Bifo on how to prepare for the new barbarian age

Ten years after Seattle we have to invent a new strategy for the movement, starting from the consciousness that the prevailing form of the global power today is war, and that a military dictatorship is taking shape in the world. Neoliberal policy destroyed the very idea of a public sphere in the field of the economy and in the field of the media. It has privatized every single fragment of production, communication, language and affection. Competition has taken the place of solidarity in every aspect of life, and crime has become the prevailing form of economic relationships. Global war is the natural completion of this criminal mutation of the capitalist mode of production.

From a longer intervention by Franco Berardi, alias Bifo:

“Nowadays, when the White House is occupied by a president of a more genuinely democratic culture, the American Empire is falling apart, and chaos is the only emperor of the world.

What can be done in such a landscape? What strategy can be elaborated by the movement of women and men who are looking for peace and for justice?

No hope is in sight as the criminal turn of capitalism is producing irreversible effects in the culture and in the behaviour of the planetary society.

One third of mankind is in danger of death: famine is spreading as never before. The energy crisis is fuelling aggression and inflation.

One third of mankind is working in conditions bordering on slavery and people are doomed to accept the blackmail of precarity and exploitation.

One third of mankind is armed to the teeth in order to defend their life standard against the army of migrants who are pushing at the borders.

We have to prepare to a long phase of barbarization and of violence.

We have to create a safe haven for the small minority of the world population that wants to save the heritage of humanist civilisation and the potentialities of the General Intellect, that are in serious danger of unredeemable militarisation.

The age that we have entered during the first decade of the century is quite similar to the so-called European Middle Age. While the territory was ravaged by invasions, and the legacy of ancient civilization was being destroyed, groups of monks saved the memory of the past, and the seeds of a possible future.

We cannot know if the present barbarian age is going to last for decades or for centuries, nor we can say if the physical environment of the planet will survive the present criminal-capitalist devastation.

But we certainly know that we have not the weapons to face the destroyers, so we have to save ourselves, and the possibility of the future.

Just one strategy is not enough, when things are so unpredictable as they are in the present times.

We cannot say what the consequences will be of the American loss of hegemony, nor the developments of the war from Pakistan to Gaza strip. And we cannot imagine what kind of effects will produce the low intensity ethnic civil war which is been waged in Europe, and which kind of explosions may follow the inflationary recession which is ravaging the economy of the western workers.

We have to be prepared to the prospect of a long period of monastic withdrawal, but also to the prospect of a sudden reversal of the global political landscape. Imagine the revolt of the Chinese workers against national-communist capitalism, the explosion of open ethnic warfare in the European society, the breakdown of the US military unable to face a fresh wave of terrorism fuelled by Afghan and Pakistanis wars, the apocalyptic collapse of the eco-systems in some important areas of the planet. These scenarios are perfectly realistic in the near future, and they could produce a dramatic change in the political mood of the majority of the world population. We have to be prepared for this, we have to prepare the narration for such a reversal, and we have to create the happy example of an other style of life, one that is not based on consumerism, growth, and competition.

Our central task in the next future should be in my opinion the redefinition of the very idea of well being, of wealth and of happiness.

Our task will be the creation of monasteries where frugal wellbeing is experimented. Critique of the naturalisation of the paradigm of growth, cultural elaboration of a new paradigm based on the abandonment of the obsession of growth, aimed to frugality, culture-intensive production, solidarity, and laziness, and refusal of competition.

Capitalism has identified wellbeing and accumulation, happiness with consumerism and richness with the destruction of natural and psychic resources.

We have to become the example of a life style where wellbeing is joined with frugality, happiness is joined with generosity, and production is joined with laziness.

Richness has nothing to do with compulsive consumption and obsessive accumulation. Richness is the pleasure of being, and the enjoyment of time.”

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