20 Theses on the Subversion of the Metropolis
Translator's notes: Translating these 20 theses presents difficulties not only linguistically, where there are many neologisms and lexical challenges, but above culturally mediating from a continental European political context into a distant anglophone reality. Here, and in the footnotes, are a few indications for better understanding this text.
In general, the relatively short nature of each thesis and the provocative, almost prophetic tone in which they are written lends itself to thoughtful interpretation, similar to reading the combination of a declaration of war and Buddhist meditation haikus. This should not in any way be understood as a definitive political doctrine. Placing this document in the current political context, it is intended to interact with the reader in such a way as to encourage discussion and debate.
Where possible, the original terminology has been maintained, even to the extent of creating neologisms, as well as adding a few short notes to aid in it's comprehension. Likewise, we have also included a handful citations for some of the more continentally specific events that an anglophone reader might not be aware of.
There are a few terms and concepts that run throughout the entire piece but that are never fully explained. Again, this is probably due to a different assumption of the (European) reader's prior knowledge.
First and foremost are the numerous references to an Empire and the subsequent lexicon are strongly connected to Michael Hardt and Antoni Negri's work of the same title, Empire. It is strongly suggested further reading.
Another important concept, one that is continually developed throughout the text, is that of the Common, which can be understood as a re-proposal of the English 16th century Commons: communal land worked and maintained protecting it from privatization. Historically, commons were eventually expropriated from the peasant population by the state. Today this idea is gaining ground in European circles as a possible form of resistance in the contemporary globalized sociopolitical context.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, there is the idea of the biopolitical and, consequently, biopower. The biopolitical is based on the understanding that all of life, all actions and choices, are inherently political. There is no distinction between public and personal whereas social structures are constructed first and foremost by interpersonal relations. This doesn't not imply, however, that these personal interactions are not constituted and governed by deeper common structures; inversely, the biopolitical is the very sense of these more complex structures acting through our single choices. Hence biopower is the accumulation of biopolitical energy into a hegemonic system, or what we identify as that which governs, over and from within, in the Imperial order.
In the hopes that the reader can find some critical stimulus in this text, we humbly extend our contribution to the global collective resistance.
See you on the barricades.