First the question should move from the passive to the positive - to ‘What do we do?' even to ‘What are we doing?' Lenin could use the passive form, he could assume an army of followers moving along the reasonably well mapped-out road of socialism. Having neither armies nor road nowadays, the passive question indicates nothing more than armchair theorising. [...] We can't answer the question - ‘what do we do?' - can't even deal with it in any meaningful way until we build axes of community and of solidarity from ourselves, through our lives, concomitant with our work. Building structures in which we can communicate and ask these questions - not just of myself or yourself, but to a society of others. For the moment, what we do is to build these structures and structure ourselves within them. Build these relationships within our lives so that we'll be able to ask this question in a meaningful way - What is to be done? David Landy, Tampere, Finland
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri warn the reader, in the preface to Multitude: War and Democracy in the age of Empire, "this is a philosophical book...do not expect [it] to answer the question, What is to be done?" Despite this warning, however, that aching and persistent question hangs over their argument for the rest of the book. If Hardt and Negri's central premise is correct, and the living alternative to Empire is now the multitude, this raises - as quickly as a reader of philosophical books can remind them of thesis eleven - a familiar question: does the concept of the multitude help illuminate how to bring to life this alternative? Or, to put it more directly, in the face of the war, brutality and injustice of Empire, what is to be done?
In post-Soviet intellectual and political space, the conception of multitude as a new form of social subjectivity has hardly been very fortunate. The problems in its reception begin with the very translation of the term itself: in the Russian edition of Negri and Hardt's "Empire," "multitudes" is mistranslated as "masses," when this term was actually introduced, among other things, to mark an important difference in relation to the very masses it now invokes!
Edward W. Said once stated that "what one feels is lacking in Foucault is something resembling Gramsci's analysis of hegemony, of historical blocs and given relationships as a whole, constructed in accordance with the perspective of a politically active individual for whom the description of fascinating power mechanisms never becomes a substitute for the effort made to transform power relationships in society." [E. W. Said: The World, the Text and the Critic, Cambridge (Mass) 1983].
If a reading of Gramsci in the light of current challenges is possible today, it is one that is able to relocate the general theory of the working class struggle to within a philosophical discussion of sovereignty and the paradigm of power in itself - the logic behind its construction and legitimisation, its sphere of influence and operation, and its complexity - and therefore in contrast with every reductionist theory of power as a mechanism of the dominant class according to the classical Marxist tradition. However, such a reading does not have to renounce the right to present itself an operational discourse, a theory to be used both for and in practice, one that does not limit itself to analysing and interpreting power, but works to change or negate it by means of political action.
How could I ever betray to scandalmongers -
Again the frost smells of apples -
That marvelous pledge to the Fourth Estate
And vows solemn enough for tears?
Osip Mandelstam, "1 January 1924"
Politics begin with affects and passions. Affect is the childhood of theory. This is why I will begin with my childhood. (To avoid any possible confusion: the autobiographical tone of these notes is not dictated by nostalgia, but motivated by the desire to use my "personal case" to clarify what I daresay is a common logic, a pressure irreducible to class interests, which makes us turn to the Marxist tradition. This is actually where the epigraph comes from. Mandelstam wrote this poem directly after Lenin's death; by "vows solemn enough for tears", he means Herzen and Orgaev on the Sparrow Hills (cf. Herzen's "My Past and Thoughts") but also Stalin's vow on the grave of the world proletariat's leader.)
There is a distinction between fear and terror.
Fear is an alarm in the face of danger, it incites a reaction.
Terror, in contrast, is a different experience; it paralyzes those who experience it.
Terror becomes internalized and is more effective than any prison.
It confines us to living with panic as a lodger and provokes suspicious visions on the sight of what is foreign.
The paranoid grimaces of the neighbour turn into an everyday theatricality.
When the night overlaps with the day: a circle of stars over a blue background
Time stops after the explosion.
A confusing setting
Judging by the results of the Social Forum, we consider ourselves a SOVIET MOVEMENT in two senses: first of all, we are for SOVIETS (councils) as a form of self-organization for the protesting masses and the population at large, since the soviets, a form of self-organization that arose 100 years ago, entails both self-government and popular rule; we are Soviet people in terms of our values (social justice, equal rights, solidarity, and the desire to restore the connections between people in "post-Soviet space".) We are part of a SOVIET RENNAISCANCE FROM BELOW, for which there is a real demand, and whose basis can be found in the self-organization of people into soviets and the rebirth of those portions of Soviet culture that have not yet been "finished off" completely.
A Moscow apartment. 1 PM. Alexei is sitting in the kitchen, drinking coffee. Oxana comes out of the bedroom with her eyes half-shut.
Oxana: Hi, Alexey. Listen, I don't feel very well. And I also have a vague sense that something happened last night. Maybe it was a dream I can't remember? Or you know, there are moments of rest and leisure when nothing happens but it seems like something in the world has turned upside down?
Alexei: I know what you mean. But seriously, Oxana, you really don't remember anything?
"Poor Gramsci, communist and militant before all else, tortured and killed by fascism and ultimately by the bosses who financed fascism-poor Gramsci was given the gift of being considered the founder of a strange notion of hegemony that leaves no place for a Marxian politics. We have to defend ourselves against such generous gifts!"
(Negri and Hardt on sententious interpretations of Gramsci's theories, "Empire", Cambridge, Mass.: Havard University Press, 2001, 452)
Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) is one of Marxism's most important political theorists. For many decades, his theoretical legacy has been an important argument in the left's strategic debates all over the world. The name of this Italian communist has become a "floating signifier" of sorts, capable of endowing "revolutionary" legitimacy even to those interpretations of his ideas that he himself would have called revisionist. Obviously, there is no way to avoid a procedure of historization: in other words, it makes sense to look at the historical context of his theoretical practice in order to understand and use his ideas adequately.
Political action consists in showing as political what was viewed as "social," "economic," or "domestic." It consist in blurring the boundaries. It is what happen whenever "domestic agents - workers or women, for instant - reconfigure their quarrel as a quarrel concerning the common, that is concerning what place belongs or does not belong to it and who is able or unable to make enunciations and demonstration about the common.
It should be clear therefore that there is politics when there is a disagreement about what is politics, when the boundary separating the political form the social or the public form the domestic is put into question. Politics is a way of re-partioning the political from the non-political. This is why it generally occurs "out of place," in a place which was not supposed to be political
Термин «изобретенная политика», или «политическое изобретение» было введено в философский оборот Аленом Бадью с целью переосмысления, или даже реабилитации дискредитированного, запятнанного кровью слова «политика». Политика давно стало синонимом власти, борьбы за власть со всеми вытекающими отсюда последствиями. Тиранические режимы XX и XXI веком окончательно укрепили в сознании человека связь политики и злодейства.
С помощью словосочетания «изобретенная политика» Бадью делает попытку очистить понятие политики от наносных смыслов, восстановив его более глубокое значение, восходящее к греческому понятию полиса. Полис – это уникальное историческое образование, в котором воплотилась принципиально иная форма организации общества. Полисный, или политический, тип общественного устройства основан не на принципе господства и подчинения, а на принципе свободы. Именно в полисе свобода впервые обретает пространство для реализации. «Политика, - говорит Бадью, - ни в коем случае не есть власть или вопрос власти. Сущность политики есть коллективная эмансипация, или же проблема свободы в бесконечных ситуациях».
Необходимость возобновления греческого смысла слова политика является одной из важнейших задач нашего общества. Именно этому посвящен данный раздел.
Философия и позиция критического интеллектуала сегодня
(Печатается с сокращениями. Полная версия статьи будет опубликована в специальном выпуске журнала «Топос» «ЕГУ: Академия и власть» в июне 2005 года).
По сути дела, система, в которой мы живем, не может ничего вынести, и отсюда вытекает ее неустранимая хрупкость в каждой точке и в то же время ее сила как все охватывающего подавления.
Существует ли в Беларуси публичное пространство? То есть такое пространство, место, способ, наконец, возможность для выражения своей точки зрения на общество и происходящие в нем процессы? Для человека, знакомого не понаслышке с современной ситуацией в Беларуси, ответ может быть однозначно отрицательным. Между тем поиск оптимальной модели сосуществования человека и государства, экономики и культуры, развития социальных отношений и принятия политических решений отнюдь не является исключительной прерогативой специалистов в области права, политиков и тем более – государственных чиновников. Право на публичное высказывание и открытое обсуждение существующих в обществе проблем имеет (должен иметь) любой гражданин, независимо от возраста, пола, статуса, классовой или этнической принадлежности. Все социальные практики могут и должны быть предметом публичной дискуссии и публичного выражения мнений. Как писал Джанни Ваттимо, «свободное общество – это общество, где человек может осознать себя существующим в “публичной сфере”, то есть сфере общественного мнения, свободной дискуссии и т. д., не затемненной догмами, предрассудками, суевериями»[i].
отвечая на вопрос о том, почему он «столь сильно» увлекается политикой, счел сам вопрос неуместным: «А отчего же это я не должен ею увлекаться? Какая слепота, какая глухота, какое идеологическое отупение были бы способны помешать мне увлечься, наверное, самым стержневым предметом для нашего существования, то есть обществом, в котором мы живем… Ведь, в конце концов, сама суть нашей жизни состоит из политической жизнедеятельности общества, в котором мы находимся».[vi]
Chto Delat (What is to be done?) was founded in early 2003 in Petersburg by a workgroup of artists, critics, philosophers, and writers from Petersburg, Moscow, and Nizhny Novgorod with the goal of merging political theory, art, and activism.
The group was founded in May 2003 in Petersburg in an action called “The Refoundation of Petersburg." Shortly afterwards, the original, as yet nameless core group began publishing an international newspaper called Chto Delat. The name of the group derives from a novel by the Russian 19th author Nikolai Chernyshevsky, and immediately brings reminiscences of the first socialist worker’s self-organizations in Russia, which Lenin actualized in his “What is to be done?” (1902). Chto delat sees itself as a self-organizing platform for cultural workers intent on politicizing their “knowledge production” through reflections and redefinitions of an engaged autonomy for cultural practice today.
The platform Chto delat is coordinated by a workgroup including following members:
Tsaplya Olga Egorova (artist, Petersburg), Artiom Magun (philosopher, Petersburg), Nikolai Oleinikov (artist, Moscow), Natalia Pershina/Glucklya (artist, Petersburg), Alexei Penzin (philosopher, Moscow), David Riff (art critic, Moscow), Alexander Skidan (poet, critic, Petersburg), Oxana Timofeeva (philosopher, Moscow), and Dmitry Vilensky (artist, Petersburg). In 2012 the choreographer Nina Gasteva has joined a collective after few years of intense collaboration. Since then many Russian and international artist and researchers has participated in different projects realised under the collective name Chto Delat (see descriptions of each projects on this web site)
Chto Delat collective in Kronstadt in 2005
Standing: from the right: Oleynikov, Gluklya, Timofeeva, Shuvalov, Tsaplya, Riff, Penzin
Sitting: Magun and Vilensky)
Our Principles: Self-Organization, Collectivism, Solidarity
The Chto Delat platform unites artists, philosophers, social researchers, activists, and all those whose aim is the collaborative realization of critical and independent research, publication, artistic, educational and activist projects. All of the platforms initiatives are based on the principles of selforganization and collectivism. These principles are realized through the political coordination of working groupsthe contemporary analogue of soviets.
The projects undertaken by any of these groups represent the entire platform and are closely coordinated with one another. At the same time, the existence of the platform creates a common context for interpreting the projects of its individual participants. We are likewise guided by the principle of solidarity. We organize and support mutual assistance networks with all grassroots groups who share the principles of internationalism, feminism, and equality.