Ecstasy. The Political Updating of the Multitude.
July 20, 2001. Genoa. Second day of demonstrations.
Around noon, over 15,000 activists from southern and
western Europe set out from the athletic training stadium
Carlini for training with the Tute Bianche. A short
run by bio-political activists, which is stopped an
hour later by a CS gas bombardment by the police. Everything
for ten, twenty meters all around is covered in a white
fog. Bio-political counterattack. Beyond that, armored
vehicles. Everyone without a gas mask storms back. Back?
There is nothing there. No side street. No green area.
No space. A meter-high railway embankment to the left.
One house wall after another on the right. In between,
the tenacious magnitude of thousands of demonstrators.
Tute Bianche in training, shortly before mass panic.
Since the mid-90s, the Tute Bianche have been practicing
the deployment of operaist concepts in their theoretical
praxis: multitude, real subsumption of societies under
capital, the valuation of the whole of life, of communication,
of knowledge, of affects, etc. If it is true that with
the labor battles and confrontations of the 60s and
70s the factory diffused into society, and all society
became the factory; if it is true that the feminist
perspective of counting non-paid work as part of social
productivity became true historically at an expanded
level; if it is true that the relation of capital eats
more and more productively through bodies, setting the
value of the knowledge of working processes, the ability
to cooperate, and self-organization, affects and subcultures,
and compelling subjects to become entrepreneurs of their
own marginalized and fragmented existences, then it
is time to invent a bio-political activism in the midst
of this subsumption, which is in keeping with the times.
This means that political practices must run through
the entire networked sociality that late capitalism
produces, exploits and controls. That is the multitude.
Unbelievably kitschy. Yet charming. Something like militant
heterogeneity. In fact, one could say: the rediscovered
patchwork of minorities that is aware of its potential
for the modernization and innovation of the circumstances.
The militant is taken as being productive and positive.
That is the school of capitalism itself, and Tute Bianche
and other activists do not want to step back behind
its curriculum. The subjectivity permanently mobilized
to self-entrepreneurship (Do something! Develop, express,
prove yourself! Save yourself!) should not progress
to negation, to a break, to a refusal to work, to a
grab-your-guns, or to the second between the throw and
the hit, but rather primarily to the activism of dissident
In Genoa, thousands of European activists joined the
praxis of the Tute Bianche, because they have developed
relatively strong military concepts of anti-capitalist
activity since the mid-90s, which are not economic,
but instead intervene in the entire social field: autoriduzione
in public traffic, actions against deportation prisons,
in labor conflicts, etc. Attempts are made here to overcome
the subcultural coding of the militancy of the 70s and
80s and the small group-based identity politics of anger,
to avoid the symmetrical confrontation with state violence,
and to develop an openly communicated concept of limited
provocation, which is still interesting, even though
it did not work in Genoa. Just like Pink & Silver,
the network of the People's Global Action, or the activists
of migrant self-organization, the Tute Bianche articulate
a promise. The promise of the political. The quiet reappearance
of options. The political of the situation is in the
a-subjective. It is not individual subjects that become
more clever. Even if that were the case, it would not
be sufficient. It is a coming together. The production
of a concatenation. And this simultaneously at different
levels. Beyond the endeavor to carry on politically,
things are moving, away from solidarity internationalism,
away from an anti-racism that functions as a renewed
identity politics for an autonomous left, away from
the notion of support and advocacy, away from the lofty
authenticity of the streetfighter.
In the Federal Republic of Germany, it is not People's
Global Action, Pink & Silver, Indymedia, The Voice
or the bordercamp groups that have become echo chambers
for this renewed feeling of the political, but rather
Attac. Its momentary strength is an effect of the situation,
an expression of the diffuse potentiality of new internationalist
practices. The formation of an extra-parliamentary social
democracy slows down this situation, charges it with
left-wing Keynesianism, blocks the political with state-oriented
regulation policies and concentrating on the deceleration
of the financial markets. In comparison with Attac's
sedation of the political, the Tute Bianche are ecstasy.
 Empire. The Possibility of Non-Multitude.
Three months later. New York. Bad timing. Since September
11, 2001 a process of negative politicization, subtractive
politicization, is becoming visible, in which the social
developments for emancipatory change are being hermetically
sealed. This turns a bizarre spotlight on the optimism
of the operaist theory of Empire. Its messianic analysis
of the possible future of immaterial workers and a migrating
multitude skips too lightly over the political situation
of post-fordist subjects that vote for Schill, FPOe
or Forza Italia. It gives too little weight to the dynamic
of transformation, with which fordism ended up in a
crisis in formerly colonized states, without ever having
As though it were sufficient to name the violence of
Empire, only to return to the pathos of the communistic
multitude, that fortunate heir to the development of
productive force and bio-politics, who realizes the
militant relation in the deterritorialization movement
of capital. The beautiful and perhaps really so untenable
kitsch of the militant greatness of the subject: "The
Vogelfrei is an angel or an intractable demon. And here,
after so many attempts to transform the poor into proletarians
and proletarians into a liberation army [...], once
again in postmodernity emerges in the blinding light
of clear day the multitude, the common name of the poor.
It comes out fully in the open because in postmodernity
the subjugated has absorbed the exploited ... "
(Hardt/Negri, Empire, 158)
The projects of gaining industrialization, of import
substitution, of nation-state development dictates to
fordism are transforming themselves like the real-socialist
states in the direction of a capitalist empire. As in
the north, in the gigantic poverty economies of the
south, of shadow economy and home-working, in the mass
misery of self-entrepreneurship on the street, a proto-communist
multitude is only rarely visible, which has acquired
the working means and the knowledge of cooperation productively.
Instead, the material basis for the connection becomes
evident, which the neo-liberal self-entrepreneurship
of the poor and the rich can enter into with racist,
political-religious and ethnic ideologies.
On September 11, 2001, the discussion of a new internationalism
was suddenly, completely unexpectedly over-determined,
and as though someone had opened the door, the forms
of expression of capitalist globalization became visible:
the Empire and the possibility of the non-multitude.
 Immanence. The Question of Concatenation
Instead of closing oneself up in negative analyses
of societization, one could attempt to imagine the simultaneity
of subjugation and potential emancipation - on this
side of leftist messianism and its promise of the
blinding light of clear day - and leave dialectical
and historical-philosophical perspectives farther behind
than Negri and Hardt. The new day is not coming, because
it has already dawned. For the multitude exists. It
is the immanent potentiality, which is imaginable, more
so than with Negri and Hardt, as the a-subjective potential
difference to power.
Between the major segment blocks of race, class, gender
and sex, in which power is located, there are transversal
rifts. If one follows the trace of these rifts, the
multiple overlappings of different power relations and
the familiarity of desire and subjection become clear,
in other words the way in which a non-subjectively thought
desire desires the power arising in itself in a reterritorializing
turn-around. The possibility of molecular gestures becomes
evident at the horizon of these perspectives, gestures
which produce a minoritary intensity in the reterritorialization
While aesthetics of liberation too often tell of the
beauty and clarity of the revolts, the rationality of
the new human being and the regained pride of the subaltern,
and thus of a complicity between the dominant morality
and militancy, gestures become interesting, which -
although they constitute the field of the political
- cannot be doubled and represented as "political
resistance" and "break with the circumstances".
In the everyday sedimentations of power, they realize
a desire, which could be called minoritary in the sense
that it is not subsumed in the "what is, is cool".
Perhaps one could call them moments of the singular
crystallizations of resistiveness, which do not belong
to any subject, even though they leave a dramatic marking
in parts of the subject and the subsequent feeling of
a consumed actuality - "so this is me".
What this involves is a conception that seeks to elude
the register of subversion/affirmation and the logic
of transgression and revolution; an evasion before the
concept of the grand refusal, the soul of the revolts,
the focal point of all revolutions, the pure law of
the revolutionary; an evasion before the transgression
strategies of shock, of provocation, of irony, etc.,
the effects of which would be most pessimistically described
with a secondary transgression profit: "Everything
remains the same as it was, but we had a good laugh";
an evasion before the concept of the political subject
in favor of the political situation, in which the relativity
of the social formation of power and desire and the
simultaneity of the political, the economical, the psychical,
and the sexual is kept in mind. Whether this leads to
a change that is not subsumed in a modernization of
the system is a question of the concatenation of various
practices. In other words, it would be fatal to measure
singular practices negatively against a gradient of
resistance, because it colonizes their productivity
in the question of revolution, of subversion,
of anti-normativity: "There is just as little
a desire for power, for self-oppression or the oppression
of others as there is a desire for revolution. Instead,
revolution, oppression, power, etc. form current lines
of a given concatenation." (Deleuze/Parnet, Dialoge,
143f.) You don't need to be sad, to be able to be militant.
But you can.
Translated by Aileen Derieg