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 41 - 50 of 84

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mikezephyr

i was actually expecting him in it given the mag's called ENDGAME strategies, and that they also had a bit of Quinn's Beyond Civilization! i have a strong suspicion that the editors and writers are explicitly if not implicitly referring to Jensen's works.

mikezephyr

i was actually expecting him in it given the mag's called ENDGAME strategies, and that they also had a bit of Quinn's Beyond Civilization! i have a strong suspicion that the editors and writers are explicitly if not implicitly referring to Jensen's works.

Anonymous

I really enjoyed the beginning of this interview when he discussed how aware the young activists are! Which is true. The rest of this peice going on about Bush-this and Obama-that. All a bunch of pickle shoot if you ask me. It is almost as if this guy is saying Obama is any better then Bush. They are the same military-industrial-media-complex tool. Sign this bill, sign that bill. Drop a bomb over there, drop a bomb right here. Regulate this, deregulate that. Troops here, troops there. Bail him out, don't bail her out. This Hardt is settling for a little better than Bush (or appears better). Which as a result is settling for mediocracy. Something that has been happening for a long time. This always confused me a bit. Why settle for okay when it comes to the people who are supposed to be representing you? Do you settle for mediocracy when it comes to yourself? or the ones you love? Peace in the Middle East.

Anonymous

I really enjoyed the beginning of this interview when he discussed how aware the young activists are! Which is true. The rest of this peice going on about Bush-this and Obama-that. All a bunch of pickle shoot if you ask me. It is almost as if this guy is saying Obama is any better then Bush. They are the same military-industrial-media-complex tool. Sign this bill, sign that bill. Drop a bomb over there, drop a bomb right here. Regulate this, deregulate that. Troops here, troops there. Bail him out, don't bail her out. This Hardt is settling for a little better than Bush (or appears better). Which as a result is settling for mediocracy. Something that has been happening for a long time. This always confused me a bit. Why settle for okay when it comes to the people who are supposed to be representing you? Do you settle for mediocracy when it comes to yourself? or the ones you love? Peace in the Middle East.

Anonymous

Well said. I think it is disappointing to see a magazine that preaches real change fall head over heels for a candidate with 90% of the same staff of the previous two presidents. Sure, he's got better branding, but one would expect Adbusters readers to see through that. They all have the same employees, same employers, work for the same corporate welfare as the president before them.

Anonymous

Well said. I think it is disappointing to see a magazine that preaches real change fall head over heels for a candidate with 90% of the same staff of the previous two presidents. Sure, he's got better branding, but one would expect Adbusters readers to see through that. They all have the same employees, same employers, work for the same corporate welfare as the president before them.

shaf

To me though it seems like lots of youth just try to chose their political ideologies (among other things) based on what their peers say... I think that is extremely dangerous...

shaf

To me though it seems like lots of youth just try to chose their political ideologies (among other things) based on what their peers say... I think that is extremely dangerous...

Anonymous

I agree its sad becuase your ideologies and such should come from your own investigations and not what is widely excepted. It is extremely dangerous the youth don't relize how much potential they have to start their own revolution and leave a positive mark in history for their generation.

Anonymous

I agree its sad becuase your ideologies and such should come from your own investigations and not what is widely excepted. It is extremely dangerous the youth don't relize how much potential they have to start their own revolution and leave a positive mark in history for their generation.

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