Posts Tagged ‘Negri’

exodus & afrofuturism

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

interstellar tones transport Sun Ra offworld

But in reality, it is the inherent failure of representation, both in the visual and the political sense, that continually leads activist-artists to abandon their works and their familiar skills, and to dissolve once again into the intersubjective processes of society’s self-transformation.

This moment of dissolution is where one could locate exodus, not as a concept, but as a power or a myth of resistance. On the one hand, exodus is a pragmatic response to the society of control, in which any widespread political opposition becomes an object of exacting analysis for those who can afford to invest major resources in the identification, segmentation and manipulation of what we naively call the public. In the face of these strategies, exodus is a power of willful metamorphosis: the capacity for a movement to appear, to intervene and to disappear again, before changing names and recommencing the same struggle in a different way. (Brian Holmes, Unleashing the Collective Phantoms: Essays in Reverse Imagineering @ 185)

Exodus is a movement — defection from the State, exit from the state of things, toward the formation of a “new republic” (as Paolo Virno puts it). While Virno and other Italian-based theorists of the Autonomia/Operaismo movement have traced exodus as a response to the factory regime of Fordist labour that saw its dismantling in the ’70s and ’80s, Brian Holmes has placed exodus within the artistic lineage of interventions and occupations, in which the fluidity of art, and of art as an occupation or role offers an exit strategy from institutionalized engagement. Holmes’ historical references are those of the alterglobalization movement, notably the public sonic occupations of Reclaim the Streets and the deployment of carnivale tactics in general, but also in specific art projects such as Nikeground. Here, art (and the artist) move through an interzone of activism and art, a zone in which intervention and representation are no longer distinct sides or sites of the work.


the convergence towards alter-globalization

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Los Angeles, 08.15.2000.

Los Angeles, 08.15.2000.

When searching for indications of the global multitude, it has become something of a commonplace for theorists such as Negri, Marazzi, Virno and other Italian Autonomists (but not limited to them) to point towards the “antiglobalization movement,” which is usually granted its worldwide stage debut at the WTO protests in Seattle (1999) with further economic summit gatherings making their mark as well as traditional political gatherings (DNC in LA, 2000; World Economic Forum in Davos, 2001; FTAA in Genoa, 2001; Summit of the Americas in Québec City, 2001). With 9/11, the “movement” is usually seen as dissipating into an antiwar focus; moreover the possibility of organised mass protest after 9/11 disintegrates in the wake of repressive “security” measures globally. The question is how this time of global, networked turbulent uprising has been represented & interpreted among theorists.

Commenting on Naomi Klein’s No Logo, Christian Marazzi writes (circa 2002) that:

The “no logo people” has been constituting itself with protest tactics against the privatization of public space, against the symbolic commodification effected by the multinational producers of consumer goods. The protests against the logo and against the world circuit of exploitation of the work force described by Klein have worked as a lever in the global growth of an “antiglobal” movement. (Capital and Language 138)

Marazzi’s summation remains limited in two respects. First, it is somewhat of a one-dimensional analysis insofar as it accepts without question the term “antiglobal” while overplaying the significance of the “no logo people.” Second, Klein’s No Logo, significant now as it was then in providing the framework for an analysis of the symbolic structures of global capital, remains theoretically and descriptively inadequate to encompass the diverse manifestations of what is not an antiglobalization movement, but an alterglobalization convergence. There remains a terribly incomplete perception of the alterglobalization convergence of the mid-’90s to 2001 among theories of the multitude (Marazzi goes on to write: “The global crisis of the logo, in other words, suggests that it is on the terrain of the political definition of the body of the multitude that the future of the protest movement will be played out”).


general intellect is in the brain & brawn.

Monday, August 17th, 2009
cognitive labour, the human machine.

cognitive labour, the human machine.

While I am often taken by the Italian Autonomist readings of general intellect in Marx (from the Grundrisse) the concept of locating ‘fixed capital’ not in machines but in the body of living labour can be challenging to pinpoint on a concrete level. The concept of general intellect, as it becomes what is called “cognitive labour,” is precisely that of the commodification, consumption and conscription of the living concrete today: the subject, in her body, and her cognitive power.

With a machine,  the investment of capital in an object can be readily grasped. Capital is invested in a machine that generates, through its production, more capital. Voila, this be fixed capital. And to invent a machine, one needs ‘general intellect’, which is to say, science (in the general sense: the knowledge of making X). A machine comes about through the production of a technical knowledge and science. Fixed capital relies upon the production of such knowledge (its invention & dissemination; which leads to an inherent argument for the freedom of information while at the same time providing the condition for information to become a commodity under copyright – but I digress). Thus general intellect is fixed, as in materialized by way of capital, in the machine.