Italy: Autonomia (14) – Félix Guattari

Félix Guattari

Félix Guattari reading the future into the past …

The Proliferation of Margins

Felix Guattari

– Integrated world capitalism does not aim at a systematic and generalized repression of the workers, women, youth, minorities … The means of production on which it rests will indeed call for a flexibility in relationships of production and in social relations, and a minimal capacity to adapt to the new forms of sensibility and to the new types of human relations hips which are “mutating” here and there (i.e. exploitation by advertising of the “discoveries” of the marginals, relative tolerance with regard to the zones of laissez-faire …. ) Under these conditions, a semi-tolerated, semi-encouraged, and co-opted protest could well be an intrinsic part of the system.

– Other forms of protest prove, on the other hand, to be much more dangerous to the extent that they threaten the essential relationships on which this system is based (the respect for work, for hierarchy, for State power, for the religion of consumption … ). It is impossible to trace a clear and definite boundary between the recuperable marginals and other types of marginalities on the way to truly “molecular revolutions.” The frontiers actually remain blurred and unstable both in time and in space. The real question is whether this phenomenon finally will remain on the outskirts of society – whatever its scope – or whether it will put it radically into question. What characterizes the “molecular” here is the fact that the lines of flight merge with the objective lines of deterritorialization of the system and create an irreversible aspiration for new s paces of liberty. (An example of one of these lines of flight: the Free Radios. The technological evolution, in particular the miniaturization of transmitters and the fact that they can be “tinkered with” by amateurs, meets a collective aspiration for a new means of expression.)

– Numerous factors must be considered both “objectively” and on the level of new social practices, in order to appreciate the possibilities for revolutionary transformations during the period to come.

– Will integrated world capitalism succeed in founding a social order accepted by the greatest number of people and implying an accentuation of social segregation? Capital, in the West as in the East, is nothing more than the capital of power, that is, a mode of semiotization, of homogenization, and of transmission of various forms of power. (Power over goods, over territories, power over work, over subordinates, the “inferiors,” power over relatives, over the family, etc … ) Only the appearance of new ways of relating to the world and to society will alter the individual’s “libidinal fixation” to capital and to its various crystallizations of power. This power can prevail only to the extent that an overwhelming majority of individuals not only participate in it, but also unconsciously adhere to it. The reversal of modern capitalism involves not only the struggle against material bondage and visible forms of repress ion, but also, from the outset, the creation of many alternative set-ups.

– For the last decade ” battle lines” widely different from those which previously characterized the traditional workers’ movement have not ceased to multiply: (immigrant workers, skilled workers u n happy with the kind of work imposed on them, the unemployed, over-exploited women, ecologists, nationalists, mental patients, homosexuals, the elderly, the young etc.). But will their objectives become just another “demand” acceptable to the system? Or will vectors of molecular revolution begin to proliferate behind them? (Unlocatable on the dominant coordinates, they produce their own axes of reference, establish underground, transversal connections among themselves, and thus undermine older relationships to production, society, the family, the body, sex, the cosmos … )

– Will these micro-revolutions, these profound examinations of the relationships within society only remain divided into limited spheres of the social arena? Or will a new “social segmentation” manage to connect them without imposing hierarchy and segregation? In short, will all these micro-revolutions finally initiate a real revolution? Will they be able to take charge of not only local problems, but also administrative larger economic configurations?

– All this amounts to asking whether we will be able to go beyond the various utopias of “return to”: Return to the sources, to nature, to transcendence … The “objective” lines of deterritorialization are irreversible. We must make the best of “progress” in science and technology, or nothing will be possible, and world capitalism will always regain the upper hand. For instance, it is clear that, in the next few years, the struggle for self-determination in Corsica, Britanny, etc., will not cease to gain momentum. Isn’t this a case of “return to”? But what is at issue here is the promotion of a new Corsica, a new Britanny, as well as a new Sarcelles, a new Yvelines … Shamelessly rewriting the past on the plot of an open future. The demands of the minorities, for example, as well as those of the nationalists, can be carriers of a certain type of State Power, a power of subjugation, t hat is, a capitalist virus.

– What will be the form of resistance of the more traditional sectors which find themselves squeezed by the p resent evolution of integrated world capitalism? Will the union and the traditional leftist parties allow themselves to be manipulated and co-opted indefinitely by modern capitalism, or will they undergo profound transformations?

– It is impossible to predict what forms of struggle and organization the revolution just beginning will assume in the future. All answers remain equally open now …

– They will not be focused on quantitative objectives; they will again put into question the goals of work and therefore of leisure time and of culture. They will again put into question the environment, daily life, domestic life, male-female and chi ld-adult relationships, the conception of time, the meaning of life …

– They will not be focused solely on the working-industrial-qualified-white-male adult classes. (End of the myth of the Poutilof factory revolutionaries, 1917.) Production today can in no way be identified with heavy industry. It makes use of tool-machines as well as computers, social set ups as well as technico-scientific know-how. It is inseparable from the moulding of the work-force, beginning with child “labor” from its earliest years. It likewise implies the maintenance, reproduction, and formation capsule constituted by the family and its administration, which is in the present oppressive conditions, essentially the burden of women …

– They will not be focused only on an avant-garde party conceived of as the thinking-subject of the struggle and the means by which the whole “of mass movements” will be oriented. They will be multi-centered. Their different components will in no way be required to agree on everything, or to speak the same stereotypical language. Contradictions, even irreducible antagonisms, will be allowed to co-exist. (For example, the specific point of view of women with regard to the male-dominated movements.) Here contradiction does not paralyze action, but proves that a singular position, a specific desire, is put in question.

– They will not be focused on national frameworks. C lose to the most quotidian reality, they will involve social groups which overflow all national boundaries. Today every perspective of struggle formulated only within a national framework annuls its efficacy in advance. The most reformist as well as the most revolutionary parties and splinter groups (groupuscule) who specify their objective uniquely as the “seizure of State political power” condemn themselves to powerlessness. For instance, the solution to the Italian problem does not belong to the socialists, communists, or autonomists! It implies a movement of struggle developing in a minimum of four or five European countries.

– They will not be focused on a single theoretical body. Its different components will each elaborate, on their own level, in their own rhythm, their own modes of semiotization in order to define and orient their action. Here again we find the withering away of oppositions between productive, scientific, and cultural labor, between manual and intellectual labor.

– They will refuse to separate exchange value, use value and desire value. These separations constitute an essential support for power formations closed in upon themselves and forming hierarchies upon which capitalism and social segregation are based.

– Social production, under the control of capitalist and technocratic “elites,” is more and more cut off from the interests and desires of individuals, and leads:

– to a systematic over-valorization of industries which compromise the very future of the human species (armaments race, nuclear reactions … ),

– to an under-estimation of the essential u se-values (hunger in the world, saving the environment. .. ),

– to the flattening out and repress ion of desires in their singularity, that is, to the loss of the meaning of life.

Under these conditions, the perspective of revolutionary transformations, the collective re-appropriation of daily life, and a full acknowledgement of desires on all levels of society have become inseparable.

(From Italy: Autonomia – Post-Political Politics, semiotext(e), 1980)

Further Readings:

Italy: Autonomia (1)

Italy: Autonomia (2)

Italy: Autonomia (3)

Italy: Autonomia (4) – Franco “Bifo” Berardi 

Italy: Autonomia (5) – “Bifo” and Radio Alice 

Italy, Autonomia (6) – Raniero Panzieri 

Italy: Autonomia (7) – Mario Tronti 

Italy: Autonomia (8) – Mario Tronti 

Italy: Autonomia (9) – Antonio Negri 

Italy: Autonomia (10) – Sergio Bologna 

Italy: Autonomia (11) – Franco Piperno 

Italy: Autonomia (12) – Oreste Scalzone 

Autonomia (13) – Paolo Virno 

Italy: Autonomia (14) – Félix Guattari 

Italy: Autuonomia (15) – Feminism 

Italy: Autonomia (16) – Feminism: Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James 

Italy: Autonomia (17) – Feminism: Leopoldina Fortunati 

Italy: Autonomia (18) – Feminism: Silvia Federici

Italy: Autonomia (19) – Feminism: Carla Lonzi

Italy: Autonomia (20) – Porto Marghera: the last firebrands

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