Contemporary forms of political authority and their brutalisation are multifaceted and, as a result, difficult to assail: they range from subjectivation and the anti-emanicaptory requirements that accompany it; via discourses of catastrophic crisis (as in the case of climate politics) and the imposition of authoritarian ‘security’ policies that they imply; from the silent compulsion of flexiblised wage labour, to the open compulsion of neoliberal labour market reforms like Germany’s Hartz IV; from the elite interest-led policies in the financial market- and economic crisis, via the crisis’ calling into question of hegemonic gender relations, which make many ‘no-longer-bread-winners’ aggressive – to the open wars and the brutalisation of society, as we so frustratingly experience it in Mexico. The global social movements, despite and because of their very different experiences and political approaches, have recognised this – Bifo Beradi has not. Analyses that reduce ‘movements’ to their visible protests as an expression of societal self-organisation are insufficient and incomplete. (Beradi further reduces this to the ‘self-organisation of techno-scientific labour’, whereby the struggles of Chinese migrant workers, indigenous Latin Americans, or those receiving welfare in Europe, are devalued as below the level of world society. We have encountered this before in Empire.) In contrast, the global social movements have learnt important lessons: The dynamic of movements is not only determined by transnational actions like those in Seattle, Genoa and Heiligendamm; nor the European and World Social Fora. They are, in fact, an expression both of processes of fermentation, as well as of the dynamics of domestic politics. Seattle was a highpoint of North American trade union activity against 20 years of neoliberal policies, Genoa a massive protest against Berlusconi, Heiligendamm an expression of how, with the exception of the Left Party, the political-institutional system had isolated itself in Germany. More important than this, however, is that in many areas, and via diverse lines of conflict, societies have undergone an emancipatory transformation. The metaphor of retreat into the monastery – as a space that is removed from and thus beyond the brutality of the world – is misleading because, in contrast to the Middle Ages, destruction and the violent transformation of authority are not territorially bounded. The control of territories was the central source of domination in the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the Modern Era. In imperial capitalism, it is only one source of hegemony among others. Certainly, the Iraq War is in part a result of a desire to control strategic spaces of global oil production. But geopolitical accumulation does not replace the dynamic of the expanded reproduction of capital, the diverse forms of primitive accumulation, and many more relations of domination. This also relates to the question of counter-hegemonic practices. There is something in the metaphor of the monastery: rebellious subjectivity arises partly, though not exclusively, outside of institutions. Essentially, it arises in struggles, through experiences, and also in and through victories. Recently, there has not been a shortage of experiences in Western Europe, but, to be sure, of victories – that is, of relevant interventions into the impositions of political-institutional, socio-economic, as well as cultural structures and processes. If, in the first decade of the 21st Century, authority has updated itself, then this has not so much occurred, at least within North-Western societies, because it has been challenged by struggles, but rather because neoliberal-imperial capitalism has not been able to resolve its own contradictions. This was foreseen by Bush’s advisors and other elites around 2001 (with, for example, the Enron crisis), and 9/11 was a window of opportunity for conservative forces who wanted to securitise society with the help of a number of threatening scenarios and predictions – with open or subtle forms of violence. In North-Western societies, this was broadly supported – and this is one of our major political problems. Berardi articulates a kind of macho-politics that is rather off-putting for many people. A certain form of militancy is awarded centrality, while other emancipatory practices – or those in the process of becoming thus – are devalued: those small shifts in everyday relations; those changes in institutional practices directed at policies in workplaces, schools, universities, trade unions, state-owned infrastructure, media (which are often enough defensive, in order to fend off changes for the worse). I am writing this at a time when students in Austria have initiated a movement that protests against neoliberal policies in further education, and their implied budget cuts and compulsion towards permanent competition; but also for a different education and for the democratisation of universities. ‘Brrrr’, Bifo Berardi would shiver, when confronted by such frightful reformism. It is presumably precisely this position that has led to the dramatic weakening of the left in Italy (I cannot be the judge of this). In this sense, he remains caught up in a position Foucault described as revolutionary eschatology, garnished with a hint of frustration. The militant recommends well-being and experimentation in the monastery. He is allowed into the safe place. With his reference to the global war, he avoids the question as to how there is, within the crisis of neoliberal-imperial globalisation, a transformation of the constellation of forces and the dominant orientation. The critique of the naturalisation of the paradigm of growth, practical solidarity, and the refusal of competition – to take up issues from Berardi – do not emerge in separation. Precisely in the current crisis, however, a plausible and practical critique of growth is a field on which an emancipatory left, which takes socio-ecological questions seriously, may be able to move things. Many people are disgusted by the imperative to compete, without being able to voluntarily escape – although the possibility is perhaps there, through struggles, learning processes and practical alternatives. This is however a question of practice and reflection in the nether realms of social reality. Ulrich Brand works as Professor for International Politics at the University of Vienna, is a member of Attac Germany’s Scientific Council and active in the Bundeskoordination Internationalismus (BUKO). At the beginning of 2009, he published the brochure Postneoliberalism: A Beginning Debate with Nicola Sekler, and most recently the volume, Contours of Climate Justice: Ideas for Shaping New Climate and Energy Politics with Nicola Bullard, Edgardo Lander and Tadzio Müller. Both are available for free via and were produced with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.