15M: A Philosophical Concerto in Three Unfinished Movements

An exercise in philosophical reflection on 15M in spain

I am nothing
I shall never be anything
I can’t want to be anything
Apart from this, I have in me
 all the dreams in the world

Fernando Pessoa, Tabacaria

Man escaped from his head like someone from prison.  He found beyond himself not God who is the prohibition of crime, but a being who ignores prohibition.

George Bataille, “La conjuration sacrée” (Acéphale)


“We have neither a name, nor a leader and nor are we in a hurry.”[1]  It is the nameless and the leaderless of what has come to be known as the 15th of May movement of Spain that inspires this reflection.  But it is written from a distance, without direct participation and for the most part across the trembling light of a computer monitor.  What information and analyses are synthesised here offer no empirical generalisations about the movement, nor hypotheses about what is necessary for its success or what may condemn it to failure.  Both can already be found in a growing body of literature, but a literature sometimes uniquely distinguished by its poverty, rather than by any creativity or insight.  I begin as Rousseau did, he who was our first anthropologist, by “setting aside all of the facts, because they do not touch the question”[2]; in our case, the subject of politics, as exemplified by 15M.

Communism is not another way of distributing wealth, organising production, managing society; communism is an ethical disposition.  A disposition to let oneself be affected, on contact with others, by that which is common to us.  A disposition to share what is common.

Tiqqun, Théorie du Bloom

First Movement

15M is referred to as a movement, sometimes qualified by the adjectives social or political.  As empirical concepts, these notions may obscure more than they clarify, inviting as they do questions about structural relations of power and opposition to it.  All movement apprehended from outside, as if by an external observer and thereby conceived as somehow physical, is comprised of an opposition between what it moves against and towards; a metaphysics of friction which then legitimates a regime or an order of questions.  What is the movement against?  What is it moving towards, what goals are before it?  Who are they and what do they want?  Explicit demands and a program soon follow, to be materialised by an organised counter power or through an appropriation by existing institutions.  We are thus quickly thrown into the space of the politics of sovereignty, a politics where competing representations of interests seek dominion and where the competition can be stabilised only with the domestication of interests deemed legitimate and the exclusion of those rejected as beyond the law.  The latter reveals sovereignty as rooted in a creative act of marginalisation, which is the creation of a legal space that generates simultaneously and necessarily (because what is outside the law determines the law’s nature) what is exterior to the law.  Carl Schmitt refers to this act as a decision on the exception, decision because itself extra-legal, outside the law.[3] A movement then in relation to sovereignty is accordingly judged by its ability, through appropriate strategies, to affect this decision, to reform or overthrow it; in the latter instance establishing a new sovereignty, a new revolutionary order.

Should we however conceive of the movement from within, immanently, then it appears as a becoming, measured not against an existing fixed reality (to which it relates, to which it may be opposed, and to which it may be compared and evaluated), but in relation to itself.  “Becoming does not produce anything else except itself”, in the words of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.   “What is real is the becoming itself … and not the supposed fixed references through which what passes becomes.”[4] Becoming is a reality in and of itself and not a thing (substance or subject) that undergoes or directs change, to be classified as an evolution, a progress, a production, in an identifiable, temporal sequence.  It is intrinsically creative, always itself and more than itself, lines of space-time, molecular in composition, differing and attracting neighbouring becomings.[5] Comparatively imperceptible (becomings do not exist in relation to present reality), it is perceptible as real, immanently, from within.[6] Deleuze and Guattari will speak of movement, in this sense, also as a becoming minority, a minority in relation to a majority (e.g., anti-racist racism, identity politics),[7] and simultaneously, as a becoming freed from its “minority” status-relationship.[8] Existing at the threshold between these two moments of becoming, becoming is imminently political, but not of sovereignty, of becoming a new majority, but of putting in abeyance the very reality of sovereignty, for becoming lacks an “outside” which could emerge as a new exception.  “All becoming is a bloc of coexistence.”[9] Indifferent to the normative frame of a past, or an origin, as well as to that of a desired future, becoming is revolutionary.  A politics rooted in a metaphysics of friction is always judged in it relationships to an existing order.  It is reformist or revolutionary on the grounds of how much it is opposed to that order; revolution is estimated quantitatively.  But then revolution so conceived is condemned to repeat the past, or to be diluted in progress; indeed, it is condemned to the violence of both, to what Walter Benjamin called the “storm of progress”.[10] The intensity of revolutionary becoming spoken of by Deleuze and Guattari is parallel to Benjamin’s “Messianic cessation of happening”, an agency that acts, is, in the “time of the now”.[11] “The awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode is characteristic of the revolutionary classes at the moment of their action.”[12] The rupture of history has no measure except that which is lived from within, as reality.

The becoming minority of Deleuze and Guattari, or the messianic and redemptive agency of Benjamin are not concepts that refer to a sociological reality.  They rather point to the ontological limits of power, the reverse side of its dispositions, apparatuses, techniques, that which escapes power as it is defined by it.  In a further conceptual parallel, Michel Foucault speaks of the plebe in a similar manner.  If there is not a plebe as such, there is what may be described as what is “of the” plebe.  “There is in fact always something, in the social body, in classes, in groups, in individuals themselves that escapes in some way relations of power.”[13] The plebe is not exterior to power, but again is its limit.  Taken together, these authors direct us to the idea that revolution is not and cannot be a social phenomenon, to be carried out by a social group or class constitutive of society, for the reason that no such revolutionary group exists.  And how could it be otherwise, when the social identities and functions of social actors are shaped by the very structures of power that give body to a society?  In the end, we may trace our reflections back to at least Karl Marx, who, when analysing the proletariat, presents it as

a class with radical chains, a class in civil society that is not of civil society, an estate that is the dissolution of all estates, a sphere of society having a universal character because of its universal suffering and claiming no particular right because no particular wrong but unqualified wrong is perpetrated on it; a sphere that can claim no historical title but only a human title; a sphere that does not stand partially opposed to the consequences, but totally opposed to the premises of the … political system; a sphere, finally, that cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all the other spheres of society, thereby emancipating them; a sphere, in short, that is the complete loss of humanity and can only redeem itself through the total redemption of humanity.[14]

The revolutionary boldness of Marx’s proletariat is but coincidentally the labouring classes of the factories of capital.[15] If it is representative of anything, it is only negatively so, and not as a consequence of social processes.  Its opposition is ethical, flinging “at its adversary the defiant phrase: I am nothing and I should be everything.”[16]  In other words, the subject or agent of revolution is not the outcome of any kind of determinism, but is an ethical-political reality that assumes a form of life distinct from existing socio-economic and political structures.

…we have to multiply poetic subjects and objects … and we have to organise games of these poetic objects among these poetic subjects.  This is our entire program, which is essentially transitory.  Our situations will be ephemeral, without a future; passageways.

Guy Debord, Toward a Situationist International

Second Movment

15M, in the many manifestos that have emerged from the movement, presents itself as fighting for dignity.  Its members reject any representational role, speak only for themselves; they “are joined by a singular cause of change”, a change which places human life above “political and economic interests”, a change governed by those who desire change.[17] “An ethical revolution is necessary” (emphasis mine), the revolution of those, “like you”, the common and ordinary people, who have been reduced to the status of commodities.[18] “We are anonymous, yet without us nothing would exist, for we move the world.”[19]

In May of 1968, Edgar Morin, writing of the student and workers’ movements of France of the time, to which 15M has been compared, would speak of a “revolution without a face”.[20] Divorced from all party affiliations, labour union leadership, or leadership of any kind, the events’ protagonists seemed to be simultaneously apolitical and revolutionary.  Morin describes May 68 as a sociological “accident”, like the rupture of a dyke, consequence of a deflagration produced in the interior of the social body which paralysed the entire central nervous system.[21] How one was to understand this accident was Morin’s central concern.  Beginning as a student rebellion, it would resonate beyond the limited space of universities and secondary schools.  The occupation of the Sorbonne would mimic acts of factory occupation in the earlier part of the 20th century in France.  And the movement’s working class centred discourse and agitation would re-animate working class consciousness, engendering in turn new factory occupations.  Morin spoke in this regard of social power being “de-structured” by a movement of reform that could quickly turn revolutionary, at a moment’s notice.  But because it was suspended between reform and revolution, and because of the sociological complexity of the agents of May 68, Morin will describe it as faceless.  Its demands were unclear, lost in a generalised contestation of power, its organisation decentralised through assemblies, “soviets”, “student-worker committees”, condemning thereby all non-delegated and non-revocable authority.[22] May 68 was utopian; however what it put into place was a “concrete utopia” lived by “thousands of young students, workers, secondary school pupils and also the dazzled aged.”[23] May 68 was faceless, anonymous, for Morin, because it was made up of a thousand faces.[24]

If Morin’s analysis is limited to an excessively sociological interpretation of events, it has the virtue of identifying the territory within which a great deal of the political reflection on May 68 would be confined to.  Cornelius Castoriadis, writing soon after Morin, would state that the “revolution must acquire a face”, something that is rendered possible only through the organisation of a new type of revolutionary movement.[25]

The urgent task of the movement is the constitution of a new revolutionary movement on the basis of the recent struggles and their total experience.  The path of this constitution passes through the coming together of young students, workers and others who were united in these struggles, on ideological and organisational foundations that they themselves have defined.[26]

Without such an organisation, the movement would be isolated and finally defeated.[27]

Human society has always been capable of days and weeks of lucid intoxication and intense creation, writes Castoriadis.  But such carnivalesque days “come cheap – the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed”.[28] Moments of this nature are but the explosion of light, easily domesticated by the tempered illumination of bureaucratic administration.  They can at most only pose the problem of revolution.[29] “It is not a matter of living one night of love.  It has to do with a life of love”.[30] A dilemma thus emerges: “the moment of creative explosion and duration which cannot be but alienation.”[31] The tension, contradiction, is between spontaneity and organisation, imagination and rationality.  And if Castoriadis ultimately believes that this is a false dilemma, because neither pole in the opposition just mentioned can exist without the other, his ability to overcome it, his ability to “destroy the very terrain” from which it emerges depends entirely on the notion and reality of self-management, as the autonomous and democratic government of the different domains of human life.[32]

Perhaps few writers were as lucid as Castoriadis in their reflections on May 68.  His analyses go beyond Morin’s and pose the central political-philosophical question: how can the movement continue to exist if it must simultaneously define itself and refuse to define itself once and for all? What Castoriadis touches here is the problem of the institutionalisation, the representation, the sovereignty of an autonomous collective.  And if this problem has haunted all modern political thought, from Spinoza to Rousseau, from the United States of America’s “founding fathers” to the Soviet Revolution, it becomes that much more acute, to varying degrees, among socialists, communists and anarchists after May 68, with the apparent disappearance of a revolutionary working class.[33] And the question remains very much alive, and consciously so, for Spain’s contemporary May.  From the first occupations of the squares of the country’s cities, to the development of neighbourhood and thematic organisations and interventions, 15M has placed at the centre of its activity, of its decision making processes and of its demands, the assembly.  The assembly is the expression of the movement’s underlying values: horizontality, inclusiveness, respect for difference, non-representation, the refusal of political party affiliation and non-violence.  But however dedicated those involved in the movement have been to this political form, they have not escaped questions, uncertainties and doubts about the movement’s nature and direction.[34]

Alain Badiou, for example, has criticised 15M for its limited political horizon (e.g. moral indignation, demands for real democracy, and the like), a horizon that is unable to sustain any radical dynamic and far too beholden to categories of thought associated with a dying western domination.[35] Furthermore, and more importantly, it is without any sustainable organisation.[36] The refrain is repeated throughout Badiou’s recent reflections on the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.  If, as he states, “we are in the time of riots”, riots only become historical and political events with their institutional formalisation.[37] Slavoj Žižeck comes to similar conclusions, both about the Occupy movement in the United States and 15M in Spain.[38] Of the latter, he writes that its fatal weakness lies in its inability “to transform itself into a positive programme of sociopolitical change”.[39]  There is expressed in it a spirit of revolt, but no revolution.[40] And however much one may be tempted to read 15M’s indignados into Michael Hardt’s and Antonio Negri’s multitude, a social category that even as it is a product of contemporary, postmodern capitalism, has all the virtues of an autonomous collective communist subject, the transition of the latter into a revolutionary agent requires political organisation.[41]  And 15M’s failure to so evolve will condemn it.  “The heat of indignation and the spontaneity of revolt have to be organized in order to last over time and to construct new forms of life, alternative social formations.”[42] What differences there are between Badiou’s and Žižek’s revolutionary voluntarism and Hardt’s and Negri’s economism, both are confronted by the same dilemma identified by Castoriadis.  That is, each, in different ways, postulates the need for revolutionary organisation to direct popular spontaneity, in the absence of which revolution fails.  What remains however unspoken throughout is the danger of sovereignty for any politics of freedom.

What Carl Schmitt’s reflections on sovereignty bring dramatically to the fore is that whatever serves to ground the legitimacy of sovereignty (e.g., the people, the monarch, an enlightened elite, etc.) is itself brought into being by an act of sovereignty.  The political-constitutional order is rooted in a decision that establishes a legal realm, but the decision itself lies outside the law.  In addition, the sphere of law is created through and against what is outside the law, the exception.  If sovereignty decides on the exception, it is because the exception is what makes possible a political community.  If the people are sovereign in a democracy, for example, the people are themselves created in the act of sovereignty that secures the democratic legal space.  And such a founding act or decision of sovereignty is something that democracies share with all political regimes, and has little to commend it as democratic.  Any politics which therefore aspires to an autonomous form of community, any politics that seeks to overcome the violence of the exception, must therefore contest sovereignty.[43]

Having criticised 15M, as well as having analysed May 68, Badiou’s work is here instructive.  In a careful and detailed reading of the French events, Badiou speaks of four different yet interrelated May 68s. The first was the revolt of student youth, centred in secondary schools and universities.  A second was the radical labour movement, unrestrained by traditional labour union authority, expressed in strikes, factory occupations and frontal, sometimes violent, opposition to the state and economic powers.  A libertarian May makes up the third branch of the movement, concerned as it was with individual freedoms associated with styles or ways of living.  Lastly, and most importantly, though the least visible of the different dimensions of May 68 because played out over a longer period of time, was the consciousness of the end of an old conception of politics, and a corresponding search for something to replace it.  “What is politics?” appears as the underlying question here.  The older politics, which the just cited question sought to break away from, was that dominated by the idea of an objective, revolutionary subject that carries with it the possibility of emancipation, a possibility made reality through the intervention of a representative organisation, a party, through which the objective agent is transformed into a subjective actor.[44] If this classical conception of revolutionary politics was largely shared by all of the protagonists of May 68, it would be this same May 68 that would undermine, challenge and in the end delegitimize such a politics.  This would be reflected in a growing criticism of representative democracy, parliamentarianism and elections, constitutionalism, as well as working class party politics and trade unionism.  The new politics that made its appearance rejected rigid and hierarchical social ontologies of class and function, and correspondingly experimented with different forms of political organisation that sought to overthrow social classifications.[45] But if May 68 posed the question anew of “What should be done?”, it did not provide any satisfactory answer, and to this extent, following Badiou, we remain contemporaries of the of the French May.[46]

We don’t have enemies!

Liu Xiaobo, Hunger Strike Manifesto (Tiananmen Square)

Third Movement

Among the many expressions of 15M has been the organisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual affinity groups within the movement.  One such group is the Transmaricabollo of 15M in Madrid.  In the group’s first manifesto, its members speak as, give voice to, bodies and precarious identities,[47] and the document concludes with the statement, “We animate the rebellion of bodies, and we place our bodies and pleasures above the logic of the market.”[48] What is affirmed here, as politics, is an ethics, ethics as a form of life.  And an interpretation of this concept through the work of Giorgio Agamben reveals a dimension of 15M that may not be immediately apparent, but which perhaps reveals its most radical promise.

In a reading of the events of 1989 in Tiananmen Square, China, Agamben endeavours to explain the violence of the repression of the Square’s occupiers by the fact that the state was confronted by a movement that could not be, and had no desire to be, represented, and yet it presented itself as a community and as sharing a common life.  In other words, what Tiananmen made evident was that a movement can exist collectively without imposing conditions of belonging; that it can singularly express a form of life, and refuse for that very same reason, all identity, becoming in this manner the greatest of all threats to a sovereign authority.  And for Agamben, such a movement is the only worthy protagonist of any future politics.[49] The anonymity of those involved in 15M would in this instance not be a simple consequence or accident of a lack of organisation, but the embodiment of the desire to move beyond sovereignty.  With Tiananmen, Agamben risks a prophecy regarding the coming politics: “it will no longer be a combat for the control of the State by new or old social subjects, but a struggle between the State and the non-State (humanity), that is, an irremediable disjunction of whatever singularities and state organisation.”[50] A sovereign state governs identities, identities defined in relation to and by contrast with exceptions.  The state is an identity making and appropriating machine, capable of assimilating all affirmations of dissident or oppositional identities.  To be ranged against the violence of sovereignty is thus according to Agamben to position oneself beyond its logic, beyond identity, through a becoming singular that is a form of life; a life that is informed, independently of the appropriation of life by a state.

Following Agamben further in his analysis of politics, he writes that ancient Greek thought distinguished between two notions of life: zoe, which expresses the simple fact of living, and bios, which signifies the form or manner of life specific to an individual or group.  By form of life, Agamben then understands a life which can never be separated from its form, which is never simply naked life.[51] Such a life is one in which all the modes, acts and processes of life are never simply facts, but always and above all possibilities or potentialities, of life.[52] Political power, by contrast, is founded ultimately on the separation of a sphere of naked life, held in tension with imposed and controlled forms of life.  Agamben, in a series of essays, will map the many ways in which the division has been acted upon throughout the history of Western politics.[53] But what remains constant throughout this history is that naked life is the exception of all sovereignty, such that the state reveals itself as a metaphysical agent producing through sovereignty human communities of a particular kind. This agency however has no grounding in being.  Action in this case is divorced from all reality, and thus the necessity of a decision, as Schmitt called the sovereign act.  Sovereignty, in other words, establishes the law and simultaneously the exception, but also creates human subjects, subjugates, through the different instruments of power available to it, a process intensified beyond almost all comparison in contemporary capitalism.[54]  “The instrument is therefore, before all else, a machine which produces subjectification and it is that by which it is equally a machine of government.”[55] An opposition to sovereignty must therefore both intervene in the process of subjectification, as well against the apparatuses of power, so as to bring to light the ungovernable that underlies power, life formed, that is both the permanent limit and what lies beyond and escapes power, what we may call the anonymous.

If the politics of sovereignty is what constitutes the subjects of politics within any existing political regime, then the radical challenge to this politics cannot emerge from an affirmation of already existing subjectivities, or possible future sovereign subjectivities, but from the non-subjects, the anonymous, of contemporary capitalist society. Whatever the causes that contribute to the emergence of such non-subjects (e.g., postmodern, biopolitical capitalism, as analysed by Hardt and Negri, or the ethical-political universal revolutionary subject elaborated by Badiou), Agamben’s interpretation of sovereignty moves us beyond Castoriadis’ dilemma and current debates within 15M about whether or not the movement requires a coherent oppositional ideology or organisation.  A counter-power, a dual power, is precisely what is not required if 15M is itself to realise its potential.

It is of course impossible to speak of 15M as a single movement.  It has been rather a mobilization within which different actors in society, some associated with older social and political projects, and others new to any political activism, have coalesced around a common refusal of current political and economic realities, born of moral indignation.  And over the course of its short history, it has gathered to itself and given life to, a remarkable proliferation of political practices and discourses; indeed, so much so that it is today impossible to delimit the space of 15M, and even less to point to its future (if it was ever possible to do either of these).  That demands have emerged from the movement that are modest in scope (e.g., reform of electoral law, bankruptcy law, and constitutional law), defensive in character (e.g., protests against budget cuts to health and education, against labour law reforms), and limited in ambition (e.g., free access to public transportation and no income taxes for the unemployed) is evident.  But more radical positions have also been expressed which cannot in any obvious way be negotiated with the state and which when made flesh become ways of life that avoid and ignore existing instruments of sovereignty (e.g., house and land occupations, organisation of alternative economies, protection of immigrants against racist identity checks, and the like).  And at the centre of these latter ways of thinking and gestures, there has always been the assembly, the horizontal and space-time of self-constitution, which would seem to render false or non-existent the opposition between organization and spontaneity.

destrozar sin apariencia de destrozo

destrozar sin apariencia de destrozo alguno

destrozar sin destrozar es la mejor destrucción

Esteve Graset, Expropriados


Benjamin, at the very end of his life, defended revolutionary politics as messianic, a politics in the time of the now.  Agamben sees in this possibility the ideal of a politics, an agency, which is neither a making (poiesis), whose ends lie beyond the action, nor an action (praxis), which is an end in itself, but a gesture which consists of exhibiting a means, as a means; something which is properly the domain of ethics (ethos).[57] All politics hitherto has been trapped within a making or a doing (the opposition between a teleologically or instrumentally justified sovereignty).  Politics as an ethos by contrast announces an indefinite, self-referential self-making, without any legitimacy beyond itself.

[T]he only ethical experience (which, as such, cannot be a task or a subjective decision) is the experience of being (one’s own) potentiality, of being (one’s own) possibility – exposing, that is, in every form one’s own amorphousness and in every act one’s own inactuality.[58]

Revolutionary Theory is now the enemy of all revolutionary ideology and knows it.

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

 An Encore

In a recent study of Saint Francis of Assisi, Agamben speaks of the most precious legacy of messianic franciscanism as the following non-adjournable task:

how to think a form of life, that is a human life totally removed from the grip of the law, and the use of bodies and of the world that is never objectified in an appropriation; or again: how to think a life that can never become an object of property, but only as something to be used in common.[59]

To describe 15M as Franciscan would perhaps invite ridicule.  But the ridiculous, the tragically so, would be to continue to ignore the storm of progress.  15M embodies a seductive wealth of possibilities, among the most radical of which is a form of life that suspends sovereignty, the law, on the other side of freedom.



[1] “No tenemos nombre, no tenemos líder y tampoco tenemos prisa”.  “Frases del 15-M”, Indignados 15M, Mandala Ediciones, 2011.

[2] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, Edition Gallimard, 1969, 62.  (Unless otherwise indicated, all translation are mine).

[3] Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, trans. George Schwab, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985.

[4] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Mille Plateaux: Capitalisme et schizophrénie 2, Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1980, 291.

[5] Ibid., 321, 334.

[6] Ibid., 342-3.

[7] For example, Jean-Paul Sartre’s defense of « negritude”.  See: Jean-Paul Sartre, “Orpheé Noir”, in Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre de la langue francaise, Léopold Séedar Senghor, ed., Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 1948.

[8] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Mille Plateaux, 357.

[9] Ibid., 358.

[10] Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”, in Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, Hannah Arendt ed., New York: Schocken, 1968, 257-8.

[11] Ibid., 263.

[12] Ibid., 261.

[13] Michel Foucault, “Pouvoirs et strategies”, in Foucault Dits et écrits II, 1976-1988, Gallimard, 2001, 421.

[14] Karl Marx, “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction”, in Early Political Writings, Joseph O’Malley ed., Cambridge: Cambride University Press, 1994, 69.

[15] What may be described as an ethical interpretation of Marx’s concept of the proletariat may be found in the work of some authors.  For recent examples, see: Étienne Balibar, “Le moment messianique de Marx”, in Citoyen Sujet  et autres esais d’anthropologie philosophique, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2011; Giorgio Agamben, Le temps qui reste: Un commentaire de l’Épître aux Romains, Paris: Éditions Payot et Rivages, 2000, 54-62.

[16] Karl Marx, “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction”, 68.

[17] Manifesto(May 15), (http://madrid.tomalaplaza.net/manifiesto-2/), retrieved April 3, 2012; Declaration of Principles (Barcelona, May 20), (http://acampadabcninternacional.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/declaration-of-principles/), retrieved August 19, 2011.

[18] ¡Democracia Real Ya! (Manifesto – English), (http://www.democraciarealya.es/manifiesto-comun/manifesto-english/), retrieved April 3, 2012.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Edgar Morin, “Un revolution sans visage”, in Edgar Morin, Claude Lefort, Cornelius Castoriadis, Mai 68: La Brèche suivit de Vingts ans après, Fayard, 2008.

[21] Ibid., 89.

[22] Ibid., 105-6.

[23] Ibid., 107.

[24] Ibid., 111.

[25] Cornelius Castoriadis, “La revolution anticipée” in Edgar Morin, Claude Lefort, Cornelius Castoriadis, Mai 68: La Brèche suivit de Vingts ans après, Fayard, 2008, 130.

[26] Ibid., 132.

[27] Ibid., 132.

[28] Slavoj Žižek, “Occupy First. Demands Come Latter”, The Guardian, 26 October, 2011 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/26/occupy-protesters-bill-clinton), retrieved April 6, 2012.

[29] Cornelius Castoriadis, “La revolution anticipée”, 136-7.

[30] Ibid., 137.

[31] Ibid., 138.

[32] Ibid., 138, 140.

[33] One could argue that the problem pre-dates May 68, for in the 1940s, the Frankfort School had already initiated a very profound reflection on the failure of working class movements to halt or defeat fascism and as early as 1914, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and others would struggle against the Socialist International’s failure to oppose the First World War.  Or perhaps the problem was always present, for throughout the history of the Left, it has failed to think through the relationship between revolution and constitution, spontaneity and organisation, suggesting then that the failure to do so has a deeper source than Castoriadis’ questions might suggest.

[34] The literature here is already too vast to cite in its entirety.  The debates which it records, both inside and outside 15M, are intense.  See, for example: ¡Indignados!15M, Mandala ediciones, 2011; Carlos Taibo, Nada será como antes: Sobre el movimiento 15-M, Madrid: Catarata, 2011(Numerous articles on 15M by Carlos Taibo can be found at his personal website.  See: (http://www.carlostaibo.com/index.php)); Santiago Lopez Petit, “¿Y si dejamos de ser ciudadanos?”, (http://www.espaienblanc.net/Y-si-dejamos-de-ser-ciudadanos.html?var_recherche=santiago%20lopez%20petit); Santiago Lopez Petit, “Que se vayan todos; Construyamos nuestro mundo”, (http://dinero-gratis.blogspot.com/2011/05/que-se-vayan-todos-construyamos-nuestro.html);  Santiago Lopez Petit, “Desbordar la splazas. Una estrategia de objectives”, (http://dinero-gratis.blogspot.com/2011/06/desbordar-las-plazas.html); Guillermo Kaejane, “Siete fronteras para el 15M”, (http://madrilonia.org/2011/09/4878/); “Del 99% a los procesos de organización de base”, (http://madrilonia.org/2012/01/del-99-a-los-procesos-de-organizacion-de-base/); Marta Malo and David Pérez del Molino, “Latidos: el 15M y la revuelta”, (http://www.diagonalperiodico.net/Latidos-el-15M-y-la-revuelta.html); “Los anarquistas y el 15M: reflexiones y propuestas”, (http://old.kaosenlared.net/noticia/anarquistas-15m-reflexiones-propuestas); Angel Calle, “El 15-M: Trabajo y Socialismo”, (http://www.rojoynegro.info/articulo/agitacion/angel-calle-el-15-m-trabajo-sindicalismo); Amador Fernández-Savater, “La sombre de una huelga”, (http://blogs.publico.es/dominiopublico/709/la-sombra-de-una-huelga/);    Yves Citton, Anne Querrien et Victor Secretan, “Bienvenue aux indgnés, mutins et luttants!”, Multitudes, 46, 2011.

[35] Alain Badiou, Le Réveil de l’Histoire: Circonstances 6, Nouvelles Éditions Lignes, 2011, 144.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid., 101-2.

[38] Slavoj Žižek, “Occupy First. Demands Come Latter”; Slavoj Žižek, “Shoplifters of the World Unite”, London Review of Books, August 19, 2011 (http://www.lrb.co.uk/2011/08/19/slavoj-zizek/shoplifters-of-the-world-unite), retrieved April 6, 2012.

[39] Slavoj Žižek, “Shoplifters of the World Unite”.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2009,    344, 351, 352, 354, 355-60.  Commonwealth is in turn part one element of a very extensive study of contemporary capitalism.  See, in addition: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2000; Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude, London: Penguin Books, 2005.

[42] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, “What We Expect in 2012”, Adbusters, December 8, 2011 (http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/99/under-no-illusions.html), retrieved April 6, 2012.  See also:

Antonio Negri, “Reflexiones acerca del 15M”, Dinero Gratis, June 9, 2011 (http://dinero-gratis.blogspot.com/2011/06/reflexiones-acerca-del-15m.html), retrieved April 6, 2012; Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (Video of gathering in CSA Tabacalera, Madrid, to discuss 15M, October 7, 2011), (http://blogs.latabacalera.net/tabacanal/tag/toni-negri/), retrieved April 6, 2012.

[43] Hannah Arendt, “What is Freedom?”, in The Portable Hannah Arendt, New York: Penguin Books, 2003; Walter Benjamin “Theses on the Philosophy of History”.

[44] Alain Badiou, “Nous sommes encore contemporains de Mai 68”, L’Hypothèse Communiste, Nouvelles Éditions Lignes, 2009, 46.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Alain Badiou, “Nous sommes encore contemporains de Mai 68”.  It is not at all clear whether Castoriadis, though very much aware of the difficulties at hand, was able to address the problem of revolutionary institutionalisation in any adequate way.  Again, speaking of the May events in France, as they unfolded, he wrote that it is necessary for the movement to maintain and expand as much as possible its openness.  However this openness can never be absolute, for were it to be so, the movement would dissolve into nothingness. (Cornelius Castoriadis, “La revolution anticipée”, 141).  And in so establishing a limit (how? where? on what basis?), Castoriadis re-affirms sovereignty, gives to the movement that which it initially lacked, namely, a face.

[47] “Manifesto Transmaricabollo”, Madrid, June 4, 2011 (http://asambleatransmaricabollodesol.blogspot.com/2011/08/manifiesto-transmaricabollo.html), retrieved April 7, 2012.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Agamben, Moyens sans fins, Paris: Éditions Payot et Rivages, 1995, 100-1.

[50] Ibid., 99.

[51] Ibid., 13-4.

[52] Ibid., 14

[53] Agamben’s critical work on the politics of sovereignty spans a number of texts.  Among the most important are perhaps: Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: le pouvoir souverain et la vie nue, Paris : Éditions du Seuil, 1997; Giorgio Agamben, État d’exception, Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2003; Giorgio Agamben, La régne et la gloire, Paris : Éditions du Seuil, 2008.

[54] See Gilles Delueze’s essay, “Postscript on Control Societies”, in Negotiations, New York: Columbuia University Press, 1995.

[55] Giorgio Agamben, Qu’est-ce qu’un dispositive?, Paris: Éditions Payot et Rivages, 2007, 42.

[56] Joseba Fernández, Carlos Sevilla, Miguel Urbán, “El Topo Quería Tomar (el) Sol”, in Joseba Fernández, Carlos Sevilla, Miguel Urbán eds., ¡Ocupemos El Mundo!Occupy the World!, Barcelona: Icaria editorial, 2012, 23.

[57] Giorgio Agamben, Moyens sans fins, 68-9.

[58] Giorgio Agamben, La Communauté qui vient: Théorie de la singularité quelconque, Édition du Seuil, 1990, 49.

[59] Giorgio Agamben, De la très haute pauvreté: Règles et forme de vie, Paris: Éditions Payot et Rivages, 2011, 10.

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