Continuous Crisis – Historical action and passion in Antonio Negri’s Insurgencies

Judicial hermeneutics
The truism that history is written by (or rather, on behalf of) conquerors is more respectable now than ever before among Sunday supplement intellectuals.  The reason  (where it goes beyond a simple, resentful wish to damn historical analysis per se as ‘irrelevant’) seems to be that victors’ history is easily opposed to that of victims, that ill-defined class in whose name a towering moral authority can always be claimed.  If it does nothing else, Antonio Negri’s book on constituent power, recently published in English as Insurgencies, wrecks this convenient opposition.  Its Italian title translates as “constituent power: essay on the alternatives within modernity”: in the shadow of this concept, Negri outlines a modern social and political  counter-tradition which, though defeated again and again, never attains the saintly glow of victimhood, for it has never acknowledged its project to be finished with.  From Machiavelli’s citizen millitia to the LA rioters of 1992 [1.], these historical agents refuse to become patients represented by the politics of empathy. [Read more →]

Lotta Continua – Roots Music and the Politics of Production

“A gigantic cultural revolution is underway. Free expression and the joy of bodies, the autonomy, hybridisation and the reconstruction of languages, the creation of new singular and mobile modes of production – all this emerges, everywhere and continually.”
Toni Negri

There are threads running through the 1978 film Rockers that encapsulate the musical production process. From the opening scene of impromtu drummers and the horn rehearsal in the yard, followed by the studio session and manufacture of the single at the pressing plant, through to the distribution of records by motorbike and their reception at the counter of disco- shops and sound-systems the whole process of production, inclusive of the social practice from which it springs, is highlighted. But, crucially, each moment of this process is presented as a site of conflict. There is the musician as wage labourer having to ask to be paid and then being paid in records, there is the alternative distribution method of the motorbike and there is the policeraid on the sound-system. [Read more →]