The concept of insolvency as it has been applied in the US and especially in the EU has to do with economic debt, but also with the symbolic debt implied in the capitalist process of exploitation. In the EU, this symbolic debt is bound to tensions that haunted European modernity—between Calvinist and Catholic, Baroque and Gothic, good German laborers and bad lazy Mediterraneans. It is a subject often avoided for being politically incorrect, because no one wants to see the religious, anthropological, and aesthetic implications of the crisis. But the concept of symbolic debt may also provide a way out: What if debt as semiotization and insolvency could actually provide autonomy from capitalist semiotization—a direct move from insolvency to emancipation? What is the meaning of the word “revolution” anyhow? Let us consider how the concept of emancipation will replace of the concept of revolution.
Franco Berardi, aka “Bifo,” founder of the famous “Radio Alice” in Bologna and an important figure of the Italian Autonomia Movement, is a writer, media theorist, and media activist. He currently teaches Social History of the Media at the Accademia di Brera, Milan. His last book titled After the Future is published AKpress.
This is the second in a season of talks and discussions presented by e-flux book co-op at MoMA PS1. Hito Steyerl was the first to present in the series, which will continue throughout the season with presentations by artists, writers, and theorists such as AA Bronson, Paul Chan, Sven Lütticken, Elizabeth Povinelli, and others considering the recent intensification of political life.