[en] Living and acting the crisis: a linguistic [☺] perspective of the “global”

In the last months, the word “global” has assumed new meanings. Newspaper articles, comments and writings from everywhere describe as global most of the phenomena that the so called “west” is currently experiencing: financial crisis, indignation, occupy movements etc. From designating a general interconnectedness, “global” today has become the word that seems to better represent the current economic, social and political crisis hitting everywhere and everyone materially and emotionally, linking unemployment to financial markets, fears to hopes.

Various analysis highlight the systemic character of this “global” economic downturn where financial speculations have confined old Western democracy into a grey zone making them unable to find solutions to national problems. While demands for regulation and taxation of global financial flows have become increasingly popular among protesters, the rising numbers of indignants taking the streets and the occupy movements created new public spaces (in real life or on the internet) where people socialize the crisis and progressively redefine their subjectivities from within it. The rising of new public spaces is centered on “global” events such as the 15th of October demonstrations, very powerful tools to collectively build innovative ideas of citizenship and as deriving by it of participatory democracy. However the rising of “global” social connections clashes with economic analysis of the crisis.

From a different viewpoint, in fact, the current economic turmoil is limited to Western economies. Within a truly “global” outlook the situation appears to be quite different. Many countries have been living in a state of permanent crisis since many years (Latin America or Africa with some exceptions), while others are actually benefitting from current instability (China and some Asian countries), and other countries are just less connected to the financial markets. Suddenly the “global” dimension of the crisis assumes the form of a regional problem. While European and American grassroots movements successfully build international solidarity rescheduling protests’ agendas, the progressive and dangerous collapse of the post WWII multilateral dream is making Western politics less and less credible. A nightmare materializes in front of the eyes of an increasing number of people: what if we are all together the 1%? And what if the word “global” is hiding a deep fear of “developed countries” to lose once and for all their supposed economical but also political and somehow ethical leadership in the world?

Italian mainstream analyses of “global” events such as the demonstrations of the 15th of October continue to be rooted into this post-colonial assumption of the crisis. Adopting a double morality, they support rebellions of developing countries while internally frame the multitude marching on the streets with obsolete binary oppositions such as violent/non violent protesters to prevent internal disorders. On the contrary, the production of ideas “from below” provide a much more complex and accurate meaning to this rediscovered ‘globalism”. Interestingly enough, today in Italy one can read creative combinations of political experiences around the world adapted to the specificity of the Italian case. In most of the writings an implicit assumption emerges: the key pillars of an incipient political thoughts lies in political systems different from the Weberian/Western ones and questions the very notions of sovereignty. Such reconfiguration passes through those experiences where people have creatively coped with or questioned a state of quasi-permanent emergency not only in Italy. Occupy Wall Street, Spanish Indignados, but also Latin American Indigenous movements, Arab Springs, Asian insurgencies together with Italian post operaism are key reference in the attempt to rebuild social notions of sovereignty rooted in rediscovered relations of citizens with local territories and cooperation. It is precisely here that the word “global” assumes on the ground new meanings, in the daily construction of an alternative to mainstream frameworks.

Emerging from this profound work of deconstruction of the idea of Western State, Italian independent political analysis frame concepts such as “constituent conflict“, “alternative” or “precariousness” within the innovative idea of “living knowledge” of a participative social change produced and reflected upon while happening: that is “living and acting the crisis”. New experiences such as the Rebel Dragons, Uninomade, Valle Occupato, San Precario together with more consolidated agents of the movements such as Wu Ming Foundation, Global Project and NoTav, to mention only a few, within their own constitutive differences provide innovative and inclusive frames “to live and act the crisis”. The core idea is as simple as it is revolutionary, to put it into D. Graeber words “[…] institutions like the state, capitalism, racism and male dominance are not inevitable; […] it would be posible to have a world in which these things would not exist, and […] we’d all be better off as a result.” As the oceanic demonstration in Rome of the 15th of October has demonstrated, such simple political stand is increasing participation of people once at the margins of politics. Breaking political apathy this global call for change has become a mission where anyone can and should participate.

Emerging from a well-rooted awareness of the unprecedented era in which we are living, Italian movements claim their legitimate and constituent character as a popular mobilization assuming the international slogan of we are the “99%” against a widespread feeling of misrepresentation of the political class. As no one has political and economic solutions, new anti-political actors question the very foundation of Italian democracy: its model of leadership together with its leaders, and claim an active role in defining such solutions. As demonstrated during last referendum, popular opinion is moving toward more radical and innovative forms of participatory democracy rooted in the fundamental protection and management of public goods, in inclusive dialogue, and in rebuilding on the ground solidarity and cooperation. Underneath this analysis it is emerging a broader social need of conquering again a more human time frame against the supposed immediate necessity of austerity plans. A serious solution has to firstly challenge the assumption that financial markets can impose on people political measures that they will not accept. By doing this, popular sovereignty will be re-affirmed and re-produced by anyone interested in actively participating in such a production of “living knowledge”. Ultimately, this would create an environment where the long waited shift to the Third Republic would eventually be possible.


– [it] “http://www.globalproject.info/it/in_movimento/La-Terza-Repubblica-dei-movimenti/9762
– [it] http://uninomade.org/notarelle-sul-15-o/
– [it] http://www.wumingfoundation.com/giap/?p=5599&cpage=1#comments
– [it] http://occupiamobankitalia.wordpress.com/


About Struggles in Italy

We strive to give an international echo to Italian social movements and to promote information and awareness in languages other than Italian. Twitter: @StrugglesItaly Facebook: Struggles In Italy
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