From edition

Review of Gary Genosko's The Party Without Boss

What Guattari understood well was the need to invent new forms of collective organization and resistance that find spaces in which subjectivity can flourish, away from the forces that would empty and have it vegitate for the sake of the myths of neo-liberalism, but not outside of the immanent plane upon which this drama unfolds; that is, anti-capitalism does not exist outside of capitalism(s).
                   –Gary Genosko

Written somewhat in the shadow of Hardt and Negri’s Empire, Genosko’s The Party Without Bosses presents a meeting of two of the most important and least recognized activists working against global capital: French psychoanalyst Felix Guattari and Brazillian politician Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva. Guattari’s previously unknown interview of Lula is an indispensable discussion of the difficulties in creating an effective resistance against new forms of oppression. Guattari and Lula face problems of organization and representation as they attempt to figure out how to affect either global or local change when such a distinction is becoming more and more eroded by internationalist bodies. Genosko’s book attempts to reinscribe Guattari and Lula as “anti-globalization theorist(s) of the first order and[.]neglected figure(s) in anti-capitalist struggles” (9).

In the process of attempting such a feat, Genosko creates a book that depends upon
three different temporal moments simultaneously: the moment of the interview, Guattari’s work on globalization in the1980s, and the publication of Empire in 2000. Genosko uses these temporal sites against each other, producing a work that constantly attempts to find significance within a growing but also displaced dialogue about capitalism and resistance. The power of this book is in its insistence that such a displacement is essential to the development of an effective movement within capitalism. It refuses the historicizing gesture of a program that would limit Guattari’s impact on globalization to the work he did with Deleuze. The Guattari that emerges in this text is a Guattari that is already thinking about the problem of rhizomatic political formations, a Guattari that is already running against the effective limit of his radical psychoanalysis to address globalist problems. The presentation of the interview today, Genosko argues “presents an opportunity to think of Lula’s accomplishments at the polls and Guattari’s theoretical contributions[…] in the shadow of capitalist globalization” (9). Genosko’s book presents us with yet another way of thinking about globalization, even while it displaces a historical program that presents globalization as a dialectical inevitability. Any discussion of globalism must take seriously the displacement of the temporal. It must look at the history of globalist thought not merely as a linear progression, but as innumerable rhizomatic formations-each cutting across the other and producing new combinations of time and material. This is precisely what Genosko produces in this text.

The interview between Guattari and Lula is conducted in 1982 and forms the last third of
the book. Genosko utilizes the first two thirds of the book as a retroactive eschatological justification for the importance of this meeting, setting up a temporal context that only makes sense after the event. The introduction articulates Lula and Guattari’s theoretical work on globalization issues that the thinkers completed during and after the interview. It also, though, places this interview in the context of Hardt and Negri’s work Empire-mostly through Guattari’s work with Eric Alliez on the IWC, or Integrated World Capitalism.

Guattari’s early work on the IWC became possible partly through his study of Lula’s Brazillian
movement. Integrated World Capitalism constantly attempts to find new ways to socially segment the population, restricting possible knowledges, possible markets and possible states in disciplinary groups. The difference, though, in this process of segmentation is that the IWC frequently uses diversity to stabilize exchange within certain nationalist routes that exist to maintain oppressive power relations. In this sense, the nation-state becomes a broker in a world-wide economic system, one that sells out singularity to what Genosko calls “global informatization and mediatization,” where it is impossible to distinguish capital from any other form of representation (24). The very structure of representation inevitably participates in exchange. Absolute singularity only mobilizes energy within flows designed to mimic and imitate power structures already in place. By changing the site of oppression, IWC allows for mobility and diversity to become representable and thus, a site of oppression in the environment of international exchange.      

The IWC represents Guattari’s dedication to finding out how theory can coincide
with practice, how work in psychoanalysis can combine with Marxist analysis to create new ways of moving against internationalist bodies. This shows the importance of his work in understanding what is at stake in resistance against the growing tendencies of global capital to segment and oppress. Forming new combinations of thought, for Guattari, involves precisely working against appropriation and segmentation. Only through looking at new ways of combining particular multitudes of resistance can moments against the new global order open up. Guattari looked to the Worker’s party (PT) in Brazil with this in mind. It is important to stress, as Genosko does several times in the book, that the PT is not representative of Hardt and Negri’s multitude. Genosko’s book should not be read as another example of the mulititude in action or as a practical event in which the multitude makes its presence known. The PT is, at most, both a problematic and an opportunity to think about how new organizations and combinations can work within capitalism and against it.

Brazil is an important locus of possibility in this discussion. By articulating a detailed history of this campaign, Genosko argues in his second essay, that the relationship between captialism and anti-capitalist movements can never be simply dialectical. To oppose global capitalism, the PT must constantly reevaluate its relationship with capitalist modes of appropriation. It must constantly negotiate and subvert its “place” within networked environments that are constantly shifting. Genosko eloquently argues that this is where Lula found himself while attempting to struggle against the economic policies of the International Monetary Fund. Lula famously campaigned against Brazil’s dependence on the IMF, whose economic policies were only adding to the country’s debt. During this campaign, though, Brazil still needed the money offered by the IMF. Genosko, outlining this strange moment in the campaign, points out that the IMF would only deliver the bulk of the aid “if Brazil did not default on its debt and played by[…]budgetary ‘transparency’ rules such as running a tidy budget surplus (excluding debt payments) of a targeted 3.75 of GDP” (41). He goes on to argue that this move attempted to produce a “bridge to the new administration,” one that would elminate Lula and the PT’s hopes of organizing the workers and giving them a more active role in their country’s future (41).

Lula found himself in a most impossible position. He had to soften his stance against the IMF and choose a running mate that would cater to large segments of the population who were frightened by his stance against foreign capital. Genosko sees this move as “part of an alliance building exercise toward the centre-right, but without neglecting more traditional supporters like the Communist Party and the MST.[.]Urban businessmen and rural agitators can align in support of progressive political causes against the prestige and strength of foreign capital” (42).

points out, though, that Lula frequently ran the risk of alienating members of his own party with such alliance building and experimental political strategies. Ultimately in attempting to resist the IMF, it is very difficult to determine whether the worker’s party was using the influence of the Fund against itself, or was seduced by the possibility of power that it offered. This is the case with many revolutionary gestures of the multitude. Certain political movements designed to heighten the power of workers can simply be reappropriated by Empire or by the IWC, especially if those political movements are unskilled in using new assemblages and new ways of thinking about power. When does an anti-capitalist movement forced to exist within capitalism become simply another extension of the all-encompassing influence of Empire? This is a problematic that Genosko articulates throughout the book.            

If Empire and the IWC forces us to think non-dialectically and non-mimetically about the
problem of political organization, Genosko’s book points toward possibilities that go against such limited political thinking. Genosko is not interested in whether the PT achieved all of its goals; such thinking would follow too closely the expectation that political parties only exist to conform to a pre-formulated teleological structure. It is most important, when dealing with globalist institutions, to reconfigure the space of resistance. Lula’s promise that “another Brazil is possible” can only be thought in terms of an active and perpetual hope for change. In being elected, in being forced to work within and negotiate with internationalist corporations, Genosko shows that any dealing with Empire consistently changes all political expectations. The importance of Lula’s campaign rested not on its ability to remain unchanged in its opposition to globalist appropriation, but in its ability to fundamentally change the possibilities of Brazillian politics and the political being of Brazil itself.

Understanding the displaced and disjoined temporal contexts of Guattari’s work on the
IWC and Lula’s struggle to define the site of political organization, Genosko presents the 1982 interview in the third section of the book. Lula’s comment that many sectors of Brazil’s political community, not only the conservatives but also “the orthodox Left, and the liberals get together[…]to prevent the working class from organizing” enters into a new light after the anachronistic introduction (59). The problem already crosses party lines. The politics of a multicultural, globalist political organizaiton frequently goes beyond this political process. The structure of these globalist institutions seems designed to shift the focus of power, creating systems that, in their nature, obscure and reshape the plane of consistency that make this non-dialectial organization possible. In this moment, the promise of the party and the subjectivity that is formed within the structure of the political party effectively obscures what is, for Guattari and Lula, the central problem-how to think about political organization in ways that allow the working class to use globalist structures for liberatory ends. The faith in a dialectial political party process was precisely what kept Lula and his Worker’s Party from realizing their goals in the 80s.

Guattari and Lula respond to this political subjectification by discussing the place of
micropolitics in the movements of the multitude. Central to this micropolitical vantage point is Lula’s need to “prove that the administration of a State is not a technical matter, but rather a political one” (61). In this moment, Lula provides what may be one of the most powerful entries into globalist resistance. At this point, Lula explains, it is more important for the PT to present the possibility of the working class as a governing body within Brazil than it is to simply produce safe candidates that have the necessary degrees or prerequisites for election. This is extremely important to the PT, as Lula denies either the existence of previous models for the movement, such as revoultions that occurred in The Soviet Union or China, or the existence of a dogma for the workers (Genosko 66).

Focusing upon state administration as indissoluably political allows Lula and Guattari to show how the movement of the multitude must always retain a link to the micropolitical. Lula’s campaign, while culminating in his election as Brazil’s president, can hardly call the moment of the election a victory and go home. The “freedom” of the multitude does not simply come into being with the election of a particular candidate or the political dominance of a particular party. In their interest in the micropolitical, Guattari and Lula express that any understanding of globalization must first confront its fluctuating relationship with macropolitical forms. Politics is thus, for both Guattari and Lula, always a politics of transformation, always a politics that automatically refuses the imposition of particular states of being.

Lula’s anti-dogmatic stance with regard to the practice of the PT forms a party without a center, a party that can change, fluctuate and create along with a purely material multitude. Such a party, Lula argues, has to stray away from any party line-or even from the need to always link theoretical components to praxis. Lula very clearly says that “we don’t believe that practice must be so strictly tied to theory. Otherwise it does not make any sense!” (78). The PT, in these moments, involves itself in pure ontological becoming. Theory within the PT, while apart of this creation, has to be divorced from the line, it has to be separated from the tendency to shape particular and concrete striations if it is to have any relevance with the productive life capabilities of a multitude that can ontologically change the landscape of global capital.

Genosko’s book, rather than strictly separating from or tying itself to theoretical tropes, always moves in other directions. The question of what constitutes the practice of the multitude, or even the relationship between the example of Brazil and either Hardt and Negri or Guattari and Alliez’s work on globalization, is transformed in every successive part of the book. The entrance of different temporal relationships or different combinations of the capitalistic and the anticapitalistic causes the context of the question of globalization to change.

This disjointed singularity becomes the focal point through which Genosko confronts the particular “moments” of the multitude he presents. The desire to stay away from the mimetic and to treat each moment as a singularity makes the discussion of the multitude “as such” completely impossible. Each multitude of resistance is utterly singular, in its citability though it is also connectable with all other such moments. Here, it gains the ability to form new multitudes and new assemblages with other such moments. The singularity of each disjointed moment in the book enunciates the multitude as a possibility before the publication of Hardt and Negri’s Empire, even while keeping open the realization that such a statement is entirely inappropriate.

It is precisely the inappropriateness of Genosko’s book that makes it so fascinating and so pertinent. Resisting the tendency to be merely another example of the work prescribed by Empire, The Party Without Bosses nevertheless demands that the interview between Guattari and Lula, along with Guattari’s work on the IWC, remains applicable-even contemporary with present work on globalization. Genosko actively resists a narrow, temporal determinism, seeing the anachronistic as a site that must be opened again and again within what is considered present. This is not what Guattari indicated as the “shallow professionalism” of an unthinking interdisciplinarity (Genosko 18). It does, however, allow for the “potential for singularity[.]of a given organizational configuration”
(15). Lula’s experiment continues to have temporal, epistemological, and extremely singular reverberations. These echoes can, and should, form new assemblages and new spaces for the multitude to mobilize itself within and without capitalism.   

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