Snafu on Tue, 29 Apr 2008 06:13:35 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> V2-Day or on the political agency of radical comedians

Hi Brian,

thanks for your positive comments. i agree with you that the main 
difference between Grillo and Colbert, Italian (French) politics and 
American politics is that the former has a tradition of taking it to the 
streets that is almost unknown to the latter. Furthermore, while 
Americans are currently placing their hopes in a change of leadership, 
Italians are too disenchanted and cynical to believe that change will 
come from party politics. Finally, the economic situation in Italy is 
deteriorating at a much faster pace than in the U.S., so that this state 
of constant mobilization reflects the anxieties of a population that 
faces, for the first time since WWII, a concrete decline of its welfare.

However, I see a possible point of convergence in the role that 
comedians play in national politics, and I would like to ask if someone 
can make similar examples on the role of satyre in their home countries.

In general it seems to me that the role of the comedian is shifting from 
someone who "speaks truth to power" from an outsider position to a 
position that is increasingly inside the biopolitical mechanisms whereby 
consensus is produced and reproduced. This transformation may be related 
to the role that affects play in what Hardt & Negri call biopolitical 
production, and in production of new subjectivities in society. This 
affective politics, or politics that speaks "from the guts" as Colbert 
would say, is a risky one, especially because the Right understands it 
historically much better than the Left. Furthermore, we may say that in 
the U.S. the politics has always been revolving around personality, i.e. 
around the ability of representing not only specific class interests but 
also specific "feelings" that can resonate with different constituencies 
(the blue-collar white voters, the women, the Blacks and the Latinos, 
the Christians and the Catholics, etc.) The seemingly endless expansion 
of celebrity culture reinforces the import of personality in politics so 
that even the Italians wake up one morning to realize that their PM has 
turned into a Giant Beatle named Silvio B, or the French that Carla 
Bruni's shoes are more relevant than the constant assault on the welfare 

But who is Grillo? Grillo in a sense is the cultural inversion of Silvio 
B, a man with a strong personality that first unveils the buffoonery of 
party politics ("the king is naked" he keeps saying) and then crosses 
over to the other side by affirming that the situation has become so 
farcical that a comedian is the most serious public speaker you may ever 
have. I believe that this movement from undermining the order of the 
discourse -- the invisible discursive structures that regulate both the 
kind of enunciates and the speakers that are allowed in the public 
sphere -- to rebuilding a new order of the discourse in which the very 
dynamic of the public sphere has been fundamentally altered, is the most 
powerful movement we can possibly build.

There is this amazing panoramic picture of Piazza San Carlo that has 
been just posted on his blog that says it all:



Brian Holmes wrote:

> Snafu, this is a brilliant post on the Grillo demonstrations, 
> excellent and clear, particularly this:

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