Antonio Negri's commentary on French Socialist presidential candidate Benoît Hamon's proposal for a universal income first appeared in
EuroNomade. Translated by David Broder.
There is something strange about taking interest in an electoral campaign again: it is a long time since this happened to me. When I saw Benoît Hamon on TV after he won the French Socialist primaries I felt — with a certain surprise — something of a breath of fresh air. Hamon won the Socialist primaries promising an unconditional citizen income, at a decent level. I will say right away: it is impossible that this proposal could determine a definitive break with this rotten system. Indeed, a series of interventions by friends and enemies alike implacably told us how alone he is on this score. They said, one after the other: Hamon talks about robots and automation; he says we need only go to the supermarket in order to realise the extent and depth of the rarefaction of work; and who denies it?; but that this is something quite different from asserting the need to set as the objective for labour governance not full employment, but citizen income... But where does he want to take us? What he is saying is just tall tales, unrealisable utopias, naïve fables.
In light of recent developments in Europe that have brought questions of hegemony, populism and organisation to the foreground, Toni Negri asks: where does the thought of Ernesto Laclau leave us on this score? The following talk was given at Maison de l’Amerique Latine in Paris, 27 May 2015. Translated by David Broder; see the original French text here.
By Toni Negri
I would like to talk very schematically about what Ernesto Laclau’s work has meant to me, and the dialogue that the two of us had, particularly in recent years. This was a simultaneously close and critical dialogue, marked by evident differences, but it was also characterised by very great respect; and again today I would like to emphasise my esteem for Laclau.
As the rapidly developing situation in Europe brings the question of its political union to the fore, Franco 'Bifo' Berardi argues that the European Union is beyond reform, and that its overthrow will either come from reactionary nationalists or a new European reunification based on radically different principles- "Is this doable, is this imaginable?".
The surface of Europa, Jupiter's lacerated moon.
“While our colleagues, friends and comrades in Southern Europe continue to rebel against the depletion and impoverishment policies of the Troika, the ECB moves into its new palace,” the FF Blockupy website says. “Blockupy moves on to the road. We will make our own move to the new building and give back to the ECB the garbage – in and with many moving boxes – that should have been thrown into the dustbin of history: racist and sexist division, impoverishment, privatization of public funds and goods and wars to secure resources.”
During the last month, after the victory of Syriza we have been finally obliged to understand the meaning, the nature and the destiny of the European Union.
In a recent interview Antonio Negri takes a longer view of actions and reactions in Paris and addresses the possibilities for the future.
What have been the repercussions, in France, of the events beginning with the Charlie Hebdo massacre and ending – for now – with the Republican march?
The repercussions of the 7 January attack are the same as they are with all ‘terrorist’ attacks of this kind. Now we know the score: paeans to security, apologias for the police and security services, hatred toward the enemy, everyone warning how dangerous they are, etc. And, moreover, in this case, demonisation of the Islamic threat. We don’t yet know what the repercussions of the 11 January march will be. To be more precise: many will think that the four million French people of all colours and religions who marched in the name of ‘fraternité’ were just deluded, and that they won’t be able to make their democratic passion prevail in the face of the strength of state racism and the ruling powers’ tricks. But I think that this demonstration could be the beginning of the overturning of that scenario, and that it could block – or at least begin to put an end to – the growth cycle of the fascist and chauvinist Right in Europe. The demo had a positive spirit: it really didn’t look like the fascists’ and Catholic fundamentalists’ protests in the autumn. And it seems to have gone beyond what the political class wanted. Let’s see what happens. We’ll see if it has the political strength (and good sense) to reopen the dialogue with the banlieue that’s been on hold ever since 2005; we’ll see if it manages to foil the mindless instrumentalisation of the crisis that can only lead to chauvinism and fascism. Only in this sense will it be possible to block the rise of national, right-wing forces. France needs the banlieues, the 11 January demonstration wants them, and it said so – to whoever was willing to listen.
Antonio Negri reflects on the recent #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO, insisting upon the re- appropriation and disruption of capitalist modes of development and thought.
The Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics (MAP) opens by noting the depth of the current crisis – “cataclysm” – and a negation of the future by “coming apocalypses”. No need for alarm however: there is nothing political- theological here whatsoever, so those who came looking for that might as well stop reading now. Absent, too, is the usual refrain about the imminent breakdown of the planetary climatic system. Or rather, it is mentioned, its importance, but it is wholly subordinated to industrial politics, and can be addressed only through the critique thereof.