Radical media, politics and culture.


Yes, I've been a bold bugie, because I did mean to respond promptly to s0metim3s but have been overwhlemed by all of the other things. But it's coming. I should add that the mini-review of Ballestrini is just a note which I'll be using as aprt of a longer review of his novels (L'Editore. Gli Furiosi, Vogliamo Tutto and Gli Invisibili) although i may leave out the last as it's available in english. Time and my patience permitting I'll throw it against a background of some of the contents of the history he assembled with Moroni and Bianchi. s0metim3s encoragement helped push me over the topp on this decision. Reading novels isn't exactly hard work either.

What follows is just a quick run down of some of the books that I'm using for an article in progress on the history, present and limitations of the social centres in Italy. Foreign vistors never cease to be amazed and inspired by such spaces, so much so that in both Ireland and the UK there is a gathering trend with left-libertarian circuits to make their creation a priority. Hopefully this article will help contextualize some of the choices that are inevitably made within such a process.

One article which I won't be using incidentally is a little piece by Naomi Klein. She is so incredibly misinformed on Italy, possibly because she has been misled (!?), even though she is plainly fascinated by the CSOA. But when she refers to social centres of the north-east as being anti-authoritarian or "anarchist", well it's nmot a matter of being fussy: it's like calling the pope protestant.

Other suggestions, particularly accounts which I don't think exist social centres in english would be of interest.

(1) This was a phenomena especially pronounced in Rome and Bologna. See "Il Cerchio e la Saetta", Andrea Tiddi, Costa &* Nolan, 1997, Genova.

(2) "Centri Sociali: Geografie del desiderio, Dati, statistiche, progetti, mappe, divenire", Consorzio Aasrer, Centro Sociale Cox 18, Centro Sociale Leoncavallo, Primo Moroni, Shake Edizioni Underground, 1996, Milan.

(3) Leoncavallo - Un Percorse di Cittidinanza Attiva

(4) E Varsovia brucia, Luther Blissett, Quattrocentoquindici, 1996.

(5) Centri Sociali di seconda generazione", Lorenzo Sansonetti,in Posse, 2002, Rome.

(6) Centri Sociali, Che impresa! Castelevecchi, Rome 1996.

(7) 10 settembre 1994, Velleita Alternative, 1995, Turin.

(8) Culture eXtreme, Massimo Canevacci

(9) Derive Approdi 12/13 p.95 - 109

(10) L. BERZANO, R. GALLINI, C. GENOVA Liberi tutti. Centri sociali e case occupate a Torino Ananke 2002 (11) "Vita e nuovi lavori ngeli spazi autogestiti di bologna - socialita, formazione, reddito, biopolitica", EFESO, 2001, Bologna.

(12) Leoncavallo S.P.A., Un Percorse di Cittidinanza Attiva Andrea Membretti, Derive Approdi, 2003, Rome.

(13) 'A Love Born of Hate': Autonomist Rap in Italy -- Wright 17 (3) Theory, culture and Society

(14) Nick Dines, Self-Managed Social Centres in Naples in the 1990s, Transgressions 5

(15) "Italy's social centres - a thousand human stories -" Steve Wright

The L Magazine wants your short fiction.

The L is happy to present Literary Upstart: The Search For Pocket Fiction Beginning on March 3 at the Baggot Inn, selected writers will read their unpublished fiction (1,000 words or less) in front of a drunk and discerning audience, with a chance to win $200 and publication in The L Magazine.

Submission Guidelines: Unpublished work of a 1,000 words or less. Email: fiction@thelmagazine.com. Snailmail: Fiction Editor, The L Magazine, 20 Jay St., ste. 207, Brooklyn, NY. 11201 (please include full contact info and a SASE — so we can, you know, get in touch)

Some members of American society brand the social classes with the terms, “the Haves” and the “Have-nots“. Not only is this overly simplistic, but it is downright absurd. Founded on a free-market economy in a democratic republic, surely in this society man’s income is not handed to him, social class not determined for him, and fate not fulfilled by the government for him. No primogeniture or feudal system oppressing the citizens exists; instead, a constitution ensuring equal opportunity for all. Equal results are not guaranteed. Those who are mindless, weak, and dependent on others to live their lives must have government dictate their life for them. Fueled by one’s own desire, one must fulfill his or her own destiny. American society allows for this lifestyle; moreover, encourages it; every citizen has the choice to be a Have or Have-not. And it is up to the individual to decide if having or not having is important at all. Man must decide this for himself, for only he knows the right answer, not the government. Therefore social class cannot be determined by one’s material possessions but by his or her mind and heart. There is no difference between the Haves and Have-nots other than their material possessions.

A couple of months ago Steve Wright published an essay - "Operaismo, Autonomia, Settantasette in Translation: Then, Now, The Future" - of particular interest to me, both as an english speaker who has lived and explored Italy in recent years, and as occasional translator, fascinated by the one-sided perceptions of the Italian experience common abroad, largely (IMHO) deriving from the very selective range of material available in the english language.

Wright makes this point in the context of the celebration of Hardt and Negri's Empire, underlining the fact that they represent only one element of a broader tradition and also that some Negri's work cannot be considered to be representatiove of the positions or interests animating operaism and its various derivatives today. His own book remedies some of these defects (Storming Heaven) and is a fundamental text for anyone interested in the revolutionary politics in the second half of the twentieth century as it provides a roadmap to the convoluted "percorso" that led from Quaderni Rossi to La Classe, Potere Operaio, Lotta Continua and Autonomia Operaia.

Anyway, I'll discipline the tangents which are tempting me. I mention Wright because there are two books in his list of 12 (to be translated) which I like a lot. The first is Nanni Balestrini and Primo Moroni's ""L'Orda D'Oro" (The Golden Horde) and is easily the best historical account of the modern Italain revolutionary movement. Ballestrini, a militant and poet, produced several key novels in the 1970s and 80s which insert the political conditions inside first-person narratives that allow one to make sense of the subjectivity involved.

We Want it All (1971) Currently I'm reading another of Ballestrini's tales, Vogliamo Tutto - We Want it All. The protagonist is a young worker from the south forced to emigrate to Milan in the search for income. He hates work but needs money to support a hedonic lifestyle at night and finance extended vacations in his home town. After burning his bridges in Milan, he moves to Turin and takes a job in Fiat. The year is 1969 and Mirafiori is boiling. Initially his shirking strategies are private and individualistic, faking injury, playing the dullard and generally subtracting himself at every opportunity from the gruelling labour of the factory. Meanhwile students are hanging around the gates to Fiat, talking of politics, of strike, of action against the bosses. After confrontations with the managers and line-supoervisors he decides that it's time to struggle collectively. So begins the epic struggle of 1969, central to the hot autumn, a huge confrontation with the aristocracy of Italian capital - Agnelli - conducted outside of the unions. The latter in fact are savagely critiqued as sell-outs, uninterested in workers' real concerns, collaborators in the commodification of their labour. The workers want to take back control over time, subtract themselves from the infernal rhythm of the factory, abolish the system of categories that keeps them separated according to grade, and fight for equal and uniform wage increases for the entire workforce. That July the demonstration against pension cuts in Corso Traiano transformed itself into an enormous battle with the police. The energy and violence of that day, that grounded an important part of the imagination of the radical left for the next ten years. The cinema would occasionbally portray this rejection of the factory system, notably in Petri's "La Classe Operaia Va in Paradiso" (The Working Class Go To Paradise), where a Milanese factory worker who enthusiastically reaches his quota and cooperates with management befgore losing a finger in a workplace accident. This is the catalyst for the breakdown of his compliance. He demands a strike 'till the end, is fired and then reinstated due thanks to the union. In the interinm he has a terrible dream of pushing his way through a wall to get to paradise, which turns out to be populated by workers who are still sweating. The factory has so overwhelmend him that he can only see things in its terms. Thus even a meeting with his son outsidfe of a school becomes the occasion for him to remark that the children seem like "so many little workers!"

Another stylistic element is the shift in voice, from a freewheeling indivuidualism in the first part of the book to a collectivist language lifted from leaflets, slogans, addresses to assemblies... The assumption of class consciousness is literally materialized in the subsumption of preceding egoism in the 'mass'.

Anyway it provides a fascinating insight to those times, ways of life and mentalities. The style is similar to The Unseen: no punctuation, retention of a vernacular feel to the account - I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that also Vogliamo Tutto is a product of interviews.

The Unseen (1987) His only work to have been published in english is "The Unseen", translated by Liz Heron and published by Verso. In my view this unjustly ignored novel is in bad need of resucitation - perhaps the rejuvenated intertest in "autonomism" will inspire Verso to re-issue. The Unseen tells the story of a young militant in the Milanese hinterland and his experience of the movement as it gathered pace and faced crises as the seventies progressed. I love it for being set in a small town where the decision to assault the heavens carries a much heavier burden thatn the relative anonymity of the metropolis. The protagonist recounts his everydfay existence, the misery of labour and the its increasingly determined refusal, the confrontation over the use of armed force, the passage to prison and the terror of state retaliation following the prisoners revolt at Trani. Some years after first reading the book I discovered that "Gli Invisibili" (as it's callled in Italian) is actually the story of Sergio Bianchi, founder of the publishing house Derive Approdi -- as well as being a lover of good whiskies ;) -- Apparently Balestrini interviewed him and then assembled the transcriptions. Balestrini has a curious style that eliminates punctuation altogether, giving the writing both a sense of stream of consciousness and also preserving an idea of oral history. This is probably no accident given his intimate friendship and collaboration with Primo Moroni, archivist of the movement and arguably the father of social and oral history in Italy.

The Editor (1989)L'Editore can somehow be seen as a bridge between the events of Vogliamo Tutto and Gli Invisibili. The publisher in question is Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, revoultionary, founder of what is today the biggest chain of bookshops and one of the country'm most impportant publishing houses, and scion of a tremendously rich dynasty built on industrial and financial interests accumulated over the preceding fifty years.

Feltrinelli's mangled body was found at the foot of an electricity pylon near a small town outside of Milan. Official reports hypothesized that he had blown himself up whilst planting explosives designed to blow up the structure and cut-off the supply of electricity to the city. Individual pieces of evidence as well as the fact of Feltrinelli's enormous wealth contradicted the official thesis. Why after all would one so wealthy preform such act himself rather than employing a specialized commando? Was it likely that someone of his resources would be equipped with unconvincing falsified documents?

But the guts of this book - being written fifteen years after the facts hardly presumed to be an intervention into an open case - lie in its unpacking of the left's rerlationship with violence in this crucial period. A long series of bloody fascist attacks had begun with the atrocity carried out in Milan's Piazza Fontana in 1969 (which resulted in the state-murder of Pinelli, made famous in Dario Fo's "Accidental Death of an Anarchist") and intensified the fears of many that a reactionary coup d'etat was in the pipeline. This fear was especially diffuse amongst those who had fought in the resistance, felt betrayed by both the recycling of fascist elements of the state and the Communist Party's succumbing to a moderate electoralist approach. This anxiety was reinforced by the failed coup attempt led by the former commander of the elite fascist regiment X Mas, Junio Valerio Borghese, in 1971 (he subsequently fled to Switzerland). Opposition to the use of political violence, and defense of "republican legality" thus became a tenet of orthodox PC-flavour communism. Feltrinelli had left the PC after the Russian invasion of Hungaria in 1956, had spent substantial periods in Cuba where he befriended both Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

Yet, as Balestrini explains, Feltrinelli develoiped his taste for the communist guerilla at home, amongst those embittered ex-partisans who did not give up, but concealed, their weapons and continued to bring yopung recruits on camping trips to the mountains to acquaint them with the topography around the cities, and established shadow-cells in local party sections with the responsibility of keeping watch on nearby armouries and generally preparing themselves in the case of any eventual necessity to return to clandestinity. Fascist provocations were frequently the occasion for the re-emergence of this more militant antifascist spirit that could not be contained within party prerogatives but exploded in the street. The most famous example is the popular uprising in Genoa 1961, where the population confronted the police in order to prevent the planned party conference of the MSI (Movimentoi Sociale Italiano, former ruling party under Benito Mussolini). On that occasion members of the PC, the radical left, anarchists, workers organizations (with the legendary dockers armed with steel hooks, tools of their trade at the forefront) administered some stiff lessons in proletarian violence. Partisan culture was the umbrella under which these elements found common ground and many looked forward to the day when the rifles would be disinterred.

This aspects raises its head repeatedly during the 60s and 70s in stories ranging from social criminality as expressed by Sante Notaricola (author of L'Evasione Impossibile and role-model for many of the newly jailed 'political prisoners' at the end of the 60s and beginning of the 70s) who as part of the Cavallero gange was involved in numerous ared robberies in Milan and Turin (immortalised in Baditi a Milano directed by Lizzani which recounts the job done on the Banco di Napoli). Likewise some of the Red brigades first weapons were given to them in trust by former partisans, and in toiwns such as Reggio Emilia some of the latter were in fact the point of aggregation around which such a sensibility gathered. Feltrinelli frequented a PC section in Lambrate charcterised by the same culture, and its influence is evident in his having named his own organization GAP, echoing the historical paretisan formation with the same initials (Gruppo di Azione Partigiano).

Ina ny case street violence was very much part of the cut and thrust of everyday italian political life, as Franco Piperno remarked last year, only a seminary of priests could have been shocked about it at that time. Piperno himself was head of an organization (Potere Operaio) whose watchword was "Insurrection" and who studied and serendaded the IRA in Ireland with the intention of applying the model in modified form in Italy. On hearing they were communists the Provisionals promptly directed them to the officials who showed them round the country and found them billets. Republicans were invited to the annual conference held in Florence in 1971 (the Black Workers Congress, emanation of the struggles in the auto industry in Detroit were also present).

"Danzica, Beflast, Torino, Meridione, Questo e' la marcia dell'insurrezione!" By late 1973 Potere Operaio had dissolved amidst growing internal problems (Rosalina, June 1973), Lotta Continua was also in difficulty and a new game was begining, they too would dissolve although their paper continued to be published and in many regions they survived as recopgnizable formations right up to the early 90s. Part of PO tried to constitute itself as the organizational structure for autonomia (Rosso) whilst others embarked on a path that would conclude in the armed struggle (Valerio Morucci Co.)

That same year the first national assembly of autonomous workplace committeees took place in Bologna and if it's possible to put a location and date to the birth of Autonomia Operaia, this is it. More anon. These are just notes after all...

Christian Marazzi's "Il Posto dei Calzini" - Where the Shoes Go - is the other book on Wright's list that enthuses me. All the theorising of the linguistic turn in the economy etc derives from work accomplished by himself and Virno. I'll resist temptation to go into it now as I don't have the text handy.

Bennett stands amongst the few modern irish writers really wortth reading. This is his forth novel and perhaps his best after the Catastrophist. His early work, "Overthrown by Strangers" and "No Second Prison" had a distinctly noir quality but staggered in moments. In th elate 1970s the author was framed for a paramilitary crime he did not commit but nonetheless paid for with several years in jail. Whilst incarcerated he came in contact with he Anarchist Black Cross and upon his release he moved to the UK to live with some of its most active figures, including Stuart Christie as the latter recounts in his recently published "Granny Made me and Anarchist."

These days Bennett writes frequently for the Observer usually on themes related to prison, juvenile detention and suicide. A couple of years ago he was interviewed by Black Flag, the first hint I had of his political persuasion.

"Havoc, In its third year..." unfolds on several levels, narrating the story a concealed catholic and inquisitor, his wife and their struggle to save their recently born son. Simultaneous with this the inquisitor is called to interrogate and gicve evidence against an incendiary irish woman charged with the murder of her child.

The strong twist of noir injected made me tyhink occasionally of Luther Blissett's "Q" one of the few other historical novels from the period to have taken my fancy. Whilst an incensed and ascendant puritan vengeance hastens to hang the irish woman for a crime she did not commit -- and to send good part of the town's poor and dissident population with her -- the protagonist pursues the truth behind the infanticide convinced that it will alllow him to unmask the the hyprocritical and authoritarian clique exercising ever more terrible tyranny on town and country. Ultimately the book's injunction is to eschew the desire to judge and condemn, to substitute vengerance for mercy. Asd I write these lines I'm reminded of Agamben's plea for amnesty, for a refusal to make bad use of memory. Peals of libertarian abolitionism ring through Bennett's text, even as the conflagration tightens apocalyptically around the book's figures and their vindictive moralism sharpens. The snakiness and diabolical malleability of power in the hands of his childhood friend completes the grim landscape of power. At the end between the hell of sectarianism and consumption by the world's self-destructive course, the only path unbarred is that of exodus.

Habeas corpus e pluribus unum

Abstract This paper examines the legal-political subject that is called forth by habeas corpus and the biopolitical terrain that it assumes as both precondition and task.

Habeas corpus (meaning: 'you shall have the body') has been routinely associated with the defence of individual rights against the right and force of the state. In austere legal terms, a writ of habeas corpus obliges the presentation of the body of the detained before the court, so that the court might ascertain the legality of that detention. It is commonly regarded as an index of the distinction between democracy and tyranny.

Habeas corpus has featured prominently in court cases relating to the internment of undocumented migrants by the Australian Government and those incarcerated by the US Government in Guantanamo Bay. As habeas corpus has unravelled in the course of those proceedings, as attempts to give it effect have become more compelling, it--along with similar codifications of rights that are customarily associated with it--has assumed an exemplary political status beyond the courts.

That is, beyond the anticipated proposals from self-declared liberals for a more ample application of habeas corpus, a palpable sense of catastrophe--which is to say: the so-called 'War on Terrorism,' the seemingly endless war in Iraq, and the ever-widening scope of Australia's concentration camps--has, perhaps not surprisingly, prompted others to resort to similar prescriptions. For instance: Judith Butler has called for an extension of the Geneva Convention to recognise 'non-state' actors; Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt have called for a new Magna Carta; and recent Mayday events in Europe emphasised the need for a more adequate code of rights for precarious, immaterial and undocumented labour.

However, the initial and important question to be asked here is precisely how those writs of habeas corpus have thus far been rendered inoperable. For instance, how did the Australian Government evade the legally successful writ of habeas corpus when its commandos took those aboard the Tampa hostage? In each case, the jurisdiction of the courts has been "found wanting". Given that inoperability, the question becomes: precisely what do calls for the expansion of rights such as habeas corpus facilitate?

Exploring the subsequent and related questions that arise from this is the main focus of this paper. Questions such as: What subjects are being composed (or decomposed) here? What diagrams of action, work, resistance, sovereignty and jurisdiction are being assembled and disassembled? What is the relationship between the increasing preponderance of precarious, immaterial and undocumented forms of labour and calls for habeas corpus to have a more expansive and satisfactory reach? What are the protean but nevertheless tangible historical coincidences of the habeas corpus of jurisdiction, the habeas mentis of General Intellect, the habeas mutatis of 'flexible production systems', the habeas data of cyberspace? What kind of body--indeed, what kind of life--is being summoned before the court, and what might this court look like? In the course of this paper, the works and concepts of various Italian writers--such as Agamben, Negri, Bologna, Lazzarato, Berardi--will be used to bring to the fore what is at stake in those writings and in discussions around them, considering them for, but also beyond, their theoretical appeal.

I’d like to begin by posing a couple of questions. What is jurisdiction and how is it changing? And: What are the forms of subjectivity that are elicited in the process?

These two questions underscore what is at stake in considerations of habeas corpus and its current troubles. So, what is the current predicament of habeas corpus, that ‘Great Writ of Liberty’ as it has been called since Blackstone? To put it as briefly as possible: while this ‘Great Writ of Liberty’ has featured prominently in almost every legal proceeding relating to the internment camps and so-called Border Protection, it has yet to deliver anything that might look remotely like, well, liberty.

Which is not, for a moment, to identify the circumstances of a legal writ with the situation of those who are interned. It is, I think, a condition of radical practice and theory to not invite a confusion of the two, the identification of bodies with and through the law’s apprehension of them, or rather: of us. That way lie too many disasters. To put it more acutely: this paper is, in one sense, an argument against the law’s apprehension of us, including what ‘us’ or ‘we’ might mean.

Because in confronting what may well seem to be a state of permanent war, a normalisation of a state of emergency, the rapid erosion of protections against the arbitrary powers of the state in the so-called War on Terror—there is simply no way to calculate the extent of this injustice, and nor should there be—in this terrible context, it becomes all too easy to assume that justice can be served by the law and that our task is therefore to serve the cause of the law, its more adequate or sufficient elaboration.

Franco Berardi has spoken eloquently on another occasion of “panic war”, of the ways in which this panic produces the aspiration for the return to the general rule, that the greatest danger in this panic is the militarisation of the intellect. This return to the general rule and the militarisation of the intellect can take many forms. E pluribus unum, which translates as ‘from the many into the one’ is not simply the motto of Hobbesian sovereignty, although it is that as well. But more on that later.

To return to habeas corpus: As Agamben argues, habeas corpus is not at all the guarantor of freedom it is assumed to be in liberal-democratic politics. Rather it is, the presentation of the body before the court—the staging of the law’s authority to decide in relation to that body, in relation to life—that is put to work in the procedural writ of habeas corpus.

What habeas corpus ratifies in its procedures is jurisdiction. Whether it results in the release of people from internment—which has yet to be the case—or not, it is jurisdiction that is at issue, and the recognition of bodies therein. Jurisdiction refers not simply to the scope or reach of the law’s authority, as is well-known, but also to the declaration that constitutes this authority. It’s no coincidence I think that in discussing the processes of interpellation, the processes by which people are rendered into and recognised as subjects, Althusser opted for a scene in which a cop yells, ‘Hey, you there!”

In other words: juris-diction is also the language—the diction—of law and of right, of juris. To put it another way: it is the language through which power is translated into law. The monopolisation of violence by the state—its constitution—becomes established as norm, habit.

Consider the events around the Tampa. While the Australian court upheld the writ of habeas corpus, the Australian Government and military rendered that decision obsolete. That is, less than 48 hours prior to the Court’s judgement, those aboard the Tampa had been moved to a military vessel, removed from Australian territorial waters and thereby beyond the jurisdictional reach of the courts.

Therefore, for much of this period—let’s say between 1989 and 2003—habeas corpus has been rendered inoperable by a discrepancy between the law and the military. During that time, US Courts have routinely ruled against writs of habeas corpus, in their terms, “for want of jurisdiction.” The same has been the case in Australia, given particular effect by the so-called “Pacific Solution,” the excision of parts of the continent from the migration zone, and so on.

That is, an inconsistency between violence and norm. That inconsistency has come about not because of some inherent tendency on the part of states toward extra-legal violence—although that tendency exists and is inherent. Rather, it has come about because prior structures of nation-states (and the international system erected during the Cold War) have been rendered insufficient to the task of controlling the movements of people by the extent and scope of those movements since the late 1970s.

In any case, that discrepancy is now in the process of being surmounted, and it does not bode at all well.

Before going into that, it might be useful at this point to indicate just how important inconsistency has been in the exercise of habeas corpus as a protection, as well as in the very possibility of asylum, refugee policy and so forth. To be very clear on this point, this is not the same kind of discrepancy just noted, that between violence and law. But it is a discrepancy nevertheless which takes the form of a conflict over and between jurisdictions.

Habeas corpus gets its reputation for being a “writ of liberty” from those historical occasions when it functioned as an expression of conflicts between Kings and barons, or between different levels of jurisdiction. Asylum too emerges in the context of a conflict between Church and State; leaving aside the fact that the very possibility of flight is premised on there being different jurisdictions. Without these conflicts, neither habeas corpus nor refugee provisions function as the possibility for flight, let alone the chance at freedom. Without such conflicts over jurisdiction, these policies become, as has been the case since the end of the Cold War and with the ‘War on Terror,’ a device in the organisation of labour markets. The particular form of the Tempororay Protection Visa is but one example of this device.

But, as mentioned, those inconsistencies are already in the process of being overcome. The most recent instance of this is, of course, the ruling by the High Court that it is perfectly legal to keep people in indefinite detention. The law has indeed caught up with violence, and far from resulting in any increase in protections against that violence, it has instead normalised it. Contrary to William Pitt, tyranny does not begin where law ends. Rather, tyranny becomes normalised where it becomes codified as law.

Given this, calls by Judith Butler for the inclusion of “non-state actors” in the Geneva Convention, or those by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt for global citizenship are not simply dubious, but actually and politically redundant.

Extensions to the scope of recognition or citizenship are nothing other than arguments for the extension of jurisdiction, if not simply for the diffusion of a juridical subjectivity whose precise corollary is that of abstract labour.

First, it is all too easy to render the processes of internment, border policing and war according to a motif of inclusion-exclusion. But this is really not what happens. As Sandro Mezzadra has argued with regard to Fortress Europe: “policies on migration, despite their rhetoric, do not aim to hermetically seal … borders. Their objective, and their effect, is the establishment of a system of dams and eventually the production of an active process of inclusion of migrant labour by means of its criminalisation.”

Secondly, the reach of particular states has already extended well beyond the putative territorial borders of those states. For instance, the Australian Government has “airport liaison officers” around the world, as well as Just-In-Time paramilitary squads, bureaucratic and legal personnel running other states in the Pacific and South Asia. Not to mention the extent and scope of similar arrangements by US and European Governments, or the rise of a militaristic humanitarianism which has already resulted in the conjunction of a global juridical rights discourse with violence on a global scale.

And thirdly, all of the above and more besides, indicate something broader on the horizon. As noted before, E pluribus unum—from the many to the one—is not simply the motto of a Hobbesian sovereignty, although it will likely be most familiar as that. In this motto resides the whole limit-point of political philosophy—Plato, Rousseau, Hobbes, Spinoza, Hegel. The problematic, as it is construed here, is in one sense quite simple: how to unify multiplicity?

More often than not, the particular answers given to this question are deemed worthy of criticism only to the extent that they deploy a project of unification based on homogenisation or transcendence. Most of us here are well-acquainted with a critique of those, and rightly so.

But e pluribus unum does not simply circulate as political philosophy. In its more common manifestation it circulates as the slogan on US dollar, the de facto global currency.

Which is to raise, in quite explicit terms, the fact that capitalist forms of subjectivity—and subjection—do not require recourse to either a transcendental plane or homogeneity to function. Money unites, in its fashion, through the general rule of abstraction, measure, calculability.

Capitalism operates through, as Deleuze and Guattari argued, the axiomatic, the “differential relation between abstract and quantitative flows.” Capital produces an indifference to and abstraction of concrete labours, the qualitative differences between the creation of this or that. This synthetic-pluralism is perpetually flexible. Codes can be added and exploited in an infinite categorical and innovative expansion. This is the very meaning of a flexible production system.

This is the micro-physics of the multitude, of immaterial labour—in their subjection. It is time to take some distance from Negri’s fantasies about the multitude which present it as a better, more adequate vanguard, replete with its own destiny in global citizenship as if this amounts to freedom. There is nothing destinal about freedom, as Jean-Luc Nancy has pointed out. It is always about physics, the movements of bodies.

The citizen-commodity is cynical and opportunistic, but that ability to circulate cynically and opportunistically is safeguarded by reworking the distinction between public and private space. Antagonism is deemed impolite, ruled out by procedures which privatise difference, rendering its intractable moments as being ‘beyond the pale’. Flexible productions systems allow for competition, but not antagonism. Antagonism draws attention to the rules of relation, exchange and communication through which the market operates. Competition abides by those rules.

As Augusto Illuminati wrote some time ago: “the individuation of the citizen-individual brought about by the rights State, the rule of law, … administratively distributed legality so as to reintegrate the underprivileged classes within the fiction of a guaranteed community in exchange for renouncing the virtual subversiveness of difference.”

The absolutisation of democracy which Negri and Hardt propose—and which Sylvere Lotringer has called (in the introduction to Virno’s Grammar of the Multitude) their “strategic embrace of Empire”—expresses nothing more than the universalisation of abstract labour in its globally juridical form. In this global factory, antagonism cannot be nurtured by a habitatution to or aspiration for the general rule, recognition or inclusion. Divested of its critique of capital, money and the wage form, celebrations of the common risk being nothing more than consolatory forms of belonging, a temporary respite, if not simply another idealised and idyllic version of the marketplace which apparently functions with neither violence nor exclusivity. Human capital plus the internalisation of the law as habit.

Panics are of no help here. Panics promote the etatisation of subjectivity, in one form or another. As Augusto Illuminati also wrote, “after the excesses of the emergency, one goes back to work, better than before.” Autonomy, if it is taken to mean a project rather than somewhere—like a brand name—one has already arrived at, means the rigorous subtraction of time, energy and affect from wage work, antagonism to the forms of subjectivity that the capital-labour relationship gives rise to. Without this, the ‘War on Terror’ will continue to be mirrored by panics that find temporary refuge in the juridical, in the desire for a justice which is always calculable and therefore inherently unjust—and the terrorism of money will continue.

Angela Mitropoulos Paper given (with thanks to Aren Aizura) at Italian Effect: Radical Thought, Biopolitics, Cultural Subversion (Sydney) September 2004

Note: this is a companion piece to "Habeas Corpus"here.

1. Italian Effect Conference 2. Franco Berardi on Panic War 3. Sandro Mezzadra on citizenship in motion 4. Jean-Luc Nancy 5. Augusto Illuminati on Unreprepresentable Citizenship 6. Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt on a new Magna Carta 7. Brett Neilson on Giorgio Agamben’s latest book, State of Exception 8. Sylvere Lotringer / Paolo Virno 9. Judith Butler, The Nation (2002)

Nuit.Et.Brouillard.(1955) Alain.Resnais

La.Terra.Vista.dalla.Luna - Pasolini

Sonic Outlaws - Craig Baldwin

Guy Debord - In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Just a Kiss - Ken Loach

The exceptional speed of Ireland's transformation in ther last decade renders much of the preceding corpus of writing moot. In 1992 No-one could have predicted that there would be growth figures of 8% through much of the nineties and early 21st century. Thus I'm refreshing myfacts with a bit of furrowing through two recently published works:

The Transformation of Ireland, Diarmaid Ferriter, London, 2004.Preventing the Future, Why was ireland so poor for so long?, Tom Garvin, Dublin 2004.

Hopefully Cork University Press are still producing their epistle series "Undercurrents" which excelled as a sort of "nutshell" snapshot of social policy with a decent criticval cut.

Other suggestions are solicited.....

New Year's eve was an orgy of illicit substances, as is practically traditional within a city now awash with drugs. A night spent gyrating madly to KLF and Sabres of Paradise was punctuated by excursions to the kitchen, which was more social than amphetamine boom-boom. A few familiar faces appeared amongst the crowd, for the most part new acquaintances. One was a musician whose brothers I've been friends with for years. For reasons I can't recall, we began talking about Dublin venues. He explained to me that in recent years it has become impossible for a band to play live without paying the venue. I was flabbergasted. Ten years ago such places did exist but were the exception, today apparently they constitute the rule. In order to play in Whelan's for example, a medium-sized pub-venue they pay 350 euros, for the benefits supposedly attached to association with the Whelan's brand(!!!). The tyranny of the venue managers doesn't finish there: they also retain control over the bill and choose who will do back-up. Bands are expected to make money through the balance taken at the door and selling CDs at the gig. Needless to say no-one receives a cut of the bar.

One of the reasons for Dublin's historically strong music scene was the relatively easy access to venues. My late teens and early twenties were spent in the upstairs venues of places like the White Horse, Barnstormers or the Cobblestones. The first two are now tatie bread under new managemwent, the last is now exclusively a trad venue to my knowledge.

Anyway, it's pretty humiliating that the parasites who have built made their profits on the back of promotional work done for them for free, during years of hosting small gigs, should use that as a pretext to help themselves to another slice of musicians cake. Fopr the performers themselves thwe situation is pretty grim: they are being fleeced by labels as well as venues, their only lucrative form of income derives from CD sales and hired entertainment work. Inevitably as the venues get their nails deeper into the cover charge at the door they will have to pump up the price of the CDs. Concert-goers will feel resentful and the goodwill that fuels purchases at gigs will dwindle as the music is available digitally from a friend anyway.

However the situation is worse still for bands whom are young and skint, unable to guarantee the 350 to the venue. What are they to do? If the discussion about a social center comes to fruition in dublin it should obviously try to address constituencies like this in a fair way. On new year's eve I inquired from my pal as to whether he'd play in an unauthorised venue to rid himself of the venue-manager's plague. His answer was affirmative and I know he's not the only one.

Otherwise they could learn an interesting lesson from the intermittents and get themselves if not a union, at least a coordination and stir the shit.

Hammett Chandler Ross Thomas Walter Mosley Chester Himes James M. Cain

James Cirni The Big Squeeze

The Come On

The Kiss Off

Timothy Watts: Cons The Money Lovers Steal Away (cloth)

Montalban Paco Ignacio Taibo Jan Willem Van de Wetering

Sjowall & Wahloo

Ross MacDonald

Jean-Claude Izou

Leo Malet


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