Radical media, politics and culture.

constituting em-pyre

"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'.