The world is burning! Rethinking internationalism

“…how can it be calm when the storm is yet to come?…”

Linton Kwesi Johnson

The world is burning. Masses are surfacing in every corner of the globe with uprisings and insurgent fire. To make a list of them, with the risk of excluding some, pointing out some as prioriotary and others less, doesn’t make sense. They are all important and significant at the same level. However, we believe that simply embracing this fact, which is undeniable and before everyone’s eyes, isn’t enough. It’s rather necessary instead  to try to interpretate the signs of these phenomenos, to critically question ourselves on them. Not as a mere intellectual exercise, this must be said, but because we believe that all of this concerns us very closely, our way of  approching and looking at reality and therefore our practices. To construct, or at least lay the foundations, of a reasoning, to explore the possibility of an approch in terms of tactics.

Is it just a coincidence that everything moves more or less at the same time? We don’t think so. These uprisings are the reflection of the current restructuring phase of neoliberalism. A phase of offensive war in the pursuit of the exploitation and the creation of profit out of everything that exists. From material living conditions to bodies and territories. Only the violence and the intensity change depending on the different contexts, but the war waged by the system of profit has a global scale and a global plan.
Hence, from this prospective, we find appropriate to say that these movements, declined in their different specific contexts, represent, whether they are aware of it or not, a planetary upheaval against neoliberism determined by its current phase.

Before moving forward we would like to add another few elements and considerations. In terms of lines of struggle and conflict, this tendency has already been anticipated from the transnational transfeminist movement, the transnational platforms of strikes and workers and the climate change movement but also, in terms of elaboration, by the experiences of Rojava and Chiapas. A sign not only of the intelligence that struggles can express, but also of the fact that this intelligence can be elaborated and matured only from and through the struggles themselves. These experiences tell us about the necessity of thinking and acting on different levels of proximity, from the more immediate ones, to the global ones.

Another important element is that these movements don’t come from nowhere.They are inscribed in a continuity with what came before them, yet they are significatively diverse from them, and express sometimes radical breakaways with the experiences of the past.  Just to give a couple of exemples: the movement in Chile wouldn’t exist in its form without the struggles of the students,the urban, the feminist and the Mapuche movements before it; the movement in Lebanon or Iraq wouldn’t be the same without the Arab spring season; the Gilet Jaune without the Loi du Travail movement and so on.

INSIDE AND AGAINST GLOBALIZZATION

The circulation of news and content is undoubtedly one of the development trends of globalized capitalism. However, from the same channels,  it’s possible to be constantly updated on the struggles on a global level. And not only. Elaborations, ideas, languages and, sometimes, even objectives circulate. In addition to this, the possibility of moving quickly and at an affordable price, another characteristic element of global neoliberalism, allows many people to meet, to observe the struggles concretely, to exchange experiences. It seems important to us to point out that these struggles, if they are not already speak to each other, they look at each other and they recognize each other. They establish between them an immediate complicity. And this is precisely the important tactical possibility that contemporary capitalism offers us: not only to think, but also to act global.

To clear the field of any accusation of idealizing a supposed automatic “globalization” of conflict, as if this was uniform and unrelated to its specific context, we have to say that we mean something different. We mean that capital gives us a reality of proximity that is multiscalar: the immediate is interconnected and interdependent with the global and vice versa. Also this reality has already been demonstrated in practice by the struggles. To give an example: the paralysis of a territory, of a knot, of a space of profit can determine the one in multiple places that can be very distant from each other. Let’s imagine, at the level of potential force, if in their process of maturation these practices became widespread, expanded and coordinated.
This is  precisely what we mean when we say that we are inside and against reality as materialistically determined: globalization must be considered as a phenomenon in its entirety, in its total ferocity and inhumanity, but also in its ambivalence, that is, in the opportunities it presents to us. It’s about accepting the new fields of tension that capital determines in its development tendencies and  transforming them into fields of contention and conflict. To be able to paralyze it and strike it in the most possible wounding manner.

AN INTERNATIONAL SUBALTERN CLASS: RETHINKING INTERNATIONALISM IN BRUSSELS HERE AND NOW  

But why do we feel the need to rethink internationalism ? Why are we asking ourselves how to do it here in Brussels? Certainly, as we said above, to verify the tactical possibility of articulating the struggles in a transnational way, but not only. We feel this necessity for the needs of the conflict. And the conflict arises within the class composition and from the needs that it expresses. And it might seem superficial but the most striking fact about class composition in Brussels that we move in is an international subaltern class. Suffice it to say that 6 out of 10 inhabitants of Brussels were not born in Belgium.This is because in the spaces of global circulation, goods, news, etc. are not the only things that circulate. There is, above all, the labour force in expulsion. And so far nothing new: The myth of the subaltern classes coinciding with a national territory has been dispelled for some time by dozens of historians; C.L.R. James, Walter Rodney and Marcus Rediker just to name a few. The circulation of the expelled labour force is a constant of capitalism, from its birth to the present day. This mechanism, however, in the neo-liberal phase, has become massified and accelerated. And it’s on this basis that we see the limits and contradditions of “classic” internationalism. Because this is based on the idea that subalterns should organize themselves on a national basis, that they should fight on their national territory in solidarity with subalterns of other nations organized in the same way. Without going into the merits of the concept of nation or the function of the nation-state today, it seems to us that this approach is inconsistent with the reality we live in. In fact, how can subalterns organise themselves on a national basis when they move in an international class composition, which is also extremely heterogeneous and complex? How can a subaltern fight in a national horizon if he or she has been expelled from his or her territory of origin?

Let us be clear: we do not have the arrogance or want to give answers on the definition of a new internationalism. Practices and paths of the struggle give the answers, not the other way around. If anything, as said, we are more interested in determining an approach, a “line of conduct” that looks at that tendency. But we feel we need to add another factual element: sectors of this international class carry with them an extremely precious baggage of experiences of struggle, of practices, of conflictual knowledge and highlight, perhaps not in the classical forms, a willingness to conflict. This force is here, it is tangible and manifests itself in many different forms. And perhaps this is the objective: to make this invisible international visible, operational, here and now. To be able to think and act at every level, taking into account the specificities and differences of forms of domination and exploitation, in a global complicity.