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Hi Jodi, That still sounds contradictory to me. In your text you argue that anarchism and autonomism made a new round of class struggle possible, yet couldn't fulfill the aspirations of collective (class) struggle and emancipation. Yet here you argue that those movements are simply part of hegemony (or "ideology", as you prefer to call it). If you take that second position, then it seems to me, you end up neglecting the aspects of anarchism and autonomism that made Occupy, and that particular wave of class struggle, possible. This is why I thought of the Carroll and Boggs texts, and their recognition of the importance of struggles in "civil society" (to simplify). But now I am wondering if my association was off. Maybe you weren't praising this aspect at all. Were you making a different argument, namely, that anarchism/autonomism brought together individuals, yet couldn't forge them into a (sustainable) collective (class) struggle? If that's the case, I would agree that anarchism/autonomism, don't manage that task, and probably can't. Yet, I wouldn't agree with your perception that the only strength of those movements is their capacity to mobilize individuals towards collective action. The focus on the sphere of reproduction, prefiguration, democratic organisation, etc. are strengths of those movements as well. Now it seems to me that you would simply *replace* the collective practices of anarchist/autonomist projects in "civil society" with a collective (Party) project. I think this would be a huge mistake and result in failure, not because large-scale organization isn't necessary. It is. But because *that project* can't develop without the necessary struggles in "civil society". I was maybe too optimistic: I thought you were arguing for an expanded strategy of engagement, but maybe you were rather advocating for a strategy purely situated on the terrain of the state?
Toggle Commented May 31, 2013 on Party in the USA: Optimism of the Will at I cite
Hi again Jodi, I think your description in "The Anarchist Moment" of anarchism as a "vanishing mediator" that on the one hand made Occupy possible, and yet is also responsible for the movement's demobilization and dispersion, is a much more fruitful way of thinking about current anarchist and autonomist movements, than to simply and one-sidedly disregard them as part of hegemony. (For what it's worth, neither Boggs nor Carroll wholeheartedly dismiss anti-hegemonic movements. Instead, they recognize those movements strengths as well as their weaknesses, and seek to overcome the latter). For those who haven't read that text, here is the selection that I am referring to: "Occupy Wall Street began as a left politics for a neoliberal age, an age that haschampioned individuality and excluded collectivity. The anarchist moment was a ‘“vanishingmediator’” between a politics focused on individual preferences and one oriented toward a collective will. It couldn’t persist – —its basic tenets undermined large-scale collectiveorganization – —but it was crucial, even necessary, to igniting a new anti-capitalist movement inthe U.S. Anarchism appealed to individuals (not classes or identity categories), bringing themtogether as a collectivity of those whose work, homes, and futures are threatened by predatorycapitalism. This bringing -together happened as specific outdoor urban places were claimed asexplicitly common and political spaces. Prior designations as public or private ceased to matter (for a time). People became visible as not-belonging to the very urban and public spaces theyoccupied. In the context of the changes in U.S. capitalism that shifted industry off-shore,increased the role of computerization and automation in factories, amplified the role of communication technologies, accelerated growth of low-wage, low-skill service sectors jobs, andattempted to compensate for wage reductions by expanding credit, the anarchist moment of Occupy mobilized not a proletariat bound to the factory but the proletarianized extended throughout unequal, uneven cities. It demonstrated the resurgence of a left political will to insist,disrupt, take, and create.Anarchist emphases on individual autonomy appealed to people who had grown up under neoliberalism, who had been taught to celebrate their own uniqueness, and who had foundthemselves stuck, losing, and increasingly desperate. The individual was supposed to be able tomake a difference, to control its own destiny, yet capitalism made that impossible. Prior toOccupy, the left had spent decades bemoaning its lack of ideas, its fragmentation, incapacity, anddemise. Even worse, it had treated collective political will as the problem rather than solution. Once the New Left delegitimized the old one, it turned speaking for another into the crime of representation; it made political focus on class conflict into the crime of exclusion; it renderedcondemnation as the crime of dogmatism; and, it construed rejection of capitalism as the crimeof utopianism such that failures to concede that ‘“there is no alternative’” were tantamount tototalitarian advocacy of genocidal adventurism.The anarchist moment broke through this impasse: it valorized individuals and in sodoing turned left incapacity into an opportunity. At the same time, because its power came fromthe multiple, dispersed, and divergent fragments it brought together under Occupy, the anarchistinspiration of the movement couldn’t persist but would have to conduce to another politics, theclass struggle also part of the movement from its inception. Differently put, anarchism wasimportant as a ‘“vanishing mediator’” that could usher in a politics even if its own termsundermined it. It incited people toward collectivity and political will, although the politics itoffered eschewed bringing them together in a concrete political form." ( )
Toggle Commented May 30, 2013 on Party in the USA: Optimism of the Will at I cite
Thanks for this post, Jodi. Two things come to mind. First, William Carrol's text "Hegemomy, Counter-Hegemony, Anti-Hegemony". ( ) It helps clarify some of the differences on a more abstract theoretical level that brings clarity to the different positions in this debate. Your position appears to me as aligning with the "counter-hegemony" perspective, while the anarchist positions tend to fit well into the "anti-hegemony" camp, ala Hardt/Negri, Richard Day, etc.) And the second is a short selection from Carl Boggs' "Social Movements and Political Power", from 1986, where he writes both critically and supportive of the new social movements: "The Marxist Left has typically asserted the political over the social, instrumental over the prefigurative, and modernizing over the democratic or communitarian realms. What the thematic of new movements introduces, as we have seen, is precisely the reverse side of this dualism. A truly radical strategy, however, would arrive at a synthesis of the two, creating a political framework in which vital linkages -- between divergent types and levels of movements, for example -- could occur in a more or less organic, non-Jacobin fashion. Such a strategy is unthinkable in the absence of a convergence between party and movements, institutions and community, parliament and local councils, electoral and direct-action politics" (p 78). Hope that is helpful!
Toggle Commented May 29, 2013 on Party in the USA: Optimism of the Will at I cite is now following The Typepad Team
May 29, 2013