an answer to "no zone but one zone"
thank you for sharing ideas; i totally agree with your view that insiders (negrian) and outsiders (autonomists) fight the same battle. This distinction between inside-outside is imposed by the theory of empire/multitude. This is the only reason I accepted it as a starting point of my reasoning and tried to oppose it indicating that the struggle from the outside is possible and that it can progress very much to the benefit of the struggle in the whole. I think that the battle ground still needs to be discovered - it is not inside, nor outside but in the radical middle. To arrive at this location, all antagonistic presentation of our reality needs to be the first isolated by the act of 'exclusion of excluders by the excluded' (Castels).
Struggle from the inside of the system is led by clearly contradictory strategy. To collaborate in the system and work for it (with a salary paid out from state budget or market earned incomes) and simultaneously sabotage these systems from the inside is clearly a self-destructive approach. In the same way, fighting the elites on the streets with the approach that is more characteristic for the spectacle than to anti-systemic movements, such as relying on mass psychology, centralised organisation, frontal approach, media 'postproduction', etc. not only consumes in preparation of demo a lot of energy but it also injects quite a dose of frustration afterward because of limited results. Post Rostock evaluations report seems to confirm this pessimism about the existing approach from the 'inside'. There is actually increasing trend in accepting self-destructive forms of revolt. Instead of these partly or sometimes even totally self-defeating or at least self-limiting strategies, I wish to think about self-strengthening strategies of revolt that are with every action creative and do increase
By no means, autonomist movement is supposed to neurotically destroy every institution and power - they only make it unnecessary and it (movement) is increasingly able to effectively substitute it (systems of domination). In spite of assumed autonomist identity, 'outsiders' remain partly dependent on normal and progressive functioning of the capitalism and state. But we can choose - to accept collaboration only when we are in a position to interfere with imposed equivalence standards (prices, payment conditions, copy rights) and negotiate our own conditions. This in the main part depends on our innovative and creative contributions to the communities. This kind of collaboration, that is based on autonomists' creativity for the benefit of the communities is not self-defeating, it remains radical in every act of its operation: in selection among alternative jobs, negotiating salary, working and legal conditions of participation. Hence, under certain conditions autonomy and market can go hand in hand (Every resource that is included in economic sphere and only in this sphere alone should be treated, if requested by the owner, as a form of capital and should be allowed to compete for the yield. Capitalism can be seen differently than Marx explains
It actually does not matter if government sees autonomist demands for autonomy as 'isolation'. It does not mean for one to isolate from the society if world of madness is once for her or him left behind. It is actually obvious, that government does not entirely understand these various anti movements and government's view is not relevant. The reason for this I try to explain in above mentioned six page Slovene text. My argument is derived from conclusion, contributed by Wallerstein who argued that the modern world-system is in structural crisis, that is not resolvable within the existing system neither is available any alternative world-system. However, there are several spheres of social life where the 'system' does not work nor it is meant to be provided by state or market - such as new commons; these all social practice can be forwarded only 'outside' of the 'system'. This already happens to be very influential approach in several existing cases worldwide, in rich and poor countries - Zapatista movement or Grameen bank can be used as example, convergence space (autonomous zones) in urban Europe are another. Hence, it is would not be sensible to refuse anti-systemic solution for different aspects of systemic crises. But there are probably even more straightforward reasons for belief that elites should accept the offer (demand for regime's total respect for permanent autonomous zones) with both hands. Elites will realise, that all other choices are much worse for them. Systemic or structural crisis in fact deepens fierce battle between elites themselves - for example between nomadic and sedentary, or metropolitan and peripheral. Sedentary and peripheral elites will recognise that they in part intersect their interests with spatially fixed autonomous zones such as clean environment and more egalitarian social conditions. The same claims Wallerstein saying that those in power will no longer be trying to preserve the existing system (doomed as
'There is no way out - there is no possibility for total isolation' you wrote and I agree. It is not possible to change globalising conditions and cultural consequences of technological development, climate change, history, even passions seem to stay for many of us firmly out of our individual control. But it seems it is also increasingly becoming possible for
The last of your main arguments (if I grouped them correctly) that is supporting your view against the more 'optimistic' autonomist strategy are 'some disappointing experiences of alternative projects, country communes, etc.' In my view, this disappointment is more devastating factor for the empowerment of the anti-systemic movements than eventual failure of their street actions. And the opposite, strengthening of the autonomous communes probably more constructive than eventual strengthening of demo related networks. To achieve this, I totally agree, a lot needs to be changed in the operation of the zones - at least as I see them operating in Slovenia. Here, by my limited knowledge and insight, zones operate as small, heavy loaded, colourful caricatures of the outside world, only that they are less trying to impress with correctness. Their world is what they say about it - this is no difference compared to the hegemonic rule that is imposed in the 'outside' world. These zones sometimes remind more on socially hostile enclaves that see their surrounding environment as a battleground among the prey and the predator. They know that they can be in every moment taken everything away and thrown out - actualy, thrown back in. Identically, the only way autonomists can eventually get 'anything' is, in their view, by taking it away from the non-included in the zones. In a way, they sabotage the system from the outside as being inside. This is again rather confusing approach which brings no peace, cohesion, creativity to the movement and neccesarily leads to disappointment, at least. Your argument points to the possibility that autonomist approach is relevant only as much as it is able to contribute to the empowerment of the movement. Which focuses further inquiry about zones towards the questions about how to innovate more effective program and organisation. This is too extensive topic for this already inexcusably too long text, so let me only refer here to two excellent authors/papers:
Bauwens and Routledge (Paul Routledge. Convergence of Commons: Process Geographies of People's Global Action. The Commoner No.9 - Spring/Summer 2004). They show that place-specific and peer-to-peer creativity of grassroot movements can become under certain conditions self-sustaining mechanisms able to constitute itself as a strong
However, locality itself is necessary, but not sufficient precondition for the empowerment of the anti-systemic movement. Permanent settlement of the autonomous zones introduces spatial attachment and domestication which are determinants of particularity, and specificity which both fixate and effectively limit the universalist and critical attitude of the anti-systemic movement. Accommodation of the movement in the autonomist zone must be counterbalanced with certain practices that effectively keep the zone open and operating as a convergence place. By participating in spaces of convergence, activists from participant movements embody their particular places of political, cultural, economic and ecological experience with common and 'commons' concerns, which lead to expanded spatiotemporal horizons of action (Reid and Taylor, 2000 in Routledge). Convergence spaces 'forge an associational politics that constitute a diverse, contested coalition of place-specific social movements, which prosecute conflict on a variety of multi-scalar terrains that include both material places and virtual spaces' (Routledge). As far as I understand two authors than a new form of autonomous zones is needed, that is more convergent, more coalition formative, producing non-excludable commons, and less materially attached and less dependent on the immediacy of place-based concerns and on the conditions of limited resources. Its vertical structure should be detailed as functionally necessary, but transparent and contestable. The main structural element in the organisation of zones would be horizontal interactions between participating members, such as cooperatives, systems of exchange (the introduction of time-based complementary currencies), p2p, the gift economy.
The crucial precondition for more empowering operation of autonomous zones is linked to the ability of participating (there converging) movements to form contested coalitions 'which prosecute conflict on a variety of multi-scalar terrains that include both material places and virtual spaces' (Routledge). Autonomous zones are inhabited by heterogeneous movements that face intensively coalition forming challenge not only in occasional demo networking but in their every day operation. So the last issue which I wish to address is this 'translation principle' that could uniformly explain different possible coalition relationships between anti-systemic movements. Every individual movement uses its own specific way of criticising the existing social order, as well as its own and recognisable implementation (action) tactics. This two distinctions can be used as two axes of differentiation and organisation of the existing variety of movements. Before explaining one possible translation principle, let me first evaluate what would be immediately achieved with the acceptance of the proposed approach of differentiation along two independent axes. In this way, three sorts of anti-systemic movements would be excluded from further consideration, which importantly simplifies the translation (organisation) problem. The first excluded would become groups that are based on critique that is not accompanied with action such as in post-modern self-sufficient, self-referring enclaves. The other form of revolt which is excluded relates to movements for which violence is their native and the only practicing language, that are refusing any possible translation aimed at co-existence with others. For being one-dimensional, these two sets of anti-systemic strategies are incompatible and can not (and don't want to) be translated and integrated with all other protest movements, so they should be dealt with separately. The third exclusion affects every movement, that is not sharing its 'anti' goal with the majority. If the translation is composed as anti-capitalistic and there is a movement, that declares itself for example as anti-globalist, but not as anti-capitalistic, than this translation principle exclude all non anti-capitalistic movements from the coalition forming efforts. So it is crucially important that the translation principle is composed for the widest possible variety of 'anti' strategies. I believe, that anti-globalist strategy is narrower that anti-capitalistic strategy, which is narrower than anti-systemic strategy of revolt which consequently appears as the least exclusive approach of all three. All the remaining variety of movements can than form 'a matrix of revolt' that may be applied to define critique-action specificity of all participating movements in this way obtaining possibility to distinguish movements from each other in a uniform way. Say for example that the following anti-systemic matrix of revolt is formed:
rows are representing vector of anti-systemic critiques (say, rated by their radicality), while columns represent vector of main anti-systemic implementation strategies. System can be criticised (row vector) because of its failures (say inequality), wrongness (exploitation of non-capitalists) or incapabilities (to remove systemic constraints that are imposed on individuals and communities). Activity (column) vector on the other side differs reform of the system (say progressive taxation of incomes or introducing social aid schemes), revolution of the existing system (say, socialist or ecologist revolution) or creating anti-systemic or external, autonomist zone beyond any system of domination. Every system necessarily imposes certain limits that can be sometimes legitimated, but never removed within the system. In this way, systemic solution always presupposes existence of a sphere which is external to it and is anti-systemic (obviously, matrix of revolt treats autonomous zones as internal to the anti-systemic goal). Such a composition of matrix of revolt enables every possible anti-systemic movement (except all three excluded groups) to define its location (between 9 fields of the matrix) in the formation of the anti-systemic revolt. With
This line of thought leads me to observe that under mentioned (translating) conditions different movements can be reorganised from loosely defined networks to matrix. In this matrix, autonomist strategy is only one of possible anti-systemic strategies. At the same time I am quite sceptical about the translation approach, because it poorly reflects the different