Radical media, politics and culture.

autonomous knowledge and power in a society without affects

hydrarchist writes:

The following essay was recently published by the Bureau d'Etudes and subsequently translated by Brian Holmes. The Bureau d'Etudes operate the Research center about autonomous knowledge and power.

autonomous knowledge and power

in a society without affects


Walking through cities connected to world distribution networks, we shift from one
imaginary to the next, from Monoprix™ to UGC™, from Friskies™ to the Guggenheim™
or Pinault™ foundations to MacDonald's™. Each time we activate fields of relational,
communicational or sensational possibilities, equivalent and interchangeable. The
commodity-possibilities© offered by world supermarket culture are born of desires
and needs conjured up by advertising and the media. They can only be actualized with
the money we have at our disposal, through our work and our credit at the bank. The
richest has a good chance of being right, because he's got the cash for it. He can
create his own commodity-possibilities©, and impose them on everyone else. An
equation associating truth, money, technology and power takes form: it allows you
to work on your own indoctrination, your own subjection. Foucault speaks of "regimes
of truth" by which he means the self-tightening circle in which the subjection
of individuals and the production of subjectifying truths reinforce one another.

Different kinds of autonomy stand out from this context. They reveal themselves in
the rising power of diffuse intellectuality, diffuse creativity and diffuse resistance,
exercised by individuals and collectives creating forms of life (expressive, dietary,
passional, urban), bringing forms of social or civil disobedience into play, developing
their skills and secreting meaning autonomously, critically.

These manifestations of autonomous knowledge/power provoke a crisis in the monopoly
of access to possibilities held by the productive organizations of consumer society.

Unlike a subjectifying truth-regime, an autonomous form of knowledge acts by resonance,
intensifying the potentials of being and deconstructing the complex machines, the
unipolar totalities that constitute our environment: technological and economic power;
bureaucratic, cultural and sexual power. The being who brings autonomous knowledge
and power into play is a potential being. S/he is not just there, frozen in a role
or trained to seek or desire a particular, normalized possibility, or to choose among
such possibilities. Her possibilities are not commodity-possibilities, controlled
and rationalized by the capitalist system, but real chances, possible destinies brought
into play by the activity of being.

deconstructing the complex machines,

to reconstruct them unconventionally…

Autonomous knowledge decolonizes possibilities, opens up the existence and potential
of being through horizontal exchanges of knowledge and experience: italian hacklabs,
in the domain of informatics; networks for the reciprocal exchange of knowledge;
amateur practices in biotechnology (critical art ensemble, a u.s.-based group of
artists and researchers); the struggle for access to extra-atmospheric space (association
of autonomous astronauts); video close to home (for example, in brussels by the art
group pttl); struggles for the shared organization and management of the environment
(water, in the case of the semapa, a group of local inhabitants in cochabamba, bolivia);
fights for the use of networks, in the case of seattle wireless (u.s.a.); struggles
over land, in the case of the sem terra or landless peasants movement' in brazil;
struggles over urban space, in the case of the squatters' movement in france; over
the circulation of people, in the case of kein mensch ist illegal (a social movement
originating in germany)... etc.

Autonomous knowledge can be constituted through the analysis of the way that complex
machines function. Deconstructing a program or an operating system in order to reconstruct
them unconventionally is exactly what the hackers or the free software movements
do. The italian hacklabs create an economy by placing knowledge of electronics and
informatics at the disposal of any interested person. They do not furnish services.
They are organizations that bring together skills in a more or less informal way.
They offer different kinds of expertise, transmitting their knowledge and know-how
for free.

The deconstruction of complex machines and their "decolonized" reconstruction
can be carried out on all kinds of objects, not just computational ones. In the same
way as you deconstruct a program, you can also deconstruct the internal functioning
of a government or an administration, a firm or an industrial or financial group.
On the basis of such a deconstruction, involving a precise identification of the
operating principles of a given administration, or the links or networks between
administrations, lobbies, businesses etc., you can define modes of action or intervention
on these businesses, lobbies or administrations. But to deconstruct a machine, you
must first have access to it and understand its functioning, or in other words, you
must access the information that constitutes it. However, scientific and technical
information, but also organizational information, are of very limited access today.
The desire to deconstruct the complex machines is therefore doubled by a demand for
free access to knowledge, and its free circulation. Colloquia and informal meetings
reject copyright both on forms of knowledge whose production costs are high, or whose
cost is maintained by the creation of artificial rarity; they reject the monopolies
and privileges that bureaucratic or commercial powers hold through intellectual property
rights or secrecy.

The importance of communications media (cell phones, computers, internet, radios,
televisions, CBs, photocopy machines...) for the constitution and sustained existence
of social movements and autonomous forms of life is well known. The use of these
media – and particularly of the internet and the associated computer technologies
– requires specific forms of autonomous knowledge which are produced and distributed
by collectives, cooperative networks, individuals: networks for the production of
alternative information, webzines (indymedia, nettime), infoshops (malocka in dijon,
infoshop la torre in rome, or more generally: www.infoshop.org), fanzinets, autonomous
televisions (free speech tv, deep dish and paper tiger tv in america, télé
bocal in paris, community access tv in amsterdam), publishing houses (l'éclat
in nîmes, b_books in berlin, ak press in the u.s.a./u.k., autonomedia in the
u.s, encyclopédie des nuisances, l'esprit frappeur, liber raison d'agir in
paris...), radios (kpfa in berkeley, radio popolare in milan), hacking (electrohippies
in the u.k., electronic disturbance theater (edt) in the u.s.a.), programs to preserve
anonymity (freedom, created by zero knowledge), operating systems with open-source
code (linux network, free software foundation), free suppliers of recorded music
(gnutella, morpheus, napster before its acquisition by the german group Bertelsman,
MACOS network: musicians against copyrighting of samples), cryptography (cryptography.org),
hosts of autonomous internet sites (www.enc.org, www.sindominio.net in spain, samizdat.net
in france), hackmeetings (for example, in barcelona in october 2000) and more broadly,
networks articulating multiple forms of knowledge, generally including forms of life
as well (earth first!, zapatistas/ezln, squatnet) [NOTE
, squats (the "okupa" movement and the occupied
social centers (cso) in spain represent social projects in a country without housing
allocations or any universal minimum income); and various modes of action similar
to those carried out in italy or in france: free transportation, self-service operations
(cost-free appropriation of basic consumer goods in supermarkets).

The inventions of militant forms of autonomous knowledge/power can be discursive
[NOTE 2] , but
they are mainly practical and "tactile": expressive knowledge (bringing
the self and the relation to others into play), urban knowledge (familiarity with
the localities and temporalities of the city), organizational knowledge (affinity
groups in seattle), tactical knowledge (understanding the thresholds of symbolic
violence, for example by the tute bianche, during the counter-summits), human knowledge.

These forms of temporary action can gradually take on a more durable turn: for instance,
many empty spaces were occupied during the november 17 day of action in italy [NOTE 3] , opening up
an opportunity to transform them into social centers or squats over a more-or-less
long term. During these encounters and moments of cooperation, the actions can be
organized in more lasting forms such as campaigns or occupations: as in the health-workers
movement in france which, beginning with temporary demonstrations, then set up durably
in public space. The same holds for the africans who installed a tent village for
survival purposes on a public square in the town of vincennes, france, or for the
sans-papiers movement in the form it took (after decades of "forgetting"
by public opinion) with the occupation of saint-bernard, then of saint-ambroise church
in paris. Such long-term occupations, abandoning the temporary character of the demonstration
or action, require specific forms of knowledge and skill, as illustrated by the recent
occupation of a district of madrid by striking Telefonica™ workers: the installation
of a life-possibility in urban space by illegal connection to electric grids, water
and sewage systems.

As long as the problem raised by the initial social movement has not been resolved,
the temporary action tends potentially to become permanent (depending on the energy,
willpower and tenacity of the actors, and on the passivity of the public officials).

But permanence has another origin: certain social movements are directly linked to
imposed forms of life (being paperless) or chosen forms of life (via campesina, confédération
paysanne, sem terra movement, squatters or social centers). These movements are not
simply caused by an economic downturn or linked to a public opinion campaign engendering
forms of regular symbolic action, but spring rather from a philosophy of existence,
from an interpretation of the relations of cultural, political or economic domination
by a majority, or from a general protest against capitalism or the state.

Such forms of symbolically constituted actions, occupying public or media space,
can be contrasted to other forms of action choosing invisibility as their mode of
appearance and organization. These other forms choose not to appear, to act secretly
or to disconnect entirely from the system. Exodus, disconnection, disaffiliation,
erasure, invisibility and disappearance are carried out by people without masters,
unqualified individuals who have escaped the magnetism of the planetary supermarket,
developing singular forms of knowledge, their own forms, "abnormal" ways
of apprehending and representing the real, "abnormal" relational or communicational
capacities and skills. These people without masters – who intentionally desert –
no longer respond to the demands for participation, for the production of meaning
(indeed, for the production of critique) that are issued by the economic, media and
bureaucratic powers. They exercise their power as authors in a mode where "it
doesn't matter who's speaking," the mode of the anonymous author or the unqualified
singularity, with the power of the multitude. In this sense, the author – even when
de-individualized and referred back to the collective ground of which s/he is the
voice and experience – breaks with the informality and indeterminacy of a fading
trace: the author makes him- or herself manifest as a power. She is the site where
we invent ourselves, breaking with any tradition, sovereignty, territory, or ancestry,
an endless insurrectional process appropriating only itself in the mode of becoming,
of transformation.

the economy and politics

of autonomous knowledge/power

In western europe, numerous informal or militant organizations (for example, squats
in france) and numerous collectives producing forms of autonomous knowledge/power
have signed agreements with local governments, selling services without seeking profit
or accepting public grants. But certain militant organizations, along with other
squats or social centers, workshops for the truth production and collectives generating
autonomous knowledge, refuse both agreements and grants and do not sell any goods
or services. These forms of disaffiliated autonomous knowledge/power to not have
any legal status: they do not fit into associative or cooperative formats. They generally
emanate from isolated individuals or informal collectives whose material, human or
financial means have nothing to do with market principles or redistribution.

We can therefore distinguish between an economy of solidarity, on the one hand, involving
autonomous knowledge/power – the so-called "third sector," which is always
more-or-less integrated to the general dynamics of capitalism (jean-louis laville
of the crida characterizes the economy of solidarity as an articulation between the
commercial economy, the non-commercial and non-monetary economy) – and the "invisible"
economy of autonomous knowledge/power, on the other.

The economy of solidarity often characterizes the informal economy as described in
studies of vietnam, indonesia or various african countries. Although based on reciprocity,
these informal economies are at the confluence of the domestic economy and the non-monetary,
cooperative market economy (the people's credit fund, a vietnamese network formed
of 971 cooperatives, numbering over 700,000 members; or the nyesigiso network in
mali, regrouping 46 village funds, savings and credit cooperatives, encouraging the
development of small businesses, with over 70,000 members; or kuapoo kokoo in senegal,
bringing together village granaries and grain banks, collective marketing systems,
craftsmen's organizations, multi-activity peasants' unions, rotating loan and credit
associations, savings-and-loan cooperatives and village savings-and-loan funds, mutual
health-insurance programs, neighborhood organizations; or the cofac network in uruguay
– cooperativa financiera de ahorro y crédito – bringing together 200,000 members
in 35 cooperatives; or the people's economic organization, or oep, in chile, bringing
together health collectives, collective kitchens and community gardens, associations,
with homebuilding cooperatives and systems of solidarity-based credit such as the
grameen bank).

The "invisible" economy of autonomous knowledge/power can be characterized
in the following way:

1 An economy of reciprocity, without the slightest intention of developing commercial
activities or being dependent on or subordinated to any criteria of public redistribution,
but without any intention of remaining limited to the domestic sphere either;

2 An economy of free exchange, i.e. without any criteria of belonging or any or cataloging
of the participants by status as a member, a volunteer or an employee, anonymous,
unqualified authors, no copyright (MACOS network, negativland)... This economy, if
developed in a complex way, could take the following form (cf. www.slip.net/~knabb):
Certain basic goods and services would be freely available to everyone without any
accounting. Others would be equally free, but only in limited, rationed quantities.
Still others, classified as "luxury goods," would be the visible in exchange
for "melting credits," i.e. credits with expiration dates so as to limit
excessive accumulation [NOTE 4].

The dividing line between visible and invisible autonomous knowledge/power finds
another expression in the distinction between the politics of representation (whether
negotiated or cooperatively constituted) and a politics that is at once iconoclastic
and without representation (radical democracy or direct democracy). Even more essentially,
this dividing line separates a juridical analysis of power (legitimacy, legalization)
from a productive analysis of power [NOTE

"Visible" forms of autonomous knowledge/power proceed by struggles for
legitimacy and legalization, or by cooperation with the public authorities. They
rest on a constituent, transcendental and anthropological definition of meaning.
Struggles for legitimacy and legalization are just one systemic strategy (among others)
for the reduction of complexity that is indispensable to the reproduction of the
system. The existence of such a society-system is assured by the statistical interchangeability
of individuals, and bolstered by the manipulation of the collective imagination and
the technical normalization of the field of subjectivity-formation. "Successive
subjects enter the inner workings of the system, but by the side doors only; thus
the system not only preserves its own systematicity (which is in a sense independent
of human consciousness), but also proves to have its own existence, independently
of one subject or another." (michel foucault, dits et écrits II, Gallimard,
p. 424) [NOTE 6].

The movements, forms of knowledge, and autonomous organizations resting on a productive
analysis of power emerge from the loss of man's centrality (the loss of transcendental
subjectivity or intersubjectivity), from the end of any transcendence, from the loss
of the meaning of political anthropology, from the systemic (and statistical) interchangeability
of individuals in the control society, and from the predominance of efficiency over
legitimacy. These movements, forms of knowledge and organizations seek an opening
of the possible through the multiplication of conflicts: they create contingency
and complexity, augmenting the "problems" (possibilities) instead of seeking
to resolve or integrate them.

In the productive approach to power, tools are not objects, and persons are not subjects.
The autonomous forms of knowledge/power open up the world in its multiplicity and
its potentiality. They exit the system by de-coding it, that is, by exceeding it
and overflowing it in all directions, refusing to be institutionalized, preferring
to exist in motion, remaining provisional and disappearing when the energy on which
they are founded begins to wane. The forms of autonomous knowledge/power are situational
and without any model, i.e. without any possible direction or any "promised
land," without any speculative discourse decreeing how the world should be,
without any general organization. "The traditional logic of political commitment,
which made the activist or the citizen [from the freemason to the believer] into
an appendage of the "Great Work," tends to be replaced by a new figure
of the activist, seen as an individuality inserted into various, mobile networks,
existing for limited time periods, often informally. This figure culminates [in france]
with the movement against the debré law [a set of laws on immigration], where
we witnessed a proliferation of individual initiatives articulated with networks
founded on proximity. Rejecting any form of the delegation of power or centralism,
indeed, any cooptation, the figure of the activist seeks to retain mastery 'from
a to z' over his or her words and actions. Although public space is not rejected
a piori (one need only consider the highly spectacular utilization of the media by
the social movements), it is increasingly not taken as a space of rational discussion"
(olivier blondeau, “L'intelligence collective au service des mouvements sociaux”).
The activist-researcher refuses the logic whereby an elite group works out a philosophy
and a political strategy which is then supposed to give rise to a mobilization within
and around the organization.

In many of these forms of autonomous knowledge/power, the activist becomes the media.
In this context, class struggles become struggles of language. The activist is "a
supplier of information and an initiator of action, at once a node and a relay of
the network" (olivier blondeau). An activist-researcher, for whom knowledge
is a foundational element of the struggle.

Potential politics

Power and wealth in a society of communication and information depend on control
of the circuits of production and distribution of data, and on access to stocks of
information and informational flows (scientific, technical, cultural, media information).
Such access is held by those who know how to separate truth from dissimulation, who
understand what is possible and how, and who are able to hide what they know from
others. Power is the power of secrecy, but also a capacity to manipulate the human
mind, the affects, the beliefs, the perceptions, and the hopes of human beings, a
capacity to domesticate the potential of human and non-human life.

In the current state of generalized warfare, tending toward the physical extermination
of excess beings on a massive scale, while democratic processes fade away and disappear,
do the forms of autonomous knowledge/power still have any chance of reconstituting
the rotting tissue of public life by means of struggles based on legitimacy and legalization?
Or should they not fight the invisible with the invisible, in other words, slip away,
disaffiliate, desert, and in this way, hollow out tunnels everywhere beneath the
edifice of capitalism?


[NOTE 1]

The ezln's use of cyberpropaganda was so effective that sites were created spontaneously
to distribute the zapatista texts. According to henri favre, the ezln represents
"the first post-communist insurrection of the 21st century" ("mexique:
le révélateur chiapanèque," problèmes d'amérique
latine 25, la documentation française, 1997, pp. 4-5). But even beyond cyberpropaganda,
allowing for the mass distribution of news in real time without recourse to the media
subordinated to the established powers, the internet also made possible the organization
of demonstrations throughout the world (and not just cyberdemonstrations) in support
of the zapatistas. In effect, the internet allowed the organization in early 1997
of protests at 29 mexican consulates in the united states. "In the cities where
we had no representatives to go to the consulates, local organizations contacted
us by internet to offer us their assistance" (guillermo glenn, quoted in gregory
destouche, menace sur internet: des groupes subversifs et terroristes sur le net,
michalon, 1999, p. 32).

[NOTE 2]

The discursive forms of autonomous knowledge/power appear notably in political discourses,
and in the rhetoric running through the tracts, speeches and publications of activists
or civil-society, union and political representatives. Indeed, discourse is the very
foundation of politics in the common sense of the word. Thus each political movement
in the course of its history invents its own language, its own fields of reference
and rhetoric, as well as its own reading of the history of ideologies. First it is
necessary to constitute the identity of the movement; then this identity can sometimes
(or even repeatedly, among the anarchists or the situationists) give rise to a divisive
logic, increasing the divergences, and provoking major expenditures of energy on
the process of fighting or neutralizing each other instead of acting together. Here
it will be a matter of distinguishing between the movements, attitudes and discourses
which are authentically anarchist, or not. To do so, one refers to the movement's
history. This history also serves to anchor certain strategies: thus, unlike the
fédération anarchiste in france with its "syntheticist" organization
(attempting to bring together all the currents of anarchy at the risk of becoming
a hodgepodge), the organisation révolutionnaire libertaire develops a so-called
"platformist" organization, in reference to the organizational platform
of the russian anarchists in exile after the revolution of 1917. The libertarian
revolutionary organization is one of the branches of the anarchist revolutionary
organization which split into two tendencies after the orléans congress in
1976 in France. The second branch would become alternative libertaire, aiming, unlike
the earlier formations, to develop a political party.

Certain political denominations involve situational political tactics, gradually
acquiring a meaning distinct from the original one. Such is the case of the word
"libertaire," invented as a way to get around a French law prohibiting
the sale or distribution of publications with the names of "anarchy" or
"anarchist." In the same way, the terms communism and socialism are charged
with a particular history.

[NOTE 3]

The date of november 17, 2001, in italy – the first day of social disobedience against
war – can illustrate the extent of this creativity: in venice, the demo decided to
move toward the British Consulate, which received a volley of eggs filled with a
red paint. In torino, statues commemorating war were covered with paper and cardboard.
In genoa, the disobedients occupied the construction site of a future mega-shopping
center to protest against the privatization of public property. In gorizia (a city
cut in two by the border with slovenia) a demo passed through both parts of the city,
thus rejoining an initiative launched by the "no-border social forum."
In milano, several hundred demonstrators blocked the access to a branch office to
denounce its participation in financing the war against afghanistan. In rome, hundreds
of people imposed free access to the exhibition hall. Outside, an immense banner
proclaimed: "Knowledge, a global public service. Free access. Income for everyone!"
In cosenza, military objectives were symbolically attacked. In reggio emilia, more
than 300 people used picks and shovels to expose a pipeline furnishing gas and energy
to several Nato© military bases in the region. Several barracks in milan received
bloody italian flags. In padua, the barracks were attacked with numerous smoke bombs
and firecrackers. In marghere (venice), several kilos of toxic mud were left in the
entryway to the chamber of commerce. In genoa, a gigantic table with organic food
was set up in front of a McDonald's™, offering detailed information against the multinational,

Other forms of legal or illegal actions: french penal law implicitly distinguishes
between two forms of legal political actions (the right to expression, in verbal,
oral or written form, but also in the physical and symbolic form of the public demonstration)
and three forms of the legal political actions (gathering in a mob, insurrection
and terrorism). Concerning political action, french penal law leaves open a possible
slippage of interpretation from the demonstration (which is legal if it is declared
– law-decree of october 23, 1935, recognized implicitly by article 431-1 of the new
penal code) to gathering in a mob (which is illegal according to articles 104 to
108) or even to insurrection (which is punishable with criminal incarceration and
fines from 1.5 to 5 million francs). A demonstration – although legalized by the
law of october 23, 1935 – can therefore quickly slip in legal terms toward gathering
in a mob or insurrection (both illegal and severely punished), if the erection of
a barricade or the occupation of the building by ruse or by force should occur...
The extra-parliamentary action of the legal mass demonstration is therefore subject
to the spontaneous policing of those who practice it, under the constraint of possible
punishment by these penal dispositions.

Lock-ons (chaining oneself to the fences around a building or an operating table)
or hunger strikes are specific forms of demonstrations. Other techniques include
the "die-in”, where activists lie immobile on the ground, as though killed by
some cataclysm.

The hunger strike as a mode of political action or protest has quite ancient origins,
if we are to believe georges duby, who sees the fasting of women married by force
in the middle ages as one of its first occurrences. In the twentieth century, hunger
strikes have often been assimilated to a female activism, or a "hysterical"
activism, by contrast to the world of real violence and real politics: the hunger
strike was denounced as "a petty-bourgeois method in communist circles and certain
far-left leninist circles in the early seventies" (johanna siméant, "grèves
de la faim en france," sociétés contemporaines 31, l'harmattan,
july 1998, p. 76). This form has been broadly used by the sans-papiers in the seventies,
eighties and nineties in france, and is currently used by prisoners in turkey among

[NOTE 4]

Free access to food and lodging, the satisfaction of vital needs, is no doubt the
first step toward liberation from all subjection. But if this liberation comes at
the price of a dependency or a subordination to a dominant party, its cost (the bond
of subordination) is displaced from the monetary to the psychological.

Liberation from subjection is therefore a preliminary to free access. Only beings
liberated from subjection to another party (but also to themselves) are able to make
free use of things. To escape domestication or subjection (shifting the cost from
the monetary to the psychological or behavioral register), a society of free access
must unburden itself of sovereignty and conceive itself potentially. As the precondition
of its very appearance, a potential society requires the disappearance of the sovereign
author, who prescribes, owns or gives.

One must distinguish between the gift and free access. The giver addresses his gift
in sovereign fashion, and may create a debt, a dependency or a state of subjection
in the person who receives. Free access is an anonymous or unqualified way of placing
something at the disposal of everyone, without any contract: it is without intention
and without expectation. Nonetheless, it may cause subjection or create different
forms of dependency (free and anonymous distribution of ecstasy allows one to get
to know the product, to use it and, possibly, to consume it regularly). Businesses
seeking to engage in the commerce of a new use or a new commodity or service must
provoke the desire and the need to use this new commodity or service: to this end,
they invest in the distribution of what are considered educational or loyalty-building
samples. Marketing uses "free" distribution of goods in order to create
a dependency or to install a new habit, a new need, new uses...

One should distinguish between free access with an author and free access without
an author; marketing and commercial projects involve the former. Free access without
an author can be called anonymous or unqualified access. (a) In anonymous free access,
individuals are interchangeable. The circulation of goods or services is not effected
from one person to the other. There are no senders or receivers. Anonymous information,
for example, is an aggregate, a common fund, a good which anyone can take because
it is accessible to all. Its principle is neither the sharing or the community of
information – the exchange of information between people who know each other – but
instead the sheer fact of availability without any expectation of return, and with
indifference toward the receiver. Anonymous information is produced, distributed,
collected or just picked up by anybody. If meetings between senders and receivers
come about, they are brief and unique, without identity or recognition, without stakes
or project. The information enters temporary conjunctions inducing random and provisional
groupings of senders and receivers, in mobile contexts rendering any sovereignty
and any constituted power impossible. (b) In unqualified free access, the individuals
are not interchangeable: they are whoever or whatever, but they are themselves, wholly
singular. There are concrete senders and concrete, embodied receivers. Groupings
occur through intensive affinity, and are not statistical or random. The unqualified
author breaks with that absence of quality that is anonymity: she manifests herself
as a power.

[NOTE 5]

Just as one can differentiate between the "invisible" economy of autonomous
knowledge/power and the economy of solidarity, articulating the market, non-market
and non-monetary economies (whether public or not), one can also differentiate between
autonomous movements, forms of knowledge and organizations which accept, or do not
accept, to "work with" the public authorities, or at the very least, to
produce political representation. This debate arose in the italian social centers
in 1998: "on one hand, the tute bianche and the social centers of the milan
charter (september 1988) were increasingly involved in an institutional, social-democratic
framework; and on the other hand, the social centers, squats (mestre, padua, torino...)
and the experiments in social and union self-organization took their reference points
from 'class autonomy' or from the variegated expressions of anarchy, from the squatters
to the italian anarchist federation" (cf. sandra k, "faux-semblants sans
fard en combinaisons blanches," french translation of a text from umanità
nova, weekly of the italian anarchist federation).

The second kind, refusing any mediation with the institutions, are taxed by the former
with being nostalgic for class identity, or even with being a reactionary left. The
former are taxed with being the social-democrats seeking a "conflictual reform
of the welfare state" through the demand for universal rights (citizenship income
in particular), thereby abandoning both the class struggle and communist subversion.
These differences in position to back to the 1970's when the italian potere operai
group was described by the anarchists as the "great unifiers of organized autonomy,"
bureaucratizing the very concept of autonomy (neg/azione, 1976). The tute bianche
seek to create "a social process of transformation, through which the 'network
of networks' becomes a magnetic pole which facilitates the creation of other social
networks" (luca casarini). Yet after the repression in genoa, the same luca
casarini, one of the driving forces of the genoa social form (gsf), observing the
imperial logic of world government, concluded that the experiment of the tute bianche
"seems inadequate now for confronting the imperial system we have facing us,
in which politics are the continuation of war, and not the reverse" (interview
with luca casarini by benedetto vecchi, il manifesto, august 23, 2001). In this new
context, casarini evokes the shift from civil disobedience to social disobedience.
The latter has already been symbolically carried out in italy in the demonstrations
of november 17, 2001 (first day of social disobedience against war), in the course
of which laboratories and chambers of social disobedience, or municipal governments
of civil society, were constituted in collectively occupied spaces.

[NOTE 6]

In this regard, see the unabomber manifesto: ‘Suppose the system survives the crisis
of the next several decades. By that time it will have to have solved, or at least
brought under control, the principal problems that confront it, in particular that
of "socializing" human beings; that is, making people sufficiently docile
so that their behavior no longer threatens the system. That being accomplished, it
does not appear that there would be any further obstacle to the development of technology,
and it would presumably advance toward its logical conclusion, which is complete
control over everything on Earth, including human beings and all other important
organisms. The system may become a unitary, monolithic organization, or it may be
more or less fragmented and consist of a number of organizations coexisting in a
relationship that includes elements of both cooperation and competition, just as
today the government, the corporations and other large organizations both cooperate
and compete with one another. Human freedom mostly will have vanished, because individuals
and small groups will be impotent vis-a-vis large organizations armed with supertechnology
and an arsenal of advanced psychological and biological tools for manipulating human
beings, besides instruments of surveillance and physical coercion. Only a small number
of people will have any real power, and even these probably will have only very limited
freedom, because their behavior too will be regulated; just as today our politicians
and corporation executives can retain their positions of power only as long as their
behavior remains within certain fairly narrow limits.’ Paragraph 163.

(Bureau d'études, 2002)

translation : Brian Holmes