On multiplicity, decision and the common

19 on multiplicity

Photo: Jef Aérosol ©

Both our strengths and our weaknesses are the product of our world-historical imagination. Without really knowing it, we have inherited the dilemma which, around May 1968, separated the New Social Movements from the old. The latter concentrated on the problem of the central front, thus affirming labour and hence state power. The New Social Movements, on the other hand, placed their trust in the multiplicity of fronts, affirmed the right of non-labour and hence the anti-power of minorities. We think both of these positions together, and thus call ourselves movement of movements. Our weakness is that we have not taken this thought to its conclusion. We do not yet know how what is common to all fronts can be articulated and organised. We do not yet know what the power of anti-power is. The inevitable affirmation of multiplicity obscures the inevitability of a strategic decision.

We have not even understood, that this is in fact our problem, and that we have to solve it. The beginnings of a solution lie in the question of how we can create a party and a state without being simply a party or dissolving into the state.

On this, three suggestions. 1) A real problem is something that has to be solved like a riddle. It entails a moment of grace, hence openness for a result. 2) If there is a dialectic of the three sequential movements, then the point is not their synthesis, but something entirely new, something entirely different. This does not exclude but rather include specific negations. 3) John Holloway articulates not our strength but our weakness and lends philosophical credence to an exaggeration of Zapatismo, rather than trying to make a philosophical contribution to the further development of this important yet limited political innovation.

Thomas Seibert is an activist in ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens) and the Interventionist Left. His latest publication is Krise und Ereignis: Siebenundzwanzig Thesen zum Kommunismus [Crisis and Event: Twenty-Seven Theses on Communism]

The original, German version of this text can be found here.

This article is part of the t-10 series from Issue 5 of Turbulence asking, ‘What were you wrong about 10 years ago?‘.

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