The Constellation of Opposition

By Jason Adams




























  1. Introduction: The Constellation of N30
  2. The protests that occurred around the world on November 30, 1999 (N30) were truly without precedent. They mark an important turning point in what had become increasingly fragmented struggles of new social movements constructed around various forms of antiauthoritarian politics, identity politics and ecological politics as well as traditional class struggle politics. In the cultural rebound against universalism after the 1960s, new social movements continuously sought to create autonomous space for the particularity of youth, queers, women and people of color as well as for the general ecology of the planet. While there have been enormous strides made since that time, the downside has been that in general, they have not succesfully articulated the intersectionalities of these various oppressions and resistances. This failure has resulted in fragmented, single-issue politics with no visible option other than reformist - rather than transformational - political activity. At the same time, traditional class-oriented movements have been in continual decline due to the rise of a global neoliberal economy since the 1980s. Faced with such circumstances, labor unions have often opted to merely "protect their own" leaving most low-income women, people of color, immigrants and students to fend for themselves. Throughout the three decades following the 1960s and lasting well into the final years of the 20th century, it seemed therefore that a constellation of opposition would not likely emerge, meaning of course that reformism was destined to become the new reality of social movements.

    N30 was a turning point because it articulated for the first time the irreducible interconnectedness experienced but not recognized within the praxis of contemporary social movements. Never before had so many divergent groups and perspectives converged, successfully swarming and disrupting a "common enemy," as did the tens of thousands who filled the streets of Seattle and dozens of other cities around the world. Many people who had been never really understood the intersectionalities between oppressions experienced dramatic revelations about them for the first time in their lives. In the midst of the third day of protests, one elderly woman reflected, "isnt this extraordinary, I've been around since the sixties and my dad in the thirties with UAW and this is really happening for the first time. Its great." A rank-and-file Teamster agreed heartily; "there was a banner, and it said 'Teamsters and Turtles Together at Last' - that was so wonderful. Of course we belong together. The same people who exploit natural resources exploit human resources. We belong together." Perhaps from a less traditional perspective, a bare-chested member of the Lesbian Avengers explained her perspective; "the WTO went against too many people at once; you know, labor, environmental movement, women's rights, animals rights - every different type of group of people was affected by this. That was their worst mistake ever, they pissed off too many people and now we're going to fight back unified and that’s what's going to help us." Yet this was no simple return to the homogenous politics of the past; in fact it was precisely the immense diversity of individuals and groups present that allowed a type of untamed, spontaneous, critical, tentative "unity" to emerge in the form of a movement of movements. As Hop Hopkins of the Brown Collective argued afterward, "solidarity doesn’t mean that we don’t talk about the issues that separate us. That’s the biggest change that I see happening…race, class, gender, sexism, heterosexism - if that’s not in your analysis then you're only half-stepping and you're not really working for the revolution." As a result of the shifts in the self-consciousness of these movements the need to find common nodes of communication amongst and between the many divergent movements, while also maintaining the self-determination of all involved, could finally be actualized.

    These developments in late 1999 raised hopes that "another world is possible" and that there might in fact be a movement that would at least potentially be capable of bringing it about. Interestingly, the most active elements of the various movements involved were said by many commentators to have exhibited an "anarchist sensibility," if not a clearly articulated affiliation with anarchism itself. But in the years after, the constellation of opposition that allowed for this intersubjectivist sense of autonomy-within-solidarity began to unravel back into its previous state of fragmentation and incommensurability. The healthy balance of tension that had united the previously fragmented movements had degenerated into something of a war between the various elements centered on the particularities of age, race, class, gender, and sexuality amongst other things. Even if the particulars could not be agreed upon, nearly everyone involved seemed to agree that the quest for forms of life as free as possible of domination and hierarchy was the primary glue keeping these movements "together." However it is undeniable that there were multiple lines of division that could be seen before, during and after N30; this is an unavoidable feature of any constellation of oppostion and is not necessarily negative. One line of division that emerged rather clearly was that between the "organizationalist" level of officiality such as the Direct Action Network on the one hand and the "postorganizationalist" level of unorganized affinities such as the Black Bloc on the other. Another important divisions was that between the traditional class-based movements and the new social movements; those organized around the so-called "identity politics" that emerged after 1968 on the one hand versus those organized around class politics such as the labor unions and socialist parties that emerged in the nineteenth century, on the other.

    But even while one could argue that the organizationalist and class-based sections were perhaps stuck in an industrial-capitalist era when a primary center of power made such movements potentially powerful, it is clear in hindsight that the postorganizationalist and new social movements often made the equally fatal mistake of avoiding economic factors altogether. In their rush to emphasize the emergence of the new, they lost sight of what has remained of the old; this is nothing less than the mirror image of what the organizationalist and class-based movements have done in denying the emergence of the new and overemphasizing the continuity of the old. An important challenge then, would be to develop a more practically applicable hybrid analysis of the workings of contemporary power, which as Derrida would say, will always contains some specters from the past as well as some from the future. Such an analysis would emphasize the way that power operates in the practices of everyday life just as it would the way that it operates in "larger" institutions such as capitalism and the state. To put it clearly, what is needed today is an eclectic, pragmatic critique of the transformation of power and resistance since 1968 that avoids unwarranted overzealousness in order to develop a theoretical basis that would be more relevant to emerging situations marked largely by a sense of transitionality.

    This was precisely the goal of the Total Liberation Project (TLP). Two and a half years after, dozens of activists and intellectuals involved in the antiglobalization movement converged at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. They came with the stated goal of expanding on and attempting to articulate more clearly what had become known as "the spirit of Seattle" as an alternative to the two-sided coin of the particularist single-issue new social movements on the one side and the universalist class-struggle movements on the other. The convergence intended to consider instead the potential viability of "visions that do not privilege any particular type of oppression over any other, yet which still successfully respect and further the autonomy of all movements within a greater context of solidarity." As it was during N30, all of this was deeply imbibed in a wide variety of anti-authoritarian analyses, all of which were dedicated to challenging the hybrid combinations of new and old forms of power; centralized, decentralized, repressive and creative. The reaction to this attempt to move beyond these polarities tended toward the extremes; while there were many letters of support, the TLP also endured countless denunciations from those fragments of the "movement of movements" apparently dedicated to the absolute preservation of their particularity and the prevention of the emergence of a hybrid analysis of power and resistance in transition. Most of these denunciations sought to valorize the purity of ideology over the eclecticism of theory on the one hand, or to valorize the primacy of action over the "intellectualism" of theory on the other. But what is most ironic is that many of these exorcists refer to the events of May 1968 as proof to back up such points; because while action was indeed paramount at that time, there was also a very strong correlation between theory and practice in Paris, while the doctrinarity of ideology was eschewed. Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle for instance, was a self-described attempt to flesh out the beginnings of a theoretical basis for the revolts he hoped would follow in France and around the world; as he remarked in the preface to the Italian edition "those who really want to shake an established society must formulate a theory which fundamentally explains this society." In short, all too often, those who fetishize "action" while completely dismissing clear and deep theorization about that action often end upon entangled in a unanticipated dimension of the web of power or even worse, get tricked into serving as a pawn in someone else's game.

    It is true that the TLP was primarily about theory; as has been stated, what it tried to do was to help articulate the experience in contemporary social movements that the shape of both power and resistance has become both decentralized and interconnected, with the intention of further developing the constellation of opposition that emerged during N30. This article then, can be considered a continuation of the TLP in that it seeks to theorize a "common story" - with the intention that it be put to practical use - about how oppressions are both decentered and interwoven in contemporary society and about how our resistances might be as well. It also marks a discontinuity with the TLP in that it confronts the idea that any "liberation movement" can ever really be total in a society marked by the continuing fragmentation of totalities. Ironically, this is precisely for the reason that the term "liberation" is defined by a view of power as ultimately repressive rather than also creative, a point that was mentioned by one of the most interesting intellectuals who took part, Todd May. In fact, upon reflecting on the event, it has become clear that while the TLP talked about "totality" and "liberation" throughout, perhaps what it was really working with was an unacknoweldged synthesis of early Frankfurt School critical theory, recent poststructuralism and the "new anarchism" of contemporary social movements. This realization came about after realizing the strength of May's presentation in which he outlined his theories of poststructuralist anarchism and contingent holism, which in fact reflect very closely the emerging character of the antiglobalization movement. The most important lesson from this reflection - which will be developed and considered throughout this article - is that the constellation of opposition which emerged in Seattle would not have been possible during either the epoch of universality and class struggle nor the epoch of particularity and identity politics, but only became possible in the current transition to the epoch of singularity and limitless multidimensionality of identity.

  3. The Disintegration of Hegemony

Several years afterward, Michel Foucault argued that the events of May 1968 had fundamentally transformed the grounds on which the game of war would be played out in the years after. Rather than conflict emerging primarily on the macropolitical level of the workplace or the nation-state, there was a downward shift into the micropolitical realm of everyday life embodied in the intermeshed and conflictual capillary practices of individual subjects. This empirical realization was interwoven with his theoretical analysis that since the eighteenth century, the shape of power begins to transform from one of repression of individual subjects to one of both repression and creation of individual subjects. Consequentially, a movement to liberate the working class as a subjectivity might not really be liberating at all; without an analysis of the web of power, the "emancipated" workers might still impose authoritarian, racist, sexist, heteronormative policies in the new society that they create. The reason is that "workers" as a subjectivity have been created in particular ways by power emanating upward from below as well as downward from above. While he argued that power had been operating in this fashion for over two centuries by the time he was writing, he also argued that this understanding of power as a web did not become thinkable until the events of May 1968. Strangely, for some this perspective is fundamentally bleak in that with the death of the subject there is said to also be a concomitant death of resistance as well; yet Foucault argued that far from limiting resistance, this tranformation multiplied its possibilities into literally thousands of new arenas of conflict. These arenas are the political spaces in which the new social movements emerged as fragments in the 1970s and 1980s each reductively defining its unique particularity in the shape of a new form of universality.

Like Foucault, Andre Gorz argued that fundamental changes in society were leading towards the displacement of the industrial proletariat as the agent of social change and towards a fragmented "non-class of non-workers" instead. Yet for Gorz, the shift was primarily an economic one; that of the global shift to a neoliberal service economy under the global tutelage of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Of course this was to have great implications since the left had argued since its inception that the industrial proletariat was the central pillar of scoial change due to its strategic position in the economy. In the post-Fordist world of temporary labor, just-in-time production and ever increasing automation this hope was clearly becoming less and less of a possibility. Yet, like Foucault, Gorz argued that rather than spelling the end of the logistical possibility of transformational social conflict, this change would allow a broad array of new social movements outside the normalizing bounds of "class struggle" to freely emerge. These movements were largely constituted by those who had already been marginalized out of the system for some time; such positionalities could thus lead to a common movement for "autonomous production" (i.e., local production for local use) outside the bounds of the wage-labor system. Gorz hoped that this economic change would paradoxically serve as the midwife of a future "post-capitalist, post-industrial, post-socialist" society centered on the common theme of "the liberation of time and the abolition of work."

Between the two of them, Gorz and Foucault helped to lay some of the theoretical groundwork for the new social movement theories that emerged in subsequent years. The primary theorists in this vain such as Alain Touraine and Alberto Melucci largely came out in agreement with these basic observations regarding the shift to a posthegemonic, postindustrial society. Touraine for instance, argued that the dissolution of a primarily economic foundation for power meant that the identity of the former industrial worker would become transformed into that of the "individual, a member of primary communities." These fragmented individuals would subsequently become the new centers of social upheaval; in other words, what had been a more or less cohesive society "turns completely into a field of conflicts" in the postindustrial era.. As a result of this change in the center of conflict, he became convinced that "the era of Revolutions…is coming to an end" while a new era of permanent conflict and participatory democracy would emerge to replace it. Yet Touraine did not see these emergent conflicts as entirely decentralized; in fact he felt that in each historical period, a competition amongst movements for the position of the hegemony would emerge. Perhaps illuminating some residual authoritarian Marxian aspects within his thought, he extrapolated further from this that the role of the researcher was to determine before the fact which movement it was likely to be in order to help bring it into its own. Yet the one movement that could never become central for Touraine was anarchism, which he blindly associated with terrorism in order to justify his rejection of any anarchist sensibility as a major aspect of the new social movements. This rather problematic point is precisely where Melucci's more unorthodox, antiauthoritarian, egalitarian perspective becomes particularly useful as a means of correcting the limitations in Touraine.

Melucci had been a student of Touraine's and thus held a number of concurrent perspectives with him; yet, as might be expected, there were also major aspects of Touraine's thought that he rejected. He agreed for instance, that new social movements dwelt in the space of everyday life and that they reject the aspiration to "seize power" that had so captivated the movements that came before them. Yet he rejected Touraine's idea that the rise and fall of the hegemonic movement necessarily results in the periodization of history, since this would imply that there was some sort of natural hierarchy of oppression underlying social life. Against this essentially Marxian analysis, he argues that "Touraine's idea of the central movement still clings to the assumption that movements are a personnage, unified actors playing out a role on the stage of history." He also rejected his teacher's belief that the role of the researcher was to pedagogically 'convert' actors to a higher level of understanding somehow unavailable to them; like Foucault, he argued that the role of the researcher was instead one of mutuality and equal exchange. And in line with Gorz, Melucci argued that contra classical Marxism, the "class struggle" of the early 19th century was not so much one between the newly proletarianized and the bourgeoisie as it was one between the elites and the non-proletarianized traditional subsistence communities. In arguing this, he amply demonstrated his belief that "new" social movements in fact had roots reaching back centuries to the struggles of those whose means of existence had always proven superfluous and extraneous (rather than fundamental) to the official structures of capitalism. In doing so, Melucci went beyond Foucault by showing that micropoltics ultimately had an effect not only the practices of everyday life but also on the functioning of institutions as well.

In recent years, the works of Gorz, Touraine, Melucci and other new social movement theorists of the 1980s have come under somewhat of an attack for their exclusive focus on fragmentation of social movements and their avoidance of how this has lead to new forms of reductionism and therefore cooptation as well. Peyman Vehabzadeh's phenomenological analysis of contemporary social movements is perhaps one of the most unique and challenging to have emerged amongst these, employing the insights of Martin Heidegger and Reiner Schurrmann for the first time in this field. His argument is basically that the positivist sociological theories that emerged before him tended to take individual identity, "ultimate referentiality" and liberal democracy for granted: this lack of critical spirit is seen as contradicting the "new" in their theory and ultimately reinforcing the continuity of what currently is. This is because they "cannot see the great implications of their claim that society as a totality has come to an end" which is that sociology - in its historical role as the legtimation of existing society - has come to an end as well. Vahabzadeh's contribution goes beyond these "sociologies of action" to what he calls a "sociology of possibilities" that "prepares itself for the turning" by studying "the present entities and phenomenal arrangements." In this project of redefining new social movement theory within a more critical, postfoundationalist framework, Vehabazadeh questions most of the underlying assumptions of those that preceded him; rather than accept the subjectivity of identity as "natural" he points out that in fact it is constructed, since, as Schurmann argues, "identity does not precede conflict, but is born out of conflict."

This birth of identity is what he refers to as the "articulation of experience" that makes the collective action of contemporary social movements possible. It is important to remember however that the articulation of experience in this sense is not a merely an act of the will, but is primarily a reflection of the epoch in which subjects are situated. In order to illustrate this more clearly, Vehabzadeh uses the Zapatistas; in order to construct the possibility of a relevant social movement, a Zapatista identity was constructed by "articulating the experience of injustice and oppression" suffered by Mayan Chiapanecos. This was made possible by the 1992 land reform which "collapsed the hegemonic social imaginary" of the Mexico de las tres culturas that had been won by Emiliano Zapata and his comrades in the Mexican Revolution. As the Zapatistas advanced towards the new counterhegemonic social imaginary, their articulated experience as Mayan Chiapanecos "receded" into the general population, thus widening and diversifying the struggle. In short, the Zapatistas were able to break out of the boundaries of the hegemony of the Mexican neoliberal regime by building a counterhegemonic parallel power autonomous from the officiality of liberal democracy; therefore they can be seen to "offer the world the first non-teleocratic revolutionary praxis" of "utopia unnamed." This sort of transgressive praxis is precisely what Vehabzadeh sees as the most promising aspects of social movements more recently. By rejecting the discourse of rights under liberalism, contemporary social movements also reject their transformation into subjects of the existing order, which is a major step beyond the new social movements that Gorz, Touraine and Melucci were focusing on.

We now have a brief schematic of how various theorists have conceptualized this shift on a theoretical level; yet we would not really understand the full complexity of this without examining at least a couple of examples in greater detail. Therefore, we will look first at deep ecology and then at third wave feminism through Vehabzadeh's "sociology of possibilities" in order to begin to bring this emerging map into greater relief. Radical deep ecology movements have in the past decade articulated a common experience into a movement through the "primitivist" critique of industrial civilization laid out by John Zerzan and others sympathetic to his vision. Primitivists argue that the totality of industrial civilization should be abolished in order to recreate the space in which humanity and the rest of earth could potentially regain the "free nature" that it had so thoroughly domesticated. According to Zerzan, this domestication emerged as a direct result of the specialization and division of labor beginning with the advent of agriculture and then increasing with each technological development. Specialization thus "works to dissolve moral accountability as it contributes to technical achievement" which, as Zygmunt Baumann has argued ultimately allows events such as the Holocaust or the mass clear-cutting of forests to occur without opposition. A provocative argument to say the least, yet what is not understood by many of his supporters is that Zerzan bases much of his critique of civilization on the work of deep ecologists such as Arne Naess, who in turn rely on a Heideggerian understanding of being. In addition, Zerzan leans heavily on early Frankfurt School theorists such Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno, in their book Dialectic of Enlightenment. It is to this book, followed by a consideration of Arne Naess, that we now turn in order to understand some of the fundamental theoretical bases of the primitivist movement.

In this book, Horkheimer and Adorno examine the nature of a society based on "rationality" in a deeply critical way that challenges many of Western civilization's basic beliefs and exposes their hidden uses. They point out for instance, that Enlightenment philosophers such as Francis Bacon hoped to "disenchant" the world through a notion of universal rationality which ultimately rationalized the domination of all of nature and reality through the pursuit of knowledge. The result, they say, is that all attempts at Enlightenment have finally become bound up in relations of domination and unfreedom; "the power of the system over human beings increases with every step they take away from the power of nature" since nature, like man, is reduced to that which is useful to the economic apparatus. After the Enlightenment, all pre-agricultural societies are defined as "barbaric" since rather than "mastering nature" in the Baconian sense, they let nature self-organize its own abundance and consciously live within the patterns of its natural cycles. Against what Zerzan calls the domesticating precepts of civilization, they point out that "abundance needs no law, and civilization's accusation of anarchy sounds almost like a denunciation of abundance." The new domination that emerges with Enlightenment is reinforced tautologically so that the defenselessness of women, Jews and nature at various points in history merely naturalizes their continued exploitation and oppression. Meanwhile, the concomitant rise of the culture industry ensures that any divergence outside the realm of the civilization it enforces is totally and immediately stamped out; "existence in late capitalism is a permanent rite of initiation. Everyone must show they identify wholeheartedly with the power which beats them." This "stamping out" occurs through their redeployment as exemplars "condemned to an economic impotence…of the eccentric loner," though it is also true that even those who do not resist become increasingly isolated as well. An important point that Zerzan builds on is that this occurs through the advance of technology and communications; radio, television and cars ironically create subjects that "become more and more alike. Communication makes people conform by isolating them."

Though the critique is profound and important in its critique of civilization, Horkheimer and Adorno still cling to Vehabzadeh's ultimate referentiality - in this case it is a "dialectical" critique where civilization replaces capital as the base, in order to reduce all other "superstructural" oppressions down to a single location. This comes out in those sectors of the deep ecology movement today who fail to see how flora and fauna forms of being could be of equal importance to human forms of being and who shrug off instances of mass human carnage as a "natural" corrective of some form or another. One attempt to remedy this situation, if their rhetoric is taken at face value, is found in Murray Bookchin's life-long project, the Institute for Social Ecology; in theory, it was supposed to be a sort of synthesis of human and ecological social movements. Yet like Horkheimer and Adorno, Bookchin's perspective is actually yet another form of ultimate referentiality; rather than a biocentric framework it is based on an anthropocentric one which states that man exploits nature because man exploits man as a central feature of capitalism. Today, however there are signs that this polarization is beginning to dissolve; Arne Naess, who coined the term deep ecology in 1973, has in recent years disavowed the more polarized threads of the movement. He has argued instead for a more pragmatic approach in the hopes that social movements would not be forced to come out in direct opposition to one another. In a 1997 interview he stated that "there is no contradiction between humans and wilderness," citing the thoursands of years of preindustrial human presence in Alaska as evidence. He goes further in arguing that due to the fundamental interconnectedness of contemporary social movements, people in the South should not be expected by Northern ecologists to engage policies that would threaten their very survival. Rather, he argues for a pragmatic cooperation between different types of activists in various parts of the world in order to maximize the potential transformation embodied within. This statement undoubtedly would come as a surprise to some, since Naess' definition of deep ecology is essentially that all forms of being have an intrinsic right to exist regardless of the Baconian clarion call to level flora and fauna merely to satisfy human desire. Yet it is precisely this type of pragmatic willingness to revise in order to develop a more thoroughly antifoundationalist perspective that will allow for the interconnections between different movements to be rendered visible and practicable.

Emerging in tandem with the green anarchist movement during the 1990s was the Riot Grrl countercultural movement, perhaps the most visible dimension of third wave feminism in North America at the time. Like Earth First!, Riot Grrl had emerged originally as a challenge to the hegemony of its more "domesticated" predecessors that had dominated the activism and counterculture of the 1980s (i.e., second-wave feminism and a male-dominated punk scene). Instead of merely demanding the right to participate "equally" in what they saw as a fundamentally patriarchal society and counterculture, many of these young women began to emphasize the need for autonomy and self-determination instead. In rebellion against the universalist, conservative, white, middle-aged and middle-class characteristics of second-wave feminism, the Riot Grrl movement, as articulated by originators such as Tobi Vail and Kathleen Hanna (in the underground fanzine Bikini Kill) embraced a self-consciously transgressive, deeply radical and intentionally pluralistic form of third-wave feminism. This form valorized the multiple particularities and intersectionalities of age, sexuality, race, and class outside the boundaries of the second wave's characteristic conformism; the shift in "constituency" is evidenced clearly in that at the time, Vail was a 20 year-old working-class student while Hanna was a 19 year-old punk rock stripper. From that point on, the movement blossomed continentally into a counterculture that challenged the limitations of those feminists that came before them while deeply challenging the domination of patriarchal society as well. And just as it was with the primitivist movement articulated by Zerzan, the Riot Grrl movement articulated by Vail and Hanna was often based on writings of theorists who were not always widely known as important sources within the milieu. One of the most insightful books engaged in the third-wave feminist movement was that of Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange. Essentially, the book consists of a spirited debate between Seyla Benhabib (a Habermasian), Judith Butler (a Foucauldian) Drucilla Cornell (a Derridean) and Nancy Fraser (a pragmatist).

The book begins with Benhabib, lamenting from an essentially second-wave perspective the death of the subject in third wave feminism, a move she worries will ultimately "place in question the very emancipatory ideals of the women's movement altogether." To the contrary, Butler reassures that while for her "the subject is constructed through acts of differentiation that distinguish the subject from its constitutive outside," this ultimately opens up multiple possibilities of agency rather than closing any off. For Fraser, the disagreement between the two is ultimately a false antithesis, since contemporary feminism "needs both deconstruction and reconstruction, destabilization of meaning and projection of utopian hope." Cornell brings in a fourth perspective, agreeing with Butler that the subject is constructed by power, but arguing that in order to deconstruct this, feminists need to "re-symbolize the feminine" outside the good girl / bad girl dichotomy. The second part of the book then continues the debate with Benhabib turning the logic of her interlocutors against them, arguing that linguistic practices should not be seen as a "foundational" site of gender constitution. Though this rhetorical move is generally disregarded by the others as less than serious, Butler does take on Fraser's attempt to agree with Benhaib that foundationalism has at times been emancipatory. She argues that in fact, in those instances when subaltern groups have appropriated emancipatory rhetoric, their subjectivity has been resignified in subaltern terms. In defense against Fraser's odd statement that her Lacanian leanings ultimately bind her to the phallus, Cornell argues that in fact Lacan helps to "opens up endless possibilities for the reelaboration of sexual difference." Despite some of her weaker critiques, Fraser closes the debate robustly with an argument for synthesis oriented around the intersectionalities of gender, race, sexuality and class in which the ability to recognize difference becomes just as important as the ability to recognize interconnections.

These debates are in many ways more academic versions of the debates that have permeated Riot Grrl and other third-wave feminist movements; reading this book brings one to many insights that would be hard to come to without juxtaposing these radically different ways of interpreting what third-wave feminism means or should mean. But like Horkheimer and Adorno, all of these feminists persistently cling to an ultimate referentiality, in this case one where patriarchy substitutes for civilization, or capital or something else that is seen as the fundamental oppression in order to introduce the reduction of all other oppressions down to a single location. The consequences of this can be seen in the way in which Riot Grrl was eventually recuperated back into the American cultural spectacle; by the late 1990s domesticated, corporate-concocted "Riot Grrls" such as Courtney Love dominated the media environment constructed around the subject. The increasingly tame magazines Bitch and Bust also bear testimony to the legacy the reductionist aspects of the movement have left behind. The flipside of this is that many of those who resisted this incorporation did so only to then embrace what became for them a new universalism, leading to the valorization of a rather shallow, subjectivist militancy over the deeper, more intersubjectivist radicalism that had been its early potential. However, just as it did in the deep ecology movement, recent years have brought signs that this corrosive, deradicalized polarity had begun to unravel as newer, more pragmatic forms began to emerge. One obvious example would be contemporary Riot Grrl Nomy Lamm who has was featured in Naomi Klein's first book for her fanzine I'm So Fucking Beautiful. Lamm has become increasingly involved in the antiglobalization and antiwar movements even as she continues her activism in the continuing Riot Grrl community. And as is well known, the Lesbian Avengers have become one of the most visible nodes of the anti-globalization movement throughout the continent as well.

The deep ecology and Riot Grrl movements examined here demonstrate quite well the way in which the fragmentation of universality - characterized by the replacement of economism with new forms of ultimate referentiality - eventually polarized the new social movements into a dichotomous prison of ideology. The choice became one of either cooptation through increasing willingness to compromise in "superstructural" issue areas on the one hand or immobilization through non-strategic, separatist militancy on the other. Richard Day has produced a challenging genealogy of the emergence of Canada's official multiculturalism that illuminates some of the weaknesses of the former tendency. His argument is that multiculturalism as a project traces back to Herodotus, Plato, St. Augustine and their successors' classifications of various human types in order to render them as subjects of domination and control. In the Canadian context, the multiculturalist agenda engaged in this project to construct a 'problem of diversity' that could only be solved within the normalized discourse of Canadian unity and liberal democracy through a definition of the English-Canadian Self in terms of its Others. Day argues that the only real way to create 'multicultural' political space would be outside of such normalized discourse, leaving open a multiplicity of possibilities - including the breakup of the Canadian nation-state. Rather than taking the commonly accepted linear 'history' of multiculturalism for granted, Day uses Foucault's genealogical method which "fragments what was thought unified" in the evolution of a particular discourse as a tool. In the process, he draws a parallel between the Roman Empire and its others and the Greek method of 'war to the end' practiced in the extermination of indigenous peoples in what eventually became Canada. Of course, it was precisely acts such as these and later events such as the October Crisis of 1970 that finally solidified the English as the cultural backbone of what was later constructed as an "already achieved" Canadian diversity, what Day calls a "design theory of identity." In the years after this event a new Canadian identity arose centered on the metaphor of the mosaic as a "free emergence" theory of identity in which Canada finally began to "grant recognition" to its non-canonical Others, a move applauded by liberal philosophers such as Taylor and Kymlicka. This rise of the mosaic occurred through the separation of language from culture, in Trudeau's announcement that "although there are two official languages there is no official culture." Yet as Day points out, when Canada requires the learning one of two official languages, it cannot also say that language and culture have been separated without the implication that the victorious colonial cultures are somehow more "worthy" of recognition than immigrants or First Nations. Therefore, he argues, like Vehabzadeh, that multicultural movements must ultimately go beyond the various liberal democratic recuperations to a posthegemonic conception of a "designerless mosaic" consisting of "decentralized, non-hierarchical, participatory…settlements that would be capable of defending themselves…against the operation of state forms." Rather than "citizens" the designerless mosaic would be inhabited by "smiths," characterized neither by a nomadic nor a sedentary nature but rather one that is hybrid and interacts with both. The smith is not the subject of particularistic identity politics but is that hybrid form which goes beyond both the universal and the particular, taking a line of flight with which to escape the empire.

Throughout this section I have demonstrated that the fragmentation of universality was a transformative development with implications reaching deep into the dimensions in which new social movements came to operate. While on the one hand the period introduced an increasing immiseration as a result of the dismantling of Keynesianism, on the other it opened up new spaces in which more transgressive movements could emerge. These new spaces allowed for the articulation of a more radical critique of centralized power, industrial civilization, white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity and multiple other oppressions. It is in this sense that one could say that with the worldwide fall of Communism and Keynesianism, the hegemonic pillar of economism fell as well. Yet, as Day has amply explained, this period was also characterized by a new polarity within the ultimately universalist frameworks that each social movement had articulated separately. On the one hand this meant that these movements became increasingly militant, positing their various single-issues as primary which lead in turn to more militant forms of resistance in the process. But on the other hand, it also meant that these they became increasingly vulnerable to cooptation since other forms of domination necessarily held comparatively less importance, thus allowing compromise in these "external" dimensions to become more widely accepted as a norm. In short, what this polarity meant was that new social movements in this period became either more militant or more reformist but very rarely did they become more radical. In saying this, I use the term "radical" in a very specific sense; here I do not simply mean getting to the immediately apparent "root" cause of a particular issue. Rather, I mean taking as a starting point the Foucauldian realization that power is always both repressive and creative and that it is not necessarily concentrated in any one dimension but is always multidimensional and that therefore resistance is always interconnected and irreducible as well. If Foucault argued that the web of power had existed since the eighteenth century yet did not become visible until May 1968, I would argue that the web of resistance had existed since that time yet did not become visible until November 1999. In the following section we will examine the characteristics of the emerging antiglobalization movement through an eclectic consideration of theories that have been employed in the project of articulating this constellation of opposition.

  1. The Emergence of Opposition
  2. The past several years have been marked by a shift in the process of fragmentation; while the falling-apart of the old hegemonic order has not ceased, within the pathways it has cut in the process, new decentralized networks have become interwoven together through common nodes of activity resulting in unprecedented forms of opposition. This development has been linked to the elite project of the globalization of culture, technology and the economy which concomitantly advance cultural universalization, global communication and economic integration on the level of global civil society as well. In order to avoid the twin traps of separatism and reformism in this new environment,, contemporary social movements have radicalized and complexified their critique in order to build a common project. This has been made possible by the transformation of more traditional forms of identity politics into new hybrid forms quite different from anything that had existed in the past, as demonstrated in the recent thought of Arne Naess, Nomy Lamm and Richard Day. The "new" social movements based on particularity don't seem quite so new as the multidimensionality of singularity has emerged as a key feature of the antiglobalization movement. The sense that there is a certain violence in being reduced down to a particular category such as deep ecologist, third-wave feminist, white, black, male, female, gay or straight has become increasingly pervasive in the context of contemporary social movements. While Naess, Lamm and Day have hinted at some possible ways of theorizing this change, Giorgio Agamben is probably the foremost theorist of the implications of the shift toward singularity with his description of "the coming community." We begin, then, with the work of Agamben, who is then followed by a detailed consideration of other important theoretical examinations of this shift in order to articulate more clearly the theory of the constellation of opposition.

    If the subject that is to be liberated by the "new" social movements has been constructed by power, then the particularity that subjectivity "represents" is really just an instance of a universal. This is the defining critique in Agamben's work on the "whatever-being" which he says is the being-such that cannot be reduced to either a universal or a particular; the whatever-being is an ungeneralizeable singularity beyond the confines of identity "which is neither particular nor general, neither individual nor generic." The whatever-being is thus a hybrid-being, like the smith, because it exists in the space between and outside of categorization and thus escapes the coding processes in which feelings of guilt and shamed are imposed as machines of control. Such a being is demonstrated most eloquently in the contemporary figure of the refugee, who is "perhaps the only thinkable figure for the people of our which one may see…the forms and limits of a coming political community." Such a community would be one where "the being-worm of the worm, the being-stone of the stone is divine" meaning that the real autonomy and interconnectedness of the elements of the world would finally transgress the normalizing and coding processes that disguise them. Agamben's vision is powerful and resonant because even though the whatever-being is not currently dominant, it is increasingly ascendant and will only become more so with the passing of time. Herein lies the paradox; that it is in a world in which the movement is toward "a single planetary bourgeoisie…which is the form in which humanity is moving toward its own destruction," that a community that does not create subjects of its inhabitants becomes possible for the first time. The community of singularities will not likely emerge through a peaceful evolution but by "a struggle between the state and the non-state (humanity)" and will "mediated not by any condition of belonging, nor by the simple absence of conditions, but by belonging itself." Taking Day's description of the irrecuperable smith one step further, Agamben argues that "what the state cannot tolerate in any way, however, is that the singularities form a community without affirming an identity…wherever these singularities demonstrate their being in common…sooner or later the tanks will appear."

    As Day demonstrated and Agamben confirmed, the recuperation of new social movements is made possible by the fact that rather than reducing their particular oppressions down to the classic site of "class-struggle" these movements merely reduced them down to a more particular category such as race, sex or civilization. In the process they did exactly what the working class movements of the past had done; they fundamentally negated the real multidimensionality of singularity and in the process severely curtailed important potentialities. One of the earliest attempts to challenge both the particular and universal tendencies through a conceptualization of the interconnectedness of social movements was the 1986 book Liberating Theory, compiled by Michael Albert, Noam Chomsky, and several others connected with South End Press. The book proposes a theory of social change that would move beyond both particular and universal forms of foundationalism in order to be more in line with recent explanations of reality such as chaos theory, while still retaining the humanist spirit of the Enlightenment." Specifically, the authors argue that the "separate" parts of reality always act together, as an interconnected, unbroken whole, whether one is referring an ecosystem or a social movement. Throughout history, they say, movements for social change have been primarily either of a "monist" (universal) nature or of a "pluralist" (particular) nature, which they say, is a reflection of the fundamentally reductionist conceptual tools that were available at the time. They go on to explain that these monistic and pluralistic concepts emerged primarily within four general theories, each focusing on four general social spheres: Marxism (class and the economy), Anarchism (the state and authority), Feminism (gender and the family), and Nationalism (race and the world-system).

    When used completely separately as reductionist theories they all become problematic quite quickly; this is the perspective that is dismissed as monist. But a similar problem occurs in the understanding of the pluralist; the pluralist uses all of these theories but only as they are "appropriate" to the primary dynamics of a particular situation. Against both of these, the authors propose a "Complementary Holism" in order to explain why it is that one cannot even understand, for instance, the economy, without using an interwoven combination of the multiple critiques employed by feminists, anarchists, Marxists and nationalists. Despite the tendencies of many activists towards economism, they argue, the fact is that Marxism alone will not lead to very deep insights since all "spheres" are combined into one unbroken whole. In Liberating Theory, the authors illustrate the importance of the intersectionalities between spheres as a precarious balance of "autonomy-within-solidarity," where social movements understand themselves as autonomous movements for self-determination on the one hand, as well as the different facets of a still larger "movement of movements" on the other.. In this sense, "Complementary Holism" offers social movements a powerful conceptual tool in that it engages with all four spheres simultaneously, in a complex, interconnected fashion, recognizing that movements from within each sphere continually reinforce one another in ways that are not always readily apparent and which must be articulated. This concept becomes especially important in the antiglobalization movement, where just such an interconnected, movement of movements has begun to emerge for the first time.

    Though credit is given where it is due in the realm of physics, there are good reasons to suspect that this book may also be an attempt to claim the insights of poststructuralist theories of social movements for those radical intellectuals who see some value in them, but who refuse to move beyond the security offered by Enlightenment precepts. Because while the book emphatically claimed to be "the first to put forward a coherent, radical politics that gives activists and theorists a framework for understanding the complex, integrated character of modern oppressions," just one year prior, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe released a suspiciously similar set of conceptualizations about social movements in their classic book Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. In fact, the single biggest difference between the two books is that Laclau and Mouffe make no effort to try to preserve the sanctity of Enlightenment precepts, since, like other poststructuralists, they see these as being one of the primary sources of universalism in the first place. Other differences include that they make no effort to postivistically justify their theories through a purportedly "scientific" foundation, nor do they argue that these movements can be simply reduced down to four all-encompassing spheres. Yet, as were the authors of Liberating Theory, Laclau and Mouffe were largely responding to the "crisis in Marxism" that was largely a result of the new social movements after May 1968. Not wanting to reject Marxism entirely in this process, they worked through the finer points of Gramsci's theory of hegemony in order to articulate what they hoped could become a common struggle between both the working-class movements and the new social movements, a project which they described as "counterhegemony."

    The impetus for this theorization was the growing sense that there was a "need to understand that there are different sides to antagonism; that one cannot just think that class antagonism is the only one." Against the classical Marxist conception of "equality" based on the obliteration of all difference, counterhegemony takes conflict and plurality as a necessary given, "a logic of what we call equivalence." This is an important concept because it creates space in which social movements can finally transcend the twin traps of extreme particularism marked by the complete obliteration of commensurability on the one hand or extreme homogeneity marked by the complete obliteration of difference on the other. The logic of equivalence is articulated further in the central concept of "agonistic pluralism", which is defined as "a real struggle against different positions…in order to have a vibrant democracy" based on the centrality of conflict and diversity. Agonism differs from antagonism in that latter is 'the limit of social objectivity…between two social forces,' where relations of equivalence have not yet been articulated in the shape of a counterhegemony. Since class antagonism thus becomes only one form among many, the resolution of class struggle ceases to take the form of the "final conflict" and is thus spread into all social spaces. All of this focus on conflict should not be misinterpreted as a negative, however; as Mouffe has argued elsewhere, if there were no social divisions, there would be no freedom because everyone would think alike. The result instead is that there is no teleological 'goal' and social movements become focused on means rather than ends, a point which Melucci, Vehabzadeh and Agamben have all recognized as well. The project of counterhegemony is thus a process of turning antagonisms into agonisms or enemies into adversaries; it is constructed through "complex strategic movements requiring negotiation among mutually contradictory discursive surfaces."

    In order to articulate such a counterhegemony, the common belief that there is some objective society "out there" that has not been constructed by power would be one of the first things to be challenged. The articulation of equivalence is based on this understanding since the articulation of a counterhegemony establishes a relationship among elements that thus modifies their identity, resulting in a shared discourse and a common project. But rather than occurring through the simplistic notion of four primary spheres "the practice of articulation…consists in the construction of nodal points which partially fix meaning…every social practice is therefore…articulatory." Relations of equivalence are thus necessary to bridge the multiplicity of differences that will emerge between virtually infinite social practices, since social movements that have arisen out of these practices have embraced a particularist epistemology. The building of a counterhegemony, therefore, "should take place through a confrontation with antagonistic articulatory practices" based on relations of equivalence in which antagonisms can be transformed into agonisms through a recognition that each practice is necessarily partially outside of the greater counterhegemonic whole that is under construction. This conception demonstrates how new social movements make a new use of the concept of autonomy, that of an autonomy linked to radical democratic pluralism, or as Albert et al, refer to it, "autonomy-within-solidarity." Because "if these identities depend on certain precise social and political conditions of existence, autonomy itself can only be defended and expanded in terms of a wider hegemonic struggle." Clearly the ideas utilized in Liberating Theory were not without precedent; this fact leads one to wonder what other relevant insights into the counterhegemonic project might be found in the works of other theorists who move beyond the Enlightenment precepts of "humanism" and positivism.

    Ian Angus agrees with much Laclau and Mouffe; he argues that although the dissolution of universalism has been of fundamental importance in the creation of new possibilities, the rise of social movements organized around particularity is ultimately a "rebound from universality," and without a concept of totality, critique inevitably falls into reformism. Instead he argues for a sort of pragmatic balance between the two, since "one cannot simply discard universality for particularity…but must radically deconstruct and reformulate the particularity-universality nexus itself." The difference with Angus is that what he endorses is not strictly counterhegemony per se, but a new contingent totality conceived as a Husserlian "horizon" made up of the multiple subject-positions of new social movements and the intersectionalities that they articulate. It is yet another way of conceptualizing autonomy-within-solidarity due to the increasing sense that so-called "organic unity is…a 'tyranny of the part' elevated to an organization of the whole." In the current media environment, this tyranny of the part is reproduced in yet another way even with the dissolution of that unity since "it is much easier for the new pluralist apologists to celebrate the ingenuity of 'people' to use the products of mass culture in diverse ways despite their control by increasingly fewer hands, than for critical theorists to define precisely the constraints that foreclose political alternatives." One key problem then is the continuing configuration of the media environment as a centralized, one-way system; against this, Angus calls for a transformative media ethic that would recognize not only the right to speak but also the right to be heard. This demand for the right to be heard does not imply that the teleological goal of such a project would necessarily be the emergence of an "organic unity" however. In fact, a key aspect of Angus' project is the construction of a paradoxical "border…which lets one's own territory appear…animated by an active love of diversity."

    Connecting with the notion of relations of equivalence, this is the point at which he rejoins Laclau and Mouffe in the project of radical democracy; unlike them, however, Angus has taken it a step further in this direction by considering the question in the context of the antiglobalization movement. He argues that in this context, "the politics of alliance" requires a neo-Proudhonian framework of federalism in order to construct a counterhegemony capable of recognizing a Levinasian principle of equality outside the dichotomy of particularity / universality, in which groups come together for the purpose of solidarity without giving up their autonomy. Such a politics, he argues, is invested in the formation of alternative identities outside the normalized world of self-referentiality and conformity, which therefore decenters the importance of the continual maintenance and expansion of that world. Because that world is always adapting to new shapes that emerge on the social field, these new identities have a tendency towards recuperation and therefore must be continually reinvented and restated so that they do not become hardened and frozen into a recuperable shape. The new identity that Angus argues is being produced in this movement is that of the "antiglobalization activist" who, like Agamben's whatever-being and Day's smith, also becomes a "post-national person." The antiglobalization activist thus maintains membership in a plurality of movements and communities and therefore in his/her singularity forms the real intersectionalities between them as the ontological appearance of Proudhonian alliance. Yet the notion of alliance used here may be insufficient for the type of radical democracy being proposed; though it is constituted for a specific purpose, is avowedly temporary and open to change, for Proudhon, this federalist alliance is also a formal one; his definition of federalism clearly describes "contracting" groups that "bind" themselves together into "agreements." As outlined by Angus, an alliance of this sort would involve questions of when a group would be allowed to join, as well as questions of when a group would be expelled. While the call for an alliance that does not subsume singularity is imperative, the Proudhonian formulation is only one possibility amongst several others, some of which involve lesser degrees of officiality and organization and therefore subsume singularity to an even lesser degree.

    One counterhegemonic "alliance" of this sort that has the potentiality to fulfill Angus' requirements without the messy business of expulsions, memberships and contracts, is that theorized by Jacques Derrida. Within the volatile political context of the worldwide collapse of state-Communism, he first began to articulate the concept of a "New International" in the 1994 book Specters of Marx. Against the triumphalist demands for a universal "exorcism" of Karl Marx, Max Stirner and other critics of capitalism and liberal democracy, Derrida argued that the collapse of dogmatic formulations of radical critique in fact presented an unprecedented opportunity to reclaim their best elements from the rubble of their disassembled pieces. As he describes it, the New International would reflect such an eclectic spirit, as it would no longer bear the dogmatic marks of purges, denunciations and cults of personality that plagued the First International of the classical Marxists and anarchists, but would instead move beyond this to an order-out-of-chaos that would not require "administration" at all. This New International would be an "alliance of a rejoining without conjoined mate, without organization, without party, without nation, without state, without property." In a further elaboration, he described it as;

    a link of affiniity, suffering, and hope, a still discreet, almost secret link, as it was around 1848, but more and more visible, we have more than one sign of it. It is an untimely link, without status, without title, and without name, barely public even if it is not clandestine, without contract, 'out of joint,' without coordination, without party, without country, without national community (International before, across, and beyond any national determination), without co-citizenship, without common belonging to a class. The name of the new International is given here to what calls to the friendship of an alliance without institution.

    The key difference with Derrida then, is that his conceptualization of an alliance is one that is "without institution" and "without organization." In this case, the question of official expulsions of groups would not arise since it would not be technically possible in an International that is both "without coordination" and "without co-citizenship." For Derrida, nearly everything becomes opened up to both deconstruction and reconstruction with the collapse of dogmatism; yet there is one thing that cannot be deconstructed, that being the "emancipatory promise," which not only must not be rejected, but "is necessary to insist on…now more than ever." The primary change then, seems to be the emergence of a new attitude of mutual acceptance of pluralism and conflict between social movements, a concept endorsed by Angus, Laclau and Mouffe, but extended beyond the assumptions of the positivity of organization.

    In recent years, it has been argued further that this decentering of the party, the union, the alliance and other officialistic forms of organization has been brought about by the fact that they are "radically unadapted to the new tele-techno-media. conditions of public space." This line of thought is a reflection of Angus' central theory of communication; that the dominant medium of communication that defines a given epoch ultimately determines the materiality of discourse as well. In the current epoch then, the primary medium of the internet results in ever-multiplying, increasingly interlinked yet, paradoxically, also increasingly decentralized social movements. This describes the core issues in the quickly expanding subject of "netwar," which argues further that contemporary actors become increasingly interlinked through "network forms of organization, doctrine, strategy and technology" thus allowing for multiple possibilities that would not have been thinkable previously. Despite being a relatively new subject, it has become the central focus of a growing number of books, articles and discussions across a field ranging from elites fearful of the potentialities involved to the social movements that seem to be excited by these same potentialities. Studies published by theorists from the former camp include John Arquilla , David Ronfeldt, Kevin Kelly and Steven Johnson; from the perspective of the latter, are theorists such as Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, James Der Derian, Paul Virilio, and Harry Cleaver.

    Of these, the rather unique perspective offered by the last of them is directly related to the theory of the constellation of opposition that I propose as a means of understanding why a notion of counterhegemony is inappropriate to the contemporary context. Cleaver argues that the leading metaphors of the rhizome and the network used by his colleagues are ultimately inappropriate since like Angus, Laclau and Mouffe's conceptualizations, they rely on a prioritization of formal, organizational forms which then either form the "sprouts" of the rhizome on the one hand or the "nodes" of the network on the other. As has been argued by Derrida, in contemporary interlinked social movements, formal organization, to the extent that it is a factor, is usually only a momentary, incidental aspect and is not a solidified central feature. Today, informal affinity groups, multiply-linked individuals and spontaneous street formations form the primary basis of resistance while increasingly anachronistic formal organizations act as a mere shell-structure that sometimes enable and sometimes hinder such activity.

    Its for this reason that Cleaver invokes the far more dynamic metaphor of water. Like civil society (understood in the broadest sense) water is an "all-channel newtwork" - it is constantly moving and constantly changing form. The tidal waves, the currents, the whirlpools, the freezing, the thawing, the ebbing and the flowing; all of these features allow theorists and activists to move beyond the organizationalist notions of counterhegemony and formality into a form of thought far more reflective of posthegemonic, postorganizationalist social movements of today. In such movements, Cleaver says, "resistance flows not from the unified class seeking to form a new unified hegemony, but rather from myriad currents seeking the freedom of the open seas." While Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, Ian Angus and Jacques Derrida argue in favor of different formations of counterhegemony, it is clear from these statements that for Cleaver the current "movement of movements" is increasingly posthegemonic rather than counterhegemonic. So what we have mapped out here then, is a spectrum of organizationalism as a way of understanding the nature of the antiglobalization movement; in this sense, Angus' perspective is closer to postorganizationalism than Laclau and Mouffe's perspective, while Deridda's perspective is closer to it than Angus'. It is important to point out however that postorganizationalism as a means of understanding the constellation of opposition is both postorganizationalist and postorganizationalist; this means is that it does not reject organization completely but only the currently dominant forms in which decision-making and execution are separated through various means of representation. Though this argument has been actualized recently in the new forms social movements have begun to take, one can trace an antiorganizationalist argument going back several decades at least.

    Less than a year after the Paris uprisings of May 1968, Jacques Camatte argued that "the mystique of organization" lead to a sort of groupthink in which the state-form is redeployed in miniature in the form of the political gang. This political gang, he argued, puts forward the appearance of a democratic, level-headed, open entity that is "in touch" with the trials and tribulations of "average people." Yet behind this façade, the recruitee soon discovers the cult of the clique, the cult of personality, a pervasive low-opinion of the average person, and a mutual distrust between other recruitees and the ruling cliques or personality. As in the culture industry, these features manifest practically in banal propaganda formulated with the patronizing goal of reaching "the masses" at the level of the lowest common denominator with the sole intention of the limitless expansion of the organization, while actual social change takes the backseat. Ultimately though, Camatte argued, the political gang becomes recuperated since it "seduces itself by its own bullshit and it is thereby absorbed by the surrounding milieu."

    Camatte's critiques centered primarily on orthodox Marxist organizations; yet recently, Bob Black has made a strong case that traditional anarchist organizations have been subject to these gang-like tendencies of the traditional left as well, located primarily in calls for internal homogeneity. In practice, he argued, direct democracy tended to function as a mere tyranny of the majority (as Socrates learned) perhaps at least partially because it is based originally on a society in which being a slave meant that one could not vote (as the vast majority of Greeks learned). This tendency can be seen clearly in the Spanish CNT-FAI, for instance - though it is considered by many anarchists to be the high point of their history - in that it actually had eight separate levels of redundant, hierarchical bureaucracy organized around multiple aspects of geography and economy; when push came to shove, the movement's leaders took positions in the government. The history of the CNT-FAI is sadly typical; during the first half of the 20th century, organizationalist anarchists regularly converted to fascism as happened in Italy, Maoism as happened in China, Bolshevism as happened in Russia or liberalism as happened in Spain and Mexico. Given the reluctance of most people today to engage in formal organization-building activity or official parliamentary politics (perhaps for good reasons) it is clear why antiorganizationalist ideas are beginning to take hold in the social movements emerging in the postorganizationalist wake of N30.

    Yet, contrary to the majority of the antiorganizationalists, I would argue that one would be foolish to rush headlong into such an explicitly declared project; although the coming community is as likely to be one beyond categorization as it is beyond organization, it is also true that the present moment is one of transition marked by an continually uneven, unpredictable hybrid tension between the old and the new. In fact, some theorists have argued that this is always the case; that the moment of the present is perpetually shaped as much by the "dead hand" of the past as it is by the "open sky" of the future. This is why even Bob Black, who claimed to support a cleansing within anarchism of its "Marxist residues" ironically cites dozens of unorthodox Marxists such as Jacques Camatte, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Guy Debord and Anton Pannekoek in order to do so. As Derrida taught us in Specters of Marx,

    If he loves justice at least, the 'scholar' of the future, the 'intellectual' of tomorrow should learn it

    and learn it from the ghost. He should learn to live by learning not how to make conversation with the ghost but how to talk with him, with her, how to let them speak or how to give them back speech, even if it is in oneself, in the other, in the other in oneself; they are always there, specters, even if they do not exist, even if they are no longer, even if they are not there yet.

    The specters of which Derrida speaks are thus not merely the ghosts of the past but also the ghosts of the future, both of which inform and shape the living moment of the present. Therefore, within the context of the subject at hand, we glean that it is in the uneasy relationship between the organizationalist/counterhegemonic and the antiorganizationalist/antihegemonic elements of contemporary movements that we can begin to speak of a "constellation of opposition" as it actually appears in the present moment as postorganizationalist/posthegemonic.

    This constellation is not constituted exclusively by normalizing, formal organizations nor uncoded, spontaneous whatever-beings alone, but only that which its diverse, constituent elements articulate at a given moment, in a given situation. This articulation of course, is how the constellations of stars we are familiar with today first came to be accepted as a given; while there have always been "clusters or groups of stars" in the night sky, they need not have been articulated as an official entity. These canonical constellations may just as easily have not been articulated as such; in that case the world would know a completely different set of constellations. So at any given moment a constellation of opposition could consist primarily of the various officialistic organizations brought about by the working class and new social movements (i.e., the canonical twelve constellations of the Zodiac paired with the eighty-eight semi-canonical constellations). In another moment a constellation might consist primarily of informal and unofficial spontaneous assemblies, street riots or other unpredictable manifestations (the non-canonical "unofficial" constellations invented and promptly forgotten by imaginative laymen since the emergence of humanity). Most often today, however, a constellation of opposition is that which one finds in the uneven, unmapped space between and outside; in this case, it may be an unspoken reality that is embraced by some and regretted by many or it may be a clearly articulated reality that is regretted by some and embraced by many. Depending on the circumstances, at a given moment, a constellation of this sort may fill up an entire night sky - on another night it may fill just a small section; it may include large stars, distant planets, a passing satellite. This is a useful way of conceptualizing the "antiglobalization movement" in its local, regional and global dimensions; because while a constellation might be mappable globally, in fact it is primarily a simultaneous emergence of thousands of local movements, which therefore may not care to be or not be on the same map. During daylight or cloudy weather the constellation may be temporarily invisible, yet it may or may not still be there, behind the silence and the invisibility of circumstances that are never permanent and always temporary.

    More clearly, we might consider the second definition of the term as "a configuration, of related items, properties, ideas, groups or individuals" characterized not by the internal orthodoxy demanded by Proudhon's federalist alliance but precisely the opposite, an authentic manifestation of "autonomy-within-solidarity" as in Derrida's or Camatte's postorganizationalist alliance. Unlike in the metaphors of the rhizome or the network,, relationships between elements need not occur through "organizations" per se, but might just as easily occur through individuals, ideas or properties as suggested in Angus, Unlike in the metaphor of water, there is no need to assume that the transition to a politics beyond hegemony and organization is somehow already fully complete. The powerful, undecideable tension that defines this concept of constellation has emerged repeatedly in the past several years in major protests, uprisings and conferences such as those in Seattle, Quebec City, Genoa, Buenos Aires and Porto Alegre. In Seattle the constellation was defined by the primary tension between the semi-official Direct Action Network and the unofficial Black Bloc; the secondary tension being that between the highly officialistic AFL-CIO and its unofficial rank-and-file formations. As confirmed by the security apparatus in charge of N30, it was precisely this tension between the official, the semi-official and the unofficial that allowed the protests to ultimately succeed in shutting down the city. In Quebec City, the constellation was similarly constituted by a semi-official "anticapitalist" network, an unofficial Black Bloc, a highly officialistic labor federation and unofficial rank-and-file elements. It is here that the logic of the constellation of opposition reached its highest level of expression yet in the North; a general agreement emerged between all participating elements to respect a "diversity of tactics" through color-coded zones of conflict intensity. In Genoa, the constellation was composed of the same elements, yet this time the police did everything possible to disrupt and neutralize this powerful tension, including the liberal use of murder, infiltration, provocation and violent repression.

    Perhaps even more inspiring are the constellations that have emerged in South America as of late; there, they have moved beyond street demonstrations to toppling entire governments while building grassroots alternatives in the process. In the streets of Buenos Aires, the slogan "que se vayan todos" (they all must go) quickly became the rallying cry of a constellation so large and diverse that it brought together marginalized squatters, angry students, and a mass of distraught yuppies, playfully been dubbed the "bourgeois bloc." With such a massive base, the country has since seen the emergence of a sprawling network of hundreds of autonomous neighborhood assemblies, over 450,000 community gardens, over 100 collectivized factories, and hundreds of bartering circles. In Porto Alegre, Noam Chomsky described the 2002 World Social Forum as "the most exciting and promising realization of the hopes of the left…for a true international…unprecedented in scale, in range of constituency, and in international solidarity." While this description reflects quite well what is meant by a constellation of opposition, I would argue that this was probably the most reserved form that it has taken has thus far, with local anarchists and other undesireables being deliberately excluded from the planning committees. However, with Chomsky, I would agree that it has great potentials due to the fact that it has accomplished the uprecedented feat of bringing together over 50,000 grassroots activists from every corner of the globe in order to develop viable alternatives to the current order. None of these events would have been emerged in the unique way that they have in the past several years had the processes outlined in this article not taken place in the way that they have. From the deconstruction of the working-class movements to the reconstruction of the new social movements, and from the deconstruction of the new social movements to the reconstruction of a constellation of opposition. Several new landscapes of conflict have emerged over the past three decades; what action social movements might take in this new landscape will form the subject of the conclusion.

  3. Conclusion: The Constellation of Opposition and the 21st Century

This article began with the intention of articulating the elements that made the unprecedented experience of N30 "work" in the way that it did and to provide a textual complement to the Total Liberation Project events. In the course of the paper, we have examined the ways in which theorists have explained the "new" social movements as a product of the era of particularity, a time that Angus calls the "rebound from universality." I have argued that in the past several years, there has been a second shift beyond this era to one of singularity concomitantly with the interrelated shift beyond fragmentation to the constellation of opposition. The project of counterhegemony envisioned by Laclau and Mouffe thus serves as a bridge between divergent epistemologies and social movements based on universality, particularity and singularity; yet while it is useful in its explanation of the current transitional moment, the constellation of opposition emerging today indicates a larger move toward posthegemony. The balance of the official, semi-official and unofficial formations in the contemporary constellation of opposition is thus the actualization of the balance of universality, particularity and singularity in contemporary counterhegemonic theory. While we began with the key insight from Foucault that power is both dispersed and interconnected, it is my hope that in the course of this paper it has been demonstrated that today resistance is as well. Overall, there are five key points that can be gleaned from this study that I feel would particularly important for the continuing antiglobalization movement:

    1. Older social movements organized around the industrial working class should drop their universalistic pretensions, and recognize that they represent a constituency that is just as particularistic as are the movements organized around so-called identity politics. They should further recognize they today they are no more "strategically located" in the economy than are the constituencies of the new social movements, which is also to say that the post-Fordist economy has been developed in part to preclude that very possibility.
    2. New social movements organized around gender, race, immigration, sexuality, education and the ecology should similarly drop their universalistic pretensions and recognize that like the working class movements, they too represent particularistic identities that have been constructed by power and thus universal aspirations of "liberation" from their new foundations are equally invalid.
    3. All social movements should reexamine how and why the subjects around which they organize have been historically constructed by power in the first place in order to actively seek out the interconnections that may become possible once particularities have been deconstructed into singularities and the multidimensionality of each constituent element have been released.
    4. In this process of singularization and the release of multidimensionality, divergent social movements should begin to spontaneously reconstruct relations of equivalence between themselves, thus forming a self-organizing constellation of opposition based on the general principle of autonomy-within-solidarity.
    5. The constellations which emerge based on these ideas ought not be automatically accepted as constituted only by officialistic organizations of particularities or postorganizational manifestations of singularities alone but should recognize that in the transition to the coming community there will necessarily exist an uneasy tension between the two which, far from being catastrophic, can become (and has been) a source of immense power and possibility.

Paradoxically, it is thus from the problematization of both universality and particularity from which the ungeneralizeability of singularity allows for the first time a real sense of community to be born as a constellation of opposition. Not only will particularistic social identities through which we understand ourselves, such as race, gender and class need to be questioned and deconstructed, but also will the particularistic political identities such as anarchist, socialist and radical democrat need to be. Because when one refuses to identify with a subjectivity constructed by power, single issue politics evaporate, and the "solid" divisions between such actors as loggers and environmentalists or aboriginals and animal rights groups finally "melt into air." Perhaps the most important lesson that can be learned from this is that in a society in which our very subjectivity is constructed by power, the war waged by the antiglobalization movement cannot be reduced to the battle against the elites and their institutions. It should also include the ongoing battles amongst ourselves in the evolving articulation of the constellation of opposition; this, in fact, is the most important battle in the ongoing war against globalization because it is this battle which is also the real prefiguration of the coming community.

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