There are various discussions going on currently about the nature of social/political/economic change, be it socialism for the 21st century with it's "parallell institutions" or the recuperated factory movement in Argentina where a discourse on horizontalism and autonomy is finding space. I just finished an article concerning anarchist expression in Denmark and am working to build an anti-capitalist movement? collective? party? locally so wish to consolidate some of this and see if some useful synthesis can emerge.
The Venezuelan model ( in fact much of Latin America) is just fluid enough to make it difficult to generalize about but for the most part we see a rejection of both outsider-imposed neo-liberal economic policy and of certain cultural appendages of advanced capitalism such as hyper-individualism, competitiveness and meritocracy.On a less theoretical level, we have a petro-state distributing a bit more wealth to the poorest sectors of society to fulfill basic needs, food, healthcare, education,etc. There is little in the way of ideology outside the main political leadership, except perhaps the concept of "endogenous development" which is in some contradiction to the countries oil wealth and expanded international trade.
Argentinian society was in effect "de-classed" through economic crisis and traumatized by ruthless military dictatorship and so is re-examining basic institutions, structures and even cultural values as it attempts to move forward. The stories from re-cuperated factories and neighborhood assemblies express a keen yearning for a more just and dignified economic and political arrangement but again without any clear ideological or theoretical systems through which to analyze problems or contradictions. Reading Horizontalism:voices of popular power in Argentina, edited by Marina Sitrin, I am struck by the religious, almost mystical tone of the descriptions of societal transformation and the general inability to articulate this change in even marginally historic terms. There is a fear of ideology, a rejection of politics and even language to describe the situation. This description by a companero from an unemployed workers movement seems typical: "We aren't building the opposite to the capitalist system, thats been tried and doesn't work...We are building something different.What? I don't know. It doesn't have a name and I hope it never has one." This is hard for me to penetrate. Another worker says" hoizantalidad implies that there are no models." Maybe Im overburdened by my need for a more normative discursive field but I can't make out any real architecture springing from autogestion, horizontalidad,autonomy, or these other ephemeral terms.
This same lack of adequate terminology shows up in the "punk-anarchistic-autonom youths" movement (they probably don't like that word any more than the Argentinians) . In the article Capitalisms Normalization in Denmark
: dismantling free places and judicial rights, we learn about a "free house" liberated (expropriated?) by the youth, re-taken by police in violent skirmishes, demonstrations devolving into looting, vandalism. They too are trying to "create something new within the shell of the old" but running directly into reality, that is ,state power, social and psychological contradiction, internal tension. "At International Forum, a progressive bookstore and solidarity info-action group for Latin America and the Middle East, police broke two doors and arrested all 20 inside". Using new "anti-terrorist" law, the Authorities give the anarchists a quick lesson in liberty. So the resistance sets up a tent on City Hall square : "They go over the rules for the tent users, no violence ,no drugs, no sexist discrimination. No veggie authoritarianism. Everyone treated as one self wants to be." I imagine this is some form of autonomous horizontalism but there seem to be lots of rules. "Janne, Tippo, Geo and I walk to a local cafe, which supports the squatters every evening with the food left over that day." Subsisting on capitalisms left-overs, they wait for "the next elections". " The Youth also recognize that they missed some popular sympathy due to the burning od cars and cycles. Worst of all, thousands of books and computers were burned at the local highschool." Bad deal.
Their "participatory democracy" unfortunately created space for "bullies and neo-nazis", who are also part of "the shell of the old", and now 200 Youth languish in jail. The Freehouse is demolished. The Right-wing is resurgent. And I wonder in what sphere this "parallel" model can actually challenge Power without being co-opted, where is the politics that allows the will of the multitude to express itself? The Zapatistas want to "walk" to a world where all worlds fit, but time is not on our side. The hegemonic "norms" of justice need a counter-norm, not ambiguity.
Labels: empire, justice, revolution