Multitudes 7 on the Impact of the Alterglobalisation Moment in Genua and New York's 9/11

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* Special Issue: Multitude 7: "Apres Genes, Apres NY".



Michel Bauwens, 2003:

Article 1: Negri on Empire and Genua

Three Theses on Empire

   - 1. Empire is still to be realized, as an alternative to imperialism
   - 2. Empire has replaced imperialism
   - 3. Empire can take the form of (American) imperialism

Negri distinguishes the three forms of monarchy, aristocracy, democracy

   - Monarchy: "The three Romes: the military power of Washington, the financial power of New York, the culture power of Los Angeles"
   - Aristocracy: international finance and multinational corporations
   - Democracy: international institutions and NGO's

In the 'Byzantine' model hypothesis, the balance between these 3 forces disappears and the monarchy takes everything. Hence, there is no limitation to the appropriation of wealth and power by the elite.

Genua was the expression of the 'precarious class', all those young social and knowledge workers, who have uncertain presents and futures. There was a big religious presence but it was a religion of fraternity and solidarity, not compassion.

This book is about the struggle for 'symbolic power'. Paradoxically, brands give the consumer power of the producer, since, in order to preserve the trust, the latter must behave more 'ethically'. Since the heyday of the 1980s / 1990s , global brands are again losing out to localization.

Article 3: Paolo Virno on people vs the multitude

This was a core debate in the 16th cy. The concept of people converges to the idea of a 'general will' geared towards the formation of a (nation-) state, it is a 'centripetal' concept. The people converge towards the One, which is the state.

The concept of the multitude derives from the One, which is language, General Intellect, i.e. the generic faculties of the species. The multitude consists of individuated singularities (not per se also a people needing a state).

The pre-individual vs individuation: The individual consists of a pre-individual layer, consisting of:

   - 1) biological perception
   - 2) intersubjective language
   - 3) means of production and general intellect
   - Sources: Simondon, Vygotsky, Marx)

Contrary to common sense, Simondon affirms that individuality does not diminish in the collective, but on the contrary, enhances itself:

   - "La vie de groupe est l’occasion d’une ultérieure et plus complexe individuation. Loin de régresser, la singularité (qui provient de l’universel indifférencié), s’affine et atteint son acmé dans l’agir ensemble”.

It is especially the undifferentiated pre-individual aspects, which in turn get their chance to be individuated in collective life.

Article 4 : on Tarde

Tarde, though highly regarded in his lifetime, got totally eclipsed after his death because he was not recognized as a scientific sociologist by Durkheim, but he was rediscovered by Deleuze.

Tarde stressed the primacy of invention, and not labour and capital, as the motor force in history.

Tarde uses a metaphysics of monads, updating Leibniz. Contrary to the dead nature of Descartes, which needs an outside force to move its atoms, monads are self-driven by internal forces.

Tarde is a philosopher of 'difference', of invention and innovation, and as such a predecessor of Deleuze/Guattari.

Tarde can be seen as the real forerunner of cognitive capitalism, since he focused in inter-cerebral cooperation, and invention, as a key category that precedes the division of labor. Industrial labor, in a organized factory, is only reproduction, while true production is cognitive, and takes place in the cognitive and artistic sectors. But next to invention, he posits repetition, imitation, as the second key force. Every invention is mediated by the community, who has to accept it, and here, he prefigures the key key role of the media and public opinion.

Subjectivation, individuation, takes place in this context of cooperating brains which represent a permanent system of flows, which the individual mind condenses (= primacy of community)