Monday, June 18, 2012


The post below is a story of resistance to Empire.  What does that mean?

Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their critical Empire trilogy describe a global desire for equality, freedom and democracy and the belief that another world is possible.  That desire and that belief is what drives the working people all over the world, the multitude.  The multitude is that force, that potential which represents the power to create and alternative society.  As they put it, the multitude is "the only social subject capable of realizing democracy."

The struggle today is not so much about seizing the means of production, which is what us Marxists have always defined as a goal of communist revolution.  It is more about, in the words of Marcella Bencivenni, "...regaining control of the common and reclaiming our life and our world.."

This isn't a bunch of philosophical mumbo jumble.  The multitude, the people in the world who create, who work, who produce, whose labor is exploited by capital are according to Negri and Hardt, “all those who labor and produce under the rule of capital."  This multitude is facing off against an enemy that can't be seen as just some local capitalist, or some local government, or even some nation state, national bourgeois, or transnational corporation.  They have to face off against something that is everywhere at once.  

In resisting what is and creating something new a struggle of peasants here is a struggle of factory workers there, is an uprising in a suburb of Paris, is a battle for London, is is is. The struggle is no longer confined by factory gates obviously and it is no longer confined to industrial battles. Capital is everywhere and so must be we.

The multitude described by Negri and Hardt is " made of “innumerable internal differences that can never be reduced to a unity or a single identity – different cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations; different forms of labor; different ways of living; different views of the world; and different desires.”  

More, according to Bencivenni, the multitude of Negri and Hardt,  does not aim to make these differences blend into one, but,  "On the an open, inclusive concept: singularities remain internally different, and, yet they are linked together by the common conditions of life they share: for example, information, knowledge, political oppression, economic exploitation, a desire for democracy, peace, and justice. This discovered commonality (which is ironically the by-product of the new global order) is what gives strength to the multitude – what enables singularities to act and fight together for a better world. Differences, in fact, do not prevent the singularities from acting in common, because, state Hardt and Negri, “there is no conceptual or actual contradiction between singularity and commonality”'

Globalization, a buzzword of sorts, has created a world disciplined by war/police actions, homeland security states, economic discipline, the end of democracy and more.  However, globalization has according to Bencivenni (a la Negri and Hardt), "...also created a network of unprecedented encounters, cooperation, and collaboration among people across the world, which represent the potential for organized resistance and revolution."

One of those "unprecedented  encounters, cooperation, and collaboration among people" is happening right now in Brazil.

The following is from Amazon Watch via DGR News.

Three hundred people breach earthen dam, free Xingu River from Belo Monte project

Image by Atossa Soltani / Amazon Watch
By Amazon Watch

While the Brazilian Government prepares to host the Rio+20 United Nations Earth Summit, 3,000 kilometers north in the country’s Amazon region indigenous peoples, farmers, fisherfolk, activists and local residents affected by the construction of the massive Belo Monte Dam project began a symbolic peaceful occupation of the dam site to “free the Xingu River.”

In the early morning hours, three hundred women and children arrived in the hamlet of Belo Monte on the Transamazon Highway, and marched onto a temporary earthen dam recently built to impede the flow of the Xingu River. Using pick axes and shovels, local people who are being displaced by the project removed a strip of earthen dam to restore the Xingu’s natural flow.

Residents gathered in formation spelling out the words “Pare Belo Monte” meaning “Stop Belo Monte” to send a powerful message to the world prior to the gathering in Rio and demanding the cancellation of the $18 billion Belo Monte dam project (aerial photos of the human banner available upon request).

Demonstrators planted five hundred native açai trees to stabilize the riverbank that has been destroyed by the initial construction of the Belo Monte dam. They also erected 200 crosses on the banks of the Xingu to honor the lives of those lost defending the Amazon.

Also this morning, hundreds of residents of Altamira held a march to the headquarters of dam-building consortium NESA. The actions are part of Xingu+23, a multi-day series of festivities, debates and actions commemorating 23 years since the residents of the Xingu first defeated the original Belo Monte dam. Residents have been gathering in the community of San Antonio, a hamlet displaced by the consortium’s base of operations and in Altamira, a boomtown of 130,000 severely affected by the dam project.

Antonia Melo, the coordinator of Xingu Vivo Movement said, “This battle is far from being over. This is our cry: we want this river to stay alive. This dam will not be built. We, the people who live along the banks of the Xingu, who subsist from the river, who drink from the river, and who are already suffering from of the most irresponsible projects in the history of Brazil are demanding: Stop Belo Monte.”

Sheyla Juruna, a leader from the Juruna indigenous community affected by the dam said, “The time is now! The Brazilian government is killing the Xingu River and destroying the lives of indigenous peoples. We need to send a message that we have not been silenced and that this is our territory. We vow to take action in our own way to stop the Belo Monte dam. We will defend our river until the end!”

Protestors and affected communities are highlighting the glaring gap between reality and the Brazilian government’s rhetoric about Amazon dams as a source of “clean energy” for a “green economy.” The Belo Monte dam is the tip of the iceberg of an unprecedented wave of 70 large dams proposed for in the Amazon Basin fueled by narrow political and economic interests, with devastating and irreversible consequences for one of the world’s most precious biomes and its peoples.

A delegation of international observers and human rights advocates including Brazilian actor Sergio Marone of the Drop of Water Movement came to witness and lend visibility to the actions.

Slated to be the 3rd largest hydroelectric project in the world, Belo Monte would divert 80 percent of the Xingu River’s flow through artificial canals, flooding over 600 square kilometers of rainforest while drying out a 100-kilometer stretch of the river known as the “Big Bend,” which is home to hundreds of indigenous and riverine families. Though sold to the public as “clean energy,” Belo Monte would generate an enormous amount of methane, a greenhouse gas 25-50 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

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