Michael Hardt + Antonio Negri - Some of the most inspiring social struggles of 2011 have placed democracy at the top of the agenda. (The Big Ideas of 2012 @ Adbusters)

Although they emerge from very different conditions, these movements – from the insurrections of the Arab Spring to the union battles in Wisconsin, from the student protests in Chile to those in the US and Europe, from the UK riots to the occupations of the Spanish indignados and the Greeks in Syntagma Square, and from Occupy Wall Street to the innumerable local forms of refusal across the world – share, first of all, a negative demand: Enough with the structures of neoliberalism! This common cry is not only an economic protest but also immediately a political one, against the false claims of representation. Neither Mubarak and Ben Ali nor Wall Street bankers, neither media elites nor even presidents, governors, members of parliament, and other elected officials – none of them represent us. The extraordinary force of refusal is very important, of course, but we should be careful not to lose track in the din of the demonstrations and conflicts of a central element that goes beyond protest and resistance. These movements also share the aspiration for a new kind of democracy, expressed in tentative and uncertain voices in some cases but explicitly and forcefully in others. The development of this aspiration is one of the threads we are most anxious to follow in 2012.

One source of antagonism that all of these movements will have to confront, even those that have just toppled dictators, is the insufficiency of modern democratic constitutions, particularly their regimes of labor, property, and representation. In these constitutions, first of all, waged labor is key to having access to income and the basic rights of citizenship, a relationship that has long functioned poorly for those outside the regular labor market, including the poor, the unemployed, unwaged female workers, immigrants, and others, but today all forms of labor are ever more precarious and insecure. Labor continues to be the source of wealth in capitalist society, of course, but increasingly outside the relationship with capital and often outside the stable wage relation. As a result, our social constitution continues to require waged labor for full rights and access in a society where such labor is less and less available. (...)

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Audio version read by George Atherton