Radical media, politics and culture.

A bag of weed and sometime

Armed with a bag of weed and some time, I have locked myself into a room, reading the tiresome history of primitive accumulation. Not the actual historical of process, but the concept. Not the noblest of occupations for a militant with time… Immersed in this stuff I began wondering (prodded by Negri and a friend’s challenge) what a ‘immaterial common’, which does not make reference to the notion of public could consist in philosophically. My obsession over the last month, or more, has been non-payment and the possibility of its being seen as a common (particularly in so far as it has as its consequence, decommodified access to water). The problem is posed as follows: In what sense are potentially unrelated acts of non-payment a common. If my usage of the common does not require ‘common’ intent on the part of the (commoning) participants, is it not potentially flawed? Certainly intent is implicit in the concept. And would this not allow the researcher/Negri-head to insert his or her own undertanding as the master arbiter of the common. Perhaps the question can be asked another way. Does a value-creating network (in so far as the numerous acts of non-payment become an affective netork) require that each individual part share the same representations of the network as a whole (philosophically this seems impossible). But perhaps the objection is less a matter of concept as much as the political usage of a concept. The tradition of the last 100 years (at least) of left politics teaches us that to negate the private (to common) is to affirm the pubic (the common). As we have already noted our own common lacked an appropriate institutional notion of the public (it should be noted that in our age of postmdernism/real subsumtion the concept of the public is in decline - in fact, this is the context in which Negri reworks the concept of common) Perhaps here we need to ask a philosophical question, that is, what would a non-dialectical common look like? In our own case we have literally millions of people united by a single negation – non-payment with arguable very different reasons. Neibour doesn’t pay so that he can buy a carton of cigarettes, or neibour b says “well I can get away with so why not” or the guy across the road thinks it more important to send his daughter to a model c school and uses the money for transport costs or, or... (The way these things are mediated however would be far more complex). That is, there are whole ranges of things that are being affirmed. Consider as well that it this common act, non-payment, when it came under threat, spawned a series of defensive movements and continues to dictate the path of cost recovery initiatives. A ‘common’ slogan in the anti-globalisation movement (particularly amongst its anarchist and autonomist currents) is One no Many yeses. It’s a great slogan that invokes D&G either or, or,…and although our humble “refusal to pay common” may not have been what the Zapatista’s had in mind, the slogan is now ‘common’. If we move with this formulation we can say that the act of non-payment is the common. It should also be clear how this act, this strategic possibility, may be link to the payment boycotts (organised) struggle. And intent cannot be inscribed because the condition of claim is clear.