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Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Antonio Negri

Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Antonio Negri

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Published by dpr-barcelona
From e-flux journal #18 september 2010 | Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Antonio Negri

More info: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/166
From e-flux journal #18 september 2010 | Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Antonio Negri

More info: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/166

More info:

Published by: dpr-barcelona on Nov 06, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Hans Ulrich Obrist
In Conversationwith AntonioNegri
Hans Ulrich Obrist:
The last time we met waswith Rem Koolhaas in 2001, and we spoke aboutwhat could be called your Òcity projects.Ó Whatare you working on related to this subject at themoment?ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
Antonio Negri:
I can start by saying thatwhile discussing the concept of the multitude,Michael Hardt and I found ourselves facing thequestion of the city, which we brought up as partof the question of the territorialization of themultitude, the space in which the multitudedeploys itself. To be honest, I think that while anumber of problems started to clear up after wewrote
, others remained in the shadow,like this fundamental question of space. Forexample, we are very interested in this problemof the multitudeÕs temporality, that is, oftransformative moments and raisingconsciousness, or the problems that arise themoment we think about what it means to ÒmakeÓmultitude, to construct it as a singularity thattends towards shared, common projects. But thebig problem we have yet to consider concernsspace. Because we still require a place in whichthis multitude will exist Ð not only a networkthrough which it communicates, but also thepower to decide its living conditions. This powerto decide plays a role in developing a relationshipbetween the multitude and state structures orinstitutions, and from a negative perspective thismeans an uproar; from a constructiveperspective it means revolution. Now we couldsay that today this space is the contemporarymetropolis. Half of the worldÕs population, maybemore, now lives in cities. The population itself,we could say, is a refugee in these cities. In fact,we may now have one to two thirds of the worldÕspopulation living in cities of over one millioninhabitants.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
And these numbers rise every year!ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
ThatÕs right! And if the question of themetropolis is central, then in my opinion it isbecause there is a structure of the common thatis specific to it. This structure could be describedas the tension that exists between the demandfor services on the one hand, and the withholdingof these services, or the refusal to consent tothis demand, on the other. The refusal endangersthe demand, and the claims made to it. And thisdemand becomes more and more important. Iactually believe that two processes are currentlyunderway. The first is a definitive neutralizationof the traditional working class, which hasallowed for the distinct working-class space Ðthe factory Ð to be destroyed. But it goes beyondthis to something more general, because wecould also say that this disqualification hasmarked the disappearance of the productivespace as a clearly defined one. The secondprocess concerns the illegal reconstruction of
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Anti-riot police, Caracas.
09.09.10 / 06:18:14 UTC
urban space, the spaces not controlled byanyone, that are constituted by successivewaves of immigration and by extremely profoundcultural mixes. And all this produces two vast,enormous spaces, where all the energy of work,of construction, of sociality and solidarity, iscentered.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
So we could say that these are twoparallel movements.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
Yes, because they are both intertwinedwith forms of biopolitical control. It is clear thatthey are not simply processes of controlling theconditions or the organization of work, but ratherof transforming living conditions in such a waythat only work and its organization becomeimportant. So when we look at the metropolis,we find ourselves facing a dialectical movementunique to our time. But it is dialectic in a uniquesense, because, in truth, these are processesthat lead nowhere. These changes are maderegardless of any communal frame. Each time wearrive in places shaped by these processes, weexperience a sort of vertigo. I was recently inCaracas, where in a city of about seven or eightmillion people you have between seven and ninehundred thousand living in what we could callneighborhoods, or ÒdefinedÓ spaces, whereasabout six or seven million people live in totallychaotic conditions.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
And it isnÕt even clear exactly howmany people there areÉ
Some coordinators of the landless worker's movement meet todiscuss plans for the encampment, Par‡, Brazil, 1999.
Yes, we donÕt even have a precise figure!When flying over the city, I was absolutely struckby seeing the city everywhere, absolutelyeverywhere! Meaning that from about 1200meters above the ground, you can see
thecity, and nothing but the city! Everything isoccupied! And whatÕs more, the space is takenup by something that is totally wild, completelyuncontrolled!ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
Could we describe this in terms ofÒself-organizationÓ? Of a kind of developmentthat evades all forms of planning?ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
Yes, itÕs completely self-organized. Andin Brazil itÕs the exact same thing.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
You mentioned earlier that you havebeen traveling extensively in South America.ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
Yes, IÕve traveled there especially oftenin the past couple of years. I must say that Icompletely agree with Niall Ferguson, who hassaid that the new political context the Bushadministration was responding to was not one oflarge-scale terrorism engendered by the ongoingconflict in the Middle East Ð a situation that theythemselves created Ð but the fact that, for thefirst time since the assertion of the MonroeDoctrine in 1823 Latin America was completelyindependent. And now, if Mexico votes Left, itwill no longer be only Latin America, but LatinAmerica
Mexico! I wrote a little book aboutthis that was published in Brazil and inArgentina, called
, where the A and Lstand for
 America Latina.
In this book, I considerthe crisis of the ideologies of subordination anddependence, which were classic themes in thetraditional theories of the Latin American Left,and I note that the goal has now become totheorize the interdependence, alreadyconstituted, of this new continental front. And allthis goes hand in hand with the other emergingposition, which considers BushÕs or the UnitedStatesÕ coup dÕŽtat to have failed. The nexthorizon we will have to prepare for is that of thiscontinental pluralism Ð one that is extremelyvaried and passionate, but still poses a smallproblem for me, which is that we have yet tounderstand this problem in Europe. And I findthis fact regrettable!ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
How do you see Europe in opposition?ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ
I donÕt know exactly Ð IÕm stillconsumed by all that happens there, and IhavenÕt reflected on this question properly. But ifwe return to this question of the metropolis, wecan see that weÕll have to start by defining it asthe place where the transformation of capitalismhas, in fact, ruined its own tradition, in the sensethat there is no longer any difference betweenindustrial profit, real estate surplus, andfinancial structures. At the same time, the cityhas become a full-fledged productive element Ðand the metropolis even more so. We see thateven the most intelligent men have alwaysconsidered the city to be a positive externality,meaning that we consider the city to haveestablished conditions in which industrialoperations and processes could be organized,developed, and extended. But today the city, andthe metropolis in particular, have become
productive. And what exactly does this
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