How do you see the idea that the movement is able to forge alliances in practice and does not need a single vertical structure? Could you comment on Toni Negri’s ideas about the autonomy of working class organization?
I don't like to refer to “the” movement as an abstract entity. Some movements could be able to forge alliances in practice without a vertical structure if the need for a change is already socially shared. But in this case the movement is expressing a form of passive drive.
Nobody can deny that during the 1960s, the student movement in Europe met the workers’ movement without the need of hierarchical structure. But this happened only because the needs which were expressed were already ripe: that is, they had emerged in the previous decades.
But it seems to me that this situation cannot be generalized. The movement today is anticipating needs, and it does not come to life with an existing social urge. I would say it is a “resisting” movement, not a “proposing” one. It fights for what it should not be done, but knows very little of what to do. I’m aware that very few accept this limit, but I’m convinced that it exists.
The expression “autonomy” is something that I abhor. I can tolerate it when it refers to the need to subtract oneself from a form of dependence which makes one impotent. But all forms of nonpathological relationships are based on the negations of autonomy.
In truth I believe that all expressions in support of autonomy todayas a positive horizonshould be called with the old name of “anarchism.” And in fact they refer to no other power than one's own, whereas all sound forms of independence refer necessarily to an acceptance of powers others than one's own.
You seem to suggest that we’ve seen two forms of globalization, one that opposes state and capital, as if they were an identity, and that rejects any form of participation in instances of the state, and the other that sees in state regulation the only way out of neoliberalism. What do you think an effective Left alternative would have to say about these two forms, or responses to globalization.
I’m afraid I don’t understand well your question. Capital and globalization, to me, are the same thing. Since the existing state, when the capitalistic order becomes prevailing, was still a residual of the feudalist organization of life, the dominating classes said “laissez faire”, that is “away with the state”, let the stage to the (bourgeois) individual. Each one in relationship with the whole world.
The state was once again called on the scene in a period of dramatic crisis, during the Twenties and the Thirties of the past century. But it really received its role only after the second world war (see the history of economics, of John Kenneth Galbraith, with whom on other aspects I disagree). Then it was the only way out of the crisis. And when it took place, after the war, there was an extraordinary development.
But now the alternative is not the same as in the Fifties. So I disagree either with those who think that it would be sufficient to get rid of bureaucracy to gain freedom for the individual, and with those who think that the state could still guarantee a phase of development. The “alternative” is an alternative to both views or is not.
There are obviously so many problems connected with this point of view that I find it difficult to explain myself clearly. Just to mention some of these: is the individual who acts on the basis of his personal experience really capable of relating himself coherently to the “whole”? On the other hand, if he appeals to the whole is he really capable not to transfer immediately his particular into the general? Does he know the whole, or does he simply deduct from his particular situation, through a false process of generalization?
Each individual is immediately a member of society, but society is not necessarily expressed immediately in each individual. And the mediator is history, that is the knowledge of lives and thoughts of other individuals in their relationships. That’s why I appealed to history as a measure of the antiglobal movements.
How do you see the development of the antiglobal Left in Italy? Is there any noticeable evolution in the past few years?
I think that we have had a change, compared to a few years ago. I would say that we have now more attention to the problems, and that work can be started. But I would doubt that we could already register it as a positive change. We have not yet started to work with the preliminary conditions of change. Our adversaries may have more troubles and this is very good but we should not still be happy with ourselves. To quote Marx once again: the emerging needs are good, but we are still lacking the necessary capacities to go beyond “good will”.
And without self criticism we will probably never acquire them.
Perspectives on the Global Justice Movement: Part One
Emir Sader: "A Brazilian Perspective" published for the first time in English. We interview Sader on the World Social Forum, neoliberalism, imperialism, NGOs and the Lula government. [Or read in Portuguese]
Giovanni Mazzetti: "Where Do Anti-Global Movements Come From?" published for the first time in English provides a snapshot in the polemics taking place in Italy between Marxists and anarchists. Mazzetti also talks to Gloves Off about his ongoing polemic with Italian anarchists.
Barbara Epstein: "The Global Justice Movement: A New Left?"
In late August 2003, we discussed the potential for meaningful convergence between the global justice movement, the antiwar movement, and traditional labor organizations in the US.
In two weeks we publish Perspectives on the Global Justice Movement: Part Two
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