Brian Holmes on Sat, 30 Nov 2002 04:28:39 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> joxe's empire of disorder

This sentence from Joxe is terribly intriguing:

"In the current disorder, it is preferable to organize a sphere of 
political fraternity with citizens and without states, rather than 
sitting back to watch the victory of the transnational wealthy 
classes and their smiling neofascism."

Can you expand on what that means for him, MacKenzie? It's pretty enigmatic.

I think it's correct to say that the reorganization of production has 
opened up a planetary division of labor and a new class conflict - 
and the notion of predatory capitalists looking for "slave labor" is 
hardly exaggerated, when wages suffice only to pay for minimal food. 
I also agree that sabre rattling is a distraction from this conflict, 
particularly at moments of economic crisis like right now. These 
analyses are broadly shared within the counter-globalization 
movement. The problem is, to what extent does a public sphere for 
discussion of such issues effectively exist, anywhere? In Italy, the 
US and France, electoral bids by parties that could potentially name 
the class conflict have resulted in a brutal shift from a complacent 
center left to an aggressive right. The class conflict, which is 
overdetermined by cultural and historical issues in any case, then 
gets blurred out of existence by security rhetoric. Meanwhile, the 
social forum movement in Europe and Latin America is courted by the 
same old center left, at the risk of extinguishing its basic 
messages. The humanitarian NGOs seem to respond best to the notion of 
a transnational "fraternity" (which is another name for 
"solidarity"); but they are persuasively critiqued as fig leafs 
covering up the withdrawal of more extensive social programs formerly 
run by state governments. I'm curious as to what Joxe is really 

My personal opinion is that only coordinated transnational strikes, 
at the European level on a minimum, can bring an effective 
transnational civil society (if you want to call it that) into being. 
But such strikes cannot be mounted on the traditional union issues of 
wages-conditions-benefits, because they would not be inclusive 
enough. The best proposal I heard at the European Social Forum was 
for a general strike in the event of a US war on Irak. One can 
imagine the participation of a few large unions encouraging 
significantly larger numbers of non-unionized people to take the risk 
of stopping work, while every kind of association joins them out on 
the streets. This kind of action seems necessary, if we want to get 
beyond good cosmopolitan-idealist intentions, a la Habermas. Of 
course, one can argue that no structure exists to organize such a 
strike. But that is precisely the issue: achieving organizational 
power (or even "disorganizational power") on a large enough scale to 
stand up to the liberal-fascism of the "transnational wealthy 
classes." We're not there yet. - BH

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