lunedì , 22 Aprile 2024

Organizing the uprising amidst the impossible stability: towards the TSS meeting in Bologna

Recession winds blow almost everywhere. The war relentlessly claims its price in blood and devastation. There are no longer safe spaces to smoothly accumulate capital or to peacefully lead one’s life. The highest price of this situation is paid by poor people, women and men, workers and migrants, and by all those who want to assert their freedom from dominion and oppression. The disorder is vast, but the situation is not exactly excellent. However, it would be misleading to think that capitalists and exploiters of various kinds and degrees can move freely without any obstacle in this apparent political void. Today, capital hungry for profits roams in a hostile environment that offers few guarantees and high volatility. This hostility does not so much have the face of reckless central bankers. Instead, that of men and women, workers, precarious workers, and migrants, who refuse to accept the stabilization cloak that one would want to place over their heads. This face scares those who would like to establish the governance of a society in ruins and call it “stability.”

When we talk about stability, we refer to the ongoing attempt by national and international political systems to safeguard production and social reproduction, shaken first by the pandemic and then by war and its global effects. Instead of a renationalization of politics, we are dealing with some public attempts to protect the capitalist profit rate from a transnational disorder that manifests itself as war with now-openly global traits, the climate crisis, and the recession. This political stabilization of capital must be viewed as wishful thinking because it depends on strained budgets that are under pressure from rising public debt and sky-high interest rates. It is wishful because it is forced to chase with national tools the control of transnational capitals that seek public support but are unwilling to work for national interest and security. The ease with which sanctions on Russia are circumvented is the most explicit demonstration of this. But this stabilization attempt is illusory and ultimately impossible because it is forced to resort to a violent command over society to govern what is not an emergency. Because there is no emergency where the opposition of women, migrants, workers, and precarious workers does not conform to stability written in a set-in-stone neoliberal language. If anything, what is present is the normal refusal arising against an order as much suffocating as impossible.

Stabilization is then the name of a political project of which the right-wing governments are only the point of highest ideological tension. Behind that project is the exhausting pursuit of neoliberalism that, since the 2008 crisis, has never stopped changing its skin while remaining faithful to the dogmas of the market, currency, and the functional use of state command. The right-wing governments allow for the exercise of authoritarian control over workers, women, and migrants, or those who, in recent years, have challenged the violent order of work coercion, patriarchy, and racism. This authoritarian, patriarchal, and racist tension is now revealed as necessary to support a neoliberal order that violently opposes any request for wages and income, mass resignations, and labor shortages. It is not about crying out about fascism. Instead, after the brief pandemic suspension, it is important to note that institutional mediations, when they exist, are aimed at re-establishing complete control over work and reaffirming the most traditional sexual and racist hierarchies.

COVID-19 has sown the seed of ‘arrogance’ in workplaces, as some outspoken entrepreneurs have not failed to notice. An arrogance that has not remained a private matter but has turned into insubordination in the English strikes, the battles against pension reform in France, the strikes in the US cycle of automotive production, and even in those of Hollywood screenwriters. To respond to all these uprisings, stabilization seeks at least to eradicate this weed from workplaces. Hence, further drastic cuts to welfare ensue while there is debate, without reaching a stable framework, about how austere the new European stability pact should be. The goal is always to generate available and low-cost labor, whether it be through the elimination of the citizenship income as Meloni did in Italy, the exclusion of migrants from welfare benefits in Germany, as announced by Finance Minister Lindner, or the privatization of what little in Argentina is still not privatized, as promised by the presidential favorite, the ultra-liberal Milei. After all, there is no better way to contain wages to bring workers to more moderate advice than waving the specter of recession to justify the sacrifices. The conservative Greek government knows this well, as it is finalizing a law to extend the daily working time to 13 hours, despite the thousands of men and women who took to the streets in Athens on September 21st. On the other hand, the repression unleashed by the moderate Macron against the movement contesting pension reform has also set a precedent for the right. So the Greek government does not intend to back down, imposing further misery on a population already exhausted by the Troika’s therapies. After all, in the dream of stabilization, the “old” neoliberalism and the “new right” find themselves in perfect harmony.

However, stabilization might prove to be an impossible project, as it is bound to clash with a variety of organized rejections capable of challenging any claim of institutional or ideological mediation. Ultimately, not even the war in Ukraine imposed an alignment and a functional division for today’s war order and tomorrow’s reconstruction. On the other hand, the new conflict in the Palestinian territories and Israel does not represent the establishment of any war regime, which evidently cannot withstand the effects of transnational disorder. Instead, it fits within the groove of impossible stability, within which the long history of segregation and violence, oppression, and exploitation of the Palestinians by the State of Israel is inscribed. At the same time, this new manifestation of the Third World War immediately calls for closing ranks and consolidating fronts. We stand with the oppressed, and therefore with the Palestinians because we recognize in the violence of the oppressed the claim to radically change the present that overshadows them, but at the same time, we stubbornly continue to repeat that not all violence necessarily has to take the form of war. As we have said and written about the war in Ukraine, the transnational politics of peace is not simply a new pacifism or an illusion of pacification. It firmly stands on the side of those who desert on both sides of the barricade, of the women who flee from conflict zones to be neither soldiers nor victims on the altar of the nation or religion, and of all those who, while accessing violence, refuse the deadly logic of war.

There will be nothing remotely similar to stabilization in Palestine without ending the Israeli occupation of the territories currently assigned to the Palestinians. There is no order, and there will be no stability on the eastern border of Europe, just as there is none on the southern border if the policies of war and repression of migrant movements continue. Migrants who landed in Lampedusa in recent weeks deny Europe the possibility of imposing the racist order that Ursula von der Leyen now envisions, following in the footsteps of Giorgia Meloni. Migrants produce disorder not only at the borders but also at the heart of Europe, despite unconstitutional policies (as occurred in Italy) and agreements signed in blood. And they do so by challenging that surplus of violence that, in the form of daily warfare, is hurled against them with the same courage and determination with which women have not stopped fighting against rampant male violence.

There will be no stabilization, and there won’t be any in the future, as long as so-called environmental policies are merely considered opportunities for new profits. The issues and demands that surround the American plants of the big three automakers, however, show that this terrain is anything but smooth. Capital’s plans clash with the determination of workers not only to obtain higher wages but to make the company pay for the costs of the climate transition, which otherwise would fall entirely on their shoulders. There is evidently a contradiction between the workers’ challenge to the shift to electric in the U.S. auto industry and the positions of climate movements that instead demand the immediate abandonment of fossil fuels. It’s about recognizing that in this explicit contradiction, there’s an element of continuity in the clash with the transition plans of the bosses and the claim to power to decide who and how should bear the costs. At the World Congress for Climate Justice in Milan, we affirmed the centrality of this tension because the fight for climate justice must necessarily consider and value all those moments in which the class struggle intensifies, challenging the green stabilization of capitalist society.

In all its different facets, the claim for stabilization faces uprisings, resistances, and more or less organized opposition, movements, and unions. Beyond this, there is a widespread refusal from those who don’t identify with the current organizational processes. Precisely because rethinking the problem of organization on a transnational scale has become unavoidable, the Transnational Social Strike platform has called a meeting in Bologna from October 27th to 29th, which has already been attended by 150 activists from collectives and unions from twenty countries, both Europeans and non-Europeans. For several years, this platform has been a space connecting feminist and migrant struggles in logistics and social reproduction, experiences of union struggle, and self-organization. To organize the present uprisings, the TSS has called “strike” all those forms of revolt that, not only in workplaces, break the conditions under which current stabilization attempts are made. Striking means making stability impossible. It also means asserting, in the disorder of our time, a power that is not just an occasional convergence of social subjects but a platform that continuously amplifies and connects the various uprisings, combining practices of struggle and political discourse, local initiatives, and transnational processes.

There is no practice without a discourse connecting the emerging anger of the here and now with the multiple, fragmented, diverse uprisings destabilizing an impossible order. We have now verified that struggles cannot be exhausted in their local dimension because our ordinary oppressions depend on transnational processes that can no longer be ignored. Otherwise, we condemn ourselves to impotence. Precisely for this reason, our bet is to respond to the transnational organization of dominion with an equally transnational platform. The platform is the organizational space to act in a political time that no longer necessarily proceeds through the continuous accumulation of strength but through leaps. Through intermittent explosions, that must be intercepted to build political continuity over time. Breaking down the barrier and addressing the transnational dimension: these are the watchwords of the meeting to be held in Bologna to face a challenge that did not start today but which today presents itself under the sign of an urgency that we can no longer postpone. This urgency has for us the faces of women, workers, precarious workers, and migrants who refuse to be treated as an emergency that must be governed. They claim to be what they have fought for in the past and what they are fighting for today: uprisings claiming an organization up to the present challenges. Supporting this claim is a valid reason to participate in the TSS meeting. In the age of impossible stability, the fact that, on a transnational level, we are the ones organizing ourselves is something that the capital has not taken into account.

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