A decade ago, a wave of mass mobilisations described as "horizontal" and "leaderless" swept the planet, holding the promise of real democracy and justice for the 99%. Many saw its subsequent ebb as proof of the need to go back to what was once called "the question of organisation". For something so often described as essential, however, political organisation remains a surprisingly under-theorised field. In this book, Rodrigo Nunes proposes to remedy that lack by starting again from scratch. Redefining the terms of the problem, he rejects the confusion between organisation and any of the forms it can take, such as the party, and argues that organisation must be understood as always supposing a diverse ecology of different initiatives and organisational forms. Drawing from a wide array of sources and traditions that include cybernetics, poststructuralism, network theory and Marxism, Nunes develops a grammar that eschews easy oppositions between "verticalism" and "horizontalism", centralisation and dispersion, and offers a fresh approach to enduring issues like spontaneity, leadership, democracy, strategy, populism, revolution, and the relationship between movements and parties.
"This is an exciting, innovative book. Rodrigo Nunes has utterly revitalised the stale theory of political organisation with new evidence, new thinking and new strategic concepts. All of the suffocating cliches of both horizontalists and vanguardists are briskly overturned here. Everyone can learn something from this book. " --Richard Seymour "This is the book we' ve been waiting for: Rodrigo Nunes systematically assesses the problems the left has faced since the Occupy movement and its failure. A must-read for the activists of our time. " --Franco "Bifo" Berardi "How is to be done? With whom? With what? Soberly reckoning with the limits of a decade of mass movements against austerity and authoritarianism, and writing in the harsh glare of our warming condition, Nunes enjoins us to revisit the theory of organisation beyond the party as fetish or bogeyman. Drawing on a rich trove of sources--from Spinoza to Bogdanov, cybernetic theory to contemporary activism--Neither Vertical nor Horizontal is an indispensable critical and clinical intervention into the principal political problem of our time. " --Alberto Toscano
Rodrigo Nunes is assistant professor of modern and contemporary philosophy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil. He is the author of Organisation of the Organisationless. Collective Action After Networks and of numerous articles in publications such as Les Temps Modernes, Radical Philosophy, South Atlantic Quarterly,Jacobin, Al Jazeera and The Guardian. As an organiser and popular educator, he has been involved in several initiatives in Brazil and in Europe, including the first editions of the World Social Forum.