had to through that hell wrought by men because he taught that WE ARE living beings that never die.He came back to prove it too. Twice actually,because Thomas did'nt believe it till he saw him all hacked up.Some people are just hard to convince.He must have been a conservative.

So this is your notice all you 'christian conservatives'.All your cross waving and bible thumping are meaningless trappings that conceal hearts given over to the blackest of orifices.We see whom you worship with your cruise missle collection plate and M.O.A.B. chalice.

You serve a deity that measures it's congregation by 'the bottom line'.Whose only mantra is 'Conquest and Control' for 'Profit and Plunder'.Your God is paper pictures of dead genocidal maniacs with numeric symbology.One that calls for the heads of every living thing so the 'chosen' laplickers can have their 'Earthly' reward now.Because for these folks heaven would royally suck.

Everybodies happy,you don't need money,there's no pollution,noone's scamming you so there's no reason to kill.In short it would be 'Christian Conservative' Hell.Maybe we could give them Hell-on-Earth here...now...today.

Maybe today we could not have bad thoughts for eachother,maybe we could do something because it's the right thing to do and not for the most profit.Perhaps if an industrial plant were made that was harmless to the environment we could hearld it as a true Legacy for future generations of our human family.Perhaps if we wake up to the notion that The Creation smiles on all of us equally,there will be no more misguided notions of superiority or necessary control.When our actions are expressed as kindness to all, harm to none,then we're where we should be.

We won't be 'conservative','libral','right', 'left', or even governmental.It would become unnecessary.We are the only ones who can change our world,by simply changing our minds.When we treat everyone like family,wish harm to no living thing,solve problems for the benifit of all,and take care of the Planet that gives us all life,we are living lives that are deep in spirit.

As for the Anti-Christ Christian Conservatives we can only say..."Forgive them,they know not their heads are in their ass".

Simulataneous with the developments in the robbery there occurred a ghastly event of much greater political importance. After a row in a bar in the Short Strand area of Belfast, amongst republicans who knew one another, a man was barbarically murdered. The fight involved a gang of IRA members and two local men. One was beaten and had his neck slashed. His friend brought him outside both so as to stop the assault and get him medical attention. they were pursued out of the bar and Bernard McCartney was attacked by up to ten men who hit and beat him before slashing his throat and cutting him open, from the neck to the navel. Afterwards they went back inside the bar, cleansed the place of forensic evidence, took the CCTV tape and ordered those present to stay silent and reveal nothing to the police, as 'this was an IRA matter'. They then retired to a house a nearby to get rid of clothes and other incriminating evidence.

Community outrage was immediate and concretised around the defiant attitude assumed by his family towards the local republican oligarchy. They demanded that the IRA lift any hint of threat towards those who might testify. What makes this situation extraordinary is that all involved would consider themselves republicans.

The dreadful nature of the lynching could not but suggest parallels with savagery of the Shankill Butchers and brought an association with psychopathic violence from which the IRA -- irrespective of the often cold nature of its logic - had until then been free. Ten years ago such an incident would have been unthinkable.

In order to prosecute the war it was necessary to have the active collaboration of the community and not mere passive submission. The IRA attracted many prospective members and were able to choose the best. Involvement meant risk more than privilege, and this same risk demanded discipline. One of the unresolved contradictions within provisional republicanism has been its need to continue recruiting members despite the end of the military phase of the conflict. Immediate dissolution of the military wing would make dissident republican organizations the only game in town for those attracted existentially to that lifestyle. The ceasefire soldiers, 'johnny no-ops' know only the privileges of the organization and none of the risks. Few have experience of prison and the process of political education that it entails.

Last summer, I was in Belfast at a gig in Andersonstown, hauling my booty around on the dance-floor. At the end of the evening some young men called me over. initially they asked me if I was on drugs (alas no!) and then proceeded to inquire about my background, politics etc. They were young volunteers, and boasted openly about it. They were also sectarian as fuck, and taunted me by saying that if I was serious politically then we could go now, get a kalashnikov from a safe-house where they had one stashed, and go kill a 'hun' (sic). I asked the most provocative when he had joined up - 1995, a peace-fire soldier. During innumerable visits to the north over the years no active republican had ever spoken to me in this way about protestants - I was shocked. It provided some sense of the corruption growing within the organization.

Of course the IRA has always had internal problems, but they were kept more or less in check. Intimidation was tolerated within the community on the basis of the force majeure constituted by the struggle against British power and self-defense against loyalist murder-gangs. Warriors, as has always been the case, were afforded latitude to select the manner in which the war would be prosecuted. Now the conflict is no more, the justification for tolerating this behaviour dissipates. The exercise of counter-government is only sustainable within a context where the external forces on the relevant community are mediate resentment at the policing taking place inside the community. This practice has been a recurrent phenomena in Irish history and there is extensive documentation of IRA courts in the 20s etc.

In movements uninfluenced by libertarian ideas the temptation to establish a "state within a state" seems irresistible. In a wonderful book (Andare ai resti) on the mutation in the composition and practices of the italian prison population since the late 60s, Emilio Quadrelli describes how the Red Brigades sought to turn the prisons into 'red bases' for the creation of revolutionary cadre, leading them to impose themselves coercively on other prisoners, establish commissions of inquiry to root out alleged 'informers', set up execution squads and conduct 'trials'.

"For years the institutional apparatus found itself having to chase, clash with, and constrain this sort of constituent power that, through a permanent process of destruction/construction had allowed the establishment of a dual power which not insignificant social classes identified with. But what made the emergence of this strange constituent power really worrying for the legitimate power was its extraneousness to traditional political logic. It was not simply, or not only, a military and political rupture, but even more so cultural and existential. The modes of conduct of the barbarous anomaly [diffuse rban guerilla, the prison population in rebellion] , also organizationally, do nothing other than reproduce a cultural logic difficult for the institutions to grasp. From this point of view the prison represented nothing other than that which on a micro level numerous social groups had experienced And it is thanks to this model that for years power had a lot of difficulty in re-imposing itself on the prison population. The new course, on the other hand, brought everything back within the logic, practices and methods borrowed from orthodox political and administrative models. Between the two worlds there was no longer rupture, but rather continuity." (loose translation from Quadrelli, p.145-146M)

to be continued

Angela and I have been emailing about stuff, and she's uneasy about my willingness to too quickly assimilate labor power and bare life. Fair enough. My friend Mark writes in a paper:

"it is Foucault’s thesis that biopower needs sovereign power, which is to say, the resort to violence in certain situations. People can never be regulated into complete passivity, at least not with the current technology, so there must be prisons and tear gas and fighter-bombers." I've written to him to ask for a page reference or quote in Foucault to support this. I think it's very interesting. Part of why I'm interested in the bare life/labor power thing is around the question of biopower/biopolitics -- I hear echoes of bad readings of Lukacs and the Frankfurt School in some senses of biopower/biopolitics: managed life, recuperation of everything, no room to breathe or to (think) resist(ance).

One maneuver in response to this is to foreground the blood and fire required to create the capital relation in the first place, in the processes of originary primitive accumulation, and to emphasize the continuity of this process over time -- at micro level and macro-levels (ie, processes of management and hidden acts of brutality, and big visible crackdowns). Angela objected to the implication in some writers that all of us are subject to being bare life, and not virtually but actually. As I took the point, she says that while turning from reading Marx as a critique of private ownership (the Marxism of state socialism) to the critique of the value form, of labor power, is an advance, there's still a homogeneization at work there. Clearly not all of us are in camps, being tortured, starving, etc and not all of us face the same level of real threat of being made bare life by the sovereign's decision. Maybe part of the response, then, is to look at bare life and the 'silent compulsion of the market', bare life and primitive accumulation: there would be multiple levels of bare life, perhaps? Levels in terms of scale: camps, police stations in the US (the experience of Abner Louima [sp?] and Amadou Dialo -- perhaps an analogy with Debord: diffuse camps vs concentrated camps? a structure of integrated camps?). This touches on another question I have reading Agamben. The sovereign decides on the exception, whether or not to except. But why? Why does the sovereign decide? It strikes me that one source of the sovereign's need to decide is social emergency. (For instance, the state of siege declared in Argentina, December 2001, a social crisis, a fiscal crisis, leading to state of exception and political crisis.) Does this emergency have to be seen solely as eruption or can there be quiet emergencies? (Falling rates of profit perhaps, breakdowns of work discipline, family/sexuality structures?) Or are the big conflagrations the earthquakes - the visible manifestations - derived from subterrenean processes with long histories? Back to reading Marx again, maybe? Thinking about the entirety of the processes of accumulation of capital, (re)producing value/the capital relation globally - globally in terms of geography, in terms of time, and in terms of functionality for capital (labor of 'production', distribution, consumption, reproduction, etc) - focusing here not as a totality (ie, not trying to think from a transcendent position) but as a set of connected points, where something can go wrong at each point. Bare life, then, as perhaps a moment of the global process? Not that we are all bare life all the time, but that making some people bare life some of the time attempts to quash specific types of subversion, and to prevent their spread or their being supported by other points (nodes, in Alquati's terms [or is it Dyer-Witheford?, sloppy very sloppy]). Ends up sound banal, maybe - police repression of some to keep the whole machine running, an injury to one is etc..., but maybe it is banal, theoretically - but still a pressing political issue...

books books books...


Subscribe to RSS - blogs