[Marxism] Giovanni Mazetti on the autonomist/anarchist left
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Mar 27 07:17:37 MST 2004
Social Amnesia in the Movement?
An Interview with Giovanni Mazzetti
Gloves Off editors Claudio Puty and Sara Burke emailed Giovanni Mazzetti
after learning of a history of polemics between Mazzetti and members of the
anarchist movement in Italy. We wanted to learn more about his views on the
political constellations on the Left in Italy today.
You identify the appeal of the networked structure in the antiglobal
movement, created by a certain rejection of the hierarchical Left, as a
manifestation of the low-degree of development of the Left. Could you
elaborate on that?
I believe that, in order to understand the problem, we should refer to an
old article of Friedrich Engels, entitled On Authority. In that article
Engels criticizes the anarchist movements of his time because they just
pretend to get rid of a hierarchical structure. All forms of human
institution are based on hierarchical structures.
Have you ever seen a small child produce his own food? Have you ever seen a
pupil teach to his teachers? Have you ever seen a boy or a girl explain to
their grandparents what life is? Rules are met by everyone of us in the
very moment we enter in life. This for the very simple reason that we
enter into a culture. The problem is not the existence of a hierarchy,
but the eventual rigidity of this structure.
If one thinks that hierarchy is a problem in itself, one does not recognize
the essential conditions of human life and feels free in a way that is not
rational, because it denies differenceswhich include a different power. If
one wants to go beyond the previous forms of socialization, one should not
expect to be able to do it just by getting rid of them, but rather by
elaborating new forms.
These forms do not spring from good will, but from the capacity of a part
of human kind to anticipate a new culture. In other words, development
necessarily implies more subordination to the conditions which make the
goals attainable. And these include a form of organization which is not
spontaneous. The moment in which people subtract themselves from the
previous form of hierarchy can be a necessary step in creating the need for
a new organization. But it cannot be considered an end in itself. Of course
unless you think as an anarchist.
How do you see the idea that the movement is able to forge alliances in
practice and does not need a single vertical structure? Could you comment
on Toni Negris ideas about the autonomy of working class organization?
I don't like to refer to the movement as an abstract entity. Some
movements could be able to forge alliances in practice without a vertical
structure if the need for a change is already socially shared. But in this
case the movement is expressing a form of passive drive.
Nobody can deny that during the 1960s, the student movement in Europe met
the workers movement without the need of hierarchical structure. But this
happened only because the needs which were expressed were already ripe:
that is, they had emerged in the previous decades.
But it seems to me that this situation cannot be generalized. The movement
today is anticipating needs, and it does not come to life with an existing
social urge. I would say it is a resisting movement, not a proposing
one. It fights for what it should not be done, but knows very little of
what to do. Im aware that very few accept this limit, but Im convinced
that it exists.
The expression autonomy is something that I abhor. I can tolerate it when
it refers to the need to subtract oneself from a form of dependence which
makes one impotent. But all forms of nonpathological relationships are
based on the negations of autonomy.
In truth I believe that all expressions in support of autonomy todayas a
positive horizonshould be called with the old name of anarchism. And in
fact they refer to no other power than one's own, whereas all sound forms
of independence refer necessarily to an acceptance of powers others than
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