BY YANN MOULIER BOUTANG
An intense debate was already initiated by Genoa. After Prague, Quebec, and Goteborg, the massive anti-G8 gatherings have slammed into the increasing hardness of States that have militarized the conditions of expression for a refusal to globalization. The result is well-known: one death. How shall we face this blackmail, which we find in Kabylia, for example, and much more violently, other than by a "militarization"? of political combat, symmetrical and catastrophic in its effects? However, the debate on Genoa finds itself singularly overdetermined by Apocalypse New York. If the military response is absurd and absolutely does not reflect the composition of the Multitudes who, in Seattle or in Chiapas, knew precisely how to ally a firm will with intelligence, it is also because an analysis of the transformations of neo-liberal capitalism that is simply limited to a militarization of imperial power lacks even an iota of subtlety.
Short of developing the very paranoid idea that the United States, holding the mandate of imperial power, did not just pull off a show of terrorism on a global scale in order to justify military repression and an anti-terrorist operation against the nascent movement, we should rather consider, from the point of view of simulated real war and super-terrorism against the superpower, that there is another structure at work. The renewal of the formation of a global movement in Seattle in 1995 completely upset the neo-liberal scenario of a linear absorption of the second and third worlds following the disappearance of existing socialism as a global alternative to globalization. Anti-capitalist globalization developed at a very rapid pace based on the total absence of any ideological alternatives both conceptually and, I would say, corporeally, in the sense of a bodywithout- organs (hence, impossible to overcome by the surgical destruction of a vital organ). This "no" to globalization prescribes with ecological rationality the outlines of a serious counterproject, but it is still groping and lacks the political force equal to the heights of the challenge.
A dangerous situation has resulted that was already produced on the Italian and European scene near the end of the 1970s. Dangerous, because although the movement is capable of interrupting the gear shifts and changes of speed which the new capitalism would impose, it cannot yet brake the growth of the constituent power of another type of globalization. The impetus of the movement continues to win in terms of enlargement, in its capacity to hit hard at the strategic objectives of cognitive capitalism (in particular its need for new closures, as shown by the victory of the South in the matter of generic medicine), but the violence of power seeks to suck it in as a magnet in order to place it on a terrain where it could be defeated.
What I am calling a â€œmagnetâ€ is the reduction of both the notion of imperial power to a repetition of the thesis about American imperialist superpower, as well as the measure of the radicality or the power of the movement to its capacity to respond to global capitalist power. It is precisely in such phases that terrorist overdetermination almost systematically intervenes. Each time the movement expresses the potentiality of the multitude, and the virtual is the mirror of this future, the blackmail of the expression of immediate power intervenes and sends into limbo this actualization of multiple power. Apocalypse New York records the formidable counter-thrust of imperial power in a catastrophic way (like Hollywood films that come true on the spot), but completely twisted around in the sense that Palestinians become Talibans.
The protest against globalization, which loathes the abomination of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (the market and the sword), finds itself called upon to support this passage to the act of destruction. The most serious catastrophe is not only in the consequences that this terrorism, promoted to the imperial-State level, will have in terms of "military" repression of contestatory movements crushed between submission to the anti-terrorist consensus (repentance, disavowal, surrender) or caving in to absolute rebellion, demonic and demonized. Hence, concretely, it is a reduction or a shrinkage of the spaces of liberty which the movement had begun once again to conquer after the â€œwintry yearâ€ as they were named by Felix Guattari. The catastrophe is rather in this projection to the highest level, in this challenge-trap in which one can no longer say, as at Genoa, that only the police created the provocation. Apocalypse New York thus proves itself to be a powerful overdetermination of Genoa. It is a call (for employment) to all the radical "Black Blocks" in the South as well as in the North and between the two. What does the Tobin tax matter in the face of the temptation to be physically done with the general-symbol of the headquarters of global capitalism, its armed forces and the policeman of the world? In both cases, the comparison is a false one because the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are much more than symbols, without being, for that, the effective headquarters of global capitalism which is, above all, without divisions and thoroughly abstract, ungraspable.
The real provocation, compared to which the actions of the police at Genoa and the Italian State were nothing more than derisory gesticulations, is this overdetermination. This is a much more formidable virus which intends to clone the antiglobalization movement, remake the multitudes, the "peoples". And soon enough, we will have protests against the bombardment of Kabul. In this radically new situation, we can not be satisfied with the old cliches of provocation and manipulation. What kind of politics is there for the multitudes in a scene that is half cartoon, half reality (along with special effects, a superproduction worthy of Star Wars, the Roman Empire and real deaths)? Herein lies the real question.
France September, 2001