In my view, ima­gin­a­tion is the cent­ral field of social trans­form­a­tion in the age of semiocapital.[2] Capitalist dom­in­a­tion is sus­tained by the per­sist­ence of men­tal cages that are struc­tured by the dog­mas of growth, com­pet­i­tion and rent. The epi­stem­o­lo­gical dic­tat­or­ship of this model – its grip on the dif­fer­ent spheres of human know­ledge – is the very ground of power.  So the task of trans­form­a­tion requires us to ima­gine and make sens­ible a dif­fer­ent con­cat­en­a­tion of social forms, know­ledge, and tech­no­logy. Of course, ima­gin­a­tion will never be enough on its own.  We need to build forms of social solid­ar­ity that are cap­able of re-​​activating the social body after the long period of its isol­a­tion and sub­jug­a­tion to com­pet­it­ive aggress­ive­ness.  Solid­ar­ity – in con­trast to this aggress­ive­ness – is based on empathy, on the bod­ily per­cep­tion of the pres­ence of the other…

We con­tinue to use old forms of action but we will have to begin to ima­gine new forms that are cap­able of actu­ally strug­gling against fin­an­cial dic­tat­or­ship. In my opin­ion, the first task – which we have begun to exper­i­ence over the last year – is the react­iv­a­tion of the social body that I have already described. But as I have said, this will not be enough.  We will also have to begin to learn to cre­ate new forms of autonomy from fin­an­cial con­trol and so on.  For instance, in Italy we have been talk­ing increas­ingly of “insolv­ency.” Of course, insolv­ency means the inab­il­ity to pay a debt but we don’t think of it strictly in mon­et­ary terms. There is also a sym­bolic debt that is always implied in power rela­tion­ships. Ima­gin­a­tion might mean the abil­ity to cre­ate the pos­sib­il­ity of insolv­ency – to cre­ate the right to be insolv­ent, the right not to pay a debt – at a semi­otic and a sym­bolic level.  We need to ima­gine forms of social rela­tion­ships that escape mon­et­ary exchange or invent new forms of exchange, like time banks, new forms of cur­rency, com­munity cur­rency and so on. Do you see what I am try­ing to say? The pro­cess of ima­gin­a­tion begins with the react­iv­a­tion of the social body but next this body has to cre­ate new levels of social inter­ac­tion.  Escap­ing fin­an­cial dic­tat­or­ship, in other words, means ima­gin­ing new forms of social exchange.  I don’t know what form eman­cip­a­tion will take in the com­ing years.  I can only pro­pose this little meth­od­o­lo­gical start­ing point from what we already know.


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