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Personal Modification is not Revolution – By Lea Melandri


Italian autonomist feminism emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s, in large part as a response to the failures of 1968 and the New Left. In critical dialogue with Operaismo, thinkers of the movement worked to problematize a Marxist orthodoxy that had neglected the role played by gendered labor in the reproduction of capitalism. By classifying domestic work as reproductive labor — itself the site of the constitution of gender, made invisible by way of the wage relation — and launching initiatives such as Wages for Housework, the Italian feminists such as Silvia Federici and Mariarosa Dalla Costa along with their international cohorts became best known for redefining materialism through a feminist lens, transforming the dynamic of workerism as a practice, and emphasizing political autonomy over aims of equality. Italian feminists interrogated difference rather than championing common ground between the sexes, setting them apart from many feminist initiatives elsewhere.

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The Invisible Committee: Beautiful Like an Impure Insurrection

The following text appeared in 2019 as the “Preface” to an anthology of the Invisible Committee’s major works published in Italy. 

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Manifesto for the abolition of the police

That the social function of the police is to maintain a certain world order, or a certain regime of domination, is an open secret. What continues to be less understood, however, is the lie upon which their existence depends, the greatest anthropological lie: that without their exercise of “legitimate” violence we would be incapable of giving each other common rules of life and would kill each other at the first opportunity. To put an end to the police is first and foremost to put an end to this infantilism. This is the aim of the following manifesto, published anonymously in France during the first phase of the George Floyd uprising in the U.S.

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The Trickster Insurrection

The following article—released simultaneously in Italian and English—argues that revolt today depends not on the substantial identities once attributed to sovereign subjects but on acts of profanation, ways of “practicing ourselves as Tricksters—border dissolvers, desecrators, parodies, masks without a nucleus.” Taking Todd Phillips’ Joker as a case study, Pelilli reads contemporary insurrection as an event that collapses the Western divide between essence and appearance. In these moments, we see the resurgence of an age-old mythological figure: the Trickster.

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Imaginary Enemies: Myth and Abolition in the #Minneapolis Rebellion

The following article from a friend in Minneapolis looks at the impact in rebellions of what is known as the “fog of war”, or the strategic problem of “unknowability.” In the case of the George Floyd rebellion, the author argues that this unknowability played out particularly along racial lines. On the one hand, the participation of white antagonists helped the uprising to quickly take on a scale beyond anyone’s comprehension, resulting in a situation that was both ungovernable and unknowable in terms of the makeup of its partisans. At the same time, as counter-insurgent forces fought to restore order, they too seized upon this uncertainty by producing the mythological threat of the white supremacist outside agitator. The unknowable represents a threat to which all future rebellions will have to contend, especially in the U.S. context.

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Life, War, and Politics: After the George Floyd Rebellion

A talk delivered by K.N. and Paul Torino of the Vitalist International on November 14th, 2020, at the “The Undercommons and Destituent Power—Between Pandemic and the Uprising.”

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At the Wendy’s: Armed Struggle at the End of the World

Atlanta. Georgia. The following article analyzes the events that took place between June 12th to July 14th at the occupation of a Wendy’s in Atlanta, the site of Rayshard Brooks’ murder by the Atlanta Police Department. Over the course of this month, a strange in-between world formed around the burned intestines of a fast food restaurant. In it, we saw one of the most militant examples of Black struggle in the country. The exemplary character of the struggle at the Wendy’s allowed the authors to experience some of the most powerful interventions—and some of the most dangerous limitations—that American rebellion confronts today. In what follows, the authors focus on three dimensions of this conflict: the effect of Black (militant) leadership, fatalism and paranoia as constitutive conditions of the event, and the function of guns and lethal force in unfolding conflict.

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Shemon & Arturo: Prelude to a new civil war

Building off the analysis they set out in their articles this summer [1, 2, 3], Shemon and Arturo trace the mounting hostilities of our present moment back to the unfinished business of the first American Civil War and the counter-insurrection that crushed its emancipatory promise. Must the escalating violence all around us descend into a shooting war? To what extent does race continue to serve as a limit condition of our ability to imagine a free and dignified life in common in this country, beyond the dictates of the economy and the police? Must the liberation of a life in common proceed from a frontal clash, or does it look more like a decentralized processes of desertion and secession fragmenting the territory? Does revolution today look more like Reconstruction, the Free State of Jones, or neither? How does the new geography of conflict—no longer divisible into North and South, but traversing every city, every town—complicate our received image of civil war? If the rebellion this summer was a preamble to a new form of civil war, what are the vortices that allow its emancipatory .to deepen and expand, rather than trap itself in sacrificial black holes? While this essay attempts a first provisional sketch of the historical roots of our horizons, we hope it will serve as an invitation for others to throw out their wagers on the present.

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Giorgio Agamben: When the House is on Fire

“Nothing I’m doing makes any sense if the house is on fire.” Yet even when the house is on fire it is necessary to continue as before, to do everything with care and precision, perhaps even more so than before—even if no one notices. Perhaps life itself will disappear from the face of the earth, perhaps no memory whatsoever will remain of what has been done, for better or for worse. But you continue as before, it is too late to change, there is no time anymore.

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