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Editorial #2, autumn 2002

The fact that capitalism and global class composition have gone through dramatic changes the recent decades everyone seems to agree on. But the opinions split apart on the nature of the changes and their consequences for the class struggle.

After the fall of the U.S.S.R. and the crisis of the welfare-state capital’s ideologists declared victory for capitalism, that the class struggle was over and the dream of socialism dead and gone. In the public debate it was almost impossible to put forward opinions critical of the system. Today the situation is fortunately different, after series of economic crises, a multiplicity of examples that the class struggle is all but dead and the emergence of the so-called anti-globalization movement, that ideologically challenge the neo-liberal idelogists.

Suddenly there are a whole flora of books discussing the globalization of capital and the new movement’s resistance. Maybe the most read and talked about of these books are No Logo by Naomi Kein and Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Their characteristic differ a lot: Klein’s work rest heavy on empirical studies while empiricism are strikingly absent in Hardt and Negri; Hardt and Negri comes from the autonomist marxist tradition while Klein is explicitly non-marxist.

However, in this issue of Riff-Raff we will examine both books critical, because in our opinion they both have in common a distorted view of how capitalism changed and accordingly fails when it comes to which ways the resistance can develop.

In connection with the review of Empire we publish Steve Wright’s article on Negri’s class analysis, showing that Negri’s theories developed in the light of the Italian class struggle in the seventies. According to Wright Negri as early as that abandoned a concrete comprehension of the class in favour of abstract categories besides of the contemporary reality, in which all real differences were flattened out.

Against the effects of the globalization workers all over the world responds with struggle. In an article we take up the situation in Argentina, where neo-liberal reforms forced by the IMF have been confronted by massive resistance: strikes, occupations, blockades, mass-demonstrations and a sort of council-organization from below. The article analyse the composition of the resistance, which groups that carries the struggle and how it has circulated. Furthermore, the historical background to the actual situation is sketched, which shows that the recent events only makes up the culmination of a long wave of struggle. The demands for structural adjustments are in no way unique to Argentina, but are forced upon the working class all over the world. Likewise the resistance flare up over and over again. Recently in the neighbouring country Uruguay we have seen a similar development as in Argentina, with mass-protests and shop-looting.

Another example of resistance against capital’s global restructuring we have taken from France. In the article Henri Simon gives an account of how French workers have responded to factory-closures with protests of an ever increasing radicality, for instance the use of sabotage and threats of blowing up factories, which have forced capital to costly concessions. In an introduction to the article the French situation is compared with factory-closures in Swedish factory-towns.

Eventually we also publish a text discussing how the concept of autonomy is being used in the autonomus movement and the problems in this movement when it comes to comprehension of itself and forms of struggle.

Our purpose with Riff-Raff is to create a forum for a theoretical discussion for everyone who is interested in independent/autonomous class struggle. The texts do not represent the official stand of Folkmakt or anything like that, though the organization account for the publication. The articles we publish should instead be seen as contributions to a discussion, where each writer are responsible for the respectively opinions. Everyone who feel called upon are welcome to contribute with texts.

The overarching theme in next issue will be class composition, one of the most central concepts within autonomist marxism. We are thankful for contributions on this theme, but will also give room for texts besides the theme.

Folkmakt