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(en) The Commoner #8 - Introduction: Around commons and autonomy, war and reproduction

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 26 Dec 2003 09:40:28 +0100 (CET)

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Do commons have a place? Or it is rather, like others have
argued, that grassroots globalisation networks constitute a
`non-place’ of resistance? Paul Routledge argues that
"place" is still a central dimension of social movements. This
because "they forge an associational politics" that is
constituent of "a diverse, contested coalition of
place-specific social movements". In these "convergence
spaces" conflict is prosecuted on a "variety of multi-scalar
terrains that include both material places and virtual spaces."
Is the convergence of struggles in these material and virtual
spaces the real constituent force of commons?

David Harvie identifies the commons and communities that
make the creative and communicative labour of higher
education possible. Increasingly, as we have discussed in
other issues of The Commoner, these commons are the target
of enclosure strategies. But here David Harvie does not
simply denounce these strategies. Instead, he suggests to
begin a process of collective self-awareness on what is being
enclosed, and what communities are turned into competing
nodes. "This exploration of commons and communities within
higher education can help us to: identify actually-existing
alternatives to market-relations within universities; recognise
our own power (power-to); and hence, articulate alternatives
to neoliberal strategies for higher education; more effectively
fight restructuring; trace the connections with other threads
of the anti-capitalist movement(s); and finally, posit a
transcendence of capitalist education".

Werner Bonefeld’s contribution seems to take us away
from the problematic of commons and communities, only to
return to these with the parallel language of revolution and
social autonomy. His argument is that there is no doubt that
the end of struggle (human emancipation) must be anticipated
by the organisational means of the struggle. And this implies
that the ends of revolution "have to be constitutive of the
means of resistance." This "social autonomy" as "the
organizational form of struggle" is in clear opposition to
"forms of organization that derive their rationale from
capitalist society and are thus interested only in their own
continued existence. "

Social autonomy, organization, communities, commons. These
problematics are all there in the text proposed by Colectivo
Situaciones. It examines the issues and dilemma of
Argentina’s new social subjectivities, by analyzing the
events between December 2001 and May 2003. This is the
lapse of time ranging from the outbreak of an economic and
political crisis without precedents and the pretended
normalization of the presidential elections. In between there
is the emergence of a rich movement from below (piquetero
movements, assemblies, barter clubs, factories occupied by
their workers, etc.) which poses many questions. "The
intensity of this period - no less than its complexity - has
remained beclouded by those who have proclaimed that the
results of the elections constitute the death of the movement
of counterpower and the erasure of that which opened with
the events of December."

If elections are used to normalize and recuperate social
autonomy emerging from the street, what about war? George
Caffentzis had to tidy his closet this autumn, and he
discovered an old manuscript coming from the time in which
nuclear annihilation was on the order of the day. Twenty
years on, his reflections on the relation between war,
capital’s accumulation and reproduction as well as his
historical contextualization of the Marxist critique of
imperialism, seem to be very much up to date. Because you
know, capital is still with us, and there is still a war going on .
. .so maybe one could wonder: is there perhaps a link between
the two? And if so, does this link have anything to do with the
attempt to constitute capitalist social relations of production
and reproduction?

Finally, Mariarosa Dalla Costa explores the relation between
capital and reproduction and regards the powers of the
"actors" of the latter (women, indigenous people and earth)
as decisive force "that can lift the increasingly deadly siege
capitalist development imposes on human reproduction". She
argues that the woman's question, the question of the
indigenous populations, and the question of the Earth have
close synergies, and thus it is no surprising that in the last
two decades they have become of great importance. If the
path towards a "different kind of development cannot ignore
them" it is because of the many powers (powers to) these
subjects have. The many powers of civilisations that have not
died "but have managed to conceal themselves" reside in the
secrets that "have been maintained thanks to their resistance
to the will to annihilate them." The gift of struggles. Also the
Earth has "many powers, especially its power to reproduce
itself and humanity as one of its parts." And these powers
have been "discovered, preserved and enhanced more by
women's knowledge than male science". These triple
knowledge/powers – of women, of indigenous people and
of the earth – should "find a way of emerging and being
heard" and act as the decisive force they are.

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