Extracts from “The Autonomist Anomaly” by Felice Moramarco, 2023. Text accompanying an exhibition of the same name at Ithaca College, US.

(…) Rejecting state authority, organisational discipline, sexual repression, institutional hierarchies, political representation, and the detrimental exercise of power, Autonomia tirelessly aimed to create spaces of autonomy to develop forms of collective life beyond State’s authority and private property. 

Its goal was to encourage productive social relations through facilitating practices of subjectivity, and to engender forms of intellectual production not infected by the destructive virus of competition and mutual exploitation. Through the determined refusal to adopt the capitalistic values of work-ethic, duty and sacrifice, as well as obstinate collective demands for happiness and pleasure, Autonomia attempted to subtract life from the total control of capitalism. In the absence of any formal or external legitimization, Autonomia employed traditional forms of political struggle – demonstrations, strikes, occupations of factories and universities – as well as unconventional political tactics, such as collective re-appropriations, squatting, pirate radio, pranks, and rent strikes. These strategies outraged both right and left-wing parties who labelled the movement “obscene”.

(…) Forty years after its annihilation, we can reflect on how Automia constituted a uniquely consequential political experiment whose legacy continues to haunt contemporary politics. The Jamesonian statement “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism” has been repeated as a mantra in recent decades, increasingly showing a tragic correspondence to reality. The radical demands for autonomy, equality, and social justice that animated Autonomia still resonate in the obstinate resistance of movements of people who are not willing to accept oppression and exploitation as a dimension of their coexistence. Struggles of the indigenous people for their land and natural resources in the Americas, the resistance of Palestinian people against Israeli colonialism, the Black Lives Matter demonstrations across US and Europe, the strenuous defence of Rojava by Kurdish fighters from Daesh and Turkish imperialism, the global environmental strikes, the transnational women’s struggle against patriarchy, and protests from Beirut, Santiago, and Baghdad that are taking millions of people onto the streets of their cities to fight for their future. These show that the autonomist anomaly continues to offer a useful perspective through which we can conceive of politics as a practice to oppose oppression and exploitation, while generating new modes of collective life.

So... is this getting serious?

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