19 & 20: Notes for a New Social Protagonism
Translated by Nate Holdren & Sebastián Touza
Introductions by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri
An 18th Brumaire for the 21st Century: militant research on the December 19th and 20th, 2001 uprisings in Argentina
In the heat of an economic and political crisis, people in Argentina took to the streets on December 19th, 2001, shouting “¡Qué se vayan todos!” These words – “All of them out!” – hurled by thousands banging pots and pans, struck at every politician, economist, and journalist. These events opened a period of intense social unrest and political creativity that led to the collapse of government after government. Neighborhoods organized themselves into hundreds of popular assemblies across the country, the unemployed workers movement acquired a new visibility, workers took over factories and businesses. These events marked a sea change, a before and an after for Argentina that resonated around the world.
Colectivo Situaciones wrote this book in the heat of that December’s aftermath. As radicals immersed within the long process of reflection and experimentation with forms of counterpower that Argentines practiced in shadow of neoliberal rule, Colectivo Situaciones knew that the novelty of the events of December 19th and 20th demanded new forms of thinking and research. This book attempts to read those struggles from within. Ten years have passed, yet the book remains as relevant and as fresh as the day it came out. Multitudes of citizens from different countries have learned their own ways to chant ¡Qué se vayan todos!, from Iceland to Tunisia, from Spain to Greece, from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park. Colectivo Situactiones’ practice of engaging with movements’ own thought processes resonates with everyone seeking to think current events and movements, and through that to build a new world in the shell of the old.
“If the insurrection in Argentina that began in December 2001 was our Paris Commune, then Colectivo Situaciones fits well in the position of Karl Marx. As Friedrich Engels was fond of saying, one of Marx’s many talents was to analyze the historical importance of political events as they took place. This book by Colectivo Situaciones, written in the heat of action, certainly demonstrates that same talent in full, delving into the complexity of concrete events while simultaneously stepping back to recognize how our political reality has changed.” – Michael Hardt, from the Introduction
Bio: Colectivo Situacionesis a collective of militant researchers based in Buenos Aires. They have participated in numerous grassroots co-research activities with unemployed workers, peasant movements, neighborhood assemblies, and alternative education experiments.