Endgame Strategies

The Politics of Youth

Adbusters Contributing Editor Micah White asked Michael Hardt whether he thinks Generation Obama has revolutionary potential.

Michael Hardt is an American political philosopher and literary theorist. His ongoing collaboration with Antonio Negri has resulted in some of the most exciting books published on politics in recent decades. Hardt and Negri have published three important critiques of late capitalism and globalization: Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form (1994), Empire (2000) and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004). These three works have been highly praised by contemporary activists. Empire, for example, has been hailed as “nothing less than a rewriting of The Communist Manifesto for our time” by the Lacanian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Others have referred to it as “one of the most comprehensive theoretical efforts to understand globalization.” In the end, Hardt and Negri’s most important contribution to activist praxis may be their promotion of a new concept of resistance – articulated in the figure of the multitude – that continues to inform contemporary debates on activist strategy.

Adbusters Contributing Editor Micah White asked Michael Hardt whether he thinks Generation O has revolutionary potential...

Of course!

I’ve been really impressed by the activists in North America, the US in particular, in the last ten years. I think this younger generation’s ability to dispense with notions of purity – moral and political purity – is one element that marks an advance with respect to the activists of the ’60s. Contemporary activists have been able to recognize how political struggle has to be a joyful operation. Their actions involve a new kind of relationship to pleasure and desire by translating them into events that are sometimes carnivalesque and sometimes theatrical. There has also been significant decentralization and democratization within the movements themselves.

It seems to me that the young activists that I’ve met in North America, Europe and elsewhere all understand the important relationship between affect and activism. In other words, the young activists of today have completely dispelled an older notion of the serious and suffering, ascetic and often sad concept of political militancy. They recognize that an important aspect of political activism is the joy of struggle itself, the joy of political activism and the joy of communities that are constructed through political activism.

•••

Obama’s election is, of course, not the end of political struggle or the end of modes of resistance. That is obvious. What it does mark is a new context in which struggles can be more rational and more productive. The hope is that we won’t have to engage with the most obvious and stupid struggles anymore, like we had to against the Bush regime. You know, the quality of one’s enemy has something to do with making one more or less intelligent. And I think that struggling against Bush made us stupid. Because we had to struggle against the most obvious of things: against torture, against the occupation in Iraq. I hope that we don’t have to struggle against these in the years to come. My hope for the Obama presidency is that we will be able to focus on struggles that really designate a better world. That does not mean utopian aspirations for the Obama presidency, but rather utopian aspirations for the kind of struggles that can be born under, and sometimes against, an Obama administration. I am hoping that the activists of Generation O can start from a more reasonable and advanced position, which can make their struggles more intelligent, productive and aspiring.

84 comments on the article “The Politics of Youth”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 84

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Jalule

Hmm... indeed. IT has just begun and it's better for the people that are aware of the problems lying in our head and our bed to start pulling it's own weight. Only way this is going to work! Also, I've seen the more carnivalesque side of the grassroots movements over here in SouthAmerica. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and others have begun to target the Pompous and the Mighty in order to break the mindset of control we have over institutions and their inevitabilies. It'd be good if the Adbusters's team took in account that. We need all the help we can get to show the real results of our work. Also, some of us around here have been very busy showing to other people the advances and good side of the U.S. Please, pretty please, can you read this and take it in mind, 4 the next issue? THnx.

Jalule

Hmm... indeed. IT has just begun and it's better for the people that are aware of the problems lying in our head and our bed to start pulling it's own weight. Only way this is going to work! Also, I've seen the more carnivalesque side of the grassroots movements over here in SouthAmerica. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and others have begun to target the Pompous and the Mighty in order to break the mindset of control we have over institutions and their inevitabilies. It'd be good if the Adbusters's team took in account that. We need all the help we can get to show the real results of our work. Also, some of us around here have been very busy showing to other people the advances and good side of the U.S. Please, pretty please, can you read this and take it in mind, 4 the next issue? THnx.

Anonymous

obama marketing team played the youth culture. S. Fairey was used as a tool. obey for you to follow. hope=obey change=obey. read the real message. the bail out benefits wall street giants and big banks. they are using the money to buy up the small banks. rewarding the greedy scam pulling agencies that caused the meltdown. right in your face. http://www.cafepress.com/obamaclown

Anonymous

obama marketing team played the youth culture. S. Fairey was used as a tool. obey for you to follow. hope=obey change=obey. read the real message. the bail out benefits wall street giants and big banks. they are using the money to buy up the small banks. rewarding the greedy scam pulling agencies that caused the meltdown. right in your face. http://www.cafepress.com/obamaclown

Anonymous

Yeah, instead of Bush's occupation in Iraq, it's Obama's occupation in Afghanistan. Oh, and the capitalist backlash that has turned to the socialism that's gearing-up. How best to control a population than by controlling it's finances; enter the "nationalization" of banks, going on right now, courtesy of Dear Leader Obama. Trading one puppet-dictator for another. Way to go USA!

Anonymous

Yeah, instead of Bush's occupation in Iraq, it's Obama's occupation in Afghanistan. Oh, and the capitalist backlash that has turned to the socialism that's gearing-up. How best to control a population than by controlling it's finances; enter the "nationalization" of banks, going on right now, courtesy of Dear Leader Obama. Trading one puppet-dictator for another. Way to go USA!

Sean M

guy thats pretty nonsensical and not really fair. how are you gonna pin afghanistan on obama. more than half the world is nationalizing their banks if they have the capital to pump into them. and how can you peg obama as a puppet-dictator? think positive holmes

Sean M

guy thats pretty nonsensical and not really fair. how are you gonna pin afghanistan on obama. more than half the world is nationalizing their banks if they have the capital to pump into them. and how can you peg obama as a puppet-dictator? think positive holmes

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