- Negation is a call for becoming. But becoming, as experience, becomes habitable territory. This creates power. The activity of this power disturbs and provokes reactions, which – in turn – are also negative.
- In other words, there are two forms of negativity. One of them operates by deconstructing as well as prohibiting all complete identities – we will call this resistant negation – while the other – reactive negation – is motivated by resentiment . “Resistant negation” presses toward heterogeneity. Its resistance is an expression of work, language, pleasure, and creation. Its temporality is primary. “Reactive negation” is secondary; it charts reality through the centralizing hierarchies of power; it lays claim to the conservation and blocking of all possible becomings.
- The contemporary crises in Latin America are experiencing both forms of negativity. From the Zapatista uprising via the Argentine insurrection in December 2001 up to the rebellion in Bolivia, the population’s resistance operates as a deconstructive element, and at the same time, opens on various possibilities for the future.
- Power and counter-power relate to one another in asymmetrical polarities and failed encounters, in coexistence and confrontation. Relation-rich outer spaces that penetrate one another, robbing one another of territory, impure insertions behind enemy lines. While this space may seem fragmented, it is also full of pleasant paths or inner passages, tunnels, militarized boundaries and thresholds.
- The Latin American crises are the yawning and whining of reaction. Such crises terminate friendships in unpleasant encounters between those who understand each interruption of normalcy as a result of emergent subjectivity, and those who insist upon thinking the crisis as a systemic “dysfunction”. We are interested in the former group, because they have eyes to see themselves as creators and not only as victims of the situation at hand.
- Do we have languages, images, and cognitive processes to record, accompany, and unfold the power of resistance? Have the spaces of (resistance’s) counter-power allowed us to develop an inner perspective that can bring forth the subjectivities that anticipated the crisis? Can this subjectivity prevail and continue its movement? Can we find a means of projecting a new political radicalism, which has its roots in both the value of autonomous organization and thought, as well as in horizontal interdependence? Is there any clear idea of its social and political conflict? Is there any smooth solidarity between groups that only meet in punctual confrontations against repression? What awaits us, once we have inflicted gaping wounds on the body of capital, openings that invite us to undertake a journey into the unknown. We suspect that on this adventure, the institutionalized traditions, the thinking and the habits of the social and the political are no longer very important.
- The crises in Latin America may not be real political revolutions, but they are authentic revolts, revolutions in subjective forms of doing. A heterogeneity that weaves its material around problems like the self-administration of natural resources and knowledge with the prospect for a new material production of life, setting new accents in producing value. In Argentina, the landscape has changed noticably through the actions of the unemployed movements (piqueteros), through the hundreds of factories, taken over and administrated by their workers, through the municipal assemblies that have redefined the very notion of public space, through solidarity-based economic networks, through experiences in health care, education, human rights, counter-information, through new art that is capable of offering a “dense description” of these new webs, through new aesthetics that are capable of presenting this experience beyond the stereotypes and confirmations of the (spectacular) figure of the spectator, and through a new language that renews its own meaning. This new language is no longer a mode of expression flooded by the mass-media, nor is it an incommensurably distant academe, nor does it function as political jargon, which views the word as yet another object of manipulation.
- In Latin America, negation (as resistance) invents new ways of moving across a chess-board in ruins . This fragmentary ground is crossed by subjective journeys and ethical wanderings that leave behind the image of the suffering victim. The crisis can be accepted, but not only in its destructive, disciplinary qualities: the wasteland can also be a territory for chaining together productive energies and subjectivities through cooperation.
- Back to our most secret doubts about resistant negation: how can we express the images that show the new social protagonism in its process of emergence? The descriptions that attempt to this expression often fall into extreme reductionism, as a consequence of a descriptive vocation that fails to question the boundaries of its representative modes. For this reason, it seems crucial to develop aesthetic thought capable of building new forms of representation, which can escape from the worn-out mesh of political interpretation.
- The resistances have set in motion a comprehensive activity of reading as intervention intervention as reading – (giving rise to new aesthetic and ethical outlooks: – a new connection between material praxis and conceptual possibilities; an embodiment of thought as well as the thinkability of doing; a final stroke to the separation between bodily sense and pure ideas; a movement whose immediate actions are informed by knowledge that makes experience possible yet again. This new subjective territory is capable of substaining itself through itself. It can become the source of judgments, statements, evaluations, readings, actions, battles and encounters.
- It is characterized by the key qualities of a “people of the future” (sometime present, sometimes absent, and therefore always dependent on the aesthetic act that announces it, according to Deleuze). No doubt that this is foreign territory, resistant to objectification and reduction. A machine capable of making a sovereign choice as to which world it will implement as relevant.
- While each and every resistant negation implies a project of connection, it also consists in producing its own conditions. The current “Latin American crisis” will no longer simply appear in the light of economic science, – as prophecies that tell us of the supernatural fate of the Goddess of Economy but will be illuminate by the shine of these motions of recreation, which is the actual message of the Latin American struggles to the rest of the world.
Buenos Aires, October 20th, 2003
* The Colectivo Situaciones ( www.situaciones.org ) is a Buenos-Aires group of activists with academic backgrounds (“investigadores militantes”, as they call themselves), all of whom work within and study social movments. They publish several newspapers and play a growing role in Argentina’s radical Left.
This talk was one of the central contributions in the congress “Pläne vom Verlassen der Übersicht”, held in Hebbel-Theater in Berlin on 21-23.11.2003 as a part of the exArgentina project discussed on the previous page. It has been adapted for the newspaper format by David Riff. For complete German and Spanish versions of the text, see https://www.exargentina.org/_txt/_vdue/neg_de_01_widersprueche.html .