Powers, Organizational forms, New Institutions

In this period of crisis, the question of power has become more complex than ever. It is no longer easy to distinguish and identify who holds power, its means and efficacy. But this doesn’t mean “The end of power”. This stream will explore the diverse analyses and critiques of power, with particular focus on the concept of organization and of institution.

1. Power, powers, counter-power 

1.1 Power in the singular or powers in the plural? Towards a new discipline of power.

Power has been investigated both in the singular and in the plural, and often in opposed ways. After the microphysics of power, the theory of total and univocal power has returned, both in the form of the global market economy, and in the political democracy of the mass. The analysis of power(s) also concerns its visibility. Do command, coercion (in its diverse forms) and legitimation require visibility and overt recognition? Or are they reinforced when they become invisible?

1.2 The structure of power. The ambivalence of practical resistance.

Resistance to the forms of contemporary power is intrinsically plural. On the negative side, fragmentation, and on the positive side, richness, alternate to constitute practical resistance. What type of response corresponds to this form of struggle? Articulated or direct? Molar or molecular? What is the degree of effectiveness of these responses?

1.3 Counter-power or resistance to power?

What are the characteristics of counter-power? Is counter-power any force that opposes power frontally? How do we define it? Through the ability to destroy power (force) or through the ability to establish new relations (competition)? Is resistance a form of counter-power?

1.4 Feminist critique, a historical and epistemological rupture

Feminist thought and practice has confronted power – not only patriarchal power, but power in general – with a radical critique, bringing to light essential aspects of power that had previously been hidden. How has this consciousness been practically realized? What practices and apparatuses of subjectification and subjection does it reveal? What new relations have emerged between power and subject(s)?

2. Organization and new institutions

2.1 Organizing politically or political organizations?

Given the crisis of representation affecting traditional organizations of the Left, and the related crisis of the efficacy of organization within the workers’ movement, can organized politics still exist? In what form? Beyond the dichotomy of representation/non-representation, what are the characteristics of political organization? Does “organize politically” mean practicing an “organized politics”?

2.2 Crisis of institutions and reinvention of the concept of institution

Many of the institutions of the postwar state are today in crisis, while we are also witnessing various theoretical and practical attempts to redefine what ‘institution’ might mean. Simply dismissing institutions ignores the challenge of forging institutions alternative or antagonistic to those of the capitalist state. What is required is new critical attention to institutional practices. Institutions pose the problem of duration, the problem of continuity in plurality. What “life forms” can be fostered by new institutions?

 2.3 New institutions and efficacy.

A new institutionality must confront its own effectiveness. How can this be measured? How can it be compared to the effectiveness of institutions in crisis? How can the relationship between the new institutions and the institutions in crisis be structured? How can we valorize the experiences in which legal rights open onto a different kind of right?

2.4 Right(s) and conflict

The experiments of new (grassroots) institutions also interrogate law/right. Compared to the ‘60s and the so-called “alternative use of law”, and in contrast to an enduring hostility in Marxism towards this perspective today there is a new dialectic between the new movements, new conflicts and juridical language. What new relationships have been created? Who and what are law/rights for? What do struggles in Latin America over laws and rights show us? How can we in Europe move on this terrain?

Keywords

Organizations, Institutions, New Institutions and Institutional Practices

Subjectification and Subjection

Power, Powers, Counterpowers

Feminist Critique of Power

Coercion

Legitimation and Crisis of Legitimation

Rights and Conflicts