Karin Spaink on Sat, 21 Jul 2001 22:38:48 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Fwd: <nettime> negri and hardt op-ed in the NYT

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From: nettime's_roving_reporter <nettime@bbs.thing.net>
To: nettime-l@bbs.thing.net
Date: Saturday, July 21, 2001, 16:11
Subject: <nettime> negri and hardt op-ed in the NYT

     [via <tbyfield@panix.com>. strange days... antonio negri 
      publishing an op-ed in the NYT. ah, but now he's no lon-
      ger a radical or <gasp!> terrorist; he's co-author of a 
      trend-setting academic book-spectacle! cheers, t]


July 20, 2001

What the Protesters in Genoa Want


Genoa, that Renaissance city known for both openness and shrewd
political sophistication, is in crisis this weekend. It should have
thrown its gates wide for the celebration of this summit of the
world's most powerful leaders. But instead Genoa has been transformed
into a medieval fortress of barricades with high-tech controls. The
ruling ideology about the present form of globalization is that there
is no alternative. And strangely, this restricts both the rulers and
the ruled.

Leaders of the Group of Eight have no choice but to attempt a show of
political sophistication. They try to appear charitable and
transparent in their goals.  They promise to aid the world's poor and
they genuflect to Pope John Paul II and his interests. But the real
agenda is to renegotiate relations among the powerful, on issues such
as the construction of missile defense systems.

The leaders, however, seem detached somehow from the transformations
around them, as though they are following the stage directions from a
dated play. We can see the photo already, though it has not yet been
taken: President George W. Bush as an unlikely king, bolstered by
lesser monarchs. This is not quite an image of the future. It
resembles more an archival photo, pre-1914, of superannuated royal

Those demonstrating against the summit in Genoa, however, are not
distracted by these old-fashioned symbols of power. They know that a
fundamentally new global system is being formed. It can no longer be
understood in terms of British, French, Russian or even American

The many protests that have led up to Genoa were based on the
recognition that no national power is in control of the present global
order. Consequently protests must be directed at international and
supranational organizations, such as the G-8, the World Trade
Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The
movements are not anti-American, as they often appear, but aimed at a
different, larger power structure.

If it is not national but supranational powers that rule today's
globalization, however, we must recognize that this new order has no
democratic institutional mechanisms for representation, as
nation-states do: no elections, no public forum for debate.

The rulers are effectively blind and deaf to the ruled. The protesters
take to the streets because this is the form of expression available
to them. The lack of other venues and social mechanisms is not their

Antiglobalization is not an adequate characterization of the
protesters in Genoa (or Göteborg, Quebec, Prague, or Seattle). The
globalization debate will remain hopelessly confused, in fact, unless
we insist on qualifying the term globalization. The protesters are
indeed united against the present form of capitalist globalization,
but the vast majority of them are not against globalizing currents and
forces as such; they are not isolationist, separatist or even

The protests themselves have become global movements and one of their
clearest objectives is for the democratization of globalizing
processes. It should not be called an antiglobalization movement. It
is pro-globalization, or rather an alternative globalization movement
-- one that seeks to eliminate inequalities between rich and poor and
between the powerful and the powerless, and to expand the
possibilities of self-determination.

If we understand one thing from the multitude of voices in Genoa this
weekend, it should be that a different and better future is possible.
When one recognizes the tremendous power of the international and
supranational forces that support our present form of globalization,
one could conclude that resistance is futile.

But those in the streets today are foolish enough to believe that
alternatives are possible -- that "inevitability" should not be the
last word in politics. A new species of political activist has been
born with a spirit that is reminiscent of the paradoxical idealism of
the 1960's -- the realistic course of action today is to demand what
is seemingly impossible, that is, something new.

Protest movements are an integral part of a democratic society and,
for this reason alone, we should all thank those in the streets in
Genoa, whether we agree with them or not. Protest movements, however,
do not provide a practical blueprint for how to solve problems, and we
should not expect that of them.  They seek rather to transform the
public agenda by creating political desires for a better future.

We see seeds of that future already in the sea of faces that stretches
from the streets of Seattle to those of Genoa. One of the most
remarkable characteristics of these movements is their diversity:
trade unionists together with ecologists together with priests and
communists. We are beginning to see emerge a multitude that is not
defined by any single identity, but can discover commonality in its

These movements are what link Genoa this weekend most clearly to the
openness -- toward new kinds of exchange and new ideas -- of its
Renaissance past.

     Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri are the authors of "Empire.'' 

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- K -


Comparing Scientology to a motorcycle gang is a gross, 
unpardonable insult to bikers everywhere. Even at our 
worst, we are never as bad as Scientology. 
  - ex-member Thunderclouds motorcycle club

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