Is there a Neoliberalism 'From Below'?: a Conversation Between Verónica Gago and Wendy Brown
The conversation below is a lightly edited transcript from an event at International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs and the Program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley on September 20, 2018. An audio recording of the conversation can be found here. Verónica Gago's latest book, Feminist International, is on sale now.
We are both thinking about the problem of neoliberalism, the project, process, and power of neoliberalism in quite different ways. I don't think we necessarily disagree about the aims of neoliberalism, but we are thinking about the way it works, is taken up, transforms worlds and makes worlds in different ways.
First, I’ll talk about what you could attribute these different understandings to. Then I’ll spend a moment gathering us by outlining different rubrics through which we can understand neoliberalism, after which we can turn to a synopsis of Verónica’s radical and productive view and how it departs from these traditional understandings.
The difference between Verónica and me can be reduced to different theoretical influences. We share Marx, but then we fork into Deleuze and Foucault. Or our differences could be reduced to our geopolitical positions. Global South. Global North. How it unfolds in each place. This could be further partitioned into the temporal lens of Latin America's neoliberalizing origin in the 70’s, while ours unfolded more subtly in the 80’s and 90’s. There are also spatial distinctions. Or you could reduce our differences to Verónica’s close attention to the practices and potential of underground economies, especially in Argentina. My focus is on larger de-democratizing processes, with less attention to on the ground or underground processes.
Now I’d like to list the conventional understandings of neoliberalism to set the stage for understanding Verónica's powerful departure from those conventions.
The first convention is to simply ascribe neoliberalism to new ideas. The new ideas of the Mont Pelerin society. The Austrian and Chicago schools, for all their differences, were engaged in a post war response to socialism, fascism, social democracy, and shared an antipathy to the social state and to robust democracy and shared a desire for markets and traditional morality to displace the social state and to attenuate democracy. Despite the differences among these neoliberal thinkers – ontological, epistemological, and what they think the state is or ought to be, the role of law, etc. – they all share an antipathy to the social state and socialism, and favor throttling back democracy and freeing markets.
The reason for understanding neoliberalism through this intellectual history is not just that they were thinking about it, but that their ideas really did animate, amidst the profit crises and the OPEC crisis of the 70’s, the politics of the neoliberal era. Culminating in the Washington Consensus, but also the Chicago Boys’ experiments in Latin America, Reagan, Thatcher, Friedman, the ordoliberals, Hayek were all part of the textbooks that were designing the world we all now inhabit. So first: ideas.
Second, we have actual economic policy. This is where David Harvey and Marxists more generally come in. The idea is that the policies at the national level require deregulation of capital, privatization of public goods, slashing the welfare state, cutting taxes, licensing capital, strangling labor. The idea here is that everywhere you see neoliberalism unfolding, these processes are carried out by states and supranational institutions, the WTO, the IMF, etc.
In the global South, we associate these policies not just with privatization and deregulation, but with structural adjustment, austerity regimes, new or neo-developmentalist political economy, that veers away from mid-century modernization theory, and works through the governing power of creditors, the IMF, the World Bank, European and American banks, etc.
Financialization, which some think of as an outgrowth of these processes, or as a project of neoliberalism, in some sense puts these processes on steroids, as thinkers like Wolfgang Streeck and Claus Offe have argued. What you get is increasingly a shift to debt states themselves hammered by the financialization process that neoliberalism inaugurated. So we shift from neoliberal intellectuals to thinking about neoliberalism as economic policies.
Third we have Foucault, his theory of rationality. What Foucault argues is that what neoliberalism really offers is a governing rationality, a form of reason that governs at all levels of society: workplace, healthcare, learning, living, loving, but also at the level of state. A normative form of reason that conditions our conduct, remakes society, remakes the subject and subjectivity, and remakes the state. Foucault calls this not just a remaking of capitalism, because he doesn't think capitalism is just one thing, but a remaking of liberalism.
Why? Because it transforms the relation between state, society, and the individual; it entrepreneurializes the subject, it de-proletarianizes the subject by making him an entrepreneur of his self. It eliminates or attacks the social and society. We are now simply individuals and families in Thatcher’s famous utterance, there is no such thing as society. It economizes everything, every subject, every activity, every value. It remakes the state. The constitutional state, the juridical state, a sovereign state, a justice state, into a state whose fundamental purpose is to manage the economy, produce growth, facilitate capital, and the state is legitimized only by economic standards and no others.
Here neoliberalism is a radical project of remaking liberalism, depoliticizing the economy and the state and de-democratizing the state and society. This is a new way of the world, new forms of management, new subjects, new ethos in work, health, school, life. And when we say neoliberalism, we normally have something close to a Foucauldian understanding in mind. So that’s number 3: The idea of neoliberalism as a new form of governing reason or political rationality.
Number 4: Neoliberalism as a way of regimenting the global south after decolonization. Latin America, the Middle East, an explicit project articulated by Hayek and others, to kill off the NIEO, the new international economic order that was the project of the non-aligned nations of the global south, demanding a global economy that would respond to centuries of colonialism and imperialism, and reset the terms of the global economy through equalization and redistribution. Neoliberalism set out to destroy this project, which it did extremely efficiently. This understanding of neoliberalism I associate with Arrighi and Immanuel Wallerstein, as well as Timothy Mitchell.
Related to this idea of subduing the global south in the aftermath of decolonization, is the fifth notion: the idea of neoliberalism as always only a global project. This interpretation is given to us by the wonderful new book by Quinn Slobodian, the Globalists. His argument is that people who think neoliberalism was just about destroying the welfare state, kneecapping labor, lowering taxes, so forth in national economies, are looking at too narrow a frame. Or others who think it was just austerity programs for debt ridden developing nations, it's still too narrow. And it was never about free markets or free trade alone. National state restrictions on capital had to be weakened so that capital could become a truly global project, but at the same time, Slobodian argues, neoliberalism always had in its view the building and strengthening of supranational institutions to attend to this global capitalism, the IMF, the WTO. So we were right to be screaming in Seattle in the 90’s. We were right to be chasing the WTO as the icon of neoliberalism. The idea was to redeploy the regulatory powers of nation state at a global level, to let capital flow freely but be supported by these transnational institutions. And these neoliberals were clear that one of the effects would be the dramatic impoverishment of the working class in the global North. The “Hillbilly Elegy” or “Strangers in Their Own Land” arguments, that this process destroyed the subsistence levels of the working and middle classes in the US and Europe would be no surprise, and that in this process it would paradoxically meet some of the demands of the New International Economic Order, but by bringing the global North’s working class down lower.
And the last frame, number six, that I think is important to understand neoliberalism is the bringing into existence of a new moral order that would resuscitate the family, traditional gender roles, morality, racial hierarchy. Melinda Cooper’s Family Values makes this argument in the US, and Leslie Salinger in her work in Mexico. The argument is not just that neoliberalism builds on existing gender and racial hierarchies, but that part of its project always involved mobilizing the family and traditional family roles, to pick up slack for the newly diminished role of dismantled welfare states. So for example in the United States, the Clinton Welfare Reform involved charging teen fathers for child support as opposed to state welfare support, families billed for higher education as opposed to state education, and creating debt for that, welfare cuts that put the costs of housing, education, healthcare, elder care, on families as opposed to the state. The point here is that the family is not just an economic unit, the point is also that traditional moral values are part of the neoliberal project from the beginning, in Hayek, Friedman, the ordoliberals, etc. It’s a gender and racial project, shoring up the family, patriarchy, and whiteness.
These are 6 different framings. Some parts are compatible, some different. Each implies a different counter-politics for transition and transformation.
But Verónica adds another one, what she calls neoliberalism from below, that contests what unites all 6. What unites all 6 is that they all treat human beings as positioned and produced by neoliberalism. It treats neoliberalism as coming from above, as making the world from powers that are external to us even if we become their vehicles.
Against these forces that emanate from states, from ideas, from transnational institutions, from capital, or governing forms of reason, Verónica offers an understanding in which human beings don’t simply suffer power, or resist it, but invent and connect new practices in the context of navigating these powers, that create new forms of politics, sharing, new socialities, in what she calls “neoliberalism from below.”
First, I want to situate my perspective to explain how I understand neoliberalism and from where. I cannot detach my insights from the fact that I am engaged with the spaces where I do research, with an activist perspective, even while I work at the university. So for me there is a very close relationship between knowledge production and political practice.
I am completely referring to a commitment to experiences with enough power to dissolve the state, media, and academic representations as the privileged producers of truth. I think that this implies directing our attention to what Nietzsche called the “dark areas” of social existence, of subjectivity, politics, and economy that escape legality and visibility imposed by the regime of opinion. This problematization takes seriously the problem of intensities, not only discursive meanings, that assumes the horizon of building a common intelligence about the injustices of the present.
Finally, it has to do with a specific relation to the crisis, a favorite issue in Argentina. The crisis is a privileged locus for thinking. Concepts and sensibilities are set in motion and allow us to recognize the limits of what is possible and how it is expressed. In Argentina, the meaning of the current crisis is in dispute. I would like to share these previous modes of research and political praxis, because it explains a promiscuous use of theory in my work.
The following are points about the idea of neoliberalism from below. I want to underline one of these features in relation to Wendy’s opening. I am especially interested in thinking against the idea that neoliberalism is able to eliminate all types of antagonism because it is successful in generating the forms life takes in terms of capital. Instead I like to think about the forms that antagonism takes in neoliberalism. That means asking what forms antagonism takes against neoliberalism.
To situate neoliberalism in Latin America, we need to start with the dictatorships that came to suppress the cycle of worker, neighborhood, and student struggles. The beginning of neoliberalism is inseparable from the violence of class struggle in the 1970s. In Argentina the first neoliberal structures were initiated during the military dictatorship. The state and paramilitary repression attacked working class organization and popular armed insurgency. Paradigmatic reforms such as the 1977 Financial Institutions Law, which is still on the books, must be included in this genealogy. Our country transitioned to democracy during the period of the Washington Consensus. The revolts at the beginning of the century against neoliberalism should also be analyzed in this genealogy in order to ground the critique of neoliberalism as a mode of power, dispossession, and subject formation. The crisis of 2001 in Argentina that is related to a continual sequence of uprisings against neoliberalism implied a mutation of neoliberalism because it was the first massive response after the dictatorship. The 2001 crisis set up the conditions of the post-dictatorship. So that is where I focus: on the terrain of resistant subjectivities associated with the social movements that led to the crisis of neoliberalism at the beginning of the century across the continent. This interpretation can highlight the emergence and mutations of neoliberalism as the response to specific struggles.
The veto power of social movements is produced as a political force in the crisis. Those revolts opened up new territories of resistance that took up the crisis of social inclusion through the wage and politicized the figures of exclusion and their lives to conceptualize the social. The cycle of the so-called progressive governments in Latin America is unthinkable without those crises from below that caused the subsequent turn of the region’s governments. And this forces us to think about how we can detect neoliberalism’s persistence beyond its crisis of political legitimacy precisely because we put neoliberalism’s political legitimacy into crisis even as it persisted. So what kind of persistence did it continue to have? That is what is at stake.
I want to assert how neoliberalism becomes rooted in popular subjectivities, which results in what I call neoliberalism from below. This also means researching how antagonism is reformulated in a moment that was presented as the end of neoliberalism from the government’s point of view. This implied reducing those collective dynamics to a passive position, denying their immediately productive position, and infantilizing them as pre-political or non-civilized status. This perspective implies creating a new rhythm and temporality from within the struggles. This meant thinking against those perspectives that only focus on the level of governments without considering the plurality of dimensions in which continuities and discontinuities of neoliberalism are both at play. But what kind of struggles did we see after neoliberalism's crisis of political legitimacy? We saw struggles that combined antagonisms and ambivalence. This is the material basis of what I refer to as ‘neoliberalism from below.’
I conducted deep research to connect three situations: 1) the textile workshops run by migrant workers in Argentina, 2) the informal market in Buenos Aires, and 3) the slum. I propose these empirical points of departure to investigate how neoliberalism hits the ground in the spaces occupied by those who are supposed to only be its victims. I continued my research on popular economies, the various forms of work without a boss, that have emerged from social movements as a response to systematic layoffs, bankruptcy, and capital flight. How do forms of doing and knowing that emerged in the crisis of 2001 persist in those economies and territories? Currently these are forms of self-management that have combined desires for benefits from the state with a strong desire for autonomy, and community work framed by the urgent need to survive in a desperate situation. What does antagonism mean here? I want to emphasize that the character of neoliberalism makes it impossible to define it in a homogenous way because it depends on its landings and connections with concrete situations. These situations require us to pluralize neoliberalism beyond its articulation as a set of policies from above as structural adjustment. The formula “neoliberalism from below” describes popular attempts to resist and reformulate these logics. I thus seek to challenge totalizing readings of neoliberalism as well as those analyses that understand neoliberalism exclusively as the defeat of sovereign subjectivities. By researching the concrete functioning of neoliberalism from below in what I call baroque economies, I hope to name the political constitution of popular economies as the reign of struggle where neoliberal reason as a pure mercantile reason is appropriated and transformed by those who are supposed to be its victims.
I highlight vitalist pragmatics in those spaces that enact a logic that is not only survival, but one that enables the adoption and contestation of new forms of inclusion, especially through financial apparatuses for generalized indebtedness and new forms of citizenships through access to cheap consumption. These economies of informal work - trash pickers, market vendors, care workers, cleaners and small agrarian producers - that make up 40% of our economy, constitute spaces that do not fully conform to the liberal economic schema but overflow with populist interpellation. They thus open horizons where the popular and communitarian emerge as political dynamics that exceed the state but do not underestimate its power. This is the difference between the popular and populism that is central and important to my account.
Antagonisms emerge when relations of domination and exploitation are altered, opened up to new forms of political decision making about the commonwealth. At the same time, this dispute is not pure anti-capitalist politics, but an experimentation of autonomy as a political force. Neoliberalism from below is a way of accounting for a dynamic that resists exploitation and dispossession and at the same time takes on an interpellation of calculation that is the foundation for exploitation. This also implies negotiating with the state around new forms of violence in those territories. The forms of resistance to neoliberal governmentality demonstrate that governmentality’s precarious place. These practices show the contingent and ambiguous nature of the dispute between obedience and autonomy in the fight and struggle with neoliberalism.
What does the populist perspective avoid thinking about and problematizing? First of all I want to say that my critique of populism associated with the cycle of progressive governments in Latin America has nothing to do with an accusation of irrationality or manipulation of passions or non-democratic movements. My critique is directed to its rationality, not its irrationality. It is based on the expropriation of the political surplus that is produced from below.
When the social is characterized as a pre-political space which is always incomplete and needs political representation and articulation, populists suppose the image of an omnipotent above for the state. This is primarily nostalgic but also a restrictive reading of the present where state action must adapt to a dynamic of governmentality. The populist perspective recreates the binary of the state versus the market. In addition, in this politicist schema, the popular displays a strictly rhetorical figure. Only then can it be invoked to legitimate a power that repairs and unifies that which otherwise is condemned for its spontaneity and multitudinous disorder. My hypothesis is that even when populism presents itself as neo-developmentalism, it invokes an industrial imaginary, and today it’s directly tied to the hegemony of rent. This requires a mutation of the notions of social inclusion. It is no longer achieved by expanding wage labor but by extending the capacity to consume to sectors that were not conscripted into the wage system in the traditional way.
After the crisis, neoliberalism persists in Argentina but also in other Latin American countries as a set of conditions that are manifested from above as a renewal of the destructive dispossessive forms and from below as a rationality that negotiates profits in a dynamic that mixes exploration and extraction of value with new dynamics of conflict. These forms of persistence express the articulation between a rentier financial mediation made by progressive governments with the conditions opened up by the plebeian revolt. I want to base my thinking within this particular landscape.
On one hand, because it remarks on the originality of this cycle of progressive governments without adopting a state-centric perspective that presumes those governments signaled the end of neoliberalism. On the other hand, because it underlines the power of the revolts but also the problem of rethinking social transformation and popular institutions beyond the classical idea of seizing power. In this sequence we are now in a third moment that is incorrectly called the return of neoliberalism. I say this is incorrect because the very idea of return assumes that there was a period without neoliberalism. This is the argument of the follower of the populist reason and more broadly it depends again on the idea of neoliberalism as a set of policies that can be summarized as a state versus the market. Of course, since the 2015 elections in Argentina and Venezuela, there has been an acceleration of the dynamics that were already present in 2014 in Brazil. The constitution of a conservative, business, and security bloc that put a new articulation of the period that arrived in power after those popular revolts. And now we have new crises in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala. My objective is to understand this shift in the political landscape from a point of view that differs from the populist explanation.
The first point is to avoid moralizing the electoral defeats based on paternalistic progressivism, which, for instance, argues that the poor don’t recognize the benefits they have received. Or else corporate fatalism: this cycle of struggles can never withstand the power of the media or other corporations.
The second point is to think about the effects of the precarity of the apparatuses of social inclusion they created and what it means that inclusion was created through consumption and indebtedness.
Third: to explain the progressive political will as a combined process of concentration of political decision making in the hands of the state with a relative openness to popular forces. The so-called neo-developmentalist position was mixed with three enduring trends: 1) insertion into the world market in a neo-extractivist way; 2) micropolitics organized around a neoliberal condition of social bonds; and 3) the financial sectors never particularly reversed hegemony in the cycle of accumulation.
We have to stress how neo-developmentalist and neoliberalism are far from being mutually exclusive or constitutive of a simple binary. On the contrary, we have seen complementarity that ends up constituting the premise for the relaunching neoliberal reason.
If one recognizes that neo-developmentalism and neoliberalism coexist, then both the discontinuities with regard to the classical neoliberal discourse of the 1990s and the readjustment based on a mixture of figures that once presented themselves as an alternative to the market and finance, become clearer.
Populist reason, on the contrary, has attempted to block thinking about these problems for many years. First, the problem of a neo-extractivist pattern that involves structural violence against communities, that takes on a particular form as violence against women’s bodies; Second, the generalization of the criteria by which all territories and relationships are subject to the dynamics of valorization and the production of rent through financial devices. Third, the increasing “dualization” of the state. Beside the democratic state’s functions of public regulation, a parallel state operates according to the rentier dynamic, illegally regulating non declared capital, drug economy networks, and spaces of hyper-exploitation of labor. This also marks a direct genealogy of the historically patriarchal and colonial nature of our state. Finally, the segmentation due to differential access to security, which promotes a civil war in defense of property between peripheral neighborhoods and wealthy areas, as well as more popular zones. This has to do with the increased use of private and public security forces to contain all those who under the influence of stimulus to consumption have no way of legally guaranteeing that access.
The discursive figure of the people displaces a series of problems that today are exploding in Latin America. Misunderstood is the so-called neoconservative turn: territorial violence, informal illegal economies, neo-extractivist conflicts around territorial and resource dispossession, renewed forms of capitalist exploitation under financial apparatuses, and new forms of exploitation in different types of work.
I will make one last point about feminism. Finally, why does feminism appear today as the most radical anti-neoliberal practice? In Argentina and other parts of Latin America, the feminist movement has unblocked a composition from below of the conflicts that populism obstructed by blackmailing them through the claim that certain conflicts benefited the right wing. Today the feminist movement takes charge of a conflict that explodes in bodies and homes, in territories and workplaces.
Feminism becomes popular by producing a feminist diagnostic of these conflicts based on struggles that determine the politicalness and orientation of this political composition. If it is possible to rethink the category of popular sovereignty it is effectively from the feminist perspective, distinguishing between the popular and populism. Feminism is radicalized in the practice of mapping social conflicts, layoffs and land struggles, abortion and food crises, to name just a few. And to build assemblies as a mode of reactivating the democratic everyday practice of everyday institutions: unions and political education, migrant spaces and communitarian spaces that produce new images of anti-neoliberal sovereignty in practice. These are intermittent and fragile sovereign forms, but they are persistent and capable of producing new forms of power from below. Popular feminism is anti-neoliberal because it subsumes the problems of the political organization against individual suffering. The force of this type of feminism is that there is no submission to invisibility again. There is no resignation to not being counted. No accommodation to not being included in democracy or only as an infantilized part. The power in the streets that took over the cities in the feminist strike and the campaign for abortion is the political power of bodies that are not infantilized or domesticated. This has a spatial dimension: we left houses that had become unsafe to take over the streets. We are building houses that spill into the street and into community networks. This is a practical balance that emerged from a concrete reality. Many homes have turned into a patriarchal hell, they are the most unsafe places. Today, it is through feminism that the dynamics of dispossession and financialization are debated, resisted and connected in a critical way, as how they transversally upset the threshold of violence in social relations. Today feminism is politicized in the crisis, in the sense that it names the crisis of social reproduction in many territories, as a war against bodies and territories, or body-territories. This politicization also includes denouncing financial terror, how finance has taken control of domestic and family economies through popular debt, obedience over the day to day, forcing us to take on the cause of austerity in an individual and private way.
This foregrounds the need for the transversality of political composition for any anti-neoliberal political character to be effective in the restitution of the depoliticized character of the social as an infantilized stage of political representation. Struggles need to be inscribed in a popular humanitarian horizon, because it is what allows feminism to connect with social conflict, because it allows for understanding the web of violence that enables neoliberalism to persist.
I have three questions. The first is about subalternity. Your focus is on subalterns. It makes sense that that is the place that neoliberal governance but also neoliberal rewards are the slimmest, and therefore the possibilities for uptake that has as you put it the resistance in the making rather than the making followed by the resistance. Another way to put it is that the place of the subaltern is where, if there is some neoliberalism from above, it is the most diluted by the time it gets to those places, or it is the place where the benefits, rewards, aspirations, upward mobility, all of middle class living of neoliberalism, is not on the horizon. So the question here is whether the theorization of neoliberalism from below recapitulates a dimension of Marxist romanticism about the revolutionary agency or possibility of being outside, as Marx put it “in but not of society,” of these populations that makes the theorization very compelling but I’m wondering if it is generalizable across class. Or whether that matters to you. And when you said you were talking about 40% of the population, then maybe this question doesn't matter as much, and that would mean this problem wouldn't translate easily from north and south. So the main question is whether there is any generalizability beyond subaltern populations, or whether there is a romance with subaltern populations.
This leads to the next question: the possibility whether the subaltern populations are not anti-capitalist, but engaged in forms of consumption, labor, sociality, that are different from the neoliberal programming that one would see if you read neoliberal programming off a government website or related ideas, and instead, they are making it their own. And this ‘making it their own’ involves some resistance, and some sociality, and illegality, thievery, unlicensed conduct, but also resistance that is not part of the program. But does it make a dent in the regime? This is me always worrying about power from above. Does it really dislodge that power?
And the third question is about the excitement about feminism that you mentioned at the end. You said that these women were not resigned to not being counted, invoking Ranciere, that they are not resigned to the violence, the femicide, but they also don’t submit to individualized suffering, etc. And as an old feminist, who has seen so many kinds of feminism, I’m very excited about the feminism being reborn around the world right now. But on the other hand I get very nervous when a certain affiliation or association with certain kinds of femininity is made, about what this feminism is: its familial, it is oriented by and to the home, it is oriented by and to non-individualized suffering. I’m not quarrelling with it, but I would like to hear your own thinking about essentialism and anti-essentialism, but also, what kinds of political and social conversations happen about the question of the feminine in the relations to feminism, the domestic, the home, safety, bodies, familialism, and so forth. This is an open question.
My perspective is that there is not necessarily a revolutionary subject in those territories. But there is a new proletarian landscape. I want to bring together these two affirmations. And when I say it is a new proletarian landscape, I want to detect the forms of antagonism, and how we can separate struggle from romanticizing practices. Because there are many struggles all the time, and the question is how we can be part of or build an alliance with them without assuming that it is a kind of romanticization.
The very concrete worry I have here is that I think it is really important to look for and affirm such struggles wherever we can find them, but not delude ourselves that every time we find struggle we know automatically we have found a site for a transformation that will blossom and become a future that will become different from the present. It could just be a struggle. It could just be making very little difference precisely because it is subaltern, in that some pretty powerful, forceful institutions, practices, new inventions, and so forth, are structuring and restructuring society all the way up, and governance as well. The worry I have is not just about romance. It is about whether and when we a) imagine that a subject is somehow not reproducing through immanent relations the relations of capital and other discourses and formations that make it, and b) how we know that it is a struggle that is not just life, action, struggle, resistance, but has some kind of promise or connection to future that is bigger than the struggle.
Well, for example, these different struggles are not isolated in precarious or excluded territories. I think the powerful meaning of these struggles is how we can connect them to our everyday life, and how they enable us to map circuits of how capitalism and neoliberalism exploit and extract value from different kinds of lives. So I try to think of struggles as the orientation through which we inscribe our production of everyday life. I want to think that all those struggles are not part just of subaltern, isolated or peripheral subject. I think that they are constantly producing a conflict between what is included and excluded. And I identify myself as part of this exclusion. I think this is the way to generalize different kinds of struggles: how we produce the connections, because they are not natural connections. The question is how we produce a proximity to different kinds of struggles that are not naturally or spontaneously connected. And I try to think of them not as an outsider, but as part of this mixed, promiscuous everyday connection of possibilities.
And about feminism: I am also very interested in how we can define this anti-neoliberal or anti-capitalism without having dogmatic schema or abstract theorization of “well, we are the anti-capitalists.” How to do that without abandoning the idea of anti-capitalism. I want to think of what kinds of sums we can build in these terms. And I think feminism is always working with women of everyday, structural problems, domestic problems, that are put into crisis, those limits, differences, spaces as separated. About anti-essentialism and essentialism in feminism: I think that is a very important discussion in Argentina now, but all the time it is a discussion in movement. Because the assemblies gather all kinds of bodies and subjectivities. Our first strike, for example, was a women’s strike. And the next one was feminist strike, but in the middle, we were women, lesbian, and trans strike. And so we are all the time reorganizing not in terms of identity politics, but in terms of the overlapping of operations as a base of what appears as identities. But we are shifting this idea of identity politics. We are situating conflicts and struggles, and how depressions are overlapping all the time, and from this point of view, we are producing different places of political orientation.