“Bifo” on ISSA

Notes Towards the Creation of a Post-Pandemic Centre for Social Re-Imagination

Franco “Bifo” Berardi

Franco “Bifo” Berardi & Srećko Horvat, Vis, The Pandemic Summer of 2020


In the transition from the bourgeois era of industrial capitalism to the digital era of Semio-financial capital, mental energy turned to be the main force of valorization.

This process implies a special kind of subsumption of mental energy. This incorporation implies a standardization and formatting of the cognitive body: bodily meaning and meaningful bodies are erased as a consequence of the formatting process.

A decisive step in this process of subsumption is the destruction of the modern institution of the University, and the building of a recombinant system of knowledge exploitation, that demands the cancellation of knowledge autonomy.

Since the 1999 Bologna Chart (that outlined the general direction of transformation of the European educational system in a Neoliberal framework), change has invested the autonomy of University and the school.


The concept of autonomy has a crucial place in the definition of the Modern University. It is not only a political concept, referring to the independency of the academic institution, but it is an epistemological concept, referring to the inherent methodology of scientific knowledge and artistic practice. Each field of knowledge establishes its laws: conventions, aims, procedures, verification and change.

During the bourgeois era the University was based on two pillars: 

the relation of the intellectuals and the city, the ethical and political role of Reason.

The second pillar was the autonomy of research and of teaching, autonomy of the process of discovery, innovation, production and transmission of moral, scientific and technical acquisitions.

The bourgeois, owner and entrepreneur, was strongly linked to the territory of his properties, interested in its development, and he knew that the autonomy of knowledge was necessary for achieving productive results. The long process of emancipation from the Theocratic Dogma is deeply influencing bourgeois culture and identity all along modern times.


The post-bourgeois era has deployed through financialization of the economy, and de-localization of work and information. The transition to the post-bourgeois Semiocapital was framed by the Neoliberal ideology.

The Neoliberal Reform of the educational system in every country of Europe has aimed to de-finance and cut the public system of education so favouring the privatisation of everything – knowledge included.

The leading principle of the Neoliberal Reform was the assertion of the epistemological primacy of the economic sphere, and the practical primacy of private interests.


Those who do not recognize the primacy of the economic principle in the field of education, those who refuse to worship the Central Dogma of the Neoliberal Church, and refuse to comply with the rules of competition, profitability and compatibility are labeled as skeptic, non-believers, atheists, and therefore marginalized and expelled. 

But the Pandemic apocalypses has broken the overall system of social reproduction, and particularly the educational system. 

A new process has to start from the margins, from islands of re-magination.


While analyzing the decomposition of the educational system inherited from the past, we should be able to detect and connect the points of cognitarian self-organization rising from the experiences of conflict, movement, and from the processes of re-activation of the social body.

The pandemic has interrupted the social erotic relation among bodies. 

This is the main problem for a re-imagination of the educational system.


What is the place of Art in this game of reinvention of the institution that once was called University? Art is the link between conscious mental activity and sensibility. Significantly during the last decade Art has played a crucial role in modelling the perception of a new form of alienation. 

The re-activation of sensibility – affective and sensuous understanding of the other – is the key of the process of self organization of collective intelligence. This is a therapeutic process of its own. Poetry is the language of such a therapeutic (chaosmotic) project.