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04 2013


Antonio Negri

Translated by Giuseppina Mecchia

There is no need to insist on the depth and efficacy of Gerald Raunig’s research. It represents a passage that, while fully assuming the horizon of capital’s real subsumption of society and the totalitarian capture of use value by exchange value, pushes us beyond the sad passions of the Frankfurt’s School, frees us from reading “weak postmodernist thought” and mocks any linear figure of subsumption, even when clad in Situationist irony. Raunig’s texts move across the area spanning from Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus to post-workerist constitutions, producing rich and articulate modulations on the critique of power and inaugurating new lines of escape, desertions, the dialectics of new worlds and creative reterritorializations. This countermelody runs against all those developments of postmodern thought (but also of post-workerism) that congeal otherwise open lines of critique, and read moments of resistance in a rigid and excessively theoretical manner. It is an essential countermelody, which brings us all back to Earth.

But maybe we do need a countermelody to the nth power. In other words, issues are brought to the fore, and from Raunig’s conclusions we need to elaborate other practical, constructive and political hypotheses. This is our second chance: Raunig’s book showed us another world, another narration needs to begin at the point when he stopped (to take Kafkia’s metaphor: we need a new “Josephine” singing to a “reformed” people of mice). Giacomo Leopardi, in his splendid Batrachomiomachy, had already seen a movement, a displacement within the

mouse world, although still at the level of individual, heroic passions. For Raunig, instead, these movements are plural, they belong to the multitude and the free singularities that constitute it. What is the issue, then, that a newly created melody can address for a second time? It is the overcoming of the refrain, of the alternative between a smooth and striated space, of territorialization and deterritorialization. Raunig—and Josephine—have irrevocably brought us on the space of politics: Hic Rhodus, hic salta.

These are not the problems of those who want to found yet another party, but of the subversives who think about how to organize the multitude, how to have singularities meet in the soviets, in the councils of manual and intellectual laborers finally able to reclaim their common life. The relation between singularity and multitude can in fact be articulated, at least in part, in terms of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. Today, moreover, we see a point of verticality, a sharp inner intensity, a quasi-solar condensation causing effects of attraction and resistance on a network of forces yet to be discovered. A “place.”

I recall long discussions with Félix Guattari precisely on this issue: what “machinic” point of productive interference, what new agencement can constitute a local expressive function within a field of immanence that multiplies segments and unstoppable velocities? In those years, our two masters were finishing their work on Kafka, and already in that essay the answer was that the machine could only be localized as the consistency and coexistence of intensive qualities. In a translation accessible to the uninitiated that I was, this meant to seize—in the field of immanence constituted by class struggles—the intensive quantities of the material tendency of capital toward its own crisis together with those constituting the resource for the workers’ refusal of exploitation and the revolutionary energy that was active then with an intense, higher desire for a communism consistent with the present space of crisis and struggle. This energy was minoritarian, it’s true, but we know that minorities make up in intensity what they lack in number. A powerful, sweeping energy creating a “space.” About fifteen years later, Deleuze answered my question about the specificity of communist class struggle affirming that the system of lines of flight defining capitalism could only be countered with the construction of a “war machine.” This means that we need to determine a localized space-time, a constituent power and a capacity to resist for a people yet-to-come. Another “space” then, not static but creative, that is essential for this countermelody to the nth power.

The actions of Occupy and the acampadas of the indignados push us to work on the definition of this verticality, this intensity, this place. It is no longer an issue of pure temporality. Benjamin recalled how the workers, during the insurrections of the 19th century, used to shoot the clocks in the city squares, denouncing in the measuring of time the mechanism of their exploitation. Now, in their rebellion, the precarious workers need to shoot the calendars—which mark the separation, and not the continuity, of time, the succession of the distinct times of capitalist

valorization—since their exploitation, their alienation, are mostly measured in spatial mobility, in the separation of their workplaces, in local contiguity and cooperation and in the diversity of the spaces they have to inhabit. Like the migrants, the precarious worker is constantly looking for a place to rest. Without this place, it is impossible to revolt. But is this true, or is this affirmation a simple mark of frustration? Anyway, this is the question that led us to Zuccotti Park, the square of freedom. The movements, then, need to be reformed around a space—a verticality crosses them, localizing and elevating them with extreme punctual intensity.

This is the countermelody to the nth power that I am appending to Raunig’s, against certain postworkerist rigidities. This melody brings us back to the struggle for a reclamation of common life, for a revolutionary engagement for the transformation of money in an ubiquitous and transversal currency for everyday use, for the productive utopia of a common institution organized in a democratic and participatory manner. We have walked for a long time, living formidable adventures: now we need to rest for a while, in a place, because only in a place can we continuously renew Josephine’s song.