Amador Fernández-Savater: Reaching for a politics of pure potentiality, or trying to keep power at bay

One never takes power, it is power which takes us.

Tomás Ibáñez

We follow Peter Gelderloos’ critical evaluation of spain’s “radical” municipalism with a more theoretical reflection, by Amador Fernández-Savater, on the political cycle in the country that began with the eruption of the 15M movement of 2011.

Inspired and borrowing from the work of Giorgio Agamben, Fernández-Savater endeavours to articulate a politics of destituent potentiality, a politics that aspires not to power, but to ways of life that keep creative potentialities open.

And though we share concerns and sensibilities with Fernández-Savater, it is unclear whether his notion of politics as a “potentiality at a distance from power” is robust enough to outline or sustain a radical anti-capitalist and anti-statist politics.

We share the essay below, in translation, as an invitation to through a radical politics that does not reduce itself to creating a counter-power to capitalist hegemony, or to seizing that power for a “socialist” politics.

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The wayward ways of “radical” municpalism in spain

Peter Gelderloos’ critical appraisal of spain’s “municipalities of change” is timely. (Roarmag 02/07/2019)

In the general municipal elections of 2015, various, large spanish cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, etc.) fell to coalitions that promising greater social and political justice, echoing an agenda of older “social democracy” or of the more recent social movements in the country (most notably, 15M) that sought an institutional expression for their indignation and desire for change. That desire came to an end in the municipal elections of June, 2019, with cities falling to Right-wing coalitions and Barcelona’s Ada Colau hanging on as mayor with the support of Barcelona pel Canvi–Ciutadans (the party of france’s former interior minister, Manuel Valls).

Spain’s “rebel cities”, as they came to be called, are no more.

The end of a political cycle, some may say. Or as we would hope, the end of the illusions of “social democracy”, that is, the belief that an anti-capitalist can be carried through the political institutions of capitalism.

However, if history can be said to teach anything, social democracy is stubborn and as long as capitalist social relations persist, the illusion of the possibility of the institutional reform of those same relations will continue, zombie like.

And again, Gelderloos’ analysis is important, for if the “municipalities of change” failed, so too did anarchist and autonomist movements, in the wake of the enormous social upheaval that was 15M.

South America’s “socialism for the 21th century” is in tatters, mired or lost to corruption and dictatorship. And in Europe, Podemos, Syriza and the like, were only the poor inheritors of an unreformable reformist tradition.

One would like to say that the stage is open for those who would create ways of life beyond Capital and the State. But for that to be possible, both our thought and action must be radical.

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Celebrating/remembering Emma Goldman

From Robert Graham’s Anarchism Weblog

One thing that Donald Trump is daily proving is that lying and cheating remain, as always, the key to political success, something that Emma Goldman noted in her 1910 essay, “Anarchism: What It Really Stands For,” the keynote essay in her classic collection of writings, Anarchism and Other Essays. June 27th marks the 150th anniversary of Emma’s birth. How appropriate then to honour her legacy with this excerpt from “Anarchism,” in which she wrote: “One has but to bear in mind the process of politics to realize that its path of good intentions is full of pitfalls: wire-pulling, intriguing, flattering, lying, cheating; in fact, chicanery of every description, whereby the political aspirant can achieve success.” I included selections from Emma Goldman in Volumes One and Two of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas.

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Hong Kong: Anarchists in the Resistance to the Extradition Bill

From the CrimethInc. collective, an interview with an anarchist collective in Hong Kong, on the ongoing protests against a proposed extradition law with china.

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Raoul Vaneigem: An appeal to life

Photograph by Guillaume Amat (from the series open fields)

On the occasion of Raoul Vaneigem’s most recent essay, Appel à la vie contre la tyrannie étatique et marchande, we share an interview, in translation, that he gave to the Ballast journal.

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Miguel Amorós: The new clothes of capitalist developmentalism

We share an intervention by Miguel Amorós in current ecology debates, from talks on 12 May 2019 at the book exchange fair in L’Orxa (Alicante) and on 18 May at the Biblioteca Social El Rebrot Bord, Albaida (Valencia). More significantly, it offers a radical criticism of efforts at elaborating a “green capitalism”, as well as of movement such as the Extinction Rebellion.

The piece below was posted, in english, on and The translation, apparently the work of a “mechanical translator” appears below with changes. The text is available in spanish at Kaos en la red.

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A call for solidarity from the autonomous collective of Fraguas

The self-managed, autonomous community of Fraguas was born of a rural occupation began in 2013. We have on more than one occasion shared news about the project, as well as calls for solidarity, before increasing State repression. With the community now threatened with physical destruction, and when more support than ever is needed, we again share such a call.

For those who wish to know more about Fraguas, our earlier posts are available here.

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Why I am an anarchist: Benjamin Zephaniah

A testimonial by poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah (from …

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In solidarity with Yiannis Youlountas, and with all of those who resist

On the 13th of June, the poet, writer, philosopher, film maker (Lets Not Live Like Slaves, I struggle therefore I am, Love and Revolution) Yannis Youlountas was attacked by neo-nazis in the Piraeus, the port district of Athens. He remains in hospital recovering.

In the wave of State repression against anarchists, and dissidents more generally, in greece and elsewhere, the attack on Youlountas cannot be simply dismissed as an exception. We therefore share, in translation, a statement by him, to inspire the on going struggle (posted on Youlountas’ blog).

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Anarchism is movement: Tomás Ibáñez (6)

In July of last year, we began the translation of Tomás Ibáñez’s Anarquismo es movimiento/Anarchism is movement. In the same month, we concluded the translation of the essay’s central chapters. With this post, we bring the labour to a conclusion, with the translation of the extensive addenda that close the argument.

In three addenda, Ibáñez treats a series of philosophical themes central to his elaboration of neoanarchism: modernity and postmodernity, post-structuralism and relativism. It would however be a mistake to see in this part of the work the elaboration of a philosophy of anarchism, or of an anarchism as a philosophy. For Ibáñez, the relation between anarchism and philosophy is an exterior one. If philosophy is an activity of thought, anarchism exists between practice and theory. In other words, modern anarchism is a social movement (or a series of such movements) characterised by the struggle against oppression. What thought or theory it has produced has been both the child and the parent of this struggle.

To speak however of the exteriority of anarchism to philosophy is not to say that anarchism, or anarchists, have not been influenced by the philosophical ideas of their time. And to the extent that anarchist thought has drunk from past and present critical theory, anarchism can be the object of philosophical reflection, but always with political practice on the horizon.

What follows then are philosophical reflections on contemporary anarchism, or on what Ibáñez calls neoanarchism, a kind of anarchist thought and practice which lies both within and beyond the horizon of contemporary anarchism, and from which the latter can learn.

For those who wish to return to the main body of the essay, the chapters are available on site:

Preamble and Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five

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