Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Quote: Revolutionary Transitions

Too much of revolutionary thought does not even pose the problem of transition, paying attention only to the overture and neglecting all the acts of the drama that must follow. Defeating the ruling powers, destroying the ancien régime, smashing the state machine -- even overthrowing capital, patriarchy, and white supremacy -- is not enough. That might be sufficient, perhaps, if one were to believe that the formation of the multitude was already achieved, that we were all already somehow not only purified of the hierarchies and corruptions of contemporary society but also capable of managing the multiplicity of the common and cooperating with one another freely and equally -- in short, that democratic society was already complete. If that were the case, then, yes, maybe the insurrectional event destroying the structures of power would be sufficient and the perfect human society already existing beneath the yoke of oppression would spontaneously flourish. But human nature as it is now is far from perfect. We are all entangled and complicit in the identities, hierarchies, and corruptions of the current forms of power. Revolution requires not merely emancipation, as we said earlier, but liberation; not just an event of destruction but also a long and sustained process of transformation, creating a new humanity. This is the problem of transition: how to extend the event of insurrection in a process of liberation and transformation.

-- Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (Commonwealth, pp. 361-2)

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