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 71 - 80 of 84

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awaxler1

I agree. What sacres me more than anything is the blind passion people have for Obama. I'm not saying he is doing a good job or bad job...personally, I think it is too early to tell. But the same way I think it is dangerous for people like Rush Limbaugh and his followers to hope Obama fails...I also think it is dangerous to blindly follow any leader/politician and not question what he does. I have always questioned the decisions of my leaders regardless of what party they belong to... --Adam

awaxler1

I agree. What sacres me more than anything is the blind passion people have for Obama. I'm not saying he is doing a good job or bad job...personally, I think it is too early to tell. But the same way I think it is dangerous for people like Rush Limbaugh and his followers to hope Obama fails...I also think it is dangerous to blindly follow any leader/politician and not question what he does. I have always questioned the decisions of my leaders regardless of what party they belong to... --Adam

Anonymous

Obama is a distraction. He sings the sheep to sleep with his well crafted speeches and charisma. And while the sheep enjoy there deep slumber, Obama ever so quietly sends a few predator drones into Waziristan to bomb the shit out of some "terrorists" But i guess its easy to ignore the screams of arab children when the new and improved brand of american facists are repeatedly chanting "Yes, we can!"

Anonymous

Obama is a distraction. He sings the sheep to sleep with his well crafted speeches and charisma. And while the sheep enjoy there deep slumber, Obama ever so quietly sends a few predator drones into Waziristan to bomb the shit out of some "terrorists" But i guess its easy to ignore the screams of arab children when the new and improved brand of american facists are repeatedly chanting "Yes, we can!"

Motorod

"Seems to me that bunch of Nancys are reading these articles. Fear-mongering defeatist attitudes abound! " Amen, Ted. What a bunch of puling nihilist asswipes writing here. Anybody w/ sense knows that power rests with the governed. You could throw off any "system" you disagreed with. Go join a local political party or start one, otherwise you're just a sniveling sycophantic do-nothing wimp, regurgitating the same old tired and pointless anti-government crap. The American Founders threw off British rule w/ support of only 14% of the population. How did Gandhi rout the British? All this crap about how nothing has changed, will change, can change is ignorant defeatist bullshit, an excuse for you to stay out drinking or at home smoking pot and not getting involved, so your lazy ass can stay "outraged" at how fucked things are. You're like spoiled petulant children. From the letters here, America has always had the government it deserves.

Motorod

"Seems to me that bunch of Nancys are reading these articles. Fear-mongering defeatist attitudes abound! " Amen, Ted. What a bunch of puling nihilist asswipes writing here. Anybody w/ sense knows that power rests with the governed. You could throw off any "system" you disagreed with. Go join a local political party or start one, otherwise you're just a sniveling sycophantic do-nothing wimp, regurgitating the same old tired and pointless anti-government crap. The American Founders threw off British rule w/ support of only 14% of the population. How did Gandhi rout the British? All this crap about how nothing has changed, will change, can change is ignorant defeatist bullshit, an excuse for you to stay out drinking or at home smoking pot and not getting involved, so your lazy ass can stay "outraged" at how fucked things are. You're like spoiled petulant children. From the letters here, America has always had the government it deserves.

microwave nation

the notion the title 'generation o' is a derivative from name "o"bama is not a refreshing sign the movement is of new aspiration. but one thing is for certain, "intelligence" is repeated by hardt over and over, and while I suppose this is important for hardt, I think he over thinks the youth of today's lack of history as representative of some sort of transformational birth. almost apriora. the only distinguishing factor from this generation o over y, or x, or the baby boomers is their undeniable willingness to accept uncritically the promise of a never blooming rose while having no references of Ronald Reagan. purely inspired, i am sure.

microwave nation

the notion the title 'generation o' is a derivative from name "o"bama is not a refreshing sign the movement is of new aspiration. but one thing is for certain, "intelligence" is repeated by hardt over and over, and while I suppose this is important for hardt, I think he over thinks the youth of today's lack of history as representative of some sort of transformational birth. almost apriora. the only distinguishing factor from this generation o over y, or x, or the baby boomers is their undeniable willingness to accept uncritically the promise of a never blooming rose while having no references of Ronald Reagan. purely inspired, i am sure.

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