What is Militant Research? Kevin Van Meter
Operisti, Autonomia & Autonomist Marxism:
During the factory struggles of the early1960’s Italian
(workerists) began to develop militant research techniques(surveys, interviews, discussions with factory workers) to understand the struggles taking place in factories and the university that were outside of the unions and political parties.These techniques carried on as the site of struggle changed from factory struggles to thesocial factory – that is the conditions of work and life in all of society – hence thedevelopment of the Autonomia movement in Italy. As these techniques, concepts andideas spread beyond Italy they intersect with those of Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuzeand Felix Guattari and American radicals such as HarryCleaver, who called this current of heterodox Marxism that“begins with existing struggles” and the autonomy of theworking class (now broadly defined to include all those that“revolt against work”),
. In the UnitedStates initiatives such as
Wages for Housework Campaign
Midnight Notes Collective
carried on this current, often in concertwith older radicals like C.L.R. James, Marty Glaberman andGeorge Rawick.
Carrying this tradition into the present - developing in the wake of the counter-globalization movement and the cycle of protest that marked it - struggles around
have emerged in Europe, South America and across the planet. Herein newresearch projects have developed and pushed militant research in more participatory andradical directions, hence seeking to break down the barrier between researcher and the subject of research.Additionally, these new projects have sough to “queer theseconcepts” and bring them into contact with feminist, queer,and anti-racist discourses.
What Does Militant & Co-Research Provide toGrassroots Media
Militant and co-research provides
a set of tools – that isconcepts, techniques and mechanisms – that contribute tograssroots and independent media’s existing frameworks byadding research components and by taking a direct role in producing knowledge and strategies that resonate with movement campaigns,organizations, and initiatives. Here militant and co-research provides “a focus onstruggle from the perspective of struggle”. Hence in seeking to identify the developmentof new subjectivities and new emergences, as well as understand current class andmovement composition – these research tools produce strategies and insights for strategicthinking. Additionally, militant and co-research provides opportunities for communication, a widening of the field of struggle, and dialog around importantstruggles in everyday life. Grassroots and independent media when they resonate with