Audio version read by George Atherton – Right-click to download
I would like to talk about something that everybody knows, but that, so it seems, no one has the boldness to say. That is, that the time for indignation is over. Those who get indignant are already starting to bore us. Increasingly, they seem to us like the last guardians of a rotten system, a system without dignity, sustainability or credibility. We don’t have to get indignant anymore, we have to revolt.
To me the word insurrection means to rise up; it means to assert our dignity as human beings, as workers, as citizens, in an uncompromising way. But it also means something else. It means to fully unfold the potency of the body and of collective knowledge, of society, of the net, of intelligence. To entirely unfold what we are, in a collective way. This is the essential point. Those who say that insurrection is a utopia are sometimes cynics, sometimes just idiots. Those who say that it is not possible to revolt, do not take into account that, to us, almost everything is possible. Only, this “almost everything” is subjugated by the miserable obsession for profit and accumulation. The obsession for profit and accumulation led our country and all European countries to the verge of a terrifying catastrophe into which we are now sinking, and we should realize we are already quite far into it. It is the catastrophe of barbarism and ignorance.
In Italy, the reform of the Berlusconi government and of his crawlers has already taken 8 billion euros away from the school, university and the education system, and soon it will take away even more. In the face of this devastation and barbarization, we cannot continue complaining. We must say: “First of all, you all have to go, then we will take care of the rest.” They have to go, just like the citizens of Tunis and Cairo said. I don’t know how it will end up, but I know that they revolted and they won. What did they do? They said: “We won’t leave this place ... We won’t leave this square, we won’t leave this station, we won’t leave this parliament ... We won’t leave until the tyrant and his crawlers go.” This is what we have to say, what we have to do. By the end of 2011, this is what has to happen in Italy. We will occupy the central train stations in Milan, in Bologna, and we will hold them until the tyrant and his lackeys flee.
But the tyrant and his crawlers are not the real problem. The real problem is an obsession embodied in financial power, in the power of banks and in the idea that the life of society, the pleasure, well-being and culture of society is worthless. They say the only things that matter are accounting books and the profits of a minuscule class of exploiters and murderers. From our point of view, at the moment, these two problems, that of the tyrant and of his crawlers and that of the European financial dictatorship are one single problem.
Power today, true power, is no longer held in Rome. Economic, social and financial decisions over individual countries such as Italy, France, Portugal or Greece are no longer taken by national parliaments. They are taken by a finance committee, formally constituted at the European level. This is the rule and the ferocious application of the neoliberal, monetarist principle. It is in the name of growth, of accumulation and profit at the European level, that you are forced to live a shit life. And your life will be more and more of a shit life if you do not rebel today, tomorrow, immediately!
They say insurrection is a dangerous word. I repeat: arms are not implicit in the word insurrection, because arms are not our thing for a number of reasons. First of all because we don’t know where they are kept, secondly because we know that somebody has them, thirdly because we know that there are professional armies ready to kill, like they killed in Genoa in 2001 and many other times. So this is not the kind of confrontation we are looking for. We know that our weapons are those of intelligence and critique, but also the weapon of technology. For example, we have learned WikiLeaks’s lesson and we know that it is not only a lesson on sabotage and information. It is also a lesson about the infinite power of networked intelligence. This is where we will restart. We know how to do it, how to enter your circuits, how to sabotage them, but we also know how those circuits – which are not really yours, but are rightfully ours – can be useful for our wealth, our pleasure, our well-being, our culture. These uses could be the purpose of those circuits that the collective intelligence produced and that capitalism stole, privatized, and now uses against us. This is the meaning of insurrection: to take possession of what is ours and to awaken the collective body that for too long has been paralyzed in front of a screen and needs to find itself alive again in a Tahrir Square.
American journalist Roger Cohen wrote in a clever article: “Thank you Mubarak, because with your resistance you allowed the Egyptian people, who hadn’t talked to each other for years, to stay in that square for weeks and weeks.” As in war, in revolutions there are moments of boredom, and during those moments what is there to do? Talk to each other, touch each other, make love. Discover the collective body, which has been paralyzed for too long. We will say “Thank you Berlusconi,” after weeks spent fighting on the streets of Italy. Afterward, from the moment when the collective body has awoken, the process of self-organization of the collective mind will begin. This is the insurrection I am calling you to. There are millions of us thinking this way. So the next time 300,000 of us take to the streets, let’s not go back home at the end of the day. Let’s go on the streets with our sleeping bags, knowing that on that night we won’t sleep in our beds. This is the first step, this is the step we must take. It’s easy! Then, the rest is complicated ...
In London, but also in Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, Madrid, Bologna, Milan and many other cities, we will do something very simple: we will dress smart, go to the offices of a bank, sit on the ground, take out a banana, a cappuccino and a panini, just like civilized people do, and we will talk about molecular biology, about Goethe; we will read Faust, we will recite poems by Rainer Maria Rilke; someone will talk about the poetics of Kandinsky and someone else about nuclear physics. This is what we must do in 40 European cities.
The time has come for the society of Europe to become, once again, what it could have been in several moments of its history: purely and simply a civil society.