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        mf : Foucault has already stated, in The Birth of Biopolitics, that neoliberalism does not govern by limiting the liberties of individuals, nor by directly conducting their conduct, but, on the contrary, that it acts as a producer of liberties, by activating a rationality of self-government of subjects themselves. But, in this context, the concept of autonomy, upon which classical political analyses are built, but also revolutionary perspectives, becomes radically disputable, because its function undergoes a change of sign: autonomy becomes precisely the level at which power takes hold of the subject. Thus, this forces us to rethink the form and aims of the struggles themselves. Nevertheless, is it possible to take up the concept of autonomy anew and insert it within a logic that is neither the traditional logic grounded on the opposition between governmental power and individual liberty, nor the logic actually operative in our societies, within which the autonomy of subjects presents itself as a principle for the functioning of power? In other words, is it possible to attempt to re-codify the idea of autonomy by relating it to what you call “the production of the common (good)”?

       C. Laval : There is a great, well-known remark of  Rousseau’s in the Emile, which lies at the origin of certain so-called new pedagogies: “No subjection is as perfect as that which maintains the appearance of freedom; in this way one captivates his very will.” Evidently, we must go further if we are to understand the arts of governing today, and say, paraphrasing Rousseau: “No subjection is as perfect as that which passes through the subject’s freedom: in this way one captivates his desire”. This way of taking up anew the question of power introduced by Foucault undoubtedly puts into question the revindications of autonomy, identity, spontaneity, authenticity, originality, and even that of recognition, which run across the movements of protest of the last forty years. For this very reason we are witnessing nowadays a formidable displacement of the problematic of struggles around the construction of the “common”. Rather than continuing to rely, as some people do, on a predefined subject to which certain originary rights, or essential liberties, are to be recognized, it is better to assume in the very practice of the struggles and in their modes of organization and discourse, the constructed character, the creative and productive character of subjectivity, and this yields the concept of “subjectivation”. And if we want to step outside the global rationality of generalized “putting into competition”, we think, Pierre Dardot and myself, that it is necessary to develop collectively and in all domains the “reason of the common”, which is to say a rationality of which the general principle is that of “putting into common”. In this sense, “autonomy” is redefined and reaffirmed as a common capacity to elaborate and institute what is common. In this way we also see that the struggle is not only defensive. Certainly, it is convenient to fight for the defense of public services against the ongoing process of destruction and privatization. But it is necessary, at the same time, to transform the way they function and their relation to society. Thus, the search for a new “citizenship”, or a new “citizen ethics”, that is at the core of the Appel des appels is not only defensive, at least in our view. Starting out from the republican and humanist tradition, it composes a new social relation. And here I speak again in my own name and not in that of the Appel des appels. I think we should understand its slogan, to “place the human again at the heart of society”, as the demand to “place the common again at the heart of society”.

       mf : To conclude, and thanking you for your willingness to address our questions, we would like to ask if, in your opinion, it would be possible to “extend” the stakes of your appeal beyond “national” frontiers, and to present itself thereby as invested – for us, today – with a “global” significance.

       C. Laval : I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone knows what the Appel des appels will become. Hay-fire, transitional stage, lasting institutionalization? Everything is possible. We are dealing with a collective experience that follows no preconceived model, a continuous invention. What is essential here is the work that is done. “The revolt of consciences” attested by this original movement cannot be separated from the task of deciphering the new modes of oppression and from that of putting into common the practices of resistance. This implies the construction of devices, both small and large, that would allow us to put a collective intelligence to work. It is a process that seems to be underway with and within the local committees. Will this renovate forms of organization, will it provide parties and unions with ideas and models? Why not? Given the level of instruction of those professionals who are involved, we can suppose that the modes of structuring and the kinds of relations between people within the collectives can no longer be copied out from the military and industrial schemas characteristic of the organizations of the worker’s movement. In my view the great political and ethical question is that of common intellectual work, of the putting into common of intellectual work.

But, to respond to your question, there is a nascent attempt to coordinate, in Europe and worldwide, particularly in the context of the university, struggles against neoliberal reforms connected to the “Bologna process” and the Lisbon strategy. I am thinking in particular of the initiatives taken, in the last few months, to create a network and organize actions at the European level. The ADA most certainly supports this process. More generally, this movement can and should be extended outside of France. Relations have already been established within the European francophone space, in Belgium and Switzerland, thanks to the professional networks that exist within the psy community. An extension to other countries and other sectors is desirable, on the basis of a principle of coordination of resistances. At any rate work must be put into it. This may just be an auspicious  moment. One perceives that the forms of organization of the alterglobalization movement have become somewhat exhausted. The big statements of principle, the great world forums are not enough to create collective forces. From now on it is necessary to arrive at a better articulation of  the mobilizations against the “giant lock”, the struggles against the instances of global “government”, with regional and local resistances. It is necessary, on the one hand, to “descend”, starting from a global perspective, down to the ground level of professional realities – this is what ATTAC for example has begun to do –; and, on the other, to “climb up” to the general logic of competition by putting into common the resistances of professionals against reforms, which is what the ADA is trying to do. But in my opinion this articulation implies a serious reassessment of the ways of analyzing neoliberalism undertaken for a long time within the alterglobalist movement and within the social movement. The point now is better to understand how and why the professions that are connected to public services and to the state are transformed by the neoliberal logic way beyond the process of “marketization” and “privatization”. This is the whole direction taken by the analyses of the “new world reason”. In sum, we have to work, with instruments that we find, in part, in Foucault’s work, for a transformation of the alterglobalist and social movements, on the basis of renewed reflections regarding the forms of power that characterize neoliberal capitalism.

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