| every day words disappear | Michael Hardt on the politics of love



Anna Karina in Alphaville (1965) by Jean-Luc Godard


TRANSCRIPT | every day words disappear | (ENG)

Those are words I don't know
I wasn’t taught them.
Help me.
Impossible, Princess.
You must get there yourself
If you fail you’ll be lost,
like the zombies of Alphaville

Machiavelli asks in the Prince
is it better for the Prince to be feared or loved?

And his answer is
It is better to be feared.

TITLE: MICHAEL HARDT | on the politics of love

Whereas the Prince should favor fear, because,
as we said, since it resides in him…

it’s constant for him.

The people maybe should favor love
because it resides in them,

its in their power and so for them
could be constant and long-lasting.

I mean, so Machiavelli already opens a question
that he probably doesn't provide us the answer with:

what would it mean to have our social arrangements,
like the basis of our social choices…

be founded on love?

My academic friends have a lot of difficulty with this love-business.

Either for its sentimentalism
or they think i've been hanging out too much with Italians,
what ever the problem is, its something like that.

If you are talking about love they assume, OK you're just talking about sex.

Poets, and psychoanalysts can talk about love
we shouldn’t talk about it.

TITLE: every day words disappear

During those 18 days of the occupation of Tahir square in Cairo in January 2011
one of the funny things was, every day in the New York TImes,
they were searching for the real leaders

one day it was El-Baradei the nobel physicists,
another day the Google executive…

Each day they were trying to figure out, who is really behind this.

Who is the single voice that’s doing this?

What they couldn't understand was that,
the fascinating thing that was going on in the square…

was that a variety, a multiplicity of diverse groups,
were collaborating together.

And acting political in a way that wasn't unified.

I think thats an incredibly important experiment
and the kind of experiment that we've seen repeated
in recent years with the most powerful or the most interesting social movements.

How to act politically as an equal multiplicity of different groups.

I wouldn't say they've all been successful
but it seems to me its animated by a political desire.

Animated by a political desire for democracy

So i would call, i would call these kind of experiments,
experiments in a political love.

Listen to me, normals!
We see the truth you no longer see!
The truth is that the essence of mankind
is love and faith…
courage and tenderness

Love like democracy is certainly a corrupt political concept.

All the central elements of our political vocabulary
freedom, democracy, have all been … equality even
have all been corrupted, so they almost seem unusable.

When they start talking democracy
you better start running cause the bombs will start falling.

Nearly every day words disappear,
because they are forbidden.

Replaced by new words
expressing different concepts.

Lately, many of my favorite
words have disappeared.

Which words?


Autumn light

Also, tenderness

I think at the most basic level when we realize how
we've entered into a permanent state of war.

Like what often proponents of counterterrorism on a global scale think of as a long war
but a war without end, something like that.

When one recognizes that we've entered into that state
it not only makes democracy impossible,
but for many it makes it undesirable.

the world system is becoming ever more as many say a system of global apartheid.

When one says global apartheid one shouldn't think i don't think simply of exclusions.

Its not about drawing fixed boundaries that segregate in a rigid way
i think you have to understand apartheid, in the ways in functioned in South Africa.

As a kind of hierarchical and differentiated labour regime
that is really a kind of inclusion.

and i think that’s more..
i wouldn't want someone to say, “oh Mike you're saying its not so bad, it’s not about exclusion its really about inclusion…”
no at some place its worse, in fact, slavery in the US functioned this way too.
its not just about exclusion its really about making the subordinations and hierarchies extremely intimate and part of every day life.

Why do we submit to that?
Like, why do you take your clothes of in the airport and why do you submit to all kinds of surveillance on your daily activities really almost everywhere?

And I think the only answer is really fear.
I mean i think that what we've entered into, and accepted, is a political regime that is sustained by fear

in fact one could say, democracy won't be possible
until we can somehow create
a political society that is not based on fear.
He wept when his wife died.
Is he being condemned for that?
Aim straight for those you love.

One has to start answering such a question by recognizing how terrible so many forms of political love are
and how destructive and how dangerous.

I think that in fact, most times when people talk about regimes based on hatred,
i think that really they are based on a certain kind of love.
But its a horrible kind of love.
So for instance when one talks about white supremacy, other forms of racism, i would put together nationalism and religious fundamentalism
i do think they are based on love, but based on a notion of love, in which one loves, the one who is like them.

In the 1980's a certain kind of white racism in Britain goes together with Magaret Thatcher saying there is no society.

What there is, is a kind of forced individualism plus the bonds of sameness
that fit in these fundamentalist notions.

Part of what seems like a antidote to that poison, or to that dual poisons,
is a kind of being together in difference and overcoming that individualism.

I think one of the magical aspects of the encampments and occupations
from 2011-2013 at least, has been that feeling of being together.

People are excluded from power or even trained to be excluded from power.
Its for that reason that i'm interested in many movements that claim to be for the common

Contesting both private control, the rule of private property,
or public control the rule of the state over social goods and social resources.

For instance one of the very significant or well-know ones
was a movement against the privatization of water in Bolivia in 2000.
And that like many places it was a neoliberal project that the IMF advised the Bolivian state that water needed to be privatized,
Meaning water distributed to people had to be sold to a foreign corporation or really a consortium of little cooperations.
But the movements was interesting in the sense that it was not just defending the Bolivia state's control of water,
it was rather saying that water is not a commodity and it must be ours
it must be controlled by us.

thats what i mean by the common, or what people struggling in these ways mean by the common
like, that the decisions about a basic and essential good, like water,
have to be taken, not just publicly, if by public you mean by state officials,
but also in a democratic way.

These seem to me like institutional frameworks, these movements for the common,
that both require and promote democratic mechanisms.
You know, might even promote a kind of training in democracy.
I can imagine many friends would say to me, look Mike,
I don't know anything about electricity
I don't want to make decision about that, i want the experts to do it.
Or about water, or about any number of other things in our lives

i mean i think that kind of trained assumption of ignorance may be one of the other
important obstacles to democracy.

You know those politicians that are making decisions they are no great geniuses
and nobody pretends that they are geniuses

They're given information,
and they make decisions.

I don't see why you and i aren't capable of similar decisions.

Are you crying?
– No that is forbidden.

In order to talk about love in politics,
i think its useful to use with the most dispassionate of philosophers.

Machiavelli being one but Baruch Spinoza being another.
So Baruch Spinoza defines joy first, in a way the primary most important political affect.
Joy is the sensation of our becoming more powerful, like: are we having more power to think and act?

Love is that joy, the increase of my power to think and act,
with the recognition of an external cause.

So think about the joy and love of the encampments then,
precisely in terms of that, they are the recognition…
of our greater ability to think and act…
about the world, in the world, with a recognition that thats due to each other, this external cause.

That seems to me a very geometrical, dispassionate notion of what a political recognition of love could be.

If we think of politics as only based on interests or objective facts or reason as if were separated from passions we'll miss what’s actually guiding our lives.

Bend your head.

I guess one has to accept with this,
or… part of going down this road is recognize how love changes society and changes us.

i mean love is an ontological condition, an ontological power really in that sense…
that love changes you.

Those are words I don’t know.
I wasn’t taught them.
Help Me.
Impossible, Princess.
You must get there yourself
If you fail you’ll be lost,
like the zombies of Alphaville