Class Composition and the Organization of the Common
Genoa, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June, 2011
Rethinking co-research inside precariat struggles and cognitive labor
On the 18th-19th June we are “returning” to Genoa. Ten years after the global movement in Genoa and half a century after the “stripped shirts” . July of 1960 was, in fact, much more than an anti-fascist mobilization or the defense of the Italian constitution born from the Resistance.
The emergence of a new composition of class was incarnated in those two days of battle. Two years later, as it is known, the revolt of Piazza Statuto would take place. But it isn’t the events themselves that draw us there, nor their celebration: we are interested above all in the processes and the tendencies inside which social struggles and subjectivities are formed and that produce events. This because there is no autonomy of the revolt from the process of political organization, nor is there any political autonomy that, after the revolt, gives form to and represents this process. Organization is either immanent to class composition or it simply doesn’t exist.
Much has changed since 2001 and nearly everything has changed since the workers’ struggles of the ‘60s. One thing is certain: the relation between technical composition and political composition cannot be re-proposed in the same terms as in the ‘60s. The processes – open, cadenced and driven by the struggles over the last ten years – cognitivization of labor and exploitation, the tendency of life and labor to overlap, the explosion of the factory-form, the network and the metropolis as new spatial-temporal coordinates of production, the fully transnational and heterogeneous character of living labor, constitutively precarious and mobile, continually blur technical and political composition, overlapping them and distancing them at the same time. In short, since the common has become the base and central resource of production, political composition needs to be rethought today starting from the organization of the common and from the construction of autonomous institutions.
This is why we can’t simply return to the Genoa of the “stripped shirts” nor to the Genoa of the global movement. In the meanwhile, in the last decade, new conflictual and organizational processes have emerged inside class composition, starting from the precariat, students and migrants. The violent explosion of the global economic crisis has also demonstrated the intimate fragility of contemporary forms of accumulation founded on financialization and capture of social cooperation. Cognitive capitalism means crisis as a permanent condition and an insuperable horizon of its development.
So, it is precisely beginning with the European and transnational struggles in the crisis (from student and precariat movements that inflamed the autumn of worker resistance to the revolution in North Africa) that we want to rethink enquiry as a constituent practice. Today, co-research is immediately the organization of the common. “Returning” to the theme of class composition then means building something new, lining up the problems, proposing new paths and risking new, forward thinking hypotheses.
About ten years ago, when asked if the operaists had expected the rupture of Piazza Statuto, Romano Alquati answered: “we didn’t expect it, but we organized it.” After all, the truth of what we have to build today and radically rethink is already here.