Originally published in www.shutthemdown.org
Networked, horizontal forms have been at the centre of many of the political debates of the last ten years, and often been treated alternatively as the limit (by its enemies) and the solution (by its proponents) to the problems of organisation of resistance to global capitalism. This has unfortunately meant that critiques carried out ‘from the inside’ – i.e., by those who have experienced and share a general belief in them – have been much rarer than those carried out by partisans of other forms of organisation, resulting in much back-patting and triumphalism, but few discussions of anxieties and frustrations that seem widely shared; a problem that is only enhanced by the fact that so often it is felt that horizontality must be ‘defended’ from its detractors.(1)
It is this kind of internal critique that this paper attempts to do. In order to do that, it envisages a demystification of openness and horizontality, showing how it is often presented in complete absence of context and pointing to its inherent contradictions and dead-ends. The point of doing this is not to engage another debate along the lines of ‘less’ or ‘more’ horizontality, or horizontality versus verticality; the idea is rather to render these very notions problematic, and by affirming their problematic nature, to argue for a democratic practice that tackles this nature head on.
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