By Franco Berardi
(Translated by Tiziana Terranova)
29th September 2002
Franco Berardi (Bifo) is one of the founders of the rekombinant group based in Bologna, who will be at the European Social Forum in November. A leader of Worker's Power in Bologna in the 1970s, in the seventies and eighties he was an editor for Radio Alice and a collaborator of Semiotext(e). He is a well known author who has published extensively on philosophy, politics, media, culture and technology (The Nefarious Utopia of Workers' Power, Mutation and Cyberpunk, The Unhappiness Factory, Zero Work, Neuromagma, How do you cure the Nazi, Felix My Friend). Bifo is currently involved in a local project of 'denial, proliferation hence extinction' of television, that is the TV station OrfeoTV/Telestreet.
This text was posted to the rekombinant mailing list as part of the preparation for the ESF meeting.
From:Franco Berardi (Bifo)
On the 27th of September of 25 years ago, Felix Guattari was in Bologna as the originator and organiser (together with the Bologna movement) of the Conference against Repressions.
It was the first European meeting of the movement, the first chance to meet for thousands of people that all over Europe animated the communication and political actions against repression and authoritarianism.
The September meeting was the conclusion of that cycle of the movement, and after the meeting a cloak of fear and violence descended on the Italian and European scene. It was the beginning of the hypercapitalist counter offensive that, launched by Margaret Thatcher in the UK, led to the destruction of the organised labour movement, then to the progressive destruction of the welfare state, and lastly to the social waning of solidarity, to aggressive individualism, to the primacy of competition.
Twenty-five years later we start the argument from where Felix had left it. We start again at the moment were neoliberism is bankrupt and everywhere in the world we are asked to pay a terrifying price of social, environmental and psychic devastation to the absolute command of profit. We start again at the moment when Europe becomes the horizon of political construction within which to re-launch a project of emancipation from capitalist devastation and from war.
The movement is not homogeneous on the subject of Europe, on the contrary. In the movement that is getting ready to go to Florence in November there are components that consider the process of European unification as an enemy to combat. These are conservative, identitarian, nationalist, sovereignist components, sometimes openly reactionary.
And yet, they have some reasons. Europe is certainly not a socially progressive construction. It has been founded on the principle of the fortress under siege, sanctioned by the Schengen agreements, and it is anchored to economic principles that are still dominantly indebted to the neo-liberal prejudice. However we have no possibility to start a process of progressive transformation if not within the context of the European constitution.
This is the political challenge that we face: the movement should not oppose the European unification, it must forcefully enter the European constitutional scene.
In the next few months, we will find ourselves leading a campaign against the War that National-Liberalism want to impose on the world, now that the expansive phase of the neo-liberal economy is finished and we start to see the ruins it sowed. The campaign against the war must be a campaign directed towards the European Union so that it won't accept in no respect the National-Liberal blackmail, so that it will deny the military bases scattered on its territory, so that it will act in all possible ways to avoid the consummation of the military catastrophe.
The campaign against the War will be our first constitutional campaign. The first article of the European Constitution must be: war is disgusting and we won't do it for no reason whatsoever.
This is the theme of the Europa Felix meeting that will happen on friday the 27th of september, at 16 in via Fioravanti 24, in Bologna.
By Franco Berardi